Mother Goose on the Loose Technology Statement


MGOL and Technology 


Many librarians are uncomfortable with the idea of incorporating technology into their programs on a regular basis. We know that there is nothing quite like physically holding a book in your hands and sharing it enthusiastically with children. In 2011, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children under the age of two have no television time at all and that children between ages 3 and 5 limit television viewing to a maximum of 2 hours.[1] Studies have shown that children under the age of five who are prolonged television watchers have fewer social skills and a higher risk for behavior problems than children who do not watch much television.[2] One researcher claims that computers do not match children’s learning styles since children “learn through their bodies: their eyes, ears, mouths, hands and legs.[3] Yet children today spend more and more time engaged with screens of every kind.[4] Parents are already giving babies in strollers iPhones to play with, downloading apps for babies, and using versions of  iTunes with children’s songs that even very young children almost miraculously figure out how to use. Since research regarding the effect of technology use on very young children has not been in place long enough to reach any solid conclusions, more research is needed.[5] So, how do librarians working with very young children know what to do?

            Technology does not just mean television, and technology abounds in today’s world. Computers, televisions, smart phones, DVD players, MP3 players, and Wii games have become part of a shared vocabulary. It is likely that more technological tools which have not yet been invented will be become everyday items in the near future for our youngest learners. Exposure to technology can be beneficial even for children from ages three to five if carefully designed. Computer play can involve exploration and discovery; it can help improve non-verbal skills, structural knowledge, long-term memory, manual dexterity, verbal skills, problem solving, abstraction, and conceptual skills.[6] Use of computers can provide a creative approach to science and math and “encourage debate, adaptation, analysis, and celebration.”[7] If public libraries aim to help improve literacy and narrow the digital divide, including some sort of technology into programs might thus be considered.

            The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College produced a statement called “Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8” which states the issues clearly:

“Technology and interactive media are here to stay” (p2) but “all screens are not created equal.” (p3)  “There is conflicting evidence on the value of technology in children’s development,” (p3) “the appeal of technology can lead to inappropriate uses in early childhood settings,” and (p4)” there are concerns about whether young children should have access to technology and screen media in early childhood programs. (p2) [8]

It then describes principles to guide the appropriate use of technology and interactive media as tools in early childhood programs:

“Above all, the use of technology tools and interactive media should not harm children… Developmentally appropriate practices must guide decisions about whether and when to integrate technology and interactive media into early childhood programs. (p5) Professional judgment is required to determine if and when a specific use of technology or media is age appropriate, individually appropriate, and culturally and linguistically appropriate. Developmentally appropriate teaching practices must always guide the selection of any classroom materials, including technology and interactive media… [and]  appropriate use of technology and media depends on the age, developmental level, needs, interests, linguistic background, and abilities of each child.” (p6) Effective uses of technology and media re active, hands-on, engaging, and empowering; give the child control; provide adaptive scaffolds to ease the accomplishment of tasks; and are used as one of many options to support children’s learning. (p6)

When used appropriately, technology and media can enhance children’s cognitive and social abilities… Interactions with technology and media should be playful and support creativity, exploration, pretend play, active play, and outdoor activities. Technology tools can help educators make and strengthen home-school connections. (p7)   Technology and media can enhance early childhood practice when integrated into the environment, curriculum and daily routines. (p8) Technology tools can be effective for dual language learners by providing access to a family’s home language and culture while supporting English language learning…Digital literacy is essential to guiding early childhood educators and parents in the selection, use integration and evaluation of technology and interactive media. (p9) Digital citizenship is an important part of digital literacy for young children (p10) Early childhood educators need training, professional development opportunities, and examples of successful practice to develop the technology and media knowledge, skills, and experience… (p10) [and] Research is needed to better understand how young children use and learn with technology and interactive media and also to better understand any short- and long-term effects. (p.11)[9]


            Children are drawn to technological tools. Children who have just begun to walk may try to press all the buttons in his or her home. When something is moving on a screen, they want to see what is happening. But just because they are attracted to it does not mean that they need it. Some parents are using their children’s innate interest in technology to replace active play. I believe that a child who begins using technology in school can become just as adept as one who has been using it since the early years. However, since technological “toys” are available, since they appeal to young children, and since so many parents are already using it, integrating it into our programs in a well-thought out way serves an important purpose. As educators, we can provide a model for parents to use technology with their children in age appropriate ways.

            Mother Goose on the Loose is a research-based, musical, interactive storytime for children 0-3 and the people who love them which I developed that is structured on Barbara Cass-Begg’s Your Baby Needs Music. MGOL programs are fun-filled thirty minute interactive sessions that use rhyme, songs, puppets, musical instruments, and more to stimulate the learning process of babies and toddlers.  Some librarians have asked how I feel about using technology in Mother Goose on the Loose programs. Technology handled with careful consideration, in moderation; in ways that fit in with the program’s intent and don’t overwhelm, that enhance but don’t replace, and that encourage parent/child interaction is appropriate for use in a Mother Goose on the Loose program.


The wider goals of Mother Goose on the Loose are focused on the caregivers. The program is geared toward educating them to feel comfortable interacting with their children in a nurturing environment. In Mother Goose on the Loose, the librarian is a facilitator rather than a performer. The goals of the facilitator are to encourage parents to be a child’s first and best teacher by modeling actions, giving them songs to sing, showing them how to use the tools available to them, and explaining how to access those tools at home or in other places outside of the library. This agenda can apply to the use of technology as well as to the use of books and musical props.


The technology does not replace the traditional literacy tools; it helps to expand and enhance what already exists. Here are a few examples.


MGOL Examples:

  • Summer Rosswog, presented programs for parents and babies at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center in Washington, DC. There was a smart board on a wall in the space that she used for programming. When singing a song about colors, she would use the smart board to show the color mentioned. If the song was about red, the entire smart board would be red. If the color in the song then switched to blue, the smart board would turn blue.
  • Kerri Ann St. Jean searches for and finds songs from iTunes. She downloads them, makes a playlist on her iPod, and uses the songs during library programs. This is much easier than using the clunkier CD player.
  • Eric, in one of the DC public libraries uses an iPad during his MGOL sessions. When singing about the sounds animals make, he also shows a photograph of the animal on his iPad and gives the children the opportunity to hear the sounds that each animal actually makes. The children are then invited to mimic the animal sounds. The children have the experience of hearing and making actual animal sounds rather than reciting words that represent animal sounds such as “Moo, moo, moo.”
  • Michele Presley from Baltimore County Public Library created movements to go along with a jazzy version of “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” from Toddlers Sing. Once the children had learned all the movements from weekly repetitions of the rhyme, Michele videoed them acting it out. When she played the video back to the program participants, she looked at the delighted children’s faces and saw how proud they were of themselves, calling out. “There I am!”


Appropriate use of technology in a program for children from birth to age three means that it is presented as part of the program, without replacing what is already successfully in place. Parents should always be reminded that children learn best when playing WITH the adult in their lives, and this applies to using technology tools as well. Parents should be reminded that technology tools should be accompanied by physical action and used as ways to encourage conversation. Until research is published regarding the effect of technology use on very young children, a limit of two to three  nursery rhymes presented with technological tools should be adhered to in each MGOL session.


I am currently working on an app for Mother Goose on the Loose with limited nursery rhymes. My intention is to use that to enhance what is happening in MGOL programs. For instance, Mother Goose on the Loose is built on repetition. Nursery rhymes are repeated 80% of the time, but the way they are presented varies. This shows children that there can be different visual representations for the same item or idea, and allows the repetition to stay interesting. An app can provide one way of presenting the rhyme, but it would have to be in the context of multiple presentations using books, flannel board pieces, and other interactive games.  Here is a possible sequence of events for using the rhyme “Jack be Nimble.”


  1. Recite the rhyme the first time and show an illustration from a nursery rhyme collection.
  2. During the next session, show a picture drawn by a different illustrator.
  3. The following session, have a flannel board piece of Jack jumping over a candlestick (or perhaps even two pieces with children being invited up to the flannel board to help Jack jump over his candlestick).
  4. Bring in candlestick and recite the rhyme. Invite the children to come up one at a time and jump over the candlestick. Request applause as each child completes the task. (For babies, bring the candlestick to each parent sitting in the circle and ask them to “jump” their baby over the candlestick with ensuing applause).
  5. Use colored scarves while reciting the rhyme. Hold the scarf in your lap and lift it in an arc over your head when Jack jumps over the candlestick.
  6. Recite the rhyme and bring your iPad around to each mom. Ask them to guide their child’s finger to help Jack jump over the candlestick. Give this developmental tip: “Parents are a child’s first and best teacher. Children thrive best when interacting with their parents in a joyful way. The age-appropriate way to use technology with young children is by making it a shared experience. Children are drawn to technology, but it only enhances their development as a healthy WHOLE child if it is used with their adult in a loving, interactive way.”
  7. Bring in enough empty toilet paper rolls and give one to each parent/child pair. Ask them to use their imaginations and pretend the toilet roll is a candlestick. Recite the rhyme and EVERYONE can jump over their own candlestick. Give a tip about extending the activity at home by playing “Jack be Nimble” with other small, safe objects.
  8. Shake chickitas while listening to a recording of “Jack Be Nimble” from a playlist on an iPod, iPad, or MP3 player.
  9. Use your imaginations. Recite the rhyme while everyone is standing up in a circle and JUMP when Jack jumps.
  10. Show another book illustration. Tell parents to substitute their child’s name in place of “Jack.”


In the above 10 examples, I have shown how technology can be a tool that can be used in programs such as Mother Goose on the Loose, as long as it is carefully implemented and explained.  I believe that used in this way, it adheres to NAEYC’s principle for technology use with very young children[10] because it is hands-on, engaging, empowering, it gives the child control, and it also provides adaptive scaffolds to ease the accomplishment of tasks and is used as only one of many options that support children’s learning through the one nursery rhyme, “Jack be Nimble.”


Beyond MGOL

  • The Indianapolis Public Library presents Digital Littles, a technology-rich preschool storytime experience, on a regular basis.[11] It includes laptops and a robotic dinosaur!  Children enjoy extending their storytime experiences by drawing digital pictures related to a book featured in storytime using programs such as KidPix or Microsoft Paint.
  • Michele Presley from Baltimore County Public Library hands out colored scarves while showing a video of Puff the Magic Dragon and leads the children in waving the scarves.
  •  By projecting images from the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL- a database that contains picture books from around the world)[12] onto a screen, Lauren Collen allows children to see small details in picture book illustrations that they might otherwise have missed. This enables children to decode storylines for themselves via the illustrations (especially in wordless books) and experience narrative skills long before they have learned to read words.[13]


Other Ideas

  • Use Keynote to create story panels and scroll them across the screen as you are telling a story. The iPad becomes a Kamishibai Theatre.
  • Use the ap “Fake a Bell” to make bell-like sounds children like.



I am now working on a new workshop called “Goose 2.0” which will further explain and model these practices. I will be presenting the first Goose 2.0 workshops this week in Southern Maryland combined with the technological expertise of cen campbell. As research continues and results are published this statement may well be modified. But I am excited to be take Mother Goose on the Loose into the 21st century through thoughtful and valuable use of technology.





[1] Brown, Ari, et. al.  2011. “American Academy of Pediatrics: Policy Statement: Media Use by Children Younger than 2 Years.” portal: Pediatrics 2011;128:1040–1045. doi; 10.1542/peds.2011-1753.

[2] Mistry, Kamila B., Cynthia Minkovitz, Dona M. Strobino, and Dina L. G. Borzehowski. 2007. “Children’s Television Exposure and Behavioral and Social Outcomes at 5.5 Years: Does Timing of Exposure Matter?” portal: Pediatrics 2007: 762-769. doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-3573.

[3] Haugland, S.W. 1999. “What Role Should Technology Play in Young Children’s Learning? Young Children 55, no. 1, pp. 26-31.

[4] NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center. 2012.  “Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Service Children from Birth through Age 8” p.2.

[5] Ibid., p. 11.

[6] Haugland, S.W. 1999. “What Role Should Technology Play in Young Children’s Learning? Young Children 55, no. 1, pp. 26-31.

[7] Long-Breipohl, Renate. 2001. “Computers in Early Childhood Education: A Jump Start for the Future?” Gateways Spring/Summer 40.

[8] NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center. 2012.  “Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Service Children from Birth through Age 8.”

[9] NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center. 2012.  “Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Service Children from Birth through Age 8.”

[10] Ibid.

[11] To find out more about Digital Littles, view this YouTube video:

[12] ICDL (International Children’s Digital Library). 2011. International Children’s Digital Library: A Library for the World’s Children. Accessed December 15.

[13] Collen, Lauren. 2006. “The Digital and Traditional Storytimes Research Project: Using Digitized Picture Books for Preschool Group Storytimes.” Children and Libraries, Winter 4, no. 3: 8-18.

About Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen

A renowned national speaker and accomplished author, Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen is best known as the creator of Mother Goose on the Loose, an award-winning early literacy program. Her charismatic presentations always include an easily-understandable combination of research and practice. Recognized by the ASCLA Leadership and Professional Achievement Award for “revolutionizing the way librarians work with children from birth to age 3” and the 2018 Vattemare Award for Creativity in Libraries, Betsy’s passion is for helping children and the adults in their lives be the best they can be while sparking a love of reading.