[An article on Derby Early Childhood Council Member Evie North]
CHARACTERS IN DIFFERENT SHAPES A LEARNING TOOL FOR TODDLERS
By Patricia Villers, New Haven Register
DERBY >> Tommy Triangle has a tale to tell. So does Cindy Circle, and their friend, Ricky Rectangle.
They are three of six brightly-colored Shapel characters that are the brainchild of resident and former preschool teacher Evelyn North.
She uses Shapels as learning tools when she visits classrooms, and some Valley teachers have been using them in their classes, she said Tuesday in an interview in her home.
North said she was known as a thumbprint artist for years before she gave life to the Shapels. “It was because of the thumbprints that I started to put faces on shapes,” she said.
The goal is to get toddlers interested in learning to differentiate shapes long before they enter kindergarten.
“There is a lot of talk about universal pre-K today,” North said. School readiness by attending preschool is vital to a child’s educational growth, she said.
North came up with the original four shapes in 1985 when she was working as a teacher at the former Carousel Preschool in Ansonia.
“The (preschool) kids were not remembering their shapes,” North recalled.
Although she created them years ago, North insists “they never age.”
North said she has had a lot of input from children over the years. As an artist, she enjoys when she can inspire them to create characters using a shape she hasn’t used.
“At the end of the program, I have them come up with their own characters by using a different shape, such as a crescent,” she said.
North incorporates music, math, reading and rhyming with her lessons.
The website was launched in March, North said, and she said seeing her characters animated has been wonderful. There are lessons and games galore on the site.
She also has written simple board books featuring each of the six characters that she hopes parents will want to read to their children.
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