CWS Oakstead is Growing Their Team!


Oakstead Construction 1Oakstead Construction 2Watching the construction of a new Creative World School is always so exciting. Our buildings are designed with children in mind! From our custom Exploratorium with giant ceilings and endless possibilities to our child-sized classrooms, everything is tailor-made for early learners.

It’s been a thrill to watch the weeks unfold at the construction site of Creative World School Oakstead! This brand new Creative World School will be located at 3490 Oakstead Blvd, Land O Lakes, FL.

Do you have a passion for Early Education?  We are now accepting applicants for a Director position at Creative World School Oakstead. Contact us to learn more about job requirements and how to become a part of our family!

oakstead now hiring director


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An Interview With Author Barney Saltzberg: A Little Bit of Oomph!

barney oomph

We are so excited to have gotten the chance to hear from acclaimed children’s author, Barney Saltzberg, on the creative process behind his latest book, A Little Bit of Oomph

CW: How did you become interested in books and literature?

Barney: My mom was an educator. She was a reading and study skills counselor at UCLA. My dad was a shoe leather salesman. I grew up in Los Angeles and in Hollywood there was a bookstore my parents would take me to on Friday nights. They would leave me in the children’s section and there was something about the smell of the books and the feel of the paper that made me feel like I would fall into a different world every time I opened a book. At the end of the evening they would let me choose a book to take home. My parents read a lot and there were always books in the house. I took for granted growing up in a house full of books. My mom didn’t believe in coloring books but would give me blank books that I could fill out myself.

CW: Everyone knows your amazing book Beautiful Oops. Tell us about the difference it’s made with educators.

Barney: I get more letters talking about how the perfectionists in the world loosen up and will go proudly up to a teacher and say, ‘look, I made a beautiful oops.’ To take the sting out of [making mistakes] has been really marvelous and to see how it’s impacted kids. (AND adults!)

CW: Tell us about your new book, A Little Bit of Oomph. How did you get started?

Barney: It changed dramatically from what I started with to what I ended up with. When I talk to children, one thing I will do is show them 2 + 2 and explain that if this was art, 2 + 2 could equal banana. I play with things and push them to see where they can go.  While working on 2+2, and seeing what effort goes in to working on concepts, I realized I am always adding a little extra oomph in to everything I do, and ultimately the book changed to, A Little Bit of Oomph!

CW: Oomph is very typographical and full of interactive pop-ups and creative paper work. What inspired you to create that way?

Barney: I learned about a style of what I refer to as  “thinking with your hands.” I am a different type of learner. I could not have written Oops and Oomph on paper. I had to sit in a room with things and start tearing and painting and folding. That triggers a different part of the brain and a different part of the thinking and problem solving process. I’m married to a lawyer and she always said, ‘how do you write something if you don’t know how it will end?’ I have to start and see how it will happen. Things unfolded literally and figuratively as I was working. I see things like faces in regular patterns like numbers and textures, so it was sort of just an extension of the way my brain works.

CW: Talk to us about the art medium you used in A Little Bit of Oomph.

Barney: I used acrylic paint [and it] is really forgiving, which I love. With acrylic paint you can paint on top of paint and scrape away and smear and it dries really fast.  I wanted Oops to be messy and acrylic paint seemed to be the perfect medium. I just finished a book Friday where I painted on paper towels to create a texture for a dragon. I was cleaning my brushes on the towel and realized, “that looks like scales!”

CW: We know that Oops is all about the freedom to make mistakes. What is the takeaway lesson in A Little Bit of Oomph?

Barney: Nowadays everything is so immediate – you take a picture and kids want to see the back of your phone right away – the idea that you work on something a little extra is sort of being lost in a lot of things and I wanted to plant that seed that it’s ok to spend a little more time doing something. And I always say to kids, most of us tried to walk and we fell over. If we hadn’t put time into learning something new, we would still be crawling!


Barney Saltzberg is the author and illustrator of close to 50 books for children, including Beautiful Oops!, Arlo Needs Glasses, Andrew Drew and Drew, and the bestselling Touch and Feel Kisses series with over one million copies in print. Additionally, he’s recorded four albums of music for children.

Learn more about Barney Saltzberg at

Learn more about how Oops is encouraging creativity and making a difference in classrooms around the country here!

Buy A Little Bit of Oomph here!

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Happy Birthday America: 4th of July Activities for Children

Happy Birthday America

July 4th is a wonderful time for togetherness, fun, and remembrance! Here are some great ways to celebrate the holiday with young children:

1. Just the Facts

Download the Free App United States Quizzle or use a search engine to learn together some of the basic facts about Independence Day!

2. Community Fun

Use or check out community boards to find free, fun, or philanthropic patriotic activities in your area.

3. Read All About It

Spend some time with your noses in a book: read “Duck for President” by Doreen Cronin or visit the library to check out local newspapers or magazines that feature patriotic events in your town’s history.
4. Get Crafty

Paint fireworks with paint and a bristle brush or dye rice and glue it onto paper in a firework burst pattern (as shown)!

dyed rice


5. Chop It Up!

Invite your children into the food prep process sans heat by letting them use stainless steel veggie cutters to make fun shapes out of melons, peaches, cucumbers, and more!


veggie cutters

6. Make a Splash

Enjoy a child-friendly version of “paint ball” by soaking wet sponges in buckets of colored water (food coloring or liquid watercolors work – just be sure to wear clothes you don’t mind getting stained!). Divide into Team Red and Team Blue and have a blast!


7. Enjoy Traditions

Whether it’s grilling out, seeing fireworks, taking a boat ride, or playing horseshoes… enjoy good, free, family fun on this day of celebration!


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Summer Safety: Beat the Heat!

The sun is shining… and it is hot!

water play

As you have family fun in the sun this summer, temperatures can soar, escalating the risk of dehydration or fatigue. Here are some #lifehacks we’ve found for beating the heat when you’re out and about with young ones!

frozen-food1. Pack Smart Snacks!

We know that you are packing healthy snacks. When you are packing up the night before a warm day out, think about packing for the heat, too! Frozen fruit, or food that begins the day frozen and can thaw to remain cool, are great ways to provide your young one (and you!) with a great treat midday! Watermelon, berries, peas, steamed carrots, and corn are great choices for frozen, portioned treats.

2. Drink Up!bpa free bottles

Everyone knows that taking water everywhere you go is a must to beat the heat! Research and use BPA-free water bottles. Especially in high heat, you don’t want any container that can leak toxins or unwanted elements into your little one’s drink! Follow the recommended water intake from the AAP (keeping in mind that your child will also get water from fruit and other foods):

ounces daily3. Take a Break in the Shade!Dream-Baby-Stroller-Fan--pTRU1-8592127dt

It may go without saying or it may be a valid reminder: find shade! Temperatures recorded by The Weather Channel and other mainstream weather services record official temperatures in the shade. This means that even a day predicted to be very hot may feel much hotter in direct sunlight. Find shade and rest at regular intervals. Use a (foam) stroller fan or thick paper, like a park map, to fan yourself and your little one as you take a break.

ice-cubes-in-baggie 4. Chill Out

Your blood may not actually be boiling, but did you know that when the air around you is as warm as you are, your sweat does not evaporate as efficiently? This means that your sweat may not actually be as effective at cooling you off, putting you at risk for heat related sickness. Pack ziploc baggies full of ice that can melt into cool water. Regularly dab some of this cool water on your little one’s temples and wrists, where the skin is very thin, and at strategic pressure points. The water will evaporate, functioning like sweat, and help their bodies cool more efficiently!

Summer is an awesome time of fun… you don’t want to miss a single second or suffer the heat. We hope you beat the heat and have a blast!

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Splish Splash: We Learned All About Water!

We love kicking off the summer with some wet and wild water inquiry! Our Preschool Readiness Students, LaunchPad, blasted off into H20 Extreme while our Kindergarten Readiness Students, JumpStart, bounced through All About Water! Let’s just say it was a fun-soaked start to the summer as we explored weather, water systems, the physical properties of water, painted with water, and more!

Here are some ways our schools inspired students to ask some great questions and follow their inquiry to explore the world around them!

meterologist We always introduce an Inquiry with Field Studies. It’s important for young learners to see real-world examples and be inspired to observe the phenomena of our inquiry topic so they can be prompted to ask thoughtful questions that will drive our explorations for the month. At CWS Estero, they had a visit from a local Meterologist to discuss weather patterns! This inspired them to explore the weather and the water systems all around them in SW FL throughout the month… and they learned some amazing things!


After Field Studies, we use webs, charts, and take notes about what kinds of questions the children have so we can set a trajectory for our exploration! What do we want to know about water? What are the children curious about? At CWS Noland Road in MO, our little scientists were interested in measuring rainfall and using tools. They used giant droppers to experience filling and emptying rainfall measurement containers. These containers were set outside and they used their number recognition, measuring, and comparison skills to quantify the rainfall results!

water drop

To extend their inquiry on droplets of water (what’s in a drop of water? What do water drops look like? What patterns do water drops make?), CWS Rivercrest enjoyed a multi-sensory art experience with whipped cream and liquid watercolors! What does a stream of blue water look like on top of the puffy cream? They used their fine motor skills and pipettes as the tools to create this artistic experience!


Real world experiences throughout the course of the inquiry are vital for young children! We want their questions to be answered and help affirm the properties of nature and physical science, as well as reinforcing their logic and critical thinking skills. Many classes explored the kinds of animals that live in water as an extension of their All About Water inquiry! What kinds of animals grow and thrive in water? What kinds of animals live in or around water? Do all animals need water to survive… and how do they use it? From the life cycle of frogs to humans, creatures of every shape and size use and helped us understand how vital water is!

spongesAnd of course we never forget our youngest learners… infant inquirers at CWS Aurora in IL experienced how a sponge can hold and dispense water in their classroom sensory play experience!

We had a blast nurturing young minds this month and learning all about the world around us! Find a Creative World School near you at to get in on our inquiry next month: we’re BUZZing into Bugtopia and Buggin’ Out in our Insect Inquiries for all ages!

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How Much Screen Time Should Your Child Have This Summer?

rsz_a-little-girl-watching-tv-007Every parent feels the pull, especially with the long days of summer before us, to indulge our children in longer sessions of screen time.

So, what does the research say? Are there guidelines available to help you employ best practices for letting your child have screen time?

The National Association for the Education of Young Children has launched significant research to assess the impact and best use for screen time for young children:

“Researchers are coming to agree:  How parents approach media matters. . . .By synthesizing the studies on children’s health, learning, and media interactions, I’ve concluded that we as parents could do the most good for our children by focusing on the three C’s—content, context, and the individual child.”*

In other words, thoughtful screen time is key!


Hear what the experts have to say and consider establishing some of these guidelines in your house standards for screen time!

1. Screen Free Zones

“The AAP recommends that parents establish ‘screen-free’ zones at home by making sure there are no televisions, computers or video games in children’s bedrooms, and by turning off the TV during dinner. Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content. It is important for kids to spend time on outdoor play, reading, hobbies, and using their imaginations in free play.”**

2. The Family That Plays Together…

“Parents from across the economic spectrum need to understand that it is their presence and their attention that enrich their children and that one-on-one play is a time-tested, effective way of being fully present.” Invest in “simple, inexpensive toys, such as dolls, jump ropes, blocks, balls, and buckets, [as they are] more effective in allowing children to be creative and imaginative than more expensive toys, which can make play a more passive and less physically involved experience.”***

3. Transform Screen Time

The Mayo Clinic offers these four ways to make the most of screen time:

  • Plan what your child views. Instead of flipping through channels, seek quality videos or programming. Consider using parental control settings on your TV and computers. Preview video games and smartphone applications before allowing your child to play with them.

  • Watch with your child. Whenever possible, watch programs together — and talk about what you see, such as family values, violence or drug abuse. If you see a junk food ad, explain that just because it’s on TV doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

  • Record programs and watch them later. This will allow you to fast-forward through commercials selling toys, junk food and other products. When watching live programs, use the mute button during commercials.

  • Encourage active screen time. Have your child stretch or do yoga while watching a show. Challenge your family to see who can do the most jumping jacks during a commercial break. Choose video games that encourage physical activity.****

African family watching television

So make your blanket forts, pop your popcorn, setup your video game tournament, and compete on your favorite apps… as long as you are thoughtful, intentional, and restrained your media usage, it is a great tool for togetherness!





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Happy Father’s Day!

This Father’s Day, we are so grateful for all of the dads, grandads, uncles, brothers, (single moms!), and men who are our fathers! Thanks for working so hard to make our lives fun, safe, and an every day adventure!

“In the baby lies the
future of the world.
Mother must hold the baby close
so that the baby knows it is his
world but the father must take him to
the highest hill so that he can see
what his world is like.”

– Mayan Indian Proverb


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Summer Fun: Sun Protection!

Summer is full of bright, wet, and wild fun!

As the sweet, hazy, lazy days come and go, be sure you are prepared to celebrate, explore, and enjoy every moment safely!

Here are some of our top picks to be ready for Summer days in the sun!

sunscreen-applied-on-child-3660221. Sunscreen

It goes without saying that you should slather on the sunscreen every time you head outdoors. But what kind of sunscreen is best?

“Many people believe that sunscreen labeled for kids and babies is a special formula, is “safer” than other sunscreen, or that it’s regulated by the government, according to a recent survey of 1,000 adults in the U.S. by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. The fact is that the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t make a distinction between kids sunscreen and other types, nor does it hold sunscreen to a higher safety standard for children.”* Additionally, the FDA does not recommend spray sunscreen for children!

The most important thing is to purchase a sunscreen with zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide (opting for minerals over chemicals) and spread it on early and often!

2. UPF Clothes

So Many Kids - Having Fun Wearing Snapper Rock!

One of the best ways to protect your skin is to cover it! But the kind of fabric you use may make all of the difference.

The National Skin Cancer Foundation explains what trendy “UPF” labeling on clothes means:

“UPF, a concept originally standardized in Australia in 1996, stands for ultraviolet protection factor, which quantifies how effectively a piece of clothing shields against the sun. The label means the fabric has been tested in a laboratory and consumers can be confident about the listed level of protection. It is based on the content, weight, color, and construction of the fabric, and indicates how much UV can penetrate the fabric. For instance, a shirt with a UPF of 50 allows just 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation to reach your skin.”**

So, long-sleeve sun shirts, pants, and hats are worth the investment in terms of skin protection for your little one!

shutterstock_584237473. After Sun Care

In spite of your best efforts, your child will get increased sun exposure this summer. So, how can you treat or care for sun damaged skin?

There are a multitude of products designed to soothe sunburned skin. Forego pricey labels and chemicals in lieu of good old Aloe Vera. If you don’t have an aloe plant, find the purest aloe gel you can and use it to soothe your little one’s skin!

Follow our Creative World School blog for more Summer Safety tips all summer long!



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5 Child-Made Father’s Day Gift Ideas!

This weekend we celebrate dads, grandads, stepdads, and every other kind of dad in your life!

As you consider what to buy, remember that timeless gifts are handmade and full of memories. At Creative World Schools, we always try to focus on empowering a child to create their own vision without supplying templated or pre-made materials. Children’s creativity will amaze you when you give them open-ended opportunities to express themselves!

Here are some of our favorite ideas for Father’s Day Gifts:

sharpie mug1. Scribble Mug

Every sweet scribble can be captured for daily use with this free-style art project! Buy a plain, white ceramic mug and painter’s pens. Let younger children scribble freely. Older children can place stickers on the mug first, color, and then remove the stickers to reveal the negative image. Be sure to write the date on the bottom so he can remember this special Father’s Day for years to come!

2. Tile Coasters2005_l

Purchase plain, flat tiles in the size you want your coasters to be. Print pictures that fit on top of the tiles. Cover the tile with a thin layer of Mod Podge, place the picture down flat, and cover with a layer of Mod Podge on top. Small felt pads glued to the bottom of the tile will protect your surfaces from scratches and ensure that Dad can use these coasters in every room of the house!

dad-rockcraftforkids3. Dad Rocks Paperweight

Remember, keeping your projects age-appropriate and child-centered means that you can reminisce for years to come about this specific stage of your child’s development… and have projects that reflect their abilities and feelings! Very young children can paint rocks with acrylic paint. You can add the date or a small message but preserve the beauty of their art!

4. Homemade Notepadpad-for-dad-fathers-day-craft-photo-260-FF0609EFA03

Older children will love reinforcing their emerging literacy skills by creating a Father’s Day Notepad. Select, fold, and secure a small stack of paper together with staples or holes and string. Cover with butcher paper or other paper and use newsprint to cut letters or shapes out to decorate your cover. Encourage your child to write a special note on the first page and sign their creation!

5aa020a3d06e8a3e7ad0ac5e1a0554699. Have some fun in the kitchen experimenting, measuring, pouring, and stirring! Create a spice rub for Dad’s favorite meat or veggies by combining 1 T each of cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin. Add 1 t each of black pepper, salt, and coriander and stir the mixture! Preserve your spice rub and present it to Dad in a miniature mason jar.

Happy Father’s Day!

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How to Take Great Pics of Your Children This Summer!

You’re on family vacation; your littles are playing in the surf of the ocean. They find a shell and come running up to you… the light is perfect and their face is alight with wonder and you want to remember it forever! You fumble in your bag, trying to pry your cellphone out of that annoyingly small pocket in your tote, wake the phone up and tap on the camera… but it’s too bright to see and you end up snapping a random pic of what looks like half your foot and the edge of the beach towel. gus and mommyWant to avoid missing moments or just quickly master the art of sweet family photos? Read on.

I walk around our Creative World Schools many days, camera in hand, spying out the perfect cute moments. And there are so many! But I didn’t capture nearly as many as I wanted until I learned a few things about how to take pictures of children.

1. Plan ahead.

There is a balance between enjoying and capturing a moment. As you plan your vacation days, reflect on the opportunities that may be great for picture taking (early morning light at the beach) and which may just frustrate everyone (right before lunch as you wait in line to see Mickey).

ashley2. Prep your gear.

Whether you’re snapping with an iPhone or Canon, you need to know the basic settings that will serve you best. Know how to quickly switch to HDR, turn your flash on or off, and set your camera to take multiple successive images.

beach sun

3. Don’t be a stingy shooter.

Remember the days of being grouped for a family photo and everyone passing the photog their cameras: “oh, get one with mine!” This is never necessary anymore. Let me say it again: it is all digital, people. Children move fast… take 50 pictures of your daughter running to you with a shell… one of them will be perfect!

kathryn swing4. Learn to notice light.

Yes, you are squinting into your screen to see if you’re taking a good picture on the beach. But light is your friend. Pay attention to time of day, how tree leaves speckle everyone’s skin with shadows, or if a room is dim. Find a window, step outside, or turn on more lights.

Gus bubbles

5. Pretend you’re a professional.

Think beyond #Instagram filters… think three letters: RGB. Download a free trial of photoshop and adjust the RGB levels on your pictures. Thank me later.

I hope you catch every precious moment of your wonderful family summer… happy snapping!

 chad kari

About the Author: Joy Youell works in Curriculum Development at CW Studio, the In-House Design Division of Creative World School. She has taken approximately 14,000 pictures of her 10 month old son.

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