Re-energizing Mother Goose on the Loose

Inclusivity and technology are new focuses

June 22, 2019

Audience participation at the Mother Goose on the Loose workshop
Using story time props to practice Mother Goose on the Loose.

Many children’s librarians nationwide have implemented some variation of Mother Goose on the Loose. The beloved program, created by Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen, teaches early literacy concepts in easy-to-digest formats for children, caregivers, and librarians. In a hands-on presentation, Diamant-Cohen shared some recent updates to the program and ideas for adapting it to a variety of settings.

In particular, Diamant-Cohen has reenergized her program to speak to the current climate with a focus on inclusivity, a discovery on the ugly history of nursery rhymes, and easier-to-follow templates that librarians can use to create their own versions of her popular series. She also updated notes on using digital technologies, STEM (and what that looks like for young children), and created an app to expand the reach of Mother Goose on the Loose.

Diamant-Cohen’s research indicates that children up to 2 years old need about 80% repetition, and recommends singing the same familiar songs and books so that children can really focus in and learn. She also recommends looking at educating the whole child through story times, and not simply focusing on one facet of early literacy. One focus is the importance of creating a welcoming and nurturing environment for both children and their adults to succeed in, which she said was inspired by her own experience as a young mother in an unfamiliar environment and how she was helped by seeing a friendly, non-judgmental face for preschool programming.

Diamant-Cohen’s work embraces the idea that before a person can learn something, they must first listen and then like something. Her ideas and enthusiasm were hands-on and energetic, as she called on the 100 or so attendees to join her at the front of the room for a demonstration of how to use shaker eggs, scarves, and nursery rhymes in programs. She also shared photos of children’s librarians from around the country and world using her methods for outreach to parks, daycares, and jails, and encouraged others to join the “flock” of fellow Mother Goose on the Loose adaptions.


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