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New PBS Children’s Show Debuts on VPM Plus

An innovative early childhood education television program – “Songs & Stories with Mary and Mike” debuted this month and airs from 10:30 to 11:00 am on Mondays and Fridays for ten weeks on VPM Plus as part of their Home Learning programming – check listings for channel information at https://vpm.org/watch/tv-schedule#wtw. 

“Songs and Stories with Mary and Mike” was created by Charlottesville-based musicians and music educators Mary and Mike Anderson who are the hosts. The show uses musical play as the pathway to engage young children ages 2-7 in learning and features different themes each week.  

Each show is designed to meet Virginia pre-K school readiness standards and uses the power of music to joyfully engage and entertain while supporting children’s brain development for a lifetime of curiosity and learning.

“We created ‘Songs & Stories’ to support the effort to ensure that all Virginia children have equal opportunity for high-quality, developmentally appropriate learning experiences, especially during this time of social distancing, virtual learning, and unpredictable school environments,” said Mary Anderson, co-creator of “Songs & Stories.”

By featuring special guests in each episode, “Songs & Stories” brings real teachers, artists, musicians, authors, and community members directly to children to inspire them and help them grow.  

“We celebrate rich diversity, share beautiful children’s books, and feature members of the community in a way that allows children to see themselves represented while opening their minds to new worlds and possibilities,” said Mary. 

Guests include teachers Destinie Thomas and Molly Foster from Albemarle County Schools; Dr. Mike Davison of University of Richmond, a distinguished trumpeter and music professor; and Marc Boston, a children’s book author from Charlottesville.

Mary Anderson is a Richmond native and VCU graduate who now lives in Charlottesville with her husband and business partner Mike and their two children. She and Mike grew up watching PBS and were influenced by Fred Rogers and his show “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” as well as LeVar Burton in “Reading Rainbow.”  

“Songs & Stories with Mary and Mike” is unique in terms of children’s programming as it is based on the latest neuro-musical research and follows guidelines in the Virginia Department of Education’s Unified Standards for Early Learning and Development. It is designed to use musical play as a way to engage children in learning – building their brain, making it stronger and more flexible. 

“Our approach is very much inspired by Fred Rogers and his ability to make children feel seen, valued, and loved – especially during this challenging time,” said Mary. “Music has the power to not only make children feel connected, but it is also one of the very best ways to build their brains and maximize their cognitive development at such an important time in their life.” 

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