Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jumping & Freezing

Family fun in the fellowship hall at the 40th Anniversary celebration for an amazing program that celebrates all of the Arts in the lives of young children: Sing. Dance. Sign-language. Paint. Sculpt. Build. Paper Mache. You name it: the whole enchilada!! I think you can see in the enthusiasm photographed here that there was an amazing attendance of dads who joined our fun -- and grandpas too!!! Inter-generational fun is the very best kind.

These initial photos are of the group performing my sing-a-long of alliteration: "Jumpin' Jiminy Jamboree" which is one of the ditties from my fifth collection: "Debbie's Ditties 5: Jump, Jam, Jive!" This particular several minutes of fun includes 30 seconds of jumping (every child's favorite component) followed by 30 seconds of: freezing, frozen, fantastically..... which then is quickly elevated to every child's favorite part, as I ask them to make the funniest face possible and then freeze it.

If you have a chance to scroll back thru the photos above, you'll see that there is another game going on within all of the freezing frozen fun. You'll see that the kiddos [AND THE DADDIES!!!] are also working on their 'balancing skills' as the dittie continues to unfold. By splicing in the invitation 'to balance', I've sculpted a whole-brain-integration opportunity under the column of proprioceptive integration fame. Yet the children think the equivalent of a banana split's worth of fun!!

***A tip to fellow performers. I include this number in every concert. As I am introducing it to the audience, I invite every adult to get out there camera/cell phone with-a-camera in preparation for the fun about to unfurl. I've noticed that this is such a welcome interaction between the adults and the kids. I literally turn the children 'around' and have them face the parents. They really get to be the 'performers' at this point. I love watching the parents clicking away with zeal as their kids get goofier and goofier in their face-making. Frees everyone up. Mid-concert this gives the children a real reference point to be playful for their parents.

***In the classroom setting this song makes a perfect active number to interject in between some focused/sedentary time on the classroom rug and provides oodles of opportunity for active brain cells getting plenty of oxygen all while getting rid of the wiggles at the same time!!

And here's one of the several grand finales of the unfurling afternoon. Everyone gathered for the parents to share a rendition in sign language to my classic, "You're Wonderful" where there were indeed tissues for the mommies-in-wonderment over the concept that their little baby is about to leave the preschool nest and head to the big time!! Those are the dreams unfurling in sign language. Your finger starts at your head (where you store all of those dreams & ideas) and then they travel out into the bigger world. Click here to watch a 'Wonderful' 26 second version from my YouTube vault.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Birds & The Bees

I just couldn't resist the title! I just couldn't!!
Were you curious? Did you guess? All in the efforts to increase my readership.

Is this your first visit? Were you expecting a different conversation? Indulge me!!! You've come to a site where we appreciate creativity. This is a place for the celebration of color, of children, of Art. Enjoy the creations of little hands in the process of mastering the materials in a marvelous manner. Clay. Paint. Scissors: oooooooooooooooooooh my!!!! Spring was in the air!!!!!

Searching for other 'spring-spirations' here under my Rainbow? Try these:

I LUV Rainbows in the spring.

An Easter Egg from Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Here are some simple 'shape' birds that could translate to spring.

I've linked this post to "All Things Spring" at MamaSmiles. You'll be inspired by seeing all of the ideas linked up there.
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Friday, July 29, 2011

More Children's Artwork

How happy are these pictures??? I love getting invited out to programs that make the Arts flourish. Here's evidence of an astounding program and their happy year-long projects showcased for loving parents, grand-parents and the neighborhood-at-large in time for their 40th anniversary celebration last spring. I sang and danced downstairs and these were just a few of the projects I had the opportunity to photograph before the display was permanently dismantled. How many programs make this elaborate of fairy houses??
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Awesome Anniversary Art

Dateline: Clintonville, OH. Annual May Celebration of the Arts. I'm invited to be the headliner for the 40th Anniversary of early childhood excellence. I get to perform with the children & their parents in the fellowship hall while everyone gets to see rooms and rooms of artwork created through out the program during the school year!!!

These projects were created by the very youngest in the program. These "collages" were created by the 2.5 year olds using coffee filters as the main ingrediant for their painting explorations (the filters become the main 'floral' elements and are fancy cut by the teachers.) The children then were directed to choose silk floral elements and stickers for further embellishment.

I was loving the floor to ceiling displays of color and design when the dear teacher came over and said, "I thought you might like those. We based them on the illustrations and quilts from your first picture book, "You're Wonderful!!"

Here are a few reminders of their inspiration for the exploration of their process paintings. You've got to love a teacher who extends the life and excitement of a picture book through the art projects in the room. Three cheers for the 2.5 year olds!!! Three cheers for the teachers!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just Why I Love Librarians

I've loved the library as long as I can remember. As long as I've been reading. As long as I could sign my name on my library card and could start bring books home, I've been a library lover. Growing up, we were a family with more imagination than "means." We made up our own entertainment, our own stories, our own songs. In fact, as I think about it, my upbringing was the perfect training for my work of the last fourteen years. It was also the perfect upbringing for making me a library patron extra-ordinaire.

We moved around the state of Indiana as I grew up. I'm a Hoosier. The very first thing we did as a family upon moving into a new location was to go en mass as a family to the local library and sign up for our library cards. I remember arriving in the major metropolis of South Bend from the sleepy little village of Batesville, most famous for it's casket making company. I remember being 'disoriented' by the sheer size of our neighborhood and the traffic!!

But right on cue, we went to the library and I attained my OWN library card. A building with books -- I was at home. I remember walking in that day in awe of the sheer size of the building, the shelves and the volume of books was astounding. But what I remember most is the librarian who asked me just what sort of books I liked to read. Being something of a bookworm, I shared with her that I was a BIG fan of the mystery and that I'd read all of the Nancy Drew series as well as all of the Hardy Boys adventures.

I remember her taking me by the hand and walking me all of the way across the children's department into the ADULT section. She walked me over to the Agatha Christie shelf and told me that she thought I might be ready for Hercule Poirot. It was a pivotal moment in my life. I was about to enter fifth grade and here was an adult listening to me and making a genuine suggestion for my reading pleasure and maturity. I don't know that I ever knew her name, but I am always in debt to her for her welcome & her taking me seriously.

Just one of the many reasons that I love librarians!!

In the land of literacy, one person can make a world of difference to one reader-in-the-making. It might be a kindergarten teacher -- thinking all summer long how to improve the layout of the room for the warmest welcome in launching an individual education. It could be junior high English teacher making an insightful comment on a short story. It might be a college professor taking the time to go beyond the blue book's midterm essay feedback.......... or it might be the local librarian, listening & guiding & keeping the love of reading alive as maturity makes a hurdle forward. It takes a village!!

Who were the 'reading fairies' in your life? The ones who kept your passion for a good book alive? Were there specific teachers in your experience? An author's book that made you tingle with joy over their rich use of language? Was there a librarian in your journey that introduced you to a new shelf of adventure? I'd love to continue the conversation in the comments section here. Please share a teacher, a book, a librarian that made a difference for you.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Librarians! I LOVE Librarians!

Imagine my enthusiasm to be asked to speak to a roomful of librarians!! Teachers have so many pressures and expectations. It is my experience that teachers can discover my work, love it, and use it with great enthusiasm and yet the average teacher has no way to tell others about my various projects. (The one exception are teachers that have blogs & share with the wider world thru their blogging efforts. See Deborah Stewart's kind words.) But librarians?? Librarians are ALL about sharing resources with others. Librarians love to alert others to a unique resource. It is their reason d'etre. It's the cream in their coffee. It's the cherry on their banana split. It's their get-up & go!! It's what excites them: telling others of their latest discoveries is what gets librarians jumpin' for joy!! And that's why I LOVE librarians!!

Here we are with a roooom full of library ladies and an honorary music-teacher-in-the-making. (That's DJ: son of a librarian, that I've known since he was in 8th grade and wearing the Larry-the-Library Lion costume for my library visit.) These photos are from my visit to Bowling Green way back in May. We had an entire day together. That's lots of singing and dancing!! Lots of time for sharing. Lots of ideas. Lots of time for answering questions.

So I taught them the sign language to support my original dittie "Going to the Library" from Debbie's Ditties 3: At the Library. 'Oh, yeah!!!' [****My shameless marketing ploy to lure them, the beloved librarians, into my web of simple and repetitive original children's songs -- suitable for children's story time adventures all year long.] 'Oh, yeah!!!'

Here is my simple Dollar Store paddle ball paddle with the chorus-refrain placard for "Going to the Library". Every time we sing 'Oh yeah' in response to the lyric, everyone in the audience gets to see the print simultaneously. With six verses and three 'Oh Yeah'(s) per verse -- that's a whole lot of old time rock'n'roll 'Oh yeah' opportunities for beginning readers to connect the dots between sung words and words-in-print. These letters are cut from Ellison die-cut stencil letters for precision and then the construction paper placard is folded over for stability and laminated for wear and tear over years of singing the story-time theme song. In it's review of this album, way back in 2003, School Library Journal said "many of the songs are destined to become story time staples." A gazillion years later this story time staple still brings an honest smile to my face when I share it with the library team, because I have it on authority that they enjoy using it with their patrons.

"I like going to the li-brar-y, Oh, yeah!

I like going to the li-brar-y, Oh, yeah!

I like going to the li-brar-y, it's a great place, come and see!!

I like going to the li-brar-y, Oh, yeah!"

"I like being at the li-brar-y, Oh yeah!

I like being at the li-brar-y, Oh yeah!

I like being at the li-brar-y, there's a million books,

for you and me!!

I like being at the li-brar-y, Oh yeah!"

Then comes the great big huge guitar riff. When I perform this song at libraries I ask several of the children in attendance to join me on stage with inflatable electric guitars. Everyone in the audience plays their own air guitar at this fun bridge instrumental (the music between the verses) and we're all in great spirits for the new verses. Whenever I sing this song I just feel all "zippy" inside!! And of course I feel all zippy with Vickie & DJ in the audience!!!

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sunset "Backsplash" of Color

People ask us why we love it up here in Door County. Here's the evidence that will help me explain. These are the evening clouds in the opposite direction of the sun setting over the water of the Sister Bay within the larger Green Bay. For all the evenings that I've walked the block down to our marina -- I don't know that I can ever remember seeing anything like this 'behind' my back as the sun was setting over the water -- off into the west. These shots are looking in each of the three other directions. Breath taking.

Sunset colors hues divine.
Master strokes brushed in sublime.
Fleeting awe, so rare so fine.
Captured quickly treasured time.
-- Debbie Clement

I don't know that I'm ready to take up poetry, but I was inspired by my all most 3rd grade neighbor's friend's niece who was kind enough to share her writing journal with me..... but that's a post for next week. Taking another look at these photos prompted me to weave some words in appreciation.

My blogging efforts are literally all over the map of late. I still have this backlog of all the end of the school year events to attempt to chronicle and yet I am pacing to share some of our summer-time fun as well. You'll just have to bear with me as I bounce back and forth a bit. Will I ever be synchronized with real time again?

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Friday, July 22, 2011

"You're Wonderful" song book by Debbie Clement

Look what's happening out in California!! This is my first picture book, from the lyrics to one of my very first original songs for children. (You know you're an old time fan if you have the original cassette version! LOL!! Those are indeed collectors items now!) Look how far we've come!! It's traveled far from home. You're Wonderful, indeed!!! Parents singing!!!!

The parents captured in the YouTube video are singing to their children, gathered in the audience. This performance travels back to me as a result of my workshop presentation earlier this spring at the National Family Literacy Conference in Louisville! How I love opening my email and finding a gift wrapped up in YouTube. Thanks to Lydia and Melissa for teaching the parents my book/song, in their Family Literacy program.

I love sharing this link with others. I believe this is the first version that I've ever seen where the parents are singing to the children, instead of the other way around!!! In my heart, that's the way I've always envisioned the power of my little dittie-of-affirmation: as being sung by a parent to their own beloved child. Here you have the visual in full color! Their t-shirts are decorated with the simple yet powerful words from the song. (Maybe they'll send me some close-up photos that I can share in another post: hint, hint.) From my 'dream' to yours!

Thank you for sending me the link. Thank you for the amazing rendition. Thank you for giving me credit on your YouTube film -- may other centers and sites find my work as a result of your thoughtfulness, generosity and kindness!!

My next dream for these words and my images? An app!!! I want an i-pad and I want You're Wonderful to be translated into this newest format. My latest dream. Right now the song is on my first CD, Debbie's Ditties for Little Kiddies, it's also a portion of my Dove family viewing nationally award winning DVD, entitled, Kweezletown...... and it's evolved further still into the hardback picture book format gaining momentum every month. So it's only natural to spread it's wings further and be available on your i-pad!!! Stay tuned, I've just begun that inquiry.


[Editor's note: here's a link to the vault of all 11 of my YouTube videos. I'm so thrilled when you use my work. It's such an enormous help if you give me the credit when you post your film to YouTube, list my name as a tag etc. Keep 'em comin'!!!!]


Huge PROGRESS! Amazing, thrilling, wonderful, golly-wowzers, delightful, whizzie-pops & butterflies are wafting-about-my heart progress!!! Can you feel my enthusiasm? Every 'real' blogger in the blogosphere has their own blog-button. I've been blogging now for over three years, over 1300 posts, over five countries-round-the-world and now? Now?? NOW!?!?!

Today, I have my very own blog button!!! Strike up the band!! Throw the confetti. Pass the blueberries. Savor the daisies. Count your blessings!!! It's time to celebrate!!!!! [Wanna know why it's all called RainbowsWithinReach? Click here.]

What do you do with a blog button you ask?? You kindly, on bended knee, with the inference of sweet bribery, ask your fellow-bloggers to share it with their readers..... in the hopes that your humble blog efforts might grow Alice-in-Wonderlike to greater heights and glory. All with the dream that your 'work' might rise from the quagmire of total invisibilty to the quasi-familiarity of recognition within your niche.

Now that I have a blog button, I can enter all of those 7,439,621 linky parties where you insert your button to have your link included. In fact, I can now participate in the blog scavenger hunt taking place at Yearn to Learn.

1. A new blog: Dr. Jean has launched a blog!! (see my recent post on her inspiration keynote at ITK in Vegas.)

2. A blog in my realm: Teach Preschool by Deborah Stewart (see my recent post here about our clever collaboration at IN-AEYC.)

3. A blog beyond my realm: Ladybug's Techno 4th grade that has helped me move forward.

4. A cute blog button. Need I say more??

The blogger who taught me how to create a blog button is Jillian over at A Mom With a Lesson Plan and here is her clever button. Hmmmmmm. Jillian??? I can't get your code to copy??? Such exciting progress and then I reach my techno limits. I'm trying!!! Maybe I can come back and get Jillian's button to jump-over-the-rainbow and land here? Time will tell!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Successful Author Visit

In my quest to provide helpful insight to educators everywhere, I thought I'd take the time to reverse engineer a fantastically successful author visit I made to an elementary school thru Greater Columbus Arts Council's Artist in the Schools program, that took place as the year drew to its close this spring. Consider this my second installment of directions:


1. Consider stream-lining the 'Author" visit thru the school librarian. The librarian is likely to work with all the grades in the building. A happy alternative might be to have the Art teacher take the helm for the same reason. My suggestion is to choose a 'teacher' who interacts with all of the students in the building, someone who has a vested interest in the day going well for the 'most' students possible.

2. Schedule your visit with the author or illustrator (or author/illustrator) with sufficient time that your designated 'all-building' person has ample time to introduce the visiting author's work to the widest cross section of classrooms and grades as is reasonably possible.

3. Reach all financial arrangements ahead of time and in writing. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification of details. Be certain to address travel expenses where appropriate and communicate all details ahead of time so that everyone is on the same page and in total agreement. Communicate if there is to be an invoice from the author & to whom it is to be addressed specifically.
3.a. Communicate how and when the payment will transpire.
3.b. Make certain that all paperwork is in order for a timely payment to unfold.
3.c. Double check how the physical check should be made out and communicate when it will be available.
3.d. Communicate all financial plans to necessary school district personnel for final approval.

4. Communicate to your guest-author the specifics of the visit day's schedule with clarity. The length of the presenter's program and the grades to be included in each program spelled out, at the minimum. (It's always helpful to make the author aware of any classes with acute special needs or other such concerns.) Communicate to teachers what their role during the program will entail.

5. Communicate to your guest author the specifics of the setting of the visit. If at all humanly possible have the author remain in one setting for the duration of the day and bring the students to that one spot. (Be certain to communicate with the PE teacher -- if you are taking over their gym for the day, or whom ever you are displacing from their space.)

6. Print out a schedule of the day for all school personnel ahead of time. (This allows the custodial staff, office secretary and every other building specialist to be aware and recognize if there are any flies in the ointment ahead of time and resolve such issues in advance.)

7. Consider how lunch time is to be handled and have a clear plan. Some authors may like to have 'quiet time' away from conversations, others may appreciate visiting with students in the school cafeteria, others might enjoy chicken salad from Panera, hand delivered by the librarian's sister. My advice? Have a plan. A teacher pot-luck is always a winning concept.

8. Consider making the author's work available to the student body. How will this be handled? An order form sent home ahead of time with orders tabulated and the proper number of books brought to the site already signed and on hand is a win/win/win. If individual books are to be personalized allow time in the day for this task to unfold.

9. Communicate regarding any specific needs from the author as it relates to the size of the audience. What sort of microphone/speaker system is available? Is there need for a screen/darkened space for the sharing of slides? Have a tech crew ready for smooth set up.

10. Consider how long it takes to get your audience into and out of the gym/auditorium and build ample transition time into the schedule so as not to lose valuable program time.

11. Consider how students can funnel their questions to the guest-author. Possibilities include having questions written ahead of time and funneled thru the host-teacher to the author or having the classroom teacher 'work' with students regarding the asking of questions or a third alternative is having the author make individual classroom 'visits' following a large group assembly to ask questions in a more intimate setting. How does your author like to handle questions from the students? Devise a plan.

12. Extra credit for the host-coordinator who has the insight to get the visiting author's name onto the outdoor/public school sign. Great PR ++bonus ++ for the neighborhood to know that exciting things are taking place in the building. BIG smile-maker for the author to be greeted upon arrival with their name-up-in-lights. [YES!!! That's me, just before the dog walk and way ahead of sunglasses day!!]

TOTAL Bonus #13. If your author mentions in an email that they are now a total diva & returning from Europe just to make your school visit, mentioning having missed peanut M&Ms while across the pond....... surprise them with a happy canister to show you care.

**********Oh yeah!!! And if you have an 'author's wall' in your library remember to invite your guest author/illustrator to add their John Hancock and line drawings to those that have come before. Have no fear, your students will remind you if this is your first time in the saddle and you attempt to forget -- so sit back and relax!
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Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

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