Furry may just be a little penguin, but he is full of possibilities. We had no idea what this little waddling flapper was able to do to change the life of a kindergartner named Mac. Furry's story is true and is told through two stuffies name Mac and Furry by Mac's mom, Ann Yurcek. The illustrations are by her friend, Jodee Kulp.
The USA has a literacy problem. Join us as we work to change this!
Literacy is the foundation for all learning, yet nearly 40% of all fourth graders in the United States read below the basic level. 60% of all juvenile offenders have problems reading. 40% of adult Americans have trouble reading.
Furry – The Little Penguin That Could is designed to be read one chapter at a time aloud. Through the true story of a Kindergarten full of stuffed animals and a little boy who could not speak a miracle happens.
And that miracle builds empathy in children, besides increasing love for reading and being read to. Fictional characters help create empathy in children. Furry and Mac are REAL!
U.S. literary average: below-basic – Let’s become a nation of readers again instead of screentime
According to a 2018 survey of American families, only 30 percent of parents reported reading aloud to their kids for at least 15 minutes a day. Yet reading together aloud for only 15 minutes a day creates immense rewards for children and their families. http://www.readaloud.org/surveyreport.htm
Starting any day you want to begin, Furry and Mac challenge your family to a “Snuggle Down, Cuddle Up” Challenge of one month of bedtime reading. We offer a whole bunch of FREE ideas for each chapter of Furry: The Little Penguins That Could to help children grow and families enjoy time together. Or Join Our FREE Furry the Penguin Curriculum Program and take a chapter per week.
We want you and your children to cherish this time together of memory-making.
Reading is a tradition that will follow your children through adulthood and these cherished moments are gifted to your future grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Talk with your child about how unique the child’s name is and if you know how they got their name. You can share that it is good people and animals and things have names, or we would have to say, “Hey you!” and no one would know which you, you are. Or for an animal we would call out, “Hello dog!” and that would not work too well either. And as for things, it never works very well to say, “I need that.” It is better to be more specific. Specific means you are telling more about something, so you know who is talking to or about who and what you really need instead of what you really do not want.
A long time ago, people only had only first names.
Then people had names with their jobs. So for example, John Cooper would be John who is the cooper or barrel maker who lives in my village which is a small town. A barrel maker was an important job. Before we had electricity and refrigerators and running water people kept dried food and liquids in barrels. The barrels kept the small animals from eating the food.
Furry’s shared reading guided lessons are a sequence of interactive discussions, games, worksheets, and other activities to guide early learners through different concepts and skills as they learn and gain skills. When you sign up for our FREE Curriculum platform – you will receive a more complete set of curriculum ideas, empowerment sheets, list of additional books for children, video access to Mrs. C reading the chapter and an e-chapter book.
Furry uses Stuffies as bridges to help remember new learning
Furry encourages Stuffie Study Buddies
A Stuffie becomes the connection in the non-training settings and an educational Emotional Support Partner. Some children may work hard to learn something at home or school and they are incapable of using that new learning in another location. Generalization refers to the transfer of what is learned in one setting to another setting without explicit teaching in the second transfer setting. A Stuffie with a light scent (essential oil) that appeals to the child can become a bridge “common stimuli” between classrooms, or home and school to help connect to new learning.
Reading Furry – The Little Penguins That Could allows all children to interact:
Each chapter lesson builds on learning through friendships, fun, and laughing together!
Furry uses Stuffies to play and to learn! Furry loves to play “Red Light, Green Light”
Grab a Stuffie and Ready, Set, Go for a game of Red Light Green Light. Partner participation, movement and laughter go along with two words “go” and “stop”. Over time, Furry adds “Yellow Light”, “Yield”, or “Slow” with children as they practice using listening ears, watchful eyes, or supporting peers in play as they learn the words.
While playing Red Light Green Light Furry introduces: – Street traffic signs and lights. – American Sign Language. – ACC Picture words – Braille dots 30 chapters of FUN FREE curriculum progress.
After you have read the story once aloud and talked about the chapter, read the chapter again.
When you reach a word you and the child are practicing, keep your finger in place, pause, and allow the child to indicate the word with a sign, blink, click, breath or motion you have selected. Please do not do this with emergent readers as it will confuse their thinking process and the flow of listening to the story.
Act out the story as it unfolds and take turns doing what the characters are doing.
Host a “Once a Month Evening Read-In” Choose a book, add some pizza or popcorn.
Students can bring Stuffies and wear pjs.
Invite parents, community members, local television, author, or local sports figures to be mystery readers.
Unveil the book for next month during the read-in.
Run a “Get Caught Reading Raffle” – every time a teacher ‘catches’ a student reading the student gets a ticket and goes into the draw for a weekly prize.
Have a book drive for your local police station of children’s books so they have a selection of books for children in crisis.
Raise money with a Read-a-Thon Instead of spending time selling overpriced fundraising products, students focus on reading. Students commit to completing 10 reading sessions, ranging from 10-30 minutes a day for 10 days. They can choose any book they want to read. Readers build personal Read-a-thon pages that they share with friends and family using social media, email or text. Those friends and family are asked to support the reader by making a one-time online donation. https://www.read-a-thon.com/
Join the Little Free Library program. Little Free Libraries inspire a love of reading, build community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. If you have public transportation set up your Little Free Library near the bus or train stop. https://littlefreelibrary.org/
Stuffie Emotional Support Partners connect bridges between children’s hearts and minds?
by Jodee Kulp
Emotional Development of a child provides confidence and strength as an adult.Healthy positive relationships without trauma allow children to develop compassion, empathy, and an understanding of right and wrong. They learn to trust.
Stuffies are filled with what Furry the Penguin calls “Stuffun-La-Muffins.”
Stuffies provide unbiased consistency by simply being available as a silent emotional support partner.
Emotional Support Partners are important in the development of children and actually help build skills in emotions, language, social skills and belief in the impossible.
Here are 4 ways a beloved Stuffie helps a child develop emotionally.
Stuffie touch is powerful and cuddling with a soft Stuffies give children the touch of a friend. Children cuddle into the warmth and softness. Healthy soft touch provides a sense of peace.
Stuffies are calming. Stuffies can help children calm and soothe when life is hard. Stuffies can help distract from a painful experience or give a child courage to face a procedure. They can also become the training wheels to love a pet or as Furry did to connect with other children.
Stuffies help self-soothe. Stuffies help a child self-soothe without the help of mom or dad or grandparents. Stuffies are a source of stress relief. Stuffies give emotional well being when life can be scary, strange or just new.
Stuffied encourage development of empathy and compassion. Stuffies are loveable and children connect to them.
Stuffies whisper nice things to children and help them work out unsolved problems by speaking the problem aloud plus children whisper nice things back to Stuffies. They practice positive and loving speech.
Stuffies listen. Stuffies know how to remain quiet when a child is talking and not step on their thoughts or words. You can tell a story to a stuffie and they pay attention to every word.
Stuffies are available. Stuffies never ignore a child when a child needs comfort. Stuffies do not take time to watch a sports show, talk on the phone, play video games or look at their cell phones. Unless Stuffies are pretending they are usually not busy with laundry, or work, or cleaning.
Stuffies understand what you are saying. Stuffies know and understand the language of each special child.
Stuffies understand acceptance. Stuffies help children test emotions. Sometimes we are kissed, pulled, and dropped. Stuffies are positive and they help increase the positive.
Stuffies practice life skills. Stuffies are fed and put to bed. Stuffies play doctor and dentist, they ride buses, and trains, and go to school. They help build the responsibility of caring for another thing, remembering to pick it up and keeping track of a Stuffie so you do not lose your friend. Stuffies usually need care and attention daily especially in the early morning and going to bed times.
Stuffies go places. Stuffies become the transitional object that allows a child to feel safe and connected in new or more challenging environments (doctors, hospitals, visiting others). Stuffies feed imaginations and are great at pretending.
Stuffies are friends. Stuffies are friends that love you just for being you in all your good behavior and behavior others may not understand. Stuffies are often a child’s first playmate or the playmate available when friends return home.
BELIEVE IN THE IMPOSSIBLE – TOGETHER WE CAN!
Stuffies provide possibilities. We can’t tell you why or how, but when a Stuffie becomes REAL to a child it increases – confidence, courage, and creativity.
Stuffies create goal setting. Children learn to plan new events with stuffies. They can practice their events and then be more confident when working toward the goal. Stuffies encourage children to try new things.
Stuffies reach inside. Somehow a Stuffie reaches the kindness of the heart of a child and from that kindness of Stuffun-la-Muffins – the child’s lovely heart emotions for nurturing another also grow.
Stuffies are conversation starters. Stuffies help children say things they may be afraid to say alone and in Furry the Penguin’s case, started a whole Kindergarten talking with a a little boy who did not have words in school.
Developed by Marcia Chambers,
Ann Yurcek, Jodee Kulp, Jeff Peterson, Mac, his friends,
and all the Kindergarten Stuffies.
Read Together with Shared Reading
Furry – The Little Penguins That Could is designed to be a Shared Reading opportunity for children in schools, day programs, and homes. Children learn through play. Furry is playful, can be silly, and meant to be enjoyed. Shared reading creates a sense of togetherness in the classroom or at home. It empowers children to become peers and support partners. Shared Reading is an interactive reading experience that happens when students share reading a book while supported and guided by a teacher, friend, or caregiver.
The “Reader” models reading with expression and fluency. The child connects as he or she communicates with the story. As you will learn in Mac’s life, he connected through a stuffed penguin. Shared reading supports and encourages emerging readers to participate while listening and understanding the story.
The Furry -The Little Penguins That Could Shared Reading Curriculum is designed to enhance the love of reading through listening, playing, and participating with others.
The thirty chapters in this 204-page book stand-alone or can be read together. Each chapter is between 4-15 minutes of reading. Written above the reading level of many 3 to 8-year-olds, shared reading of this 30 chapter, fully illustrated book allows children to participate in a challenging reading experience regardless of ability. Children will get a sense of accomplishment. Main Readers will discover each curriculum chapter is filled with ideas to create a classroom that bridges friendships, promotes acceptance of differences, and includes everyone.
Furry provides chapter videos and links to help the main readers develop skills. We offer creative learning ideas for art projects, listening, talking, singing, movement, and playing games to build a love of reading.
Furry is a true story about a real child. The story reaches out to all ages and stages of readers.
The Furry curriculum is designed for children ages 3-8 in three developmental reading levels: 1. Emergent readers. 2. Beginning conventional readers. 3. Conventional readers.
Emergent readers are individuals beginning to grasp the basic concepts of book and print.
Shared reading of this book with emergent readers is engaging and multi-sensory. If a child is showing interest, asking a question, or making a statement take the time to engage the child
Emergent readers are encouraged to:
Talk about the story.
Look and talk about the picture.
Enjoy the reading experience.
Emergent readers are learning the alphabet. Research has shown that learning the UPPERCASE letters first, which have more variation leads to better understanding and allows for the transition to learning lowercase letters while developing many phonological awareness skills. These skills include recognizing phonemes (sounds that each letter makes), syllables, and rhyme. As they progress they begin to learn sound/symbol relationships starting with consonants and short vowels. This is why many emergent reader books contain CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, rhyming words and high-frequency words (Dolch/Fry words).
When searching for books for early emergent readers look for concepts of interest to the person, large print with wider spacing, natural language and picture support of the story. Often these books have carefully controlled text, repetitive patterns, and limited text on a page. Furry – The Little Penguins that Could is an introduction to a larger more robust reading experience to encourage children to develop the love of reading and listening to reading.
Children move towards a more conventional understanding of literacy as they have a means to interact and communicate. Over time the student knows most of the letters much of the time and actively engages during shared reading.
Beginning conventional readers have a grasp of the alphabet, phonemes, and early phonics.
They also know many high-frequency words. Books for emergent readers will have more lines per page, contain less repetition, patterns, and pictures. Again focus on books that hold the child’s interest to make deeper discoveries and create a love for reading.
Beginning conventional readers may share in some of the reading as they recognize a word, number, or symbol they already know. Recognizing and sharing is a time of celebration for accomplishments.
Furry has created games to play to encourage enjoyment for beginning conventional readers.
Conventional readers are able to read, decode, and write.
Furry’s wish for you is that he and all his friends with their adventures and antics will bring you a joy-filled reading experience. Our team of educators, parents, adults challenged with disabilities, and a curriculum designer have worked tirelessly to bring you an exciting and fun curriculum to include all children.
Cut 4.75 inch x 6.5 inch colored cardstock/construction paper backs. Apply glue to the back sides and center on the colored paper backs. Use a hole punch to punch two holes if wanted and tie with ribbon. Have your child sign the back of the valentines before putting on the crayons.
Mackie struggles with writing his name. We purchased a stamp with his name on it for him to be able to “write” his name like his classmates.
For kids who struggle writing the names on the Valentines, cut the list into strips and glue them to the envelopes. Accommodation and setting up our kids to be able to do their Valentines for their friends means we have to think out of the box.
We even found Valentines for Furry to give the classmates at the Target Dollar Spot. Furry Stretchy Penguins!
His teacher reached out to check to see what Mac could have for the party and she is making sure he is included and not left out due to his complex food allergies and intolerances. Due to Mac’s shortened school day, the party is moved to the morning so Mac can be there with his friends. A parent checked in to see what treats he can have and I found Black Forest Organic Valentines Gummy Bears that are dye-free and gluten-free for his friends to put with his Valentines!
Now all that is left is for Mom to make gluten-free Crispie Bars for the classmates and Mac. Planning ahead we are making sure that everyone has a great Valentines Party.
Happy Valentines Day from Mac, Furry and the Friends at the Little School That Could!
Download and Print and Cut out the Furry Inclusion Valentines. Cut 4.75 inch x 6.5 inch colored cardstock/construction paper backs. Apply glue to the backsides and center on the colored paper backs. Use a hole punch to punch two holes if wanted and tie with ribbon. Have your child sign the back of the valentines before putting on the crayons.
Stigma continues due to a lack of knowledge and awareness about rights, legality and how to empower people with a learning disability.
Stigma and discrimination makes people with a learning disability more prone to lower self-confidence and increased vulnerability (Jahoda and Markova, 2004)
Stigma and discrimination
Beyond school time
People in the local area calling them names
People in the local area ignoring them
Violent physical contact by people in the local area
Their parents restricting them
Their siblings calling them names
Within school time
Being ridiculed/called names by other pupils
Violent physical contact from other pupils
Being ignored by other pupils
Teachers giving unwanted extra help
Teachers refusing to help
Teachers getting angry about the mistakes they made
Being ridiculed by teachers
(Cooney et al., 2006)
Cooney, G., Jahoda, A., Gumley, A. & Knott, F. (2006). Young people with learning disabilities attending mainstream and segregated schooling: perceived stigma, social comparisons and future aspirations. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 50, 432-445.
Jahoda, A. (1995). Quality of Life: Hope for the Future or an Echo from the Distant Past? In I. Markova and R. Farr (Eds.) Representations of Health, Illness and Handicap (page range). Singapore: Harwood.
Jahoda, A. Cattermole, M. & Markova I. (1989). Stigma and the self-concept of people with a mild mental handicap, Journal of Mental Deficiency Research, 32, 103-115.
Jahoda, A., Dagnan, D., Jarvie,P., & Kerr,W. (2006). Depression, social context and cognitive behavioural therapy for people who have intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 19, 81-89.
Jahoda, A. & Markova, I. (2004). Coping with social stigma: People with intellectual disabilities moving from institutions and family home. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 48, 719-729.
Jahoda, A., Trower, P., Pert, C. & Finn, D. (2001). Contingent reinforcement or defending the self? A review of evolving models of aggression in people with mild learning disabilities. British Journal of Medical Psychology
Liberty Ridge Media
Lancaster, WI 53813
Saturday & Sunday: Family Time
To The Penguin Shoppe. Our team at Furry the Penguin embrace the delights of childhood. We support and believe in enjoyable learning and a safe space for all children. We embrace “Stuffun la Muffins of inclusion, acceptance and friendships.