What Is KLRU Play To Learn?

Story by Marianne Nguyen, Play To Learn Program Director

They call me “maestra” (teacher) but really I’m just a facilitator. Because it is them, the parents and caretakers, who do the hard work. They may not know this yet, but they have everything they need to be their children’s first teachers. While they’re already so busy running a house in difficult financial circumstances, they are also taking care of the basic needs of their young children and they still manage to make time to join us at our Play To Learn workshops. They are unmistakably there every week, ready to sing our songs, get down at kid level, and further their knowledge about parenting with other families of the community.

This week, my hat’s off to the 40 families who graduated from Play To Learn and, in doing so, earned a PBS KIDS Playtime Pad tablet.

KLRU is proud to host Play To Learn for the 6th consecutive year with funding from the City of Austin and additional support from the United Way for Greater Austin. This year, over 70 families graduated in the 6 groups we formed in areas of Austin where Kindergarten readiness is a critical factor for school success. The children who participate in Play To Learn are between 2 and 4 years old and are not signed up in any formal school or daycare. So for most of these kiddos, this is their first exposure to a “class” setting.

So what is Play To Learn exactly?

Play To Learn is about school readiness, about communicating the latest trends in early childhood (EC) education to those who need it most (60% of low income kids enter school not ready). It’s also about the smart use of screen time with little ones in these rapidly changing times. But most of all it’s about community.

Each weekly two-hour session follows a routine including a time for free play, a circle time, different centers every week to explore various early childhood concepts, a story time, a dance/movement component and an app to help further those skills. We spend a portion of each class working with the Playtime Pads that they will keep when they graduate. This allows them to familiarize themselves with the device and get support if needed.

The 10-week program is composed of 8 classes, one orientation session at the beginning, and a graduation at the end. In only 8 classes, we explore an exhaustive list of early childhood topics: Fine Motor Skills, Gross Motor Skills, Language Development, Early Literacy, Social-Emotional learning etc… and how those skills can be strengthened at home with very few resources. And the best part about these classes is that they are meant for both the child AND the caretaker. Each week, they get a take home bag with a book and basic materials for additional activities at home. And I even give them homework for the following week! It’s the beginning of a long relationship between school and home which we hope will remain healthy for years to come. But for some of them, it’s also a new way of looking at school and learning: it doesn’t have to be intimidating, difficult or boring. These families now know that the best way to learn is by playing and enjoying themselves together! The Playtime Pads that they take home at the end of the program come with a long list of educational apps from Sesame Workshop and PBS KIDS already installed. Therefore, if their child wants to use technology, they can be assured to always have a safe and educational option to offer them.

I must admit that I am amazed at the progress that can be observed in such a short amount of time. I have seen kiddos come to their first class hiding behind their moms and not even wanting to look me in the eyes. And after the first high five in second class, the metamorphosis to the time they graduate is incredible. When we say our goodbyes at graduation, they righteously feel so proud of their accomplishments and are ready to give me a big hug!

This proves the importance of early childhood learning. While a lot of children’s first exposure to an education professional usually occurs when they enter the public school system (typically at 4-5 years old), the latest research shows that it is between the ages of 0 to 5 that the human brain develops the most connections. And the exposure to positive human interactions during this crucial time has a tremendous effect on the quality of those connections. By playing, singing, reading, discussing with their young ones, these caretakers are doing the most important work for their children.

This is why I am so proud of the families who graduated from our workshops. We at KLRU are happy to be a part of their lives. We hope they continue to grow together as their child advances through their years in school, and that we will remain a trusted resource for them along the way. I wish these kiddos all the success in the world. They are already equipped with amazing support to get there!

Arts In Context features a powerful outlet for artists

“You don’t see a lot of times, I think, women allowed to sort of have fun in this way, where you dress up like a clown and go in public and just see what happens,” says Cynthia Muñoz, co-creator of Payasa, a collaborative photography project in which she and fellow co-creator, Andie Flores, dress up as clowns and capture surreal imagery all around Austin, Texas. Not having anything more than a desire to explore themselves creatively, Payasa has become a powerful outlet for both artists to bond, elevate one another, and create a space that is free of judgements and inhibitions.


Highlights April 8-14

KLRU Highlights

Sister Julienne navigates a complex situation on Call the Midwife at 7 pm Sunday.

Two stone-cold cases of murder test the wits of crime-solving duo DCI Cassie Stuart and DS Sunny Khan, played by Nicola Walker (Last Tango in Halifax) and Sanjeev Bhaskar (Indian Summers). Cassie and Sunny confront a skeleton buried in a cellar on episode one of Unforgotten Season 1 On Masterpiece at 8 pm Sunday.

See how an unexpected visitor forces Alan to think about his past while Caroline and pregnant Kate set a date for their wedding on Last Tango In Halifax at 9 pm Sunday.

Hosted by Elisa New, Poetry in America draws students of all ages into conversations about poetry. Sunday at 10 pm explore I Cannot Dance Opon My Toes by Emily Dickinson. Tuesday at 10 pm look at Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden. Tuesday at 10:30 pm examine Hymmnn And Hum Bom by Allen Ginsberg.

Meet the unforgettable people who are turning the job of shoe shiner into an art form on Independent Lens The Art Of The Shine at 9 pm Monday.

Follow a team of experts as they solve the enduring mystery of exactly where Hannibal and his troops crossed the Alps to launch a surprise attack on Rome on Secrets of the Dead  at 7 pm Tuesday.

Re-examine the shocking story of Leopold and Loeb, two wealthy college students who murdered a 14-year-old boy in 1924 to prove they were smart enough to get away with it on Perfect Crime: American Experience at 8 pm Tuesday.

Frontline at 9 pm Tuesday goes inside President Trump’s high-stakes battle for control of the Republican party.

Nature Moose: Life Of A Twig Eater at 7 pm Wednesday takes viewers deep inside the world of moose to experience a mother’s love and a calf’s first year of life up close and personal.

A team of archaeologists probes the ruins of a Nazi execution site to find the truth behind tales of a tunnel dug by desperate Jewish prisoners and their daring escape on NOVA Holocaust Escape Tunnel at 8 pm Wednesday.

Discover the story of these brave servicemen and women who fought for equality and tolerance around the world on GI Jews: Jewish Americans In World War II at 9 pm Wednesday.

Pop legend Cyndi Lauper performs her classic hits and country covers on Austin City Limits at 10 pm Wednesday and 11 pm Friday.

Overheard with Evan Smith at 7 pm Thursday features Walter Mosley is a best-selling author.

SciTech Now captures the latest breakthroughs in science, technology and innovation. The show airs Thursdays at 7:30 pm.

Chet heads to the panhandle on The Daytripper at 8:30 pm Thursday.

In Principle at 7:30 pm Friday is hosted by Michael Gerson, a nationally syndicated columnist for The Washington Post, and Amy Holmes, a political news commentator.

The life of Sam Houston is chronicled in the three-part series Sam Houston: American Statesman airing back-to-back starting at 8 pm Friday.

Grow super foods like moringa, goji berries, and tastes of India on Central Texas Gardener at noon Saturday.

Iconic singer-songwriter James Taylor performs beloved classics on Austin City Limits at 7 pm Saturday.

New Series Jamestown Available now on KLRU Passport

Don’t miss the epic eight-part drama Jamestown available now on KLRU Passport for a limited time before it airs on KLRU.  From the producers of Downton Abbey this new dramatic series follows the lives of three courageous, dynamic women who decide to leave their dark pasts behind in England, and make the journey of a lifetime across the ocean for a new life in 17th Century America. Written by Bill Gallagher (Lark Rise to Candleford, The Paradise), Jamestown is accessible to stream immediately via KLRU Passport, a member benefit for PBS station donors that offers extended access to a rich library of public television programming.

As a KLRU donor of $5 or more ongoing monthly (as a sustaining member) or $60 or more annually, you will receive the added benefit of KLRU Passport, which provides you with extended access to the PBS streaming video you love. Join today to start watching now

Taking viewers back to 1619 Jamestown, Virginia, Alice, Verity and Jocelyn are among the first women to arrive in the English colony. Duty bound to marry the three men who have paid for their passage to the New World, they have little idea of what the future holds or the disruption their arrival is about to bring. Twisting storylines follow the new
arrivals as they make an immediate impact and are thrust into a new world of love, desire, power and survival. While love triangles, bitter rivalries and fierce competition cause conflict for the residents, ultimately they are bound together by their resolute will to survive and thrive in their new lives.

Q Night at the Movies features Ben Hur 4/7

Q Night at the Movies features the epic film Ben Hur! Plus take a look at Ready Player One and the writers behind re-imagined classics. Watch starting at 7 pm Saturday on KLRU Q.

Science Goes To The Movies Ready Player One at 7 pm
What is real and what is in our mind? Is there a difference? Professors Ken Perlin and Matt O’Dowd discuss the idea of alternate and virtual realities. How close are we to these being commonplace in our society? And what is reality, after all? Watch and find out.

On Story Re-Imagining The Classics at 7:30 pm
The writers of re-imagined classics and popular franchises such as GHOST, CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, TWINS and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN deliberate how to keep stories fresh while remaining faithful to the original version. Accompanied by Spencer and Lloyd Harvey’s short film JACK & JILL, a fresh take on the classic nursery rhyme.

Feature Film: Ben Hur at 8 pm
An enslaved Judean prince (Charlton Heston) meets his Roman betrayer (Stephen Boyd), a former friend, in a chariot race.

KLRU and Alamo Drafthouse invite you to special PBS Kids Screenings

Did you know that each month that KLRU teams up with the Alamo Drafthouse to host special screenings of PBS Kids shows? This April we will be screening new episodes of Nature Cat and Wild Kratts encouraging families to get outdoors and explore!  For dates and times check the Alamo Drafthouse website.

This screening is part of our ongoing KLRU PBS KIDS at the Alamo series.  Reserve your seat with a donation of $1-$5, with all ticket sales benefitting KLRU. This is an all-ages show with Alamo for All rules – noisy young fans won’t be asked to leave the theater but we do ask that cellphones and other devices stay dark.  Lights will stay a little brighter and the sound will be turned down during the show.

Roadtrip through Texas when you join KLRU Passport!

Now is a great time to become a KLRU Member! When you make a gift of $60/year or $5/month, you’ll qualify for KLRU Passport
and receive exclusive content. 

Kickstart your spring Texas-style with three local Texas productions,
only available on KLRU Passport. Each program gives fascinating insight into some of the special places found along the mighty plains of our Lone Star State.

You might just find the perfect weekend destination.

Start your exploration with the hidden masterpieces inside The Painted Churches of Texas: Echoes of the HomelandFound within 15 churches constructed by 19th century immigrants, nearly every surface, from the baseboards to the apses, are covered in paint.

Once taken for granted, these painted churches of Texas are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. German and Czech inscriptions on the walls stand out as reminders of how far these architects traveled to find a new life in Texas.

Produced by the award-winning filmmaker who brought you The Painted Churches of Texas, Tom Spencer presents Las Misiones: Missions of Texas. This moving documentary showcases the architectural beauty and historical significance of missions in San Antonio, El Paso and Goliad.

These Texas wonders are important religious and community gathering places, many of which are still functioning churches more than 300 years into their history!

Wine Roads of Texas is a breathtaking video travel guide for those interested in exploring the ever-growing and award-winning Texas wine industry. 

Narrated by the Grammy Award winning lead singer of Asleep at the Wheel, Ray Benson, the series boasts gorgeous Texas scenery and a beautiful musical soundtrack. Each episode even offers tips on selecting the best Texas varietals, so you can begin testing regional wines at home!

Remember, become a KLRU Member at
$60/year or $5/month and you’ll qualify for KLRU Passport!

Check here for any additional KLRU Passport questions.

Highlights April 1 to 7

KLRU Highlights

A mother abandons her children at the clinic, leaving the family devastated on Call the Midwife at 7 pm Sunday.

A moment of distraction triggers a crisis in the lives of a happy, successful British couple on Child In Time On Masterpiece at 8 pm Sunday, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire).

Explore the journey of Iranian musician Shahin Najafi, forced into hiding after hardline clerics issue a fatwa for his death on Independent Lens When God Sleeps at 9 pm Monday.

Roads To Memphis: American Experience at 7 pm Tuesday tells the wildly disparate yet fatefully entwined stories of an assassin, James Earl Ray, and his target, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes a personal journey through the last 50 years of African American history on Black America  Since MLK: And Still I Rise part one Tuesday at 8 pm and part two Wednesday at 8 pm.

Explore the astounding abilities of butterflies-360° vision, deceptive camouflage, chemical weaponry and fantastic flight on Nature at 7 pm Wednesday.

Overheard with Evan Smith at 7 pm Thursday features Seth Moulton, a former Marine Corps officer and currently represents the 6th District of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives.

SciTech Now captures the latest breakthroughs in science, technology and innovation. The show airs Thursdays at 7:30 pm.

Chet heads to the home of the King Ranch covering approximately 1,300 square miles of South Texas on The Daytripper at 8 pm Thursday.

In the current moment, when sexual harassment is at the forefront of the national conversation, Metoo, Now What? at 7:30 pm Friday aims to take the discussion to another level, engaging both women and men  from all generations and walks of life in dialogue about these difficult issues.

And Then There Were None is a miniseries based on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, one of the best-selling crime novels of all time. All three episodes air back-to-back starting at 8 pm Friday.

Enjoy modern roots rock with Band of Horses and Parker Millsap on Austin City Limits at 11 pm Friday.

Learn why ecologists are exploring living walls and prairie restoration in urban areas at Central Texas Gardener at noon Saturday.

Pop legend Cyndi Lauper performs classics and country covers on Austin City Limits at 7 pm Saturday.

Local Teacher Named 2018 PBS Digital Innovator All-Star

Julie Hildebrand a teacher at Patton Elementary in Austin was selected as one of 30 educators from across the country for the first PBS Digital Innovator All-Star Program.

Hildebrand is a first grade teacher at Patton and has been teaching for 11 years. In addition to her general education students, she also serves Gifted and Talented students, as well as English as a Second Language students. Julie’s primary goals have been to increase student achievement in literacy and technology skills in and out of her classroom. In addition to being a Heart of Texas Writing Project Teacher Consultant, Julie is also a Discovery Education Ambassador and serves on the KLRU Education Committee.   Each of the Digital Innovator All-Stars was selected from a cohort of extraordinary educators who are doing innovative work in their schools and districts, and were previously recognized as part of the PBS Digital Innovator Program, which began in 2013. The PBS Digital Innovator All-Star program expands on this influential work, deepening these educators’ roles as leaders in integrating technology and digital media into the classroom —supporting students’ learning through increasingly important media literacy skills.

As an exclusive part of the program, Hildebrand will have access to virtual and in-person events, including the PBS Digital Innovator All-Star Summit, to connect and learn with peers and station representatives from across the country.

The PBS Digital Innovator All-Stars were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including passion for their role as an educator, outcomes from their time as PBS Digital Innovators, connections to their communities and service to under-resourced families.