More Than Just an Animation

Conceived and produced by artist and poetry teacher Nancy Kangas and filmmaker Josh Kun, the Preschool Poets is a series of eight poems composed and performed by preschool-aged kids and interpreted into short films by animation artists worldwide.

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How It Began

The entire concept began as a series of poems created in class by the children and written down by Kangas herself. She then decided to post them on Instagram and gained a huge audience that loved their raw and unedited beauty.

Kun soon joined the project, and the pair began getting the children themselves to appear on film.

However, it was clear from the start that to do the poems any justice, the world of animation was the only way to delve into the children’s imaginations truly.

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Communicating With Children Through Poetry

Aside from the obvious beauty of the animation, there’s a deeper and more powerful reality behind the fun and playful video.

When looking at the behind-the-scenes footage, it’s clear that the children involved were far happier to open up when they believed they were making a poem than being asked direct questions.

Asking them to explain their home life or their true feelings can easily be met with a cold reception, especially when dealing with strangers.

However, asking them to create a poem with no right or wrong answers creates a window into their realities, revealing both light and dark moments.

The Evolution

Each animation in the series is tailor-made to not only the poem but, more importantly, the child behind the story.

Taking a look at “Supergirl” as an example, the poem was written by a young girl named Penny, who spoke of spectacular feats that she could only dream of.

The beauty of having a child read their poem is that they are not bound by the usual constraints that an adult presenter would adhere to. With this in mind, it was clearly vital that the animation had to steer clear from long pauses in the flow of movement or dialogue.

This helped portray the free-flowing thought process going through Penny’s mind as she reads her words aloud.

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Creating Flow Within The Poem

As you can imagine, the mind of a preschool child is like a pinball machine. This is more than apparent when you read through the poem in all its glory, jumping from one imagination to another.

Sometimes I want to be a superhero.

And sometimes I want to fly up high – SO HIGH!
and through the clouds!

And sometimes I would like to be Supergirl!

I would like to kick
cause that’s what a super girl does

Sometimes I like to pretend I’m in ice
And my hands and my feet –
cause ice makes you do NOTHING.

 

Below are just a few examples where the animators have seamlessly blended each section through well-thought-out transitions. By keeping this flow, they have ensured that the voiceover and animation not only complement but also enhance each other.

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Want To See More?

To find out more about the poems and the films, you can visit preschoolpoets.org, where you’ll also be able to watch behind the scenes footage about the project.

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