The Preschool Connect Blog

Welcome to TPC Blog!

  • Mini Lesson 1: The Digital Divide and Inaccessibility Within Communities

    Click the link to watch the recording.

  • Little Library at the South Pole

    There are now Little Free Libraries on all seven continents! We are thrilled to introduce the first Little Free Library in Antarctica, which was established by Dr. Russell Schnell at the South Pole. 

    The South Pole Little Free Library is Schnell’s 37th installation. He built his first library in 2013 for his daughter’s home in St. Louis followed by another for his own home. Since then he has created libraries for locations like Mount Fuji, Japan; an Aboriginal area in Warrnambool, Australia; and a First Peoples Cree reserve in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada. Schnell prides himself on using recycled materials whenever he can. He has eight more libraries ready to be installed, plus requests for more.

    History of Little Library

    In 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse. It was a tribute to his mother; she was a teacher who loved to read. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it, so he built several more and gave them away.

    Read more here.

  • How To Develop the Skill of Life-Long Learning

    Life-long learning, a term commonly used in academia based settings. However, according to a recent article by Harvard University, this is a skill employers are looking for in applicants.

    Q: What exactly is life-long learning? How can we become life-long learners? What is its purpose? Why does this topic need attention?

    A: The lifelong learning mindset is more than just about the need to learn; it’s about a desire to learn that lasts a lifetime.

    Educators want their learners to succeed both in and out of the classroom. The idea is to make sure that once our children or students leave school, they no longer need us. In essence, our learners must become teachers and leaders. The point is that they never stop being learners. To be a successful lifelong learner, make a commitment early to expand your horizons by making room for new topics of inspiration in your life.

    Lifelong learning is now recognized by educators, governing bodies, accreditation organizations, certification boards, employers, third-party payers, and the general public as one of the most important competencies a person can possess. Lifelong learning requires embracing opportunities to learn, accepting failure, and growing from it. To cultivate the habit of life-long learning, here are 10 points to remember:

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    1. Accept Responsibility for Your Own Learning

    Everyone encounters obstacles along their journey. Life-long learners understand that obstacles can be used as opportunities to connect to their next destination. These make excellent, real world learning experiences, as obstacles are often personal to the individual experiencing them.

    2. Create Your Own Learning Toolbox

    What exactly do you need to learn? For some, this is a favorite playlist, podcast, or inspirational video. For others, their toolbox might include moments of meditation and a cup of coffee. For young children with attention disorders, a simple toy or fidget helps them focus in the moment. Whatever is needed, build your toolbox based on your learning needs.

    3. Focus on the Journey, Not the Destination

    This can be hard to do. We all want to succeed and fast! Often times, this causes anxiety and a slew of events that could be avoided if we just focus on the journey, rather than bulldozing to the next destination. There is strength in knowing when to shut tunnel vision off and look around at where you are currently. Our students are on a journey of learning in school that continues well beyond the physical and virtual classroom walls. A healthy positive lifelong learning mindset is the greatest gift we can give them to continue that journey with.

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    4. Turn Mistakes into Opportunities

    We will all make mistakes. It is human nature to experiment. Along the journey, it is important to embrace failure and view it as another learning opportunity. “You either grow or you learn.”

    5. Embrace Holistic Health and Education for Learning

    Mind/body health leads to a willingness and desire to learn. When the whole student is healthy they feel good; this promotes positive action in learning and discovery. Holistic education is a comprehensive approach to teaching where educators seek to address the emotional, social, ethical, and academic needs of students in an integrated learning format. Students are taught to reflect on their actions and how they impact the global and local community, as well as how to learn from the community around them. Teachers often engage students in projects that apply critical-thinking skills toward solving real-world problems.

    6. Create Time to Rest

    The average college student only gets around six hours of sleep per night. Recent research on college students and sleep shows that insufficient sleep impacts our health, our moods, our GPA, and our safety. Sleep is critical at every stage of life, but it’s especially important for college students or those who are actively learning. Sleep is key to learning because it is during our sleep that our brain has time to consolidate new memories. So when people say if you want to learn something you should “sleep on it” they mean it literally.

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    7. Develop a Habit of Reading

    First, set a specific reading goal for the year. Once you’re done setting your reading goal for the year, you’ll need a list to back it up. Write out a list of the amazing books you want to read. Set aside specific times everyday to read your assigned book for the week/month and any other articles you may have bookmarked. If you’re looking to create a consistent reading pattern, then setting out a particular number of pages per day would work perfectly.

    8. Life-Long Learning Mindset

    Lifelong learning is the ongoing education of the self. Because it’s on a continuum, this type of learning is self-motivated and often self-taught. It’s about turning the act of learning in a classroom into a daily mindset and habit for personal development. It’s about having a fierce desire to gain knowledge and skills whenever, wherever, and however.

    9. Celebrate Your Successes

    “These feelings—gratitude, compassion, and pride—are easier to generate than the willpower and self-denial that underpin traditional approaches to self-control and grit. And while willpower is quickly depleted, prosocial emotions actually become stronger the more we use them.”-David Desteno, Ph.D.

    10. Do What You Love and Discover Your Ikigai (Reason for Being)

    Ikigai (ee-key-guy) is a Japanese concept that combines the terms iki, meaning “alive” or “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth.” When combined, these terms mean that which gives your life worth, meaning, or purpose.

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  • 10 Best Cities to Visit in the Fall

    Asheville, North Carolina

    Asheville is that type of unique, special place that lingers sweetly in your mind and memories for years to come. The city’s rich architectural legacy with its mix of Art Deco, Beaux Arts and Neoclassical styles is the perfect retro-urban backdrop to the edgy energy that emanates from the locally owned-shops and art galleries, distinctive restaurants and exciting entertainment venues. 

    A bastion of cutting-edge art and technology in the Blue Ridge, the city also prides itself on its fascinating Appalachian past and celebrates this culture with annual events such as Shindig on the Green. While many cities underwent major overhauls in past decades, Asheville’s historic and architecturally diverse downtown remains beautifully preserved.

    There’s something special about Asheville, and the world is just beginning to discover it. Read more here.

    San Diego, California

    San Diego is renowned for its idyllic climate, 70 miles of pristine beaches and a dazzling array of world-class family attractions. Popular attractions include the world-famous San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California. San Diego offers an expansive variety of things to see and do, appealing to guests of all ages from around the world.

    In San Diego’s East County, the terrain varies from gentle foothills to mile-high mountains and the historic mining town, Julian, down to the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, offering nature-conscious visitors endless opportunities to hike, camp, fish, observe wildlife and much more. Read more here.

    Boston, Massachusetts

    Boston is best known for its famous baked beans, Fenway Park, The Boston Marathon, and of course for the bar from Cheers, but dig a little deeper below the surface and you’ll find a surprising wealth of things that make Boston one of the best cities in America—and the world.

    In the 19th century, acclaimed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted laid out his plan for a sprawling Emerald Necklace surrounding the city. From original green space like the Esplanade on the Charles River, the Back Bay Fens, and Boston Common to newer iterations like the 15-acre Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, all Boston neighborhoods offer outdoor opportunities for fresh air and exercise without having to leave the city limits. Read more here.

    Denver, Colorado

    Denver boasts 300 days of sunshine each year. Even during cold winter months, it’s not uncommon to experience the warm sunshine. Denver has the 10th largest downtown area in the nation. It is also one of the most walkable cities. Within a mile radius of downtown, you can explore three various universities and colleges. There’s also a professional sports stadium, home to the Denver Broncos, and art & history museums. The city has 200 parks and nearly 20,000 acres of parks in the nearby Rocky Mountains. Denver has the sixteenth most educated city in America. Read more here.

    Providence, Rhode Island

    “Best city for foodies,” “No. 4 quirkiest city in America,” “No. 3 favorite U.S. city…” the awards for our capital city are countless. Providence combines the friendliness of a small town with the culture and sophistication of a big city. The city has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past 50 years and has a thriving arts community, vibrant and diverse neighborhoods, fantastic hotels, a renowned restaurant scene and tons of things to do. Small city, huge impact! Read more here.

    Portland, Maine

    With over 66,000 full-time residents, Portland swells to two million with the addition of its seasonal visitors and part-time residents in the summertime. The city is located on a peninsula in Casco Bay with access to many islands such as Peak’s, Great Diamond, and Long Island.

    Portland stands as one of the few working waterfronts left in the United States, acting as New England’s largest tonnage seaport and second largest fishing port. Portland is also the largest foreign inbound transit tonnage port in the United States! Each year our port alone handles over 206,000 international passengers, including 41,000 cruise ship passengers. Read more here.

    Anchorage, Alaska

    Urban and wild aren’t opposites; they are Anchorage’s two defining elements. There’s no need to choose one or the other since they are both part of life here. Anchorage lives under midnight sun and auroras. Shares the backyard with moose. Fishes in urban salmon streams at lunch. Cheers runners and reindeer on the main street. The city’s adventures may be beyond belief, but they aren’t beyond the boundaries.

    Anchorage might appear at first glance to be a typical American city, but closer exploration shows some surprising facets of urban life in Alaska. The city’s 300,000 human residents share their space with an estimated 1,500 moose, not to mention bald eagles, bears, beavers, Dall sheep, and the occasional lynx. King and silver salmon fill Ship Creek all summer long, drawing anglers to one of the world’s only urban salmon fisheries. Read more here.

    San Antonio, Texas

    Named the first World Heritage Site in Texas by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), the designation includes the city’s four southernmost Spanish colonial missions – Concepción, San José, San Juan, Espada, and the famous Alamo, located in Downtown San Antonio, and is one of the most popular historical sites in San Antonio.

    The city’s rich culture offers an authentic glimpse of early Spanish colonial life in the Southwest. As the first civilian settlement in Texas, San Antonio de Béxar was founded in 1718. Today, many of the city’s early architectural and cultural elements remain, allowing visitors to visit the historical sites in San Antonio and see into the city’s storied past first-hand. Our brave old world is your next, new adventure. View these historical sites and landmarks with modern-day events, celebrations, and fun. Read more here.

    Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Evidence of Native American occupancy has been found throughout Minneapolis with the oldest being found near the Washington Avenue Bridge and Boom Island Park that date back to roughly 10,000 B.C.E. In more recent times The Dakota have considered the area around St. Anthony Falls to be very sacred. Nicollet Island was a peaceful meeting place between the Dakota and Ojibwe, and downstream eight miles, where the Mississippi meets the Minnesota River, lies Bdote. The Dakota believe Bdote is the center of the world and where the Dakota people began.

    St. Anthony Falls, also known as Owámni, or “falling water,” in Dakota, is the heart and soul of the city. The waterfall provided energy for dozens of mills along the riverfront and is currently one of the most scenic spots along the river to enjoy a beautiful day. 9,000 years ago, when St. Anthony Falls was eroding its way upstream, the waterfall split when it reached Minnehaha Creek. Most of it continued up the Mississippi to its current location, but a part of it eroded up the creek and became the popular attraction known today as Minnehaha Falls. Minnehaha Regional Park offers amazing hiking trails and breathtaking views of Minnehaha Falls. Read more here.

    Salt Lake City, Utah

    Nestled on the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and overlooking the largest inland lake in the western US, Salt Lake is home to a pioneering past, and an exciting future. Prior to the Mormons settling the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, it was home to the Ute Indians who called the valley and encompassing mountain range the ‘low place in high mountains.’ Salt Lake’s history is as rich as its vistas, surrounding mountains, and beautiful lake-enhanced sunsets.

    In the meantime, Salt Lake has grown in population, cultural diversity, and accolades. In addition to being home to the Winter Olympics in 2002, our city’s nearby mountains are widely known to be the home of “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” Large storms pick up more moisture as they roll in over the the Great Salt Lake, and that moisture slams against the Wasatch Mountains, creating incomparably light and skiiable powder snow. Read more here.

  • Educators! Win a Gift Card to Insomnia Cookies!

    Educators! Click the link and take a quick survey to WIN a gift card to Insomnia Cookies!

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QDK5SJW

  • Canva- A Quick Crash Course Blog

    Canva, a more than popular tool most recently used on mobile devices as means of creating stimulating visual marketing and social media related images. However, do you know enough about Canva to become an effective Canva user? I hope you are able to leave this crash course well informed about the many uses of Canva!

    There are hundred’s of pre-made templates that you can download and use to DIY your blog’s design. If you are struggling with web design, did you know you can use Canva to design certain elements of your site? Read more about this and other topics below centering around Canva!

    10 Types of Visual Designs You Can Create With Canva

    1. Blog Post Image Template
    2. Sidebar Graphics
    3. Blog Email Newsletter Header
    4. Lead Magnet
    5. Content Upgrades
    6. Email Opt-In Mockups
    7. Blog Post Graphics
    8. Blog Post Infographics
    9. Tip-O-Graphics
    10. List-O-Graphics
    11. Blog Media Kit

    Many users still don’t know the powerful features of Canva. With Canva, you can create the following:

    • Design product labels
    • Create workbooks / Planners / Ebooks
    • Posters
    • Flyers
    • Banners
    • Invitation cards
    • Logos
    • Templates
    • Photo collages
    • GIFs
    • Mobile videos
    • Infographic
    • Resume
    • Desktop wallpaper
    • Postcard
    • Worksheet
    • Certificate

    3 Ways To Enhance Your Blog Posts with Canva

    1. Blog Title Image

    Canva’s Blog Title design template is best for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn shares. If you’re looking for a portrait or vertical blog title image for Pinterest and Google+ shares you can use Canva’s Blog Graphic template. It works great!

    2. Infographics

    The best thing is Canva created an infographic template, which is SO helpful. You can use any of the ready to use template designs and switch out the font, colors, and design elements. Have an outline ready for your infographic, which will make it easier to get done.

    3. Photo Collages

    Photo collages are a great visual piece with a variety of images in one. You can use the ready-to-use Photo Collage template in Canva to show steps of a recipe or instructions. The Canva photo collage template is square shaped however you can create a photo collage with many of their photo grids.

    You can use collages for designs and to display your portfolio. Use the Pinterest template in Canva and the multiple image photo grids as shown below.

    Tip: Find the right photo with Canva’s built in photo library

    To start, type a keyword or two into the search bar, and choose from any of the photos or illustrations — that means no more Google image searches. The extensive photo library hosts a wide variety of subjects and themes, like abstract images, textures, landscapes, people, and animals. Once you’ve found the perfect image, just drag it over to your design, and drop it where it needs to go.

    Canva also allows you to upload your own images and use them on your design, which is perfect for adding your logo and other branded visuals to content.

    Tip: Resize your whole design to fit various platforms.

    The Magic Resize tool is available for Canva for Work users — a paid plan starting at $12.95 per month. Users of Canva’s free tools can still resize their designs by creating a copy of the original visual. Click “File,” “Change Dimensions,” and select the format to which you’d like to resize the design. That said, Magic Resize is quite a time-saving feature that lets you copy and resize one design into formats for various channels. Just click on “File,” navigate to “Magic Resize,” then choose the different formats you want to use to adapt your visual. Then, click the “resize” button, and you’re done.

    Visual content is #Winning!

    Social media users are much more likely to engage with posts that have “visuals” tied to them.

  • 8 Google Sheets Add-Ons For Educators

    Below is a collection of Google Sheets add-ons that I believe every teacher and educator should at least be aware of. These are tools that provide you with tons of functionality hacks to enhance your productivity and facilitate your workflow. Some of the things you can do with these add-ons include: creating forms of various types (e.g., quizzes, assignments, surveys, etc), generate PDFs and documents from Sheets’ data, grade and analyze digital assignments, create a class website from spreadsheets, and many more.

    FormsCreator

    An easy way to generate Google Forms to use for various educational purposes including for surveys, quizzes, assignments, feedback, etc.

    Doctopus

    Enhances teachers workflow by providing teachers with the ability to “mass-copy, share, monitor student progress, and manage grading and feedback for student projects in Google Drive”.

    Autocrat

    “Flexible, easy to use document merge tool that creates PDF or shared Documents from spreadsheet data”.

    Wikipedia and Wikidata tools

    This add-on is great for mining data for your classes. You can use Wikipedia and Wikidata tools to do a ton of information gathering, instantly. The add-on provides you with a host of custom lookups such as WIKITRANSLATE and WIKIGEOCOORDINATES. These functions pull live data straight from Wikipedia into a spreadsheet, enabling teachers to compile an up-to-date and accurate database of facts.

    Flubaroo

    A Google Spreadsheets Add-on that helps educators quickly grade and analyze online assignments and assessments, as well as share scores with students!”

    Sheet2Site

    Allows you to create a website for your class using Google Sheets.

    Form Publisher

    Allows you to generate documents (e.g., Docs, PDF, Sheets, Slides, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) from data on Google Forms and Google Sheets.

    Flippity

    Originally, Flippity was designed to help you create online flashcards from Google Sheets, but the range of templates now includes everything from quiz shows and crossword puzzles to spelling and typing tests. The add-on has recently been discontinued but all the same great templates are available directly via the Flippity website.