Stuff and new stuff
Four useful tools for professional development
Teaching in the Digital Age for Preschool and Kindergarten: Enhancing Curriculum with Technology
Written by Brian Puerling. Redleaf Press, 2018. ($39.95)
Experienced educator Brian Puerling offers concrete, developmentally appropriate, and inspiring guidance on using technology with young children. His work is thoughtfully composed and thoroughly researched and is designed to support the emerging and expanding tech skills of both children and their teachers in communities of learners.
Technology is not simply children in front of computer screens, he contends throughout. He urges teachers to use the book as a long-term learning tool—finding a comfort level, evaluating technology strategies already in place, developing new strategies that reflect the abilities, ages, and developmental skills of children, and discovering and using new resources to build skill. He urges teachers to actively develop and participate in personalized Professional Learning Networks (PLN)—online and in person—to gather and share information with other teachers eager to sustain enthusiasm, build skills, develop ideas, and set goals.
Integral to Puerling’s philosophy is the integrated curriculum—implementing and using technology in all areas on the classroom. He offers ideas on how digital media can support children’s development across domains, building skill, confidence, and esteem. Vignettes, scenarios, screen shots, charts, cautions, and embedded QR barcodes that link to videos of classroom strategies both enrich and enliven the text.
Through Puerling’s work, technology novices will find the courage to take the tiny steps that lead to competence and confidence. Experienced tech users will find innovative, creative, and dynamic suggestions that allow digging deeper to integrate technology as another tool for satisfying learning.
Treasure Basket Explorations: Heuristic Learning for Infants and Toddlers
Written by Laura Wilhelm. Gryphon House, 2018. ($12.95)
Fun Baby Learning Games: Activities to Support Development in Infants, Toddlers, and Two-Year-Olds
Written by Sally Goldberg. Gryphon House, 2018. ($24.95)
Little Walks Big Adventures: 50+ Ideas for Exploring with Toddlers
Written by Gaye Gronlund and Thomas Rendon. Redleaf Press, 2017. ($34.95)
Teachers of infants, toddlers, and 2-year-olds will celebrate the publication of three new resource books from Gryphon House. Each book is written by a seasoned educator. Each offers a unique perspective on learning tasks across developmental domains and the pivotal impact of teacher competence on supporting the youngest learners.
Laura Wilhelm recognizes the rhythm of trial-and error—heuristic—learning for babies. Her book offers teachers tips and tools for supporting young learners in their sensory explorations. Her special tool is treasure baskets—containers that are filled with engaging, safe, easy-to-find, open-ended, and sensory-rich objects that support emergent language, math, and science skills. Wilhelm gives concrete guidance on creating a space for exploration as well as creating and introducing treasure baskets that foster skill development and are tailored to specific learning goals. Exploration and discovery are key.
In contrast, Sally Goldberg frames her work according to typical ages and stages in three-month segments. She reviews developmental milestones and gives concrete, simple guidance on how to plan and share each learning game. She reinforces the theoretical underpinnings of activities—from babbling play and book reading to counting play, sorting, and size comparisons. The text includes material lists, planning steps, and tips for increasing child engagement. All of Goldberg’s activities are both classroom and home appropriate and accessible. If you share play suggestions with babies’ families, this book is a perfect inspiration—simple, sound, and rich.
Erin Buhr takes explorations outdoors. Formatted with engaging color photographs, the book offers concrete learning adventures that help toddlers recognize that they are unique members of a larger community. Buhr groups exploration and discovery activities into four categories: home and community, vehicles, animals, and the world. Each category offers adaptable and doable activities for both classroom teachers and families; most are designed for toddlers but are easily modified for older children.
Central to all three books is the invitation to active engagement. Goldberg is specific in directing away from screens; all authors recognize and reinforce the fact that the youngest learners do best with face-to-face interactions—exploring and discovering—with other people and authentic materials. Without didactic and pedantic instruction but with considered and engaging direction, each book will energize, refresh, and broaden the ways teachers and families support and encourage infants, toddlers, and 2-year-olds.