Dr. Rebecca Isbell’s Blog

Last week I participated in the AZ State Department of Education’s Early Childhood Conference (ADE). I provided the closing Keynote on “Nurturing Creative Thinkers” to several hundred early childhood educators from all across AZ.   The conference was flawlessly organized by Kristy and her Department of Education team. Every small detail was planned and implemented effectively making it very easy for me to enjoy the people and the experience.

The teachers also received a copy of my new book which was a thrill for me! At the closing of my session, I signed books, talked to the teachers, and made pictures with some of the smiling participates. Oh, how I love these personal interactions with teachers and listening to their inspiring stories about their work.

What a joyful experience it was for me to meet such warm and caring people who are working with young children and inspiring their creativity every day. The young children in Arizona are very blessed to have such a supportive State Early Childhood team and dedicated teachers who are enriching their lives during the Critical Early Years!

Thank you AZ for including me!

June has been a busy and exciting month with many new experiences, visual delights, musical highs, and even moments of calm. Only travel can help us get a perspective on the world, the amazing possibilities, and stretch our creative thinking.

Where in the World is Dr. Isbell?

Here is some evidence of my meaningful experiences. Can you identify the location of each of these images? Scroll down for the answers.













  1. The sights at night in Budapest were breathtaking! All the lights focused on the beautiful Parliament building and historic bridges.
  2. This is in Venice, which has been on my bucket list since I worked with children’s choirs as an elementary music teacher. I was able to see/hear the Vienna Boys Choir and a fabulous Concert of Vienna Music. Oh how I loved the “City of Music” and all these musical experiences.
  3. Prague, a city that was once behind the iron curtain but is now free! It is filled with beautiful buildings that looked like story book castles. A marvelous visual experience!
  4. New York, New York, an experience shared with my daughter and two granddaughters. The excitement of a city filled with lots of stimulation, wonderful restaurants, Museums, and Central Park. We shared the amazing musicals “Hamilton” and “Lion King”. Wow!


Travel to new places and revisiting favorite spots helps us appreciate home, family, and good friends. It makes us sensitive to the wonderful world we live in and that friendly people live in many different places!

Enjoy your travel this summer.


I just returned from the Maryland Child Care Conference in Ocean City, MD. The conference was held in a beautiful setting by the Ocean, but the best part was meeting all the wonderful early childhood educators. Chris Peusch was the hardworking coordinator of the conference who effectively managed the operations, responded to questions, and made the entire experience amazing for all of us! In my session, on “Nurturing Creativity”, the early childhood professionals responded enthusiastically and shared their own stories of their creative children. My closing session, “Laughter in Early Childhood Classrooms”, allowed us to laugh, giggle, and celebrate the joy that can happen when we interact with young children.

A high point for me was getting acquainted with Debbie Clement, a wonderful musician and creative author. We were able to talk several times and find our shared interest in young children and their teachers. She is a very authentic person who truly cares about early childhood teachers and their inclusion of music in their programs.

After my session, I was able to talk with some of the teachers and listen to their experiences. At the end of this time a teacher came to me just as I was leaving. No one else was around but she seemed hesitant to begin talking with me. Then she related this story. “I have worked in Child Care for many years but I was never able to go to college. It is difficult for me to share with parents what children were learning. Today, you gave me the words that I can use: persistence, creative thinking, and life skills.”

I thanked her for sharing her personal story with me and assured her that her years of experience had helped her learn many things about young children and their development.

This is why I travel to conferences and write books. I cherish these amazing moments when I interact with these very special people who are early childhood educators!

The Nashville Conference was an amazing celebration of our early childhood profession. It was led by two outstanding professionals; Jana Crosby, who effectively coordinated the conference and Tara Hurdle, the competent President of the organization. Although the weather was stormy, these two amazingly positive women kept the conference on course and infused with high energy!

Nashville’s early childhood educators at the conference were excited about learning, the exhibits, the delicious food, and the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals. Together we celebrated the joy of working with young children, recognizing their creativity, and connecting teachers to their own creativity. In our closing session together we giggled, laughed, and participated in stories about the funny things that happen in early childhood classrooms. It was wonderful for me to have the opportunity to share the laughter and joy with these dedicated, hardworking early childhood educators!

This Week of the Young Child let’s celebrate the amazing people who are working with young children every day! NAAEYC is a great place to find some of these very special people!

I just returned from a fabulous state conference in Charleston, WV. It was coordinated by a delightful and extremely organized LeeAnn, assisted by some great helpers including Ginger, Kathy, and many others.

This was such a responsive group of early childhood educators who joined with me in shaking hands, singing songs, and actively participating in telling stories.

I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with some attendees including preschool teachers, PreK teachers (WV has Universal PreK), Home Visitors, Head Start including early Head Start, and home based programs. All of these hard working teachers were so excited about their experiences with young children and are working diligently to provide quality early childhood programs in their community.

West Virginia’s young children and families are blessed to have such dedicated teachers, supervisors, and coordinators who strive to inspire, challenge, and support their development. Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah for the dedicated early childhood teachers in West Virginia.

A young boy, five years old, sees a red clip that is used to hold tops of chips or crackers together. He is intrigued by this unfamiliar object. First, he observes the color and design. Then he proceeds to open and close the clamp. Next he uses the clip on a newspaper, book, and magazine. During this experimental process, he notices a round piece on the side of the clip (a magnet). He asks, “What’s that?” The adult gives him the name, “It is a magnet.”

Benjamin feels of it, rubs it, and opens and closes the clip again. He takes the clip and magnet to the sliding glass door and tries to stick it to the surface, but the clip falls to the floor. Next he tries to attach it to the table but it doesn’t stick.   He looks around the room to find other surfaces that might attract his magnet.   He sees a tall floor lamp that is standing near the window. He tries the magnet on the lamp. To his amazement, the magnet attaches to the base of the lamp. He moves the magnet up and down the tall lamp and finds that it will attaches to the entire body of the lamp. He tries the lamp shade but it does not attach.   You can see the wheels turning as he thinks about all the items he has tried: glass, table, and it only sticks to the lamp. Why? What is different about the lamp? Why does it attach to the lamp and not the other objects?

For the next 10 minutes he experiments and observes the results of his ongoing investigation to determine what items the magnet will attach to and which ones will repel the magnet.   He is focused, persistent, and creative during the process.

This young boy is naturally curious and wants to find the answer to his problem. His scientific experiment didn’t require expensive materials or prepackaged kits.   All he needed was a safe environment where he could explore, try interesting items in his own way, and gain information at his own pace. Young children are natural scientists if given the opportunity and support to follow their interests, develop their plan of action, and discover their own solutions.

Let’s nurture our young scientists as they can become inventors, innovators, problem solvers, and confident thinkers! We can create an environment that will inspire thinking, support their creative ideas, and value their approach.

Enjoy the young scientist and creative thinkers in your world!

For the last decade our educational system has focused on testing, testing, and more testing.  I personally believe that the most essential abilities needed for a full and rich life are not testable!  

For example: motivation, persistence, creativity, athletic abilities, or musical talent cannot be identified by a test filled with bubbles and small bits of unrelated information.   This over testing, and at younger and younger ages, has been of great concern to me and a growing number of others.

Perhaps we are at the tipping point.  Recently, many experts, authors, and parents are saying, “Too much test taking”.  Teachers are reporting that their young children are crying, spaced out, or become very upset by the demands of limited time, prolonged sitting, and trying to use old computers. They find the questions frustrating because they are totally unrelated to what young children know and understand.

So what is the good news? Educators, parents, and leaders are now questioning the amount of testing being done and the growing recognition that there is so much more to learning than what are on these standardize test!  

Let’s demand that children have opportunities to learn in active and meaningful ways, not spend valuable time taking tests.   Join the growing group of those concerned about the testing of young children in inappropriate ways and the use of the results as an indicator of the capabilities of these marvelous developing brains.  Young children are so much more than a test score! They are creators, inventors, communicators, collaborators, and problem solvers.

Let’s work together,

In our lifetime, we are lucky if we have a Best Friend. A person who remains with us through the good times and the bad. They care for us when we are happy and they lift us up when we are in the valleys.

I have a Best Friend that has been my support for over 40 years. We first met during our doctoral program in early childhood and found that we had similar views of life, young children, and shared a mission.

We sweated through Statistics together, often repeating that, “together we have one good statically brain.” Professionally we have presented together, written books together, and made difficult decisions together.

My good news today is that I have a BF like Shirley Raines, that we are still supporting each other, and that we continue to work together on projects. My hope is that you have a BF that will laugh with you, cry when you do, and tell you that you are the best friend ever!

After reading this Good News Alert, reach out to your Best Friend and let them know how important they are to you! Old friends know you well and still like you.

Warm feelings,

Recently, I was exploring Dunedin, Florida, looking for something positive to add to my series of blogs on positive happenings. I found a wonderful box that looked like a miniature school house on a post situated at the edge of downtown.

little-free-library-1As I explored the intriguing box, I found that it was A Little Library complete with a collection of paperback books inside and a working door on the outside. The instructions read “take one and return one.” What a wonderful idea to put books out into the world to be selected, read, and returned. This positive idea is being spread all over the country to make neighborhoods nicer and filled with books.

For more information visit littlefreelibrary.org.

little-free-library-2These positive creations, like the Little Library and the people who implemented them, have made me see our world in a wonderful new way. They help me remember that positive and creative events are occurring around us everyday, but we have to see and celebrate them!

I hope you are looking for the wonderful things that are happening around you and the amazing people who help keep our inspirations flowing. I will continue my search too!


We are continuing our series of blogs that celebrate creative happenings and the amazing people that are a part of this positive news. Today we are featuring some people who have “made it” in S.T.E.M. fields and, in the process, have changed our world!

jemisonDr. Mae Jemison, M.D.: Physician, Engineer, Designer, and first woman of color in Space.

Science and the arts share creativity. I believe that creativity allows us to see and accomplish feats and become people who did not exist before.”



debrasterlingDebbie Sterling: Engineer, Founder and CEO of GoldieBlox

“When I first started in mechanical engineering class, I was the only woman in the room. Then we were tinkering and playing—it was fun. For the first time I connected to the world around me and the simple machines that make it work.”



2f06665Diana Albarran Chicas: Electrical Engineer, Co-founder, Latinas in S.T.E.M

“ It is critical that girls study STEM fields so that our country continues to innovate. I am a big believer that our youth has the ability to come up with solutions, particularly because many of us have grown up thinking outside the box and doing more with less.”



Michio-Kaku-HSDr. Michio Kaku: Cofounder of the String Field Theory, author, and host of radio programs.

“We have to show people that scientist can come from all cultures. Science is for everyone with hard work, a little bit of inspiration and luck; you too can become a scientist and change history.”



These statements are from scientists and creative thinkers whose achievements have led to breakthroughs in their fields and are inspirational examples for the next generation of leaders and problem solvers.

Today in your classrooms you have young children who are thinking in creative ways. They need us to value and support their ideas. As we nurture their problem solving and follow their interests, we are helping them begin their journey into the sciences and the arts.