While COVID has locked down playgroups and workplaces across the country, our Program team has still been hard at work on our Book Buzz program - an early learning program designed to instil early literacy skills in babies and toddlers.
Our Early Literacy Manager Linda and Regional Program Coordinator Josie, recently had a yarn about all the work they’ve been doing so this important program continues to grow.
“Our goal for Book Buzz is to reach 60 early learning centres and playgroups across Australia this year,” says Linda, “We’re currently sitting around the 45-50 mark. Playgroups are currently starting to open again after COVID and families are starting to think about what they want their playgroup to look like, and they really want to get involved with Book Buzz, which is fantastic.”
Linda and Josie have been working on expanding our resource kits for Book Buzz, and providing more opportunities for playgroups to engage with different content.
“We currently have four kits, focusing on four books, Where’s Spot, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and Dear Zoo,” Linda explains, “And we’re adding two others - Roadworks, and I Went Walking.”
Creating new kits involves a great deal of time and effort, from research, to collecting resources, and even trialling them with children before final decisions are made.
“It’s going slowly, but we’re getting there. It takes some time to get all the resources first, to trial them, and see if they fit, before we start putting it all together,” says Linda, “I can’t even think what the process will be like to finally getting these resources out to children via warehouses - that’s a whole other thing at the moment.”
Challenges are everywhere - from the size of toys to the colour. Luckily, our team is resourceful, and are even considering getting toys custom made for the kits!
“Apparently the whole of Australia doesn't have a duck the size we want!” says Josie, laughing. “And I was getting picky about the colour, because it’s a green duck in the book, but then we got realistic and decided maybe we can’t have a green duck. But then there’s all these different ducks - but they’re too big, or too small, or can’t ship to Australia. So we're going to look at maybe getting some custom made - and hopefully then it can be a green duck!”
Having resources like toys and puzzles to accompany books helps to develop different skills in babies and toddlers, and help to make the books more engaging.
“When teachers or families and services have props when they’re reading the books, they can make the story really come alive with the puppets or the toys that they have,” Josie explains.
“It promotes integrated learning as well,” Linda adds, “In addition to our focus on literacy, when you have those other resources, it targets other areas of development. If we send out things like puzzles, we target cognitive skills, if we send out construction toys we’re working on creativity, and critical thinking. So it helps to show families how to use those resources to support literacy in other ways and support playgroups to build on the books in new and different ways.”
If your FaFT or playgroup would like to register for Book Buzz or learn more about the program, please email Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.