First Steps to Preschool Inclusion:How to Jumpstart Your Programwide Plan
By Sarika S. Gupta, William R. Henninger, IV and Megan E. Vinh
First Steps to Preschool Inclusion is a current resource that
provides many tips and educational strategies for programs
to use as they plan for and work on the development of
inclusive preschool settings. Research on preschool
inclusion and website addresses for online resources are
weaved throughout this book. Planning forms are made
available to purchasers of the book to assist the reader in their study of inclusion in their
settings. Through the use of these resources administrators and program leaders interested
in inclusion are able to learn more about inclusion and the planning essential when
moving to an inclusive model.
First Steps to Preschool Inclusion is divided into two main categories and these include
chapters with further definition. The categories and chapters are:
Inclusion, Policy, and Research
- What is Inclusion?
- What Federal Laws and Policies Govern Inlusion?
- How Do Children Benefit from Inclusion?
Critical Considerations for Inclusion
- Is My Program Ready for Inclusion? Assessing the Climate
- What Are My Program’s Inclusion Requirements and Resources to Help Me Understand Them?
- How Will I Support Key Program Changes? Tools for Collaboration
- What Are the Barriers and How Can I Address Them?
An Appendix of Frequently Asked Questions follows the categories and chapters. The
questions and the answers, including where to find more information on the topic in the
book, are provided in this section. During the planning and implementation process these
pages would be helpful as a quick reference for those questions that often come up.
Whether programs are beginning initial planning for inclusion in preschool settings or
have been involved in inclusion in preschool settings for a long time, First Steps to
Preschool Inclusion is another helpful resource to assist administrators and program
leaders. Information on the laws, research into best practices, links to other resources and
the planning forms will be of assistance to programs.
Review by Linda Robinson
Cara's Kit: Creating Adaptations for Routines and Activities
By Suzanne Milbourne and Pip Campbell
Cara's Kit is a guide to help educators of preschool children use adaptations to increase children's engagement and participation in classroom activities and routines. The guide is organized into activities and events, which include Language and Literacy Activities, Group Meeting/Circle Activities, Table Top Activities, Small Group Play, Active Learning and Movement Activities, Transitions Between Activities, Routines, and Community Outings. For each section there is a Here's the Situation matrix in which a specific problem is presented. One example is Children are having difficulty turning the pages of the books. A continuum of adaptations is presented for each Situation. The continuum goes from Least Intrusive to Most Intrusive. Examples range from Adapt Environment to Select or Adapt Activity or Routine to Adapt Materials to Adapt Requirements or Instruction to Provide Assistance. Educators or families are encouraged to start with the least intrusive, but continue adapting along the continuum until the child is able to participate
The guide is a compact and easy-to-use with colorful pictures and scenarios provided throughout the pages. A DVD is included which contains Curriculum and PreK Standards that are linked to each Situation, Adaptation Notes, Checklist of Priorities and Concerns, Mini-posters, a PowerPoint presentation that explains how to use the guide, and Here's the Situation matrices in Spanish. This is a very helpful tool for using adaptations in the preschool classroom. The authors have recently developed a version of this guide which focuses on Toddlers.
Both the preschool and toddler versions of Cara's Kit are available through STARNET Regions I and III Resource Library
Review by Linda Robinson
Hands: growing up to be an artist
By Lois Ehlert
This small rectangular book looks like a box of paints that opens up to a variety of different visual stimuli. Pages are several different sizes with beautiful patterns and graphic images.
The story is told by a child who describes how her mother and father make things with their hands. The father uses a variety of tools for woodworking, while the mother has needles, thread, lace and scissors to make beautiful things for the family. The child has a place for making items too with scraps left from both her mother and father As a family they also use their hands in the garden to plant vegetables and flowers as the flowers grow, the artist in all of them starts over again to draw and create what nature has given them.
This is a delightful book with some of the pages in the shape of garden gloves and work gloves. It makes us think of how we use our hands in functional and creative ways. It is truly a book of many surprises, creatively put together to tell a story of the many ways to be an artist through painting, sewing, building, and gardening.
Review by Linda Robinson
Lyrics by Joe Raposo
Illustrations by Tom Litchenheld
For those who grew up watching Sesame Street, just hearing "La-la-la-lala, La-la-la-la-lala, La-la
la-lala-la-la…is enough to make us burst into "Sing! Sing a song! Sing out loud, sing out
For those whose childhood did not include tuning into Sesame Street and hearing famous singers,
actors, and TV personalities sing "Sing" along with the Sesame Street puppets, check out
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ccAf0A1EAs and other similar YouTube links for a taste of
"Sing" has been heralded as a "timeless and universal song that celebrates perseverance, selfexpression,
and the power of music to help each of us find our voice."
The story of the book is wordless, except for the words to the song. It opens showing three baby
birds in a nest. The first sings a note and flies away. The second does likewise. The third can't
produce a sound. He's upset with himself. Then a boy with a guitar sits under the tree and begins
to play the guitar and sing the words to "Sing." The bird listens and tries again to produce a note.
He succeeds and flies away to join his siblings in happy chorus.
Tom Litchenheld's illustrations and Joe Raposo's lyrics join to introduce "Sing" to a new
generation of youngsters. The book comes with a CD that includes "Sing!" "Somebody Come
and Play," and "One of These Things."
Bob McGrath, who played "Bob" in Sesame Street's original cast, wrote, "There's no better way
to acquaint a whole new generation with one of the most inspirational songs ever written."
Review by Joyce Johanson
You're Not My Friend Anymore
By Betsy Evans
Illustrated by Jonathan Wilcox
Author Betsy Evans offers six problem-solving steps that can guide parents and teachers through resolving conflicts with young children. The steps are
1. Approach calmly, stopping any hurtful actions.
2. Acknowledge children's feelings.
3. Gather information.
4. Restate the problem.
5. Ask for ideas for solutions and choose one together.
6. Be prepared to give follow-up and support.
Twenty-one common "What if…" situations, such as "I want a turn," "We don't like him," "I got it first," and "Oww! He Bit Me," are addressed. Each situation is illustrated in cartoon panels showing both a typical response and a problem-solving response to the issue. For each problem, text describes "What Happened Here," followed by a list of strategies to consider ("Instead of…, try this…") as well as an explanation of the reasons to avoid the traditional response(s) or to use the suggested response(s). Self-reflection or group discussion opportunities are given through questions and descriptive text: "What happened differently this time?" "Something more to consider…" and "Stop, Think, & Discuss."
If children's challenging behaviors have you baffled, if nothing you are trying seems to be working, Besty Evans' You're Not My Friend Anymore! Illustrated Answers to Questions About Young Children's Challenging Behaviors may just have what you need to solve your problems. The book is available for check out from STARNET Regions I and III Resource Library.
Review by Joyce Johanson
By Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Illustrated by David Clark
In this book instead of hearing a young child saying, "MINE! MINE! MINE," a type of dinosaur is the one saying it. The character is called a Mine-O-Saur! The topic of sharing and being a friend is demonstrated through this dinosaur's experiences. The setting is a school and schoolyard with their teacher, Mrs. Raptor. Iguanodon, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and the other young dinosaurs are upset by how the Mine-o-saur takes their toys and food and interrupts their play. The story shows how the other dinosaurs handle the situations as well as Mine-o-saur's behavior.
The Mine-o-saur and the other dinosaurs speak in rhyme.
"Iguanodon said, ‘That's not fair.'
Triceratops said, ‘You should share.'
But the Mine-o-saur yelled, ‘I don't care
They're MINE! MINE! MINE!'
I like that the story shows how the other dinosaurs handle their situation without hitting. But I also like the way the author shows the consequences of the Mine-o-saur's actions. For example, Mrs. Raptor has him clean-up the mess he makes.
I think the dinosaur characters help make this book appealing to young children. The story also points out that Mine-o-saur doesn't enjoy his items when he doesn't have any friends to talk or play with. I think that this book offers a great way to introduce sharing and being friendly. I think it would be a great addition to a classroom library to help address social issues that young children may experience.
Review by Sherial McKinney
Snowmen at Work
By Caralyn Buehner
Pictures by Mark Buehner
Who knew that snowmen have jobs. This story which is the fourth book in the Snowmen series. In the book Snowmen at Night, we found out the snowmen have secret lives. Now we find out that the snowmen besides playing actually have jobs. Their jobs are like human jobs. Jobs include a dentist, snow mechanic, baker, teacher and more. I love how the pizza man delivers frozen pizza and that the pet store has snowfish and snowpuppies.
Besides having colorful illustrations, the story offers a variety of skills for young children that meet the new Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards. This book offers the opportunity to bring in occupations/jobs from the Social Studies strand in a playful and entertaining way.
It also has a little surprise! It offers a game to find a rabbit, cat, T. Rex, and a mouse in each two-page spread and the front cover. You really have to LOOK!! The answers are offered on the underside of the book jacket. For me the mouse was the easiest to find. Good Luck!
Review by Sherial McKinney
Active for Life: Developmentally Appropriate Movement Programs for Young Children
by Stephen W. Sanders
This is a good resource for laying out the foundational physical skills for young children. Research indicates that if young children learn these foundational skills during these early years, they will continue to be active later in life. If they are not learned early on, they will not likely be active in future years. The resource is divided into three parts: understanding appropriate movement, designing physical activity programs and assessment, evaluation and planning programs.
Understanding the appropriate program recognizes what best practices entail which includes age appropriate and individually appropriate for each child. In addition, instructional and cultural appropriateness is also discussed. The author includes key aspects in building quality physical education for young children.
Designing physical activity programs entails a focus on the environment and curriculum to include components in locomotive, manipulative, rhythm, and stability. Children will gain an understanding of body awareness and control of body movement.
Assessment and evaluation is a continual process and is essential for understanding individual child growth and needs as well as revisions and challenges needed in the future. In conclusion, the author states the need for making preschool movement an educational priority.
Review by Joan Leff, Early Childhood Resource Specialist
I Like Old Cothes
by Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrator: Patrice Barton
I like old clothes,
Worn outgrown clothes,
Former Children's Poet Laureate, Mary Ann Hoberman, brings back this delightful story
about clothes, their history and mystery, with new illustrations for the book she originally
wrote in 1976. A brother and sister explore the many possibilities involving clothes. As
they try on a variety of clothes, they imagine who wore them before they did. Each page
is beautifully illustrated by Patrice Barton with soft colors and details that make the
clothes come alive.
This book will trigger children's imaginations of where clothes come from and who
might have wore the items before them. The content will also spark an interest in the
history of clothes, different types of clothes, and the purpose of recycling old clothes.
They will have a new understanding of clothes, especially "faded-out clothes, not-so-new
clothes, where-were-you clothes." If you or your children didn't like old clothes before
reading this book, you will love them by the end of the story. Children will look at old
clothes with new wonder.
Review by Linda Robinson
Open Very Carefully - A Book with Bite
by Nicola O'Byrne with words by Nick Bromeley
This clever children's book begins in a benign fashion with a "once upon a time" introduction to "The Ugly Duckling," when—lo and behold—there's a strange looking tail at the bottom of the page!
The tail belongs to a hungry crocodile that is particularly fond of eating letters. (His favorite seems to be O.) The duckling cries, "St p! Mr. Cr c dile! Y u can't eat the letter!" First letters are eaten, then words, then sentences. How do we make that hungry crocodile stop? (or is that st p?)
A great idea—let's rock the book from side to side and put him to sleep!
While he's asleep, let's give him a funny outfit. A tutu!!! The cr c dile is not pleased!
How do we get him out of this book? Another great idea—let's shake him out!
But the crocodile has his own escape plan. You'll have to read the book to find out what it is!
Be prepared for some good laughs!
Review by Joyce Johanson
The Day the Crayons Quit
by Drew Daywalt
pictures by Oliver Jeffers
Duncan wants to color but instead of crayons he finds a bundle of
letters, all addressed to him, all signed by a different color crayon,
and all complaining. RED says he needs a rest from Christmas and
Valentine's Day. Purple calls himself Duncan's "favorite" crayon but
complains the Duncan colors outside the lines and demands to be
used inside the lines only. BEIGE is tired of playing second fiddle
to BROWN, while GRAY complains that Duncan colors too
many elephants, whales, and hippos and wonders why he couldn't
use gray for small things like pebbles instead.
WHITE feels "empty" and unnecessary since Duncan uses white paper, and BLACK is tired of
outlining items that are filled in with the brighter colors. GREEN says he is happy and likes his
work on alligators and trees but speaks up on behalf of YELLOW and ORANGE, who are
angry and not speaking to each other. Each claims to be the correct color of the sun and each
presents evidence that Duncan thinks so too. They want Duncan to make a decision.
BLUE feels used up. He's down to a stub and can't see over the edge of the crayon box anymore.
PINK complains that Duncan never uses her, and PEACH won't come out of the crayon box
because Duncan peeled off her paper, and she feels naked and embarrassed.
Readers will be proud of Duncan's creative problem solving.
This book is another "winner!" Children will want it read again and again—and it may just
inspire some creative use of color in another young artist.
Review by Joyce Johanson
Creating the School Family: Bully-Proofing Classrooms Through Emotional Intelligence
by Becky Bailey
With concern over the amount of bullying that is taking place in schools, it is important for educators and family members to have a better understanding of how to interact with children in ways that will help to reduce the factors that impact bullying. In Creating the School Family: Bully-Proofing Classrooms Through Emotional Intelligence, Dr. Becky Bailey reminds the reader of the need to assist children in developing needed assertiveness skills. Throughout this book, Dr. Bailey expresses concern over the use of punishment when a child is misbehaving. In particular, Dr. Bailey speaks of the "Power of Attention" which states that what we focus on we get more of. According to Dr. Bailey, "Our choice of where we put our attention teaches children what we value. If we focus on what children have done wrong, we will teach them to value judgement, criticism and problems. If we focus on what we want to have happen, we will teach respectfulness and a focus on solutions."
Throughout the chapters in Creating the School Family, Dr. Bailey reinforces the importance of creating the feeling of love and acceptance for ALL children in the school family. Chapter One, The School Culture: Why traditional models are a disadvantage to our children, provides background information on what we have tried and sometimes continue to try in our classrooms. Chapters Two and Three provide the reader with the foundation of creating what Dr. Bailey refers to as emotionally intelligent classrooms. The rest of the book is dedicated to strategies that may be used to build emotionally intelligent classrooms. Each chapter is organized using the acronym TEACH. TEACH includes the following components: T-Teaching Moments, E-Environmental Structures, A-Activities, C-Commitment, and H-Helpful Resources. Many examples and strategies are described throughout this book.
Creating the School Family is a book that provides many helpful suggestions for assisting ALL children to develop necessary social and emotional skills. Using pictures and stories to learn how to express feelings, "wishing others well", and creating a safe space, along with many other strategies are all described in detail within this book. Whether bullying behavior has been observed in your classroom/program or not, Creating the School Family is a book that will be of great assistance for learning more strategies for creating the welcoming and safe classroom.
Discovering HighScope - A Teacher's Journal
I wish I had a book like this to guide my first year of teaching! Every new teacher questions whether they are "doing it right." This book actually walks the reader through a teacher's first year of using a new curriculum. If you use HighScope curriculum or not, you will benefit immensely from reading Rebecca James' insights and reflections.
The book is presented in a month-by-month format with James writing about observing the children, reflecting on ideas and insights and addressing when needed, what didn't go as planned. Every month ends with "What I Learned this Month."
Following a Child's Lead Many teachers struggle with following a child's lead. Rebecca struggled with this idea, too, and writes about her experience. The teachers had decided to introduce a pulley apparatus for the sensory table a little bit later in the year trying to keep the water toys simple until children were comfortable using the equipment. But, Mason was very curious within the first couple of weeks of the program about what pulleys would do. Introducing the pulley early in the year, James was concerned about potential water on the floor. Asking the question to herself, "What would happen if water spilled all over the floor," it occurred to her that it would be a great opportunity for Mason to problem solve - what do you need to clean up spills, where are the towels kept in the room, and the feelings he would gain from being independent and successful in the classroom. And, a bigger question she asked herself was, "Why is it important for us to keep the water table simple if one of the children is already interested in something more complex?" Rebecca began to realize the importance of supporting a child's interest and how that outweighed potential simple mishaps that might occur. She applied this same attitude when children moved materials from one center to another. Children learning how to clean up and return materials to the correct shelf far outweighed the "inconvenience" to teachers about where materials might end up during work time.
Problem Solving Another issue many new teachers (and seasoned ones!) struggle with is the idea that children can be active participants in solving problems. Isn't it easier for adults to tell the children what the solution is? The answer, of course, is YES. HOWEVER, when we don't allow children to solve problems, we take the opportunity away for them to develop crucial critical thinking skills and social-emotional skills - skills that children will need the rest of their lives. Viewing problem solving as opportunities helped Rebecca see that children can come up with some pretty creative ways to solve problems they face. Often, as adults, we impose our ideas onto the children but when we step back, utilize a 6-step approach to problem solving, children can become pretty adept at solving problems. Is it exhausting sometimes? Absolutely! But again, as in following a child's lead, children gain the confidence and skills that might otherwise have been lost because we use our adult-imposed ideas about how things should be done.
Encouragement vs. Praise Rebecca needed some coaching when it came to understanding the difference between encouragement and praise. Most people do but when she began to focus on what children were doing rather than judging children's work by saying "good job" or "I like," the focus was the process children were experiencing and helped children to evaluate their own work. In addition, when using descriptive phrases about what you see the child doing, "I noticed you were working a long time to figure out how the tape would stay" and open-ended questions such as, "I wonder how you figured that out?" interactions with children took on a whole new dimension. This became one of Rebecca James' strengths.
This book was a joy to read. It detailed the struggles that James went through when instituting a new curriculum at the HighScope demonstration school. Again, even if you use another curriculum, this book provides many insights into working with parents, helping children transition throughout the day and really allowing our observations of children to drive our daily lesson plans and carry out our daily routine
Review by: Carol Weisheit
Building Blocks for Teaching Preschoolers with Special Needs, 2nd Edition
By: Susan R. Sandall and Ilene S. Schwartz. Forward by Mary Louise Hemmeter
This is highly recommended as a resource for any Early Childhood educator working with children that have special needs. It is easy to use and is accompanied by a CD-ROM with all the suggested forms that are included in the book. This resource can be used as a supplement with any curriculum including Creative Curriculum and High Scope. Assisting in successful inclusion is the goal of this resource.
Educators will discover that it is aligned with the OSEP child outcomes with a foundation on evidence-based practices, and allows all the sample forms to be printed out from the CD-ROM. The main areas included in this resource include:
- Curriculum modification by activity and routine for each center including peer and adult supports; environmental supports; material adaptations; child preferences; and invisible supports
- The same as the above for small and large group time
- Embedded learning opportunities throughout the day including arrival and departure
- Child-focused learning opportunities
- Supports for children to become more independent and form friendships through appropriate socialization.
Included throughout Building Blocks are examples of behaviors encountered and ideas to assist the teacher in dealing with behavior; tips for embedding learning opportunities; monitoring children's progress; and acquiring knowledge including language and literacy. Challenging behaviors are also discussed with specific examples included..." If a child does this... Try this". Again, I would encourage all programs to invest in this resource.
Review by: Joan Leff
Managing Emotional Mayhem The Five Steps for Self-Regulation
By: Dr. Becky A. Bailey
After attending several of the Conscious Discipline workshops over the past couple of years, I found myself wanting to learn more about the research Dr. Bailey has done on helping children develop self-regulation skills. As I began to read this resource, I quickly realized that this book was written to not just help children but to also help all of us adults living and working with children. Throughout the book, Dr. Bailey uses many insightful examples and thought provoking questions to assist readers in reflecting on their own self-regulation skills that have been developed throughout their lifetime. This in turn helps readers to gain a better understanding of what self-regulation is and how it develops in children.
Managing Emotional Mayhem is a book that draws the reader in very quickly. Early in the book readers are encouraged to spend some thinking about how they handle difficult situations. As the book progresses, readers are provided with ideas and suggestions they can use to work with children in this crucial area of development. There are five chapters in the book:
- Self-regulation: The Bedrock of Emotional Wellbeing and Healthy Relationships
- Awareness: Our Relationship With Our Emotions and How It Affects the Children in Our Lives
- Feeling Messages: Following Our Emotional Guidance System
- The Adult Journey: Five Steps for Self-Regulation
- The Child's Journey: Coaching Children in the Five-Step Process
Managing Emotional Mayhem is an interesting resource for educators and family members working and living with young children. The reflective nature of this book assists the reader in developing skills personally as well as helping children develop these essential skills. This resource assists all of us in recognizing and supporting emotional development through awareness and development. Be sure to read the Feeling Buddy stories written for the reader at the end of the book. They were written just for you!
Giraffes Can't Dance
By: Giles Andreae
Peers can be mean when a fellow is different and doesn't quite fit in.
Gerald the Giraffe wants to dance, but his long legs and knobby knees
make him clumsy on the dance floor at the annual Jungle Dance.
When other animals laugh at his attempts and call him "clumsy" and
"weird," Gerald hangs his head and slinks away, leaving the party and
the happy dancers behind.
Gerald's help comes from a cricket. (The cricket and three small bugs are hiding on every page of
the book and offer a fun challenge for children to find.) Gerald is encouraged when his new
friend tells him that we all can dance "when we find music that we love" and that "sometimes
when you're different you just need a different song." Gerald finds his music and dances happily
in the moonlight, astounding himself and the fickle jungle animals who suddenly are no longer
jeering at him.
This picture book's rhyme and colorful, lively illustrations of animals will appeal to children ages
3-6. The older children may pick up on the subtle "moral of the story," which basically boils
down to be yourself, like yourself, appreciate your unique talents, and dance through life your
Review by: Joyce Johanson
The American with Disabilities Act is translated into Universal Design in this walk-and roll- in my shoes children's book. Jamie Riggio Heelan, an Occupational Therapist, writes from an elementary aged boy 's perspective of the benefits of using a wheelchair. A straight forward peer verbal interaction frankly shares and refutes a common misconception. Here Taylor, who has Cerebral Palsy, enlightens a classmate's assumption about wheelchairs. This, and much of the book, negates misunderstanding (perhaps copied by unintended adult attitudes) at a young age.
If I were a preschool educator, I would use this story to touch on some social emotional vocabulary (e.g. what does it mean to be frustrated, and pity verses compassion) and other emotions shared by all, regardless of how we get around. Embedded across the book are comparisons of likeness and differences, with highlights of assistive devices that level the playing field.
One of the jewels of this story is the optimism of, and application of, hope and effort.
Review by: Anna Owen
Creating Inclusive Learning Environments for Young Children What To Do on Monday Morning
By: Clarissa Willis
Are you ready for the challenges of teaching children in an inclusive classroom? Creating Inclusive Learning Environment for Young Children provides strategies and activities aligned with NAEYC and DEC standards to address the learning needs of all young children, including those at risk and with disabilities. Each chapter defines terms, lists resources used in each chapter, suggests resources for further reading, and identifies what the research says about an aspect of the topic.
Part I: Children with Special Needs in the Inclusive Classroom contains two chapters. The first is "Working with Children with Special Needs." Among the questions it answers are "What is 'Meaningful" Inclusion?" and "How Do I Get the Child's Family Involved?" The second is "Blending the World of Special Education with General Education Services." Among its topics are best practices, observation skills, and working with paraprofessionals and assistants.
Part II: Who Are the Children with Special Needs? contains 9 chapters, each addressing a special need. These include vision impairments, hearing loss, cognitive challenges, atypical motor development, communication delays, emotional/behavior disorders, autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing disorder, and children at risk for school failure.
Part III: Strategies for the Inclusive Classroom contains 5 chapters. These focus on preparing the children (How do I prepare children in a general education setting for a child with special needs? How do I teach tolerance and acceptance of others?), preparing the environment, implementing the curriculum, handling challenging behaviors, and building communication.
The Appendix offers a list of children's books that feature dynamic characters with special needs and a list of resources for special education products.
Creating Inclusive Learning Environment for Young Children offers a wealth of information for teachers who would like help supporting all learners in their classroom. The book is available for loan from the STARNET Regions I and III Resource Library.
Review by: Joyce Johanson
Powerful Interactions: How to Connect with Children to Extend Their Learning
By: Amy Laura Dombro, Judy Jablon, and Charlotte Stetson
Research has shown for many years that our interactions with children have a huge impact on their development and learning. The authors of this book acknowledge that fact and walk the reader through three powerful steps in making the most of our interactions with young children.
Throughout the book, the authors highlight three steps to having "Powerful Interactions" with children:
- Be Present - this involves slowing down and tuning into our own feelings so we can be more intentional in our interactions.
- Connect - during this step, we acknowledge and validate the child to show interest, promote trust and strengthen the relationship that we have with them.
- Extend Learning - as we work to nurture our relationships, we can use strategies during this step that will stretch the child's knowledge, skills and thinking.
This book is full of specific strategies and real-life examples from teachers that support each of the three steps listed above. The writing-style, photographs, tips for implementation and real-life examples make this an easy-to-read and helpful resource. There are also several places for the reader to jot down ideas and reflect on his/her own practices, thoughts and ideas. This book helps the reader understand the importance of being very intentional and making the most of our interactions with young children. Furthermore, it gives realistic strategies for how to make these powerful interactions happen in our own settings.
Review by: Linda Robinson
Shades of People
By: Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly
Photographs: Shelley Rotner 2009
This book offers beautiful photographs of children of all nationalities and different ages. Along with the photographs are descriptive words describing the color of their skin. The descriptive words are connected to pictures of the children.
The authors state, " Have you noticed that people come in many different shades?" It is amazing how the words fit the child's coloring. Some examples of these shades are: "coffee, cocoa, copper and tan" and "pink, rose, and almond".
This book offers wonderful photos of children of diversity. There are pictures of children doing a variety of activities. There are also photos of some families. The pictures are fun, beautiful and show a lot of smiling children.
I think this book would be a great addition to anyone's classroom or personal library. It will offer a great way to talk about differences in your classroom, your community or the world. It might be an incentive to make a classroom book of children in your classroom.
Review by: Sherial McKinney
Author: Carol Diggory Shields
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Take your children on an adventure in the Australian outback with this whimsical story about six woolly wombats. They will learn what a dingo is and why it is watching the wombats as they make their way through the unusual environment. There is a rhyme and a counting theme throughout the book as the group of six wombats lose a member one by one, counting down from six to two. Of course there is a happy ending with the wombats tricking the dingo to fall into a hole and reuniting all the little creatures. Children will learn some Australian words which appear throughout the book. There is a small glossary in the front which gives a simple definition of each new word. This book not only helps children with literacy and math skills, but also introduces a different culture to them in an entertaining way. The illustrations are colorful and add to the meaning and light-hearted nature of the story.
Review by: Linda Robinson
Teaching in the Digital Age: Smart Tools for Age 3 to Grade 3
Author: Brian Puerling
As an early childhood teacher in Chicago, Brian Puerling integrated a variety of technologies into activities and routines of young children in his classroom. He shares these innovative experiences in his book, Teaching in the Digital Age: Smart Tools for Age 3 to Grade 3 . The book serves as a timely guide to using technology in the preschool and early elementary curriculum in light of the recent release of the position statement on technology and interactive media by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent College. The book provides many implementation strategies that support the position statement key points.
The book begins with a discussion of the challenges currently facing teachers as they use the newest technologies in their classroom. Puerling encourages teachers to intentionally plan their use of technology by developing a curriculum map listing content area, skills, and activities. He provides planning forms as samples which can be copied and used in the classroom.
Each of the next seven chapters in the book focus on an individual type of technology. The content covers cameras, projectors, audio recorders, videoconferencing and webcams, publication and presentation tools, videos, and multi-touch mobile devices. Each chapter includes strategies and documentation on how the particular technology can be used to support learning, assess children's knowledge, and exhibit learning. Puerling includes accompanying forms in each chapter so teachers have a written guide to follow and eventually adopt or adapt as their own. Throughout the book there are QR codes related to videos illustrating a specific activity and links to the videos on the Redleaf Press website. Links are also provided so that forms can be downloaded and printed.
The final chapter focuses on infusing technology into the classroom with ideas for working with administrators and involving families in technology experiences. Puerling also includes forms for evaluating apps and how they can be used to support children's learning.
With his new book, Brian Puerling has made a significant contribution to the field of technology and early childhood. Not only is his book innovative in its use of new technologies with young children, but it also connects this technology to developmentally appropriate practices. With child development foundation constantly in mind, technology truly can be a tool to support a young child's learning.
Review by: Linda Robinson
My Brother Charlie
Authors: Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete
Illustrator: Shane W. Evans
My Brother Charlie is a heartwarming story about a little boy who has autism.
His twin sister tells the story about what this means for Charlie and her relationship with him. Since his brain works differently, it is harder for him to make friends, show his feelings or stay safe. Although there are some things that are harder for Charlie, she realizes that there are many things that Charlie can do! He can name the American presidents, plays the piano and knows many things about airplanes! Through their interactions as they grow older, she realizes that Charlie has other ways of showing his love for his sister and is a true blessing to be her twin brother.
This story is based on the experiences of authors Holly Robinson Peete, mother of her 10-year-old son and his sister, Ryan Elizabeth Peete.
Reviewed by: Joan Leff
Early Childhood Resource Specialist
The Power of Projects: Meeting Contemporary Challenges in Early Childhood Classrooms - Strategies and Solutions
Edited By Judy Harris Helm and Sallee Beneke
The Power of Projects is a follow up to Young Investigators. The authors attempt to address challenges found within our classrooms today. They show how the Project Approach can prove a successful method for meeting these issues. The five specific challenges discussed include:
- Overcoming the ill effects of poverty
- Moving young children towards literacy
- Responding to children's special needs
- Helping children learn a second language
- Meeting standards effectively
The book is full of many practical examples from real classrooms. Documentation from a number of projects help the reader learn how classrooms with the aforementioned challenges were able to meet and overcome these issue. For example, Pam Scranton writes about her experience in using project work to respond to the special needs of children in her classroom. In chapter 5 she documents The Bird Project from beginning to end. Pam writes, "At the time the Bird Project took place, three children with special needs were enrolled in my class, and two of them became deeply involved in the project." (57) Later she notes the improvement of one boy who had fine motor challenges, "The Bird Project motivated him to participate in many fine motor activities, and I observed tremendous improvement in his writing skills. In fact, Billy's writing improved so much that another child, Spencer, made a comment during word wall work about his writing: ‘Billy is a writer like me, huh, Mrs. Scranton?'"(p.61)
Many teachers see the benefits of the Project Approach, but are fearful of using this method in light of the special situations within their room. The Power of Projects is a great book to help teachers overcome some of these fears. Real life examples used to illustrate ideas, help the reader see that these ideas are practical rather than simply a nice theory. Young Investigators by Judy Harris Helm and Lilian Katz helps teachers understand how to get started with the Project Approach. The Power of Projects helps teachers master the approach and move their work to a higher level.
Submitted by: Mindy Ely, Early Childhood Resource Specialist
Teaching Mathematics in Early Childhood
By Sally Moomaw
Have you wondered if you are covering math in an appropriate way for young children? Are you concerned about how to teach all the components for each math area such as Number, Measurement, and Geometry? Do you have reservations about teaching math to young children? I think any Early Childhood teacher will find this book helpful.
This resource book on teaching mathematics goes through Mathematics for Preschool and Kindergarten classrooms by including all of the Math Standards. Each chapter is a different Content Standard which includes: Number Sense, Arithmetic Operations, Geometry, Measurement, Algebra, and Data Analysis. Moomaw explains what these standards look like in Early Childhood classrooms. She also makes the connection with the Process Standards: Problem Solving, Reasoning and Proof, Communication, Connections, and Representation to each of the content standards.
For each standard, there are ideas given (i.e. Designing the Number Sense Curriculum). The "Math Talk"section includes activities for talking about math. She gives ideas on how to do the "Math Talk" in various centers in the classroom such as Water Table or Dramatic Play area, etc. She also provides activities for Individual or Small Groups, Large Group, and activities Throughout the Curriculum.
She provides directions and pictures for each activity/game. Teachers will find 5-7 activities/games for each math standard. Moomaw provides teachers with a Materials list along with a section called Math Discussions. She also offers ideas for supporting children with special needs for the games/activities she describes.
Moomaw provides a section in each content area on assessing children's understanding. She gives examples of anecdotal notes that help teachers decide what they should do next.
Sally Moomaw provides all of this information in an easy to read format. The great thing is the book is geared for teachers of young children.
Review By: Sherial McKinney
Pete The Cat
By Eric Litwin and James Dean
Popular with both children and adults, Eric Litwin's and James Dean's popular feline,
Pete the Cat, made his debut in Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes. With its repeated
refrain ("Did Pete cry? Goodness, no!"), we learned that this groovy cat keeps his cool,
no matter what happens to his favorite new shoes. He sings his song, "I love my
(white..red..blue..brown…wet) shoes, and he teaches us that "it's all good."
Pete's next appearance came in Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes,
where Pete introduces readers and listeners to a school setting. Pete and his
school shoes rock on the school bus, in the library, in the lunchroom, on the playground. Pete sings
his song and rocks in his school shoes as he encounters each new area of the school. With its
repeated refrain ("Does Pete worry? Goodness, no!"), we find Pete reading, eating, playing,
singing, painting, writing, and adding in his school shoes, and we learn once again that "it's all
The latest Pete the Cat book is Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. Proud of his
four buttons, Pete loses them one by one. A little math mixed in lets readers know that 4-
1=3, and 3-1=2, and so on. As much as he loves his groovy buttons, a repeated refrain
("Did Pete cry? Goodness, no!") announces that "Buttons come and buttons go." Pete
eventually finds a button he can't lose! At the end, Pete assures us that "it's all good," and
that "we keep on singing."
Those unfamiliar with the Pete the Cat books can listen to the stories and music by going
to www.harpercollinschildrens.com/petethecat. YouTube also has some video of the stories.
Trust me on this…."it's all good!"
Review by: Joyce Johanson
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!
By Karen Beaumont
Illustrated by David Catrow
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More is a fun and colorful story of a little boy who decides to have a creative time painting walls, ceiling and finally himself! Beginning with his head and ending with his feet, he has one wild and fun time with colors until... Here comes Mama! Oh no! She thought she hid the paints, but this little fellow found them and went to town on the house and himself. Sung to the tune of It Ain't Gonna Rain No More, this delightful story of this unrepentant little boy is a story for all young children to experience. Teachers would be wise to have paints and paper on the easel ready for children in the art center to be the master of their own creations!
Reviewed by Joan Leff
Early Childhood Resource Specialist
"Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline" The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation
By Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D.
Becky Bailey writes a thought provoking insight of how we really focus, perceive, act upon and implement discipline strategies. We can learn some valuable lessons from her gentle guidance, and really learn to examine our current discipline strategies. We can learn about the seven steps for turning conflict into cooperation, and use more effective practices in both our work and home life.
The seven discipline skills the author goes into detail about are; composure, encouragement, assertiveness. choices, positive intent, empathy and consequences. She explains each in great detail, and helps us examine our current beliefs and how we implement our strategies. Becky Bailey reminds us simple yet profound concepts like self-control, which is the more important skill we can possess as a parent, that our interactions with children shape their brains, and that every conflict is a teaching and learning opportunity.
Dr. Bailey goes on to provide the reader a framework for change, with a supportive, informative "how to " approach. This book would be highly recommended for anyone who may be interested in becoming a better parent, a more effective teacher or therapist, and more skilled at relationships. It will be helpful when and if you want to become a more peaceful person.
Review by: Rose Slaght
The Black Book of Colors
By Menena Cottin
Illustrated by Rosana Faría
Translated by Elisa Amado
Did you ever wonder how a person or child with a visual disability or blindness uses Braille or could "see" colors? The Black Book of Colorsgives the sighted community that experience. It offers children and adults, sighted or not sighted, an experience throughout the book.The pages of the book are completely black except for the white print explaining each color through various senses. On the left page is the statement in Braille at the top of the page and white print at the bottom. On the right is the "picture" which is raised and black for the reader to feel what the text is describing.The text gives a wonderful description of the color such as "Thomas says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick's feathers." The book continues describing colors and ends with black, "the king of all the colors".
This book offers the teacher or parent an opportunity to discuss how people with a visual disability or blindness can read a book. The book with the embossed lines gives the reader the chance to use the sense of touch with their fingers to "see" what is being described in the written language of Braille. This includes different sizes of feathers, strawberries on the vine, and a kite. It also has the alphabet written in Braille at the end of the book.
The book was first published in Mexico in Spanish, El Libro Negro de los Colores. It won the New Horizons Award at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in 2007 and the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book Award. It is now published all around the world.
I think this book offers a great insight for children to experience a glimpse of the world without sight. It offers numerous teachable moments besides teaching colors such asanother person's perspective, understanding and tolerance of others. It is a wonderful book for anyone's library.
Review by: Sherial McKinney
Magic Capes, Amazing Powers: Transforming Superhero Play in the Classroom
By Eric Hoffman
"Bang, bang! You're dead!" Do you get uncomfortable when children pretend to play with weapons or get engaged in superhero play? Do you worry about this type of play becoming too physically aggressive or violent? Do you feel the need to stop this type of play right away? If so, you are not alone. Many of us often wonder what to do when children start pretending to shoot guns, or kill monsters or fight off fire-breathing dragons. Some of us prefer to ban this type of play. Others might choose to ignore it. But what are the consequences when we try to control the children's play or when we just let this type of play go on without setting limits?
In his book, Magic Capes, Amazing Powers, Eric Hoffman explores what it is that draws young children (both boys and girls) to this type of play. He talks about the importance of balancing our own need for control and safety with the children's strong desire to explore important concepts such as: power; autonomy; feelings; physical abilities; friendships; right versus wrong; real versus fantasy; good versus evil; and so on.
Hoffman uses real concrete examples directly from the classroom to help the reader understand superhero play. He notes that this can be any type of play that focuses on fantasies of power, danger, bravery and good versus evil. It can take the form of pretending to be specific superheroes; witches; monsters; army men; princesses; knights; space aliens; you name it! He explores the adult's perspective and addresses many of the concerns that we typically have about superhero play. In addition, he also opens up our eyes to the imaginative viewpoint of the child and explains how children can really benefit from this type of play. He offers many practical strategies for allowing the children to engage in this type of play in a way that is developmentally appropriate and allows them to really explore the important concepts mentioned above. With support and guidance, Hoffman shows how children can use superhero play to investigate those "big" questions that they have about the world. He offers ideas for setting the stage, supporting children as they play, redirecting the play when needed and working with families.
In my opinion, this is a "must-read" for anyone who is uncomfortable with superhero play or just unsure about what do to when children begin to participate in this type of play.
Review by: Anna Owen
Twelve Best Practices for Early Childhood Education: Integrating Reggio and Other Inspired Approaches
By Ann Lewin-Benham
The Reggio Approach sounds great, but how do you implement such a thing in America? Our culture is different. We have various federal, state, and program restraints. Plus, we just don't have any money!! But, the author, Ann Lewin-Benham has done just that in an American Head Start program called The Model Early Learning Center. In Twelve Best Practices for Early Childhood Education she provides information on the learning process the teachers went through as they learned to implement a Reggio inspired preschool environment. The result is a thought-provoking look at real classroom examples. Readers are inspired to action through ideas that are experience based, well researched, innovative and cost-effective.
For example, chapter six asks readers to consider the use of language in the development of focus. The author suggests that teachers can and should involve children in conversation that is "meaning-full". Children should be given the opportunity to solve problems, guide next steps, and mentor others. If we truly believe in the ability of children, we will not have answers preconceived. We can follow the lead of the children. Given such real opportunity, children will rise to the challenge. They will be actively engaged. They will learn to focus, concentrate, and compromise. Such attitudes lead children to cooperate with one another and, thus, regulate their behavior. These are essential skills that will provide success in all aspects of life and work.
The book spotlights twelve basic practice theories. Both the Reggio Approach and the Montessori model inspire the author's views on early childhood. She also refers to Gardner, Feuerstein, and Greenspan. A full chapter is devoted to each practice giving background rationale, real examples, and implementation ideas. Each chapter ends with points to consider that asks the reader to think through their own views on the concepts presented. In addition, the reader is challenged to take a specific step to implement the practice. This book could be used as a guide for a teacher or program working to move toward a more child-led approach.
Twelve Best Practices for Early Childhood Education: Integrating Reggio and Other Inspired Approaches by Ann Lewin-Benham is a must read. The ideas presented are both challenging and thought provoking.
Review by: Mindy Ely
Big Body Play
By Frances M. Carlson
The subtitle of this book says it all: Why Boisterous, Vigorous, and Very Physical Play is Essential to Children's Development and Learning. This 2011 NAEYC publication is a nice addition to a teacher's personal library. While we all KNOW that we should be sure children have many opportunities for vigorous play, this book tells us WHY it's so important. While the book itself is only 3 chapters, it also includes a Frequently Asked Questions section about Big Body Play, and an appendix which shares turning finger plays into big body games, sample handbook policies for big body play, training staff on rough-and-tumble play, a sample letter for families and a sample documentation panel on rough-an-tumble play.
Chapter 1, "What is ‘Big Body Play' " helps teachers recognize what rough-and-tumble play is and is not. Carlson lists out the different types of big body play we might see at each age level (infants, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners) and the positive aspects of big body play. She describes the sophisticated communication that is being learned while engaging in this type of play and the importance of this play to a child's ability to self-regulate. Social skill development is an important outcome of big body play and is just as essential as the physical development of children. A major part of Chapter 1 discusses teacher reservations about allowing children to engage in big body play. These include: fear of fighting, fear of escalation, fear of agitation and fear of injury. Because most teachers interpret aggressive play as aggression, big body play is often taken out of a child's day. Once the distinction is made between aggressive play and aggression, an understanding emerges about the differences between rough-and-tumble play and fighting. Carlson lists out 3 main distinctions: facial expressions, willingness to participate and willingness to return and extend the play. These distinctions are helpful for a teacher's understanding about big body play.
Chapter 2 discusses the evolution of this physical activity and the importance to brain development. Studies from the wild show that all animals engage in rough-and-tumble play, not necessarily for fighting purposes but for learning - learning important skills to help them survive as well as important cognition skills. Other important skills developed through big body play are: feeling and interacting, communicating, and thinking. Carlson describes how these skills play out at each age level. Concluding the chapter, the author describes the connection between attention and achievement beyond the preschool years by citing a variety of research that points to the importance of loud, vigorous and boisterous play.
Chapter 3 discusses strategies teachers can use in order to incorporate this type of play into their classroom. A distinction between risk and hazard is a helpful part of this chapter and helps teachers recognize the difference. All children need to take risks but we need to be sure the environment is free of hazards in order to make this risk manageable. Supervision policies and setting up the environment are also discussed in this final chapter. The types of furnishings and equipment as well as safety surfaces are laid out for consideration. Colored photos are helpful to see that less play equipment is sometimes better than cluttering up a playground with lots of unnecessary equipment. The final part of this chapter discusses supporting big body play in the classroom by talking to children about the rules for their play and helping them to recognize cues and limits in the play. Communicating and collaborating with families finishes the chapter with helpful hints on how to help families understand the importance of big body play and how to support this type of play at home.
Reading this book will help teachers realize that big body play is more than running on the playground, riding a bike or swinging on swings. Encouraging children to engage in big body play is essential to social skills as well as academic skills and once this is understood, developing guidelines and supervising this play is the next step. Many teacher stories are cited in the book and teachers report a remarkable change in children's attention span in the classroom as well as changes in important social skills when they can be engaged in big body play.
Review by: Carol Weisheit
By Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld
So.... is this book about a duck or a rabbit? That is the question! This playful book walks you through the debate of two unseen characters as they argue over whether they are seeing a duck or a rabbit. As each page is turned, the reader is presented with an optical illusion (an image that could be either a duck or a rabbit) and an argument defending each of those perspectives. Is it a duck wading through the swamp or a rabbit hiding in the grass? Is it a duck drinking water or a rabbit dipping his ears in water? It all depends on how you look at it! I can see children becoming highly engaged with this book, as they will be eager to pick a side! It offers an opportunity to see and discuss how there is not always ONE RIGHT ANSWER. What a fun and interesting way to get children thinking and talking about different perspectives!
Review by: Anna Owen
One Child, Two Languages: A Guide for Early Childhood Educators of Children Learning English as a Second Language
By Patton O. Tabors
This easy-to-read book serves as a good resource and
introduction to working with children who are dual language
learners. The author provides basic information on language
acquisition and the developmental path children take in acquiring
a second language. She discusses two types of second-language
acquisition, simultaneous and sequential, and the social and psychological factors
that affect each type.
The author discusses four distinctive developmental periods that children
experience as they acquire a second language. Children progress from Home
Language Use in which they continue to speak the language that they know to
Nonverbal Period in which they abandon communication since others do not
understand them. Nonverbal communication can take many forms and the author
provides strategies to help children through this developmental period. Children
eventually progress to the next period, Telegraphic and Formulaic Speech, in which
they begin to experiment with sounds and imitate words in the new language. They
will eventually built their own sentences and develop Productive Language Use. The
author provides information and ideas for working with children in each stage.
Since the book is intended to be a guide for educators, the author includes
curriculum strategies for teachers with ideas for facilitating language through
activities and environmental supports. She discusses each center in the classroom
and gives examples of ways to help dual language learners to be included. Home
language and family involvement are important parts of each chapter.
Assessment techniques are addressed in one chapter with specific examples of
children's performance on a bilingual assessment instrument provided. The book
comes with a DVD which contains forms for curriculum activity planning, language
observations, and family questionnaires. Throughout the book, the author writes
about her direct observations of children, which makes the reading especially
interesting. She describes the classrooms and children in detail and relates actual
conversations that she had with children. This makes each point in the book easier
to understand as she relates it to experiences with children. I would recommend
this book to anyone interested in learning more about young children who are dual
This book is available in STARNET Regions I and III Resource Library, www.starnet.org.
Review by: Linda Robinson
Developmentally Appropriate Play Guiding Young Children to a Higher
By Gaye Gronlund
When was the last time you discussed the value of play with other
educators, family members of children in your classroom, and people
in your community? As early educators we often find ourselves
describing the benefits and the importance of play. Developmentally
Appropriate Play: Guiding Young Children to a Higher Level is a
valuable resource to have at times such as these. The author Gaye
Gronlund, states "Teachers have an important task with preschool and
kindergarten children: to provide ample time, space, materials, and
support to lead the children to engage in play that is safe, socially
successful, filled with purpose and meaning, and imaginative."
Throughout Developmentally Appropriate Play, Gronlund references
the third edition of Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early
Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8 (DAP)
which was released in 2009 by the National Association for the
Education of Young Children. Gronlund also shares many examples
from her own teaching experiences as well as a myriad of experiences
that she has had while working with different preschool and
kindergarten programs. These examples and experiences, help to
support educators and provide valuable ideas which are shared in each
of the following chapters: What's So Important about Play?; Putting
Theory Into Play; Planning for Play; Ways to Help Children Make
Choices; Interacting with Children to Enhance Play; Provoking Children
Into More Complex Play; Adding Representation to Further Enrich Play;
Incorporating Standards and Goals in Children's Play; and in the
Conclusion Play Works. Gronlund also includes Suggested Provocations
and Ideas for Writing Materials to Accompany Dramatic Play in
Appendix A and B.
While we often use a variety of names for play, for example, free play,
work time, and/or center time, our common goal is to provide a time
for children to experience high-level play. According to the author we
can do this by setting up the environment, providing an inherent
structure for play, and allowing enough time in the daily schedule for
deep play to evolve. Rich, higher level play does not necessarily
involve changing materials on a daily or weekly basis though it does
involve building relationships with the children. Through these
relationships educators can observe the needs of the children and plan
appropriately for play experiences.
As you read Developmentally Appropriate Play take time to reflect on
the play of children in your classroom.
Taking time to observe and reflect on the level of play in the classroom
will give educators the opportunity to see the play levels and to
provide appropriate support when needed.
- Do you offer children assistance that may help lift their play to a
- Do you intentionally plan for play experiences, providing children
with the support and materials when needed?
- Do you enter children's play when invited or when you see that
the children are stuck?
- Do you provide the children with 45 minutes to one hour of
uninterrupted playtime both inside the classroom as well as
To check out this book and/or to find workshops focused on the
importance of play during the early childhood years, visit the STARNET
Regions I & III website at www.starnet.org.
Review by: Jodi Knapp
Pink Brain Blue Brain
By Lise Eliot
In her book Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps—And What We Can Do About It, Lise Eliot explores the popular views about differences between boys and girls in our society today. She presents a wealth of scientific research and evidence that supports the idea that these differences are not entirely based on the fact that boys and girls are "hardwired" to be different. In fact, she states that current research finds very little difference between the anatomy of boy brains and girl brains. While slight differences are noticeable at birth, Eliot argues that these differences are actually amplified by the child's experiences with parents, peers, and others in society that unwillingly reinforce gender stereotypes as they interact with children. This can then lead to major gaps in verbal and relational skills, as well as spatial and math skills between girls and boys. This thought-provoking book provides evidence of abilities that are influenced by both nature and nurture but really focuses on how children are shaped by cultural biases about sex differences. Eliot offers suggestions for ways to help children of both sexes spend their time engaging in activities that will help to cross-train their brains and hopefully reduce some of the troubling gaps in abilities between boys and girls.
Review by: Anna Owen
By Herman Tullet
Press Here is an engaging, interactive book that is both simple and amazing in its approach. Normally, when we think "interactive," at the very least books with pop-up pages or books with holes for fingers or textures for feeling or buttons for making sounds come to mind. The other end of the spectrum of "interactive" involves the animations and sounds of apps for iPads or games on a computer.
Press Here fits neither of those models. Its pages are flat. Nothing pops up. The book features no holes, no variety of textures, and no sounds. However, it is indeed interactive, as you will learn when you and your child discover the surprises in this book together.
As you begin, you see a yellow dot. Simple directions tell your child to press it. Turn the page..there are now two dots! Press one. Turn the page..three yellow dots! Directions say to rub the LEFT dot (gently!). Turn the page. It's blue! Now rub the RIGHT dot (gently!). Turn the page. It's red!
And so on through the book. Directions say to press a dot FIVE times. On the next page, there is now a row of five VERTICAL dots! The directions will have your child tilting the book LEFT. Oh my, all the dots are now on the edge of left page! Tilt RIGHT. What happened? Now they are on the right edge of the page! Who did that?? Shake the book (gently!) Hold the book STRAIGHT. On each page the dots move, sometimes in surprising ways. They make a pattern in a HORIZONTAL line. Oh-oh! Which dots changed places?
As the end of the book draws near, your child is asked to clap. One clap. Turn the page. The dots are bigger! Two claps. The dots are bigger still. More clapping. Now the dots overlap. Now look..there are different COLORS..oranges, purples, greens!
What do you get in this simple book? Well, surprise, fun, and laughter for sure. But consider the other benefits—counting; patterns; colors; directions; concepts of left, right, straight. There is more to this little book than meets the eye, as you will discover the first time you and your child sit down to press that yellow dot for the first time.
At the end of the book, you're sure to hear, "Let's do it again!" ...and again, and again..
Review by: Joyce Johanson
Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control
by Heather T. Forbes and B. Brian Post
It's refreshing to find a book written for parents that takes a research evidence-based topic and applies it to everyday parenting. It's thought provoking to find a book that challenges our prior knowledge and familiar ways of parenting with establishing new patterns that first require an evaluation of ourselves. For some families and children, this can be well worth it - even ‘family' life-saving.
Noting that experiences impact our thinking, memory and ability to self-regulate, the authors address selected brain research. They cite neuroscientist Bruce Perry's four levels of memory: cognitive, emotional, motor and state. Once activated, the ‘state' level has the power to totally override the other three. The state level, which is not part of the rational brain but lies in the limbic brainstem area, operates with either fight, flight or freeze when stress is interpreted as threat. At this time, unconscious traumatic memories are triggered and heightened stress grows, distorting the cognitive mind. In the state level, a behavior such as lying can easily be a self-preservation response and the cognitive and emotion states remain mute to their moral and ethical convictions and reasoning. Indeed the authors describe this as "survival". Thus when confronted with the threat of a stealing cookie, the state level calls for protection from the confrontation, not the theft of the cookie.
The authors use Perry's work to support their ‘Stress Model'. Developed by Dr. Brian Post as a regulatory theory of human behavior, the Stress Model says that behavior arises from a triggering stress and that, in between the stress event and the behavior, the emotional state is accessed. It is Forbes and Post's position that the primary emotions that will occur in the emotional state are fear or love.
When a child is having fear-based behaviors of great challenge for adults to manage, the authors call upon the adults to not let the child's fear based behaviors create fear within themselves. Seeing the child's outside defiance, hitting, cruelty and other negative behaviors can quickly lead to the adult state level of fear-based feelings and resultant fear-based behaviors. In essence, the adult may ‘naturally' follow the same process in which the child is engaged. As the adult, however, the fear-based behavior produces fear-based consequences for the child.
The Stress Model provides awareness of the adult's ability to calm the child's fear once the adult's fear response is cognitively realized and put in check. Thus when the child's fear-based feelings encounter appropriate responses from adults, the fear-based behaviors can dissipate.
The heart of the book lies within the first chapter, but all the other chapters bring nourishing oxygenated circulation. Read and re-read the first chapter to fully comprehend the heart of the book. Read the rest of the book to understand the traditional view and the ‘new view' of consequences, principles and how to parent Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control.
Reviewed by: Sandy Ginther
Along A Long Road
By Frank Viva
Readers will be whisked away on this bicycle ride as they follow the bold yellow road past the sea, through the country, up a hill, around town, through neighborhoods, into a tunnel, over a bridge and twisting and turning past several interesting places. Although the author uses few words to create this rhythmic tale, it's sure to spark many conversations as readers notice and talk about the many sights they see as they join the cyclist on his journey along the road. What will they notice in the sky, in the water, or in the store on the side of the road?
Viva's bold illustrations feature only five colors (black, white, light blue, yellow, and a few splashes of red). The stunning images are full of contrast and are sure to capture children's attention from the very first page! As each page is turned, it is revealed where the continuous road will lead next. This book is full of movement and fun. It can be used to reinforce spatial concepts such as "over," "under," "through," "up," "down," "around," "into," etc. This book is sure to be a delightful addition to any classroom library or block area. I can see children being inspired to build their own very long road that twists and turns past many interesting places!
Review by: Anna Owen
by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Ellen Stoll Walsh wrote and illustrated this fun-filled story about mice experimenting with a teeter-totter. "Ta-da!" They find balance only to be thrown off again as a new creature jumps in on the action.
The book has a playful tone as the animals are jostled on the beam. What a great read to encourage summer activity. This makes me want to go outside and try my own hand at creating a balanced teeter-totter. Use the book to encourage investigation of balance and weight. Concepts related to patterning, counting, and size are evident as well.
Reviewed by: Mindy Ely
Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?
By Susan A.Shea with paintings by Tom Slaughter
If a kitten grows and becomes a cat, can a cap grow and become a hat? Children can explore this question and many more in this book about animate and inanimate objects. Each page has a colorful drawing of either an animal or an object. Children can decide whether an object, such as a cap, can really grow into a hat as they open the flap on the page revealing how that smaller object relates to the larger one. They can ponder whether a watch can become a clock or a shovel can become a plow.
This book can stimulate a lively discussion about how animals and humans grow, and whether objects are capable of growing as children decide the answer to the question on each page. There is also a section in the back that provides the answers for children who want to enjoy this book on their own. Along with the thought provoking questions, the colorful drawings and movable flaps are appealing features of this book for young children.
Review by: Linda Robinson
Little Pink Pup
by Johanna Kerby
Little Pink Pup written by Johanna Kerby is a heart-warming story for children AND adults. Pink, the pig, is born into a litter of 12 piglets but was the runt of the litter and was not given much opportunity to feed. Enter, Tink, a mother dachshund who had a puppy of her own and was also foster mother to a few others. What unfolds is a story of love, compassion, and above all, acceptance. Pink soon became part of the dog family and began to eat and gain weight. While his pig siblings grew to 20 pounds, Tink was only 3 pounds. He refused pig food and only wanted puppy food like his brothers and sisters. He happily played, wrestled and chased his puppy siblings through the house. Tink moved to the barn when he grew too big for the house but he was sure to take his dog bed with him. His dog siblings continued to visit him and even though he was born a pig, Tink remains a dog at heart.
This book's dedication says it all: This book is dedicated to all the children who think that they are different from the rest of their families. Just remember your family loves you just the way you are.
Review by: Carol Weisheit
Come and Play: Sensory-Integration Strategies for Children with Play Challenges
by Ariel Cross
This is a wonderful resource for early childhood professionals and parents. Ariel Cross emphasizes the necessity of play for children to develop, learn and thrive. This resource addresses five common play challenges as follows:
- The child who dabbles
- The child who roams
- The child who is anxious
- The child who is detached; and
- The child who feels rejected
Each chapter offers reasons why this may occur; key intervention guidelines; sensory-integration strategies; and tips from Lily, an occupational therapist with thirty years of experience. In addition, each section includes a sample play plan for the play challenge being exhibited. Activities and ideas to enhance play materials and the curriculum are found throughout this resource.
Ruby in Her Own Time
By: Jonathan Emmett
Illustrator: Rebecca Harry
Jonathan Emmett is an award-winning author with a host of bestselling picture books to his name. These include Bringing Down the Moon; Once Upon A Time, Upon a Nest; and Dinosaurs After Dark. Jonathan is also a talented paper engineer and creates amazing pop-up books, too.
Ruby in Her Own Time is a story with a wonderful message for all. Ruby is a little duckling that that hatches later, eats later, swims later than her other siblings. Father Duck is very concerned, but Mother Duck wisely and confidently tells him that "she will... in her own time." Later when it comes time to learn to fly, Ruby develops long beautiful wings and flies higher and farther than any of her brother or sisters. This story's message celebrates individuality and non-competition. Ruby is not pushed by Mother and Father Duck, but rather they wait patiently until Ruby is ready to learn and reach each goal. The pictures are in colorful pastels and are very appealing. A great story for any young child and parents too!
Just how long can a long string be?!
By: Keith Baker
Keith Baker is a former elementary school teacher. He is the author and illustrator of fourteen picture books including Big Fat Hen.
This a simple story about an ant and a bird with a large ball of string. Inside the jacket cover it states: " Has something ever gotten in your way that seems way too big to handle? What if you could break down that problem into pieces . . . until it wasn't a problem at all?"
Ant and bird turn the ball of string into things they can use like strings to balloons, string for a kite, string for a necklace and many other things. The illustrations are bright and colorful. The string continues from one page to the next throughout the book.
I enjoyed the book because it was simple and not very many words on a page. Children could relate to many of the activities but some may be new things. I can see a lot of potential for questions and discussions. It could also lead to many types of outdoor activities.
STARNET Regions I & III
Early Childhood Resource Specialist
THERE'S GOING TO BE A BABY
By: John Burningham
John Burningham is a two-time winner of the Kate Greenway Medal who has writine and illustrated numerous books including It's a Secret and Harvey Slumfenburger's Christmas Present. Helen Oxenbury is also winner of Kate Greenway Medal and numerous other awards. She is the illustrator of many books such as We're Going on a Bear Hunt (one of my favorites), It's My Birthday, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
This book addresses how a preschooler thinks about getting a new baby in the family. The author poses a lot questions a child might say such as: " When is the baby coming? What will we call it? What will the baby do? We don't really need the baby do we?" The mama in the story answers some of the questions and makes some statements like: "Maybe when the baby grows up, it will be a chef and work in a restaurant." (As she and soon-to-be big brother are sitting in a restaurant). The soon-to-be big brother shares: "I don't think I'd eat anything that was made by the baby." The next two pages show the baby making pancakes, flipping them, and one landing on the baby's head.
The book shows different places the mother and son go throughout the pregnancy. Each place like the art museum it is brought up that the baby may grow up to be an artist and brother's response and how he imagines the baby doing that job.
At the end the Grandad is taking the big brother to the hospital. The big brother says: "Grandad the baby will be our baby. We're going to love the baby aren't we?"
Note: The picture of the brother taking a bath is an anatomically-correct picture of the big brother standing in the water. Just wanted everyone to be aware.
I really enjoyed the story and how the author put it to words so many of the questions young children have when they are expecting a new sibling. It would be good book for families that are expecting a new baby.
STARNET Regions I & III
Early Childhood Resource Specialist
By: Bill Thomson
Bill Thomson is an associate professor of illustration at the University of Hartford. He illustrated Baseball Hour, Karate Hour, and Building with Dad.
This book is a picture book (with no words). It has bright, colorful illustrations.
Inside the cover it states: "A rainy day. Three kids in a park. A dinosaur spring rider. A bag of chalk. The kids begin to draw . . . and then . . . magic!"
The kids find a bag of sidewalk chalk hanging in a gift bag off of the dinosaur spring equipment in the park. The kids use the chalk to draw things. Each thing they draw appears like the sun and butterflies. I won't give away the ending but this book would get a lot of discussion about drawing, fantasy, things they like to do outside, and what ever the book inspires them to think of.
I highly recommend it as a great book for spring. It could be a springboard for some outdoor drawing and other activities such as a trip to the park or making their own picture book. Best of all there are no words so the children can tell the story any way they want.
STARNET Regions I & III, Early Childhood Resource Specialist
Picture Science: Using Digital Photography to Teach Young Children
By: Carla Neumann-Hinds
Putting digital cameras in the hands of young learners may cause no small amount of concern. Compact and durable, digital cameras are the right size to fit into small hands and rugged enough to survive in a classroom. The digital camera is a tool that supports learning in many ways for young children.
With a digital camera in the hands of young children, teachers discover that picture-taking can:
- turn the abstract into the concrete. All the words in their adult vocabulary cannot explain a shadow as easily and completely as the picture of an object blocking the light.
help children remember events over time. By arranging photographs in a sequence children produce a visual timeline of events.
support children's language development. Children review their photographs and describe and verbalize their ideas related to an object or event.
demonstrate children's focus on a particular topic. The pictures children take are evidence of their search for information. As they eliminate possibilities, their field of inquiry narrows as they work toward an answer. The proof is in the photos.
provide children with their own source of documentation. The photograph they took of the cardinal at the bird feeder turns that bright red bird into "their" bird. That sense of ownership is not likely to happen with the picture cut from a magazine.
- help children learn skills related to photography. When children are engaged in the picture-taking process, they learn to use this "adult" tool as they gauge distance, monitor lighting, and arrange the setting.
The author shares many activity ideas, designed to address early learning standards, that support ways children can use digital photography to collect and analyze data, demonstrate conclusions, make the process of inquiry visible, and create documentation. While most activities "look like science," they are not singularly related to science but include learning opportunities in other content areas as well. In addition, the author answers questions related to the kind of camera, storage capacity, zoom, battery use, camera/computer compatibility, printing, and image storing.
A digital camera in a classroom is not only for teacher use. In the hands of young children it becomes an important tool for investigating, collecting and analyzing information, and demonstrating new knowledge. Be bold and share the digital camera with the children!
Ramps & Pathways: A constructivist approach to physics with young children
Newton's First Law of Motion, force, motion, friction, slope, gravity and inertia - do preschool children really understand these physics terms? Yes AND no. Preschool children develop what Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, refers to as knowledge at a "practical level" (knows how) with knowledge at a "conceptual level" (knowing why) coming between 11 or 12 (for most children). Ramps and Pathways (DeVries and Sales), a NAEYC publication, explores a child's understanding of physics through a constructivist view. Based on the works of Piaget, the authors discuss how a young child constructs their understanding of the physical world. Using the phrase "thinking about children's thinking," Ramps & Pathways explores the development of a child's logical reasoning.
Children spend hours exploring and experimenting with ramps - how fast does this marble/ball go down a board? What angle works best so the car travels down a tube the fastest? As an adult, we know what ideas work and don't work but that's because we've had years and years to gain this knowledge. A young child is at the beginning level of their physical world knowledge and must have lots of time, materials and support in order to get to the conceptual level of understanding.
Teachers can respect children's unique ways of thinking by providing many opportunities for children to try out their ideas. When children correct themselves and try again they are more likely to correct their own misconceptions. But, in order to make these corrections, teachers must provide an environment which supports this process. Here are some ideas the authors suggest:
- Materials - cove molding (molding used where walls and ceilings meet), plastic gutters transparent, flexible tubing all varying in length; various sizes of small balls and cars to roll on the cove molding and tubing.
- Adequate space - children must be able to build up (the book provides many colored photographs of children's structures), out, over and under in the classroom. And, children must be able to keep structures up to sustain their interest day in and day out.
- Time - teachers must support a child's on-going effort to try out their ideas in order to test their sometimes inaccurate ideas in order to increase their physics knowledge and intellect.
Disequilibrium (moments of uncertainty) must occur in children's thinking in order to advance their thinking. This disequilibrium includes both intellectual and affective experiences. A child's intellectual disequilibrium occurs when their ideas don't come out the way they had intended (Hey, why didn't that ball turn the corner on the ramp?). Affective disequilibrium occurs when a child experiences puzzlement, frustration or surprise. In order to create and change their knowledge content and become better at mentally organizing that content teachers must engage in what the author's term the "10 Principles of Teaching" - interpreting Piaget's ideas about how children think and learn. These 10 principles are:
- Experiment with materials
- Inspire children's interest
- Create an environment that inspires
- Allow children to try ideas
- Observe children's actions
- Intervene with questions and comments
- Respect a child's non-response to your questions
- Support children's work
- Integrate into all curricular areas
- Encourage social interactions.
While the 10 principles are written for a child's understanding of physics, one can easily insert language, math, social studies or any content areas into this idea. Reading this book will help engage a teacher into the thought processes of a young child and can easily affect a teacher's understanding across the entire curriculum.
A Soup Opera
By Jim Gill
Throughout the years many of us have danced and sang to a variety of Jim Gill's songs in our homes and in our early childhood classrooms. If you are not familiar with Jim, he is a child development specialist who has been singing and dancing with children and adults to songs such as the Silly Dance Contest, The Sneezing Song, and Hands are for Clapping. His book May There Always Be Sunshine incorporates illustrations for the Russian Folk song he has shared with children over the years.
Within the past few years, Jim has worked with a variety of symphony's to explore another genre of music with young children. Jim has brought this experience to life in the book A Soup Opera. A Soup Opera engages children and adults in a musical interaction between a waiter and a patron at a restaurant. When the patron experiences difficulty with his soup a variety of people come to his assistance including the chef, the mayor and even the President of the United States! While we can tell you that the operatic singing of this interaction invites children and adults to sing-along, we of course we cannot tell you how the situation is resolved!
A Soup Opera comes with a CD that includes suggestions for dramatizing the story with children. Through the sharing of this book, educators and families have an opportunity to introduce young children to the musical world of the symphony and the opera.
Real Science in Preschool: Here, There, and Everywhere
By Polly Neill
The Teacher's Idea Book Series HighScope Educational Research Foundation
Through an example that links many of us back to our early days of science, the author makes the point that when many of us think of science one of the first thoughts is dissecting a frog. The author goes on to state that "Unfortunately, our uncomfortable memories of science as older children may interfere with our ability to see it occurring right before our eyes in our preschoolers' everyday play." Once we begin to remove the thoughts and ideas related to science that may be hindering us, we are free to experience the joy of discovery with the children.
Real Science in Preschool takes the reader on a journey to discover science in each of the classroom learning centers, including the outdoor learning environment. Each chapter includes discussion on what the author refers to as the six components of the preschool scientific method. These components include, observing, classifying, experimenting, predicting, drawing conclusions, and communicating ideas. The use of many examples and anecdotes assists the reader in developing an understanding of how science is already taking place in the classroom. Educators may then add materials and experience that will help to scaffold children's learning.
Along with providing new ideas and new information on science in the preschool classroom, the author shares information about the need for positive adult-child interactions. After explaining appropriate ways to interact with young children and how to participate in their play, the author then weaves examples and thought provoking questions into each chapter to assist the reader in gaining a better understanding of what the behavior "looks like" in a preschool classroom.
The HighScope Teacher's Idea Book Series is a valuable resource for anyone working and interacting with young children. The series extends over the entire curriculum and program needs. Topics include story starters, large group and small group activities, planning around children's interests, parent workshop resources, preschool transitions, math and science.
This book is available for check out through the STARNET Regions I & III Resource Lending Library. www.starnet.org. Click on the Resource Tab, then click on Free Online Library Loan.
Learning Together with Young Children A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers
By Deb Curtis and Margie Carter
Learning Together with Young Children A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers is a resource filled with many ideas and examples for educators working with young children and their families in early childhood settings including child care centers, home child care centers, preschool classrooms, and Head Start classrooms. Through the use of many photographs, stories and vignettes, the authors help provide educators with opportunities to "step into" different scenarios that occur within the classrooms. After providing several different perspectives on an interaction, the authors provide the reader with questions to reflect upon, thereby giving the reader an opportunity to internalize the material and to personalize the material for the needs of the children in the classroom.
The curriculum framework is designed around five Core Practices. These are: Create a Nourishing Classroom Culture, Enhance the Curriculum with Materials, Bring Yourself to the Teaching and Learning Process, Coach Children to Learn about Learning, and Dig Deeper with Children. Ms. Curtis and Ms. Carter provide numerous anecdotal samples along with photographs and work samples throughout this book to demonstrate how to build upon each of these Core Practices.
Learning Together with Young Children A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers is available for loan through the STARNET Regions I & III lending library at www.starnet.org.
The Three Grumpies
By Tamra Wright Illustrated by Ross Collins
Have you ever tried to explain to a child what "a case of the grumpies" is and how to get rid of them? The author of this children's book has identified three
types of grumpy. There is grumpy, grumpier, and grumpiest, each with it's own personal look. The story begins with a young girl who wakes up with a case of the grumpies. As she tells the different adults in her life that she has the grumpies, she gets a variety of suggestions on how to get rid of them. She tries each of the ideas and still cannot get them to go away, until all of a sudden she discovers the one thing that will make them go away. Now, I would tell you what the cure for "a case of the grumpies" is, but I simply cannot because nothing makes me grumpier than when someone tells me the end of the story before I have a chance to read it!
Brain Gym: Simple Activities for Whole Brain Learning
By Paul E. Dennison & Gail E. Dennison
Brain Gym is a book about movements, and their connection to the brain and impact on learning.
This concept was developed by Paul E. Dennison and Gail E. Dennison and researchers at Edu-Kinesthestics in Ventura CA, in the mid 1980's. They came to the conclusion that by using movements of the body, the brain could be re-patterned. The benefits were increased ability to concentrate, focus and absorb new information.
There are several versions of this book widely available, including the orange "Brain Gym" 1986; "Brain Gym-Teachers edition, revised"- 1988; "Brain Gym for Business" 1994.
These books are all similar, each giving explanations for the exercises and why they are effective. They all use movements that are simple and engage the learner. The simplicity is great, and the movements are scientifically based and researched, which makes them very appropriate for classroom, program and home use. There are no side effects other than better coordination, engagement, and increased muscle tone.
The movements can be done anywhere, inside or outside, for a few minutes or a longer time if desired.
Children and adults with limited movement abilities can also benefit, from the movements, especially those that cross the midline of the body, even if they need assistance to make the movements.
We appreciate the benefits and have heard lots of feedback from Parents, Educators and Providers, who have incorporated these ideas into their teaching stategies. We encourage others to remember the importance of movement and the connection of movement to learning for all people.
Complimentary books are:
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"Brain Gym-Aprendizaje de Todo el Cerebro" (Spanish version); Dr. Paul E. Dennison y Gail E. Dennison 1996
"The Dominance Factor"-Carla Hannaford 1997
"Smart Moves"- Carla Hannaford PhD 1995
"I am the Child"- Cecilia K. Freeman M.Ed 1998
"Keep your Brain Alive"-Lawrence C. Katz PhD. 1999
"The Out of Sync Child has Fun"-Carol Stock Kranowitz MA 2003