Bringing the Ivory Tower into Homes

Access to higher education is made possible when educators and administrators incorporate strategies to support all students in inclusive learning environments. More than ever, students with disabilities are seeking alternative options to traditional classroom experiences. Students with diverse areas of abilities are seeking online learning for various reasons. In a study of university faculty, over half did not know if they had training or resources to ensure accommodations (Phillips et al., 2012). Many online educators are unaware of legal, practical, and/or ethical responsibilities for students with disabilities.

An article that offers information about how to create an accessible online learning environment is, “Bringing the Ivory Tower into Students’ Homes: Promoting Accessibility in Online Courses.” The article shares information about: professional development, modeling diversity, assignment choice, universal design for learning, and the use of authentic assessment to measure student learning and determine outcomes. Appropriate accommodations for individual learners with disabilities, as well as universal design concepts for the entire class can lead to an accessible online learning environment that meets legal requirements and recommended practice standards. Seven categories of accessible features fall into: images, tables, page content, multimedia, color, and auto-testing tools. When the ivory tower goes into students homes in the form of online courses, accessibility is the key to unlock learning and development.  

 Drawing courtesy of Adriana Macy age 6

Drawing courtesy of Adriana Macy age 6



Macy, M., Macy, R., & Shaw, M., (2018). Bringing the ivory tower into students’ homes: Promoting accessibility in online courses. Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, 11(1), 13-21. doi:10.18848/1835-9795/CGP/v11i01/13-21.  This paper won the International Award for Excellence.

Phillips, A., Terras, K., Swinney, L., & Schneweis, C. (2012). Online disability accommodations: Faculty experiences at one public university. Journal of Postsecondary Education & Disability, 25(4), 331-344.

Access to Higher Education

Higher education should be accessible. President Abraham Lincoln believed in access to higher education. One of the things he did was create a land grant system that would have a mission of creating higher education opportunities for the public in every state.

My public university is located in the central part of my state which makes it a good location in the middle. Easy access. The other attractive feature is that this location is sought after by people from around the world who come here for their vacations and/or work experiences—Orlando, Florida. At the end of October, early childhood professionals and parents of young children came to Orlando for the Division of Early Childhood international conference.  My Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) program at the University of Central Florida (UCF) had a booth in the Exhibit Hall. Our goal was to get the word out about three different opportunities for people who would like to pursue higher education at our public access institution. I had the opportunity to share with others what makes UCF an outstanding place to come to school. I talked with people about our ECDE undergraduate degree, ECDE master’s degree, and ECDE doctoral degree programs. Our ECDE master’s students, Ms. Toni-Ann Rusiana and Ms. Kim Nassoiy, were there to share valuable information with participants about higher education and their experiences as students in the ECDE program at UCF.

President Lincoln said, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Higher education can help prepare you to become a good one. Like Lincoln, I believe in the power of education. There is no better way than through education to level the playing field and create opportunities for everyone who seeks to improve themselves, improve their communities, and improve society.



If you travel for work, why not extend your trip for leisure?

Business + Leisure = Bleisure.

Last year we had 72 million people travel through our Orlando airport, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Many of those travelers were experiencing a happy case of bleisure. Here are some ideas for you in how to spend the leisure part of your bleisure if you are fortunate enough to travel to Orlando, Florida.

Winter Park

If you like to shop, then visit Park Avenue in Winter Park. The main street has over 100 boutiques. The oak trees will offer you plenty of shade as you meander your way to a quaint café for a bite to eat or sip of espresso. Throughout the year there are events that are sure to please you and your family. One of my family favorite events is the WUCF PBS Kids “Be My Neighbor Day” celebrating Mr. Fred Rogers who attended college in this area. 

Vero Beach

Many people who come to Orlando think of theme parks, but just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of the attractions is the Atlantic Ocean. Vero Beach is a great place to unwind after corporate travel. Vero Beach is a welcoming community with sandy beaches, palm trees, and a variety of bird species. If you come at the right time of the year, you might be able to catch a glimpse of loggerhead sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach. Nature tours are a great way to learn more about this unique ecosystem during your bleisure trip.

 Vero Beach, Florida

Vero Beach, Florida

Space Coast

While you are at Vero Beach, head north up the road and experience the Space Coast of Florida. The Kennedy Space Center offers many things to see and do. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, cruise ships, beaches, NASA, and rocket launches… oh my. Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin are actively dominating the Space Coast scene.

 Space Coast Florida

Space Coast Florida

U-pick Fruit Farm

The subtropical climate in central Florida is a paradise for fruit lovers. Discover citrus groves and pick your own fruit. Find a hydroponic garden and you might not even get dirty when you pick your own fresh fruit. “A Patch of Blue” is an urban hydroponic community farm near Winter Park that grows blueberries to pick during April and May, and strawberries from January to May.

 Hydroponic U-pick Farm

Hydroponic U-pick Farm

Downtown Public Library

Since the 1960s, the Orlando Public Library has been located in downtown Orlando. The design of this building was called, "composition in monolithic concrete” by the architect John M. Johansen. The Orlando Public Library is the headquarters for the entire award winning Orange County Library System (OCLS). There are many branch library locations throughout the county. OCLS received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service which is the highest honor possible in America. When you visit this big urban library enjoy exploring all the floors. It wouldn’t be Orlando without a gift shop for you to take home a memorable souvenir before you leave. 

Bleisure is on the rise (Jain, 2018; Easen, 2017; Habtemariam, 2018; Lichy & McLeay, 2018). Wander your way around “City Beautiful” and make some great bleisure memories to last a lifetime. Treat yourself to extra time and play!!!


  1. Easen, N. (2017). Playing away. Buying Business Travel, 85, 28-31.
  2. Habtemariam, D. (2018). More than two-thirds of business travelers embrace bleisure. Business Travel News, 35(5), 6.
  3. Jain, A. (2018). Business, leisure or 'bleisure'?. Hotel Management, 233(6), 26-26.
  4. Lichy, J., & McLeay, F. (2018). Bleisure: Motivations and typologies. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 35(4), 517-530.

Sparklicious Snacks

I am forever looking for healthy recipes to make my family. Specifically, I am on the hunt for things to make children that are free of peanuts due to allergies. If you are looking for sparklicious snack ideas, look no further. Here are three recipes that your children might like.  

Bean Dip:

Open a can of your child’s favorite beans. Crush the beans after cleaning them. Add a dash of garlic powder, cumin, and lime juice (optional). Serve with carrot sticks.

Bean Dip.jpeg


Yogurt Dipping Sauce:

Start with 1/2 cup (or 4 ounces) of fat free plain yogurt. Next, add the following ingredients to the yogurt: 1 teaspoon of honey, 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon of ginger, a dash of nutmeg and lemon juice. Serve it with your child’s favorite fruit.

Yogurt Dipping Sauce.jpeg


Ants on a Log:

Instead of peanut butter, use sun butter to spread on celery sticks. Sprinkle some raisins on top.

Ants on a Log.jpeg

Just Add Bubbles

They are easy to make!

They are fun!

They are happy little memory makers!



I am talking about bubbles. It is easy to be in a good mood when bubbles are present! A fun project to do with a child, or group of children, is make homemade bubbles.

In a clean bowl, mix together: water, corn syrup, and liquid Dawn (recipe below). Other liquid detergents could be used for the bubble mix recipe, but I’ve found Dawn makes the best bubbles.

Recycled materials can be used as containers for each child’s individual bubble kit. Children can decorate their containers. Pour the bubble mix into clean containers like plastic bottles or plastic jars (e.g., from yogurt or other food items). Pipe cleaners and/or plastic spoons with holes could be created to dip into the container and into the bubble mix… and then blow.

Watch bubbles float through air.

Watch as children try to catch and pop the bubbles.

Watch your children have fun making memories through the universal language of bubbles.

Bubble Mix Recipe:
6 cups of water
1 cup of corn syrup
2 cups of Dawn liquid


Paper Airplanes

Something as simple as folding a piece of paper can be an adventure. Making and flying paper airplanes can be a fun activity for children and adults. Ms. Marie Tourell Søderberg, a guest on my iTunes show, talked about the benefits of following a child’s lead during play. She gave an example of a child being interested in paper airplanes and spending the afternoon engaged in exploring paper airplanes.


Here are some steps to making a paper airplane if it has been a while since you made one. To make a basic dart paper airplane, start with a piece of paper. Fold the paper in half the long way (hot dog style). Unfold. Next, fold 2 corners into the crease to form a point. Then take the 2 new corners to create a wing by folding it into the same crease. Now fold your plane in half. The last step is to fold the wings.


This easy paper folding activity can be used for artistic expression. Children can design and decorate their paper airplane. It can be used before taking a trip in an actual airplane to talk about what to expect on their trip. Allow children the opportunity to experiment with their airplane. They can send their paper airplane through space. Distance, time, speed, and more can be observed. Flying the paper airplane and doing acrobats allows children to see math and science concepts come to life. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” Let their imagination take flight with this simple paper folding activity.


Communities of Play Innovation

Cities that promote play are at an economic advantage because people want to live, work, spend time and money in positive play environments. A sense of community can be established when families and children are able to play in public locations (Ehrenhalt, 2014). Play deserts occur in places where children have limited play opportunities. Crime, community facilities, and obesity are some of the factors leading to play deserts (Sharaievska, 2014). Location may also hinder opportunities for play. At least four things are needed to create communities of play.

#1) Safety. The basic ingredient for play is that it must be safe. Communities of play are environments where great care has been taken to ensure children are protected from harm. Safe play communities have low or no crime.

#2) Clean and welcoming facilities. Families seeking play communities for their children want clean spaces that are attractive and welcoming. The well-being of children is maximized when there are facilities conducive to play. Clean water, playgrounds, spaces, equipment, toys, and more are needed to attract children and families (Juster & Leichter-Saxby, 2014). 

#3) Access. Play environments must be accessible to people with diverse abilities. In my community, we recently renovated our community playground so that it could be more accessible to children with motor delays and people who use wheelchairs. The results have been more inclusive play for all our children. Such a valuable investment.

Access to play communities that are close to home and work are necessary to making play a priority for families. Schedules are busy and there are many things to do each day which may push opportunities for play to the bottom of the to-do list. Families do not need an extra errand to transport children far away to play.Community planning is necessary for the development and maintenance of play communities. 

#4) Supervision. Children require adult supervision. Parents, grandparents, family members, teachers, parks and rec staff, city employees paid to supervise community activities, and other adults designated to ensure the safety and well-being of children are necessary to play communities. Public spaces for play should be managed by qualified adults trained to properly supervise children.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states in Article 31 that children have the right to: “rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.” Children benefit when they are able to play in safe, clean, accessible, and supervised environments. Childhood is enhanced where there are nurturing and caring communities of play.

 "I Spy with My Little Eye" playground.

"I Spy with My Little Eye" playground.



Ehrenhalt, A. a. (2014). Cities, families and places to play. Governing, 27(7), 14-16

Juster, A. H., & Leichter-Saxby, M. (2014). Citizens at play: Children's participation through community-based opportunities for child-directed play. Global Studies Of Childhood, 4(2), 77

Sharaievska, I. (2014). Family leisure and the play desert. Parks & Recreation, 49(8), 36-37.

"kids who pretend to be..."

Picture books ideas come in all different forms, but here is my journey in writing and illustrating “Hello, My Name is Tiger”.

Hello My Name is, Tiger.jpg

I’d like to say that I had a grand plan for a picture book that would make kids feel like there are other kids just like them.

But the reality is I just drew a picture.

Before I knew I was going to write and illustrate my book “Hello, My Name is Tiger”, I drew a picture of a kid in a cat suit. Just out of the blue. Not sure why, other than Halloween was around the corner.

An editor saw the drawing and asked me if I had a story to go with it. I told her I would noodle it.

In thinking about it, I remembered that my daughter, when she was 4, had a friend named Simon, who wouldn’t take off his red-footed PJ’s for almost 4 months. He was Clifford the Big Red Dog and no one was going to tell him otherwise.

Simon was having a ball being his favorite character, and in my research I learned there are lots of kids who pretend to be cats and dogs or other creatures. Sometimes they are doing it for fun. But other times, they are going through something they are uncomfortable with and being in costume makes it a little easier. Seems like a good plan to me. I don’t remember, but I may have done this myself when I was a kid.

Actually, here is a picture of me as a bunny. I do recall wearing this on other days than Halloween.

 Author Jennifer Goldfinger

Author Jennifer Goldfinger

I moved every two years when I was growing up. I was always the new kid and it stressed me out every time I started a new school. I felt like I was going through something that no one else was, that everyone else had it all figured out and everyone else had lots of friends. I wish now that I had someone tell me how I wasn’t really alone in my feelings. Kids who had been at the school and weren’t new, sometimes felt that way too.

In my book, Toby would rather be a cat than a boy as he starts a new school. He struggled with his isolation until a monkey (another boy) rescued him from being stuck in a tree.

Picture in tree.jpg

Eventually they also befriended a bird (a girl). They were going through the same thing separately until they found each other.

It was a roundabout way I got to making this book. But it all came together for me when I looked deep inside an emotion I had as a child and still have at times as an adult. I’m so familiar with this feeling that once I identified it, I was able to make a book that told my story through Toby/Tiger’s eyes.

Today's guest blogger is Ms. Jennifer P. Goldfinger. She is a children's author and illustrator. You can find more information about Ms. Goldfinger at 

Happy Place

There are happy meals. There are happy birthdays. There are books about happiness. There are even songs about being happy. Thank you, Pharrell Williams!

The pursuit of happiness is in our American DNA. But how do we create happy environments for young children?

This is a question we can explore when designing spaces. In our early childhood theory and practice class this week we are reading about the physical environment. There are many things to consider when designing the physical environment for young children. What may be most important is to create a HAPPY PLACE!

A happy place for children would consist of at least five things.

1.      Safety.

2.      Accessibility.

3.      Functionality.

4.      Developmental appropriateness.

5.      Beauty.

A local bank is offering teachers a contest to renovate their classrooms. Contest winners will receive $2,000 to spend on classroom renovations. What would you do with an extra $2,000 to spend on your early childhood space? We can look to the Danes for answers.

Despite their long winters, Danish people are considered some of the happiest people in the world. What makes Denmark one of the happiest nations?  In Denmark, the concept of “hygge” is focused on creating a nice atmosphere. In their books, Wiking and Søderberg share the way to create happiness the Danish way with the concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga). Dr. Meik Wiking reveals the Danish secrets of hygge and the keys to happiness that he and other researchers study at the Happiness Research Institute. He says, “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down,” (Wiking, 2017, p. vi). Sounds really good to me! We could all use more hygge when we go to our happy place!

Happy Place.jpg



Søderberg, M. T. (2016). Hygge: The Danish art of happiness. New York: Penguin Books.

Wiking, M. (2017). The little book of hygge. Danish secrets to happy living. New York: HarperCollins.

Stranger Danger

It can be hard for us to have empathy for strangers because they STRESS US OUT. Research is showing that being around strangers increases stress and decreases empathy. Dr. Jeffrey Mogil, a researcher from Canada, has been conducting studies on emotional contagion. One experiment is simply putting two people who have never met in a room. Stress levels increase (e.g., heart beat increases, sweaty palms, etc.), and empathy for the stranger decreases.

Another experiment involves having research participants soak their hands in a freezing cold bucket of ice for thirty seconds and having them rate their pain.

  1. One condition is having a person do the ice bucket by themselves.
  2. Another condition is having a person and a stranger do the ice bucket together.
  3. And then the third condition is a person does the ice bucket experiment with a friend.
 Ice Bucket Experiment

Ice Bucket Experiment

They found that being alone, and with strangers, resulted in about the same amount of pain. However, the condition with friends resulted in more pain. Interesting! 

My guess was that pain would decrease if there was a friend for support. “We’re in this together.” “I can get through anything with this awesome friend by my side.” This was not the case.

A possible explanation for the finding is empathy. We feel more pain when we do the experiment with a friend. When our friend is experiencing pain, our own pain increases. We have our own pain + a little bit more from our friend. Research shows that we have emotional empathy for friends, however not for strangers. No wonder it is so hard to put ourselves in another person’s shoes at times, and take their perspective when they are a stranger to us.

Does being around strangers increase stress + decrease empathy? Yes!

Another thing the emotional contagion researchers did was experiment with games and play. They found that when the strangers played a video game called Rock Band for a half hour their stress decreased and their empathy increased. So more support for the power of play. Yay! Simply playing a game together for a half hour can make a meaningful difference. 

 Rock Band Game

Rock Band Game

Many caregivers tell children, “do NOT talk to strangers.” We do this to protect our little ones. One of my favorite quotes I use in my assessment class is from the theorist, Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner. He said we examine, “the strange behavior of children in strange situations with STRANGE ADULTS for the briefest possible periods of time” (1979, p. 19).

 Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner

Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner

He wrote this decades ago. In many situations, we still conduct early childhood assessments today the way Bronfenbrenner described in the 1979 quote. There should be better ways to do assessment. 

When unfamiliar adults assess children, we may not see the child's true abilities and skills. Children are taught not to talk to strangers. And what do we do... we sometimes assess children when the assessor is a stranger. Take for instance a speech and language assessment where the assessor is diagnosing a delay or disorder. If  the assessor is a stranger and the child is taught not to talk to strangers,  an accurate diagnosis may be difficult. 

We can apply some of the research out of neuroscience and play with children. Allow the child to get to know the assessor via play before, during, and after an assessment. The result may be a more accurate picture of the child's abilities and development. 



Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Mogil, J.S. (2012). Pain genetics: Past, present and future. Trends in Genetics, 28, 258-266.

Mogil, J.S. (2015). Social modulation of and by pain in humans and rodents. Pain, 156 (Suppl. 1), S35-41.

What's New?

Happy New Year! I hope your new year is off to a great start. In 2018, my colleagues and I will be putting the finishing touches on the new edition of the Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System for Infants and Children (AEPS®).

We have been working on the AEPS®-3 since 2005 and I’m thrilled to see it going into production. Early childhood professionals can benefit from having a measure to assess young children that also links to a curriculum that could be used during play and routines. The AEPS®-3 Family component can be used to create positive and engaging partnerships with parents. Some of the most exciting new things in the AEPS®-3 are the early childhood math and reading areas.

Listen in to my iTunes show to hear a conversation with the pioneer of the AEPS® Dr. Diane Bricker (pictured below) talk about how she got started in our field, early childhood theoretical perspectives based on the work of Skinner and Piaget, and the influences and impact of her work in the area of early childhood assessment. 

If you would like professional development on the new AEPS®-3, start now. You can email me at to begin. Wishing you all the best in 2018!

 Left row: Carmen Dionne (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières), Amy Perkins (Brookes Publishing), Naomi Rahn (Wisconsin DOE), Diane Bricker (University of Oregon), that's me in green - Marisa Macy (University of Central Florida), and I-Ching Chen (Kent State University). Right row: Sarah Zerofsky (Brookes Publishing), Misti Waddell (University of Oregon),  Jennifer Grisham-Brown (University of Kentucky),  Joann Johnson (St. Cloud University), and Heather Shrestha (Brookes Publishing)

Left row: Carmen Dionne (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières), Amy Perkins (Brookes Publishing), Naomi Rahn (Wisconsin DOE), Diane Bricker (University of Oregon), that's me in green - Marisa Macy (University of Central Florida), and I-Ching Chen (Kent State University). Right row: Sarah Zerofsky (Brookes Publishing), Misti Waddell (University of Oregon),  Jennifer Grisham-Brown (University of Kentucky),  Joann Johnson (St. Cloud University), and Heather Shrestha (Brookes Publishing)


Below is a PDF of our “Sneak Preview” my co-authors and I presented at a national conference.

Car Seats, Strollers, and Child-size Suitcases...oh my!

Families traveling with young children have many considerations to make when going on a journey. I was traveling recently and noticed a family next to me struggling to get through airport security due to all the extra objects needed when traveling with small children. In addition to all the adult things they brought for the trip, they had: a car seat for each child, one stroller, 2 child-size suitcases, and a diaper bag. Many of the contents in the diaper bag had to be removed because they contained liquid. We were on the same plane and again I saw how challenging it was for the family boarding the plane. It is no wonder that many parents choose to stay home and avoid travel because of the hassle involved in moving a family from point A to point B.

 On the Go

On the Go

The Dean of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, Dr. Pizam, delineates travel from tourism. He says that travel is moving people from one place to another, whereas tourism represents businesses engaged in providing goods and services to tourists (who are people traveling to places outside their homes and usual settings). Families are a unique segment of the travel and tourism industries and may need different things compared to people traveling without children.

There are so many benefits to family travel and tourism. Relationship therapy is one of them. Family functioning may improve when a family has the opportunity to go on a vacation together. Enabling access to travel and tourism opens doors for young children and their families.

Source: Pizam, A. (2009, June). What is the hospitality industry and how does it differ from the tourism and travel industries? International Journal of Hospitality Management. pp. 183-184.

Ordinary Treasures

In her travel memoir, Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman, author Alice Steinbach talks about the power of paying attention to ordinary life moments.  She shares a simple treasured memory of her sons playing innocently out in the backyard on a summer evening.  There was nothing special or different about this evening, there had been many like it before.  But for some reason, as she heard the childish chatter outside, Steinbach was lucky enough to recognize the power and beauty of that ordinary, everyday experience.    She calls those special bits of time, when our hearts are touched by the magic and specialness of the ordinary, “Holy Moments.”

It is easy, as parents, to get caught up in life’s busyness.  Running from activity to activity, our daily life becomes so routine that we forget to pay attention to the little moments.  And here’s the thing.  By not paying attention to those moments we lose them. 

The truth is, most of family life is ordinary. Taking the dog for a walk. Cleaning up after dinner. Snuggling in to read a book together before bed.   Yes, these moments are ordinary, but they are special, too, because these are the moments that make up your life.  These moments turn to hours, the hours turn to days, and pretty soon the days add up to a time when moments like these no longer happen.

So today, make an effort to notice and savor the ordinary moments in your daily life. The sound of your children laughing together.  A tiny hand fitting snugly into yours.  The smell of your toddler’s neck when you kiss him goodnight.  In this way, today’s moments become tomorrow’s treasures.


Today's guest blogger is Ms. Julie Danneberg. She is a teacher and a children’s author.  She started working on collecting her own Ordinary Treasures when her children were young.  You can find out more about her books and follow her blogs on writing and teaching at

 Guest Blogger: Ms. Julie Danneberg

Guest Blogger: Ms. Julie Danneberg

First Day Jitters

Young children may have a variety of feelings about starting school. Books are a way for children to make meaning out of their emotions, talk with a caregiver about how they feel, and enjoy the benefits of children’s literature. If you have children who are dealing with going back to school jitters, here are picture books you could read with them.  

 Ash, B., & Gee, K. (2016).  The class.  New York: Beach Lane Books.

Ash, B., & Gee, K. (2016). The class. New York: Beach Lane Books.

 Brown, Marc Tolon. (2015).  Monkey: not ready for kindergarten . New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Brown, Marc Tolon. (2015). Monkey: not ready for kindergarten. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

 Carlstrom, N. W., & Moore, M. (2009).  It's your first day of school, Annie Claire . New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.  

Carlstrom, N. W., & Moore, M. (2009). It's your first day of school, Annie Claire. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.  

 Child, L. (2004).  I am too absolutely small for school.  Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick.

Child, L. (2004). I am too absolutely small for school. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick.

 Cohen, M., & Himler, R. (2009).  Will I have a friend?  Long Island City, NY: Star Bright Books.

Cohen, M., & Himler, R. (2009). Will I have a friend? Long Island City, NY: Star Bright Books.

 Cuyler, M., & Terry, W. (2017).  Bonaparte falls apart.  New York: Crown Books.

Cuyler, M., & Terry, W. (2017). Bonaparte falls apart. New York: Crown Books.

 Danneberg, J., & Love, J. (2006).  Qué nervios! El primer día de escuela.  Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

Danneberg, J., & Love, J. (2006). Qué nervios! El primer día de escuela. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

 Dewdney, A. (2009).  Llama llama misses mama . New York: Scholastic.

Dewdney, A. (2009). Llama llama misses mama. New York: Scholastic.

 Goldfinger, J. P. (2016).  Hello, my name is Toby Tiger . New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Goldfinger, J. P. (2016). Hello, my name is Toby Tiger. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

 Grandits, J., & Austin, M. A. (2011).  Ten rules you absolutely must not break if you want to survive the school bus.  New Yo

Grandits, J., & Austin, M. A. (2011). Ten rules you absolutely must not break if you want to survive the school bus. New Yo

 Harris, R. H., & Ormerod, J. (2003).  I am not going to school today . New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Harris, R. H., & Ormerod, J. (2003). I am not going to school today. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.

 Hennessy, B.G., & Meisel, P. (2006).  Mr. Ouchy's first day . New York : Putnam's Sons.  

Hennessy, B.G., & Meisel, P. (2006). Mr. Ouchy's first day. New York : Putnam's Sons.  

 Kleve, E. (2007).  The apple doll.  New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.

Kleve, E. (2007). The apple doll. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.

 London, J., & Remkiewicz, F. (1996).  Froggy goes to school.  New York: Viking.

London, J., & Remkiewicz, F. (1996). Froggy goes to school. New York: Viking.

 Marshall, J. (1975).  Eugene.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Marshall, J. (1975). Eugene. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

 McCarthy, J., & Palacios, S. (2016).  Lola knows a lot.  New York: Balzer + Bray.

McCarthy, J., & Palacios, S. (2016). Lola knows a lot. New York: Balzer + Bray.

 McGhee, A., & Bliss, H. (2004).  Mrs. Watson wants your teeth.  Orlando: Harcourt.

McGhee, A., & Bliss, H. (2004). Mrs. Watson wants your teeth. Orlando: Harcourt.

 Rankin, J. (2002).  First day.  New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Rankin, J. (2002). First day. New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books.

 Rex, A. & Robinson, C. (2016).  School's first day of school.  New York: Roaring Brook Press.

Rex, A. & Robinson, C. (2016). School's first day of school. New York: Roaring Brook Press.

 Robbins, B., & Stuart, J. (2001).  Tom's first day at school . New York : Dorling Kindersley Pub.

Robbins, B., & Stuart, J. (2001). Tom's first day at school. New York : Dorling Kindersley Pub.

 Sadu, I., & Delinous, A. (2017).  Greetings, Leroy.  Toronto; Berkeley: Groundwoood Books/House of Anansi Press.

Sadu, I., & Delinous, A. (2017). Greetings, Leroy. Toronto; Berkeley: Groundwoood Books/House of Anansi Press.

 Scotton, R. (2008).  Splat the cat.  New York: Harper Collins.

Scotton, R. (2008). Splat the cat. New York: Harper Collins.

 Thaler, M., & Lee, J. (1989).  The teacher from the black lagoon.  New York: Scholastic.

Thaler, M., & Lee, J. (1989). The teacher from the black lagoon. New York: Scholastic.

 Wing, N., & Wummer, A. (2011).  The night before preschool.  New York: Grossett & Dunlap.

Wing, N., & Wummer, A. (2011). The night before preschool. New York: Grossett & Dunlap.

 Wing, N., & Durrell, J. (2001).  The night before kindergarten.  New York: Grossett & Dunlap.

Wing, N., & Durrell, J. (2001). The night before kindergarten. New York: Grossett & Dunlap.

 Wing, N., & Zemke, D. (2005).  The night before first grade.  New York: Grossett & Dunlap.

Wing, N., & Zemke, D. (2005). The night before first grade. New York: Grossett & Dunlap.

Thank you to Emma, my librarian, for helping me find these books.

Instruction Worker

I was walking into my public library when I heard it.

“I’m an instruction worker,” said the little boy.

Hmmm? I looked. His Dad was taking his picture with a cell phone while the boy posed through a hole in the cardboard prop of a construction site.

 Build a Better World

Build a Better World

In libraries across the country, a summer reading program is going on called “Build a Better World/ Construir un Mundo Mejor.” This is the 2017 reading theme for the Collaborative Summer Library Program. It was started in the 1980s by a group of librarians in Minnesota and has blossomed into a really cool national program to support children in the summer with reading opportunities. To prevent summer reading loss, many public libraries promote programs for children and families. Maybe the child is on to something. Maybe we can build a better world around us through instruction workers….

Animals Strike Curious Poses

One day physicist Dr. Helen Czerski visited a pond in Winchester in the south of England. She noticed a little girl asking her mother a curious question. The child wanted to know why the duck she was observing didn’t get cold feet. Hmmm… Young children are naturally inquisitive about their surroundings and they ask awesome questions! Their sense of inquiry comes natural to them. I have visited many early childhood classrooms to observe my student teachers. I try not to be seen. I prefer to be like a fly on the wall, however young children usually want to know who I am and why I am there. They generally notice when something is out of place in the environment. Children are relentless seekers of information. Adults can support children by being responsive to their inquiry. We can even try being more like children by following some age-old advice from Jane Austen, “indulge your imagination in every possible flight” (Austen, 1813- Pride and Prejudice).

Teaching is Like Making Chocolate Chip Cookies

“Change lanes when conveeeeeeeeenient,” Mr. McDonald would say. I’m not sure the best way to teach driver’s education. I’m pretty sure one of the main ingredients is staying calm behind the wheel. Mr. Bruce McDonald taught me driver’s education when I took it the summer before I turned sixteen, and his calming presence in the car (and use of vowel stretching) helped me feel safe. He also had a brake on his side of the car. I knew he was on my side and would help me if I had a problem.

School is out now for summer. It is time for those of us in the business of education to reflect on the past year, rest, play, and start thinking of the upcoming year. My reflection centers most on gratitude. I was fortunate this year to have taught smart and hardworking undergraduate and graduate students at a university in a border town between the United States and Mexico. Many of my students cross a border every day to gain access to higher education. Just like Mr. McDonald did for me, it was my responsibility to support my students when needed. It was a pleasure! A guest on my iTunes show recently talked about teaching methods on our podcast. She said that teaching is like making chocolate chip cookies and that there are many ways to do it. Dr. Jean Feldman was making a good point that there are unlimited strategies for effective teaching. As I get ready to change lanes and move into a new school year, I will take happy classroom memories with me. The best part of making chocolate chip cookies is savoring every morsel.

Dads and Play

Dads benefit when they play with their children. Researchers studied fathers and found there were no differences in testosterone levels, but there was a decrease in cortisol and prolactin in fathers after just a half hour of playing with their children. This study suggests fathers experience hormonal responses when playing with their children (Gettler et al., 2011). Playing with children can decrease stress, be lots of fun, and create wonderful memories. 

Play is good for Dads!

My playspiration is my Dad! When he plays with children in our family, my Dad is totally engaged and present in the moment. His granddaughter reminded me that the last time Nonno was at our house they played hide-n-seek for “lots of hours.” True! It was probably about two hours without a break. 

My Dad believes play is important. Places to play are important too. When I was little my Dad built me a playhouse in our backyard. After putting in a full day’s work, he would come home and work on the playhouse until everyone went to sleep.

 The Playhouse Nonno Built 

The Playhouse Nonno Built 

Thank you for being my Dad! Also, thank you for making PLAY an important part of our life together. I love you, Dad! 

Happy Father's Day to all Dads this Sunday. 


Source: Gettler, L. T., McDade, T. W., Agustin, S. S., & Kuzawa, C. W. (2011). Short-term changes in fathers' hormones during father–child play: Impacts of paternal attitudes and experience. Hormones & Behavior, 60, 599-606.

Dapper Days

Playing dress up is an activity many children enjoy. Early childhood programs often include a socio-dramatic play area or center in America. On a recent trip to Disney World I saw people of all ages engaging in the fun of dress up on "Dapper Day." Twice a year guests arrive at the Disney gates dressed to the nines. How fun to see that some "grown-ups" have not outgrown this playful part of childhood.