How can you incorporate Mister Rogers’ great life lessons into your classroom? In this month’s Appy Hour, hosted by Common Sense Media, we feature Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood website, an interactive extension of the classic and much-loved TV show. The theme of teaching kids to love and appreciate themselves, others, and their world abounds on this welcoming site for Pre-K and early-elementary kids. With Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, kids can navigate through Mister Rogers’ house, watch video clips, and listen to songs. Kids can also visit the Neighborhood of Make Believe, where they use their imaginations to create things, tell a story, and even build their own neighborhood.
In this month’s Appy Hour, Jeremy Nielsen, regional schools manager for Common Sense Media within Omaha Public Schools, hosts presenters Eileen Heller and Kristen Vollmar. Heller is a district technology trainer within Omaha Public Schools. Vollmar is a kindergarten teacher in Pickerington, Ohio, and a 2009-2010 Early Career Fellow for the Fred Rogers Center, and is going back to school to get her masters degree in educational technology.
Eileen Heller begins by highlighting the features and functions of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, including the site map, which allows teachers easy navigation; the section for parents and teachers; and what she calls the “meat” of the site: the songs, games, videos, and coloring pages tabs. Heller continues by giving a lesson on how to connect the website to a lesson. For a second-grade social studies class, she gives a lesson on neighborhoods. Heller shows the kids how to use Google Earth to find their school’s neighborhood and their own neighborhood. Back on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the kids watch the video about Mister Rogers’ neighborhood and then create their own neighborhoods in the game section. Heller shares other similar lesson plans as possible ways to connect the website to a classroom curriculum.
Kristen Vollmar first describes the curriculum she helped build as a fellow for the Fred Rogers Center. The great thing about Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is, even though most teachers don’t have access to the Center’s curriculum because it wasn’t widely circulated, the website gives teachers the same resources and contains the same curriculum. Vollmar dives into more specifics about the site itself and how she uses the site in her own classroom. Vollmar uses the coloring pages section and the videos to help kids remember facts about Mister Rogers and to spark conversation at home about the school day. Kids first color one of the coloring pages. Then, they watch a video and record two facts they learned. The students then take these sheets home and explain to their parents who Mister Roger is by sharing the facts on this sheet. This is a great way to help students remember facts they learn in school and make a habit of sharing what they learn in school with their parents.
To learn more about how these two innovative educators use Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with students, watch the webinar below.