Sunday, August 29, 2021

20th Anniversary of Sept 11th: What is Appropriate for YOUNG Children?

Twenty years. Two decades. Time.Marches.On. for those of us who survived September 11th. Somehow, one day has stacked on top of the previous and blink your eyes it has been twenty years. We are the fortunate. There are dinner tables and conference room tables that have an empty chair. Sobering. Reality. 

What have you done with your twenty years? 

How do we acknowledge this monumental day with young children? What is appropriate? What is helpful? How do we begin a new school year, in the midst of a morphing pandemic, with new variants of reality -- when we are already exhausted beyond our human limits? 

There was an occasion where I once muttered needing a magic wand to overcome a gigantic challenge in front of hundreds and hundreds of participants and a magic wand appeared. Literally. Handed to me. There was much laugher. It gave me the courage to do the seemingly impossible in that moment. It was the resource I needed. I dug deep, took a deep breath and plowed forward. So we must find the right resource for the right situation. A magic wand of sorts. 

I have a resource for you to use with children for these days leading up to the eleventh of September, that can then be recycled for Veteran's Day with even more gusto. No kidding. You can download it today and be ready for the 10th, if your school is observing the day on Friday. Even if you download it that morning. It is that simple. It is a song. A simple 'zipper song' that rhymes and each of the four verses is only changed by one word. Simple. Resource. Patriotic. Downloadable.

It is patriotic. It is all about our flag. Our country. Being grateful. It is a communal experience that draws your classroom together. Singing. Simple. Songs. 

It is my heartfelt, simple song that I wrote on the national day of prayer and mourning and reflection, that Friday, following THAT Tuesday -- to sing with preschool children, in real time, back two decades ago. We recorded it professionally years later. 

I have gone on to turn the song into a picture book. A traditional hardback, picture book. With pages that turn and illustrations that I created from fabric. The book won a national award. BUT for the sake of expediency, let's focus on a digital downloadable song in Mp3 format, that you can teach in the morning and perform in the afternoon. That simple. 

The file includes the American Sign Language signs, so that your performance becomes 'visual' and inclusive. Again. Simple. But-oh-so-powerful. 

The song doesn't reference September 11th. It taps into Americana. The flag. Our colors. Gratitude. Simplicity. Child friendly. Early childhood CIVICS 101!!!

My book is now 10 years old and I have been fortunate to make school visits across the country from coast-to-coast and tour some of our European Army bases sharing this simple song. You can search in this cache of previous blog articles for additional visual responses to my picture book, from the wee littles to the sophisticated upper primary grades. 

I realize that time is of the essence. Here's the link to the digital download available at TpT. It includes 2 Mp3's: one of the song, as I'm performing it in a professional recording studio with back up singers and children's vocals +PLUS+ the second Mp3 is the instrumental version, if you want to perform it without my vocals.... or write your own verses! 

***If you are interested in ordering a copy of the physical book, I will send you the Mp3 file and resource material via Dropbox email, while you await the delivery/arrival of the book. That way, you can sing the song immediately. 

To order a copy of my book you would go to my website. It is so much easier though, and I can personalize the book, if you send me a private message on FB and we can handle all of the details there. 

One other instantaneous resource that I have to offer is my Pinterest board dedicated to all things patriotic. I have over 500 ideas already pinned there for you. Just click through for those additional resources. 

Whew! I haven't blogged in so long and appreciate my peers Kristen Poindexter at Kristen's Kindergarten and Jennifer Kadar at Simply Kinder for the kick. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Kickstarter! Support "Mighty Wings" Monarch Caterpillar/Butterfly Song Set


"Mighty Wings" Ready for Launch 

After months of planning and getting organized, today is the day I launch my first, ever KICKSTARTER program! 

This crowd-funding effort is to underwrite the expense to release my Monarch song-set, written in collaboration with my daughter, Sarah Joy. The first is a caterpillar rap. The second recording is a butterfly call and response song. 

I need 100 people willing to purchase the song-set for $8.00, within the next 30 days. As soon as the Kickstarter program is totally funded, you will receive the songs in a digital file, ready for use as part of your End-of-Year science project -- or summer ecology efforts.  

Monarch butterflies are in peril. The beloved and easily identified butterfly has become endangered, due to loss of their host plant and habitat. Monarchs only eat milkweed. Pesticide and herbicide usage and the loss of milkweed plants to commercialization are just a few of the reasons that the future of the Monarch is officially endangered. 
Newly hatched Monarch caterpillars

Last summer my daughter Sarah Joy gave me my first butterfly enclosure and got me motivated to save them -- one egg and caterpillar at a time. Between us, in this first year of our becoming 'butterfly whisperers' we have personally supervised 250 to flight status. With each winged ascent we become more committed to their protection. 

That's a glimpse of what a whole hoard of tiny caterpillars looks like. Compare the penny's size. Can you spot all 17 butterflies in-the-making?

First grade backyard scientist in action, Vero Beach FL 

The perfect pandemic project. 
Before the global pandemic, I was a children's musician, having written and recorded nearly 100 original songs for young students. I have given 3 national keynotes to teachers of young children and spoken at educational conferences in 39 states and four countries. I have created three picture books as author/illustrator, where the lyrics of my song become the text of the traditional book format. I have given numerous workshops at teacher conferences entitled "Sing a Book and Read a Song." Over the course of releasing butterflies, I started to create some rhymes about the process of metamorphosis. Sarah listened in and then we teamed up. At her suggestion we roughed out 2 full songs -- one for the caterpillar, which will actually be more of a spoken rap, and one for the butterfly, which will be done in a call and response pattern. 

Sarah's experience as a traditional preschool classroom teacher enlightened her on the need to have appropriate and 'factual' resources available for teaching young children about the need to support pollinators in our own immediate world. It was her compelling experience of searching for such resources that we realized ,we had found a need' and that we were uniquely qualified to 'fill it' -- together! 

Ohio preschooler with Monarch cats

Ironically, I already had a commercially created Monarch caterpillar puppet and that prompted me to create a HUGE hand-painted and sewn Monarch puppet to bring the rhyme to life as I performed it during my pandemic series of FB LIVE Sing-a-Longs. Our HOPE is that the world returns to author school visits and teacher conferences and that we can use these props for students and their teachers.

Our goal is to intrigue students and teachers sufficiently so that they will contribute to planting milkweed at their buildings and home gardens to provide additional habitat. The saving of the Monarch is a grassroots project and the timing is critical to get as many people as possible involved in the planting of Milkweed. 

Start them young. We must get young children involved in understanding how the science and saving of the Monarch butterfly is dependent on our actions taken over the coming seasons. Creating a resource for teachers and parents in the form of songs (and ultimately a traditional picture book) will provide a tool for learning, exploration and understanding. Each of my earlier picture books began with the recording of the song lyrics, which become the book text. 
Sarah Joy: 2020, first summer w Monarchs

The lyrics are ready to go! I have worked with Ronn Price for over 15 years bringing my ideas into full fledged arrangements under his talented direction. Ronn is a master at arranging and stacking tracks for all manner of instruments. He has worked with some of the BIG acts in Nashville and beyond, yet his kind heart supports and encourages my projects as well. Now that the 2 arrangements are secured, we will record them at Amerisound Studios in Hilliard, OH under the direction of the owner and engineer-operator, Dan Green. We plan to use Dan's singer-songwriter talent as a vocalist in the 'response' portion of the butterfly song. We will also contract with an independent vocalist, Whitney Love to add her harmonies and heart, to round out the butterfly song. 

This financing will underwrite the expense of the 2 arrangements, as well as the recording, mixing and mastering of both of these two pieces of music. Just as significantly, I hope that the Kickstarter program will get the word out to others seeking such a resource, beyond and outside of my network of teacher friends and cohorts. 

We plan to record as soon as possible. Those who contribute $8.00 will get a digital download of the 2 songs in a file with the lyrics and LOTS of caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly photos! Those who are interested in a Zoom session can plan ahead to next fall's back-to-school season in September.

We look forward to this Kickstarter support to generate the enthusiasm that will see the metamorphosis of HOPE that brings these two songs to fruition -- for use yet this spring and summer, in support of the Monarch's growth to flight. 

Thank you for your consideration of this ecology effort to improve our world. Once you are aware of the plight of this beloved butterfly your actions change. In so doing the impact you make is enormous, sending out ripples to your family, neighbors and friends to make their own efforts on behalf of our planet. This is where we have the opportunity to make a difference. This is the exact moment where HOPE is still viable. 

We are very grateful for your sharing this Kickstarter effort from your platform, to generate more enthusiasm and a wider impact. Thank you! -- Debbie Clement 

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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