Written and images on this blog are Judie Ryan's sole property unless otherwise indicated.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Children who have no sense of awe and wonder have no self-stimulated imagination or curiosity. As parents and educators, we must realize that without awe and wonder we will have no new inventors, writers, scientists or mathematicians. A lack of current methods o teach imagination, creativity and attention span are what the-powers-that-be seem to want out of today's American students. Pop Culture and reality television do not project a respect of knowledge. Thus, they cause not motivation to learn. The human race must realize that without wonder creators will no longer imagine that man can fly, that a human heart can be transplanted from one human to another, that a cure for polio, TB, smallpox etc. can be found, that microwaves can carry messages around the globe.  Without a creative spirit, we will no longer hear composers who are able to imagine--from single unrelated sounds-- Beethoven's glorious Ninth Symphony, the Beatles' Yesterday or Maroon 5 's Moves Like Jagger. Nor would we see artworks by daVinci, Picasso or Warhol.

 With eductional offerings that range from Baby and Me classes to programs for mixed-age groups up to age 7, I try to instill wonder in every student and re-inspire it in their parents. Even children who have been over-exposed to licensed characters, rapid-fire television and video game graphics, advertising and "No Child Left Behind" can be lured back to their natural creative learning instincts through re-instilling wonder.
Fill yourself with the wonder of a child and ask yourself if you'd rather learn about magnets through hearing a lecture and completing worksheets or from finding objects hidden around the room and then, discovering which things are magnetic and which are not, and creating the question "why?" in the explorer's mind.


Saturday, February 25, 2017


This kind of reaction from babies and children shouldn't surprise me because in my family, wonder was always the motivator to learning.  The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle said, "All knowledge begins in wonder." Albert Einstein expressed it this way: "He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed." A child is born to learn, create and explore. Anything we can do in our schools and as parents to foster a sense of awe and wonder will create great learners. There needs to be a realization that rote memorization, worksheets and testing do not foster a love of learning or reading. For without wonder, there can be no true learning.

Now that I've experienced this fact with my own daughter and students, I realize that many children's stories, folk tales, fantasies and family traditions are meant to cultivate that sense of wonder. Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time, encourages all who wish children to discover and learn to participate. "If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." Some schools and parents don't read fiction or fairy tales, one of the great creators of imagination and wonder. Many day cares and preschools today focus on academics rather than imaginative play. Some parents believe that telling their children that there is a Santa Claus is telling them a lie. Yet avid readers, as well as television and movies watchers, know that "suspended disbelief." is a necessity.  "I can't wait to come home and fall into a book." simply indicates


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

AWE & WONDER, Part 1

People often say "Babies don't know anything."  But we boring grown-ups have been underestimating babies and children for a very long time. Through my own teaching experience with small children, I am stunned to discover that even a few day old infant has incredible intellectual and emotional capacity to respond well beyond their basic instincts, especially when exposed to the right stimulation and experiences.

When Frank and I arrived for our first day home with Baby, my harp with its 48 strings sat near a window that cast a warm light on the instrument. The strings seemed to glow.  I held Baby up too look at it and was shocked to see her placid baby expression change to one of awe. She held her breath. Her eyes widened. Her cheeks flushed. She started to suck and would not look away. And all this without even hearing the music.


Saturday, February 18, 2017


"I just try to do the good job that I have to the best of my ability, and I really don't think about whether I'm inspirational. I just do the best I can."--RBG, 2015
                                                                                 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
                                                                                 The Supreme Court of the United States

RBG raised two very successful children, James and Jayne, just like other working Moms. She did incredible things during her life. So if RBG just did the best she could, the best we can do is good enough. Don't stress yourselves out and I'll try not to stress myself out either.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


In spite of the fact, that most of the time I think about the sweetness of children, I'm not always like that. Like everytime my husband calls me Moody! My friend sent this (well not quite this, I had to clean it up a little) from @Humoriscontagious951 on facebook. I loved it!



Saturday, February 11, 2017


Right now, I'm writing a middle-grade book called Michael Pitzicato and the Music Thief. Writer's Digest is offering a contest for middle grade writers at http://tinyurl.com/hyyahr2 called "Dear Lucky Agent". It runs from now through September 19, 2016, If any of you are interested in entering too, check out Writer's Digest;s website, click the above URL or paste it into your search bar. Your agent judge is Marisa A. Corvisiero, founder and senior literary agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency.. And here she is! Awesome huh?

You are limited to the first 150-250 words, but the book has to be completed. Good Luck and have fun!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


For this specific kindergarten project, we asked our daughter what she wanted to make. She said, "A puppet theater with Sacajawea, the only woman on the Lewis and Clark expedition, and three Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and William Henry Harrison. We, a teacher and a college professor, were stunned. We couldn't even remember which President William Henry Harrison was. We had to look it up. He was the 9th President of the United States and his grandson, Benjamin Harrison was  the 23rd President. With our daughter, we looked at things she might use for the project--paper towel and toilet paper rolls, balls, cardboard boxes of different sizes, aluminum foil, Styrofoam spheres, poster board, pencils, paper plates, lots of tempera paint and colored markers etc. After choosing her materials, we asked her how we could help. She wanted a rectangle cut in the box to create a opening for a puppet stage (Let's face it, we didn't want a 5-year-old using an Exacto knife). The small rectangle that was left over, she wanted to use as a curtain. With little supervision, she painted four toilet paper rolls in what she thought were appropriate colors, i.e. black for President Lincoln, Blue for George Washington etc.. She painted faces as well as a kindergartner can on four Styrofoam heads. We needed to cut out the hats, but she painted them. The next day she glued all the pieces together, poked holes in the small rectangle and the top of the box and strung yarn through it, so that she could move the curtain up and down. We were really impressed. If I can find a picture of it, I'll post it. The other creations looked pretty much like a craft box cover. Perfect. I think it's wrong to make 5-year-olds feel they need to be perfect and that somehow a project they made themselves fell short of that. The problem is left with the teacher. She can 1. Send a note home to the parents and ask them to let the child do the work and make them mad. 2. Try to talk to the parents about it. 3. Give all the kids an A. You get the idea! It is true that letting a young child explore, takes more time. But it's worth it. .
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Thursday, February 2, 2017


I was thrilled to hear that a Fort Worth teacher, Brenda Young, gave all parents at her parent/teacher night, a letter that said her new policy was "no homework" this year. Dr. Jeffery Brosco, a pediatrician and a director at the University of Miami  thinks that's great. In a recent interview on NPR, Brosco said; "30-40 years of research shows that doing homework doesn't help academic outcomes. In fact, it produces negative parent involvement to override their child by doing the child's homework instead of making the project themselves. Coming from a long line of teachers--from a grandmother who taught in a one-room school house to an uncle who was a professor at Carnegie Mellon and who graduated from Harvard--I already knew that too much parental involvement was not a good thing. I remember how shocked I was when my daughter's kindergarten teacher asked her class to make something out of 3-D shapes like cylinders, cubes and spheres. All the projects were displayed for parent admiration on a following school night. It was obvious to anyone who can recognize the work of an adult over the work of a child, that these school projects were made by an adult not a child. Nor were the projects primarily by a child, but helped a little by an adult. When an adult intervenes like this, the child's self-esteem and confidence suffers, or to put it more clearly, is squashed.