Great Start News

January 2023

Our Children, Our Community, Our Future

The purpose of the Jackson Great Start Collaborative is to form a countywide network with diverse representation from all sectors of the community including, education and childcare, health and human services, businesses, faith-based organizations, and families. Together we work to ensure Jackson County children are born healthy, developmentally on track, ready to succeed when entering school, and are reading proficiently by the end of third grade.


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Talking is Teaching Winter Tips Calendar

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Bright by Text

We have teamed up with Bright by Text, a national parent texting program, to put expert tips, games, and child development information directly into the hands of parents and caregivers. Bright by Text provides research-based content on child development and learning from trusted experts like PBS, Vroom, Sesame Street, and the CDC, beginning in the second trimester of pregnancy up to age 8. 2-4 simple texts are sent out per week that include links leading to additional information, such as a video or website. In addition, texts will include resources and family-friendly activities being offered right here in Jackson County. Bright by Text messages are offered in both English and Spanish and are specific to the age of your child.

It is easy to sign up for Bright by Text - simply text GREATSTART to 274448 or follow this link to get started!!

Sing and Play!

Using fingerplays, songs and rhymes helps children learn language by increasing vocabulary, learning the sounds of words and hearing the rhythm of language. Children can also gain large and small motor skills by performing movements required in fingerplays.
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Melting Ice

Items needed:

  • Bowls or dishes (for making the ice)
  • A large tray with sides
  • Salt
  • Liquid watercolors or food coloring
  • Droppers or a spoon


  1. Make the ice The day before you try the experiment, you must make your ice! Fill many different sized bowels with water and put them in a freezer overnight.
  2. Set up your melting station The point is to get the ice to melt, but you don’t want a salty, painty mess all over your table! You can also set your tray over an old towel for extra protection.

  3. The next morning, loosen the ice from the bowls with a little warm water and set them in a big plastic tray or a baking tray with sides.

  4. Add salt Set out a few bowls of table salt (inexpensive Morton’s salt works great) and sprinkle it over the tops of the ice domes. Two notes: Rock salt, or another coarse salt, would be good to try as well. Also, purposely set out a modest amount of salt to sprinkle. Otherwise, things can get very messy!

  5. Add color! Once the salt begins melting the ice, you can get out the liquid watercolors. Squeeze a little bit of a few different colors (yellow, pink, purple, turquoise) into jars and added a dropper to each jar. Note: You can also use food coloring for this project. The color selection may be more limited, but it works just as well. Then squeeze the color all over the melting ice!

The color is beautiful on its own, but the real reason for adding the liquid watercolors is to highlight the ravines, crevasses, and tunnels that are forming in the ice as the salt melts it.

You can take the opportunity to talk about how the salt melts the ice, and about how it makes ice melt differently, and that it will melt ice at much cooler temperatures. So, wherever the salt touched the ice it would melt faster than the rest of the ice.

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Baking Soda Fake Snow

Supplies Needed:

  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Large Baking Sheet (Optional for playing with snow)


  1. Put your box of baking soda in the freezer for a couple of hours, or the night before if you want it to feel cold like real snow.
  2. Pour 3 or 4 cups of baking soda into a mixing bowl depending on how much you want to play with.
  3. Slowly mix in a small amount of very cold water until the snow reaches your desired texture. More water=slushy, good packing snow, and less water=powdery snow.
  4. Optional: You can also a little salt to the mixture to give the snow a little more grainy, realistic feel.

NOTE: Try using white conditioner instead of water for a different variation!


***OPENINGS STILL AVAILABLE! 2022-2023 Preschool Sign up!

Enrollment for the 2022-2023 school year is open! If your child will be 4 on or before December 1st, 2022 he/she may be eligible.

Head Start and GSRP programs are free to families who qualify and are located throughout Jackson County. Please visit here to view the income eligibility chart, a map of both Head Start and GSRP locations, and the list of income documents that you will need to bring with you in order to complete your application.

To begin the process of applying, please complete the interest form or call (517) 768-5130 to apply over the phone. After completing the interest form, you will begin receiving robocalls and text messages on how to complete your application.

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Jackson District Library

The Jackson District Libraries have many events happening around the community. Click on the link for the calendar of events:

Contact Us

Kelly Sheppard: Great Start/Early Childhood Consultant

Bridget Griffith: Great Start/Early Childhood Coordinator

Kathy Schaefer: Great Start/Early Childhood Support Specialist

Meaghan Branigan-Lowe: Great Start Playgroups Coordinator