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View posts by our current and past bloggers to gain valuable insights into the developing brain and learn about activities that you can easily incorporate into your early childhood curriculum to foster the development of early math skills in young learners.

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About our blogger Diann Gano, M.Ed

Diann Gano, M.Ed.

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.

STEM Play With Pattern Blocks

  “Hey, that’s cool. I like your guy!” says four-year-old Jaheem, peering over Michelea’s shoulder as she plays with her pattern blocks. “It’s not a guy; it’s a flower!” Michelea replies, tilting her head to try to see the “guy” that Jaheem is referring to. “That’s the stem and the leaves,” she explains, pointing to […]

Eclipse Party 2024!

“The birds are chirping so loud—I think they’re scared,” said Vera as she looked up at the sky with a pair of certified safe eclipse glasses pressed against her eyes. She was absolutely right! The singing birds—along with the chirping crickets and the barking dogs in the neighborhood—were louder and more intense than usual as […]

Early Math Counts 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 Early Math Counts website. With this new functionality, our readers can now translate Early Math Counts into more than 100 […]

Risk-Taking, Math and a Hollow Tree

“LOOK!” Ellie summons us with such joy that there’s no doubt she has spotted something wonderful. Our eyes follow the four-year-old as she dashes to a very large, very hollow tree. A tree that is still alive and thriving—with an opening over four feet tall just inviting a group of children and their teacher to […]

Shine a Light

  “Saaliha, come with me to the light table,” Evelyn whispers. “I have to show you something!” Hand in hand, the two preschoolers quietly make their way over to our light table. This darkened corner of our classroom never fails to mesmerize the children with its soft glow and luminous colors. As the days grow […]

Sequencing Our Way Outdoors

Autumn has flown by—and winter is almost upon us! Here in Illinois, that means cooler temperatures and wrestling with winter outerwear. But here’s the good news: Getting the children dressed for outdoor play is a great way to meet your early math standards. Outdoor play in the winter months includes snow or rain pants, boots, coats, […]

Stacking Up Early Math and Engineering Skills

“We can’t reach the top to make it bigger!” says Rowan with a giggle. “Can we stand on this table to make our tower taller?” Linnea pleads. Four-year-olds Rowan and Linnea have taken over the front foyer of our early childhood center for some serious block play. This bustling area will soon be filled with […]

Geometry with Chalk Mosaics

“Oh, I like your mosaic, Avery!” says Claire, who has wandered over to look at the mosaic that Avery has just created with sidewalk chalk and tape. “Yours only had triangles. We did squares and triangles and those long skinny squares.” “Oh, you mean rectangles! I want to see it!” Avery exclaims. He jumps up […]

Finding STEM in a Field of Sunflowers

“When we drive to school in the morning, the sunflowers are facing one way and when we drive home after school they are facing the other way. That’s because they always want to see where I am going!” brags Melania to the other children on the bus. “That’s not true,” grumbles Roberta, who is clearly […]