Dr. Rebecca Isbell’s Blog

Carmen Albert, Gwenn Elmblad, Dr. Rebecca Isbell, Eva Hatfield and Corey Holcomb

I am just back from the Upper Peninsula, Michigan, where I provided the keynote and closing session for a wonderful early childhood conference – IMPACT: Instilling More Play and Creative Thinking – held at Bay College in Escanaba.  Lake Michigan was frozen but the early childhood educators at the conference were so warm and welcoming to me! The morning of my keynote we experienced an April snow – but these MI folks did not let the snow stop them!  They came, participated, collaborated, and were inspired by the excellent sessions they attended.

This conference was organized and implemented by a seven-person board. It is truly amazing what a small group of people can accomplish when they are hardworking and dedicated.  This was clearly demonstrated as these professionals shared a mission of supporting young children, their teachers, and quality programs through professional development.

One of my favorite things at conferences is chatting with the early childhood educators during the day, at lunch, and after sessions. They share their interesting stories with me about their work and ways they interact with young children.  I learned about infant teachers who respect the preferences of babies, preschool teachers who recognized the creative potential of their children, a director who strives to hold all the pieces together, and a Children’s Museum director with fascinating ideas. What a wonderful profession I am in, with so many creative and dedicated people!

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with such special people.

A frequent suggestion for strengthening your creativity is to “do something you have never done before.”

So, inspired by the quote, I have decided to do something new and different – something I have never done before! I am participating in an ALL ONLINE Conference, “Transform Challenging Behavior” developed by Barb O’Neil.

Barb interviewed me and videotaped our conversation which will be shown during the April 3-9, 2019 conference. We discussed the importance of the development of creativity in today’s young children as well as few other topics including storytelling to young listeners.

It was an interesting experience, but the knowledge that the video would be seen by thousands was daunting. It is indeed challenging to try something new, but we benefit from the challenge and the experience.

Here’s a preview from my video:

Watch me on my very first online conference and let me know what you think and the questions you want to discuss. The conference is free, and it is just a click away!

Let’s grow more creatively every day and see you in “cyberspace!”

As we move into 2019, we have the opportunity to think about this New Year and decide how we can nurture our own creativity. In all aspects of our lives we can stretch our thinking, try new things, and find joy in the small happenings.

Ten ideas for nurturing your creativity in this new year:

  1. Notice the beautiful things in your world: Succulent plants, 3D-art or sculptures, a pattern in a scarf or wall hanging, a bow in a child’s hair, and the shining stones during a walk. (So many beautiful things if we take the time to see!).
  2. Carry a “thinking journal” with you wherever you go: Each day hundreds of ideas and possibilities fly though our conscious mind—only to be last forever because we have not documented it. If you have a small notebook or journal with you it makes it possible for you to catch and keep the idea!
  3. Wear something you have never worn before: Patterned socks, a unique hat, a brightly colored stole, or something in your closet that you thought were so beautiful, but you never had the courage to wear it.
  4. Create a quiet place in your environment where you can read, think, listen to music, or meditate. It can be a tiny, tiny space but it should contain things that you love and bring you joy. Of course, you need a comfortable place where you can lounge. Make it a habit to visit this quiet place every day.
  5. Read a book, blog, or article that will stretch your thinking: Perhaps a new topic or something you have always been interested in but couldn’t find the time to explore.
  6. Reflect on your day: At the end of your day, when things have finally quietened down, reflect by focusing on moments and events that were special, made your heart sing, and built your creative confidence.
  7. Find time to play with children, family members, or colleagues: Play is intrinsically motivating, and it allows us the freedom to try new ideas without fear of failure. After all, play is pretending, imagining, and exhilarating.
  8. Reconnect with a friend, colleague, or relative that has a positive attitude and has many amazing ideas. Collaborating with a creative person will ignite new ideas and possibilities for you. Brainstorming with others often produces a path to opportunities that you might not have generated on your own.
  9. Identify music, recordings, stations, and instruments that lift your spirits and inspire you. Listen to these when your spirits are down, or when you are thinking of having a “pity party.” Sing along, tap your toe, or just enjoy listening.
  10. Recognize that you are a Creative person filled with amazing ideas and unique opportunities. When something occurs that reminds you of your creative capabilities, treasure it, write it down, and celebrate your special talent.

As we work with young children and colleagues each day, we are demonstrating what an innovative thinker looks like. We model behaviors that show creative thinking, and we gain confidence in our creative abilities.

May 2019 be filled with Creativity and Joyful Learning!

Join us at an exciting meeting for Early Childhood Professionals where we can reconnect with friends, gain new information, collect amazing creative ideas, and have time to play!

We would like to invite you to our session:

Thursday Nov. 15 at 3:00-4:30 in the Marriott Marquis.  We will be in Marquis Salon 9/10!

What the World Needs Now: Creative Young Children who can Communicate, Collaborate, and Problem Solve.”

Sonia Yoshizawa and I will be sharing the skills that are essential for our Young Children to thrive in the 21st Century.  It will a lively time with wonderful visuals, real stories, and lots of laughter.  We will also be sharing some unique ideas that can be used in your classroom to spark creative thinking in your children.

New studies have identified a frightening decline in young children’s creativity. The challenge is that young children in our classroom today will be living in a very different world with expanded knowledge, new jobs, and challenging issues. We want to nurture our creative thinkers so they will be able to be successful in this changing environment.  An essential element in this process is creative teachers who can inspire and value innovative ideas, encourage their communication, and provide opportunities to collaborate.  Together we can build on the positive abilities of young children and design a fascinating environment that will support and challenge their creative thinking.

Come join us to be inspired and ready for the challenge of “What the World Needs Now.”  

Let’s connect and find ways to build creative thinkers!



I am thrilled to be providing the Keynote for the Texas AEYC on October 12, 2018 in Galveston, TX! This is like returning to my second home where I can be with all the wonderful early childhood educators I have worked with in Texas.

My keynote is focused on The Challenge of the 21st Century; Nurturing Young Children to be Creators, Communicators, Collaborators, and Critical Thinkers. In addition, I will be doing breakout sessions on Oct. 12 including, The Power of Play: An Essential Element in Young Children’s Learning, and The Stories Behind the Humor: Smile, Laugh, and Be Happy!”

Come by and join me for some positive support for your important work – and find time to share an inspiring story together!

I hope to reconnect with my longtime friends and make some new connections with the dedicated early childhood educators in Texas.  Please come by and tell me about your latest adventures in the lives of young children!

See you soon in Galveston!


For over twelve years, I have been working with two professors from Aarhus University in Copenhagen, Denmark.  We have visited each other several times, presented together at professional conferences, and written numerous articles and book chapters together.  It has been such a rewarding international collaboration for me!

This week, I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of a Celebration for Dr. Grethe Kragh-Müller, recognizing her 40 years of writing in the area of early childhood development.  Mira Nymo Wessels, from Børneringen (the publishing company that gave the party), invited me to be the “surprise” speaker for the event. What a joy it was to be a part of this marvelous celebration and to be the guest lecturer!

I was able to discuss the international need for Creative Thinkers in the 21st Century and referred to Grethe as a great example of a creative person.  Many of Grethe’s colleagues, area supervisors, early childhood teachers, and friends attended this afternoon event and joined me in honoring Grethe for her important work in our field.

Each time I visit Denmark I am touched by the wonderful people who live in this country.  I am always amazed how we share so many beliefs about young children and agree on effective approaches for nurturing their capabilities.



Grethe’s Celebration

My work with Grethe and Dr. Charlotte Ringsmore have expanded my global understanding and helped me better understand young children.  Although we live thousands of miles apart, we share our beliefs about the potential of young children and our respect for the dedicated people who work with them in America and Denmark.

Together we can be a powerful positive voice for young children and those who work with them.

April was a very busy and productive month with an amazing ending at Fairfax Futures with teachers who said, “Yes we are creative!”  How wonderful to hear that response from a group of early childhood educators!

Fairfax Futures Board Members Steve Day (PNC Bank) and Joan Isenberg (George Mason University) meet with Sup. Cathy Hudgins and keynote speaker Dr. Rebecca Isbell

Then on to Central Alberta Early Learning and Care Conference in Red Deer, Canada, with a keynote for family child care providers, many of whom are using my book to implement creative opportunities with their young children. We closed with a “laughing session” that had us all chuckling, giggling, and laughing out loud.  What hilarious stories were shared and enjoyed by us all.

Many of you have heard me say, “Creative minds need rest and downtime.” I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a week in the beautiful Canadian Rockies relaxing, meditating, and regrouping.

I returned home invigorated and filled with many new ideas, project possibilities, and ways to spread our mission.  We need young creative thinkers, collaborators, communicators, and problem solvers.  Help me spread this message as we identity the abilities that are needed to thrive in the 21st Century.

Think more, copy less!

“Marhaba” – Hello in Arabic.

I have just returned from an exciting adventure in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Tatweer Co. for Educational Services, in collaboration with the Saudi government, sponsored the 6th International Exhibition and Forum on Early Childhood Education, “Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education, 2018.”  It was a great honor to be a part of this outstanding conference that demonstrated the Saudis’ commitment to the Mission of 2030 that includes strengthening the quality of programs for young children in their country.

For three days, government officials, administrators, professors, and early childhood educators from Saudi Arabia and around the world shared their expertise related to the importance of the early years in children’s lives, the critical need for quality programs, and the essential element for providing trained early childhood teachers in these environments.

My specific contributions were a workshop on “Investigating Early Childhood Education with an Eye Toward the 21st Century” and serving on a panel discussion focused on the 21st century skills that young children need to be successful in this rapidly changing world.

Saudi professionals designed and supported this conference, stimulating participants’ thinking, helping us make important global connections, and recognizing the country’s commitment to young children and their families.

I made many new friends and discovered that when we have a shared belief that young children’s learning is the foundation of education, we speak the same language and can work collaboratively for the benefit of all young children – regardless of our varied backgrounds.

Jenan sharing a special memory with me

Jenan M. Alahmed was a positive force at the conference and also the person who supported me throughout this amazing journey.  Leaders like Jenan will be instrumental in developing quality curriculum, training, and early childhood programs in this progressive and forward-thinking country.

Mabruk (Congratulations!) for having this impressive conference!  It was such a joy for me to be a small part of this International Conference on Early Childhood Education lead by Saudi Arabia.

Read more about the conference on Arab News 

I just returned from a wonderful trip to Northern California where I worked with early childhood professionals in Lake County.  The Conference was led by Angela Cuellar whose energy and positive attitude set the tone that helped us all enjoy the day. The educators were so responsive and worked with me on all kinds of interesting interactions which included singing and laughing together.  We had many creative moments as we investigated how to nurture creative young children in our classrooms. Our breakout session focused on designing an inspiring environment that supports creative thinking, communication, and collaboration.  This was a great day!


While we were exploring the area, we drove through the mountains and stopped at the rocky California coast. An interesting place was Bodega Bay where the Hitchcock film “The Birds” was made many year ago.  I first saw the horror movie as a teenager and have always had a fear of birds flying at me and pecking out my eyes.  I am happy to say I faced my fear and found that in fact the birds on the coast were beautiful and, even if they flew close to me, they were not going to attack me. What a relief!

Photo Credit: Sonia Yoshizawa

A special thanks to Angela who invited me to this wonderful place and Sonia who supported me during this fabulous adventure.

Creative Challenge for the day: Take a risk or try something new today!