“Kids love the programs, and librarians, parents, and early-childhood educators do too,” said [Sally] Anderson. “’What’s the Big Idea?’ helps librarians expand on the things they already do, incorporating science and math into all kinds of ongoing library programs. And the opportunity to experiment and solve problems on their own is a phenomenal self-esteem builder for kids. The activities are fun, but this is also serious stuff, and the kids understand that. They’re not only playing; they’re discovering the rewards of intellectual satisfaction.”
Parents, almost unanimously, reported that their children enjoyed the program, and afterwards continued to talk about the experience at home. Most parents felt the hands-on projects were the best part of the session; some also mentioned the effective link of books to activities, as well as the positive social aspects of the program.
For each of the four topics, the Vermont Center for the Book has amassed an extensive, multifaceted bibliography of children’s picture books, a long list of related projects and activities, suggestions for independent discovery centers, and a selection of recommended resources and manipulatives.
A feature of the program as a whole is its devotion to the principles of scientific and mathematical investigation. The key is personal acts of discovery. “What’s the Big Idea?” emphasizes child-directed, hands-on exploration rather than adult-mediated instruction. Direction is provided in the form of open-ended, curiosity-provoking questions…