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Lessons in being silly

In songs, stories Gill teaches kids, parents without them realizing it

White Oak Elementary School’s gymnasium was transformed into a swimming pool, trampoline and dance hall to accommodate children’s author Jim Gill’s visit on Friday.

Children in the Grundy County Preschool Program, which includes students from Morris Elementary, Saratoga and Nettle Creek school districts, were treated to a concert by Gill himself at the school. The popular author’s visit was made possible through the state grant that pays for the Grundy County Preschool Program.

The children pretended to swim, jump on a trampoline and perform many other actions as they acted out the lyrics of Gill’s interactive songs.

Gill is a musician and author who is also a child development specialist. His music and books emphasize playful interaction between children and their parents and other adults, according to his website

The “I took a bath in a washing machine” song had the kids jumping and laughing with their moms and dads and anxious for the next line. “Here’s the big silly finish,” said Gill to the kids before singing the last funny line. “I hope my mom doesn’t put me in the dryer.”

Followed was the kids’ time to shine — the silly dance contest, where Gill told them to dance any way they liked, but when he said “freeze,” they had to hold their silliest pose for Gill to see.

Four-year-old Margot Offermann and 3-year-old Bryanna Enerson decided to do their silly dancing together, holding hands and spinning around as their parents watched and laughed.

“It’s excellent. My daughter loves it. When she comes home after school, she comes in singing,” said Offermann’s mom, Krista Offermann.

The kids have been learning Gill’s songs and reading his books for weeks, said Amy Jankowski of the Grundy County Preschool Program.

“Oh my gosh, they’ve been talking about him, rhyming about him, and writing about him. They made thank you cards for him, and they know how to write his name. They knew it was going to be a special day,” she said.

“The kids absolutely love him. Obviously this is his gift and we just love him,” Jankowski continued.

Four-year-old Savannah Taylor loves spinning to Gill’s songs, but loves his singing most.
“Because we can do it too,” she said.

Gill’s work is unique because he’s teaching the children and the parents without them even knowing it, said Chris Davis, early childhood teacher at White Oak.

“He really gets the parents involved in playing with their kids,” she said.

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