ECE STEM: What’s it All About?

With the ECE STEM conference happening in a couple of weeks, I thought it might be good to explore the resources that NAEYC has for STEM. Check out the resource from the NAEYC page on STEM and explore the position statement on technology that was written in partnership with the Fred Roger Center for Early Learning.


Review of Documentation: Duty or Delight? Featuring Ellen Khoka, M.A by Sarah Shawesh

After our Professional Development event there was no doubt in anyone’s mind whether documentation was duty or delight? Presenter, Ellen Khokha, captivated 72 Early Childhood Professionals, as she proved the importance of documenting our environments. She shared her three step process to evaluating data and turning it into documentation. She discussed her three step documenting process of see, think and wonder as she urged us to utilize our sense, reflect and pause on the meaning (stating that the meaning of any given documentation is not static and should constantly change), and lastly, wonder about how this documentation could further develop curriculum and planning. As we worked through the content that morning, Ellen encouraged the audience to examine the difference between a display and documentation. She urged teachers to see documentation, not as a parent resource but as a learning tool for themselves and their team of teachers. Ellen presented the idea of programs building some agreements around documentation including design, owning your own lens/perspective on items of documentation, being open to discourse, inviting and expecting other  perspectives, creating a documentation review process and creating a standard for creating documentation for the children and families. The lasting impression from this workshop was Ellen’s take on utilizing documentation to connect with children, help children connect with their own learning process and as a way to reflecting the values of the school.


I hope you enjoyed the article. Click the link to our OCAEYC blog below to comment on what you read or your thoughts on the PD event. Please let me know if you are interested in being featured in the OCAEYC newsletter.

Melissa Wheelahan, M.A

OCAEYC Education Chair





Tinkering and STEM- Fall Professional Development

Last night OCAEYC in partnership with The Child Creativity Lab  hosted  their first professional development of the school year. We had over 30 early childhood educators in attendance exploring and  learning hands on about STEM. Ileana Tavares, shared with us great information about 21st Century Skills and Science. Next the participants completed the “boat” and “marble run” challenge. These challenges are kits that can be purchased by parents or teachers,  are STEM based, and  are a launching point for building critical thinking skills in elementary aged children. The participants were then tasked with recreating those same skills for preschool children ages 3-5. The participants had free rein in the lab to use whatever materials they wanted to create an ECE play kit that would cover the same “boat” and “marble run” concepts. There were some really great conversations going around the room such as; “We made this ramp wider so a child could use a tennis ball instead of a marble” and “We made this boat big enough for a child to put toys in and expand their learning.”

Below are some of the pictures from last night. If you were there we would love to hear your feedback. If you weren’t please join into the conversation on your thoughts on promoting play-based STEM learning in preschool.

Quality Preschool in Boston

by Melissa Wheelahan

As an Early Childhood Professional, I frequently subscribe to different webpages and newsletters. One that I have most recently been looking at is PDG TA (Preschool Development Grants Technical Assistance). Even though it does not have a fancy name it is packed with information from all over the US. I subscribe to their quarterly newsletter and this quarter there was an interesting article entitled “What Boston’s Preschools Get Right.”

Now it might be my die hard born love for Boston, I was born right outside Boston.  It could also be because  my son attends college there, so I am always interested in what is going on in education there. But mostly I think it is because I am always curious on what other states are doing and how we measure up in California.  Here is a short excerpt and the link to the full article. I would love to hear what you think.


BOSTON—On the ground floor of Russell Elementary School in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston one February morning, three teachers supervised 20 students in what is considered one of the best free, public preschool programs in the country.

Boston’s preschool program, called K1 locally, serves about 68 percent of the 4-year-olds likely to enroll in public kindergarten. And while it has been criticized by some for its slow growth, the program has won repeated recognition from experts in the field for its quality and has been validated by outside researchers for being student-centered, learning-focused, and developmentally appropriate.

“If it’s not a quality program and it’s just a place for 4-year-olds to be all day, it’s not effective,” said Marie Enochty, a program director in the school district’s early-childhood education department, neatly summarizing the message heard at every turn here in Boston, from the classroom to the mayor’s office.

Welcome to the OCAEYC Member Blog

The Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children, the local Affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, is the largest organization of its kind in the county. Our mission is to support early childhood professionals in their work with children birth through age eight, to advocate for high standards and improve working conditions in programs for young children, and to promote public understanding of issues affecting children and their families.

Come back to comment on monthly articles and training. Want to be a featured blogger? Contact our Education Chair, Melissa Wheelahan at


Getting Out of the Box

Influenced by Howard Gardner

By Joan Lundbohm

Here is an excerpt from our first guest author. Want the full article? Contact us below to be added to our newsletter.

I have been interested in psychology from a young age. When I was 15 I got my first magazine subscription, “Psychology Today.” Around that time the myth that we, as humans only use ten percent of our brain was circulating. I had a burning desire to find out what happened in the rest of that 90%. Reading psychology books and articles fed the need to discover uncharted territory and get a glimpse into what the mind was capable of doing. Howard Gardner published Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence’s in 1983. That year my son was born and I was at a time in my life when I felt an overwhelming desire to understand the brain since I was now responsible for my child. I do not remember exactly when I started reading Multiple Intelligence’s but I remember reading it twice in a row when it first came out.

When I became a preschool Director it was back in the day when everyone was doing themes and I did that as well, until one day I summoned the courage to tell parents and staff that we would no longer be doing themes. We would create centers to mirror the Multiple Intelligence’s and we would focus on one intelligence each month. A whole month devoted to science, math, music etc! It was an amazing time in my career. When we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle we not only read the book but we actually left the teacher book out for the children to touch and read! Very daring back then. We touched the flannel board pieces, we put the Very Hungry Caterpillar puzzle together. We brought in caterpillars and watched them turn into butterflies. We created tissue paper art just like Eric Carle and one year I gave each student one page of the book to recreate.

Multiple Intelligence’s is the perfect companion tool for emergent curriculum. If the theme that month is Musical Intelligence the teacher and students can collaborate on creating the lesson plan by the teacher asking key questions: What do you already know about music? What would you like to know? How do you think we can get that information? Also by asking whose family members play an instrument, what type of instrument, and can they come play for us? This is an opportunity to let the children listen to all types of music. These types of discussions certainly increase language development but more importantly they place the power of learning in the lap of the student thus creating a drive to learn as well as a sense of empowerment and curiosity. The students will experience positive self-esteem, they will learn to collaborate and share ideas and they will learn they do not have to have all the answers they just need to know where to go to get the answers.

If you are still using themes, if you still have a shelf with teacher only books and still feel pressured to do everything on your lesson plans then it is time to spend some time in reflection. What is it you want to teach the children and what are the best practices to meet those goals?

After reading our guest author Joan Lundbohm’s article, “Influenced by Howard Gardner” What can you do this school year to get out of the same “box” you have been in for year after year? What can you do to inspire creativity, build self-esteem and get students reading and starting to think about living in community? What can you do this year to support higher level thinking in the children in your class?