Dr. Rebecca Isbell’s Blog

This is an exciting week with our NAEYC Conference and thousands of early childhood educators descending on Orlando. What a great time I have connecting to old friends and meeting new folks who are interested in young children (birth to 8 years).

If you are attending the National conference, I would enjoy talking to you and listening to your thoughts about your work. Let’s try to connect!

You also have a special invitation to attend my session: Sat. Morning 8:00- 9:30 “Unsticking the Stuck: Making Powerful Connections that Inspire Young Creative Thinkers” in the Convention Center room W 311C.


After the session come and talk with me or follow me to the Kaplan Booth in the Exhibit Hall. Here I will be signing copies of my books and talking with early childhood teachers!

Catch the spirit, gain new Ideas, and build connections to others who work with amazing young children.

I hope to connect to you at NAEYC!

I posted a new article at Earlychildhood NEWS! Take a look: http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleId=334

It is story time again in Jonesborough, Tennessee, where the International Center for Storytelling is sponsoring their 43rd festival. This is a grand celebration of stories told by amazing tellers from all over the world. Hope you will able to catch the storytelling bug at this festival or in the future.

Each year, over 10,000 people sit in colorful circus tents throughout this tiny town to be memorized by a story told. Some of the amazing tellers are Donald Davis who grew up in the Appalachian Mountains and shares his personal stories of growing up with his humorous family.

Another is Jay O’Callaghan who personalizes stories of important historical events. He is able to keep his audience on the edge of their seats for over an hour with one story. Wow, now that is a talented storyteller!

In tandem Eth-Noh-Tec perform ancient Asian folktales using movement, music, and the spoken word as they demonstrate kinetic storytelling at its finest.

Each year I am invigorated by the power of stories told and the diverse stories shared. It reminds me again what a wonderful gift it is for young children when we share a store with them. Learn a story and pass it on!

The festival runs from Oct. 2-4 and website is www.storytellingcenter.net.


Today I was thinking about the joyful experience of working with young children, so I began to make a list of some of the special moments and inspirations that I have gained from working in early childhood. Read these and add your own special insights to this growing list.

Why do we love to work with young children?

  • They inspire our creativity.
  • They make us laugh.
  • They help us appreciate the small wonders of life.
  • They share their unconditional love with us.
  • They play with materials, ideas, and possibilities.
  • They create new words whenever they are needed.
  • They are excited about learning and it is contagious.
  • They are musicians and dancers who inspire our involvement.
  • Their endless curiosity leads us to gain new understandings.
  • Each day is an amazing adventure we can explore together!

Reflect with me on the many blessings we gain from working with small children!



As we end a very busy summer, we begin to think about what is coming in the fall. What will the children be interested in? What exciting learning can occur? Are there new materials and projects that can be added to challenge children’s thinking?


My summer, as I am sure you feel, has flown by with few moments to relax and reflect on where we are going, and how we are going to get there. Now is the time to take that time to think, create, and reflect.


This spring and summer I have been writing 6-7 days a week and many hours on each of those days, but I am happy to share with you that my new book for NAEYC is finished and in my editor’s hands.


Of course there will be rewrites, corrections, and additions but the meat of the book has been written. Yeah! My husband Ben said, “This is the hardest I have ever seen you work on a book” and I must admit I did put in many hours recognizing that my professional organization is publishing it. Of course, I wanted it to be the best book possible!


With Sonia, my co-author, we have worked to develop a book that is beautiful, innovative, and filled with new possibilities for early childhood teachers.


Anticipated release date is June 2016.


Watch my blog for announcements of the release time and place for our new book on creativity in young children.


This coming week, August 4 and 5, I will be doing a keynote for the Kansas Christian Early Childhood Association in Kansas City with the focus on “Building a Sense of Community: Ensuring Every Child is Treasured” and several breakout sessions.


August 15, I will be doing a keynote and breakout sessions for TX Baptist Weekday Education Association. These sessions will focus on “Inspiring and Sustaining Creativity in Young Children.


As you think of your new year, think of some unique things you might try with your creative young children. They inspire all of us to think creatively, and collaborate in exciting ways! Have a wonderful beginning!


Idea for the first days: Take a picture of each child in your classroom and display these in a beautiful way for everyone to see. Your children will recognize that this is “Their Special Place”!





June is the time for the exciting NAEYC Professional Development conference this year in New Orleans.  This is an amazing conference that allows us to reconnect with other early childhood professionals, renew friendships, and learn what is on the forefront for future policies.

Currently, I am working with Sonia on our new book related to “Sustaining Creativity in Young Children”, with anticipated publication early 2016.  The first event we attend at the conference is a reception for authors that write for NAEYC.  It seems funny for me to be considered a “new” author since I have already published 12 other books, but it is the first time I have written a book for my professional organization (although I have written many articles and served as a consulting editor for NAEYC for a number of years).

Attending lots of meetings, participating in informative sessions, and collaborating with colleagues will consume most of my time in New Orleans. But as a great lover of Jazz (and to stimulate my creative thinking) I will also go to the Preservation Hall for authentic Dixieland Jazz.

More to come from the conference and jam session!

We live on a pond in Jonesborough, TN. Every spring we enjoy watching our Canada geese and wood ducks raise goslings.


This year we were impressed by one mother goose who made a nest in an old tree stump. She was very visible from where I am writing at my computer. For over six weeks she sat on that nest. Seldom leaving the eggs, only for an occasional bath.


Then right back on the nest she ran. Father goose guarded the mother on her nest scaring away other geese and curious humans.


Mother-Days-Blog-on-NestSix weeks she set on the nest. We watch and admired her patience and her ability to persist on this grueling task in the heat, pouring rain, and cool days.


Today on Mother’s day she was rewarded for her efforts. Six tiny yellow goslings were hatched! Proud mother and father strutted around the pond with six small and fast babies. What a wonderful surprise for us to enjoy and a fitting reward to mother goose for being patient and persistent.


A lesson for Mother’s day: raising children is a task that requires patience and persistence for many years.


Today, celebrate your important role in the lives of your children.

A mother too,

Rebecca Isbell

I’m back from a great conference at Turning Stone Resort in New York for the NYSAEYC meeting. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet and work with this dedicated group of early childhood educators and their leaders!

I learned that NY has the largest state NAEYC affiliate in the US, and what an amazing group they are! During my keynote, they listened intently, laughed out loud, waved their hands, and sang in harmony. It was an inspiring and interactive time for all of us.

I am reminded that early childhood professionals are a great group of people who celebrate the capabilities of young children and work diligently to provide meaningful experiences every day.

nysaeyc2Our breakout session focused on the Core of Literacy: oral language development. Young children are in a critical period of language development, and early childhood teachers can have a positive impact on this area of development by providing real experiences that are filled with interactive conversations.

Most early childhood teachers enjoy talking and sharing their ideas, but it is important to remember that conversations include listening to the children’s’ ideas and responding to them. Effective communication, one of the 4C’s skills for the 21st century, includes both expressing (talking) and receiving (listening) language.

Keep up the great work NYSAEYC! Together we can do great things for young children.



As educators, practitioners, and researchers, we all know the importance play has on the total development of a child. This year, we are focusing on introducing play in your daily classroom practices through math, literacy, language arts, science, technology, and movement.


After a cold and gray winter, it is time to add new sparks of Spring in your classroom.

Begin group time by posing some divergent questions: “How do you know it is spring?”  “What could we bring into our classroom so show that spring is here?” “What do you like about Spring”.  Write down the children’s responses and display them on a colorful background in the classroom for everyone to see.

10 Springtime Classroom Additions

  1. Plant a narcissus or hyacinth bulb in a small flower pot. Children can water and watch the leaves and flowers develop.  Both of these bulbs have wonderful smells so they will add a pleasant aroma to the space.
  2. Bring a branch from a budding tree to observe and enjoy.  Keep in water and watch it bloom.
  3. An abandoned bird’s nest can spark conversations about eggs, baby birds, and leaving the nest.  This can also lead to the children creating their own unique nest for a real or imagined bird.
  4. Spring brings showers. Wear raincoats, ponchos, or carry umbrellas outside so the children can enjoy experience a spring shower.
  5. With the increase in light from the sun, find ways to make light visible. Experiment with different materials, colors, and shapes.  Determine the best place to display the light catcher?
  6. Grow grass in a plastic lined shallow plastic tray.  Fill with potting soil and cover with wet newspaper and sit it in a warm place until it sprouts.  After the grass gets tall it can be “mowed” with scissors.  This grass filled tray can become a place to play with small micro people figures, farm animals, or other related items.
  7. Add long strips of colored, lightweight, translucent fabric to the climbing structures outside.  The light and wind will help the children see the effects of the changing light and observe the change in the wind.
  8. In the Art Center, add floral wrapping paper, paper flowers, spring colored tissue paper, clear plastic shower curtain for painting, and branches that have fallen on the ground. These open-ended materials can add a spring touch to art projects.
  9. Research and plant a tree that will grow on the grounds of your school.  To make the literacy connection read books about trees and make a sign with the names of the children who planted and watered your special tree. Be sure to take pictures of the event.
  10. Using blue food coloring, transform the water table to inspire new exploration, pouring, or create floating items from scraps of wood, or foam.  The change of the color and different tools added to the table will encourage expanded experimentation, conversations, and conclusions.

These ideas will add new life to your classroom and inspire you to think of many variations that will demonstrate your creative thinking.


Nurture Creativity,