Preschoolers join PNC to raise vocabulary awareness, set new Guinesss World Records® Mark


Holding tiger masks and seated on colorful reading rugs, pre-kindergarten students from John Ruhrah Elementary Middle School learned several words and listened to their teachers read as they helped set a new Guinness World Records® title for the largest vocabulary lesson.

The 42 local children were among more than 4,000 children in 37 cities across 15 states and the District of Columbia who participated in the simultaneous lesson. The PNC Financial Services Group hosted the event in support of “Grow Up Great,” its $350 million, multi-year bilingual initiative in early childhood education. The new record was set with the initial 1,031 participants documented by the Guinness World Records organization. The total is expected to increase as Guinness World Records organization officials receive video and written documentation from the various locations.

Four-year-old Carter Griffith enjoyed learning new words and is ready to take on more challenges, “I like the world record, and I think its cool, and I really want to do it again,” he said.

“Young children learn best when they take part in engaging, fun activities,” said Jen Everett, Pre-K teacher, John Ruhrah Elementary Middle School. “We appreciate PNC’s support of today’s event, which taught the students new words and added to the excitement we’re building for vocabulary in the classroom.”

Vocabulary development is a priority as PNC Grow Up Great celebrates 10 years of helping children— especially at-risk children— prepare for kindergarten. The Fred Rogers Company and Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), PNC’s partners in early education, developed the lesson with words selected from “Mr. Tiger Goes Wild,” a picture book by Caldecott Honoree Peter Brown (published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), about a civilized tiger who, bored with his prim and proper lifestyle, runs away to the jungle to discover what makes him happy. The highly acclaimed picture book celebrates individuality and received five-star reviews.

“Pursuit of this world record is a great way to bring attention to a serious issue— the importance of vocabulary for a child’s success in school and life,” said Matthew B. Martin, market manager, PNC Bank, Greater Maryland. “A landmark study found that some at-risk children hear 30 million fewer words by age four than a child from a more well-to-do household.”

The October 30, 2014 event is one of PNC’s initiatives to encourage parents and caregivers to talk and read to their children as a means to build vocabulary and help them gain the skills they need to succeed in school.

To foster the home to school connection, each participating child took home the book and “Words are Here, There, and Everywhere,” a new, English/Spanish multimedia kit created by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame StreetTM, as part of an ongoing partnership with PNC. The educational kit builds on young children’s natural sense of curiosity to grow their vocabulary around math concepts, science, and the arts. All bilingual materials are available for free at PNC Bank branches,, and Additional materials are available online, including an educator’s guide and a vocabulary tree.

The vocabulary lesson will be posted to an online Lesson Center, which features practical, developmentally appropriate activities for pre-K teachers. Many of the lessons on the site were developed by a consortium of science and cultural centers that collaborated over the past four years to enhance science and arts education for young children served by PNC’s early education programs.