What Is Mother Goose On The Loose?

Mother Goose on the Loose was created by Betsy Diamant-Cohen. In the early 1980s, she worked as a children's librarian in New Jersey and ran a variety of programs for children from birth to age three. These often included the recitation of nursery rhymes with accompanying flannel board characters as well as knee bounces and foot-patting games. After studying with Barbara Cass-Beggs in Israel in the late 1980s, Betsy restructured the program to incorporate the "Listen, Like, Learn" approach. She added many songs written or adapted by Cass-Beggs and redesigned the program to follow the format of a Cass-Beggs "Your Baby Needs Music" class. The result was Mother Goose on the Loose.

Mother Goose on the Loose is an early literacy program that uses rhymes and songs to help pre-reading children get ready for reading. It incorporates music, movement, ritual, repetition, positive reinforcement, developmental tips, nursery rhymes, illustrations, puppets, musical instruments, colored scarves, and book reading into a fun-filled thirty minute session for children with their parent or caregiver. It can be used as an infant/toddler program in a public library, as a circle time in a preschool, or as an afterschool activity for a kindergarten class.

In a typical session, the leader sits in front of the room with everyone sitting in a semi-circle facing her. She introduces the program, and reminds adults that "Children this age don't sit perfectly still," while giving guidelines regarding what to do if a child cries or blocks the view of others. Parents are reassured that the child who wanders around is normal, and are able to sit back and enjoy the program. Rather than having unrealistic expectations of the children, these welcoming remarks create a warm and accepting atmosphere -- just right for very young children. There, they have the opportunity to build their vocabulary, experiment with musical instruments, be introduced to social skills, experience language games, and participate in group activities. They also have time to strengthen bonds with their caregiver while snuggling and rocking together during lullaby time.

Although the typical Mother Goose on the Loose session is geared for children from 3 months to 2 years old, children as young as one week old have come and children as old as eight have participated joyfully in the sessions.

A typical session lasts approximately 30 minutes. It is comprised of 10 different segments which flow together smoothly. Each segment takes no more than five minutes. The leader follows a script -- not the set type of script used in a play, but rather an outline of activities that follow the tried and true structure of a Mother Goose on the Loose program. The script combines songs and rhymes and one book read cover to cover. Most sessions involve playing musical instruments. In a typical program, the body rhymes section might go like this:

Sample Outline of Segment 3, Body Rhymes

Head: Knock at the door / Eye Winker Tom Tinker

Fingers: Fingers like to wiggle waggle
Round and round the garden goes the teddy bear
Round about goes the wee mouse
Incy Weency Spider, Great Big Spider
(can use both spider puppets here)

Whole body: We hit the floor together

Movement with partners: Row, row, row your boat

Knee bouncing: Seesaw scaradown / Mother and Father and Uncle John / Oh the Grand Old Duke of York

Eighty percent of the material is repeated from week to week. This makes it easy for the leader to run programs on a weekly basis, since there is no need to recreate totally new programs each week, or to find new props to use each time. Brain research shows that repetition is one of the best ways for children to learn; children will get greater benefits and have more fun by returning to material that they have already heard than by being introduced to new materials each week.

Mother Goose on the Loose presents a set number of activities so children can develop their brains by learning a whole set of skills while having fun in a safe environment,

Q. What makes Mother Goose on the Loose different from other library programs for babies?

A. The difference is the structure. Each program has 10 different types of segments. These segments repeat and vary in an optimal 80 % / 20 % ratio. The program integrates the best practices from baby story time, including offering the adults developmental tips. In addition, the music basics of MGOL are patterned after a "Your Baby Needs Music" class using the "Listen, Like, Learn" method of the late Barbara Cass-Beggs, a true visionary of children's learning. Because of the structure, once you have led one program, the following ones are very easy to create and execute.

Each program includes one or two developmental tips which are short (very short) information items for the adults that are not part of the 10 segments. There are many types of tips that are helpful.

The above information plus more can be found at Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen's website: www.mgol.org