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Thrifty Teacher's Guide to Creative Learning Centers

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About the Author

Shelley Nicholson, PhD, earned her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, Early Childhood Education, from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin. She serves as a manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education. She is an adjunct professor in the UT College of Education and the owner and director of the Nicholson Early Childhood Education Center, Inc., in Austin, Texas. Jessica Martinez is the director of the Goddard School, a preschool in Austin, Texas. She attended the University of Texas at Austin.


It is a treat to offer some comments on Shelley Nicholson and Jessica Martinez's Thrifty Teacher's Guide to Creative Learning Centers. The pleasure derives from knowing that the Guide is based on substantial experience with good, playful developmental practices, combined with a clear, accessible format that will speak to many practitioners in the field. The book is well organized, with ample photos and explanatory text. Each of the chapters presents basic curricular ideas that can be brought with guided effort to any classroom, and all the guidance is in the book. Topics such as role play, books, and puppets will resonate with teachers and gain new meaning through examples that are provided. The Materials in Actions sections offer wonderful examples that illustrate each of the suggested activities, bringing life and meaning to all the authors present. For professionals with experience, Thrifty Teacher's Guide will provide a reminder of what should be familiar to them. For novices, the Guide will support them as they wend their way into the traditions of good practice. It will also be useful for parents and other volunteers who need help to know how they can contribute to a program. This is a useful resource on many fronts, and in addition it honors a value important for any program: Thrift. Stuart Reifel, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Early Childhood Education The University of Texas at Austin Thrifty Teachers's Guide to Creative Learning Centers is a terrific resource for any preschool through kindergarten educator. I especially appreciated that this guide, unlike many others, focuses on encouraging a playful use of materials and not just arts and crafts. The first chapter stresses the need to focus on open ended materials and activities guided by the children's interests and supports educators with tips on how to implement such an approach. The learning center chapters are set up by types of materials and are not solely focused on one learning area. The ideas for activities include core skill development in language arts, mathematics, science and social skills but also go beyond to include developing skills in communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. I recommend the guide as a "must have" resource for every early learning classroom. - Lee Scott, Chairperson, The Goddard School Education Advisory Board Thrifty Teacher's Guide to Creative Learning Centers is a must-have resource for early childhood education teachers and caregivers! This book is packed with practical ideas and examples of how to support children's play across multiple centers and content areas, including blocks, dramatic play, art, writing, science, fine-motor, math, social studies/community, and sensory experiences. Dr. Nicholson and Ms. Martinez sprinkle both research-based theory and years of practical experience into specific, detailed examples of how to create, organize, and implement play-based learning centers. The full-color photos, material lists, how-to instructions, and implementation strategies offer teachers and caregivers with all the tools they need to provide low-cost, developmentally appropriate, culturally relevant centers for young children across early childhood education and care settings. Dip into this book today and you will have center activities you can use tomorrow -- which makes for both confident teachers and happy, engaged children! Holly Carrell Moore, Ph.D. Early Childhood Specialist & Educational Technologist in Eanes ISD "Limited school budgets is a common dilemma for teachers in early childhood classrooms and necessitates learning how to provide new, interesting experiences on a shoestring budget. In the pages of "Thrifty Teacher's Guide to Creative Learning Centers," classroom teachers Shelley Nicholson and Jessica Martinez draw from their collective decades of experience in classrooms to present practical low-cost ideas for gathering and creating rich explorations in learning centers. "Thrifty Teacher's Guide to Creative Learning Centers" vividly describes the unique ways preschool and elementary school classroom teachers can use found and recyclable materials to encourage cognitive development and creative exploration in young children. In addition to photographic examples, "Thrifty Teacher's Guide to Creative Learning Centers" offers insightful, useful, and immediately applicable tips on how to source, select, and integrate materials into a center; how to get children started on using the materials; and how to scaffold learning with open-ended questions. These proffered ideas are just the beginning. Once the children's imaginations take off, they can use the materials in myriad and imaginative ways. Thoroughly 'classroom teacher friendly' in organization and presentation, "Thrifty Teacher's Guide to Creative Learning Centers" is unreservedly recommended for preschool, elementary school, home-schooling, and academic library Teacher Education collections and supplemental studies reading lists." - Nancy Lorraine, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

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