PBS Stations Celebrate the 100th Day of School in their Communities, Peg + Cat Style
By Chloe Gould
It’s the time of the school year celebrated with 1-double-0 glasses and long-winded counts to the big 1-0-0, a celebration that equals the excitement of New Year’s Eve for young kids. The 100th Day of School, celebrated between January and February (depending on the school district’s start date), is a big day for kids in pre-K and elementary classrooms, and PBS Kids is helping 45 local stations and their community partners celebrate in Peg + Cat style.
Peg +Cat has perfected the art of counting to 100, hitting the big number with a brood of yellow chicks in outer space and some scrumptious pizza pies, just to name two examples! So, for this year’s celebration, PBS Kids and Ready To Learn packaged a few of our favorite Peg + Cat resources for PBS stations across the country to share in celebrations at nearly 100 schools, Head Starts and libraries.
The PBS stations – from WTJX in the Virgin Islands to PBS SoCaL in Costa Mesa, CA and WCNY in Syracuse, NY – each received three Kindle Fire tablets and three Peg + Cat hopscotch-printed reading rugs at the beginning of January. The Kindle Fires were loaded with the new Android tablet-compatible Peg + Cat Big Gig app. With the app, children (or adults, because it’s that good) can tap out a few tunes while following patterns and counting by twos.
Each station put its own spin on the 100th Day celebrations. While some chose to host a station-sponsored event in the community, complete with characters and crafts, others worked the resources into activities local schools already had planned.
WGBY in Springfield, Mass. included the resources in a math-focused family fun night at a community school for over 600 students. Ohio station WOSU is working with 700 students in Columbus Public Schools for a celebration in mid-February.
In Southern Illinois, WSIU chose to work with two schools in Herrin, Ill. On Jan. 26, the station teamed up with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School to launch Catholic Schools Week. Along with the Peg + Cat 100th Day of School activities, which included a visit from Super Why and the station’s literacy van, there was a community blood drive and a Scholastic Book Fair. A Peg + Cat reading rug led the way into the “Feria del Libro,” or book fair, and kids glued strands of orange yarn, and a long purple tail, onto Peg and Cat popsicle stick puppets.
WSIU partnered with Ready To Learn’s Mobile Learning Program, as did many of the 100th Day of School stations, to send free gift codes home with parents so they could download several apps to their personal devices for free. The Mobile Learning Program offers eight free apps for iPad, two for iPhone and two for Android tablets, including the Kindle Fire.
The same week, WSIU visited North Side Primary Center, a much larger public school in Herrin, to host another 100th Day celebration before closing out Catholic School Week at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel with a Peg + Cat-themed Grandparents Day.
If your local PBS station, or your child’s school isn’t hosting a big 100th Day event, we still have you covered. All of our 100th Day resources are available here, and the PBS Kids, PBS Parents and PBS Kids Lab sites are full of other Peg + Cat activities that fit right in with the festivities, like the Big Jig flipbook, the Pirates + Peaches board game, or the Chicken Coop activity page.
Chloe Gould is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism, and is working as an intern for the Ready To Learn Program at PBS.
Nashville Station and Local Promise Neighborhood
Work Together to Help Close Digital Divide
In Nashville, public television has partnered with a local Promise Neighborhood, a project dedicated to revamping the community through education, access to technology, financial literacy and basic healthcare. Nashville Public Television (NPT) is one of three local PBS stations that are laying the groundwork for an ongoing partnership with the nation’s promise neighborhoods, which are funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Nashville Promise Neighborhood serves an area of the city that clearly faces the greatest need. It is separated by the Cumberland River from the bulk of downtown Nashville and includes the oldest and largest public housing development in the city. The area houses close to 10,000 people, 31 percent of which are children under the age of 18. Only 50 percent of the families have access to the Internet or a computer. In an effort to increase that number, the Martha O’Bryan Center—a key partner in the Promise Neighborhood—installed television portals with broadband access in 150 homes. The portal, along with a wireless keyboard, turned the family television into a computer.
“What they were doing fed into what we were doing when it came to trying to bridge the digital divide,” said JoAnn Scalf, the director of education at NPT.
NPT was able to provide the digital content for the families, from online games on PBS Kids and PBS Kids Lab to Ready To Learn apps downloaded with gift codes made available through the Mobile Learning Program. The station also provided parent workshops, back-to-school events and a kindergarten kick-off.
During one of NPT’s workshops, parents learned computer and Internet basics while their children were occupied playing with educational apps on the iPad. The skills learned by the parents will help them enormously in their everyday lives, including looking for jobs (99% of all U.S. jobs only accept online applications)
“This unique portal of information that was designed by and with our community would not have been successful if we had no opportunity to tell our families and show our parents and our students what’s available to them,” said Robin Veenstra-VanderWeele, Promise Neighborhood director at Martha O’Bryan Center.
The Martha O’Bryan Center, in Cayce Place of East Nashville, each year works with 6,000 children and adults living in poverty to supplement education, secure meaningful employment and create an outlet for fellowship. NPT, with Ready To Learn funding, bought iPads for the Center’s three pre-K classrooms (serving around 100 students) and the on-site library.
“Students and parents are fantastically excited about the content,” said Veenstra-VanderWeele.
NPT also worked with Metro Nashville Public Schools to bring three or four iPads into every one of the district’s 32 pre-K classrooms. Gift codes for free Ready To Learn apps, like Martha Speaks: Story Builder and All Aboard the Dinosaur Train: Camera Catch, were also distributed to these classrooms.
“They were very excited and the children just took to it very well. I think there were a lot of benefits there,” said Scalf. “The teachers and the care providers, before and after school, integrated the content into their programs and they felt like it had an impact on the achievement of the students.”
In its partnership, NPT was able to expand the mission of the Promise Neighborhood—which had been planned around kindergarten through eighth-grade education—to include early childhood education with the PBS Kids and Ready To Learn resources.
“It allowed us to dramatically expand and re-envision our project to include cohorts of families whose primary reason for joining the project was early education,” said Veenstra-VanderWeele.
It’s an impact that has been witnessed by NPT, the staff at Martha O’Bryan Center, the teachers in Metro Nashville Public Schools and the parents of these children—Pre-K through eighth grade.
A mother from Somalia, who has six children—two in high school, two in middle school, one in grade school and one in Pre-K—left a voicemail for Veenstra-VanderWeele that summed up the impact, and the success, of a start to a close of the digital divide in this East Nashville community.
“Miss Robin, I need you to know that in one weekend that we’ve had the opportunity to use this equipment (the television portal and PBS content), my children and I have learned more English and more about how to read than we have in the entire six years that we’ve lived in the United States,” said the mother.