Am I Helping My Baby’s Brain?

Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child specializes in research from the ages of 0-3. One of their key areas of studies is Serve and Return interactions. When a child cries out, babbles, or otherwise engages another person, the way in which they are responded to can set the trajectory for their personality and understanding. So, does this mean if you don’t immediately respond in the correct way to your whimpering child that you’ve damaged them for life? Thankfully, no. There are some interesting dynamics to consider, though.

Richmond, Virginia, USA --- Hispanic family with baby in park --- Image by © John Henley/Blend Images/Corbis

Here are some key questions the researches at Harvard answer:

Q: Will occasional lapses in attention from adults harm a child’s development?

A: Probably not. If diminished attention occurs on an intermittent basis in an otherwise loving and responsive environment, there is no need for concern. Indeed, some developmental scientists suggest that variations in adult responsiveness present growth-promoting challenges that may help young children recognize the distinction between “self” and “other,” which is a necessary next step for moving toward greater independence and increasing capacity for self-care and problem-solving.

Q: Are educational toys and multimedia products useful in building healthy brain architecture in young children? 

A: The most important influence on early brain development is the real-life serve and return interaction with caring adults. There are no credible scientific data to support the claim that specialized videos or particular music recordings have a measurable impact on developing brain architecture in the first 2 to 3 years of life. Although a varied array of experiences clearly stimulates learning in the preschool years and beyond, promotional statements about the superior brain-building impacts of expensive “educational” toys and videos for infants and toddlers have no scientific support

In short, human interaction is vastly more effective and meaningful than having the right toys or tools to promote thinking.

Mixed race mother kissing baby boy --- Image by © KidStock/Blend Images/Corbis

“The quality of a child’s early environment and the availability of appropriate experiences at the right stages of development are crucial in determining the strength or weakness of the brain’s architecture, which, in turn, determines how well he or she will be able to think and to regulate emotions.”*

Baby girl (6-11 months) holding mother's finger and try to walk --- Image by © Christine Schneider/Corbis

Keeping in the loop with best practices for your child, including Early Education standards and assessments, can go a long way in facilitating their development! Contact a Creative World School near you for access to expert teachers who can coach you through proper development in the early years!

*National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2007). The Timing and Quality of Early Experiences Combine to Shape Brain Architecture: Working Paper No. 5. Retrieved from

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We’re So Glad You’re Back!

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CWS Countryside Got Ooey Gooey!

Creative World Schools are equipped with an incredible World of Wonder! Our Exploratorium is an expansive space where children ages 3 and up come to investigate and explore a unique inquiry with amazing tools, loose parts, and inventive teachers! Our Exploratorium teachers are facilitators of some of the wackiest, outside-the-box discoveries. At CWS Countryside in Blue Springs, MO, their Exploratorium teacher Ms. Amanda made the most of their Ooey Gooey explorations this month! Check out some of her amazing ideas.

Countryside ooey gooey 1

Measuring and mixing up an Ooey Gooey potion!

Countryside ooey gooey 3

Invitation to Explore: what does this sticky, gooey, colorful tray of slime feel like?

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Upturned contact paper makes for a sticky situation… as we walk on our hands!

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Experiencing a classic gooey, doughy trick: silly putty on newsprint.

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Matching our ooey gooey, sticky, doughy, slimy, spongey concoctions to the correct descriptive word!

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CRAZY slimy pasta fun!

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Comparing and contrasting cause and effect in our sensory bottles! Which substances fizz, float, separate, or emulsify?

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Don’t stand to close to the sticky wall! We had a blast gripping and sticking all kinds of objects to our sticky wall.

It was a blast exploring all of the science behind Ooey Gooey fun!

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Make your own Schultüte: a Back to School Cone!

German children receive a Schultüte, or a Back to School Cone full of treats! We love this tradition and using a simple gift to make the First Day of School extra special.

This little gift is a tradition dating back to the early 1800’s and is simply a decorated paper cone full of candy, trinkets, small toys, or school supplies. Use this handy guide to build your own schultüte!

You Will Need:

  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers or stickers
  • Tissue paper
  • Small toys or treats

cone 1

Cut a fan shape out of your paper.

cone 2

Spread glue on one side.

cone 3

Fold the cone and press firmly until glue sets.

You can make the cone as big or small as you like. Fill the cone with candy, toys, notes, or school supplies. When it is full, glue or staple tissue paper, tinsel, or ribbons to the mouth for a festive decoration!


Don’t have time? You can build your own schultüte and purchase online.

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Happy Back to School!

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Take an Awesome First Day of School Picture!

You want to remember these precious moments forever… the moment when your littles take that first big step to go to school, preschool, or even childcare for the first time. Capturing those first moments when they are packed up and heading off will make for a lifelong memory! Here are some of our favorite, creative ideas for getting a great First Day of School shot!

back to school pic 71. Printables

Printables are all the rage for quick, cute pics! Go simple with single page printouts (like these) or fancy with cardstock, foam, or wood letters glued to a frame! The pic above has a chalkboard star so you can reuse the photo for “100th day” or “Last Day” as well!

back to school pic 62. Photo Booth Style

Photo booths are all the rage. Use a colorful backdrop and let your little one ham it up with callout props, silly glasses, and more! This will be a fun and funny way to remember the day.

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3. Large-Scale Chalk Drawings

Go graphic with a large-scale drawing or caption for your big kid’s pics! Fill in stats and/or use a ruler to remember just how grown up your little one was on their first day of school!

back to school pic 3

4. Chalkboard Prop

Use a chalkboard prop to create a custom message! You can take a variety of funny, sweet, silly, and nostalgic pics to remember these wonderful moments. Find inexpensive chalkboard pieces online.

back to school pic

5. Stat Style

We love the idea of detailing a child’s individual ideas, preferences, and style on a printable, piece of paper, or chalkboard prop. Some memorable info to record would be grade, age, “what I want to be when I grow up”, “my favorite…”, school name, teacher’s name, date, and quotables!

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6. Tradition Shots

Whether it’s a “Class of…” t-shirt, a specific pose, or a prop, taking the same pic on the “First Day of School” each year over the course of several years can be a precious tradition. You’ll love looking back each year on how much your child has changed and developed!

back to school pic photo booth

Whatever your style, we’re wishing all of our families a happy happy happy First Day of School!

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How to Prepare Your Preschooler for School!

Going to full or even half day Preschool can be a big leap for 3 and 4 year olds! The experts at Creative World School have some ideas for how to ease the transition and launch into Preschool with positivity and excitement!

20 Nov 2013 --- Hispanic mother taking picture of daughter ready for school --- Image by © JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Corbis

What new routines should my preschooler be prepared for?

A: Plan what your routine will be at drop off.  Be sure to tell your child that you are leaving and give hugs and kisses.  Sometimes children like to wave out the window or give extra hugs at departure. Your attitude will largely influence your young learner! If you are upset or nervous, they will feel that tension. Be excited, positive, and explore the new space together briefly before leaving.

What kind of classroom rules will my preschooler be expected to learn?

A: Sharing with others, taking turns, hands to themselves, and above all have fun!  If it is your child’s first time in a structured school setting, ask the teacher in advance what skills are helpful for a cooperative and peaceful classroom environment. The best way to help your preschooler acclimate to new behaviors or restrictions is to play school at home! Make raising your hand, getting in line, and sharing a fun Dramatic Play activity.

How do I help my preschooler like their new teacher?

05 Feb 2008, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia --- A mother kisses a boy goodbye on his first day of school. --- Image by © Jason Edwards/National Geographic Creative/Corbis

A: By attending open house events and meet the teacher night you can ensure that your child’s teacher is a familiar person. Talking positively about their new school and new teacher during routines at home or in the car you can help your preschooler see their teacher as a friend and ease the transition.

Will my preschooler make friends?

A: Children naturally gravitate towards each other.  Encouraging your child to explore the classroom and find an area they would like to play in will allow children with common interests to get to know each other. In case your child is nervous, they are often given a “buddy” for the day to help ease anxieties.

Mother Holding Son's Hand --- Image by © Blue Jean Images/Corbis

How do I communicate what I want my preschooler to learn with the teacher or director?

A: You can request a parent meeting, have a discussion at orientation or  make a plan with the teacher to call and speak with her at a specific time. Any quality school will have transparency and a willingness to hear your ideas and accommodate your child’s personality. Be open about your child’s habits, preferences, and needs and a great staff will go above and beyond to meet those!

What will be expected of my preschooler in school?

A: Great schools want your child to have a lifelong love of learning.  They will nurture your child’s curiosity.  Your child will learn through exploration and investigation. Children do not have to come into preschool with any knowledge or abilities. More important than drilling ABC’s is empowering your child with a great self-esteem and allowing their natural inquisitiveness to drive their learning preferences. Early learning is all about play and free exploration. Any school that puts pressure on early learners is to be avoided. Find a school that gives your child the freedom to learn and grow as they choose their own learning stations and investigate their own ideas.

What if my preschooler is nervous?

Teacher and girl (4-5) playing --- Image by © Tim Hale Photography/Corbis

A: This is a big adjustment in children’s lives and can make children excited and nervous at the same time.  Reassure your child that he/she will be picked up at a specific time. Be sure to look at the daily schedule so that you can  give  specific time frames that a child can understand.  Example:  ” I will pick you up after nap time.”  Or ” I will pick you up during your afternoon outside time.”

DSC_0698Guest blogger Rennaye Hedges is a Quality Support Coach for Creative World School in Florida. She is an awesome advocate for early learning and empowering leaders.

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Upside Down… Get Fresh Perspective!

There’s nothing like the creativity, ingenuity, and wackiness of a young child. We love the idea of exploring new ways to see the world… viewing what is familiar with fresh eyes. Sometimes borrowing the perspective of a child is just the way to do it! Children have no problem thinking outside the box or imagining new ways to experience the world around them.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

coloring upside down fishhawk

Coloring upside down at CWS Fishhawk! We taped paper to the bottom of tables and experienced what it was like to create from below. We loved the results!


Sometimes removing one sense changes everything! How do you perceive things without your eyes to help you?

baby paint

Think we’re too young to paint? Spread paint on paper in the bottom of a bouncer and see just how masterful your baby can be!

We love facilitating a twisty, mixed-up, turned over world of endless exploration!

loony goony small

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The Maker Movement: Empowering Preschool Engineers

Many of us remember Pete Kaser, the Preschool teacher in Ohio who took all of his student’s toys away.

DSC_0623Now, this would typically be a bad move and result in a lot of grumpy kiddos, but Kaser was onto something as he replaced a room full of toys with boxes, egg cartons, and raw materials. The results were amazing. When toys with “preassigned value” were removed, children’s imaginations were unleashed to create wonderful and unique play experiences.DSC_0620

The Maker Movement began as a catch-all description of Independent Inventors, Tinkerers, Designers, and Artisans. It conjured up images of out-of-the-box thinkers and creative types. As it has evolved, it has seeped into education as a highly valuable approach to facilitating learning through play.

“When kids play and make things,” responded Steve Davee with the Maker Education Initiative, “when they are put in charge of what they build and make, wonderful things happen: personalities, relationships and abilities are forged. I never get tired of seeing it.”

ExploratoriumAt Creative World Schools, we are passionate about cultivating independent learners by creating inspiring and open-ended experiences for children. Our Exploratorium, a space designed for this kind of play, is full of materials and stations that take the lid off of what children can know or do. It is a forum for truly free exploration. Children know how to learn… they just need to be inspired to do it! So, we let them tinker and invent and re-imagine new possibilities. We never get tired of seeing their discoveries, either.

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Away We Go! Transportation Book List

This month we are revving up and vrooming into an exploration of Transportation! In our Away We Go Inquiry, we love finding the greatest classic and new Transportation themed books for all of our classrooms. Here are our top picks!

cars galore


Bugs That Go!  by David Carter

Cars by Robert Green

Cars At Play by Rick Walton

Cars Galore by Peter Stein

Cars, Trucks, and Planes by Gladys Rosa Mendoza

Cool Cars and Trucks by Sean Kenney

Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen

Red, Stop! Green, Go! by P.D. Eastman

Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry

Stop! Go! By Brian Briggs

Fill it Up! by Gail Gibbons

Things That Go by Sarah Kappely


Two Year Olds:

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo by Kevin Lewis

Freight Train by Donald Crews

Inside Freight Train by Donald Crews

James and the Balloons by Christopher Awdky

The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter

Terrific Trains by Tony Mitton

Train Song by Harriet Ziefert

Trains by Anne Rockwell

Two Little Trains by Margaret Wise Brown

the last train


A Train Goes Clickety Clack by Jonathan London

A True Book of Trains by Darlene Stille

All Aboard! by Susan Kuklin

All Aboard: Berenstain Bears by Jan and Mike Berenstain

America’s Railroads by Lynn Stone

Chugga –Chugga Choo-Choo by Kevin Lewis

Diesel Locomotives by Lynn Stone

Engine, Engine Number Nine by Stephanie Calmenson

Freight Train by Donald Crews

Freight Trains by Lynn Stone

Freight Yards by Lynn Stone

The Goodnight Train by June Sobel

I Love Trains! by Philemon Sturges

Inside Freight Train by Donald Crews

James and the Balloons by Christopher Awdky

The Last Train by Gordon Titcomb

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter

The Little Train by Lois Lenski

My Little Train by Satomi Ichikawa

Passenger Trains by Lynn Stone

Steam Locomotives by Lynn Stone

Steam Train, Dream Train by Shem Duskey Rinker

Terrific Trains by Tony Mitton

Train by Anne Lewis

The Train by David McPhail

Train Song by Harriet Ziefert

Train Whistles by Helen Roney Sattler

Trains by Gail Gibbons

Trains by Patricia Hubbell

Trains by Anne Rockwell

Trainstop by Barbara Lehman

Two Little Trains Margaret Wise Brown

car wash


The Adventures of Taxi Dog by Debra and Sal Barraca

Alphabee!: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson

The Berenstain Bears and the Big Road Race by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Bernie Drives A Truck by D. Radford

Bumper to Bumper by Jakki Wood

Car Wash by Sandra Steen

The Car Trip by H. Oxenbury

Cargo Machines and What They Do by Derek Radford

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry

Cars by Anne Rockwell

Cars: Rushing! Honking! Zooming! by Patricia Hubbell

Cool Cars by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker

Crashed, Smashed, and Mashed by Joyce Slayton Mitchell

Everything I Know About Cars by Tom Lichtenheld

Five Little Monkeys Wash the Car by Eileen Christelow

How Many Trucks Can A by C. Pomerantz

I Didn’t Know That Cars Can Swim by William Petty

If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen

In the Driver’s Seat by Max Haynes

Land Transportation by S. Blackman

The Little Black Truck  by Libba Moore

Mr. Gumpy’s Motor Car by John Burningham

My Car by Byron Barton

My Race Car by Michael Rex

My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis

Race Car (Why Things Don’t Work) by David West

Racer Dogs by Bob Kolar

Rattletrap Car by Phyllis Root

Sputter, Sputter, Sput! by Babs Bell

Start Your Engines: A Countdown Book by Mark Todd

This is the Way We Go To School  by Edith Baer

Toad on the Road by Susan Schade

Truck Song by Diane Siebert

Trucks by Byron Barton

Vroom! Vroom! by Steve Augarde

Vroomaloom Zoom by John Coy

Wheels on the Race Car by Alex Zane

Who is Driving? by Leo Timmers

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