Latest Blog Posts

What We Can Learn from Mies van Hout’s Monsters

What We Can Learn from Mies van Hout’s Monsters

The monsters in Mies van Hout’s charming picture book Friends have much to teach us about emotional intelligence. Developing the ability to make a friend is a milestone that every parent wishes for their children. The greater challenge is developing the ability to...

Coming Soon: Book Talk at The Book Cellar!

Coming Soon: Book Talk at The Book Cellar!

  When I talk about Creating a Beautiful Mess in book stores or libraries, it’s fun to use familiar characters from well-loved children’s books to demonstrate the ten essential play experiences. In fact, I’ll be giving just such a talk next week, on Thursday,...

My Beautiful Mess Wins Gold!

My Beautiful Mess Wins Gold!

I’m pleased to announce that my recent book Creating a Beautiful Mess: Ten Essential Play Experiences for a Joyous Childhood won gold in the National Parenting Publications Awards, also known as the NAPPA awards. The National Parenting Publications Awards is one of...

Is this a robot?

Is this a robot?

Recently I’ve been developing a robotics curriculum that challenges children to think critically about the role of technology in their world. In one of the introductory activities we piloted this summer at the Center for Talent Development, third grade students were...

Home Town Radio Show

Home Town Radio Show

"Childhood is still childhood and play is still play." I really enjoyed my radio interview with Cathy Blythe on her show "Problems and Solutions." This conversation was especially meaningful to me because Cathy is based in Nebraska, near my home town. Click here to...

Pumpkin Spice Play Dough?

Pumpkin Spice Play Dough?

This week I’ve seen a flurry of postings on social media from crafty moms offering recipes for pumpkin spice play dough. I do love the texture of home-made play dough. In fact, I included a basic play dough recipe in Chapter 6 of my book, Creating a Beautiful Mess:...

Playgrounds, Risky Play & Parkour

Playgrounds, Risky Play & Parkour

There’s no doubt that playgrounds are much safer now than they were forty or fifty years ago. Playground surfaces, for example, are now made of such soft and springy materials, children bounce like rubber balls each time they fall down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really...

Girls + Block Play = STEM Learning

Girls + Block Play = STEM Learning

From my recent post for the Redleaf Press blog ... In many early childhood classrooms the block area is perceived to be the domain of boys only. Girls often need extra encouragement from teachers and parents to engage in block play. The experience of young girls in...

The Verdict Is In: “Get Out and Play”

The Verdict Is In: “Get Out and Play”

I'm happy to report that the Library Journal has posted a positive review of my new book, Creating a Beautiful Mess: Ten Essential Play Experiences for a Joyous Childhood. Here's what they had to say: Early childhood educator Gadzikowski offers a charming book on...

Girls and LEGOs: A Brief and Incomplete History

Girls and LEGOs: A Brief and Incomplete History

I'm about to travel to Denmark, the home of LEGO toys, to lead a session called “Girl Power STEM” at an international conference. I’ll speak about the challenge of engaging girls in science, technology, engineering and math studies. My primary message is that we need...

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