As you know, quality early childhood education and STEM education are top of mind concerns for our community, as well as across the nation. Believing these two topics to be inextricably intertwined, on May 1, 2019, Thinkery, (a member of the Greater Austin STEM Ecosystem Steering Committee Way for Greater Austin and KLRU-TV are hosting a convening on the state of early STEM learning in our community. Please join us to share your knowledge and understanding of STEM learning in early childcare and educational settings and discuss a vision for young children’s STEM education in the future. The convening will be held at Thinkery from 8:00-10:00 am. We will provide coffee and breakfast tacos to support our creative thinking. We will send an agenda in advance of the meeting. See parking details below.

We hope that you are able join us!

Trish Young Brown, CEO, Thinkery

Cathy McHorse, Vice President of Success by Six, United Way for Greater Austin

Ben Kramer, Vice President – Educational Services, KLRU-TV, Austin PBS

PARKING: Validated parking is available in the McBee Street Parking Garage (behind Thinkery), please bring your ticket to the Admissions desk for validation. Street parking is available for free until 10:00 am.

Free Webinar – Culturally Appropriate Positive Guidance with Young Children in Our Care

The article “Culturally Appropriate Positive Guidance,” featured in Spotlight on Young Children: Social and Emotional Development provides insight into how culture plays a role in classroom interactions and how educators can guide children to recognize and understand diverse cultural practices.

Join NAEYC on Wednesday, April 10, from 3–4 p.m. EDT for a webinar with author Zeynep Ercan where she will discuss ways early childhood professionals can transform their thinking around children’s actions by using culturally appropriate positive guidance, highlight examples from her article, and how educators can practice the idea of cultural responsiveness in the context of guidance issues linked to variations in family practices.

Register Here –


CLI – Developing Pragmatic Language Skills

Developing Pragmatic Language Skills

Oral language is the ability to comprehend receptively, to process and understand heard speech, such as a story read aloud or a question prompt. It also includes expressive language which is the ability to verbalize and communicate to others. These abilities include listening comprehension, conversation skills, vocabulary development, grammar and phonological awareness skills.

Pragmatics are the functional use of language in social contexts; essentially the conversation skills.

This is when appropriate use of language is used to communicate effectively in many different situations and for many different purposes. This involves how something is said, the intention of the speech, the relationship between those in conversation, and any cultural expectations that influence the meaning.

Very early on, babies learn the beginnings of pragmatics. Eye contact, little smiles and gurgles are all early pragmatic skills that babies acquire much like other milestones in their development. Through responsive interactions with others, children learn how to engage with others and take turns in conversation.

Children must learn the social scripts that adults use subconsciously: greetings, conversation openers, the rhythms of questioning and answering, and so on. Effective interpersonal communication is learned through practice in large groups, small groups, and one on one. By talking with others, children learn to:

  • Share ideas and experiences
  • Develop new insights
  • Dispel misunderstandings
  • Build relationships
  • Answer and ask questions
  • Wait for their turn in a conversation
  • Use body language that shows interest in a speaker’s message
  • Use appropriate volume and intonation for different situations

In the eCIRCLE course “Setting the Stage for Children’s Talk” emphasis on creating a classroom environment in which children feel comfortable—even eager—to talk is a critical part of developing and promoting conversation.

Every teacher must find their own style, their own way of engaging children in talk. That said, research tells us that children are most compelled to talk when there is a reason to do so, when opportunities for talk are presented in meaningful or authentic contexts (for example, asking children to describe their pets, or what kinds of food they like or dislike).

On a related note, children’s talk cannot be forced. When children are pushed too hard they tend to shut down, become less responsive, and at times develop a negative attitude toward speaking. Rather than push, teachers should always try to find new, fun contexts in which young learners can talk because they feel compelled to say something.

The following three components make up a teaching style that supports and scaffolds children’s talk. Through talking and listening, children learn:

  • Attention and Responsiveness

Good teachers pay close attention to children’s verbal signals and nonverbal gestures. By observing children, and listening carefully to what they say, we become aware of where they are developmentally, what interests them, and their level of engagement in activities. Teachers can respond to this information by drawing an excited child into deeper conversation, by giving a child extra time to respond to a question, or by asking children about the things that interest them.

  • Content and Stimulation

Rich language, rare words, and open-ended questions that make young children think and exercise their speaking skills are all examples of content and stimulation. When children are presented with meaningful language and language forms, they are quick to put them to use and build on them.

  • Emotional Support

Oral language lessons are most effective when teachers demonstrate enthusiasm and respect for both what children say and how they say it. A warm and accepting attitude toward children’s talk can be conveyed verbally with praise or through body language: gazes, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Remember to praise and acknowledge children for good speaking and listening behaviors.

By staying mindful of the components that make up a supportive teaching style and applying those components in an integrated way, teachers create classrooms in which children’s talk blossoms. A supportive teaching style also sets the stage for a well-managed classroom: children learn to take turns by being given their turn, they learn to listen by being listened to, and they learn to speak well and respect the words of others by being spoken to and respected.

teaching tips

Create social scripts to help better children’s ability to communicate in social situations. Scripted Stories for Social Situations help children understand social interactions, situations, expectations, social cues, the script of unfamiliar activities, and/or social rules. The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) provides prepared practices.

Find activities in the CIRCLE Activity Collection for Pre-K such as Greetings to help develop oral language pragmatic skills. The purpose of this activity is to develop children’s oral language skills by participating in a song. This activity and many others are aligned with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF), Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines, and the Kindergarten Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

Greetings Prekindergarten Activity

  • Domain: Language and Reading
  • Subdomain: Speaking and Listening
  • Setting: Center Time
  • Alignments:
    • Head Start: Goal P-LC4. Child understands, follows, and uses appropriate social and conversational rules.
    • Pre-K Guidelines: II.B.2. Child engages in conversations in appropriate ways.
    • Kindergarten TEKS: English Language Arts and Reading 16 (B)
  1. Introduce

“Every morning, we will get together on the carpet and sing a song to greet one another. Greet is another word for saying hello. You will each get a turn to be the greeter for the day.”

  1. Model and Explain

“When we greet someone, we shake hands, smile, and look at each other’s eyes. Let me show you.” Model how to greet someone by choosing a child from the classroom. “We will sing a song and you will get to greet your friends by shaking hands, smiling, and looking at their eyes to make our greeting fun!” Model how to greet everyone in the circle as the chant is sung.

Chant (Sung to the tune of “Farmer in the Dell” or other familiar tune):
_________ is here!
_________ is here!
It’s a great day because ________ is here!

  1. Guide Practice

“Are you ready to try it? Let’s begin with [child’s name] and have him decide how he would like to go around the circle to greet everyone. Everyone else sing along with me!” Select a child to be the greeter to greet their classmates. The child walks around the circle, greeting each classmate and shaking hands, as the chant is sung. Assist if necessary.

  1. Summarize

Let children know that they can greet anyone. They can greet their family members with a hug and a kiss, a friend with a hug, and a teacher by shaking hands.

Review the Infant & Toddler Developmental Checklists on CLI Engage, where you can find a complete list of developmental milestones related to language and communication for birth to 4 years of age. These checklists can help teachers become aware of what skills are expected at what ages and acknowledge what the child is accomplishing.

Complete the eCIRCLE professional development course Setting the Stage for Children’s Talk. This 6-hour certificate online course covers instructional strategies for supporting language and communication skill development.

Free Event – Texas Early Childhood Learning Summit July 10-12, 2019 at the Marriott Marquis in Houston

TEA is excited to announce registration is open to public prekindergarten staff for the Texas Early Childhood Learning Summit on July 10-12, 2019 at the Marriott Marquis in Houston.

Please click the Registration Link and select “Attendee (ISD)” as “Reg Category”. From the drop box select your school district’s name.

Spots are limited – register soon!

Complete all the information requested. An email confirmation will be sent to the email you denoted within 24 hours of registering. Please ensure that you check all inbox folders, including junk/spam.

Hotel reservations will be made from the link provided in the email confirmation. Please ensure that you read the email confirmation in its entirety.

If you have any questions about registration, please contact TECL Summit Staff at

Region 13 staff does not handle registration, please direct all questions to TECL staff.

Can’f find the time to teach science? Come learn how literature can jump start your next Science Lesson!

Join Cynthia Holcomb, as we take a look at life science using engaging picture books that address the PK Guidelines and TEKS for organisms, ecosystems, and life cycles. Each story will be followed by Pk Guidelines and TEKS-aligned science activities and investigations, as well as strategies to promote literacy skills. Science is so much fun when you can find it right in your bookshelf!

Science Book Frenzy: Looking at Living Things Pk – 2nd Workshop ID: SP1940876

March 4th, 2019


Register Here:


CIRCLE Activity Collections – FREE whole and small group lessons!

Did you know that CLI Engage has FREE lessons with videos and scripts to show you how to implement them?
Three collections of activities are available in English and Spanish from the CLI Engage dashboard. Visit the activity collections to find engaging activities to support skill development in your classroom, and to share with families. Activities support language, literacy, social-emotional, mathematics, and science skills. Each activity is matched to a specific age group. Infant and toddler classroom activities are very flexible, focus on promoting the quality of language and sensitivity of the caregiver, and provide useful tips and suggestions for helping children understand new words and concepts. PreK/kindergarten activities incorporate the same goals but are structured around a standard lesson cycle, with teacher tips and extensions to enrich implementation. Scripting is included, providing example dialogue for what a teacher might say to introduce the activity, model the objective, and scaffold children’s responses. Finally, our family collection includes activities that are designed or adapted for parents and caregivers to support skill growth using everyday materials in the home environment. Many activities also include a demonstration video for teachers/caregivers to see the activity implemented with high quality.

·    PreK/K Classroom Activity Collection for Teachers

·    Infant/Toddler Classroom Activity Collection for Teachers

·    Birth to Six Home Activity Collection for Families


NEW Resources from TEA for your Dramatic Play Center

TEA has created two new resources to support your Dramatic Play Center:

Dramatic Play Support Documents – Resources include vocabulary cards, recipes, and appointment sheets that can be used with each new theme or set up for your dramatic play center. Vocabulary cards are available in English and Spanish. Click here

Dramatic Play Activity Sheets  – provides ideas on things to add to your dramatic play center such as a laundry machine made of cardboard, sorting clothing visuals, sock matching, etc. Click here – Right hand column under Resources

STEAMing Questions – Dr Jean will be at Region 13 in 6 days!!

STEAM Principles – From Dr. Jean’s Website

A primary goal of STEAM is to help children develop critical thinking strategies. Critical thinking is open-ended, complex, and can have multiple responses.  It’s getting children to think independently and to think outside the box.

From the moment of birth children take in information, respond to information, use that information, and begin to think critically.  Children (and adults) use critical thinking every day!

When children solve problems… When children make comparisons… When children make decisions and think about the consequences… When children make connections… When children evaluate… They are developing critical thinking skills.

Educators and parents can nurture critical thinking skills in many ways.

Encourage curiosity.  Give children interesting materials, time to explore, and freedom.

Invite children to ask questions and evaluate how they could do something differently.

Encourage children to “think out loud.”  That will give you insight into where they are and where you need to lead them.

Provide opportunities for children to work with others and talk about ideas.


Model researching, reading, and other ways to gather information.

Demonstrate problem-solving skills with every day issues.  Talk about solutions and steps to take to solve those problems.

Respect children’s answers.  Judging or criticizing their responses will inhibit their creativity and unique perspective.

Ask WHAT questions. What happened?   What do you think will happen if…?  What would you do?   What will happen next…?

Want to know more?? Join us October 16th

Workshop ID: FA1840293

$150 – Space is limited so sign up soon!

*Fee includes make and take materials and handout packet

Last days of our Early Bird Special for Dr Jean – Full STEAM ahead in Early Childhood (Pk-1st)

Tue, Oct 16, 2018 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Get ready for a Fun Filled Day! Use Code EARLYBIRD10 to save 10% until September 30th.

And don’t for get to bring some items for the make and take – we will provide the rest!

Teachers need to bring:

  • Cardboard paper towel roll
  • 1 empty food boxes, such as a cereal box or cake mix box
  • Stapler
  • Twig from a tree (8″ and 1/4′ diameter)