Meeting Clifford

Makenna Stueven, 2, smiles as she meets Clifford the Big Red Dog at an NET On the Road event at the St. Paul Public Library Monday afternoon.

ST. PAUL — Children and families were able to meet Clifford the Big Red Dog and participate in craft activities as part of NET’s On the Road event Monday afternoon at the St. Paul Public Library.

Sandi Karstens, communications coordinator for NET, said NET has done On the Road events since spring 2015 and does them every fall and spring. As part of On the Road, she said NET goes to a number of towns across Nebraska to deliver programming and activities, including kids events, live radio events, sports talks and town talks.

Sandy Day, director of education for NET, said the crafts at the event Monday afternoon helped to promote a new Clifford the Big Red Dog series on PBS Kids that focuses on Clifford’s life as a puppy.

“One of the things that I like the most is the (craft) where you turn your hand upside-down and trace it,” Day said. “Then, you cut it and make a bookmark out of it or you can put it on a stick and it can be a hand puppet. So when little kids do this craft, it looks just like a puppy Clifford.”

For another craft, kids were able to color puppy ears to cut out and glue onto a strip of paper to make into a hat. Day said the craft activity taught kids how to follow directions, color inside the lines and glue things together properly.

“Kids this age need help doing all that stuff,” she said. “Those initial coloring and writing skills, and following directions, are important. Clifford is all about the social and emotional development of the child, and not necessary about ABCs and 123s — that is for a little bit older kids.”

Day said one child at another On the Road event asked if he could make one puppy ear orange and the other black. She said she told him, “Yes you can” and urged him and others involved in all of NET’s kids events to be creative.

Day, a former educator, said one of the benefits of Monday’s On the Road event is that it provided educational opportunities for young children.

“Our early childhood department is (focused on) age 0 to age 8,” she said. “Obviously, we are not talking to kids when they are age 0, but are helping parents understand how they help their child develop. The early childhood piece is reiterating the strong bond between parents and kids. We are helping parents to get their kids to follow directions and be creative.”

In meeting Clifford, Day said young children were able to learn how to communicate in a proper and effective way, which will help them as they develop.

“Clifford is reiterating soft touches, affection, good manners and saying, ‘Hello,’ ‘Thank you,’ and ‘Goodbye,’” she said.

Day said the event also encouraged literacy as kids received a complimentary Clifford book. She added it also encourages families to read together, which is an important piece of early childhood education.

“We wanted to make sure that everybody got their own book,” Day said. “The power of that is that the book belongs to the kids and we want them to remember who gave it to them and how they got it.”

Karstens said some of the elementary school classes at St. Paul Elementary School attended Monday’s event. The school is next door to the St. Paul Public Library.

“That was really cool for the teachers to organize their day to fit this in,” she said. “It just reiterating a lot of different things like social and emotional development, and initial reading skills.”

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