Ellen Booth Church
Early childhood educator, keynote speaker, writer and product consultant.

Here is one of my latest articles for Kinderpillar on Encouraging Sharing and Caring

The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.” -Pablo Picasso

What does the month of December mean to you and your family? For many it is a time to celebrate the closeness of family and friends and also a time to look beyond that circle to those in the community and the world who are in need.
It is never too early to learn about sharing, helping and caring for others.  Families and schools around the world are finding that taking even some small action for those in need is comforting for young children. Plus it teaches them the joy of giving at a time or receiving. From the simple process of collecting coins, out grown clothes or toys to baking cookies for people in need…it all empowers children to have a feeling that there is something they can do to help and to give.
Around the world there is often a focus on consumerism that trickles down to our children.  It is important for you and your child to take a moment to remember that the true essence of the life is HELPING and GIVING.


How does your young child understand this? Through participating in simple acts of kindness and giving.    Young children learn by doing.  You can tell them the importance of helping but until they experience the joy it brings others and themselves it will only be a concept, not an action. Amazingly, young children are very good at looking at both the big and little picture of the holidays.  While every child wants to receive a gift, they also delight in the pleasure of giving and sharing.
It is important to help your child not only notice how you help others, but also what the effect of your helping has on yourself and others. This is how your child learns the “cause and effect” value of sharing and giving. If your child can see how helping can make BOTH the giver and the receiver feel good she has taken her first steps on the road to learning the essential emotional skill of empathy.

Start small.

Provide simple jobs your child can do to help around the house.  Perhaps he can be in charge of setting the table for meals.  This is not only a good “helper” task; it is also excellent mathematical practice in counting and matching the correct number of forks to the number of people at the table!
My Mom had me empty the wastebaskets.  I felt so proud to be able to do that for her.  And she always found at least one step in the cooking I could do …  even if it was just stirring batter forever!  Little jobs give a big sense of pride and maturity to your child. He feels “big” if he can help you and others.  So instead of doing all the simple tasks like table setting, cooking and cleaning yourself (even though you can do it faster and better) … invite your child to do it.  You will be teaching important social and cognitive skills.

Start your sharing and giving activities within the family and branch out to the outside world.  Here are some FUN activities to try with your child.

Make a Coupon Book: Family gifts don’t have to cost money…they can be a playful gift of service. Invite your child to suggest things he or she can do around the house to help. Your child can draw pictures and you can write up their comments on the coupons. Staple them together and don’t forget at least a few coupons for a few kisses and hugs….

Send a BIG HUG: Do you have family far away?  Send them a child drawn hug they can wrap right around themselves! Trace your child’s outstretched arms onto a roll of shelf or freezer paper on the floor or table.  Trace around the hands and connect straight across the arms (leaving out the body and head) to make the hug. He can help you cut it out decorate it before it folded up and sent in a large envelope with directions for wrapping up in it after opening!

And a Big Kiss too: Your child may enjoy sending a kiss in the mail too.  This is a supervised activity since she will be using old lipstick.  Show your child how to make a kiss print on a piece of paper and then invite her to draw a picture of her around it!

Articles and Speeches

Ellen has been writing for Scholastic's Parent and Child and Early Childhood Today magazines since their inception.

Go to www.scholastic.com to find many of her articles.

Click here for an article on inspiring a Love of Learning!

Currently she working with Uncle Jim Mayer on the music based IM4U Social and Emotional Learning Program for young children. Click here for more information.

IM4U Learning Website

OCTOBER 11, 2017 NEW ARTICLE on Beneylu.com!

Nurturing Next Generation Innovators By Ellen Booth Church


“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

~ Albert Einstein


As teachers, we all have busy lives. But I invite you take a moment right now to pause and consider these questions…and the answers.


Have you ever looked at the young children you teach and wonder what changes and challenges this next generation will face? What skills will they need to be able to be successful in a world that is constantly changing? How can we as teachers of young children support their cognitive, creative and social emotional growth?


We all have seen in our own lifetime how quickly things change. My own father was born in 1896 in a place and time where there were no cars… but by the time he passed away in his 90’s human beings had walked on the moon. That is a great deal of change in one lifespan! I can look at my own life and she how technology has changed the ways I communicate and function as an educator. But what about the children we are teaching now? How will life be different? I think the greatest gifts we can give our children are the ability to think critically and creatively as well as the ability to problem solve. Children no longer need to memorize everything. We are in an “information generation” that enables children to gather information practically instantly. What children DO need it the ability to examine this information and use it in new and creative ways and to solve problems. This is why it is essential for early childhood programs to use open-ended activities that invite children to observe, wonder and experiment.

[The photos with this article come from some of the many Kinderpillar programs in India and Nepal I have the pleasure of mentoring. They celebrate this approach that nurtures children of the next generation to become thinkers and community builders.]

Here are a few suggestions for ways to do this in your own program!


Invite questions and ask more questions instead of answering!

Young children are filled with questions and the best thing you can do is to ask them what they think the answer is! Often we answer children’s questions too quickly instead of inviting them to figure out their own answer. For example, when a child asks you “where rain comes from”…invite her to share what she thinks! It might be magical or realistic but it will be her very own thinking. Then you can do some research together to find out more about answer!

Ask children to solve sharing problems. Sharing can be difficult for young children and sharing issues sometimes happen in the big open spaces of the playground. When two children are fighting over a toy, hold it for them and give them a moment to calm down. Then invite each child to tell their version of the story while the other listens. Encourage children to suggest solutions so that they are both satisfied. Perhaps there is a similar toy inside that can be brought out, or a timer can be used to define each child’s turn.

Encourage Mind-Mapping and chart it. Brainstorming is important because the critical thinking skills children use in the process are core ingredients to every area of curriculum and development. No matter what experience a child meets along the way, if she has the ability to think open-endedly, flexibly, and critically she can deal with the task at hand.

Write down children’s ideas on a chart or graph. When they see their thoughts written down, children begin to make the leap from the spoken to the written word.

Create open-ended collective activities. When you provide children with opportunities to create together you build cooperative thinking skills and community. You can use nature and recycled materials for children to create with. Boxes are great too. The basic question to ask is… “What can we make with all these things?” Write down children’s suggestions on a chart and then create together!

Make predictions and chart them. Invite children to think ahead. This builds critical and creative thinking and cooperative listening and speaking skills. Invite children to predict what they might see on a class walk. Write it down on a chart and check the predictions when you return to the classroom. How accurate where our predictions?


Whenever we ask children to think and problem solve we prepare them for the future. When they do this together in a group, they learn how to be a part of a thinking community and they learn the value of collaboration. Best of all, we prepare this next generation for a future that is sure to be filled with change. -Ellen Booth Church


For more ideas check out Ellen’s book “Nurturing Next Generation Innovators” (Gryphon House).




“Imagination is more important than knowledge”- Albert Einstein

Here Is Another Blog to Read:
Poetry Power

Poetry Power by Prof. Ellen Booth Church


Your young child probably loves to play with sounds, words and rhymes. It is one of the best ways for him to learn the language and listening skills needed for reading and writing. Let’s Play with Poetry!

Preschoolers and young students find words, sounds, and rhythms delicious. Nonsense rhymes, funny words and sounds, repeating patterns and rhythms...mix them up and put them all together and you have poetry! Playing with poetry is not only is a delightful language experience…it is also a perfect tool for positive interactions with your child.

Poetry Power

Even though rhymes and poems are very popular with children, many parents are reluctant to use poetry in the home. Are you? I once was. Maybe it was the “seriousness” many people equate with poetry, or perhaps it was childhood memories of memorizing poems to recite in front of the class! Fortunately, over the years I have realized that poetry is not only a luscious language activity but it actually is FUN.

Poetry is an excellent way to introduce vocabulary and literacy skills. Because poems are often predictable and brief, kids can master them quickly. For many, a poem or nursery rhyme may be their first successful “reading” experience. Choose illustrated nursery rhyme and poetry books. Your child will want to see the art the expresses the words on the page.

Use Poetry Throughout the Day

Poems can be repeated often, so your child can quickly gain familiarity with them. Poems’ rhythms make them easy to remember while poems’ rhyming words make them accessible and predictable. Use Nursery Rhymes or simple poems and songs when you are doing simple tasks at home. The rhythm and repetition helps your child learn the sound and beat of the words.

When I am helping my grandson get dressed I start to recite, “One two buckle my shoe…”. He joins in immediately and finishes the rhyme. When we are on our way home I might say a line from a familiar rhyme such as “home again, home again, jiggity jig.” Sometimes we play with the rhyme and change some of the words. For example we extended this rhyme to include our cat “Tig”. The new rhyme became “home again, home again, jiggity jig to snuggle and cuddle with our little cat “Tig”!”

Playing with poetry is different from the “old days,” when children had to stand in front of the class and recite a memorized poem. (I was one of those shy kids who hated this!) “Saying” a poem together is a family “choral” experience to be shared and enjoyed by all. Keep it playful and fun!

Make Time for Rhymes

To make the most of the poems in your home, you might choose to introduce one poem a week. You can even choose a day to introduce the poem each week. Saturday is a great choice!

It is a way you can make the weekend special. You can check with your Kinderpillar teacher for some poem and rhyme suggestions. There are many great ones in our curriculum that you can use. You will be reinforcing school learning in a fun way at home.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Nothing ruins a poem more than a flat, unpracticed reading! It is a great idea for you try out your poem or rhyme ahead of time. After saying it a few times you might discover dramatic sounds, movements and expressions to add to the reading. You will probably here your child say, “Do it again”. You can repeat the poem several times and then eventually you can invite your child to add a rhyming word here or a line there. This is a key reading and writing skill!

Tips for Sharing Rhymes at Home

The following are some tried-and-true techniques I have used to foster a love of rhymes and poetry.

  • Whenever possible, add a hand or body motion to go with a rhyme or song. Children love movement, and even if they can’t remember the words, they can at least perform the motion with you!
  • Repetition, repetition! Young children love to say, “Let’s do it again!” Listen to them! Repetition is the key to the development of many important language skills.
  • Add props and puppets to help a poem come alive: Use one of your child’s stuffed animals, doll or puppet to “say” the poem.
  • Write it down! Even if your child can’t read, he is still fascinated by letters and words. Using your best print handwriting to write out the poem on a large sheet of paper or poster board for your child to see and “read”. Invite your child to illustrate the poem!
  • Use your cellphone to record yourself and your child saying the poem.
  • Create poem “inventions” based on predictable repetitive poems and lyrics. (I once turned “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” into “I Know a Poor Pelican Who Swallowed a Pie.” Amazingly, all he could eat were things that started with the letter “p”!)
  • Introduce picture books that are based on poems or song lyrics.

But most of all…have fun with the sound, rhythm and rhyme of words. If your child loves words he will be a great reader!





Grade 1-2

Let's Investigate!

Spark interest in science with these seven steps to successful studies.

By Ellen Booth Church

" . . . The process of science learning is what really counts with young children, not the content. There are seven basic steps that will help you teach your child about scientific discovery and how to examine problems logically. These steps are similar to those used in the scientific method, but they emphasize the skills that are most relevant for young children: (READ MORE)