An Enriching Experience at The Princess Kaiulani Keiki Fest

I had the pleasure of attending the Princess Kaiulani Keiki Festival in Hanapepe on Saturday. While there are many festivals that cater to children on Kauai, most of them do so with bounce houses, face painting, and water slides. The Princess Kaiulani Festival was a little different as it provided a much more enriching experience for children. This could be because it was produced by Mark Jeffers of Storybook Theatre, who has countless years of experience in early childhood education.

Take the parade for example. At most parades, children line the streets to see the procession go by. This is never the case with a Storybook Parade, where all the children are invited to participate. Racks of costumes were set out in the park for the children to choose their characters. This year, there were a score of bird costumes available for the children (and adults) so that they could play the role of native forest birds. At the end of the parade, they were invited on stage to learn about each bird and their importance in the Hawaiian forest. The parade itself had historical significance as it commemorated Princess Kaiulani, who was known as Hawaii’s most courageous princess. I was really impressed by the participatory component of the parade as well as all the details that helped the children learn by doing.

The parade was just one of the many enjoyable activities available for children. Other festivities included Taiko drumming, hula performances, a talent contest and a special performance of The Magic Paint Box by artist and puppeteer, Margie Rex. This performance was also participatory as children were given pens and paper to draw along with Margie as they delighted in the puppet show. Local author and performer Mark Huff and his daughter Theresa invited children to sing along as they performed children’s songs and read from his book. Several other local children’s authors read from their books including Carol Peacock , who read her bed-time story, Bennie the Beetle.

According to Storybook’s director, the purpose of the festival was to celebrate the health and happiness of children. As such, numerous organizations were on hand to provide health information and services including hearing tests. Kamehameha Schools and Partners in Development Foundation offered additional enriching activities for children and provided information about services available to children of native Hawaiian descent. Representatives from other agencies like NOAA were available to answer questions about Hawaii’s wildlife. Overall, a fun time was had by the children and families that attended this annual Kauai event.

For information on this event or Story Book Theatre  Contact Mark Jeffers 808 335-0712