When I am doing professional development with early childhood educators, I often ask them, “Are you creative?”

Too often, the resounding response is “No.”

I am always surprised by this response. I don’t believe anyone can be an educator of young children who is not a creative thinker. You are challenged to be creative everyday. For example, you have no red paint for Valentine’s cards. What can you do? You don’t have enough apples for a snack, but then you find the “heart” when you cut them in half. It is freezing, and you can’t find hats or gloves for all the children to go outside. How can you adapt? You forget the words for the children’s favorite song, so you improvise or compose some new words to fit the tune. Perhaps you don’t think solving these problems is being creative…but IT IS!  It is personal creativity that you use each day.

Would you like to unlock more of your creativity and set your spirit free? Perhaps you would like to have more ideas and possibilities to use with your children. Would you like to gain confidence in your ability to respond to challenges in the classroom?

The Circle of Creativity” sessions, offered in March, may just be the spark that will help you unleash your amazing creative possibilities. You have the ability to think in new ways, design a creative environment, and be a model of creative thinking for your children. In this small, focused group, we will explore our capabilities and find new possibilities.

I am excited about this new opportunity that has never been offered before. I invite you to be a part of the first class of 15 early childhood educators as we gain confidence in our abilities and nurture our creativity!

Let us explore new possibilities for personal growth!

Specifics for joining the inspiring group are below:

As the New Year begins, many publications and books are investigating what makes us happy.

It is not surprising to read studies that explain that money doesn’t make us happy, although it can buy things that bring us pleasure such as experiences, travel, or books.

But in all the articles I have read on the topic in the last two months, one elements stands out as essential for us to feel content and joyful.


This can be close friends who we confide in regularly or small groups where we have a shared interest. Throughout my adult life, my best friends have been early childhood educators. We shared interests, concerns, and were supportive of each other during life’s mountains and valleys. Early childhood educators tend to be positive folks, skilled listeners, and know how to ask just the right questions.

When I first began teaching Kindergarten in a small elementary school, I still remember how alone I felt. There was no one to show me the ropes of being a new teacher, share helpful tips, or discuss what my students were doing in my classroom.  It was me alone.

Today we recognize how important it is to provide a helpful mentor to a new teachers or a teacher making a transition.

We can do so much more to help teachers feel like a part of a community of educators. We can provide opportunities for teams of teachers to meet together, support each other, and share new possibilities. Or host social events for early childhood educators in a school, region, or state where there is both learning and times to interact with others.

Being a part of a profession helps us feel connected and find others who share our vision and assist us as we grow and develop. Early Childhood Education is a fine profession with a long history of striving for quality programs for young children and their families. It includes valuing those who work with young children during their critical early years.

Is there a teacher or caregiver you can support, connect with, and develop a friendship? This connection will not only bring you happiness but make your new connection happy too.

In 2022, we learned that:

Relationships are Significant

  • We need people and relationships with others to be content.
  • We learned about ourselves and the strengths of others through conversations, collaborations, and working with colleagues.

Play is a Powerful Way of Learning

  • Children are engaged, joyful, and learning in meaningful ways when they play.
  • Children develop and use the abilities they are learning during play.

Movement and Outdoor Play are Essential

  • Children need to move, explore, and discover the natural world throughout the day.
  • We recognize the brain and body connection that supports learning and development.

Flexibility is Important

  • As the world changes, new situations happen, and plans change. We must be able to adapt to these different directions.
  • How do we change? Personally, I had to adapt to some health changes that made it difficult for me to travel to sites for keynote and breakout sessions. For the past seven years, that has been a major part of my life. Traveling from Italy, Denmark, Texas, California, New York, Arkansas and Alabama, and many more wonderful places and working with marvelous early childhood educators.

My Personal Adjustments

Now, I must be creative and discover new ways to support early childhood educators. In 2023, I will present some new and exciting possibilities for us to work together. This change in focus can keep me contributing to the profession. I love to feel connected to the people who feed my spirit.

Join my new group, “Circle of Creativity!”

This small, intimate group will work (max.15 members) together and focus on “Nurturing Creativity.” I am excited to be doing what I love: teaching and collaborating with early childhood educators.

Specifics for joining the inspiring group are below:


Have a wonderful New Year with many new possibilities for personal growth.

As we reflect on the last few years and the changes, challenges, and adjustments, we can determine our path in 2023. It is important for us to think about what we have learned in the past and what things we can carry forward for a better year ahead.


We know what works

You are the folks who recognize how critical the early years of life are and how influential you are in establishing the foundation for all areas of children’s development. As we head to the new year, we must remain strong and committed to providing what we know is best for young children and their families. We talk about resilient children, but we must also be resilient educators. Staying on the course and remaining strong in our beliefs will lead to positive things happening because of our creative efforts.


Raise our voices

Now is the time for us to raise our voices, shine our light on our needs, and collaborate to demand that young children be nurtured and families supported. Together as a profession, we are stronger and have more influence. It has also become clear during Covid that Childcare and Early Childhood Programs are essential for families with young children so parents can work. To support our goals, I have decided to offer my assistance to you in a way we can explore new ways to work and collaborate together.


Light in 2023

Let us make 2023 the year that Early Childhood Educators and Parents join together to provide young children with quality programs, adequate support, and recognition for the critical work that early childhood educators provide. We are there in the beginning, shaping and supporting children’s development and nurturing the young thinkers who will impact our world.

My new and inspiring 2023 services will include opportunities for us to speak virtually (one-on-one or small group) and offer virtual presentations of your chosen topic. Stay tuned for these major changes, and I look forward to having inspiring conversations with you in the new year!

The International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN, just celebrated its 50th year of the Storytelling Festival. It was the perfect October weekend to have thousands of folks listen to stories under the big white tents scattered through the oldest town in Tennessee. I am indeed lucky to live in this beautiful town where the storytelling movement began.

Early in my life, I was blessed to have a father who told wonderful stories: Uncle Remus, Classic Tales, and his personal stories. He embedded in me a great love for stories told and their power to entertain and teach.

When I began thinking about my research for my dissertation, I already had a question I wanted to answer, “How do stories told or read impact the Oral Language of Young Children?” My research helped me realize that both reading and telling to young children positively impact their story sense, expand vocabulary, and help them understand the meaning of the story (moral). But storytelling has unique benefits that strengthen story comprehension, including remembering the sequence of events and inviting engagement with the story.

The children who had their stories told could better retell the stories – a measure of their story comprehension. Twenty years later I replicated the research with different 3–5-year-old children and had very similar results. Of course, we should read a book every day to young children, but we should also enrich their language experiences during these critical early years by adding stories told.  Find a great story, with a few characters, and repeated phrases so children can join in and help you tell the story. They will ask you to tell it again, and again.

Original Stories Created by Young Children”

Let’s talk about stories. What are some of your favorite stories? What do we need to include in our story creation?

Setting: Where does the story take place?

Characters: Who do you want to include?

What is going to happen in our story? (sequence)

What can we learn from the story? (moral)

In a collaborative group, we begin to create our story. Once there was…

…and the story continues. Each child in the group can add their own element, sound effects, or repeated phrases as we progress around the circle. Any child can pass if he is not ready to add anything. But, always return to that child later so he can contribute when he is more confident. Provide supportive comments as the children provide their addition:

  • Interesting idea…
  • Tell me more…
  • What happened next?
  • Can you add sounds?
  • What happens after that?
  • What if…?
  • How did…happen?
  • You are so creative when you say…

Teacher directions: Have paper or a technology device so you can record the words the children use in the story. This story can be reread later or told again. The story can be revised and refined another day with those who are interested in the story development. Some children may want to draw illustrations or dramatize the story as they expand their interest. Children who have heard stories read and told love to create their own intriguing stories.

My hope is that you catch the storytelling bug! You will experience the intensive interest the children demonstrate when you tell the story.

It has been a busy time with schools and centers opening and getting started with professional training. It has been wonderful to return to live and onsite Conferences and to be with “real” early childhood educators. As I travel from Amarillo TX, to Florence, KY, and on to Jonesboro, AR, at each conference I was reminded why I went into the early childhood profession. It has always been the teachers and children who gave me the joy and support. People like Jamie, Myra, Kim, Jeanie, Janice, and Joanne who are so dedicated and working diligently to create wonderful places for young children and their teachers. These amazing women have found so many ways to encourage and support their teachers. They have designed and implemented fabulous Conferences, selected books and resources to add to teachers’ professional library, and celebrated each teacher’s accomplishments. They are an inspiration to me and all the others who have worked with them!

For the next few months, I am going to be sending you (in my blog) some ideas that will spark creativity in your young children. These suggestions can be adjusted and tailored to your unique children and their interest. We are going to begin the new school year with some intriguing ways to encourage our children to think creatively, to communicate, and to collaborate with their peers. I hope you will also nurture your own creativity as you observe and interact with young children who have so many ideas, suggestions, and interest.


Creative Spark: Improving a Toy


old teddy bear, or toy, chart paper, and marker


  1. Bring an old Teddy Bear (or toy) to group time
  2. Lead a discussion about how the Teddy Bear may have been used? How was he played with? Who did he belong to? Do you have a teddy bear or favorite stuffed animal?
  3. Ask the children to think of ways they could have more fun with the Bear. Seek suggestions for improving the object.
  4. Write down the children’s suggestions and comments they make on chart paper.
  5. Extend their answers by asking “How would that make Teddy more fun?”


This is an open-ended activity and was inspired by one of EP Torrance’s items for discovering creativity in children.

You can repeat this activity with different objects and gain other unique suggestions. Each time children will generate more ideas and be more willing to contribute as they participate in the process.

All answers are accepted and valued.

This activity relates to increasing fluency of ideas (many possibilities) and problem solving. The children are also communicating their ideas and listen to others.

Share with me:

Share with me some of the amazing suggestions your children identified. Some I thought were wonderful were, “Make him sing”, “Have a shiny coat for him”, “More arms so he could hug better”.


Remember we want to nurture creative thinkers and problem solvers ready for the 21st Century!

Make sparks in your classroom,

This past month I was given a second chance!

My husband and I were having lunch. When we left, I noticed my right arm had fallen asleep, my cheek became numb, and my speech was slurred. My husband, an optometrist, immediately took me to the ER, which was 15 minutes away. After an MRI, they administered the “clot-busting” infusion. After 24 anxious hours, I regained consciousness. The second MRI showed no signs of a stroke. I am thrilled to say I have entirely recovered, and I want to share with you the importance of recognizing the symptoms of a stroke. A helpful acronym to remember is FAST – Face, Arm, and Slurred Speech. The T is to remind us that speed of getting the treatment is critical. If you see any of these symptoms on yourself or someone else, call 911 (US) immediately. They will arrive and begin treatment while notifying the ER to be ready.

I am thankful to have a second chance, and you can help another potential stroke victim have another chance, too!

We also have a second chance after Covid to create an amazing environment for young children that will help their development blossom to their full potential. We can re-establish a place designed for the specific way young children learn: holistically, actively, and joyfully. This place will be filled with opportunities to play and choose where they will be involved. The materials in this space will be interesting, allowing many different ways to be used and varied ways to create. This wonderful changing space will be filled with art, music, and movement opportunities to enrich young children’s world and extend their thinking. It will include opportunities to use the 21st Century competencies: Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, and Problem Solving. Children’s ideas, work, and creations will be treasured and valued!

At the center of this inspiring environment will be a close relationship between the teacher and each unique young child in their classroom. They will value each child’s capabilities and possibilities in the engaging space.

We both have a second chance to do things in new and better ways!

After two challenging years, it is time for each of us to move to a more encouraging view of the world and the people within our universe.

The following suggestions can help us uncover the moments and people who have shown us the way.

  1. Identify the people who have mentored you as you developed into your true self. Find those people and let them know how they have shaped your life and how you appreciate their contributions. Sharing this moment with your meaningful person will make you both delighted.
  2. Remember the actions that have brought you joy over the years. Reading a book to a small child, listening to a story of a family member, singing a favorite song, or walking in the forest. Do it again and often. Celebrate the returning joy you feel!
  3. Search your space and find the objects, books, pictures or collectibles that make you smile. Pull them out, dust them off, revisit, and display these treasures so you will see them often. Reflect on the value of these gems and the accompanying memories.
  4. Reconnect to those you have lost contact with during Covid. Search them out, contact them, and find a time to be together again. Reviving friendships will have a positive impact on both of you.
  5. Remember funny stories, cartoons, or quotes that help us move beyond ourselves. If we laugh more often, we can begin to return to a more positive place. Some research on laughter indicates that the brain makes connections even if we are “faking” the laugh. More laughter leads to laughing more and encourages others to laugh along with you.

During our isolation we have learned that it is the special people in our lives that we miss the most. By rediscovering these treasured people, we find the joy and interactions that will help us return to our joyful world!

During this season of Thankfulness let us think of those who have shaped our thoughts and dreams. Sharing this appreciation with these influential people will bring joy to both of you.

I am thankful for you, your friendship, and support!


In this continuous year of uncertainty and mammoth changes we need to think about, how do we make the best beginning of this new year for both young children and their teachers? What are some of the ways we can help make the transition from isolation to group continuity? How can you build a caring, and learning community?

It is important that we establish a community of learners that will thrive in this unsettling time. Young children need a safe place – emotionally and physically – where they feel secure. They need to feel valued and supported by adults who can be trusted to take care of them. You can create that amazing environment that will encourage these wonderful and capable children by planning with these few suggestions in mind:

Building relationships

Every child needs someone who thinks they are wonderful and capable. How can you help your young children understand that you can be that person to them? You listen to them, you observe their interests, you follow their ideas, you treasure their uniqueness. You demonstrate your positive feelings, using words to support these thoughts, and their involvement in group work and projects that interest them.

Slowing the Pace

This is not the time to rush, push, or demand. This is the time to slow down, take your time, don’t be in a hurry, and enjoy each precious moment of your children’s discoveries. Observe what your children are doing, what they are curious about, who they are working with, and what they are saying. This slower pace will allow them to move at their own speed, retry, and move on. It will also give you the time to best understand the unique abilities of each child and determine ways to inspire those capabilities.

Make notes, videos, and pictures of what you are seeing for future inspiration. Your insights will help you shape additional  possibilities and opportunities that match your children.

Finding more time to Play

Play allows young children to influence their world, to work through problems, and control the events as they are happening. During play, children can adapt and adjust to the situation, collaborate about the experiences, and build confidence in their growing capabilities. Their language will be nurtured as they use words to accompany their activity and listen to others as they share their thoughts. By providing more time to play, including open-ended materials to use, and opportunities for them to interact with others, you are creating a place where children can become collaborators, creative thinkers, and problem-solvers.

Integrate Music and the Arts

The arts can provide safe ways for children to express themselves, to explore their feelings, and use different tools in these engaging experiences. These unique ideas and use of new materials encourage and support young creative children with different abilities and capabilities. You value their work, so celebrate their possibilities as they are immersed in these expressive arts.


This is a new year for you and your young children.  You both need a caring and safe environment in which to grow and think creatively. You can provide that nurturing place and the loving relationships that are needed. You will find great joy and satisfaction by knowing you are providing a “safe haven in a storm” for your young children!

Today is a new beginning!


I just read an article that has identified new ways to describe the power of early childhood to others, Life Outcomes, Not Test Scores. These positive benefits that last a lifetime are so much more important than test scores for determining the benefits of programs for young children. We have known for years that test scores of young children are not good predictors of the benefits of quality programs for young children. Now the media and the public are beginning to recognize that the effects are far reaching.

Today, in the New York Times, a new important study was released on the importance of PreK and long-term effects. This research study done in Boston was conducted by University of Chicago, MIT, and University of California, Berkeley. The design of the study allowed the researchers to compare 4,571 young children who attended a quality PreK in Boston and a control group of 4215 young children who did not attend.

The findings are very important for early childhood educators and supporters of young children. In this very carefully conducted study, compared with a control group, the effects can be clearly understood.

Children who attend PreK in Boston, when compared to those who did not attend, were found to be:

  • Less likely to be suspended
  • Less likely to be incarcerated as juveniles
  • More likely to graduate from high school (70%)
  • More likely to enroll in college
  • More likely to graduate from college

A Berkley economics researcher concluded that “large scale public preschool programs can improve education attainment for those who attend.”  It was further explained that the benefits were more encompassing than simple test scores. These long-term achievements were considered positive life outcomes which positively affect the educational level of society.

Share the news, sound the horn, and celebrate the findings from this important study.

We are concerned about “life outcomes, not test scores.” 

We are involved in important work, and your effort is valuable!



Leonhardt, D. (2021, May 10). Life outcomes, not test scores. The New York Timeshttps://messaging-custom-newsletters.nytimes.com/template/oakv2?uri=nyt://newsletter/f71bc80c-51b0-5a66-9de7-3a6826e9bb7d&productCode=NN&abVariantId=1&te=1&nl=the-morning&emc=edit_nn_20210510

Gray-Love, G., Pathak, P., & Walters, C. (2021, May) The Long-Term Effects of Universal Preschool in Boston SEII Discussion Paper.