Child care provider Debbie Regier has worked at Kountry Kids Childcare in Marion for 26 years but last year she started traveling to other daycares around the county to help teach children how to read and earned herself the nickname the story lady.
“It’s a work in progress,” Regier said. “I go around once a month to whoever wants me to stop by and we do a different story each time.”
In May, Regnier read “Jump, Frog, Jump” by Robert Kalan in Lincolnville, Hillsboro, and Marion at several daycares including Jenile Taylor’s daycare on Thursday.
“She brings everything,” Taylor said. “The kids love it. They call her the story lady.”
Children waited for Regier at the door and warmly greeted her when she arrived carrying a large green chest with surprises inside.
As she sat down, she asked the children to guess what was inside.
“I’ll give you a clue,” Regier told the children. “They’re green and they hop.”
After the kids guessed, she let them each pick two frogs — one for each hand — to help engage her young audience as she read to them by making story time more interactive.
The kids repeated “Jump, Frog, Jump” every time it appeared in the story and raised the frogs above their heads.
After the story, she asked the children to help retell the story by memory using frogs, flies, and other stuffed animals that appeared in the story. Then they sang “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” to help work on their counting skills.
She also brought a green cloth basket that looked like a frog for kids to feed by throwing “flies” or beanbags into, and later children painted and colored frog pictures using materials Regier supplied.
Her visits also help give the child care providers a little relief.
“It’s a big help when she stops by to do her activities,” Taylor said. “Kids act different for Deb. They behave better with new material and new stimulation.”
Regier writes a monthly newsletter that goes out to other child care providers in the county. In it, she asked for frogs to help with her story telling.
“I have been blessed with frogs,” Regier joked. “I put a call out and people have been giving me a lot of frogs. I drove by the hospital auxiliary on the way here and saw a frog with a frilly dress in the window and thought, that’s a nice frog, the girls would have fun with it, but I don’t need any more frogs.”
Regier said her story lady program has currently started to develop more and she is trying to work with providers to up her visits to twice a month.
Families and Communities Together provides funding for her program though an early childhood block grant from the Kansas Children’s Cabinet meant to help children learn to read.