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Reading with Generation "Why?"

Young children and scientists have something in common: They both make discoveries about the world around them by asking "Why?" The Vermont Center for the Book's Mother Goose Programs is helping parents, caregivers and librarians foster that natural curiosity in preschoolers by introducing science through great children's literature. The program is called Mother Goose Asks "Why?" and has made its debut in the Rutland area.

Last week, folks who work with young children in 20 towns across Vermont gathered in Chester for a daylong workshop given by Vermont Center for the Book Executive Director Sally Anderson. Among them were Maureen Young and Julie Mazzariello, of Rutland County Head Start; Nan Josephson and Madeline Denis, of Rutland County Parent Child Center; and Jan Krantz and Julia Chamberlain, of Rutland South West Supervisory Union.

Each participant received a complete set of quality picture books, an activity guide, and hands-on materials to bring the program to their community. The organizations represented will each receive an additional ten sets of books and materials to share with the families they serve.

Workshop participants learned how to present the program to parents back home by doing some of the activities themselves. After looking over Steve Jenkins' and Robin Page's What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? the group practiced grouping and sorting animals by different attributes, using the kit's animal cards. Making patterns and sorting are two of the major themes in the "Same and Different" portion of the program.

"Recognizing same and different is a basic life skill," Anderson told the group of 45 participants. She noted people sort things every day, from the laundry to the weekly groceries. Anderson added, "Sorting is the basis for all scientific thinking."

Sorting is also a skill required by Vermont's Early Learning Standards. Anderson noted all the Mother Gooses Programs are standards-based, and intended to help children learn the skills they will need to succeed in school.

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