Western Reserve Public Media
The Learning Triangle — Watch, Do & Read

Western Reserve Public Media encourage you to use "The Learning Triangle" when you watch our children's shows with your preschoolers. After you WATCH a program, try to DO a related hands-on activity and then READ a related book.


- Earth Day, Every Day!
- It’s a Big, Big World of Weather!
- All Treats and No Tricks!
- I Can Make It Myself!
- Get Up and Go
- Constructive Beginnings

This Issue’s Theme:
Earth Day, Every Day!

Children of all ages love to help others — their family, their community and their world. Earth Day offers them an opportunity to make a difference while learning valuable math, science and social studies skills. Use the following Learning Triangle activities to encourage learning through helping.


PBS Kids Share the Earth Day
On Earth Day, celebrate our world by viewing this special block of Clifford, Dragon Tales and It’s a Big Big World programming. Afterward, try an activity below and follow up with a book that relates to Earth Day — either from the list below or use one of your own!

Maya & Miguel
“Every Day Is Earth Day” For a school Earth Day project, the kids decide to clean up an old lot and plant a community garden. But as the deadline approaches, a rainstorm hits, turning the patch of dirt into a muddy mess. How will Maya get her friends out of the muck this time? (#163)



Old Items, New Ideas
Children of all ages love to help others — their family, their community and their world. Earth Day offers them an opportunity to make a difference while learning valuable math, science and social studies skills. Use the following Learning Triangle activities to encourage learning through helping.

Sewing Cards

• Used greeting cards
• Hole puncher
• Yarn
• Tape

Collect used greeting cards. Holding a card shut, punch holes one or two inches apart around the top, open side and bottom of each card. Cut lengths of yarn, taping the ends to prevent fraying. Let the children practice lacing the yarn through the holes, “sewing” the card shut. This simple task increases fine motor skills and teaches children to understand order.

Card Puzzle

• Used greeting cards
• Scissors

Collect used greeting cards. Remove the backs of the cards, leaving the front picture. Have the children cut each card into four or five pieces to make a puzzle. Allow the children to put the puzzles back together; permit time to swap puzzles with friends.

Card activities from Barney’s Watch, Play & Learn, 1998, Lyrick Studios.

Earth Day — Hooray! (MathStart 3)
By Stuart J. Murphy and Renèe Andriani

Clifford the Big Red Dog: Clifford’s Spring Clean-Up
By Norman Bridwell

The Great Trash Bash
By Loreen Leedy

Earth Day (Rookie Read-About Holidays)
By David F. Marx

Earth Book for Kids: Activities to Help Heal the Environment
By Linda Schwartz

Where Does the Garbage Go? (Revised Edition)
By Paul Showers and Randy Chewning


This Issue’s Theme:
It’s a Big, Big World of Weather!

Preschool children love to learn and explore the world around them, and this can include learning about weather. When children are taught about weather, they are also learning science (e.g., how snow is made), geography (cold and hot regions) and time conceptualization (seasons). The following Learning Triangle activities, books and programs offer ideas for teaching your child this vast, ever-changing topic.


It’s a Big Big World
This new show is set in a lush rain forest and presents science as an exciting process of discovery that taps into children’s natural fascination with a world much bigger than their immediate surroundings. Children learn about science, nature and geography, exploring topics such as the weather.



Weather Detective
Children can become weather detectives by thinking about weather, looking for clues as to what the weather is and collecting information about the weather around them.

Part One

Outdoor pictures in magazines/newspapers/books

Ask children to look for clues in the pictures that tell them what the weather is like. Ask them the following questions:

  • What are the people wearing?
  • Do you see any umbrellas?
  • Is it sunny or cloudy?
  • What kinds of plants do you see?
  • What other things do you see that could give you hints about the weather?
  • With all these clues, what do you think the weather is like in the pictures?

(Source: “It’s a Big Big World” activity sheet)

Part Two

• Scissors
• Glue
• Paper

If you would like to continue this activity, have the children cut out the pictures (or photocopies of the pictures) and separate them onto sheets of paper based on the type of weather, such as a winter page, a sunny page, etc. They can then glue the pictures to the paper, thus making a weather collage.


Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today?: All About Weather
By Tish Rabe

Mouse’s First Snow
By Lauren Thompson

Winter’s Tale: An Original Pop-up Journey
By Robert Sabuda

The Cloud Book
By Tomie De Paola


This Issue’s Theme:
All Treats and No Tricks!

Children of all ages love Halloween. While most people may only think of the holiday as a fun time with costumes and candy, we can also use this event to teach our children while preparing for the festivities. Try the following Learning Triangle suggestions to add learning to the fun.


Arthur celebrates Halloween by finding himself solving mysteries, reading ghost stories and using night-lights.

  • I'm a Poet / The Scare-Your-Pants-Off Club (#128)
  • D.W. Beats All / Buster the Myth Maker (#909)
  • Arthur's TV-Free Week / Night Fright (#207)
  • The Boy Who Cried Comet / Arthur and Los Vecinos (#605)
  • Fernkenstein's Monster / D.W., Dancing Queen (#804)


Make It Myself! Trick-or-Treat Bag


  • Colored felt cloth (including orange and black)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paper bags

Using the orange felt, cut out the shape of a pumpkin. Ask your child what shape it should be — short and fat, long and thin, etc. Using the other colors of felt, cut out various shapes (using a variety of colors and sizes). Have the children “carve” their own jack-o-lanterns by gluing the shapes to the pumpkin. Ask what shapes they think would make up the eyes, nose and mouth. Allow them to use whatever shapes they choose; there is no right or wrong answer. When their jack-o-lanterns are complete, tape or glue them to paper bags. The children are all set to go trick-or-treating, with their own designer Halloween bags!

Halloween Shadow Dance


  • Music
  • Lamp
  • Blank wall

Set up a room with a lamp shining on a blank wall. Play fun music, maybe even Halloween-type music if you have any. Ask the children to dance like a character seen at Halloween — they can be scary characters, such as Frankenstein’s monster, a witch or a wolf, or add in characters they enjoy, such as Barney or Big Bird. Have them dance while facing the wall, so they can watch the shadows of the characters dancing. Talk about what makes the characters appear different — big monsters, little bats. And by all means, join in on the fun! Seeing you act out the characters will help the children move beyond the tricks and right to the treats of this fun holiday.


Touch and Feel Halloween
By DK Publishing

Scratch and Sniff: Halloween
By DK Publishing

The Halloween Kittens
By Maggie Kneen

ABCs of Halloween
By Patricia Reeder Eubank


This Issue’s Theme:
I Can Make It Myself!

Children experience great pleasure and pride in creating their own greeting cards and gifts for the people they love, all to convey a simple yet powerful message: made by me, especially for you. Young children feel particularly proud when they can make a handmade gift for a parent, relative or friend. You can help them learn to make it themselves. Doing crafts with your children is a great family activity and builds confidence and pride in children.


Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Mistakes
The weekly theme is Mistakes. As your children learn to “make it myself,” they will make mistakes along the way. But that’s okay! Mr. Rogers shows children how to deal with mistakes and turn them into positive learning experiences.



A Gift for You


  • Paper
  • Markers and crayons
  • Tape
  1. Explain to the children that they are going to make a gift for someone special.
  2. Have your child or children make a picture or write a message on a small piece of paper.
  3. While they are working on the gifts, cut paper into 6-inch squares.
  4. The children can place their message or picture in the center of the square.
  5. Help the children by folding the opposite corners and taping them together.
  6. Allow the children to fold in the last two corners and tape them together.
  7. Ask the child to tell you who the gift is for and write that person’s name on the envelope.
  8. Discuss gift giving and how good it feels to give something we’ve made ourselves to someone we love.

From Mister Rogers’ Plan and Play Book, 1991, Family Communications, Inc. Used with permission.


Wrapping Paper


  • Tissue paper or brown paper bags
  • Sponge shapes, rubber stamps and/or fruit halves
  • Tempera paint
  1. Have the children spread the paper or bag out on a flat surface.
  2. Allow the children to make designs by using the paint and utentils.
  3. Give the paint time to dry. Now the children can wrap that special present!

From Barney’s Watch, Play & Learn, 1998, Lyrick Studios. Used with permission.

Party Placemats


  • 12” x 18” construction paper placemats
  • Tempera paint
  • Markers
  • Clear contact paper
  1. Have the children lightly paint one palm with the tempera paint.
  2. Have them press their hands carefully on their construction paper.
  3. Allow the children to decorate around their handprints. Make sure you or the child writes his/her name on the placemat.
  4. Depending on the occasion, you may want to encourage the children to make themed placemats.
  5. Once the paint has dried, cover the placemat in clear contact paper.

From Barney’s Watch, Play & Learn, 1998, Lyrick Studios. Used with permission.


Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present
By Charlotte Zolotow

Regina’s Big Mistake
By Mary Gallagher Rumold

Amazing Grace
By Mary Hoffman

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
By Doreen Cronin

How Kids Grow
By Jean Marzollo

Leo the Late Bloomer
By Robert Kraus


This Issue’s Theme:
Get Up and Go

Indoors or outside, we can’t forget about the importance of gross motor (large muscle) play. Whether or not the weather is cooperating, it is important to give children the chance to jump, run, climb and explore. Exercise and movement can be done in many ways and in many locations. Try the following learning triangle suggestions to get the children to get up and go.


Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fast and Slow
The weekly theme is Fast and Slow. Topics include roller skates and gymnastics.



Feelings Dance


  • Streamers or scarves
  • Music

Give each child a streamer or a scarf. In response to how the music makes the children feel, invite them to move and dance. Change the music from time to time to represent different emotions.


Tightrope Walking


  • Two 6-foot pieces of string or masking tape
  • Tape to fasten the string (if you use string)

Make a tightrope by taping a long piece of string or masking tape to the floor. Show the children how to walk on the line by placing one foot in front of the other. Help them walk on the line, but then let them try it for themselves.

From Mister Rogers’ Plan & Play Book, 1998, Family Communications, Inc., used with permission

Parachute Games


  • Sheet or thin blanket

Have the children hold the “parachute” along the edges with both hands. You can have them walk in a circle while raising and lowering the parachute. You can sing a song and move the parachute to the rhythm of the music.


Physical Exercise


  • Music

Explain to the children that exercise can make you feel good. Play music and have them follow your lead in doing some exercises. Let the children take turns leading the exercise. Some examples of movements are:

  • Raising hands over their heads
  • Lifting knees
  • Marching
  • Making circular motions with arms
  • Touching heads, shoulders and toes
  • Twisting from side to side
  • Jumping with one or both feet

From Mister Rogers’ Plan & Play Book, 1998, Family Communications, Inc., used with permission


Barney Plays Nose to Toes
By Margie Larsen & Maryann Dudko

Jump, Frog, Jump!
By Robert Kalan

My Mom Is a Runner
By Mary Gallagher Rumold

My Feet
By Aliki

Can You Dance, Dalila?
By Virginia Kroll

Mrs. Armitage on Wheels
By Quentin Blake

By Elizabeth Winthrop


This Issue’s Theme:
Constructive Beginnings

Play, building, creating and imagining are all wonderful skills that children have. We, as adults, need to foster these interests by letting children explore with new tools and materials. Children are fascinated with real-life objects that we use in our daily lives; however, sometimes the items they want to explore may not be safe for them. The following Learning Triangle activities offer some alternatives to the “not-so-safe” originals.


Bob the Builder
This animated series is aimed at preschoolers ages 2 to 5 years. Each episode follows the adventures of Bob and his machines: Scoop the leader/digger, Muck the digger/dumper, Dizzy the cement mixer, Lofty the crane and Roley the steamroller. Bob’s business partner, Wendy, and Pilchard the cat also help out in the builder’s yard.

The Berenstain Bears, The Big Road Race (#133)
Brother and his pals decide to join forces and build a car for the upcoming go-cart race.

Barney & Friends, BJ’s Really Cool House (#720)
The children learn that there are many types of homes and understand that homes may be made from many materials.

Barney & Friends, I’m a Builder (#910)
Barney and the children are inspired to work together as a team and build a castle after watching construction vehicles at a construction site.



Hammering “Nails”


  • Foam tray
  • Wooden spoon
  • Golf tees

Children can practice hammering “nails” by pounding golf tees into a simple foam tray.


Tools for Beginners


  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Tweezers
  • Tongs (large and small)

Children can use these items as beginning tools. Have the children use large tongs to transfer small items from one bowl to another. You can then gradually move to having them use smaller tongs and tweezers. This is great for developing fine (small) motor skills.

Shoe Box Town


  • Shoe boxes
  • Craft items
  • Blocks

Help your children decorate several different shoe boxes, which can represent different buildings in a town. You can use blocks as roads and tunnels. Have the children think of other household items they could use in their town.

From the Barney “Watch , Play, and Learn” Activity Guide


How a House Is Built
By Gail Gibbons

Building a House
By Byron Barton

Construction Zone
By Tana Hoban

By Ann Morris






Western Reserve Public Media The History of Western Reserve Public Media Be More PBS