Learn to read with Super Why! and win a FREE DVD copy!

Last week I wrote about an opportunity to join other NY/NJ area mom bloggers in a behind-the-scenes 'Lunch-and-Learn' with the producers and creators of Super Why!. We learned what went into the creation of the hugely popular AND enriching show and had the chance to talk about our experience with learning from television. While I do not have a child who is old enough to engage in the PBS Preschool shows, I am an educator by trade and have used this opportunity to give a review from both the mom and teacher point-of-view. Plus, I had an opportunity to give away a copy of Super Why! which I'm super excited about!

Even though I taught Middle School and Math, there is a lot of similarity between learning to read and learning math. In my non-expert opinion, the best way to learn is through repetition, interaction and the ability to associate the lesson with reality. I was always providing alternative practice to my students either online or with additional worksheets. I got kids out of their seats and at the board-playing “math wars” or independent practice. When we learned how to solve word problems, I had kids create their own-crazy themes and all-because that helped them learn and gave them confidence.

And that’s what you’ll get with the Super Why! page at PBSkids.org: learning alternatives, interactive projects and opportunities to reinforce the TV lesson in your home.

However, just as there are wonderful positive aspects of learning through the Internet and media, PBS (and I) is not suggesting that these act as substitutes for books, but rather a compliment to the learning that goes on at school or at home. Though the reality is, not all children are lucky enough to be exposed to a plethora of books and reading activities, and that's why PBS has been dedicated to community programs like Super Why! Reading Camps in which communities around the country take children through a fun week of the Super Why! curriculum, resulting in impressive and exciting statistics. We [I’m grouping myself with the expert intentionally] want parents to know that learning through media is not doing a disservice. You’re not a lazy or bad parent if you let your child play a reading game for a few minutes while you clean or catch up on emails. As long as you monitor what your child is doing; all is good.

At the conclusion of the Super Why! 'Lunch-and-Learn,' us moms were given an assignment to test out a Super Why! curriculum with our children. Nicely packaged in a convenient wheelie PBS bookbag, the lessons were designed in the same fashion as the Super Why! camps where the same episode is aired Mon-Fri, but a different character and skills are explored each day.

The Super Why! curriculum benefits kids and parents in 3(and definitely more) major ways that I observed:

  1. The lesson format introduces children to the structure of a school day as some children are getting ready to attend Preschool.
  2. Provides a guide for parents to create lessons at home. All lessons can be tweaked to fit your home environment. Use the lessons as templates for future educational opportunities.
  3. While these activities are reading lessons, the learning process can be translated to other subject areas. The idea of getting up and getting active with learning is great for anything!
The individual lessons are structured in a way to help parents know what to do AND to help introduce kids to consistency, routine and structure:
  1. Even though an entire episode of Super Why! covers a variety of literacy topics, each lesson addresses only 1 at a time through each character, making it easy for the child to focus on a task.
  2. Each lesson has a script for parents to follow. If you are new to teaching your children at home, it’s so much easier to have a script to follow. It will help with transitions as you move from one activity to the next to use the same wording and phrases. There’s that consistency again!
  3. Each lesson follows the same schedule: Activity 1: transform into character and be part of the lesson with a colorful cut-out mask; Activity 2: Two worksheets expanding on the character’s super power (i.e. Alpha Pig constructed words with capital and lowercase letters); Activity 3: Extensions/Reinforcements-if there is enough time, expand on the lesson with another activity OR try something more challenging if your child is zipping through the given worksheets. And the activities are tiered, knowing that the range is 3-6 years old.
  4. While the activities are specific, they can be easily tailored for you and your family. For example, one of Alpha Pig’s activities is to help your child spell his/her name. As an extension, use magnetic letters on the fridge.
In addition to the curriculum handouts, the Super Why! program itself is set up in a way for children to interact with the characters on the TV. It’s as if Wonder Red is asking the child herself for his/her input when she pauses between question and answer (This is a tool used in all levels of teaching…the 3 second pause). An episode of Super Why! is like a live action CD-Rom or Wii game. From the opening problem to the conflict resolution, the characters bring take children along for a journey of discovery, trial-and-error, magic and problem solving which is unique to PBS programming.

Now since I have a few more years before I can really engage Maddy in Super Why! and other PBS programs, I am offering a giveaway of a Super Why! DVD of 2 episodes: The Three Little Pigs and Jack and the Beanstalk. With the DVD and the resources available at PBSKids.org, you can take your own children on a literacy journey and teach them that reading can be fun!

To enter, follow these simple instructions:
1) Leave a comment with the ways you engage your children in reading activities whether online, with books, or homemade projects.
2) For an additional entry, Tweet the following: "Get the power, the power to read with @MrsMoNJ's Super Why! Giveaway! http://ow.ly/fBve"
3) For 2 additional entries: Do a blog post about the contest

Contest ends FRIDAY JUNE 26TH AT 7PM!


NJ Playgrounds said...

My oldest Eric is really into learning how to read, I read alot to him too, and he is just beginning to do the letter sounds. We have some version of storytime everyday. Love the Richard Scarry books and Thomas the tank Engine. I will definitely look at Superwhy sounds neat!

CJStewart said...

My 5 YO son has been reading independently with comprehension since just after he turned 3 YO. Ever since he was a baby, we've had the alphabet everywhere--on the wall, magnets on every metal surface in our home, in his drawing notebooks, a box of 1,000 letters for him to play and spell with. When we were at the grocery store we would play the "what does 'x' start with" over and over and over... ;-)

My 3 YO is looking like he's going to follow in his brother's reading steps. We just make reading and spelling and sounds a natural part of each and every day.

Also, I think that it's really important to have access to lots and lots of books with subjects that interest them.

And, of course, they should see (and hear) Mom and Dad reading frequently.

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