Thursday, February 16, 2012

Designs for Living and Learning: A Book Review

About The Book:

Are your dreams for your classroom greater than rating scales, regulations, and room arrangements? Designs for Living and Learning will inspire you to create magical environments that nurture children, families, and staff and support learning.

You'll find a multitude of simple and practical ideas for creative indoor and outdoor spaces and materials. The book features hundreds of gorgeous full-color photographs of real child care settings for infants through schoolagers. Learn how to shape welcoming spaces where children can learn and grow. Age Focus: 0-5. Softbound, 240 pgs.

About The Authors:

Deb Curtis holds an MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College and has worked as an infant/toddler caregiver, preschool and school age child care teacher, CDA trainer, Head Start education coordinator, college instructor, and assistant director of a child care program.

Margie Carter holds an MA from Pacific Oaks College and has worked as a preschool, kindergarten and primary school teacher, curriculum developer, High/Scope trainer, child care director, and college instructor. 

Margie and Deb first met in 1989 when Deb was working as an education coordinator for Head Start and Margie was the training coordinator for a local resource and referral agency in Seattle. They immediately discovered they shared a passion for promoting adventurous childhood experiences, voracious quests for new learning, and raising sons with a feminist consciousness. Influenced by the work of Elizabeth Jones, they attended graduate school together at Pacific Oaks College, where their twenty-year collaborative partnership began. Together, they have designed and taught college classes, worked side-by-side with classroom teachers, produced professional development videos, and co-authored seven books. In the last decade, Margie has focused her attention on working with directors to develop strong administrative systems that support reflective teaching. Deb has returned to work directly with children, putting into practice the philosophy and vision that they promote in their extensive travel across North America, Australia, and New Zealand to give presentations and consult with early childhood programs. Both are regular writers for Child Care Information Exchange and contributors to other publications. 

In this era of standardization and prescription in education, Deb and Margie stand for the creative and critical thinking that leads to education for democracy. They strongly believe that high quality care and education for young children and their families requires leaders and practitioners who are able to think through the dynamics of their work with a larger purpose and vision. They encourage early educators and administrators to think big, be visionary, and take responsibility for transforming the current limitations and mediocrity in early childhood. 

My Review:

Designs for Living and Learning is one of the best books I have come across since starting my career in Early Childhood Education back in 1998. It is a beautifully illustrated and gives caregivers all the ideas and tools they need to not only create beautiful play spaces but enhance learning in young children. 

I love that Curtis and Carter urge providers to "think outside the box" to give children new ways to learn. They take traditional learning ideas and flip them upside down. One of my favorite parts of the book (a theme seen throughout it actually) is to include as many natural elements in a room as possible. Though not a foreign idea to me, its not one I have truly embraced until recently. 

This book has given me some amazing ideas to try and I have bookmarked many of the pages. The book is very well organized, with stunning photography and is one that I will reference for as long as I am in the early childhood education field. It is a perfect companion for all those educators and families that use Emergent Curriculum in their programming.  The most important way to draw young children to learn is to make their environment appealing and Designs for Living and Learning definitely helps you to do that.

I highly recommend this book and give it a HUGE thumbs up.

BUY IT: You can purchase Designs for Living and Learning at Red Leaf Press online, here.

***I received a complimentary copy of the above book, courtesy of RedLeaf Press, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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