WGBH’s MARTHA SPEAKS has been celebrating summer learning with a week of fun and vocabulary in three all-new episodes and a new, meaty online game, MARTHA’s STEAKS.  During the special themed week, “MARTHA SPEAKeth Weeketh,” fans can watch their favorite canine linguist “speaketh” in questions, in Polish, and even in Elizabethan English! Continue reading

Program Feature: Being Elmo Inspires!

Every day, millions tune in to Sesame Street to see one of the world’s most adored and recognizable characters — a furry red three-and-a-half year-old monster named Elmo. Beloved by children of all ages, Elmo is an international icon, but few know about his creator Kevin Clash, whose childhood dream was to be a puppeteer and work with his idol, Jim Henson.

On June 6 at 8pm, WGBY will air Independent Lens’ Being Elmo, revealing the man behind the icon.  Watching Kevin Clash become Elmo is a moving, enlightening experience, especially so for educators who need to inspire themselves and  students to value creativity and do satisfying work.

You’ll see amazing archival footage and present-day material as filmmaker Constance Marks explores Kevin’s story in vivid detail and chronicles the meteoric rise of Jim Henson in the process.  Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and including interviews with those who have known Kevin, this insightful and personal documentary offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look at Sesame Street and the Jim Henson legacy.  Check out the trailer for the film below:

At Sesame Street’s website you’ll find many links, including those to games such as Elmo Goes to the Doctor and Elmo’s Word Book as well as many others with beloved Sesame characters.   Sesame’s site for Educators and Parents also offers activities, including supportive tips to promote a fun and engaging learning environment at home.

Detroit Study Shows that Early Childhood Education Pays Off

A recent article detailing the Detroit One-Child School Readiness Dividend study reported that, for every Detroit child who enters kindergarten ready to learn, Michigan taxpayers save $100,000.  These figures were calculated according to  the economic value of preparing children for long-term educational success starting at birth.

The results support prior research claims, suggesting that children,  particularly low-income children, who attend high-quality early education programs are less likely to depend on taxpayer-funded services later in life.

This is great news for all the hard work going on in the City of Springfield to encourage reading success by fourth grade.

DINOSAUR TRAIN addresses ‘app gap’ through new distribution program

Recent research shows children in lower income households have less access to computers, smartphones and tablets, therefore, they have less access to educational media. PBS, CPB and Head Start have started a new program to help fill this “app gap”. By targeting community organizations that serve low income families and are already equipped with mobile and tablet devices, this program aims to increase access to educational mobile content.

The two new apps featured in this program come from The Jim Henson Company series Dinosaur Train and are designed to help children, ages 3 – 5, build critical math skills.

All Aboard the Dinosaur Train! (for iPad)

The Dinosaur Train is getting ready to leave and needs passengers! Children need to match the passengers with the right train cars, challenging them to problem-solve by estimating dinosaur sizes and comparing them with the train cars’ capacity.
Dinosaur Train Camera Catch! (for iPhone)
This app challenges players to snap photos of flying dinosaurs by moving their iPhone around. Kids “catch” the dinosaurs with their camera in a designated pattern, building patterning skills.
WGBY is a participating station in this great new program and anticipates distributing apps to over 500 local parents and children.  In addition to this special distribution in underserved communities, both apps are available to everyone in the App Store.
Learn more about these apps plus more Dinosaur Train educational games with PBS’ Ready to Learn site.

Three Tips for Young Children and Technology Use

“Our world and technology are rapidly changing; teachers and administrators face new choices every day about how to use interactive technologies”.
– Jerlean Daniel, Executive Director for NAEYC

This month the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) along with the Fred Rogers Center, released a new statement, Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8.

We’ve highlighted 3 key tips from this report and matched them with resources from Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train for you!

1)   Select developmentally appropriate technology as well as content. Look for opportunities for co-engagement.  Vinci Early Learning Systems, partnered with Sid the Science Kid, pioneers mobile learning for preschoolers through touchscreen systems and a curriculum which focuses on building young children’s learning capabilities.

2)  Technology and interactive media can be valuable tools to support hands-on, creative, and authentic engagement in a child’s surrounding environment.  The Dinosaur Train Geocaching Challenge is a family friendly outdoor adventure that blends technology, gaming, and environmental discovery. Get outside, get into nature, and make your own discoveries!

3) Television can be an engaging experience. Create interaction and eliminate passive watching.  Check out the Sid the Science Kid Tip Sheet: When You Watch – Five Ways to Start a Conversation. Enhance what children learn from watching Sid the Science Kid by engaging them in conversation about what they see on the show. These questions can help you get started.

Huffington Post: “Saying Yes to Digital Media in Preschool and Kindergarten”

This just in!  Check out this commentary on the Huffington Post regarding the use of digital media in early childhood education settings.  Lisa Guernsey, Director of the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation provides us with an important update from NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) regarding their position on digital technology.  They suggest that the use of active digital media in the classroom can provide great enhancements to lessons.  Beyond that, they encourage early childhood educators to seek the necessary training to make decisions about technology in the classroom.

WGBY Education is thrilled to see these developments; we will continue to work hard, providing you with great classroom resources and the necessary training for classroom implementation.

Sesame Workshop Launches “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me” Initiative

According to Dr. James Crall, an expert on oral health: “Some work analyzing national data has demonstrated that low-income children, in particular low income children from certain ethnic and racial minority groups, have rates of tooth decay 3 to 5 times higher than their more affluent white counterparts. There also has been an increase in kids developing cavities in their pre-school years, what we refer to as Early Childhood Caries or ECC. Many times the decay is severe enough that by age one or two these children have to be taken to the hospital for treatment under general anesthesia or they end up in emergency rooms, despite all the improvements we’ve made overall. A lot of this is avoidable if we can help families understand the importance of good oral health habits early in life.”

Because of this, Sesame Workshop has launched Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me, a public health awareness initiative encouraging oral health in America’s children.  Check out this “Brushy Brush” PSA featuring some recognizable celebrities (and Elmo auto-tuned!)

Read the full interview with Dr. Crall that explains the importance of oral health.  Make sure to check out the Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me online toolkit for parent and care provider tips, games, a tooth brushing achievement certificate and more!

Talk/Read/Succeed: Boosting Literacy Skills in Springfield

Springfield children and their families from two Springfield Housing Authority sites are being connected with tools, supports and programs to boost children’s early literacy skills.  Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Talk/Read/Succeed has brought together a strong group of collaborative partners, lead by United Way of the Pioneer Valley, the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County and the Springfield Housing Authority in a program that is part of the Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative.  The goal of the community-wide effort: 80% of Springfield’s children will be able to read proficiently by the end of third grade by 2016.

Check out the awesome work of this community collaboration in these videos produced by the Springfield Housing Authority:


WGBY is cheering on the great work of these community organizations.  Want to find out more?  Check out our segment on Connecting Point featuring Sally Fuller from Cherish Every Child and Maura Geary & Rosemary Hernandez from Talk/Read/Succeed.

To find out more about the activities in Springfield, visit the Cherish Every Child website.


Striving Toward Early Literacy Proficiency in Western Massachusetts

Through our work in the communities of western Massachusetts, it’s clear to us that most schools and educational/community organizations  are focusing in some way on literacy.  Last June, “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success” was released, summarizing the need to focus our state on reading proficiency by third grade.  With great work from Cherish Every Child among many other partners, a blueprint was developed for Springfield to raise reading success in our school children before fourth grade.

The goal of attaining 80% proficiency in Springfield by 2016 is an ambitious goal.  Because of this, WGBY is interested to hear about events and activities going on through your schools and libraries geared toward early literacy: both in Springfield and beyond.  For example, on March 5th, WGBY has partnered with Community Partnerships for Children at their Early Childhood Fair focused on Dr. Seuss.  Along with fun family friendly activities like zumba and a green eggs and ham breakfast, the fair focuses on the late, great Dr. Seuss and his contributions to literature.  The event will be held from 9am-noon at the East Longmeadow Council on Aging. To view the event flyer, click here.

One of the most important things we can do is to continue the dialogue about this important effort.  To check out a great blog that focuses on ongoing advocacy for early childhood education here in Massachusetts, visit Eye on Early Education.

Share with us your community events or school projects; we’d love to help in any way possible.