Friday, September 24, 2010

We're In This Together: Are You About Quality?


Slowly but surely the message is getting out.  Preschool teachers are professionals, they have degrees or certification or are increasing working toward those certifications, are improving the support, care and instruction they provide young children, are one of a parent's best partners in understanding how young children learn.  We can see this in

  • the rise of colleges listed on the U.S. CollegeSearch website which offer early childhood degrees (did you know there are now over 2,000?)
  • the large number of states funding voluntary pre-K classrooms (only 12 are not providing according to NIEER and some of them like Mississippi are approaching quality early childhood education from a different angle.
  • according to an article by Dr. Jean Fahey, a professor at Lesley University, and countless other experts, a child's brain is more curious and malleable during the first five years than any other time in their lives - that demands high-quality, developmentally appropriate instruction.
Those of us in early childhood have reason to be proud but we are on the edge of the wave.  We need to do more.


One of the best way I know is to have honest, constructive conversations, based on current research and best practices.  Go to authorities such as NAEYC, PreK Now, and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).  Start a local discussion on what high-quality care of young children needs to look like in your community.  Engage children's policy councils, local schools, and educational foundations.  Begin to organize discussions between preschool and kindergarten teachers.   Get your local PTA/PTO involved in reaching out to families who will be potential members at their school in a year or two.

With this terrific window, created because leaders have spoken up about this important issue, we have a better chance than ever to make a real difference:  to turn children on to learning, prepare them well for the 21st century workplace and empower parents as their child's first and forever teacher.

Policymakers are promoting early high-quality child care, while warning of the dangers of pushing academics too early to the neglect of other developmental areas.  What can we do on the "grassroots" level?  There are many things.  I'd love to hear your ideas.

THIS IS MY IDEA:  I'm starting a FIRE!

One of my initiatives is to partner with Region IV Head Start Association in a collaboration with my company, TLA, Inc.  We have joined the competition for $250,000 in grant money from the Pepsi Refresh Project. 

Especially if you live in the SE states of AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC and TN, helping win this grant will have a direct impact on your Head Start classrooms.  Even if you live in another part of the country, the pilot of this program could, as it proves successful, become a model for building authentic partnerships between home and school in the preschool years.

How do you do that?

It's easy.  In five minutes, you can do nearly all these; certainly in only 10 minutes' time.  That's less than a coffee break to make an incredible difference!  Vote now. . .

1) go to the Region IV/BIG 3 Literacy Project link and vote yourself.  Mark a tickler on your calendar and bookmark the page so you can go back and add 7 votes to our totals by voting each day between now and September 30.

2) while you are on that page, capture the Widget and put it on your Facebook page, blog, or website.

3) before you leave the Pepsi Refresh page, also copy the instructions for texting in votes and share that with your friends (text 102675 to Pepsi (73774).  Use the convenient "Promote This Idea" area to share the link with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin. 

4) While you are in the social networking world, follow litambassador on Facebook and Twitter and "retweet" when you see us discussing the project and asking for votes.  That's a great way to get more and more folks voting and sharing!

5) team up with your local Head Start staff to start a wildfire.  Encourage every teacher and parent and staff person (don't forget Board Members) to do the same thing you are doing with voting and sharing.

6) get the local media involved.  Head Start has great stories to tell and the excitement is contagious.

Remember we only have one week.  What will you do to help spread the word?  I'd love to have comments here!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Special Chance for Preschool Teachers to Make A Difference

Tip for the Day:  Take a moment to hug a child, to get down on his/her level and share a book, a story, a moment of connection.  Those are priceless to you and that child!  One of the best ways to take a time out and show some love is with children's books.  My favorite new book for young children is L, M, N, O, P by Keith Baker and, if you don't know it, you should also look at Platypus Lost by Janet Stevens (new to me!).  Check them out!


At 12:01 AM I was up, checking to see if the dream might really have a chance AND IT DOES!

Region IV Head Start Association, serving Head Start families and children in 8 SE states (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, and TN) is partnering with my company, TLA, Inc. to bring an innovative, comprehensive project to this region.  It's called the BIG 3 Literacy Project and involves providing resources, training, support and materials to nearly 880 classrooms that serve within this Region IV's area.  You can learn more by watching our video and reading about our project at THE BIG 3 Literacy Project.

But it will not happen unless everyone we know (yes, everyone I know and everyone you know)casts a vote.  It's simple:

Visit The Big 3 Literacy Project, register and cast your personal vote.  Put a note on your calendar to come back and vote daily from September 1 (today) all the way through midnight of September 30.  This repeat voting is what will get us the numbers we need.

Share this blog or a link to the project with your friends and colleagues in the early childhood world.  Through this project, we have a chance to enhance and support the work of Head Start (and Early Head Start) in this area, where a lot of children and families need it most.

You can conveniently text your vote by simply texting 102675 to Pepsi (77374).  Remember that regular texting rates apply. 

If you have a blog you'd be willing to post a widget to, visit our home project page, to capture it.  Look to the right side of the page, scroll down slightly and you'll find it. 

Of course, Tweets, Linkedin sharing, and Facebook postings, other social media sites are all welcome.  We cannot do it without you!  I love new friends on these sies (litambassador at Twitter and Facebook).

Together we can make a difference -- Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hot News from NAEYC - Free books (4) to Download Just in Time for the Start of the New School Year

has done it again.

 Going right along with the themes from the previous post on this blog, relating to the recent webinar "Supporting the Literacy Loop in Every Classroom", I just saw this incredible offer from NAEYC:

Back to School Resources for Teachers and Caregivers (click on this link to see details)

I especially like the 10 Tips for Involving Families Through Internet Communication

If you haven't joined this national organization, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, seriously consider it. 

Joining a professional organization is well worth the cost if you are serious about growing your career.  Having trouble coming up with all of the membership fee (there are student, basic and comprehensive memberships)?

1.  Ask your child development center director to support you by paying at least part of it for you.
2.  Look for a few local ECE-friendly businesses who want to support your growth as a professional and ask them to contribute. 

3.  Perhaps your director might ask families served at your facility to donate a few dollars to a collection so that someone on the staff (teacher of the year or person with the longest or shortest amount of time in early childhood education) can benefit with a free membership.

Where there is a will, there is a way.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tips for Planning in the New Year

In follow-up to my appearance on Robert-Leslie's InvestiGator Club webinar series yesterday, I'm providing even more resources on this blog.  I'll be adding several installments, including a link to the webinar contents.  Here's the first:

If you listened in to the webinar, welcome back.  Many of add-on resources I mentioned will be highlighted here.  If you weren't able to join us, a link to the recorded webinar is now available.  We'd love to hear comments back from you either through an email to, comments posted on this blog or on Robert-Leslie's Facebook and other social networking locations.  Placing WEBINAR in the subject line on mine will assure you get a quick response.  

On to the business of the new school year

What is the literacy loop?

When you combine efforts of teachers, parents and guardians, community, authors and illustrators, librarians and media specialists, all centered around a child, you have the best chance of success for EVERY child.  That's the concept behind the Literacy Loop. 

We know that questioning is a great way to understand at a deeper level so TLA recommends that you use the framework of questioning to plan how to integrate all these partners into your support for children.  In the partner area of evaluation, you can do the same.

Greater Attention on Early Childhood

I was thrilled yesterday to see that Barbara Chester, President of the National Association of Elementary School Principals was quoted in an Education Week article as calling for "focused professional development to help elementary school administrators meet the higher expectations of modern early childhood education".  I was also pleased to see the National Association for the Education of Young Children weighing in to make sure that developmentally appropriate practices are at the forefront of such training.

This also opens a door for expert teachers in the early childhood world to have the kinds of collaborative conversations I talk about in my book for educators of 3-6 year olds, Before They Read.  By addressing the needs of teachers in both arenas, and helping them understand one another's expertise, we can build partnerships that help make the transition to kindergarten easier for young children.  With the right preparation, they come to school with a rich foundation which brings them to the reading table eager and ready to learn.   This book gives you plenty of starting places and I've even created a facilitator's guide for a book study around this title (great idea for joint professional development). 

Don't Forget The Importance of Play

If we push too much rigorous, structured instruction in the preschool years, the product we send to kindergarten is quite different.  We send children, according to the research of Drs. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, and Diane Eyer (authors of Einstein Never Used Flashcards), more anxious, and less creative. In an overly structured environment, what young children get is deprivation of the "pleasures of creating their own games and the sense of mastery and independence they will need to enjoy running their own lives." 

Here's a bit of play you can engage in with young children that helps them practice (and learn about) rhyming skills.  My friends, Greta and Cora, play Rhymin' Simon with me quite proficiently.  All the while, they are acquiring mastery in the skill through play.  A simpler version, with strong teacher support, helps children learn the basics of how to rhyme.  Teachers have been kind enough to share many stories about children playing the game on their own, once they've learned the basics of knowing when words rhyme.  It's fun!

Extra links to help you grow your own literacy loop:

Facebook/The InvestiGator Club:  Place to watch for updates on the webinar, Supporting the Literacy Loop in Every Classroom:  A Planning Guide for Administrators (and Teachers) in the Preschool Environment.

Resources from Early Childhood InvestiGator Webinar Series.  Here you'll find SEVEN valuable links that extend beyond the content of the webinar (watch it first)!

Visit my website to learn how to play Rhymin' Simon.

Comments in a blog regarding Phillip Kovac's 5 Ways to Change the Status Quo 

Article on The Importance of Play in Human Evolution.

The Cheerios Challenge for First Book - your state (if they are in the top 5) can receive 20,000 books for the children who live there.  Click here to find out more.

Come see The Literacy Ambassador Up close and personal at:

Guest instructor for K/1, 2-3rd grade, 4-6th grade, and 7-8th grade classes for homeschoolers through CCA (home school cover school in Huntsville AL).   More info from 256-882-3668. (weekly September 1 through November 17).

Featured speaker at GA Association for the Education of Young Children - October 8 and 9, 2010 (scholarships for attendance of this conference still available) - Gwinnett Center (metro Atlanta, GA)

Featured Speaker at Region IV Head Start Association Annual Parent Conference - October 14 through 17, 2010 (Myrtle Beach, SC)

Featured Speaker at Alabama Reading Association Conference - November 2-4, 2010 (Birmingham, AL)

Round table session at the Kentucky Engagement Conference - November 19, 2010 (Louisville, KY)

Session at the National Reading Recovery Conference (February 5-8, 2011, Columbus, OH)

Featured Speaker at the IL Reading Council Conference (March 17, 2011), Springfield, IL

More on the way . . .

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Literacy Ambassador's New Book, Before They Read, Wins National Award

Celebrate with Me!

Ever get a surprise, a toot on a horn, out of the blue?  It's as refreshing as a hug from a child.  This week I was humbled and honored to learn that, as a result of the interaction and sharing of great preschool teachers like those reading this blog and many years of my own experiences with children getting ready to read, I received such a treat.

A few days ago, on June 11, 2010, the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) announced their 2010 Distinguished Achievement Awards. Before They Read  published by Maupin House won in the professional development category and was recognized as the top educational product of its kind.

A quick "pick-up-and-read" resource, this title is designed to give busy preschool teachers a BIG picture view of the most important elements of emergent literacy, those that predict later reading achievement:

Oral Language Development
Positive and Varied Experiences with Print,  and
Phonological Awareness

Because I understand the challenges of the preschool classroom, it's also packed with fun "how to do it" ideas and explanations that make you the expert, without pressing children into too high a skill before they are ready.

The best part is that it can be used as an individual read by an individual teacher OR as the focus for a staff development book club (you can even invite your kindergarten teacher friends to join you in one this summer since the book addresses needs of both preschool and kindergarten children).  You can find a free facilitator's guide for doing just that at the book page on my publisher's website.

"Calling all preschool and kindergarten teachers! 
This book will make you a better teacher and raise student achievement scores. 
The age-specific charts make it easy to track reading readiness . . .it's as easy as 1-2-3."

. . . Stacey Kannenberg, author of Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten!

This book will help you discern when the time is prime for each student to begin to read and starting a child at that best, "just right" time is the secret to children not just squeezing by with reading, but becoming proficient in a skill that is essential for the 21st century.

If you'd like to get your own copy, or learn more about this award-winning title, visit Maupin House Publishing.  And while you are at it, share this post with your friends who teach kindergarten or preschool so they will know about it too.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Literacy Ambassador's Favorite Read Aloud List


Every year my read aloud favorites change as I find new titles (and titles that have been around a while but are new to me).  I find a new one that children love and my list gets longer.  In the photo on the right, I'm sharing Eric Carle's book, The Very Busy Spider, with a group of Georgia Head Start children.  Each joined me just a few minutes after this photo was taken, to trace the spider's web as she built it. I find much of the magic of sharing stories with children is when true interaction takes place.

At a recent Super Saturday training of preschool teachers in NE Alabama sponsored by Childcare Resources Network (check out their recent article about authors Jan and Stan Berenstain), I had a chance to share 21 of my favorites in action and now you have a chance to see the list too:


A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon
Baa-Choo by Sarah Weeks
Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell
Corduroy by Don Freeman
Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
How to be a Cow by Bo Vine
Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
Melvin Might? by Jon Scieszka (part of the Trucktown Series)
Moon Glowing by Elizabeth Partridge
Moosetache by Margie Palatini
On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
Poof by John O'Brien
Seven Big Bubbles by Pam Walton
The Handkerchief Quilt by Carol Crane
The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter (A Little Golden Book Classic)
What Do You Do with A Tail LIke This? by Steve Jenkins
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Who is It? by Salley Brindley

The best way to share stories with children is interactively, repeating and exploring books and stories together.


Get families involved by setting aside a special day for each family once a month in which you acknowledge one specific effort they are making that is positively impacting their child's development and growth.  It can be as small as having them come regularly to school, making sure they have a healthy breakfast to start their day or reading a story with them every night.

As a part of that special day (a different one for every family), share a new book or resource with them.  You can even set up a special area in your classroom that contains take home book kits, CDs, special toys, and a disposable camera so families can capture at home learning events and activities on camera.  If you have families who think it's "all up to the teacher", remind them that they teach their child important lessons and ideas every day and show them how much fun and how relationship-building reading with their child and learning with their child can be. 

We'll be posting more frequently going forward to share this with your friends.


As always, I'd love to have everyone who visits this blog share your favorite read aloud book (and why you choose it above all others).  Maybe you're like me and there are just too many to choose one.  If that's the case, share a few titles so we can all explore the best together.  You can also find book lists that target emergent literacy skills in my new book for preschool (and kindergarten) teachers, Before They Read.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Happy Week of the Young Child

In honor of the Week of the Young Child, I'll be posting a bit more frequently here.  The theme this year is "Early Years are Learning Years".  You can also find a lot of resources on the NAEYC website.  My favorite subtheme is Play: Where Learning Begins.  What is yours and why?

Play: Where Learning Begins 
Embracing Diversity 
Teaching and Teachers Matter 
Encouraging Health and Fitness 
Investing in Young Children Benefits All 
Prevent the Achievement Gap: We Know How

What are you doing to celebrate Week of the Young Child?


You'll see over the next few days highlights from my presentations at the AL PreK Conference (What If They Can't Rhyme? AND Using Engaged Interactive Read Aloud as a Collaborative Tool), lunch and learns for Childcare Education Resources in North Alabama this week (on integrating instruction), and even a few surprises.  Share this blog with a friend or colleague in early childhood so they can get the benefit too.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not More Professional Development - Ugh!

Do you ever feel this way (or get this response from teachers you supervise?) 

As awareness of the importance of early childhood education grows and we understand the need to share more information about how young children learn and what they need to be learning, everyone in early childhood is focusing more on improving the quality of teaching and so we should.

However, as this becomes a "hot topic", it becomes more and more challenging to find QUALITY training that supports teacher growth and results in improved outcomes for children.  Why spend your money and time if it's not helpful?  How do you find the resources that fit?

First, search out training not just based on availability but also on its impact on your bottom line (does it improve your reputation, does it mean real results in school preparedness with real children, and in the overall development of the children in your care, are you or your teachers positive about the training after experiencing it)?  If you hear "this was a waste of time", don't take it as an empty complaint.  Listen and pass it along to the decision-makers.  In fact, give feedback on every training you attend.


I encourage all of you to find ways to expand your knowledge.  My area of focus is language and literacy development, but here's a checklist to help you select professional development that fits you (and your staff if you are a director) best in any area.  Also remember that effective training is all about adding value to your organization and to teachers as growing, competent professionals:

#1.  Does the professional development address an area that I or my staff need a stronger knowledge base in? (don't choose training simply because it "fits the required numbers" - that's a waste of time) - think the five domains of learning 

#2.  Is the training offered by a qualified trainer/organization and are they willing to work with you on funding your training event? (hint:  there are a number of inappropriate "heavy on the sales pitch" companies and individuals out there who promote their own agenda without a strong, independent research base - BEWARE!)  Also, free doesn't always mean quality so build your community, state and national collaboratives to fund quality training.  Ask for recommendations from others who have used the trainer you are considering and find out what difference the training made.  If the training is coming from a "mandated source" (such as a state voluntary PreK initiative or resource provider), we sure to give your input to improve the quality of what you receive.

#3.  Does the training involve an opportunity for me (or my staff) to try out and explore, rather than simply overwhelm with information?  This is an essential question to ask before you decide who will provide your training.

#4.  Will there be "take back to the classroom tomorrow" ideas and strategies included?

#5.  What kind of follow-up (internal or external) is provided to assure that the training "sticks"?

Now a few specifics for literacy training:

A Caveat:  Emergent literacy is essential but we can focus too much on it to the neglect of other areas.  Make sure that any literacy trainer you hire understands how young children grow and develop on a broader scale and that they incorporate learning in an "up to your eyeballs, rolling around in the experience" approach..  Balance quality training in this area with training in the other domains.

#6.  Does the training provide you with an integrated rather than "isolated skills" approach?

#7.  Can you envision your children having fun with the recommended approach? (see an example of children learning and having fun playing Rhymin' Simon).

#8.  Are all the strategies and activities tied to a specific learning objective that has at least three research-based foundations?  (this will help you avoid the "fly by night", "fix alls" that really don't work).  Do they address the essential foundations of reading and writing readiness?

#9.  Are there opportunities for the participants to ask questions and get additional information or access additional resources?

#10.  Does the trainer offer you an opportunity to extend the training into a comprehensive implementation plan or just offer an "in and out" workshop?

Now that you know what to ask - go for it!

You'll be making much better decisions about your training plan and budgeting plus you raise the likelihood that you will see meaningful changes as a result of the interaction. 

Don't forget that opportunities for families to learn (in conjunction with teachers or as separate events) are also important.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Getting A Perspective on Literacy as A Part of the Overall Growth of A Child

Certainly literacy is an essential and often focused upon topic when it comes to early childhood. Whether we are reading favorite books like Nancy Carlson's Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! or exposing children to rich conversations about language and letters, we are building important skills. However, as I travel the country and visit preschools, I sometimes see an out-of-balance, isolated instruction focus that concerns me.


Young children learn best in exploratory, playful environments.  The guidelines from the findings of the National Early Literacy Panel can be used within that context and that's how you will gain the best results.

This group met first in 2002 and was charged with identifying from a review of high-quality research the areas essential for later reading proficiency. These guidelines were released in 2009 and can help us focus on what will bring identifiable results and pave the way for children to learn to read at their prime time.

Six Early Skills Predictive of Later Literacy Achievement

Alphabetic Knowledge
Phonological Awareness
Rapid Automatic Naming of Letters and Digits
Rapid Automatic Naming of Colors and or Objects
Writing or Writing Name
Phonological Memory

Let's look at the first one. ALPHABETIC KNOWLEDGE.

See the girls to the right? They aren't readers yet in the conventional sense but they are exploring that book. The girl on the left is pointing to a letter and they are discussing it.

Don't think strict lesson, sitting at tables or responding to flash cards while children squirm because they are being asked to sit longer than their natural attention span allows.

Instead, think of how you can teach these skills in a playful environment.  These girls just sat down with a book and, in fact, had just been prompted by the teacher to look for letters they knew.

Learning the alphabet can really be facilitated through such positive experiences and games.

Explore the shapes in sand or with sponges on the sidewalk.

Let children feel the letter as they draw their fingers over them.

Sing the ABC song with them while hopping from one letter to another on the floor or ground.

Have a game where children can walk quickly to the other end of the room and pick up a letter that they know, bring it back to you and tell you the name (it can be a race but be careful of untied shoes!)

As you take dictation for them, on artwork or notepaper or wherever, show them how you write that letter of focus and allow them to try the same.

Consistently point out letters you want to emphasize when they appear in print you are sharing with the children (big books, individual or circle time stories, posters on the wall, street signs, and print throughout your center).

As children become more familiar with more letters, you can have all kinds of hunting and finding games to reinforce their rapid recall and identification.  We want them to be able to quickly name any letter we point to eventually and they will be able to do that when they reach a level of automaticity (quick delivery) of the names of letters.

Letter of the week is fine but make sure you aren't drilling the children.  Think of this cool progression: FRIG

Familiarity and exposure to seeing the letters in lots of different contexts
Recognition - children begin to associate the letter shape with its name
Identification - children can point out the letter when you say "show me" or "where is the A?"
Generation - children can look at a letter and say its correct name

This progression from strong support and modeling through limited support to independent mastery is evident in most anything your children learn.

Next time we'll talk about phonological awareness.

Have fun!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Get to Know the Literacy Ambassador


The Reading Tub is featuring the Literacy Ambassador in its blog and author showcase.  You can not only learn a little more about this literacy advocate but you can also find references to book lists, picture books for those older readers in your preschool's after-school program for those of you that have one, and a bit more of the motivation behind my two new books from Maupin House Publishing, Before They Read (for preschool and kindergarten teachers) and Anytime Reading Readiness (for parents of 3-6 year olds).  If you read all the way through The Reading Tub's blog, you'll even get to see the Literacy Ambassador in action on a YouTube Video, playing one of the games from her two new books with five year old twins.

So close to the new year, I'm planning to visit lots of conferences over the next 12-18 months and I hope to meet many of you personally at that time.  There are many great conferences throughout the country just created for preschool teachers.  Share a comment or two here about any you have attended and one specific benefit you took away. 

If you know of conferences you think would like to have me speak as a featured or keynote addition to their program, feel free to share its name in a comment as well.

Until the next post, when we will be back on the preschool channel, with fun, easy activities for your classrooms, have FUN with reading!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

After A Hiatus: We're Back to Literacy and Preschool!


It's been a while with the holidays and snow and everything else but I'm committed to posting more frequently here. If you like what you read today, share it with a friend or connect with your fellow preschool teachers at Facebook or Twitter and talk about it!

Tomorrow I'm attending a wonderful north AL institution: the  
NW Alabama Childcare Conference. I am always excited to see all my friends in the early childhood world (teachers and directors) from across the northern part of our state. Angela and Richard and all the other staff of Childcare Education Resources (our north AL quality care enhancement provider for preschools and childcare providers of all sorts) do an incredible, quality job.  And this year, the keynote speaker is truly special: Steven Layne.

Although he's not as commonly known in the world of preschool right now, what I love about Steven is that he combines university and K-12 teaching experience and knowledge with a passion for reading.  He and I share the idea that reading should be powerful, practical and FUN and that we must give children authentic reasons to read.  You're going to enjoy his picture book, Love the Baby! I wish you could all be here to hear him (I understand the book is also available on audio.)

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you haven't attended an early childhood conference (one designed especially for those who work with children ages 0-8), I'd encourage you to do so.  Most states have quality care enhancement providers or resource organizations to help you.  If you don't know of any, check with your local state licensing agency.  Here in my home state of Alabama, our state-funded voluntary preK program  a program rated by NIEER's independent study as meeting all 10 qualifiers for a high-quality early childhood initiative) opens their conference to anyone in early childhood, not just their funded programs.  I applaud them for such a great idea.

In your own state, you can often find a conference locally that is not expensive to attend if you just search at bit.  If you can't afford to go this year, make it a goal to save a little each month toward attending in 2011. Ask your director or sponsor of your preschool to consider sending a representative or two to a nearby conference or training.  It is worth the investment in your future and that of your children, even in such hard economic times.  

New Resources for Preschool Teachers and Programs

I also want to share with you a brand new video that teachers you how to play Rhymin' Simon (notice my two twin friends who help me teach the game).  It's an easy way to practice rhyming with your children in whole group or in smaller groups with those that need more focus on this early phonological awareness skill.  Contact me through my website, and verify you watched the video, and I will also send you a set of modifications for children who don't yet know how to rhyme.  When you contact TLA, you'll need to put "RHYMING MODIFICATIONS" in the subject line to take advantage of this special offer. 

NOTE:  This video is protected by copyright but you can use it for your own education and share the LINK. (please) or this blog with  your friends in the early childhood community (including parents).  For other uses of this video, you'll need to contact TLA, Inc

This game, Rhymin' Simon, is drawn from my new books for early childhood teachers (preschool AND kindergarten) and the partner book for families.   I'm so excited to be able to share the availability of  these resource books with you.

A Chance for Collaboration:

I wrote the educator one (Before They Read) especially for busy preschool and kindergarten teachers. It creates a perfect opportunity for you to create a joint book club with parties from both environments and discuss the needs of children in the transition between preschool and kindergarten.  As I travel the country, I often see kindergarten teachers sharing what they believe children need when they come to school but I believe there needs to be more of a dialogue with both sides sharing their expertise (and preschool teachers often have more to share from their knowledge base about the developmental spectrum of young children than their kindergarten, K-3 or K-5 certified counterparts).

Likewise, the book for parents, Anytime Reading Readiness can give you the opportunities you need to talk with families about key literacy issues, their child's development and "the rush to read". 

 If you are interested in really starting a revolution, purchase the Home/School Literacy Partnership Set which contains two copies of the teacher book and 20 of the parent book.

Rhyming is the doorway into the world of thinking about words for the sounds within them (apart from their meaning).  The ability to recognize and eventually generate  rhymes comes as early as age 2.5 or 3 but it starts with simply playing with the language.  You'll notice that children who have been read to regularly often develop this skill the earliest because their parents and caregivers have been talking about how our language works with them already.  As you talk daily with your children, you have given them many great tools in the language they use; this activity and others like it are the way to effectively build on those experiences as those children move on the road toward getting ready to read.

My last gift to you:

1) Need to find great books to read with young children?  Look no further than
27 of the Literacy Ambassador's Favorite Preschool Books.

You are welcome to share this link to the list with the families you serve.  Set up a display in your classroom that highlights any of these titles you have and share a "shopping list" of great books to enjoy with your child" by listing a few on a postcard for the parents at your center.  Contact your local library and ask them to do the same!  Also encourage moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas to visit my blog for parents.

Til next time . . . share the passion and joy of reading!