Friday, December 20, 2013

It Just Doesn't Get Any Better Than This!

Here's a review I think I may frame!

Dear DJ, 

As I am reading your book  in my spare moments at work, I want to jump up and down because it explains so well my philosophy and belief in how Early Childhood Education should be done.  I had the privilege of working at a preschool the past 25 years that also believes in DAP and nurturing the  whole child in an environment where the teachers are the facilitators and the children are the leaders of the play.  We were one of the first in Kansas City to receive NAEYC accreditation and participated in the pilot program for QRIS, receiving a 5 star rating...You describe DAP so well in an easy to read, enjoyable way.  I want to carry it around and give it to everyone I meet and say ”ditto” on everything in this book. J  Thank you for spreading the message so well, keep up the good work.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Something To Do When "There's Nothing To Do!"

"Only boring people get bored, and baby, you aren't boring!" That was my mom's reaction to my complaining I had nothing to do.  She would promptly follow that up with some random chore ("if you are THAT bored, go clean out the cabinet with the pots and pans.")  It didn't take too long for me to come up with ideas on my own!

In case you need a little help with ideas today (It's a snow day here in Baltimore), I thought of something we do in the preschools that would be fun with your children.  Now, fun is a relative term.  You will need to be present in the beginning of the activity in order for it to succeed. If you do this activity while stir-frying or tweasing your brows, this may not be as fun.

Make a discovery pile with 5 random objects ( for example, pillow, umbrella, computer mouse, box of tissues and a picture frame.)  Use those objects to generate creative thinking games.

Completely random picture frame showing off
 my family in our early years.  :) 
Invite your children to tell a story that uses all of these items in the plot.  See how creative you can be!

Layout all the items, have them shut their eyes while you remove one, and then guess what’s missing.
Give your children play dough or clay and ask them to re-create one of those items.

Practicing wrapping the items (make sure you have plenty of recycled paper and tape!) and surprise each other with a “gift”.    

One last idea:  Invite your children to pick one item, then come up with as many alternate uses for it.  (Remember the prop game from Whose Line it is Anyway?)

Note: After you try one of the ideas, keep the items together so the children can play with them.  Much of the learning occurs when they are able to come up with ideas on their own.  Just keep an ear out for their comments while you are busy doing something important, like, maybe, organizing the pots and pans.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

NAEYC update!

So, DJ, how was the conference?  OMG!  I’ve been so busy with Thanksgivukkah, (the once-in-70,000- year-collision of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah) I never sat down to write about that week!  So much to catch up on, so little time!
For me, the highlight of my conference experience was the number of new friends I made walking through the expo.  First and foremost, I was thrilled to see Judy Mcguinn and Jay Lerman from Discount School Supply.  They’ve added some awesome new product lines and still have the same level of great customer service!  Did you know they have a huge line of products for children with special needs, too?

I met Jonathon Freiden from Constructive Playthings. What a great guy!  They are committed to great customer service, and did a great job working with one of my directors right then and there. Never too busy to chat, Jonathon wants to help our schools, and encourages feedback about products and services.

I found such wonderful puzzles and fun games at ToutAboutToys. Linda Kahrs and hubby seek only the best open ended materials for their company.  They told me they are a small organization that wants to be your one-stop shop for school materials.  Check out their site to see what they have!  I spent lots of time (and money) in their booth, but loved what I found!  Check out this magnetic toy board.

I fell in love with some new ideas for the classroom.  Kore Design has wobble chairs, which are great for helping wiggly people focus.  I WANT ONE!  Check it out!

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: cid:image018.jpg@01CEEF54.4FB44A70Joe Bonner at Happy Child has a wonderful new way to store nap mats.  I loved the idea.  Wish I had a school., use the code NAEYC2013 to get a 20% discount.

The folks at Community Playthings now have an outdoor shed that is awesome!  OK, so it’s $3100, but hey, it comes with crates and a wheelbarrow!

If you have never been to a NAEYC conference, you owe it to yourself to go.  The next annual conference will be December 5-8, 2014 in Dallas, Texas!  I look forward to seeing y’all there!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Like and Share, Like and Share

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind.  Between publishing the book, walking the Komen 3 Day 60 Mile walk in Atlanta, and closing on my house, its been crazy! Add that to the regular 9-5, teaching two courses this semester, and face painting on the weekends.  Yeah, I've been a busy girl.

But I still had time to learn a little something.

Like. and Share.  Two words I've tried to instill in my sons over the last 25 years are now being taught to me. By a marketing guru no less.  Here's how it works.

If all my friends who read my posts hit like, then Share that post with their friends, asking THEM to Like and Share, I will amass great numbers of likes, and will, one day, be called by ELLEN's producers to "come on in and share your message with the world."

And what exactly IS that message, you wonder?  
Ah, that answer is on the next blog.  Until then, you know what to do!
See the  icons below? Just Like. and Share!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Replacing Letters of the Week with Real Learning

Here's another snippet from my new book, Monday Memo: Creating Change in Early Childhood Education, One Message At a Time. 

As we  discussed,  this year will be about building relationships  and implementing developmentally appropriate practice. We  connected the research about how children  learn with the importance of being intentional teachers.  Some of what  we discussed was new to you.  During our discussion of the Vermont standards for kindergarten  readiness, we noted that decoding (reading) and writing are not required skills for four year olds.


The amount of time used for teaching letters and sounds can now be used to offer free time experiences that increase their independence,  i.e. getting dressed, communicating  their needs, caring for each other,  problem  solving skills, etc.  You can also  use that time to allow  the children to explore interesting materials that people bring into the classroom.


Remember  when we practiced setting up materials in an intentional  way to get the children interested?  Jacquie and Jenn sorted rocks and put them in glass baby food jars. They displayed the jars on a mirror to offer a visual appeal. Then they took a few big shells and placed some small rocks in one and larger rocks in the other. Next to the rocks they placed a magnifying glass. They told us their intent was to encourage the children to explore and maybe sort the rocks by size. We all agreed that this display was much  more interesting than the red bowl of rocks that they usually have sitting in the science area.


Developmentally  appropriate practice  and child centered learning  have been  proven  to be excellent  ways to teach children.  This combination  of the constructivist  and sociocultural theories  tells us to create  experiences  that allow children  to construct  meaning. Giving children  ample time to have these experiences lets them  share what  they  are learning  with their peers. The  role of teacher  as facilitator  means  you “guide” learning  experiences, not “teach knowledge.”

Want more?  Order your copy of Monday Memo today at! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Where's your copy?

"I have an autographed copy and it's such a wonderful book.  Everyone needs to keep this on their desk, on their nightstand--somewhere close to you!!"

Thanks, Pam!  I'm so glad you are enjoying Monday Memo!  

To get your copy, go to

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

From Done to Done-r: The Road to

You may remember this post on Facebook and Twitter not too long ago:

Ahhhh! The book is DONE! DONE I tell you! And yes, I'm crying. Bet you would, too, if you were in labor for 28 months and delivered a 182 page baby. 

That's right! Monday Memo: Creating Change in Early Childhood Education, One Message at a Time is DONE! I shouted it at the top of my voice from my living room, I sent texts to friends using lots of !!! and :)), and I told anyone who answered their phone that finally I. Was. Done! I accepted everyone's praise and congratulations, knowing that I'd finally met one of my biggest life goals. Then I took out my To Do list, created back in the fall of 2011, to see what I could start on next. 

(But I didn’t quite understand what done meant/when done was really done.)

About an hour after my post, I received a message from my publisher, telling me that there were big problems with the layout and that we needed to make some changes before it could be ready for the printer. 

And then there were problems with the hand drawn cover art. 

And then there were 12 days of final design changes, last minute re-wording, and a few finishing touches. And then finally I finished my book a 2nd time. 

I woke up last Saturday to the following email. 
From: Publisher
To: DJ 
Your book was officially born at 7:45am eastern time. Proofs are ordered. Regards.

Whoohoo! NOW I have a book. NOW I can cry again and email my family who will whoo hoo right on cue. 

And now that its finished (again), I wait. And wait. And wait. The wait is driving me crazy.