Monday, August 29, 2016

Effects of Unemployment on Preschoolers and How Teachers Can Support Families

5 Tips Teachers Can Use To Help Families

The U.S. unemployment rate varies.  We have seen it as high as 10.08% to 5.5%.  Regardless of the percentage, approximately 12% of that number represents families according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here are some things you can do as a teacher to help your preschool students and families during this time.
Behavioral changes due to the stress caused by unemployment and other family life changes in the home can be seen at school as well as at home.  Below you will find information, ideas and resources addressing how we, as teachers, can help the children in our care and their families.

The Effects of Unemployment on Preschoolers

We can only imagine the day to day stress in the home that affects the entire family.  Many times, the preschool teacher may not be aware of this situation. The families may be worried about how to pay the preschool tuition in addition to paying other bills and, therefore, not share this information with you. 
This jobless situation may cause the family to need to withdraw their child from care for the obvious financial reasons. Many families try to keep their children enrolled not only to give them time to job search, but also to give their child continuity during this uncertain time.
Preschool children’s lives are based on daily routines and it is how they “tell time”. They may not be aware of the job loss at home or what it means, but they do know that something is different.
Mom or Dad is, for example, wearing blue jeans while dropping them off to school today and Mom or Dad only wear blue jeans on "their day off". Preschool children may react by having sudden separation issues from their parent (they want to take the day off with them!).
This is only one example of a small, but significant to the preschooler, routine that is different for them. Changes in routines at this age cause confusion and may show itself in behavioral issues not typical for this child.
Some effects of a job loss in the home on young children can include:
  • Behavioral changes such as sudden or renewed separation anxiety.
  • Hitting, biting or other uncharacteristic increase in aggressive behavior. This can be from confusion due to changed routines, lack of sleep or perhaps even hunger.
  • Decreased concentration and memory (from lack of sleep, poor nutrition and/or chronic stress).

5 Things Teachers Can Do To Help

1.  Stick with routines; maintain consistency.  

Families should try their best to keep their daily routines (such as morning routines, bedtimes and daily chores) as consistent as possible. 

should, as discussed above, keep routines the same. The consistency and predictability will help the preschooler feel more secure.

2.  Communicate often and always.  

Families: Communication is key. It is important to have a good raport with families from the beginning. Remind them that together, you are a team looking out for the best interest of their child. 

: This is obvious, but let's revisit!  Listen, listen and listen some more-to the families and to the children. You will learn much by setting up your day in a way that there is much time for the teachers to sit and interact with the children.
3.  Keep kids (and families) involved in healthy habits.

Children (and adults!) tend to have more restless energy when stressed. Preschoolers need strategies to help burn that off! 

Families:  Encourage the parent to include their preschooler on a daily walk to burn off any stress or anxiety together and for some nice together time. 

Teachers: If you notice that this preschooler has a lot of energy at a certain time of day, they probably need to burn it off! Consider adding a music and movement, gross motor or outside time to your day for all the children during this time.
4.  Adopt a good behavior plan from the beginning of the school year.

Families should make every effort to keep the same behavior expectations and consequences in place. This is easier said than done when we are not the ones unemployed. Parents may need your help figuring out with "battles to fight". 

Teachers: As discussed above, it is so important to keep your routines and expectations the same. Do not allow inappropriate behaviors to “slide” because you know where it’s coming from. It’s still not o.k. to hurt our friends or throw our toys. Be consistent with these expectations and redirect the child acting out. Let them know you understand that they are angry, however you cannot let them _________ (throw toys, push others, etc.).  
5.  Demonstrate and verbalize your love.  

Families: The old adage is true! “Hug long, hard and often!” The amount of stress, fear and anxiety the family is under during unemployment is tremendous. Their thoughts are in 19 different directions. Much of the thoughts are fearful ones: Will we be able to pay the rent/mortgage? Is there enough to pay the utilities? What about food? What if I don't find a job soon? Remind them to take a break and just be-read a story with their kids and take time for an extra hug! 
Teachers: Reach out to families. Offer books or book lists to help with this time of separation for their children. Also, occasionaly send home a thinking of you card or a joke to make them laugh. Remind them that you are thinking of them!

In Summary

Being unemployed or underemployed can become long-term in this economy, therefore so can be the stress and affects on the children. Be aware of changes in behavior and keep the communication with parents open and constant!

Book List Suggestions Regarding Unemployment for Children

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Mommy Works, Daddy Works by Marika Pedersen

My Dad Takes Care of Me by Patricia Quinlan

No-Job Dad by James Malone

Book List Suggestions Regarding Unemployment for Adults

Effects of Job Loss on Family (Focus on Family Matters) by Michele Alpern

Little Victories: Conquering Unemployment by Tom Brophy

Unemployment: The Shocking Truth of Its Causes, Its Outrageous Consequences And What Can Be Done About It by Jack Stone and Joe McCraw

Other Resources Regarding Unemployment

State by State Unemployment Resources

About the author
Cheryl Hatch has taught and directed preschool programs for over 20 years.  She is the Creator and Owner of Preschool Plan It, a website dedicated to sharing preschool themes, activities, articles and training with early childhood educators.  She volunteers as the coordinator and teacher of the MOPPETS program in her town (a preschool program for the M.O.P.S.--Mothers of Preschoolers Program).  She has her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education.  Cheryl has been an active, integral member and leader within the Teachers.Net Early Childhood community for many years, moderating live chats and providing peer support on the Preschool Teachers Chatboard.  You can read Cheryl’s articles, activities and themed preschool lesson plans at 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Music Ideas to Support K - 5 Curriculum

I taught the course at USF (Univ of S Florida) on "Using Music in the Elementary Classroom"; AND, the dean let me try it from a different perspective.  Instead of teaching my students how to teach music, I taught how to use music to teach. That, I believe, is a more practical approach.

Getting the whole child involved in an activity that is interesting, fun and engaging gets older children to learn more easily and retain longer.  Here are two ideas.  One is a math song for number sequencing.  (One of my USF students came up with this idea.  I thank her.)  The other is a Language Arts Song.

Finding missing numbers is just everyday work.

 BUT ~ ~ being a spy, looking for missing numbers?  Now, that's not math; that's playing spy!  Children can have little magnifying glasses or wear Sherlock Holmes' hats and look for the numbers that you've laid on the floor all around the room.
This is done while the intro music is being played.
Click on links to hear / see the song.
                                                    Spy NuMberS 
Make the five sets of spyglasses for each number sequence; or, have the children make them.  (Color coding them is a helpful tool for children who may need a little extra help.)  Use this card with all the Spy Number Sequences to do the first run through all together.  The second time around, the children take their numbers and insert them into the proper spot.
    The more playful you are with this, the more they get into it.  
                         Come on spy.  Give it a try
                                THe VErB GamE 
How else to get children to understand that verbs are movement words than to have them MOVE to the words?  

There are three sets of verbs.  The first two sets are on cards the children hold. When they hear their verb, they hold it up and say the word and everyone repeats it and says "That's a verb!".  Then, they do the movement.  For the last set, there are no cards and you invite the children to call out their own verb.  The game can continue on even after the song is over.  Click on the link above the picture and see/hear the song.

You can download the cards for the words used in this song by clicking here : 
                                            Signs for Language Arts
This file also has the signs for the "Rhyming Square Dance" and other songs from

Both songs can be found at Music with Mar.  - "The Mar. Mall"
Online Media Streaming
And many other well-known download sites.

Join me on Facebook - Maryann Harman Musicwithmar
Like our Brain Facts and join in the dialogue at - 

Next month??  Science and Social Studies Songs.  I'm sooooooo excited to share.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Cupful of Ideas

It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended purpose.

Cups - paper and plastic cups - can be versatile resources in the classroom. Of course, you can use them for snacks and drinks, but they can be so much more than this regular, expected use.

Play Picnic (Brick by Brick © R.S. Wiley)

You can use them to pretend to eat. 
Use plastic cups and plates as part of your pretend play area. We placed some in a basket with a tablecloth and we had an instant picnic! If you do not have play dishes, take a trip to the discount store and get some disposable cups and dinnerware. These make great and inexpensive possibilities for playing out family situations and pretending to work in a restaurant. (Yes, it's close to intended use but still great play possibilities.)

Stamp with Cups (Brick by Brick © R.S. Wiley)

You can use them for art.
Place cups with a stamp pad or with a shallow pan of paint. Kids will enjoy pressing the cups into the stamp pad or paint and then onto paper. They can create lots of circles or experiment with using the cups. Or make a group of circles and then use a marker or pen to create faces. I always say that you can paint with just about anything and disposable cups are great for stamping circles and exploring form.

Drawing Propellers (Brick by Brick © R.S. Wiley)

Drawing Propellers (Brick by Brick © R.S. Wiley)

Make a drawing "propeller" by cutting a slit a cup and sliding a craft stick through it. Then tape markers to the ends of the stick. Kids can draw with the propellers, a fun variation to using markers.

Fish Collage (Brick by Brick © R.S. Wiley)

You can use them to hold stuff.
Of course, you can place collage materials or markers or other small items in cups for a center. You could use them to sort items or to transport items in a game.

Blocks and Cups (Brick by Brick © R.S. Wiley)

You can use them to build.
Add cups to your blocks for more building possibilities. Or just build and stack cups. I always enjoy adding different elements to the blocks/construction area and watching how kids use them. You don't need a grand plan. Let the kids explore their creativity with the various materials.

Scooping Barley (Brick by Brick © R.S. Wiley)

You can use them to scoop and pour.
Place cups with sand, water, grain, or whatever you want to scoop and pour. Kids will enjoy experimenting with scooping, filling, and pouring materials. Cups of any size can be used, but I'd recommend smaller cups for this purpose. (You have less in a cup at a time that can cause a mess.)

Outdoor Cup Sculpture (Brick by Brick © R.S. Wiley)
You can use them for outside sculpture.
Some colorful plastic cups and a chain link fence make great basic materials for sculpture. Encourage kids to create a design or let them place cups randomly. The overall effect is really cool. (And a great way to exercise those fine motor skills! Manipulating cups into the fence can be a challenge.)

What ways have you used cups in your classroom?

Visit my Dollar Store and Dumpster Pinterest Board and my blog for more repurposing ideas.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Go Back To School SINGING!

Hi there!  I'm Miss Carole of Macaroni Soup, and it’s that time again!  Many students are already back in classrooms, and those that aren’t will be there soon.  Preschoolers and Kindergarteners look forward with anticipation, excitement and sometimes a little anxiety.  How do we make the first weeks less stressful and more engaging? 

                               MAKE MUSIC!

Children of all abilities enjoy the experience of making music – singing, dancing, and playing rhythm instruments.  It’s never wasted time!  
  • Healthy social interaction and emotional connections made in those first weeks will last all year long.  
  • Plus active participation in music is a great platform on which to build early literacy skills such as rhyme, pattern, sequence, vocabulary, and phonological awareness (that's the short list!)
  • Children need to connect the neural pathways in their brains in multiple ways - Active Music provides yet another access point.

I love to put a simple little ditty such as “Back To School” into their heads.  It’s a positive message about school, and takes less than 15 seconds to sing!  It's also a steady beat - you can clap it joyfully as you're singing!

BACK TO SCHOOL!                           By C. Stephens c.2016

Back to school, back to school            

I’m so glad we’re back to school!

Learning something every day

School is where we learn and play!

Now what’s next?  Add something with motions that are easy to follow and repetitive.  A “zipper song” is perfect – the song repeats itself verse after verse, changing the motion each time.  Think “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” – the animal and animal’s sound changes but the song is basically the same.  

Here’s one of my favorites:

Tune:  “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”

My hands are starting to wiggle

My hands are starting to wiggle

My hands are starting to wig-gle

Around and around and around!

Easy, right?  Do what the song tells you to do, turning around in place on the last line.  Now sing it again with “foot”.  Next?  “Hips!”  Yup, it’s Elvis Time!  “Head” – sing it softer so that they do a gentler shaking of their heads.  It’s safer!  If you have space to really get the wiggles going, end with:

Now all of me is a-wiggle
Now all of me is a-wiggle
Now all of me is a-wig-gle
Around and around and around,
Sit down!

Need more help? You can hear a clip of this song on my "Sticky Bubble Gum" cd or on its' Song Of The Month page - HERE, where you'll find even more instructions.  

Next?  What could be more fun than singing the alphabet in different languages?  Um, I mean animal languages!  “There’s a Dog in School” by Bill Wellington is such fun, AND it’s also a zipper song.  Children will get the hang of it quickly.
What are we going to do?

(on my “H.U.M.” cd – listen to it HERE)

There’s a dog in school – OH NO!

What are we going to do?

As long as there’s a dog in school

He’ll have to learn his alphabet, too!

(woof the traditional ABC song – the whole thing!)

For motions – I put hands to cheeks, a la “Home Alone” face for “oh no!”  Questioning hands to sides for second line.  Waggle pointer finger for third line, and hands on hips for fourth line.  But you can make up your own motions, too!

    What other kind of animal could be in school?  Let the children make suggestions.  Be prepared for ALL kinds of animals beyond cats, ducks, etc.  Rabbits?  Let’s all HOP the alphabet!  Giraffes?  Well, I had to do a little research on this one!  The zoo docent told me that giraffes have a very long neck, but no vocal chords, so they can’t make a sound.  What do they do?  They nibble leaves off tall trees – one hand in the air making a mouth opening and closing, and sing the words “nibble nibble, nibble nibble, etc!

    Remember to change the gender of the animal, too – “She’ll have to learn her alphabet, too!” I’ve found that there are lots of male pronouns in music for children – cows, cats and more can be females!


Now let’s get dancing!  A simple circle or partner dance will be just the thing.  Try “B-I-N-G-O!” for a great circle dance.  Hear it on my “H.U.M. – Highly UsableMusic”  recording, and check out the complete directions on the Song Of The Month page on my website HERE.  Be sure to do the "surprise ending!"

"Jump Jim Joe" - tap your toe!

OR teach “Jump Jim Joe” a favorite partner dance for 4’s and older – or start with “The Muffin Man Dance” – for 3’s and younger.  Both were featured in my JANUARY 2015 blog – check it out!

Call it what you want – a brain break, energizer, arts exploration – music and movement are a must for developing healthy brains and bodies! 

              Have you had some music today?

Check out my AUGUST 2015 post for more Back-To-School musical ideas!

Yours for a Back-To-School Song!
"Miss Carole" Stephens

Macaroni Soup!  Active Music for Active Learners!

For information about professional development workshops, concerts and classroom visits contact Carole at 847-384-1404 or

Monday, August 15, 2016

Montessori-Inspired Raccoon Activities Using Free Printables {Kissing Hand Unit}

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

I love The Kissing Hand book and activities for helping young children (and their parents) cope with separation anxiety. So I've been preparing printables and activities for preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders to go along with the book. 

You'll find lots of free raccoon printables in my Free Raccoon Printables and Montessori-Inspired Raccoon Activities {Kissing Hand Unit}. Here, I'm sharing some Montessori-inspired raccoon activities using free printables for preschoolers through first graders. 

You'll find many activities for preschoolers through first graders throughout the year along with presentation ideas in my previous posts at PreK + K Sharing. You'll also find ideas for using free printables to create activity trays here: How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities

At Living Montessori Now, I have a post with resource links of Free Printables for Montessori Homeschools and Preschools.  

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

Raccoon Dice Roll (Quantity Game) Raccoon Dice Roll (Quantity Game) Free Printable: Dice Roll (Quantity Game) from Kissing Hand Math and Literacy Stations by Kinderbabies at Teachers Pay Teachers 

For this activity, I used a large plastic tray from Montessori Services, a dice, and two glass gems for game pieces. 

This is a fun way for young children to get used to playing by game rules and counting dots on dice. If you wish, you could have children get an extra turn if they land on a spot with Chester and go back 2 spaces if they land on a spot with a tree stump. 

You could also make this a cooperative game by having one game piece that the children take turns moving until they reach the finish.  

DIY Raccoon Cards and Counters DIY Raccoon Cards and Counters Free Printable: Raccoon Numbers (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

For this activity, I used a a Multicraft tray, 55 popcorn kernels, and a Bambu large condiment cup to hold the pieces. 

Raccoon Cards and Counters Layout 

For our floor layouts, I always use a Montessori Services hemmed work rug. I like to lay out my numbers and counters in the traditional Montessori way of rows of two counters with a left-over counter centered below the bottom row. This gives a visual impression of odd and even. 

For more about creating DIY numbers and counters and a link on how to present the lesson, check out my DIY Cards and Counters post.  

Raccoon Addition Roll and Cover Game (or Number Recognition Game) Raccoon Roll and Cover Addition (or Number Recognition) Activity Free Printable: Raccoon Number Recognition or Addition Roll and Cover Games by Herding Kats in Kindergarten at Teachers Pay Teachers 

For this activity, I used a large plastic tray from Montessori Services, two dice, and enough glass gems to cover the numbers. I used ones that could be seen through so the numbers would still be visible. 

In this printable, you'll find options for number recognition, addition with 2 dice, and addition with 3 dice.  

Raccoon Name Recognition Puzzle Raccoon Name Recognition Puzzle Basket Free Printable: Blank Card from Raccoon Numbers (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber) 

For this activity, I used a Montessori Services basket, printable with name printed twice and bottom name cut into puzzle pieces (strips), and a small Bambu condiment cup to hold the puzzle pieces. 

This just took a few minutes to prepare! It's a simple activity to help young children learn to recognize their name. This particular printable would only work best with a name of 5 letters or less.  

For beginning letter sound activities using my subscriber freebie pack, check out my phonics ideas from previous months. Raccoon Rhyming Match-Up Raccoon Rhyming Activity Free Printable: Back to School Raccoon Rhyming Match-up by Herding Kats in Kindergarten at Teachers Pay Teachers 

I used small tabletop easels for this activity to make it very easy to prepare and display. I simply placed the easels with the cards on a Montessori Services medium-size tray. I use 1/4" color coding label dots to place one color dot on the back of each of the first set of cards and another color dot on the back of each of the second set of cards. That way the child will always have the correct rhyming cards to choose from.  

Raccoon Phonogram Matching Layout
Raccoon Phonogram Sorting Activity Raccoon Phonogram Matching Activity Free Printable: Raccoon Digraph Sorting Activity by Nicole O’Connor – Firstie Favorites at Teachers Pay Teachers 

 For this activity, I just used a Montessori Services basket to hold the cards. I used 3 cards for each to use only the simplest word cards. I wanted to isolate the concept, so I tried to have simple words that started with a specific phonogram.  

More Free Raccoon Printables  

Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free raccoon printables (and Chester raccoon) printables from around the blogosphere: Free Raccoon Printables and Montessori-Inspired Raccoon Activities {Kissing Hand Unit}. And be sure to subscribe to my email list if you'd like to get an exclusive free printable each month (plus two more awesome freebies right away): Free Printables.

Helpful Post with Animal Classification

Montessori Animal Classification
Montessori Animal Classification

More Kissing Hand Posts at Living Montessori Now

Free Kissing Hand Songs, Poems & Videos to Ease Separation Anxiety
Sweet Kissing Hand Craft with Handprint and Poem
Free Kissing Hand Songs, Poems, & Videos to Ease Separation Anxiety Free Kissing Hand Craft with Handprint and Poem
Montessori at Home or School - How to Teach Grace and Courtesy eBook
If you'd like to focus on manners with children, please check out my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy! It's written for anyone who'd like to feel comfortable teaching manners to children ages 2-12. I'm also one of the coauthors of the book Learn with Play – 150+ Activities for Year-round Fun & Learning!

I hope you have a great school year! :)
 Deb - Siganture
Deb Chitwood
Deb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools in Iowa and Arizona before becoming owner/director/teacher of her own Montessori school in South Dakota. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego with her husband of 41 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and toddler granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

HOW TO ENGAGE YOUNG READERS! Sam The Ant - Inspire Curiosity

there was a 4-year-old girl named Sam.  
She and her daddy liked to make up stories...

 Today that little girl is a 22-year-old professional musician, educator, producer, and published author. Her name is Sam Feldman. Sam's first published book is a co-write of The Flood, the first book of the new children's series Sam the Ant, heralded as this generation's Winnie the Pooh. Her next adventure is...

Co-writing this month's blog! Hello, everyone! I'm Sam! Special thanks to my incredible father for having me on as guest-writer!

The Sam the Ant series is entirely in both English and Spanish, allowing reader and child alike to expand their knowledge of languages.

My father and I have had an amazing time growing and creating together as co-authors, as father and daughter, and now as colleagues. 
So what led to the creation of the Sam the Ant characters, books, and brand?


The message of the 
Sam the Ant brand is no mistake:

A page from Sam the Ant - The Flood
Curiosity is at the foundation of these children's books and the basis for how my father and I live our lives.  
Today's blog is about how we can improve the way we engage young readers, from PreK through elementary school. Certainly, my father's background as an educator, artist, author, public speaker, and inventor comes into play. We're going to share with you five ideas and strategies that will improve how you connect with young readers, and we'll be highlighting our new book as well as the unique, free resources that come with it. The five areas are:

  • Reading vs Storytelling
  • Questions vs Interruptions
  • Adversity
  • Diversity
  • Perspective
  • Bonus! Free Resources you can use right now to build critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and perspective.
But hang on! What is the literary world saying about this book?  Here's one review from literary expert, Dallas Miller, of Killing The Grizzly and Splice Pictures in Los Angeles.

Dallas Miller, Co-Founder of Killing the Grizzly Literary Agency
I am thoroughly impressed with the amount of work that Sam and Enrique have put into amassing this collection. Much like the best stories, the best teaching tools are those that come from real experiences. And the real life, father-daughter connection inherent to this work is certain to resonate with both students and teachers alike. I have no doubt that this series with it's easily accessible protagonists and expansive world will quickly become a favorite. 


Storytelling led by Enrique Feldman at Make Way for Books in Tucson, Arizona.  Storytelling includes getting everyone involved in a story with their minds... AND their bodies!

We all want our children to be fantastic readers, and while letter shapes, sounds, and other technical areas are of great importance, there are other areas that greatly increase the chances of any young child in becoming great readers and learners. The primary area I am referring to is "creating a desire to read." 
Reading to a child is a great start! It is one step on the path to becoming a storyteller for and with your child! 
One organization which we have the great honor of partnering with is Make Way for Books. They are fantastic at reaching out to our community.

Scroll down and click on the parent guide!

Opening Day for Sam the Ant at Barnes & Noble, July 9, 2016.  Enrique leads two young boys and a group of children and adults with his Interactive Brainwave Games to improve focus before storytelling.
But hold up! What are educators saying about this book? Here's a review from Jess W. Gibson, Ph.D. (author, developmental psychologist, and educator in Long Beach, California).

Jess W. Gibson, Ph.D, Author, Developmental Psychologist and Educator
Sam the Ant is a fantastic adventure that helps children develop their creative and critical questioning skills while teaching growth values such as acceptance, curiosity, and intellectual exploration... this series will become a classic learning tool, where children 
can't wait to become engaged in their own exploration 
of learning and thinking.


Enrique leading a storytelling session while listening to the ideas of
children, embracing their ideas, and weaving
them into the experience.
Children are naturally curious. They are natural researchers and explorers, and some of the most brilliant adults learn from children and find ways to remain curious, even in old age! With this in mind, consider the following idea:

When a child "interrupts" an adult who is reading or storytelling, is it possible that this "interruption" is in fact an opportunity to find 
out what the child is noticing about the story? Could these "interruptions" be an example of a child expressing what they are enjoying and learning from the story? 

My father has been storytelling with young children since 2000, and I have had the invaluable privilege of learning from him that when a child adds their voice into any session, it is usually a golden moment; a moment when we can connect them even more deeply to the story and to their own learning, 
and elevate their desire to learn.

In case you didn't scroll down earlier, here is an example of the parent guide that we include at the end of each book!  
This one shares ideas about how to transform 
reading into storytelling, and how to engage a 
child's questions as moments to 
build language and thinking.
But wait! What are parents saying about this book?  Enjoy this review from father, Simon Smart, of Tucson, Arizona.
Simon Smart, Founder of Warrior Protocol and Father
I read Sam the Ant - The Flood to my 5 year old son. He often gets distracted while we read together, but this book seemed to draw him in and capture his imagination - I think it’s the pacing of the story and the character. He loved the twist at the end. I really appreciated how the book gave me ideas on how to dig deeper into the content with him to create a discussion about the story, and he loved that part as much as the story himself. I’ve noticed that many kids books are trash…Sam the Ant is the opposite - a well put together story designed to deepen and broaden the mind of a 
young reader. Recommended!

Sam the Ant is keeping very good company at the enchanted Toy Store, Mildred and Mildred, at La Encantada Mall in Tucson, Arizona


When the river is wide, how do we cross?  
What should the ants Sam and Sandy do?
Should they dive in? Why?
A page from Sam the Ant - The Flood
What would happen to young learners if all adults took the time to ask these kinds of questions? Open-ended questions are key if we are to develop a future generation of creative and innovative citizens; a generation of DaVincis and Galileos, if you will. When we created the Sam the Ant series, we thought about how we all encounter adversity in our lives. An important idea we considered was how crucial it is to be willing to work through adversity, rather than giving up or running away. The following three images are from the first book, Sam the Ant - The Flood. While not in chronological order, they each represent adversity which Sam the Ant and Sandy the Ant have to face. Storytelling can be more than a language-building experience. It can be a life-building experience.
         Whether you are reading in English, Spanish, or both, we encourage you to ask children interesting questions whenever you can. Even on pages of the book that have no guided bubble-thought questions, feel free to ask your child if they have any questions.  For example, on the above and below images, you could start with a simple question and increase the level of question each time you read it (because we all know we read their favorite books more than once! Just ask me, a 22-year-old, how many times I've read the Harry Potter series...the answer one will ever know)
  • What are the ants traveling on? Why?
  • Which way are they traveling?
  • Where do you think the ants are headed?
  • Are they going with the current or against it?
  • What is a current?
  • What might happen next?
  • What does happen next?
  • What made the leaf go into the air?
  • What possible solutions exist for Sam and Sandy?
"It's not the's how we do the thing," is one of my favorite quotes. We live in a world that is obsessed with content, and while I like content and understand that great content is very important,  the way we deliver it is potentially the most transformational part of any content. How anyone shares an idea; how a teacher delivers a lesson plan; how an artist connects with their audience; how a chef treats the food they are preparing. The how is where self-inspiration can seep into the mind of the learner and ignite both curiosity and transformation...from "I can" "I am."
Take a good look at the image above. If you were reading this to someone, what kinds of questions might they ask? What kinds of questions might you ask? Here are some that my father and I have asked. We ask these questions over time, allowing plenty of time, even days or more, in between questions. How many questions and how often we ask depends on how the learner responds.

  • What are the ants thinking?
  • Where did their leaf boat go?
  • What is the large grey object? What is it doing?
  • Which way is the shadow flying?
  • Where are the ants? Are they on an island? A peninsula?
  • How are an island and a peninsula different?


But hold the onions! What are elementary educators saying about this book? This review is from Maria Marin, Director of Elementary and K-8 schools in the Tucson Unified School District.  Maria is also a 25-year veteran educator and proud mother of two.
Maria Marin, Director of Elementary
Schools and K-8 Schools, TUSD

Sam The Ant “The Flood” is a sweet celebration of friendship    and adventure! The artistic and soulful Feldman Father/Daughter author team shroud fear, and brilliantly illuminate the plot with curiosity, hope, and possibilities! The story line reminds us that open-minded and courageous actions can overcome adversity!       This book is a must-read and deserves a permanent                             place in the library of everyone who believes that                            we are greater together than all alone!


The word "diversity" is used a lot by adults, but how often do we take the time to introduce this word to our children? Furthermore, how can we do so in authentic and playful ways? We considered this while writing Sam the Ant and we believe we have created a number of opportunities for diversity to be discussed in context of the story. Personally, for both of us, having encountered diversity in many ways throughout our lives has made us far stronger, smarter, and resilient individuals. 
We have traveled and experienced other cultures, including their foods! #yum 
We have experienced many ways of thinking, and learned that by embracing diversity as a whole, we are able to find common ground. Common ground allows us not only to converse, but to collaborate with others. It allows us to build community, both in a larger sense and a smaller sense; the kind of community one builds with one classroom of children, or even simply one child.

An image of Sam and Sandy, both ants, but also different in many ways.

Drag the dragonfly. When Sam and Sandy first see Drag, the differences frighten them. What do they do when confronted with something so different from themselves?
Here is an example of the learning guide that we include at the end of each book! This one shares ideas about how to introduce adversity and diversity when storytelling.

But STOP! Hammer time! What are early childhood educators saying about this book? Here's a review from educator Gina Villarreal, from Outer Limits preschool in Tucson, Arizona.
Gina Villarreal, early childhood educator
Outer Limits Preschool
Quality books are gold to a preschool teacher, and this story is gold! Sam the ant is with his friend when it starts raining. The rain turns into a storm, and Sam finds himself in trouble and faced with a choice: trust the helping hand of the strange-looking creature or not? This story has adventure, encourages problem solving and perspective taking, and has a humorous ending. As a teacher and parent, I appreciate the questions at the bottom of the pages and the learning guides at the end of the book. It's also bilingual! I can see myself using this book in the classroom throughout the year to learn about diversity and kindness.


The learned ability to seek out new perspectives in life is one of the essential skill sets we need as human beings if we are to live a happy life and have a positive impact on our community. Perspective building breeds things like compassion and empathy, and one other byproduct is a deeper sense of gratefulness. In writing this book, we chose to intentionally create moments where perspective was either very obvious or could be found out!

Enjoy this next image and think about what kinds of perspective-based questions you could ask a young learner? One that we usually ask is "Why is the rain drop so big?" The responses from 4- and 5-year-olds vary from "I don't know" to "because the ant is small."  
During this story and those to come you will get to know Sam the Ant's good friend, Sandy the Ant. Together they work through adversity by embracing diversity. Additionally, they each bring their own perspective to many situations. To assist the adult reader we have included bubble-thought questions on some pages. These questions each relate to adversity, diversity, and/or perspective.
               There is one page we are purposely not including in this blog, because it is the big perspective twist at the end of book. I shall reveal no clues other than to say: every time I watch my father sharing the book in one of his sessions, and every time I reach this page while reading to my young friends at the Sahuarita Food Bank, children and adults all respond with wonder, joy, and laughter!

But stop! Hey! What's that sound? What are early childhood music educators saying about this book? This review is by Alice Pringle, a music educator who just released a stellar children's album. Alice has worked with young children for over 40 years!

Artist and Early Childhood Educator, Alice Pringle
Real Music at
Sam the Ant is quite a curious creature. Sam, along with good friend Sandy, has an adventure of the ‘watery’ kind. As they face challenge after challenge, Sam and Sandy meet insects that they have never before encountered who offer to help them. Time and again they overcome their initial fear and accept help from someone who is different than they are and in the process
discover a whole new community of friends. 
This book offers the reader the chance to engage the listener with questions that relate to his/her own life experience. The illustrations are delightful and add expressive 
backdrops for Sam’s story. 
Having the option to read it in either English or Spanish 
is another big plus.
This book would make a wonderful addition to any bookshelf whether in schools or in homes. I look forward to the further adventures of SAM THE ANT!

As part of the Sam the Ant journey, we are currently creating humorous, poignant, and meaningful Sam the Ant Origin videos and ANTventures! Both can be used with young learners to build critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and innovative thinking. For the first 8 origin videos we encourage you to listen to the questions Sam the Ant asks and use those as a starting point for conversations with your children. From video 9 onward, when the drama really kicks in, we have begun to include questions at the end of each video to act as a guide.

We have 8 of 30 videos completed and ready for you and your children! A new video is released every week.  Each video is 15-30 seconds long and includes:
  • an original soundtrack
  • original voiceovers of Sam the Ant & other characters
  • a storyline that engages young and old
To receive this free family friendly video series:

  • Click below to view Episode #3
  • Click on the red "Subscribe" button that is embedded in the video.
  • You can then watch all the videos you want in any order. We do suggest going back to Episode #1.


We have 3 of an indefinite number of these completed.  Each video is between 30 seconds and 2 minutes in length.  Each video focuses on the concept of embracing multiple perspectives, and can help you introduce this idea to children.

To receive this free family friendly video series:

  • Click below to view "Snapchat Takeover"
  • Click on the "Subscribe" button that is embedded in the video.
  • You can either watch these videos in order or out of order.
  • You and your child can add samdantofficial on Snapchat to follow along with Sam the Ant's daily adventures, all from the perspective of an ant!


There are a lot of people we want to thank!

To all the the adoring fans *wink* who have come out to support us at our book signing and storytelling events:

Our illustrator (right), Abe Mendoza and two of his friends at our Barnes & Noble release event!

Enrique Feldman (right) joined by Mime, Actor and Director Rick Wamer just before the first reading of Sam the Ant!

Elsa Bonilla (left), Sam Feldman (center), and Enrique Feldman (right) at the opening of Sam the Ant!

Marie Sierra, Pianist on tour in China with the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, 2013
Wife to Enrique and Father to Sam
To Nick Feldman, my brilliant and statuesque baby brother, for his love and support; for using his imagination to play and explore with our dad and me back when we first started to create Sam the Ant; for lighting up every room he enters and unconditionally loving and caring for every human being he encounters; for bravely boycotting the Arizona Merit High School Exam and instead using that time to write an incredible poem about the value of true, authentic learning. I love you more than anything, Baby Brudder.

Nick Feldman (left) and Sam Feldman (right) at a family celebration, May 2016
To Enrique Feldman Sr. and Vicky Feldman, living examples of persistence and unconditional love.

To Dr. Carroll Rinehart for being a mentor to my dad, Enrique, since 2003; for changing the balance of questions and statements, forever. For helping my father reveal his own purpose to himself... Carroll, your legacy is secure.

I've had so much fun guest-writing this month's blog. I'd like to say thank you again to my fellow Sam the Ant creators, Enrique Feldman and Abe Mendoza!! 

Have courage and be kind,


Sam Feldman
Abe Mendoza
Enrique Feldman

 Thanks for reading and keep asking yourself and the children in your life questions that allow room for thought!

Enrique C. Feldman                                   Sam Feldman
Founder, Global Learning Foundation                                    Author
Public Speaker                                                                           Artist
Performing Artist                                                       Music Producer
Author and Inventor                                               Performing Artist

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