The last few Humpback Whales have returned to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska and Captain Mark has returned to Kauai. Mark Jeffers of Storybook Theatre is also known as Captain Mark from February- April as he tours the Hawaiian Islands with his Inflatable Humpback Whales. Captain Mark and his life-sized whales visited nearly 2000 children at Elementary schools and preschools across the island chain.
The Harmony and Melody Whale Tour is a program developed by Jeffers to teach children about these majestic mammals that visit our islands every year. Children learn about whale anatomy and behavior inside an inflatable classroom. Jeffers inspires creativity and imagination, through his whale songs, sounds and even teaches some sign language to the children.
The program has become popular in the preschools because the children love being able to go inside the whales and are often awestruck by their sheer size. According to the teachers, the students can’t stop talking about the visit. The teachers often use this opportunity to continue a lesson or unit on marine mammals after Captain Mark departs. Captain Mark has made it easy for them to do this by leaving behind a digital coloring and activity book that pertains to the whales and the topics that were introduced in the show.
This year, dozens of thank you letters poured in from students and schools who experienced the show. “The children really learned to appreciate these animals and the show obviously inspired the them to learn more because they were full of questions for me in their thank you letters”, says Captain Mark, “and they can look forward to seeing them again in years to come”.
What’s next for Captain Mark and the Whales? Captain Mark goes back to being the director at Storybook Theatre and gets to create other educational programs for students and teachers. This year Storybook is focusing on Recycling, and just finished up putting together a website for children where they can learn more about recycling on Kauai, play recycling games, and participate in recycling activities (www.kauaikeikirecycles.com). Captain Mark and Storybook Theatre also brings local authors to schools for their literacy day events. As for the whales, Harmony and Melody are enjoying their summer feast in Alaska and will be returning to the islands ready to tour in the late fall.
For more information about Captain Mark and the Whale Tour, please contact the Storybook Theatre of Hawaii at www.storybook.org.