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Welcome to the Ready Child blog!

View posts by our early learning expert to gain valuable insights into the developing brain and learn about activities that you can easily incorporate into day to help every child succeed in kindergarten and in life.

Check back often so you don’t miss a single blog—and join in the conversation by asking questions or leaving comments at the end of each post.

About our blogger Diann Gano, M.Ed

Diann Gano

Diann Gano, M.Ed

Diann Gano—who opened her family child care program, Under the Gingko Tree in 1986—has long believed that “the earth gives us what we need to learn” and that nature is “the perfect environment for little brains to grow and learn in every day.” While conducting research for her master’s thesis on outdoor learning in early childhood settings, she learned about the Nature Explore Classroom Certification Program, which recognizes schools and other organizations that have made a commitment to providing outdoor classrooms and comprehensive programming to help children use the natural world as an integral part of learning. She enrolled in the Nature Explore Classroom certification program after completing her master’s degree in 2010, and Under the Ginkgo Tree was certified as a Nature Explore Certified Outdoor Classroom Program in 2011.

A member of the Erikson Family Child Care Portal Project Advisory Board, Gano has also participated in the Erikson Institute’s Early Childhood Leadership Summit and served as a webinar panelist for Town Square Illinois, an online resource and professional development tool for home-based providers. She has presented at the local, state and national levels on topics such as indoor and outdoor learning environments, the importance of loose parts in early math education and the impact of immersion in the natural world on brain development in young children. In 2016, Gano was honored as a recipient of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Child Care Innovator Award for creating a school environment that inspires children to become more active and engaged learners. In May 2019, she received the prestigious Terri Lynn Lokoff/Children’s Tylenol National Teacher Award, which honors 50 outstanding early child care professionals across the nation each year for making a lasting difference in the lives of the children they serve and setting them on a path to success in school and in life. She received her BS in liberal arts from Western Illinois University and her MEd in education from St. Mary of the Woods College in Indiana.

Joyful Learning With Nursery Rhymes

Where is Thumbkin? Where is Thumbkin? Here I am. Here I am. How are you today, sir? Very well, I thank you. Run away. Run away. Decades after learning that nursery rhyme as a kindergartener, I still have vivid and happy memories of sitting around the well-worn piano in my kindergarten classroom singing "Where is Thumbkin" […]

Playful Adventures With Animal Figures

“Are you making a zoo?” Rosalie asks Gabriel. “I am making families, but we could make a zoo!" Gabriel answers. "Want to help me?” Research shows that animal figures score higher than any other type of toy for stimulating creativity, imagination, social interaction, and verbalization in young children. This holds true for girls and boys, […]

Water Painting Our Way to STEM Discoveries

"Sally, look!  My rock turned purple!" Three-year-old Eleanor can't contain her excitement as she changes the color of a rock with a swipe of her paintbrush. Ah, the joy of painting rocks with water. Yes, water! If there's one kind of painting I love—it's painting outdoors with water. If you struggle with the mess that […]

STEM Play With People Blocks

"Look! The people blocks are in a line and they crash at the bottom,  just like when we play on the slide!" says Evelyn as she flicks the first block and watches the whole line of people blocks fall, one figure after another. Evelyn is having a lightbulb moment as she transfers knowledge gleaned from […]

Magnetic Explorers

"Hey guys, look over here!" Harrison summons us over to observe his experiment. "My magnet sticks to the bike!" With a wave of their magnetic wands, the children have embarked on a STEM learning adventure! Opportunities like this allow children to learn independently as they explore and then share their discoveries with their fellow magnetic […]

Playing With Patterns

After a neighborhood nature walk, my early learners can't wait to play with the treasures they've collected. Kindergarten readiness develops as children play with the objects that they find in their environments. Today, that play involves patterning. Learning about patterns is a fundamental skill for all learning. Pattern play helps children develop their critical thinking, […]

Baking Up Early Math Skills

Cooking gives preschoolers a strong foundation in science, math, language, art and even reading. When we invite our children to create in the kitchen, we provide learning opportunities in many academic subjects.   Recipe ingredients introduce opportunities for counting, adding, measuring, dividing and estimating. As children see how certain ingredients combine, react and change as they cook, […]

The Ready Child is Now Multilingual!

Hello, Hallo, Hej Hej, Hola, Ciao . . . well, you get the idea! To expand our reach to families and early childhood educators around the globe, we've added a translation option to our Ready Child website. With this new functionality, our readers can now translate The Ready Child into more than 100 languages. Breaking […]

Counting on Songs

"Five green and speckled frogs . . . sat on a speckled log . . . eating some delicious bugs. Yum yum!" When we sing counting songs such as “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” or “This Old Man,” we introduce counting and numbers and math concepts such as adding or removing one from a group. The repetition and rhythm in these songs […]