Bang, Clang, Stomp: Creative Fun with Fred Rogers


As a long-distance Jewish grandmother with a background in child development, I’m always looking for ways to connect with my four grandchildren, who live in Chicago and New Jersey.

Having spent over fifty years working directly with Fred Rogers and on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and his legacy, I love finding ideas in his work that I can share with my grandkids.

I especially enjoy encouraging my grandchildren to be creative. Research shows that creativity is much more connected to success in life than IQ, and creativity is at the heart of Judaism, which encourages questioning, creative thinking, storytelling, creating beautiful ritual objects, and making something new out of something old.

Below is a delightful video that can inspire lots of creative fun between grandparents and grandchildren, in person or on-screen. It’s Mister Rogers’ visit with the Broadway performers of STOMP. Share it with your grandchildren, whether they’re children or teens, even if you or they have never watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Click HERE to watch the video of Mister Rogers’ visit with the Broadway performers of STOMP. 


Which parts of the video did you each enjoy the most?

If you were on that stage with STOMP, which of their instruments would you and your grandchildren most like to play? What attracts you to that instrument? What surprises you about it? 


What rhythm-making objects do you have around the house?

  • Spoons? Pans? Chopsticks? Go on a scavenger hunt, looking for five items around the house that you can use to make music or to make specific sounds (loud, swishing, deep, tinny). How about drumming on a tabletop with your hands?
  • Then have fun making music together like an orchestra. It’s a good reminder that different people like different things.
  • Did you notice that one of the STOMP performers said, “You can make an instrument out of anything”? When you tell your grandchildren they have original ideas, and you build on those ideas, those respectful words can build grandchildren’s confidence and encourage them to try new things. 


What familiar Jewish songs can you sing together, marking the rhythm with creative instruments?

Try it with “Zum Gali” or “David Melech Yisrael,” “I Have a Little Dreidel” or “Dayeinu,” or play along with klezmer or Israeli music on the internet. Sing while your grandchildren accompany you with their instruments, or try clapping together to a rhythm (for example, two claps, pause, one clap, pause) then stomping to the same pattern. Then put the clapping and stomping together. You’ll laugh as you try to coordinate your movements; it’s harder than it seems.

Whether you’re having this experience in person or on-screen, it’s a great time to let your grandchildren know how much you love doing things with them.

Hedda Sharapan began working with Fred Rogers fifty-five years ago, on the very first day of taping Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in October 1966. Currently she is a script consultant for Fred Rogers Productions’ highly acclaimed PBS children’s series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. As a senior fellow at the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania, Hedda writes a monthly newsletter and has spoken all over the country, helping teachers and others reflect on Fred Rogers’ timeless messages for children and adults.

Photograph by Stephanie Fink