I tend to start conversations with this preamble:
“I have this crazy idea…..”
Most of the time it results in amusing thought experiments, but every now and then, when the stars align just right, and the right people are part of the conversation, synergies leverage, paradigms shift, everyone does their part and something awesome happens.
Such is the case with the Mother Goose on the Loose App. I was working with Betsy Diamant-Cohen on workshops for incorporating new media into Mother Goose on the Loose workshops, and I’d been using the Software Smoothie Felt Board App since the very beginning of my digital storytelling journey in 2011. I was looking at Betsy’s felt board pieces and singing her songs & rhymes and I thought….
“Wouldn’t it be great if we had a digital felt board version of this?”
So I introduced Betsy to Mindy & Dave Douglas, floated the idea, and they worked together to produce the app that is launching today. It’s pretty amazing to see an idea come to fruition like this, but to have it available for free is even better. The app is designed to be a storytelling tool both for use in storytimes with a group, and one-on-one with a child and caregiver. Storytellers can model using familiar songs and rhymes with accompanying images, or using the felt pieces to co-tell new stories together. For an example, you can sing along with the recording of the Grand Old Duke of York, and make him go up and down with his men, or you can use new pieces (like the boat, which we can use for row-row-rowing as well) and make up a new story about what’s doing in the boat. I actually did this with my son; it turns out that the poor old duke goes over a waterfall and turns into a rocket ship, but your story might be different.
Here’s the press release for the launch:
Birmingham, AL – Software Smoothie, the developers who brought you the original Felt Board app for the iPad, and Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen of the award-winning early literacy program, Mother Goose on the Loose, are pleased to announce the release of the Felt Board – Mother Goose on the Loose app.
Felt Board – Mother Goose on the Loose is a nursery rhyme flannel board app designed for young children to use along with their parents and caregivers. It features favorite nursery rhyme illustrations and sound recordings from the popular Mother Goose on the Loose program, which is offered to families in public libraries all across the country. Together, children and caregivers are able to help Bo Peep find her lost sheep and dance them around the screen, guide Jack and Jill up and down the hill, march with the Grand Old Duke of York, jump 2 Little Monkeys on and off the bed, and more.
“With Felt Board – Mother Goose on the Loose, Software Smoothie brings historic mother goose rhymes to 21st century learning for children, educators and parents,” says Jackie Bryla, SLPA and founder of ACT – Apps Consultation and Training. Felt Board – Mother Goose on the Loose is a versatile app that encourages parent-child interaction, and also reinforces early literacy skills. It can be used in the home, library, and in early childhood education settings.
The app also includes an information section with tips from Dr. Diamant-Cohen for parents using the app together with young children, and for librarians seeking to incorporate the app into their Mother Goose on the Loose library program. She stresses the importance of parents interacting with their children when using technology, and offers this advice for librarians seeking to incorporate technology into their early childhood programs:
“Technology and new media handled with careful consideration, in moderation; In ways that fit with the program’s intent and don’t overwhelm, that enhance but don’t replace, and that encourage parent/child interaction are appropriate for use in a Mother Goose on the Loose program.”
The app was created based on a recommendation by Cen Campbell, a children’s librarian and founder of LittleeLit.com, a website dedicated to helping libraries incorporate digital media into their early literacy programming. She has used both the original Felt Board app for the iPad and Mother Goose on the Loose in her program, and imagined bringing the two groups together to create an app. Ms. Campbell made the introductions that sparked the conversation and collaboration, resulting in a finished project that all are extremely proud of.
These are the felt board songs I did at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. I usually play the first verse on one of my woodwinds with the image showing, then sing the words, and on the third run through of each song I switch to the lyrics and invite everyone to sing with me. I try to establish a beat or swaying motion before every song. That way I can get people to learn the song through audiation (hearing the song in their head before they begin to sing), feeling it in their bodies, understanding the content of the song visually through the felt board image, hearing the words sung and seeing them written. Everyone sings along by the end, even if they don’t know the words, because this is such an information-rich way to introduce a new tune!
Check out our Digital Felt Board Collection for more ideas!