With their national tour postponed, poet Simon Mole and musician Gecko are running free online workshops for children and families during lockdown, taking inspiration from 9 year old Lula to create a new song about dens
Poet Simon Mole and musician Gecko were due to tour their family performance Mole & Gecko: THE SHOW this Spring, sharing songs, rap stories and instant poems with children in theatres and libraries across England. With the tour postponed due to Covid19, the duo are reaching out to children and families in their own homes through online poetry sessions, leading to one participant inspiring a new song and video about building dens.
Whilst in lockdown, Mole and Gecko have been connecting to their audiences with the free weekly workshops, with participants Zooming in from Beckenham to Barbados!
One workshop attendee, 9 year old Lula from Somerset, had the opportunity to ask the pair to write a song about anything she liked. She chose ‘making dens’, always a popular activity but especially at the moment for children stuck inside. This struck a chord with Mole and Gecko resulting in Our Den. Lula said: “Hearing my ideas turn into a proper song was really exciting. I even sung a little bit of a tune which ended up being used in the final version.”
Mole and Gecko appreciated having the support of North London theatre venue artsdepot, with the video for Our Den created in their scheduled residency week there, but with them working remotely instead of in the building as originally planned.
Anyone can join Simon Mole’s workshops for 5-8 year olds and 8-11 year olds which run online every Tuesday, visit: https://www.simonmole.com/online-poetry-workshops/.
As a poet and educator, Mole facilitates workshops in schools and community settings, having also created resources for the National Literacy Trust and BBC. His YouTube channel is an online resource with more than twenty videos to engage young people with poetry and literacy. The videos have proved extra popular during lockdown, with the ‘Write a Poem in under 10 Minutes’ video reaching nearly 100,000 views so far.
Simon Mole said: “It’s not just a weekly workshop but a real community with kids writing and then reading their poems, or hearing their work read. While the schools are closed I know a lot of people, myself included, are looking for creative things to do at home with their children. I want to bring as much creativity and positivity as possible at the moment, so it’s important to me that the workshops are free to attend.”
Gecko said: “I loved making the den song for Lula. Creating dens in these times gives us some sense of control whilst everything outside the den can feel hectic. Like we say in the song that den can be a portal to wherever we want to be, whether that’s real places we’re missing or in space or the belly of whale.”
Louisa Bartlett-Pestell, Director of Programming at artsdepot, said: “artsdepot love working with Mole and Gecko. Whilst we missed having them in the building, it was a pleasure to support their online residency and see so many young people participate in the workshops. We are delighted by the fun and innovative creations they achieved at a distance and continue to hum Our Den.”
Participants and their parents said:
“I like all the little details I can put in the poems and I like saying my poems.” – Young Participant
“My eldest loves storytelling; creating his own characters and taking them on adventures. The poetry workshop is an amazing opportunity to do just this. No answer is wrong, all ideas are accepted. They have been a great addition to our homeschooling routine. Tuesday is now known as ‘Poem-day with Simon.’” – Parent
“Simon’s online poetry workshops are fantastic! It’s amazing how much writing my 7 year old produces when I’ve been struggling to get him to write one sentence! They are such a fun and creative part of our weekly lockdown routine.” – Parent