"Grammy Lisa" introduces Mr. Green Pony to the kids.

“Grammy Lisa” Venable introduces Mr. Green Pony to the children at the Dec. 8 event at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. (Submitted photo)

When it comes to keeping the kids entertained, particularly at a time of year when everyone is so busy, a lot of parents have been guilty of turning to screens. But there were no smartphones, tablets or television sets in sight at the Dec. 8 launch of the Mr. Green Pony audio story series at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. 

Instead, children’s imaginations were lighting up the room as Lisa Venable, known to the kids as “Grammy Lisa,” shared one of the stories in her new audio story series with about a dozen kids. After storytime, the kids got to color pictures of the pony and his friends while Venable shared some of her research into the dangers presented by screens with the parents and caregivers in attendance.

“It is important to point out that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screens at all for children under two years of age, except video chatting, and that children between 2-and-5 years old be limited to just one hour a day on screens that they co-view with adults whenever possible to help children understand what they are seeing,” she told them.

Sherrie Thomas of Excelsior brought her granddaughter, Siena Martin, to the event after reading about it in the MN Sun Sailor. “I am familiar with the research Lisa talked about and concerned about it as well,” she said. “I think developing listening skills through audio stories is a great concept. Being able to be in the car and play a story that will keep the kids engaged is a great idea.”

The series website currently offers 10 stories, as well as early learning activities. The educational activities give adults tools for interaction after the story that help children retain what they heard, and include a memory game, coloring pages and nature activities.

The stories and accompanying activities are available for purchase on a CD or via digital download. A special membership option is available as well. For more information, go to MrGreenPony.com.

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