5 year old- “Why do all these books have girls in them?”

Me- “You know, it is strange, most books for kids have either boys as the main characters or animals! So, when I see a good book with a girl as a main character I get it.”

5- “Yeah! Because you are a girl!”

Me- “That’s right, and I’m kind of awesome”

5- “You are awesome”

Me- “Thanks! And think how your sister would feel if all the books in our house had only boys in them!”

5- “That wouldn’t be fair! Why do they do lots of boy books?”

Me- “Well, some people think that if a book is about a girl that boys won’t want to read it”

5- “What? It’s just pretend!”

Me- “Exactly! And, if the book is about a family, well, you have a family so it doesn’t matter if it is about a girl or a boy”

5- “Yeah! I like all your books Mama”

We need diverse books. If you are looking to add to your library you can check out a growing list of resources here: Early Childhood Book Resources


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We Took 26 Preschoolers on a Bus (and it was fun)

This morning we took our classes (26 kids in all) on a city bus up to the local library. Spoiler alert…it went really well. But how?

  • Realistic Planning
    • We have a bus stop right outside our school.
    • We planned a short ride that ended at the local library. That way, if we ended up needing to wait along time for a return bus we had an inside/entertaining place we could be
    • We coordinated with the library and even emailed the transit office to double check we had the details right
  • Prepping the Kids
    • I did a practice run of the trip and took pictures along the way. I made these into a book that we could read to get ready
    • We made a practice bus in our classroom and pretended to get on and off of it together.
  • Day Of
    • We made sure all the chaperones realized that the journey was our destination in this case 🙂 The bus ride was the highlight (although seeing the back-of-house in the library wasn’t bad either!)
    • We had everyone use the bathroom and we packed snack just in case

All of this went into making it a fun trip. Oh,and luck. There was lots of luck involved. The rain stopped, no one fell, we had the chaperones we needed and the kids were excited for the adventure. All of that was pure luck.

You don’t want to count on luck getting you through. If you keep your expectations realistic and do deliberate prep so the kids know what to expect you will have a much higher chance of a successful day.

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Bathtime Math

“For Families” is a blog published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.  As a follow-up to my “Bathtime Science” article they asked me to write one about “Bathtime Math.”

Math in the Bath

By Sarah Erdmann

Bath time is perfect for exploring math with your young child! Not only do you have each other’s full attention, but the learning can be hands on, playful, and messy.

These explorations can also be done at a water table, sink, pool, or even a puddle! No matter what water spot you use, safety must be your main focus. Never ever leave your child alone, even for a minute! This is an activity that needs your complete attention.

Make sure that any toys or containers dry out completely between uses, and disinfect toys if several children will use them. Be sure to check toys for mold and replace them when needed. More detailed water safety tips can be found on the Red Cross’s website.

Infants and Toddlers

The very youngest mathematicians are learning what numbers are and that they mean something. Children are also learning to compare the shapes, colors and patterns they see….to continue reading follow this link

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Why are Great Museum Workers Leaving the Field

Published on “Alliance Labs” through the American Alliance of Museums

We’ve all had the conversation. Maybe it was with your work buddy, or your former museum studies classmate as you caught up over drinks. Or maybe it was you, at home with your partner. The conversation often starts with, “I love working in museums, but I don’t think I can do it anymore because of [insert reason here]. I’m thinking about getting out of museums altogether.”

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the conditions museum workers face (see the recent protest by Plimoth Plantation workers, Museum Workers Speak, Gender Equity in Museums Movement, Joyful Museums, the Emerging Museum Professionals group on Facebook, just to name a few. For further resources, see below.) We wanted to know: Are these difficult working conditions enough for dedicated (and highly educated) museum professionals to abandon their years of experience to start over in another working environment?

After the 2016 AAM conference in DC, a group of four museum professionals (Claudia Ocello, Dawn Salerno, Sarah Erdman, and Marieke Van Damme) got together to try to find out the reasons museum workers leave the field. We drafted a survey and shared it in the fall of 2016, asking for museum professionals both in the field and those who have left it. Over 1,000 of you responded (thank you!). Below is a summary of our findings. This was not created as a scientific, systematic survey, but rather one that “takes the pulse” of the situation. Here’s what we found.

To Continue Reading Follow This Link

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Celebration of Names

A core skill at the beginning of the 3s/4s year is being able to recognize your own name. It helps the kids move through day and also builds classroom community.
This year, I decided to make it into a week long “celebration of names.” Each child had their own name puzzle (happy to give more details on how I made them if you are interested). We put them together and compared and contrasted different names. It was a chance to look at how different and special each name was.
The next day we celebrated the names of teachers in our school. We looked at pictures of all the teachers and shared the names we knew. We essentially treated them like “flash cards” practicing everyone’s name. Now the pictures are on the science table with magnifying glasses for closer examination.
Today, we shared who was in our family and wrote it on a big class family tree. This was entirely child directed. Some put in just the people who lived with them, others included pets, extended family or friends. There was no wrong answer! The tree is now up in our circle to look at by anyone in the class.
While they were sharing about their families there were a lot of comments about different family structures, pets and family members who have died and who has recently come to visit. Each child had a chance to share anything they wanted to.
I also encouraged them to look at the family photo wall in the hallway and ask their friends to show them people in their family. After meeting a little group was out there exclaiming over brothers and sisters and pointing out their families.
The concrete skill they are leaving this week with is the ability to find their circle mats more quickly and feel more confident that they know where they are supposed to be. However, what I’m hoping is that it also gave them a chance to feel proud of their name and their family!

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Raising Critical Readers

You can find anything on the internet. Because anyone can write it and put it on there. This is a lesson that many adults are learning, and one that librarians and grade school teachers are focusing on. You need to be a critical reader, looking closely and asking questions of the information you find. As more of our research and learning moves away from print sources we need to do more of the editing and vetting process.

This skill can start in early childhood education. We can teach very young children how to be thoughtful consumers of information. They have a head start, since they love asking questions!

When you read with them, ask them how the book makes them feel. Ask them if anyone is left out of the story, or how it might look from another character’s perspective. If they have a question about something that doesn’t seem right (“Why is the bear in “The Mitten” awake? He is supposed to be hibernating!”) work together to find out the answer. You can teach them about artistic license, like how animals in many books for kids talk, but treat their questions seriously.

Setting them up early on to not take what they read for granted and that it is ok to ask questions is an important skill. Not only will their future teachers be grateful, but it will make them better prepared to navigate the digital and media filled world tey are


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Where Do Your Books Live?

If you work with young children, take a moment and think about your space. Where are the books? Are they in a cozy reading corner? Think about when books make an appearance in your day. Is it just when you need a “calm down” time? During transitions?

Using books in those instances are a great teaching tool for children. You are showing them that books can be a place of escape and that they can be used to calm yourself in moments of chaos.

But….is that the ONLY place books are? Is that the ONLY time books come out? If so, then you may be unintentionally sending another message. You may be showing some kids that books are always meant to be read quietly, by yourself. Or worse, that books are something like a punishment that they “have” to do when they are “too wild” for other options.

So, keep those times and those places for books. Help kids learn that books are a refuge and a transition tool. But, also let the books come out to play.

Putting books of architecture in the block corner teaches them that books can be an inspiration. Cookbooks in the play kitchen show they are a tool that helps you do a task. Fact books about their favorite animal lets them know that when they are interested in something books can help them learn more about it. Comic books or graphic novels show them that pictures can tell elaborate stories. Books on tapes, times for them to read aloud, active books with movement and silly words teaches them that books can be as fun and as silly and as active as they are.

The place that you give books in your learning space sends a message for the role books can play. What are you saying with yours?




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