Away We Go Fun… Learning All About Things That Move!

All Creative World Schools are having a blast celebrating Away We Go this month. Check out some of the amazing ways our young learners are exploring:


Several of our schools have hosted Trike-a-Thons to raise money for back-to-school supplies.


Let’s talk tickets: bus tickets, train tickets, plane tickets… what do they look like and what can we learn?


Our three year old classes took field trips… to the parking lot! Let’s climb on the bus!


Our creative toddler teachers put tape on the ground and invited children to drive their trucks along the wavy, zig-zag, or curvy “roads”


Let’s look at all of the different kinds of cars in our parking lots!


Our schools in Illinois enjoyed some creative contests to make vehicles out of recyclables.

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Pop the hood and take a peek… what do you see?

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We journaled, scribbled, and drew as we observed.

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What are rear view mirrors for? We talked all about driving and safety!

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Our littlest learners read all kinds of books and made fun noises!

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Let’s make a train… together!

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More trike-a-thon fun with homemade backpacks to keep our notes as we explore.

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Away We Go! Transportation Book List

Creative World School

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…

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Happy First Day of VPK to our FL Schools!

VPK is Florida’s tuition-free Preschool/PreK program. Schools – like ours! – receive subsidies that translate into a free Early Education experience for young children.

According to an independent study by the Education Commission of the States*, spending on publicly funded preschool increased to a total of $7 billion in 2015-16 (a 12% increase).


Translation? People are getting the message that an investment in Early Education pays off!

  • Funding preschool is a financially sound investment for our society.

Available benefit-cost estimates based on older, intensive interventions, such as the Perry Preschool Program, as well as contemporary, large-scale public preschool programs, such as the Chicago Child-Parent Centers and Tulsa’s preschool program, range from three to seven dollars saved for every dollar spent.**

  • Children who experience preschool enter grade school advanced up to a full academic year beyond their peers.

A recent analysis integrating evaluations of 84 preschool programs concluded that, on average, children gain about a third of a year of additional learning across language, reading, and math skills. At-scale preschool systems in Tulsa and Boston have produced larger gains of between a half and a full year of additional learning in reading and math.**

  • Children who begin their learning journey earlier are statistically poised for success… and play a positive role in society.

…evidence from long-term evaluations of both small-scale, intensive interventions and Head Start suggest that there are long-term effects on important societal outcomes such as high-school graduation, years of education completed, earnings, and reduced crime and teen pregnancy.**

Find the RIGHT program to set your child up for success!


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Milestones and Traditions: Building Memories

Back to School can be a fist-pumping AND teary-eyed time as we celebrate our children’s growth. It’s always exciting to look at how far our little ones (and not so little ones!) have come… and the new learning journeys they’re going into at the start of a fresh school year.



Pinterest has a million of them – your child holds a chalkboard or piece of paper labeled with their age, grade, likes/dislikes, dreams, and more! A cute way to capture the “going to school” moment each year.


Interviewing your young child as they enter preschool, prek, kindergarten, and so on will create an incredible memory to look back on… and they’ll love remembering, too! The key is to immediately store these treasures in the same folder so they don’t get lost in all of your other media.


Whether it’s a special family breakfast, packing a special lunch with notes, everyone going to school together for first day drop-off, a special hair clip or pair of socks, ice cream after school, finding a way to incorporate a shared experience can be very comforting for a child who’s embarking on something new!

Most importantly, what does YOUR child want and need to make them feel excited and eager the first day of back to school? Talk to them and find out!

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#TheAhaMoments… some inspiration!

We are loving #TheAhaMoments our teachers are sharing this month! As Back to School gears up, it’s so awesome to be inspired by their perspective and passion for young learners.

Here are some of their sweet, funny, and inspiring moments…

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Approaches to Early Education: Montessori, Reggio, Inquiry…?

There are a few approaches to Early Education that have been around long enough and are popular enough to be familiar to us as parents. When someone says “Montessori,” images of neat trays with wooden blocks spring to mind. Parents who are “in the know” often want to know, from us, where does Creative World fall among these common approaches?


Here are some basic distinctions:


Montessori education began in the late 1800’s with Dr. Maria Montessori. Many of its philosophies and practices are great and encourage independent learning and investigation at a child’s own pace. “Freedom within limits” is a catchphrase you may hear associated with this style of education and it was a revolutionary departure from formal practices.

THE DISTINCTION – we would distinguish ourselves from Montessori in a few ways, perhaps most starkly in that Montessori schools provide children with a prepared environment. This means, while their activities and experiences may be fairly open-ended, the framework within which they have these experiences is meticulously cultivated and maintained. In contrast, we believe young children learn best in an inspiring, open environment where they can re-arrange, re-imagine, and re-purpose the use of the materials and objects around them.


The Reggio Emilia approach was developed after World War II. It purports a child’s active participation in learning through hands-on activities. This is all great and has proven highly effective! The Reggio approach also focuses on collaboration and community involvement, as well as the importance of documentation. Philosophically, this approach is inspiring and powerful. 

THE DISTINCTION – the real challenge in its execution is in the individual teachers’ ability to facilitate authentic learning experiences with so few guidelines or little direction. To digress this significantly from traditional learning environments can be a huge stretch for many educators and allow for some challenges in the classroom.Creative World School, while wholeheartedly endorsing and supporting the independent learning of children, also offers a systematic approach to each month’s inquiry, to empower teachers to do their best.

The Creative World School Difference: Inquiry-Based Learning that includes the 3 E’s = Education, Exploration, and Enrichment.

When Creative World School began educating young learners almost 50 years ago, our founder Ms. Billie McCabe gleaned the best from her extensive experience and the latest research to give birth to our unique educational approach. As her daughter, CEO and Early Education Expert, Dr. Marianne Whitehouse took the helm, our commitment to Inquiry Learning grew.

Our Educational Philosophy centers around the 3 E’s = Education, Exploration, and Enrichment.

  • We fully endorse play… as it’s meaningfully facilitated by expert educators.
  • We believe in a child’s independent learning journey… as it’s guided by an inspiring environment and ample resources for children to find the answers to their amazing questions.
  • We understand that children thrive on variety and monthly enrich their play and materials in the classroom with fresh and new invitations to explore.

Get in touch with a Creative World School near you to see this unique approach to learning in action!

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Better Than Toys: Loose Parts

A couple of years ago, when my nephew was about 2 and I had no children, my sister brought the little man to my toy-less house. I scrambled wondering how we’d entertain him for a few hours. Vaguely recalling some early development articles from school, I quickly assembled some random things. What I ended up grabbing was a large plastic veggie serving tray and filling the compartments with odds and ends: Cotton balls, giant buttons and beads, some crunchy leaves and sticks, paper scraps (I think they were receipts), bottle caps, and chopsticks. Turns out, I’m a genius: the baby happily explored each item and, with the addition of a couple of wide-mouthed plastic bottles to fill and empty, he was enthralled for a long time.

I had accidentally presented him with Loose Parts.

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According to researchers at Penn State, Loose Parts “is a wonderful term coined by architect Simon Nicholson, who carefully considered landscapes and environments that form connections. Nicholson believed that we are all creative and that ‘loose parts’ in an environment will empower our creativity. Many play experts and early childhood educators adapted the theory of loose parts.”*

At Creative World Schools, our approach to Early Education puts the child in charge of their own learning journey. This means that our daily activities are full of invitations (not mandates) to explore. Children are often presented with provocations: items, objects, an activity that is as open-ended and hands-on as possible. Ample research supports this approach in terms of encouraging and affirming a child’s creativity and problem-solving skills.

Loose Parts is something of a passion of ours at Creative World. We’ve built it into every single curriculum book and our master teachers brainstorm new items to offer the children during their monthly collaborations.

Penn State researchers further affirm: “Giving meaning to loose parts requires us to think about the possibilities of how a child learns and consider the materials and environments she uses. Loose parts create endless possibilities and invite creativity. For example, if a child picks up a rock and starts to play, most likely that rock can become anything the child wants it to be. Imagination, creativity, curiosity, desire, and need are the motivation of loose parts.”*

Visit our Loose Parts Pinterest board for some ideas on how to invite your own young child to a Loose Parts experience!




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Away We Go…. Transportation Explorations!

This month at Creative World Schools, we are on the GO GO GO as we rev up, choo-choo, and glide through an investigation of transportation.


This is an awesome inquiry theme that engages all of our young children for many reasons… in fact, it perfectly hits all of our qualifications for our young students to have an authentic learning experience:

  1. IT IS FAMILIAR – All young children rode a car (or maybe a bike!) to get to school… so it’s a very familiar concept.
  2. IT IS ACCESSIBLE – From off-campus learning with our older children to in-house experts and field experiences with our students of all ages, we can bring the cars, trains, trucks, and buses to them.
  3. IT IS COMPLEX – Transportation offers incredible possibilities! From the fundamentals of mechanics and “how things go?” to the social studies and environmental questions “where do we go? Who do we go with? What is it like?”, our students can put their thinking caps on and ask ALL kinds of questions to get their inquiry started.

In our inquiries, we follow the KWL: what do we KNOW, what do we WANT to know, and what did we LEARN? These three phases are a powerful structure to guide each class’s inquiry.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the fun activities we’ll be doing to kick-start our investigations… and ways you can park some of the fun at your own front door!

Using TODDLERS as an example, here’s where we start, with a WEB!

It’s best to begin with some slight suggestion, so that your class begins to focus on one “train” of thought (pun intended)…

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Our teachers will take this as a launching point and begin to introduce cars throughout the toddler day and talk about cars, sing about cars, and play with cars as they begin their journey of discovery!

Want to get in on the fun? If you are not yet enrolled, find the Creative World School near you!

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Buggin’ Out: Inquiry in Illinois

We’re wrapping up our month of Buggin’ Out, Insect Inquiries! We’ve taken wing and burrowed deep to investigate all of the amazing creatures that often hide out of sight. Bugs are an awesome topic for young children because they are familiar, easily accessible, miniature, colorful, social, and all-around amazing!

To illustrate some of the amazing learning that happened in our Creative World Schools this month, we want to put the spotlight on two of our awesome schools in Illinois: Creative World School Aurora and Creative World School Plainfield. They worked hard to make their Bug Inquiry developmentally appropriate across all ages, full of hands-on field experiences, visits from experts, and investigations into the math, science, literacy, and even social studies we can glean from observing bugs.


Black and yellow paint in a baggy = mess-free bee-inspired painting


“Insect” peek-a-boo with a green cloth


Count the ladybug spots! Teacher-made game


I’m wearing a bug hat! Dramatic play and costumes


Pictures of real bugs: what do you see?


Shredding yellow paper and collecting our “lightning bugs” in recycled bottles


How can we find bugs? Flashlight play to look in nooks and crannies for our tiny friends


Insect wing dance… the mesh cloths feel like soft wings


“There’s a bug on my head” surprise peek a boo game for infants


Our ladybug city!


Our spiderweb


Group literacy activities: fun with bug words and classification


Observing a beehive: real-life experiences


How many body parts on an ant or caterpillar? Counting practice with dots in paper grass


Our cicada sculpture


Our awesome ladybug


Dance like a bug! We also used instruments to click, chirp, and buzz like bugs


Inspired art prompts: butterfly pictures

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Learning all about grasshoppers with non-fiction reference books


Pill-bug painting: how does it roll?


Dragonfly painting – all sorts of textures!


Check out our spider sensory bin… we used our fine motor skills to pick them up with giant tweezers


Bug stamp mural


Weaving like spiders!


All kinds and colors of bugs

Check out Aurora and Plainfield‘s Facebook Pages for more on their awesome Bug Sculpture Contests and to follow their monthly learning journeys!

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The miracle of learning is on display in young students every day. Children are constantly having AHA Moments as they learn things for the first time. Whether it’s a first step or a first successfully tied shoelace, children are so good at reminding us to indulge in WONDER and let ourselves be blown away by this awesome world we live in!


When we were at our annual Creative World School Conference this year, we thought, who better to relay these stories than our teachers? Our CW Teachers are some of the best Early Educators in the world (not that we’re biased ;)) and we know they have the best stories to tell.

This Fall, we want you to be inspired, too! While exciting, we know that Back to School and getting back into the routine can be a challenge… so think of these stories as inspiring reminders to engage with your young learner. We will be sure to post the videos here on the blog as well as on facebook and instagram, just to make sure you don’t miss a single, jaw-dropping, eyes-widening EUREKA moment!

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