Book helps kids make transition to kindergarten

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LEE — Transitioning from pre-K to kindergarten can be hard.

So the Berkshire Museum and Berkshire Bank Foundation have teamed up, again, to make that move a little easier — and a bit more fun — for students across the state.

On Wednesday, museum director Jeff Rodgers and foundation director Lori Kiely visited students at Lee Elementary School to distribute "In Kindergarten," a colorful book with activities and games to prepare students for their next step in school.

"The museum made this book a few years ago to help kids like you get ready for kindergarten," Rodgers told a group of students gathered in a classroom. "This year we are putting this book out to kids all over the state of Massachusetts."

In 2014, with consultation from early-childhood professionals and local kindergarten teachers, the Berkshire Museum developed in the "In Kindergarten" book using a grant from Berkshire Bank.

Copies of the book were given out in kindergarten orientations across the county until schools ran out last year.

This year, Berkshire Bank Foundation donated $80,000 to reprint 70,000 copies of the book and distribute it to school districts across the state.

Rodgers and Kiely went room to room meeting with groups of students from preschool and kindergarten. The kids, 3 to 5 years old, knew of the Pittsfield Museum by its signature dinosaur statue outside.

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While reading the interactive book to a class, Rodgers pointed out all of the stickers inside.

"My favorite sticker is the broccoli sticker," he said. "Because everyone likes broccoli, right?"

The room assured him that's not the case.

While they talked to the children in Lee, the museum's Chief Experience Officer Craig Langlois was in a van, dropping boxes of books off at schools. Museums and other education organizations across Massachusetts are also assisting with distribution.

"A top priority of ours is education," Kiely said. "If children are reading at grade three, we know it's much more likely they'll succeed later on."

Preschool teacher Emily Mertinooke said that her daughter received one of the books two years ago and loved it.

"We read it all summer long," she recalled. "It's great for skills and it helps with the transition."

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.


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