Online Workshops for Early Childhood Educators

Early Childhood Educators are dedicated to the work we do. With the wages we earn, we absolutely must have passion for our work. Now that many child care centres are closed, due to COVID-19, this could be a great opportunity to improve your professional practice by taking an online course. Or to join a profession where you can use your passion to make a difference in the lives of young children and their families.

Here are some opportunities that may be of interest:

Understanding Cognitive Knots by Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House

April 16, 2020 6-8 pm PDT

Learn about cognitive knots their role in the process of learning. Consider how educators can use these “knots” to expand learning opportunities.

Fairy Dust Teaching has many opportunities including a workshop from Teacher Tom on the topic of Partnering with Parents, beginning on March 28, 2020.

Art Exploration

Diane Kashin shares her powerpoint on Process Art including videos for you. All this is free of charge!

If you are in British Columbia and you wish to complete your ECE certification through distance learning, check out the following approved institutions:

  • Coast Mountain College
  • College of New Caledonia
  • College of the Rockies
  • Lethbridge College
  • Northern Lights College
  • Pacific Rim Early Childhood Institute
  • Stenberg College
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Victoria

Our province needs more Early Childhood Educators so if you feel passionate about young children and want to support and promote their healthy growth and development, this could be a great career for you.

If you know of other online opportunities for Early Childhood Educators, please share in the comments.

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Kid Lit Love: The Paper Kingdom

I am thrilled to be returning to my Kid Lit Love series featuring picture books from members of the Kid Lit Community! Today’s book is titled THE PAPER KINGDOM by Helen Ku Rhee, illustrated by Pascal Campion, published by Penguin Random House.

Take a look at this gorgeous cover art!

The Paper Kingdom

Synopsis

Based on the author’s childhood, “The Paper Kingdom” is about little Daniel who goes to work with his parents to their job as night janitors, where he expects dreariness but finds magic and wonder, thanks to the power of imagination.

Helena Ku Rhee, Author

I asked Helena a few questions about her new book and writing for children in general. It was a pleasure to connect with her.

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children. I think I’ve always loved picture books for the synergy between the words and illustrations. In fact, I won my first story contest in the third grade, and pencil drawings accompanied that story — so I think I was training to be a picture book author at a very young age!


2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book. I was driving through Los Angeles one evening when something about the empty, quiet street triggered childhood memories. The Paper Kingdom is based on my childhood when my parents worked as night janitors. They couldn’t afford childcare, so they often had to take me to work. And to keep me entertained, they made up funny stories. They did their best to turn drudgery into magic, and I wanted to capture that sense of wonder in the story.

3. Share your advice for children’s writers. Read what’s out in the marketplace. It’s great to be familiar with the classics, but it’s just as important to read new output from current writers. Also, keep in mind that the illustrations will help illuminate the story, so no need to go into lengthy descriptions. Also, I truly value the process of putting away my draft for a few weeks, and then evaluating it with fresh eyes. That’s probably one of the best tools for making your book as clean and as lean as possible, because that distance helps you quickly spot the slow parts or the unnecessary passages or even characters.

Thank you Helena Ku Rhee for being a guest on Kid Lit Love!

Website: http://helenakrhee.com/books/the-paper-kingdom/

Twitter handle: @HelenaRhee

Look for more Kid Lit Love posts on Mondays! Want to have your book featured? Send an email request to authorcynthiamackey@gmail.com

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Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!

Five Great Nature Resources for Teachers

We know that getting children outside is beneficial for their healthy growth and development. And going outside is one of the activities that is not cancelled due to the coronavirus. So if your a parent looking to keep your children entertained during a school break, these are for you as well

Here are five resource links for educators who want to spend time in nature with children. If you’re a parent looking to keep your children entertained during a school break, these are for you as well. These have a particular focus for British Columbia; however, some of the information will be applicable anywhere. The best way to connect with the natural world is simply to spend time outdoors.

You don’t really need anything except your own curiosity and the appropriate clothing.

Horticulture Centre of the Pacific Gardens, Victoria, B.C.
  1. Nature Canada has some downloadable resources here including nature scavenger hunts!
  2. Check out the David Suzuki Foundation for more resources for teachers and parents.
  3. Life in the Leaf Litter ID card, for identifying small insects and other tiny creatures.
  4. Saplings Outdoor Program has more resources including links for where to get great outdoor gear for preschoolers.
  5. Fresh Air Learning has a host of resources including books, songs with links to recordings, emergency and first aid kits, and nature games.

What activities do you enjoy outdoors in your community? Feel free to share in the comments!

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Kid Lit Love: The Voice That Won the Vote

I am thrilled to be returning to my Kid Lit Love series featuring picture books from members of the Kid Lit Community! Today’s book is titled THE VOICE THAT WON THE VOTE by Elisa Boxer, illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger, published by Sleeping Bear Press.

THE VOICE THAT WON THE VOTE: How One Woman’s Words Made History by Elisa Boxer, Illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger

Synopsis: 2020 marks the women’s suffrage centennial. In 1920, after decades of perseverance, women were finally given the right to vote. But it almost didn’t happen. THE VOICE THAT WON THE VOTE: How One Woman’s Words Made History, tells the little-known story of Febb Burn, the mother who saved suffrage with a handwritten note to her son. 

Author, Elisa Boxer

I had the pleasure of connecting with Elisa and I asked her a few questions about her experience writing for children.

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children. I’ve been writing children’s books with themes of courage and resistance ever since I could hold a pen (the cover of one of my earlier works is attached… See “You Can’t Catch Me”) 😉

One of Elisa’s earlier book covers, You Can’t Catch Me


I was painfully shy as a child, and I can remember seeing myself and my emotions reflected back in certain books, although I didn’t know that’s what was happening at the time. I have just always felt at home in the pages of children’s books, especially those with deeper emotional pull. But even though I have been writing children’s book manuscripts for as long as I can remember, and attending SCBWI conferences for the past 15 years, I never really considered making a career out of it. I was always in the trenches of newspaper, magazine and television journalism. A couple of years ago, however, I got sidelined with a severe case of Lyme disease. Since I was basically housebound, I decided to take my research and storytelling skills from journalism, as well as my love of writing, and put them to use pursuing my childhood dream.


2. Tell us how you came up with the idea for your book. Although I’ve always been passionate about women’s rights, I have to give my agent, Steven Chudney, credit for this idea! I got an email from him in 2018 (we had another book out on submission at the time), letting me know the women’s suffrage centennial was coming up in two years, and suggesting I write a picture book about it. As a journalist, I’ve always been drawn to stories of unsung heroes, so I started researching little-known women in the suffrage movement. When I came upon the story of Febb Burn, I instantly felt that tug, you know, that pull from within that says this is it! I was drawn in by her courage in speaking (or in this case, writing) her truth, when it went against what society expected of her. 

3. Share a piece of advice for children’s writers. Something that has kept me inspired, even on the toughest of writing days, is remembering my “why” — why I wrote this book, why I write in general, what message I want to convey with my work. I want children to know that their voices matter. I never want children to keep their truth quiet. That’s my “why.” My best piece of advice is to find yours. Keep it in your heart. Let it infuse your writing and inspire you.

Thank you Elisa Boxer for being a guest on Kid Lit Love!

Website:  http://elisaboxer.com/

Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/eboxer

Look for more Kid Lit Love posts on Mondays! Want to have your book featured? Send an email request to authorcynthiamackey@gmail.com

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!

Picture Book Research

If you’re a picture book writer, you know that in order to write great picture books, you must also read great picture books. And that’s the thinking behind Kristi Call and Carrie Charley Brown’s ReFoReMo Challenge.

The goal is to read 5 picture books per weekday in the month of March for a total of 105 picture books.

Book pile for week #1

Keeping it real, here’s a list of the books I’ve read during week #1: (Is it cheating if I started a day or two early?)

  1. This is the House that Jack Built by Simms Taback
  2. Around the Table that Grandad Built by Melanie Heuiser Hill and Jaime Kim
  3. There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klosterman and Ben Mantle
  4. Snappsy the Alligator Did Not Ask To be in This Book by Julie Falatko and Tim Miller
  5. Chloe and the Lion, by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex
  6. Z is for Moose, by Kelly Bingham and Paul Zalinsky
  7. The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross BurachAre
  8. We Pears Yet? by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Carin Berger
  9. Moon: Earth’s Best Friend by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
  10. My Happy Year by E. Bluebird by Paul Meisel
  11. Pluto Gets the Call by Adam Rex, illustrated by Laurie Keller
  12. Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival by Lindsay Moore
  13. Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Jamey Christoph
  14.  The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta; illus by Frank Morrison
  15. Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy; illustrated by Ekua Holmes 
  16. MOTH: AN EVOLUTION STORY by Isabel Thomas, Illustrated by Daniel Egneus
  17. GIANT SQUID by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
  18. Most Marshmallows by Rowboat Watkins 
  19. River by Elisha Cooper 
  20. ONCE UPON A GOAT by Dan Richards, illustrated by Eric Barclay

Reading the blog posts that go along with the challenge make it insightful, highlighting what can be learned from looking at mentor texts.

I expect to be making a few more trips to the library this month! And I must say, I am so grateful for the ability to place holds on the books so that they are there waiting for me when I stop in at the library.

What mentor texts are you reading? Feel free to share in the comments.

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At What Age Should Children Begin Piano Lessons?

I get asked this question A LOT.

It depends who you ask but most people begin to think about starting children in piano lessons between the age of 4-8 years of age. It is a good idea to consider the child, their level of interest and their fine motor development. Music lessons can help develop memory, creativity, self-discipline and self-confidence. Lessons can be beneficial for developing literacy, numeracy, and fine motor skills.

One of the benefits to starting early is children can learn quickly and will retain what they’ve learned later in life, especially if they start before the age of 10.

The key is to keep things fun and joyful. Your child must get satisfaction from playing. If getting the child to the instrument is a chore, it might be the wrong choice. Finding a teacher who is skilled in music but also understands child development is important.

Percussion instruments can be a great place to start for a young child.

If a child cannot yet move fingers independently, it could be too early to start. See if your child can place a hand on the table and tap one finger at a time. If this is a struggle, then wait a bit.

Generally, I accept children who are 6 years of age and up for piano lessons and I expect them to practice at home in between weekly lessons.

A music class with movement, games and singing could be more suitable for children who are 3-6 years. The social part of learning in a group reinforcing. And if children catch on to the joy of music at an early age, they will be more interested in learning instruments as they get older.

You can check out this post by Liberty Park Music for more information on learning other instruments and when to start.

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Spreading Joy Through Music

There’s one big reason I teach music for preschoolers. It’s the joy. Music has always brought me joy and I love to share that with young children.

My Saturday mornings are a pleasure as we gather with a small group of 4-6 preschoolers for our music sessions. We sing, we drum, we dance, we play xylophones, we listen, we play games, and we experience the joy of making music together. We use ribbons and scarves and each class ends with an opportunity to try the piano!

Children love our ocean themed music room!

My own children loved the Orff Music at the Brentwood School of Music, in beautiful Brentwood Bay, B.C. with Kathy Criddle when they were preschool age. Now it’s my turn to carry on the tradition as teacher of the program. My son went on to later become an advanced guitar player and my daughter continued with piano lessons for several years afterwards.

Do you think your child would like to join us? Registration is done through Panorama Recreation or contact the Brentwood School of Music. The next set of sessions begins April 4th. Look for “Little Shakers” on Saturday mornings at 9 am.

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Thank you for stopping by my blog! You are welcome here any time, whether you live in Victoria, B.C. or anywhere around the world.