Several years ago, I remember walking down a hallway seeing cute little crafts of a blue cat in a giant pair of shoes. I learned that his name was Pete and that kids loved him.
A couple years later I somehow (I don’t remember how) stumbled upon Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes on YouTube. I think one of my students may have requested it. For that entire year, the only way I could get one of my students to use his AAC device was to play Pete the Cat and work on colors, shoes, animals, and numbers. It worked like a charm. Two years later, as that same student rotated back to me at a higher grade, he immediately asked for Pete the Cat. I happily obliged (though bringing in new stories – my how the library has grown!)
In succession, I finally bought my own copy of I Love My White Shoes at Target. The cashier immediately started humming the tune of the song from that YouTube video. We talked about how much we loved Pete. Then, trying to get a preschooler to attend, I pulled up my old faithful video . The tears stopped and he started singing.
Goodness, if everyone doesn’t know and love Pete.
I can only compare James Dean’s creation with the work of Eric Carle. There’s something in its simplicity and repetitive nature that draws people in. We learn what to expect and can build upon it. Students feel comfortable in its pages and songs that please, but don’t necessarily surprise. As educators, we can easily latch on to the simplest, but most important concepts – colors, numbers, subtracting, emotions, letter sounds. It’s all fun, it’s all engaging, and it all works.
I don’t think a week goes by, especially now that I’m back with preschool and elementary students, without Pete joining in on a therapy session. He’s our welcome companion and my faithful helper in all things education.
It’s all good.