Wednesday, October 10, 2018

New color version of "Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale" to stop CMV, #1 birth defects virus

Now families, schools and child care centers have two options when teaching their children how to set the table and share a meal, not the germs--such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), the #1 birth defects virus. "Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale" can be purchased as a coloring book (1st edition) or in color (2nd edition). Photograph by Jessica Rachels of the
Idaho CMV Advocacy Project


New color version of "Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale" 
to stop CMV, #1 birth defects virus

bOOKS INCLUDE lesson plan for children

Staff can work it into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math)*

Read aloud the fairytale, "Once Upon a Placemat: A Table-Setting Tale" by Lisa Saunders and Jackie Tortora, with the children in your care then share a meal together. Help the children wash their hands and set their place setting by referring to the tableware characters. 

Teacher/parents can say things such as, "Remember, Mr. Knife is afraid the dish will run away with the spoon, so put his teeth toward Mr. Plate" and "Miss Cup hates it when people share her without giving her a bath first because of those naughty germs." 

"The story of 'Once Upon a Placemat' is a fun, hands on way to learn about setting a table, germs, and CMV. I have given them to my local head start programs," says Jessica Rachels of the Idaho CMV Advocacy Project (learn more about Jessica's CMV advocacy work that includes "Once Upon a Placemat" coloring books at: 

Staff can work it into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). STEAM is a popular way to package and present the interconnectedness of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math in the regular curriculum. When you talk about germs, the coloring book, “Once Upon a Placemat” (Art and Literacy), introduces germs (science, biology) in a format that integrates the arts.  Drawing and writing activities can be planned to further integrate those domains.  Teachers can further bring in technology and engineering by designing activities that help the children to "invent" equipment or machines to help better wash hands, keep food fresh and germ free, etc.  Math can enter into the plan by graphing how long children wash their hands, how often they wash their hands, how many uses the classrooms get out of a single pump bottle of hand soap, etc. With a little more thought (and a few trips to Pinterest!), lots of germ-based activities can be created and integrated.

If possible, give each child a "Share a Meal, Not the Germs" picnic kit with these suggested items:  

  • Bag (paper or reusable insulated bag).
  • Plate, cup, napkin, fork, spoon, knife.
  • Crayons or washable markers.
  • Placemat with tableware characters, which can be laminated (see below for links*).
  • Picnic food (homemade or prepackaged that would use all utensils, such as peanut butter, crackers, applesauce and cake).
  • Hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes. 
  • Sink hand-washing sign and tri-fold flyer on CMV prevention to take home (found on blog post:
  • If funds are available, give a child their own bound copy of the coloring book version of “Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale,” or the 2nd edition with images already colored, to share with their families so their parents can reinforce the table-setting lesson and learn how to prevent CMV, the leading viral cause of birth defects virus, as well as other diseases.
*FREE Teaching Program Tool kit found at:
·       Educational Coloring Book: Contact for a free pdf version of Once Upon a Placemat: A Table Setting Tale (or the educational fairy tale can be purchased as a bound coloring book on Amazon, Createspace or
·       Placemats:
Side one: Placemat with tableware characters with space for your coloring artist's name (perfect for laminating and using as a table-setting reminder).
Side two: Germ prevention tips and hand-washing instructions.
·       Video: Short introduction of  the tableware characters by Lisa Saunders, the parent representative of the Congenital Cytomegalovirus Foundation. 


"A clever way to get across an important message about prevention of infectious diseases common to us all. Most people know how colds and flu are spread, but they don't know about how other germs are spread by sharing food, drinks and utensils.”
Dr. Gail Demmler Harrison, Congenital CMV Disease Research Clinic & Registry

“Short story--big impact. Once Upon a Placemat finally accomplished what we could not--getting our kids to remember how to correctly set the table! Now, I hear my 12-year-old saying to herself, “Mr. Knife stands between Mrs. Spoon and Mr. Plate. Mr. Knife keeps his eyes and teeth toward Mr. Plate because he doesn’t trust him since there was that time the ‘dish ran away with the spoon.’ What a brilliant extension to an old nursery rhyme. Once Upon a Placemat will also help your kids better understand the importance of washing their hands before meals and not sharing dishes before washing them first. Finally, a story that sticks!”
Dr. Rebecca Cihocki, Audiologist, Scottsdale, Arizona.

"The lesson of how to set a table is valuable as this is part of encouraging a family to sit down and eat together—a main intervention in preventing obesity."  
Alison Dvorak, MS, RDN, CDN, Franklin, Connecticut.

"Lisa Saunders is always such an entertaining author. Her audience not only gets to enjoy a clever fairytale, but gets to learn important life lessons on how to protect babies from congenital CMV and other infections."
Marti Perhach, Group B Strep International

Once Upon a Placemat (1st edition black and white for coloring):