One thing that our Education staff always enjoys is getting out in the community to help children and families learn together. Last year, we kicked off the Community Collaborative for Early Learning and Media initiative that brought together families to maximize learning. Our education specialists led family fun night sessions in the community where participants enjoyed dinner together before learning about coding, engineering and science with fun, hands-on activities.

This year we had to get creative with these family learning sessions since we could no longer meet in person. Thanks to our Digital Strategies team, we were able to offer the events virtually. Families received kits and emails with the resources needed for four sessions, and they worked at their own pace at home.

“We knew going into this that our preparations and implementation had to be modified and that we would face some dfficulties and challenges,” explained Martha Razor, manager of early childhood learning. “Staying in communication with the families and getting feedback from them was our biggest challenge. However, in the end, it all came together and we are very grateful for the participating families and our WHRO staff who helped make it happen.”

This year’s series of lessons and activities were based on the popular PBS Kids program Molly of Denali. Families discussed traditions and values and they learned how to read and create informational and procedural texts. Fun activities included following a recipe to make trail mix, creating a viewing scope and playing games.

"Overall, I think that the virtual Molly of Denali program that replaced the April face-to-face program went pretty well," Razor said. "Six out of the 10 families that had originally registered participated. Many were very appreciative and thankful to us for providing an alternative."

“My son really enjoyed the WHRO program,” said Heather, one of the participants. “The parts he liked best were making things, especially the recipes. He makes the smoothie almost every day. He is now more interested in making food and reading recipes.”

Another parent, Lisa, agreed. “Silas had so much fun with Molly of Denali! He especially enjoyed doing the craft projects after viewing the video.”

This Community Collaborative for Early Learning and Media program is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready to Learn Initiative for work with families of preschool and elementary school children. Other work under the grant has included spring break camps and professional development for educators.

See photos from past events at