12/1/2010
Twelve pre-schools and three Head Start program in the City of Springfield will participate.

The OWL 'Plus' ProgramTHE HAROLD GRINSPOON CHARITABLE FOUNDATION, United Way of the Pioneer Valley, and WGBY Channel 57, in partnership with the City of Springfield's initiative, Reading Success by 4th Grade, will launch it's OWL "plus" program Dec. 13, 2010 with all the City of Springfield's 12 pre-schools and three Head Start programs.   

All 15 preschools use the Pearson Opening the World of Learning (OWL) curriculum to teach literacy through multiple activities. At the core of the program are six units taught during the year which include Family, Friends, Wind and Water, The World of Color, Shadows and Reflections, and Things that Grow. Each unit following the theme has five story books that are read four times over the period of the unit taught. It means that 20 book readings take place over a period of 4 weeks. 

With the desire to encourage parents to continue to read these books to their children, one of the five books for each of the units will be given as a gift to the child to take home during the time the unit is taught. A special OWL book bag has been designed for the child to carry the book(s) home each month. As a means to begin to build a child's own library, a book box will also be going home during the month of December for the child to keep his/her books in as they are given.

Two very well known books will be going home this month, Peter's Chair by Ezra Jack Keats and Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells.

A newsletter goes home each month to parents introducing the next unit and the names of the five core books to be read. These newsletters also include activities for the parents and children to do together to strengthen activities taught. Now, with the gift of a book for each unit, parents will be encouraged to read these books over and over again to their children. 

There are large group activities and small group activities. Conversations with the children enable the children to begin to verbalize and interact over activities.

Of interest to the collaborators for the OWL "plus" program outcomes through informal surveys have demonstrated that there is an increase in cognitive, language development, and letter recognition. It was also found that there is a decrease in overt behavior in the classroom using the OWL program due to the variety of activities and a rapid change in the curriculum from one activity to another. It is the desire of the collaborators to build onto what is happening with the children in the classroom and to invite then to also be a partner in this wonderful initiative.

City of Springfield Pre-schools involved include Balliet Preschool, Edward Boland Preschool, Elias Brookings pre-school, Brunton Pre-school, Mary Dryden Preschool, Margaret Ells Preschool, Harris Preschool, Indian Orchard preschool, Rebecca Johnson Preschool, Sumner Avenue Preschool, Warner Preschool, and Washington Preschool.

The three Head Start programs include Carew Street Head Start Program, Mason Square Head Start Preschool, and the Eastern Avenue Preschool