Author Archive

Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad: Jumpstart’s official 2012 Read for the Record Book!!

“The Bug Squad is a team again!”

Jumpstart and the Pearson Foundation are thrilled to announce that the official Jumpstart Read for the Record campaign book for 2012 is Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad by David Soman and Jacky Davis!

In Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad, join Ladybug Girl, Lulu, on another adventure with her Bug Squad friends!  Together they will share their superpowers, fight off tall giants and aliens, and learn the importance of saying sorry.  This book offers great opportunities for parents and teachers to talk about friendship, encourage make-believe play, and help children realize when it is important to apologize, even if it isn’t easy or things don’t go their way.

And, for the first time this year, Jumpstart’s Read for the Record will take place over a full week from September 27 to October 4, giving record breakers across the country even more opportunity to support Jumpstart’s mission to work toward the day every child in American enters school prepared to succeed.  Again this year, record breakers will also be able to take part by reading the book for free at We Give Books (, the free digital reading initiative created by Penguin and the Pearson Foundation.

Stay tuned over the summer and into the fall for more Jumpstart updates, activities and initiatives for Read for the Record 2012.  In the meantime, stop by your favorite library, bookstore, or visit We Give Books and take a look at Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad!


April 6, 2012 at 9:15 AM Leave a comment

Book Spotlight: Gilberto and the Wind

Jumpstart’s sessions and its activities are inspired by 20 books, which we call core storybooks. Every session revolves around these books. They contain great vocabulary and there are many opportunities to apply to concepts in the books to learning that is happening in the classroom. I wanted to highlight one of my favorites today (along with some ideas for how to bring the book to life)!

Title: Gilberto and the Wind
Author: Marie Hall Ets
In this book Gilberto hears the wind whispering at the door and runs out to play. The wind teases Gilberto by carrying his balloon away and breaking his umbrella. The wind is playful too, racing Gilberto, lifting his soap bubbles, knocking down an apple for him to eat, and gently lulling him to sleep.

blur: something you cannot see clearly
clothespins: clips for hanging wash on a line
soft, mild, kind
making a long, loud cry like a wolf
a sudden tug
a toy that flies in the air, lifted by wind
a toy that spins in the wind
ready to eat
a cloth attached to the mast of a boat that the wind pushes along
not fastened, unlocked
speaking softly

Dramatic Play: Playing House
: Children can use vocabulary and comprehension as they engage in play about doing laundry, especially hanging clothes outside to dry in the wind.

Materials: Basic house-play materials including clothesline, clothespins, pillowcases, doll clothes and chairs to hang clothesline (if possible)


  • Observe children as they play and comment on their actions using rich vocabulary.
    • “Look at all the clothes on the clothesline! I wonder if they are going to fit on the clothesline. Do you have enough clothespins?”
    • “I notice you have washed the pillowcases and the apron and hung them up just as they were in the book about Gilberto.”

*NOTE: It can be helpful to string the clothesline between two childsize chairs so that the line is within easy reach of children.

Science: What Can Air Move?
Purpose: Children develop vocabulary and comprehension as they begin to understand that it is possible to investigate air and classify the results; observe an experiment and make predictions about the results, like similarities and differences.

Materials: Hair dryer (and extension cord if necessary); 3 shoeboxes with signs attached (Moved Easily, Moved at a Higher Speed, Did Not Move); Various objects to test


  • Use suggested vocabulary during discussion in ways that make their meanings clear: breeze, speed, wind, heavy, light, strong, weak.
  • Show children the hair dryer and turn it on the lowest speed to create a breeze. Tell the children that you will do an experiment together to test which objects the air from the hair dryer will move.
  • Read the signs on the shoeboxes and show children the collection of objects. Together, name each object you will test.
  • As you test each object, use rich vocabulary and make connections to Gilberto and the Wind when possible.
  • Have children select an object to test. Ask children to predict whether or not the object will move.
  • Place the object on the table in the path of the hair dryer.
  • For safety reasons only Corps members should use the hair dryer. Test at a low speed, then at higher speeds if necessary. Talk about what happens.
  • Have children place the object in the correct box.
  • Talk about how the objects in the same box are alike.

These are just a few of the possible activities that you could use with this book. Grab a copy…I’m sure you can find many more!

February 28, 2012 at 9:04 AM Leave a comment

Read, Read, Read!

At Jumpstart, we are constantly asking ourselves an important question: what more can we do for our preschoolers?  While visiting some Jumpstart sessions this week, I saw some fantastic reading strategies, language and literacy activities, and conversations around choice-time courtesy of Boston’s Community Corps (our older adult corps of volunteers).  But we all agreed that there is more we can do to make our four hours per week with these kids even more meaningful.

Recently we’ve been thinking a lot about our Reading CenterThe Reading Center is an option for kids to choose during choice-time, but is all too often never chosen at all.  We know how important early reading skills are, and know that we need to take every opportunity that we can to expose children to reading.  In thinking about what more we could do to sell our kids on the Reading Center, I came across some great ideas and resources, including some creative Reading Center set-ups from one of our very own Jumpstart Sites!

  • Jumpstart at Emerson College came up with these thoughtful and creative set-ups for their Reading Center:

By thinking creatively about their set-up, Jumpstart at Emerson College has made the Reading Center exciting and engaging so their kids will be more likely to make the choice to read with their Jumpstart friends.  Ideas like this make reading more of an experience than just reading words on a page–it becomes and engaging activity that kids can get excited about.

  • Reading Rockets also has pages and pages of tips and tricks for parents, teachers and even school administrators.  One of my favorite parent resources was “10 Things You Can Do to Raise a Reader–” this is a great list of quick, easy, every-day activities and reminders for how parents can get their kids off on the right foot when it comes to reading.  I also loved the “Themed Booklists” and the how-to on setting up a “Classroom Library,” because they reminded me of a lot of the things we are constantly thinking about at Jumpstart, and prove that there is a lot more that can go into teaching a child how to read then just handing him a book.

Do you know of any more great reading resources?  Share them here so we can come up with even more ideas to get our children invested in reading!

January 30, 2012 at 12:49 PM Leave a comment

Boston Spotlight!


Located in Mattapan Square, Mattapan Family Service Center provides a multitude of services to families and children living in the Mattapan area.   The service center is home to Mattapan Head Start, providing early education for children ages 3-5 in seven different  classrooms.  Mattapan Head Start also hosts two of Jumpstart’s Community Corps teams, whose members are primarily from Mattapan themselves! Learn more about Mattapan at

December 21, 2011 at 9:04 AM Leave a comment

Think Like a Preschooler

Last night I had an interesting conversation with a friend. While we were chatting, our conversation naturally veered toward the children that we work with and how often we find ourselves underestimating them.  That made me think of a series of questions that had recently been posed to me by a coworker. These questions compare adult knowledge to a preschooler’s knowledge–seemingly simple questions that 90% of adults get wrong, and the majority of preschoolers get right.  So, I posed these to my friend who has spent almost every day of her summer surrounded by 3 and 4 year olds:

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend …. except one. Which animal does not attend?

4. There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles and you do not have a boat. How do you manage it?

 She answered all of these questions wrong, and so did I.  Take a stab at them yourself before taking a look at the answers below!

 Each question has a purpose, one that is very simple.  As adults we tend to make things more complicated than they actually are and forget details in trying to look ahead.  I tried to use knowledge I already had (ie characters in the Lion King, my certainty that giraffes and elephants could not fit into a refrigerator, and figure out what “trick” there could be in the crocodile question) and found myself not actually listening to the questions themselves.  Preschoolers will answer these questions with the knowledge they already have and understand these questions for what they actually are, while each one helps hone their thinking and learning capabilities.  Here are the answers that preschoolers knew but two adult preschool “experts” did not:

 1. Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

2.  Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

3. The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory.

4.You jump into the river and swim across. Have you not been listening? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

 School is right around the corner and as we look forward to another year of learning and growth, I am going to try to remember just how young children think and learn and see what I can learn from them.  Sometimes it is easy to underestimate their young, mold-able minds when they might actually have all the right answers.

August 5, 2011 at 1:24 PM 1 comment

Admission is Free…so are the dreams. Thank you, Highland Street Foundation!

As a young professional in my very first year of work, there is one word that has come to mean a lot to me over the last year: FREE.  In polling my friends, family, coworkers and volunteers, I have realized that I am not the only one to whom this is important.

We live in a city full of culture and opportunities for exploration and learning, but many of these opportunities come at a cost, and often an understandably hefty one at that.  For a family of five, it can cost well over $50 just for a trip to the movies.  Prices like these are found across Boston, not only at local movie theaters, but also at some of our most treasured and important museums, parks and other cultural venues.  Being able to visit places like these is a huge part of our city, but it can often be difficult for countless families and individuals to take advantage of these opportunities because of the cost.

Here comes the good news:  this summer the Highland Street Foundation has partnered with different venues around Boston and greater Massachusetts to offer FREE FUN FRIDAYS through the end of August.  This means FREE admission to the Museum of Fine Arts (this Friday, July 1st!), FREE admission to the Franklin Park Zoo (July 22nd) and FREE admission to so many more events and venues throughout Massachusetts throughout the summer.  The Highland Street Foundation is making museums, parks, music venues and so much more available to anyone who wants to take advantage of them this summer.  Free never sounded so fun.

For more information on dates and locations for Free Fun Fridays, please visit:

The Highland Street Foundation

June 30, 2011 at 5:18 PM Leave a comment

Llama llama red pajama reads a story with his mama…

It seems like everything we do these days has to be efficient, convenient, and easily-accessible.  Dinner can be made in 5-minutes, appointments can be made online, and bills can be paid while simultaneously playing scrabble on your phone.

So why not take this one step further? We all know the importance of literacy and reading in a child’s early years, and this starts with having easy access to books.  We Give Books, an initiative of the Pearson Foundation, makes that possible by featuring children’s books that can be read online for free.  With the click of a few buttons, a child’s world can be open to words and illustrations by some of the best children’s authors, any time, for FREE.  

Even better, visit We Give Books to check out Jumpstart’s 2011 Read for the Record campaign book Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anne Dewdney.  Enjoy the book in full online, and help get our Read for the Record Campaign off to a great start–it’s that easy!

June 1, 2011 at 4:01 PM 1 comment

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