Some of you may know that I have developed an enormous Mr Rogers obsession. Long story short, about 9 months ago, I found out Amazon Prime offers more than 300 episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood with their Prime streaming service. I decided to watch one, and was immediately hooked. I was like, “this will change the way I do storytime FOREVER!!!” With that, I embarked on a crazy research project. I decided to watch AND read everything I could find about Fred Rogers. It turns out that this is a much more ambitious project than I originally thought. (Sidenote: I am a pretty expert couch potato. I was a film major in college, and I’ve worked for several film festivals, so I know how to get through video.)
I mean, 9 months, and I haven’t even finished these 300 episodes…and it’s not for want of effort or interest. Every single episode of MRN is FULL of CONTENT. What’s more, I have began to explore the MOUNTAIN of archival, documentary, expository, and professional development materials available through PBS, Fred Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Company, and the (independent) and astoundingly thorough Neighborhood Archive. And let’s not forget the books, there are many, many, many books by and about Fred Rogers, Family Communications, friends, fans, etc.
Suffice it to say, I have been taken over by the learning monster. So much so, in fact, that I haven’t even been able to really think about where or how to start. So I am just going to start with the smallest little bit. But believe me, this is just the beginning! In fact, I am cooking up a way to not only share what I know, but I would love partners. I’ve had a few librarian friends contact me with Mr. R questions of various sizes: big, small, general, specific, etc. I think in all cases, I have overdone it. But I CAN’T HELP MYSELF!!! This post is getting away from me, so I will get to the purpose of this post: Flannel Friday.
Ways to Praise a Child is a magnet board I made for my Toddler Timers, but it would be great for virtually any age. In fact, it would a great tool for a parent workshop!
I was reading through old issues Around the Neighborhood on the Neighborhood Archive (This is a newsletter that Mr R’s production company, Family Communications published for parents and childcare workers when the show was in production…Unfortunately, I CAN’T REMEMBER WHICH ISSUE AT THIS POINT AND THERE ARE A LOT TO SCHLEP THROUGH, BUT GIVE ME TIME AND I WILL FIND IT). Anyway, I was reading through these old newsletters when I spotted a little blurb in the sidebar entitled, “Ways to Praise a Child”. I clipped it to hang above my desk.
Then, as I was staring at it the next day it came to me…”This would make an awesome storytime activity.” I opened a google doc, and typed up all the phrases, played around with the typography, and Voilà!” I printed it on magnet paper, and had a great magnet
When I used it in storytime, I just asked parents, “Do you ever run out of ways to praise your children? I mean, they learn so much, so quickly, it can be hard to think of what to say without sounding like a broken record!” Everyone loved this, parents, AND ESPECIALLY THE KIDS! In fact, they loved it so much, we didn’t have a chance to read any books. The kids loved hearing the praise out of context. And during playtime, they weren’t only repeating the various phrases, they were demonstrating the behavior that triggered the praise! How cool is that?
It just goes to show, WE NEED TO STUDY MISTER ROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD! Kids, parents, teachers, and especially librarians must dig into this material! It will change your work and your life.
I can share the doc, if anyone would like to use it. Happy Friday! Megan is our lovely host this week…Thanks Megan!