Last week, lots of schools gave students of break — a day off, less homework, emotional Zooms, virtual hugs. Teachers made the difference on difficult days that we won’t soon forget. Thank them. This week, as many kids move up, they deserve credit for persevering, too.
Treat them to a wacky half hour with Johnny Shortcake, Philly’s own, disco-infused Mr. Rogers, an inspiring Philly high schools commencement speech by Malcolm Jenkins with a done-right, family-friendly after-party, and more. And, as always, little ones can still look to Sesame Street.
Available on the Theatre Horizon Facebook page (ages 4—11)
Johnny Shortcake (David Sweeny), with his tight disco attire, oversize glasses, and giant gold jewelry, looks nothing like Fred Rogers. Still, as he sings a song, waters a plant, cracks a double-entendre, welcomes a by-video guest (Amos Lee, Martha Graham Cracker, and Eliza Hardy Jones have appeared), and dances with his 2-year-old, the Kidchella and Kimmel Center regular transforms his South Philly living room into a neighborhood we all ought to visit.
Through Aug. 14 online at performingartspdpr.org (ages 6-18)
Needless to say, humor has been in short supply lately. The performing arts arm of Philly’s Parks and Rec department is trying to replenish stock by encouraging city kids to exert their hilariousness. Philly comedy pros — Keith FromUpDaBlock, Jen Childs, Jillian Markowitz, Kathy O’Connell from WXPN Kids’ Corner, even the Legendary Wid — give pro tips on Facebook, have a Zoom master class planned for all entrants, and serve as contest judges. The rules: Get parents’ permission, make us laugh, and keep it clean, kids. Prizes include free comedy camp, T-shirts, and fame.
Socially distanced pomp and circumstance has become a necessary substitute to get the getting-out-of-high-school job done. The Philadelphia School District’s virtual graduation ceremony adds extra pomp to the circumstance, with Malcolm Jenkins giving the keynote, and some of the city’s most remarkable grads singing, reciting, and speaking. As for the Kimmel Center-hosted after-party: DJ Aktive, Good Girl, and SimXSantana will — let’s face it — comprise a better lineup than the one you’d planned for the block. Details at philasd.org/2020grad.
11 a.m. Tuesday and June 23, register online via libertymuseum.org (preschool and early elementary)
Brittany Lynn, Philly diva and story-time regular at the Please Touch, libraries, and indie booksellers citywide, is always extra busy during Pride Month. Between virtual parties and performances, the literary diva joins the National Liberty Museum to read you-be-you tales such as Red: A Crayon’s Story, Prince & Knight, and Marlon Bundo, plus just-for-fun classics like The Book with No Pictures and Chika Chika Boom Boom.
All the time at sesamestreet.org (ages 2-5)
Sesame Street isn’t exactly a social media superstar, but it’s still the first place to go for help for little ones’ big emotions — or when you just can’t bear to sing “Wheels on the Bus” for a billionth time. Highly recommended for frustrated, scared, overwhelmed moments: “Belly Breathe” by Common, Colbie Caillat, and Elmo, an oldie but a very goodie. Watch. Listen. Repeat.