Friday, November 30, 2007

Popular Guy

Archy's a popular guy in kindergarten.

He's been with me since 1979, but magically, Archy is 4.

He has impulse control issues. He blurts, he shouts, he yodels. Yet he is my constant companion in the early weeks of kindergarten because he is remarkably discerning of his emotional life. He can describe his emotions with amazing accuracy.

Yes, Archy is my mouse puppet. His whole name is Archy Denison, and yes, Archy was a stowaway on the Venturer and has been to Dinotopia.

Archy comes to my rescue every time I need to navigate some treacherous emotional waters: stealing, not sharing, name calling, cutting in line, being afraid of snakes, cats, dogs, or frustration or discouragement.

Rather than risk humiliating a child with light fingers, for example, Archy can pilfer a cherished bauble, get caught, and become the object of my lecture about not stealing. I can rely on Archy to reflect on his behavior quite skillfully, discover his feelings of remorse, and offer a heartfelt apology (always accepted) for his transgression.

Consider finding an Archy for your kindergarten.Here is Archy Gurning.

Gurning is the ability to make a good face. It's a family talent. My brother, Jim, of Dinotopia fame, has developed this talent. You can read about Gurning on his blog, Gurney Journey. Jim's well-illustrated blog is well worth a visit. Check it out at


James Gurney said...

What a great idea to have an Archie work through the cycle of emotions in front of the class. It seems so obvious once you explain it.

And thanks for the shout-out to my blog, Dan. Happy gurning!

Dan Gurney said...

You're welcome.

Your blog inspired mine.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Dan,

we are trying out this blogspot of yours. finished dinner.


Anonymous said...

Did you make your Archie, or find him somewhere? It looks like your hand can change he shape of his mouth.

Anonymous said...

This is a fun blog. We love hearing about the things you've learned over all your years in the classroom. Keep up the good work.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Martha,

For my readers, Martha is my older sister, a preschool teacher, who, along with her kids inspired that all important final verse of the Soundabet:

"Now I know my Soundabet,
It will help me read and write, you bet!"

Thank you, Martha.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Binney,

Archy adopted me at Luther Burbank Child Development center in Santa Rosa back in 1979. I've never found a puppet that can gurn like Archy!

Best regards,


DD said...

Archy is a brilliant idea. I know my kids love puppets, and I can communicate all kinds of things with them. Yesterday, our dragon puppet had control issues (amazingly, just like our 2 year old is having - hitting and throwing toys.) I talked to Dragon about it, and Dragon felt really sorry for what he's been doing and promised not to hit or throw toys at his brother's head anymore. Yesterday there was a HUGE decline in the throwing/hitting, so Dragon really helped me make the point.

If you ever need a replacement for Archy, you can probably commission someone from to create a duplicate for you. There are so many talented people there.

I like your blog!

Dan Gurney said...

Thanks, Darla, for the link to They do look like a creative group. I think Archy's going to make it for the years I've got left in the classroom. He has been with me for many years already.

I looked at your blog and website. I like your pencil portraits.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dan, for a great idea! I have a monkey puppet named Bono after the book, "Bono Goes To School." Bono does everything wrong in this book! Of course, he learns the rules in the end. The kids love cheering my puppet on and laugh at him when he does something wrong. I have always done this, but you inspired me to have Bono also deal with other issues. So when someone is having trouble in an area, I get out Bono and let him help me talk about why we need to behave in certain ways. They love it, and it is very effective!
Thanks for the great idea!
Heidi Butkus

Dan Gurney said...


You're welcome! I'm glad you let Archy to inspire you to do more with Bono. Bono's a popular guy in our first grade class.

By the way, my class is loving your DVD. We've all learned AND, ARE, and CAN and are now working on FOR and GO. I just love your DVD and talk it up to everyone who'll listen.