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Libraries offer 'Big Idea' science and math kits

PLATTSBURGH The Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System has introduced a series of science and math learning kits for children called Whats the BIG Idea? that are available for parents, teachers and caregivers to check out from their local public libraries. Developed by Mother Goose Programs and funded by the National Science Foundation, the BIG Idea kits are designed to introduce children ages 3-7 to math and science concepts before they enter school. Each kit comes in a colorful box with a handle and contains one or two books relating to a specified concept, a set of materials for hands-on learning, and an instruction manual. Six kits are currently available in the Whats the BIG Idea series: Recognizing Same and Different Building Collecting and Sorting Number Patterns Shadows Patterns and Relationships Everywhere Children are encouraged to explore, and in the process they practice important math and science skills, concepts and language. They learn to observe, measure, estimate, predict, communicate, ask questions and solve problems, among other things. The material is consistent with state education standards, giving parents a tool they can use at home to help prepare their children for success in school. These kits offer a wonderful introduction to science and math, and really help parents build their own skills and confidence in working with their children and helping them develop a lifelong love of learning and exploring, said Kathie LaBombard, youth services consultant for the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System. For example, a kit on Building features a set of 100 blocks in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, as well as the book Lets Try it Out With Towers and Bridges by Seymour Simon and Nicole Fateaux. As the book tells its story, children are encouraged to try building different structures and shapes, and test the strength of different foundations, bridge shapes and materials (including paper and corrugated cardboard). Materials are either included in the kit, or are items that can be found at home. A kit on Recognizing Same and Different includes a collection of items for sorting and the book Five Creatures by Emily Jenkins, which describes the many ways that a mom, dad, daughter and two cats are the same and different. The kit teaches children to observe, describe and compare sizes, shapes, quantities, colors and functions; notice similarities and differences; and put objects into groups based on shared attributes. Whats the BIG Idea? kits are available at many local libraries, by interlibrary loan or on the CEF Bookmobile. For more information about Whats the BIG Idea? kits, visit your local library, check the CEF Website at www.cefls.org or visit www.mothergooseprograms.org

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