The ideas in this book are very good and it's all very clearly laid out and very easy to dip in and out for inspiration. However, it does assume that you have about 58 spare rooms in your house which I found very annoying, hence the 3 stars.
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80 of 81 people found the following review helpful
A must have for every parent!10 Aug. 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I've been reading early childhood education books for thirty years or so. It takes a serious gust to qualify as a breath of fresh air. This is it. This book artfully, masterfully, and very clearly presents a lovely marriage of the theories of Maria Montessori, Loris Malaguzzi, and Howard Gardner. What you get is an accesible and immediately implementable roadmap to the best of Montessori, Reggio Emelia, and Harvard Project Zero. It's absolutely not a theory book though--it's all very practical. This a visually inspiring book full of hands-on reading, science, and social activities for children from three or four to about eight or nine. There is just enough child development background to give underlying meaning to the activities. There are reproducibles to make it come to life easily. And there are very thoughtful, helpful, and beautiful pictures to inspire the visual among us. This book has me happily reorganizing and purposefully planning to capture the joyful moments of my children's natural inquisitiveness and wonder right along with them.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Exactly the inspiration I needed19 Aug. 2011
Patricia B. Jennings
- Published on Amazon.com
As I start my 4th year of homeschooling (with a newborn baby added to the mix) I was looking at my homeschool "room" with dread. I knew I needed to make changes to the physical space but I just could not visualize it. Nor did I have time to peruse hundreds of blogs and scans dozens of pinterest pages. This book has enough inspiring pictures, printables, and practical ideas to get me going for the coming year. I think any parent wanting to encourage their child's interests at home would benefit from reading this book. If you like Mariah's blog, you will love her book. I wish I didn't live across the country and could visit her brick and mortar store in person!
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
What a wonderful book!11 Aug. 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I just got this book yesterday, and I am so excited to sit down and take my time with it. I read the section on the stages of writing first, and I have never read such an accessible, practical explanation of HOW to encourage developing writers. I have read plenty of theory, and seen the stages she writes about. But her book actually walks you through the reasons behind it while attaching it to the methods of encouraging a child to become a writer.
The book is full of practical examples, beautiful photos of learning spaces, easy-to-make learning activities.
Thank you so much for writing such a practical and inspiring book. I have been a fan of your blog for quite some time, and the book is even better!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A creative and well organized resource3 April 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
This book provides a lot of ideas and good information. Even if you were to think of the ideas on your own, the author gives you books to read to reinforce and build on the activities for every section. It is very well laid out and attainable for most everyone. I had education experience and college training before having children, but I do not believe this book would be a waste of money for anyone. She includes stages of development and activities for writing, reading, math, science, art, and more that include supply lists, instructions, books to help inspire, and ways to expand the activity. I was a little skeptical of the age range listed, but after reading the book I am sure my 7.5 year-old son will enjoy most of these activities with my younger children. The only weakness I found in this book was the reading section which is definitely very heavy in the whole language approach to teaching reading (which research has repeatedly shown to not be the best approach). That being said there are still ideas in that section that can be used, but using a phonics based approach. I am so glad that I bought this book.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Delightful informative book for parents and teachers7 Oct. 2011
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Playful Learning is a delightful book about children, how they learn and how the family can support and encourage them.
If you're concerned about the education of your young children or those you teach and love or if you're just concerned about education in this country in general and the impact on all aspects of our society then this is the book for you! Families need this kind of resource and expertise to support their children's growth and learning in the complex world we live in. Recent articles and research going back as far as the `70s show that too much emphasis on academic achievement at an early age can create a variety of antisocial behavior including social violence (In Defense of Learning, [...], Brodsky Chenfeld, M (2006 June) Hand Cuff Me Too, Phi Delta Kappan, 87(10) 745-747. Burgard, M (2007, April 2) Into School, Out of Control:Nowadays Even the Youngest Students Turn to Violence, Hartford Courant, April 12, 2007 Bruehl emphasizes the importance of engaging a child's interest, focusing on fun and not forcing the timetable and activity but allowing the child to learn at their own pace and as interest dictates during early childhood. Mariah Bruehl is an early childhood education expert who had a dream to start her own school using her ideas about how children learn and keeping the natural joy and playfulness in their education. The opportunity to help start a new school came to her that would provide children a world-class education and all that was necessary for a successful life. She was surrounded with brilliant teachers and educators creating an early childhood and elementary school that was one of the most innovative in the country. After the birth of her second child she began to realize that her good intentions were way off base and the time required to develop her career was at the expense of time with her own children. She says that the "big hard lesson...was that although good schools are a vital aspect of children's development, they are simply not enough." Instead of putting all of her time and energy into developing schools she turned her focus to nurturing her own family and helping others do the same. In the process of developing ideas and curriculum for her own children she began to put together the book, Playful Learning. This book is a guide for all parents to understanding how children learn, what excites them and what turns them off. The author gives detailed rationale for each lesson or exercise. Her directions are clear and easy to follow and implement. She believes that young children are naturally eager to explore and learn all about the world around them. In reading this book and due to the author's engaging writing style, I felt transported back to my own childhood and remembered how excited I felt as a child as I explored new learning opportunities and discovered who I was, the best part of me and what I'm passionate about. The activities are self-affirming and encouraging to children as young as early pre-school. The author gives the reader insight into how children learn and what they experience in the process. The first section on how the book is intended to be used encourages the parent to allow the child to take the lead in his learning rather than having a pre-prescribed plan. Bruehl describes the learning process for children for each of the seven disciplines addressed clearly and completely. There should be an Ah-ha moment for each parent or reader; there was for me as a mother of four and an educator when I realized that each child learns at her own pace and that mastery of each level is necessary before the child can move on to the next. Practical everyday examples of exercises are given; you don't have to be a trained educator to understand and follow them. This book will guide the reader through the early stages of teaching, learning and loving to learn with children. The next section includes photographs and detailed descriptions of setting up learning spaces. No matter the size of the space you have available to you, the descriptions can be adapted with materials readily available everywhere. Having a specific, well-organized space is encouraging and special for a child and lets them know you value learning and what they're doing and interested in. I found this extremely helpful and it relieved much of the anxiety I often feel when starting a new project. Each section has a special box set up with a list of supplies needed to set up the area. The next seven sections of the book address each of the primary disciplines for young children: writing, reading, mathematics, science, art and artists, geography and citizens of tomorrow, which includes social and political issues. In each of these areas time is spent explaining the unique mental process the child goes through to master the skills and concepts necessary and gives developmental information for three levels of development from youngest pre-school to late elementary students. Exercises and lists of materials and supplies are provided for each subject along with a rationale for using them. Some of the highlights I found most interesting were the emphasis on social and emotional development that includes self awareness, social awareness, self management, responsible decision making and relationship skills needed for successful children. The emphasis on the importance of family as the microcosm of the larger world includes basic non-negotiable rules, respect for other's feelings, words, bodies and things; the necessity of conflict resolution skills in a material world, understanding needs vs. wants, the importance of contribution to the community and individual development through growth and ability. The book ends with an extensive list of printable materials, resources and sources for other materials. This book can be an invaluable resource for parents, families and all teachers of young children especially those considering or involved in home schooling.