Sneak Peek: Individualized Child-Focused Curriculum: A Differentiated Approach

You sit in a room full of ten children wondering how to get each child engaged in the next activity. It is appropriate for the age group and where they are at developmentally, but that doesn’t mean each child will fully engage and benefit from the exercise.

Amelia is interested in bears, Cora loves trains, and Jeremy talks only about dinosaurs these days. Is there a way to work each of these interests into the activity so each child fully engages and learns the skills presented?

Well, you are on the right track by knowing what each child is interested in and capable of. Now you just need a little help taking the next few steps of making your curriculum individualized and child focused.

Bringing together the information you have about each child, as well as knowing where to dig a little deeper, is all part of what early childhood consultant Gaye Gronlund calls Developmental Studies. This new tool has already received fantastic feedback from the pilot group that field tested it and will go on to benefit teachers and children who use the program for years to come.

We invite you to check out an excerpt from Gaye’s new book, Individualized Child-Focused Curriculum: A Differentiated Approach to get an idea of how this can be implemented in your own program and how you can support children’s learning in a positive way and reconnect with the joy that brought you into teaching to begin with.

Individualized Child-Focused Curriculum

Excerpt: Individualized Child-Focused Curriculum: A Differentiated Approach

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Women’s History Month: Inspiring Educators

Women and girls have not always (and still do not in some places) received equal opportunities for education. Yet, somehow females continue to shape the world through what they learn and whom they teach. Here are just a few examples of words of wisdom from female educators and education advocates in honor of National Women’s History Month.

Le Shan quote

Benedict quote

Lightfoot quote

Montessori quote

Rollins quote

Colorose quote

Plato quote


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It’s Spring! Gardening with infants and toddlers

As the weather becomes warm you begin thinking about all of the learning possibilities that outdoor activities present. One of the activities that provides the most opportunity for learning is gardening.

We all know being outdoors is good for children, but the act of gardening is often overlooked when it comes to infants and toddlers. Their connection to nature is just as important as for older children and the things they can learn are just as endless. They are sensory learners after all, and the garden is full of sights, sounds, smells, and textures.

So here are a few tips for gardening with infants and toddlers.


  • Let them freely move around the outdoor space instead of being in a stroller or carrier.
  • Cut a few pieces of the plants off and let them play with them and really touch, smell, and see them.
  • Take your time. Let them explore and experience the space without rushing them or talking too much.

herb smelling


  • Let them help. Toddlers can help plant seedlings, move and carry things such as buckets of dirt or mulch, and can water plants.
  • Talk to them about what they see in nature and how to respect it. Look under rocks and logs to see what is living there. Teach toddlers to stay still and be careful when holding another living thing.

Gardening with Young Children is a great resource for everything you need to know to get started with a garden, how to engage children in gardening, and thinking about how it will be integrated into the curriculum beyond science. It also has some great activities for kids of all ages to learn more about nature, gardening, and interacting with the world around them.

What's That Smell


Source: Gardening with Young Children: Second Edition of Hollyhocks and Honeybees, Redleaf Press, 2014


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Sneak Peek: Lisa Murphy on Play

As cries for more “academic preschools” and demands for “higher test scores” are growing there is also a strong counter movement developing. A group of early childhood educators who believe that play IS school readiness and lays a foundation that all other learning can be built on.

One of the most outspoken and knowledgeable advocates of this is Lisa Murphy (aka The Ooey Gooey Lady). Lisa’s standing-room-only seminars have become known for their information, humor, inspiration, and energetic delivery. All of these components are found in her newest book Lisa Murphy on Play 2nd Edition: The Foundation of Children’s Learning

This relatable and inspiring narrative reminds teachers of The Seven Things to make time for every day: create, move, sing, discuss, observe, read, and play. Full of research, stories from classrooms, and affirmations that what you are doing is enough this book will challenge you to advocate for play in teaching and equips you with the tools to face competing factors that threaten play and joy in the preschool classroom experience.

We invite you to check out this excerpt from the new book and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Lisa Murphy on Play

Lisa Murphy on Play: The Foundation of Children’s Learning Sneak Peek


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Celebrating Pi Day the fun and tasty way

Every year on March 14th (3/14) the word celebrates Pi Day. Next Monday is your annual opportunity to get creative with your love of math and remind kids that math can (and should) be fun.

We’ve collected a few ideas for your Pi Day activities and one tasty recipe.

Pi Day Songs 

Craft ideas

And the best part of Pi Day?! The Pie! Here’s a tasty recipe that doesn’t require an oven so even the littlest mathematicians can help.

banana pie

banana pie recipe


Source: Cooking is Cool, Redleaf Press, 2013

We hope you have a fun and tasty Pi Day!

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Happy Read Across America Day!

Each year on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, March 2, educators, families, children, and book lovers of all ages join forces for Read Across America Day. This annual program was started in 1998 to motivate children in every community to celebrate reading and keep reading all year long.

reading group

A few ideas for the big day:

  • Issue a reading challenge to the children in your care
  • Host a readathon with fun books, reading related activities, and, of course, literary inspired snacks
  • Throw a party for Dr. Seuss himself

Check out the National Education Association website for even more ideas and follow along with all the activities online with the hashtag #readacrossamerica

There are also several things you can do to keep the encouragement going year round.

  • Nurture print awareness by creating a print-rich environment: use signs to label objects, have children find their names as they enter the classroom, and a news bulletin board with big topics for the week or month
  • Create a library center that kids will enjoy spending time in. Comfortable seating, pillows, and a variety of books for all different interests.
  • Provide opportunities for functional reading such as a calendar of events, recipes, instructions for completing helpers’ jobs
  • Give children plenty of opportunities to write. Help them create birthday cards for family members or story starters and encourage picture writing.
  • Connect in-class literacy experiences to the home and the community. Point out to children everyday reading that family members do such as reading the newspaper, recipes, or the mail. On walks point out signs, addresses, and advertising. Offer opportunities for families to send in favorite stories or get involved reading in the classroom.
  • Read aloud to children EVERY DAY!

Source: Lessons for Literacy, Redleaf Press, 2010

dr seuss quote


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Avoiding burnout and Keeping Your Smile

As the winter wears on, you can see children get antsy to be outside and eventually for the school year to be over and summer vacation to begin. Truth be told the caregivers and educators are feeling the same cabin fever and stress. So how do you, as the adult, keep your smile and passion for what you do? Keeping Your Smile

In the book Keeping Your Smile, author Jeff Johnson reminds all of us “to be mindful of choices and find time in our hectic days to take a deep breath now and then. We have to make sure we are taking care of ourselves, and not neglecting to meet our own needs.”

A few things to keep in mind:

  • It is okay to put yourself first now and then
  • Keep your goals and dreams in focus and continue to work towards them
  • We all make mistakes and all we can do is learn from them
  • Think positively and look for good in every situation
  • Go behind your comfort zone and take chances
  • Make sure you are living with passion and purpose

Keeping Your Smile is full of wonderful questions and ideas to get you thinking about what is not working for you right now and how you can make it better. One of the best tools to keep you mindful as you work to live your passion is the Bi-Weekly Life Assessment.


(Source: Keeping Your Smile by Jeff A. Johnson, Redleaf Press, 2010)

Remember, your mindset isn’t only important for your health, it is important for all of the children in your care. If you are taking care of yourself you will be more capable of taking care of others and you will be teaching children some invaluable lessons on positivity and security.

Get more tools and insight from Keeping Your Smile or getting the two book set that also includes Finding Your Smile Again

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