Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead: Discovery Science & Art Through Play

On February 27th, early childhood educators gathered to recognize the importance of introducing the concepts of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics to children at very young ages.

Our 7th Annual ELN Buffet began with a nourishing breakfast, an opportunity to network and greet friends and colleagues, and view a special video produced by the SFPL  . . . . all about US!

A rich morning of professional development commenced with an exciting keynote by Erin Fortescue of the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum.  Her presentation, Curiosity Creates:  Research and Best Practices in Creativity Programming for Children sparked meaningful conversations throughout the morning, as participants brought the ideas, resources, and questions inspired by Fortescue's presentation to each of the breakout sessions.

Pulsing Word and First Book engaged educators with an interactive workshop devoted to discovering the joys of engineering in the early care environment, entitled Roll with it! Nurturing Young Engineers through Play. Using a combination of found materials, classic blocks, and Kodo Kids Ramps and Pathways sets (come play with them at your local public library!), educators explored some core principles of engineering: systems thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, optimism, and ethical considerations.  Even educators who work with our youngest--infants and toddlers--walked away with ideas for how to bring an "engineering perspective" to their environment.


Tandem and Jumpstart offered Expressing Math Through Art and Design.   workshop was designed to help educators explore the importance of both math and visual arts in the preschool curriculum, as well as to learn and practice new ways of thinking, talking about and teaching math and art concepts, separately or together.   Educators participated in hands-on activities that could be transferred directly into their classrooms while building the confidence they need to design and integrate their own activities in the future.


As always, our goal was to provide San Francisco educators with a morning of learning, networking, and plenty of opportunity to play!  Looking forward to the 8th Annual Buffet in 2017!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

4th Annual ELN Buffet: Powerful Early Math Explorations through Music and Movement

On February 22, 2014, the San Francisco Early Literacy Network presented its 4th Annual Early Literacy Buffet.  Educators from all over San Francisco gathered for a nourishing breakfast and an opportunity for professional development around the topic “Powerful Early Math Explorations through Music and Movement.”  As usual, collaborating, sharing wisdom, and taking away tools to use right away were the hallmarks of the day.

A full house of educators.
Christy and Kenny capture memories.

Christy Estrovitz and Valerie Reichert shared the latest from the San Francisco Public Library, and reminded participants of the extensive support the Public Library offers early childhood educators.   
A warm welcome from each of the Early Literacy Network member organizations followed, and it was time to begin our day.


Christy from San Francisco Public Library.
Valerie from San Francisco Public Library.
Catherine from Jumpstart.
Lynne from Screen Actors Guild BookPALS and Pulsing Word.
Alli from Pulsing Word.
Jo from Raising A Reader

We got our wheels spinning (literally) with the “Wheel of Wisdom.”  Educators were invited to come to the front of the room, spin the wheel, and share their experiences, according to the prompt or question on the wheel.  While each educator who spun the wheel received prizes of books, music, or classroom supplies (courtesy of Project Read), all of us present in the room were able to benefit from the insight and experience of fellow early childhood educators.  Thank you Brian Castagne for channeling your inner gameshow host!

Spinning and sharing.
Spinning and sharing.
Spinning and sharing.
Spinning and sharing.
Spinning and sharing.
Spinning and sharing.


Workshops were held upstairs in the Children’s Center, with Raising A Reader and Jumpstart offering “Beat by Beat: Building Math through Music.”  Jo Potter (RAR) and Catherine Aranda (Jumpstart) kept educators busy with several hands-on activities designed to support math literacy, and ensured each person received NAEYC’s extensive list of math-related books, songs, and finger plays to take back to their centers.
Math and music.

Math and music with a special guest.
Math and music.
Math and music.


Pulsing Word led educators through “Early Math Explorations from a Child’s Perspective.”   Beginning with an exploration of how to foster symbolic thinking, Alli Cuentos and Lynne Maes went on to engage educators in a variety of games designed to make mathematical concepts relevant and embodied, to engage children in problem-solving and experimentation, and to build skills such as logic, pattern recognition, and mathematical reasoning.   

Math explorations.
Math explorations.
Math explorations.
Math explorations.
A future educator crashes the event.
Math explorations.

 Educators received the books that were used in each session to bring back and use right away in their own classrooms, and free books were certainly a key feature of this year’s buffet. First Book, a national organization that provides free and low-cost books to organizations that work with underserved populations, made a special effort to connect with early childhood educators at this event.  The First Book Local Advisory Board, who are members of the ELN and have been active for many years in San Francisco, brought 40,000 free books to educators in San Francisco the following month, and participants at the ELN Buffet were offered a special opportunity to register right there on site.  As we know, it is only through partnership and collaboration that so much can be accomplished!
Irene admires a selection of books while preparing to sign folks up for the First Book Books on Wheels giveaway.


We closed the day with a Family Dance Party, Professional Development Certificates, (more) books, and much gratitude.  As always, the goals of the Early Literacy Network are to provide professional development in the field of early literacy and learning, and to provide professional support, networking opportunities, and camaraderie.  We hope all of the participants came away as informed and inspired as we did!
Engaging and connecting.
Engaging and connecting.
Engaging and connecting.
Educator shares experiences.
Jo and Catherine collaborative colleagues.
Lynne, Alli, Christy debrief and plan next year's buffet with the out of the frame, and out of this world, Jo, Catherine, and Brian.

Text by Lynne Mayes. Photos and captions by Brian Castagne.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2013: Celebrating and Nurturing Lifelong Learning

As we gear up for our 4th Annual Early Literacy Network Buffet, we are grateful to take a moment to reflect on the fantastic year that is coming to a close.  As you mark your calendars for February 22, 2014, we invite you to read below and reflect on 2013's offering, "Nurturing Lifelong Learning."  We hope that all of our participants kept the spirit of the day alive throughout the year, and we look forward to sharing news about next year's professional development opportunity!

The 2013 ELN Buffet explored how educators remain open and alive to new experiences, to learning, and to self-reflection.   “Nurturing Lifelong Learning,” the theme of this day of celebration and professional development, began with a festive spread by the SFPL’s Mint Café, and a brief showcase of services offered by member organizations of the San Francisco Early Literacy Network.

Christy Estrovitz shares the wealth of services provided by San Francisco Public Library.
Jo McConnell shares the many exciting resources at Raising A Reader.
Lynne Mayes informs us about Pulsing Word and the Screen Actor's Guild BookPALS activities.

An engaging and inspiring keynote speech by Betty Pazmiño, Early Education Program Specialist with SFUSD, invited each of us to reflect upon what we bring as individuals to our work with children, and how best to foster curiosity in the children with whom we work.   This deep exploration of what it truly means to nurture lifelong learning in children and in our selves set the tone for meaningful and intentional engagement in the three breakout sessions that followed.

Alli Cuentos of Jamestown Community Center and Pulsing Word Consulting gives a warm and vibrant introduction to Betty Pazmiño
Betty Pazmiño, our dynamic keynote speaker.

Nurturing Lifelong Learning.
Amy Perry (San Francisco Public Library) and Jo McConnell (Raising A Reader) led a session entitled “Self-Reflection,” which encouraged educators to value each other as resources for lifelong learning.  The process of reflection, used intentionally as a tool, can deeply support both professional and personal growth.  This session led educators to examine why and how they make decisions, how to break down barriers to problem-solving, and build new connections with their peers. 

Jo McConnell and Amy Perry lead the Self-Reflection session.
Betty Pazmiño and participants in meaningful discussion.
Dynamic discussion.
The Bookmaking workshop, led by Catherine Aranda (Jumpstart), with assistance from Jude Deckenbach (First Book) gave everyone the opportunity create their own book.  In this session, educators explored different types of bookmaking projects, using various materials - everything that can be found in the classroom or in nature.  Everyone had fun sharing ideas while they made books on their subject of choice: ABCs, Shapes, Colors, you name it!

Catherine Aranda of Jumpstart making it happen.
Jude Deckenbach of First Book San Francisco in discussion with the group.
Making books!
Making books!
Making books!
Making books!
Making books!

Making books!
Making books!
Making books!

Making books!

Making books!

Making books!

Making books!
Making books!

Making books!

Making books!
The third session offered a two-part learning opportunity, focusing on the benefits of practicing yoga and massage for children. “Yoga for Kids:  Building Strength, Flexibility, and Wellness from the Inside Out” and “Squeeze Me! Massage Techniques for Self-Care and Beyond,” led by Pulsing Word consultants Lynne Maes and Alli Cuentos, added an “embodied” approach to learning.  In this session, participants learned a simple series of yoga poses and massage strokes to help foster focus and concentration, self-regulation, and breath awareness—in both adults and children alike.  Educators were introduced to techniques that support the immune system, brain development, and stimulate and support learning, and how they can be integrated into the early care environment.   
Lynne Mayes and Alli Cuentos of Pulsing Word facilitate this calming and invigorating workshop.
Yoga and massage for children and families.
Yoga and massage for children and families.
Yoga and massage for children and families.

Yoga and massage for children and families.
The day’s activities were concluded with a Family Dance Party in the Children’s Center, led by Pulsing Word, in which educators got an opportunity to participate in music and movement activities that foster learning through play!  A generous gift bag of books, along with a certificate of professional development, were presented to all who attended, with our heartiest thanks for making the day such a success and a joy for all.
Family Dance Party!
Family Dance Party!
Family Dance Party!
Every participant received a bag full of top-notch children's books and other learning materials.
Lynne, Amy, Catherine, Christy, Jude, Alli, Jo, and Brian (not pictured) reflect on the day and start planning for next year!

The Early Literacy Network thanks the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund for contributing to the book giveaway, our member organizations, Bring Me a Book Foundation, Children’s Book Project, First Book San Francisco, Jamestown Community Center, Jumpstart-Bay Area, Project Read, Pulsing Word Consulting, Raising A Reader-Bay Area, Screen Actors Guild BookPALS, SFPL Early Literacy Mobile, and of course Children and Youth Services of the San Francisco Public Library and the leadership of Christy Estrovitz, who make this event possible.

Text by Lynne Mayes. Photos and captions by Brian Castagne.