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Insights, Ideas, and Resources for Early Learning

Welcome to the Think Small Blog, your go-to destination for valuable insights, innovative ideas, and inspiring stories in the field of early learning. Dive into a treasure trove of articles crafted by our team of experts, dedicated to empowering child care providers, educators, and families.

Discover practical tips, evidence-based strategies, and the latest research findings to support children aged 0-5 on their journey to kindergarten readiness. From fostering social-emotional development to promoting cognitive skills, our blog covers a wide range of topics, ensuring you stay informed and equipped to make a positive impact on young lives.

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Small Talks A Think Small Speaker Series

  Register White Paper   About the Event Join us for the third and final event in our Small Talks early literacy series. This entire in-person, hour-long event will be ...

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Small Talks A Think Small Speaker Series

  Recording Small Talks Slides White Paper About the Event Only 30% of Minnesota 8th graders were deemed proficient in reading in a recent national assessment (NCES 2022). Addressing this ...

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Small Talks A Think Small Speaker Series

    About the Event Only 30% of Minnesota 8th graders were deemed proficient in reading in a recent national assessment (NCES 2022). Addressing this troubling statistic begins with babies. ...

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When is it Happening: Early Childhood Infrastructure, Policy Changes, and Reports

  Many changes to early care and education policy passed this legislative session. In an attempt to organize and track the milestones ahead, we’ve created this blog post and accompanying ...

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When Is It Happening: Early Learning Scholarships

  Early Learning Scholarships will see significant changes in the months and years ahead. Early Learning Scholarships give low-income families financial support to help pay for quality early care and ...

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Parent and teacher with a child.

What's in the Budget: Early Care and Education Workforce

  It is no secret to those who work in or rely on child care that the field struggled even before the pandemic. The challenge of covering the actual costs ...

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A Unique Experience: Reflections on This Year's Session

  My interest in this internship was fueled by my love for early childhood education and deeply held belief that we have a civic duty to support young children and ...

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Reflection and Advice: 2023 Todd Otis Public Policy Internship

  The events that occur early on in life can alter its future. Because of this, it is vital that every child in every community has a pathway to success. ...

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2023 Early Care and Education Legislation 

  There’s now a clearer picture of what will become law in 2023. When it comes to early care and education, there is a lot! We’re still digesting, but here’s ...

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What’s in the Budget: Early Learning Scholarships 

  House File 2292, the early education omnibus bill, passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Walz. This bill contains new investments and policy ...

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Early Care and Education in the Omnibus Bills

  State legislators are on Spring Break, and omnibus budget bills are available. An omnibus bill is made up of many other bills centered on a specific topic. State legislators ...

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Ideas to Celebrate the Week of the Young Child 

  A fun way to add excitement to any week is by adding a theme that everyone can celebrate together!  The National Association for the Education of Young Children celebrates ...

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Early Care and Education Efforts in Progress

  The 2023 State Legislative Session is officially underway. Legislators are meeting with constituents, bills are being drafted and introduced, and committees are holding hearings!  Legislative leaders and Governor Walz ...

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November Highlights and Free Activities and Ideas from Think Small Institute

  November has arrived and with it encouragement to celebrate Native American heritage, voting, All Saints Day, All Souls Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, and more. Here at Think Small Institute, ...

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Resources for Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

Chokma! Chickasha saya.   Hello! I am Chickasaw. I am one of just over 5 million Native Americans living in the United States. That’s just over 1% of the entire country’s ...

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Resources to Help Celebrate Filipino American History Month

  Add some of these wonderful titles by and about Filipinos & Filipino Americans to your celebration of Filipino American History Month! October 18, 1587, marks the first known arrival ...

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October TSI Featured Pic

October Think Small Institute Highlights 

Fall is in the air, and apples and pumpkins are everywhere. In October, we encourage you to intentionally support children’s mental health and wellbeing and encourage fantasy play.

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Resources to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

The Hispanic Heritage Month celebration is turning 54 years old!  California Congressman George E. Brown first introduced this tremendous festival in June 1968.  The soul of this celebration is to ...

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Young child playing with blocks.

Ramsey County Early Childhood Academy: Ecotone Analysis

Ramsey County, like all communities across Minnesota and the country, is currently facing significant shortages in childcare options for young families. This is not a new issue families are experiencing, ...

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Advocate for Early Childhood at the Minnesota State Fair

Advocate for Early Childhood at the Minnesota State Fair 

The Minnesota State Fair is a unique opportunity to connect with elected officials because so many of them have a presence on the fairgrounds.  Here's how you can connect with them!

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Resources for Disability Pride 2022

"Just like all other types of diversity, disabilities offer us the opportunity to appreciate others for their uniqueness and celebrate the things that make us different."

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Celebrating Juneteenth 2022

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed. Although the proclamation outlawed slavery in all Confederate states and had been signed nearly three years earlier, the news was kept from Black Texans until occupying Union forces arrived in Galveston at the end of the Civil War. [Note: Black Americans were still enslaved in Union states up until the 13th amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865.] 

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People and Policy: Reflections on the 2022 Legislative Session 

The 2022 legislative session is officially over, which means so too is our time working with Think Small as public policy interns. It’s a bittersweet goodbye. On one hand, both of us have cherished the valuable connections we’ve made at Think Small, but on the other hand we’re excited to apply what we’ve learned about early childhood advocacy to our careers.  

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Beyond the Binary: Helpful Resources for Children and Providers

Building wellness and respect for children in their gender identify from an early age can lead to a more healthy and robust child. In celebration of Pride Month, the Debra S. Fish librarian, Jennie Walker Knoot, has compiled a list of helpful resources to help facilitate dialog that can help conversation go 'Beyond the Binary.'

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Summer Spark image with words at the St Paul Public Library

Summer Spark at Saint Paul Public Library

Summer Spark is the Saint Paul Public Library's summer reading and learning program, open to kids ages 0-18. Families and individuals are welcome to join, and we also love working with groups - summer school classes, family child care programs, care centers, and camps! Our goal is to get kids reading for fun and feeling excited about stories and books.

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A Message from the President of Think Small Regarding Uvalde, Texas, Shooting

“Our hearts go out to the families and all those affected by this tragic event. Everywhere that children gather or visit should be a safe place without fear of gun violence. Especially now more than ever, we need to be a voice for our children working together to protect schools and to prevent all forms of violence – including gun violence – in our schools.” - Barbara Yates, President and CEO of Think Small  

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May is Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. At Think Small, we recognize and celebrate AAPI month.

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Importance of Community Solutions Fund

The importance of Community Solutions Fund, one grantee speaks out on their experience and the impacts it has on their community.

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How to Build Diverse Collections

Children need representation, inclusion, & diversity in the books they are enjoying. It is a simple enough statement; one we can all agree on. But if asked to talk about why, what is our answer? How do we know if we are doing it right? Or wrong?

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Todd Otis Internship at Think Small

Two Public Policy Interns Join Think Small in 2022 

Think Small is proud to host two Todd Otis Public Policy interns in 2022. The internship welcomes Eidan Silver and Quynh Nhu Dao to learn firsthand about early learning policy in the state.  

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Father in military uniform with American flag holding his little

April is Month of the Military Child

April is Month of the Military Child which honors the experiences of the 1.6 million American children with family members serving in the armed forces. Check out the titles and ...

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Candace Yates, Strategic Leader of Equity & Quality Supports

Equity and Inclusion Efforts at Think Small: An Update

My goal is to support the ongoing growth and development of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment for all Think Small Leaders.

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Brand New Children’s Books for Black History Month

Dive into these 10 brand-new children’s titles to celebrate the history, present, and future of the Black Diaspora and discover notable Black activists, musicians, inventors, athletes, and poets.

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Think Small: Celebrating 50 Years, Innovating for the Future

“This is the biggest challenge we face: Can we build an equitable system that prepares all children for kindergarten, or will we continue to shortchange those experiencing opportunity gaps? We ...

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eLearning announcement from Think Small Institute

New: eLearning Courses from Think Small Institute

Early childhood educators spoke and we listened. We started Think Small Institute to provide high-quality, affordable, mobile-first professional development putting the tools you need to spark new ideas in your ...

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Learning from a Distance: Reflections from 2021 Todd Otis Public Policy Interns

By: Helen Sabrowsky and Jacqueline Zhang, Todd Otis Public Policy Interns Hello from the 2021 Todd Otis Public Policy Interns, Helen and Jacqueline! It’s hard to believe that the 2021 legislative session is almost over, and with that, our time ...

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Putting Technology in the Hands of Child Care Providers and Children

Access to technology is important to those working in the early childhood field. Laptops and tablets help small business owners, like child care providers, improve their skills, grow their business, ...

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Two Public Policy Interns Join Think Small in 2021

By Kristie Thorson, Communications Specialist You’ve heard the phrase “the more the merrier”? This legislative session, Think Small made the decision to host two Todd Otis Public Policy interns. The internship ...

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How to Advocate...Virtually

Parts of our pandemic life are becoming familiar. Video calls, online ordering, different health and safety protocols. We adapt and create as we go. Elected officials have had to adapt ...

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How to Write or Email Your Elected Officials

Writing a message to your legislator on paper or via email is a good tool to have in your advocacy toolbox. A written message allows you to craft your words ...

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How to Use Social Media for Early Education Advocacy

Are you familiar with the world of likes, shares, and retweets? Want to use your social media savvy to make a difference in the early childhood education field? Whether you’re ...

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How to Call Your Elected Officials

Calling elected officials is a great way to communicate with them. Effective, yet time-efficient, a phone call allows you to connect for any number of reasons. If you already know ...

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How to Write a Letter to the Editor

Are you feeling passionate? Frustrated? Angry? Inspired? Consider channeling that energy toward advocacy. A letter to the editor is a great way to share your thoughts. Here are some situations ...

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Public Policy Intern Reflects on Unpredictable Experience

By Kieu My Phi, Public Policy Intern Hello there! You may remember me from the blog post introducing me in February. My name is Kieu My Phi, and I am ...

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From the Front Lines of Child Care: Wendy's Story

“I’m exhausted. But I love my job and my families. I’m blessed to be an educator and care provider for the youngest Minnesotans.” Wendy Dewall used to have eight to ...

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From the Front Lines of Child Care: Britney's Story

“I’m doing everything I can to ensure the families in my child care program have the financial stability they need right now and to keep everyone enrolled for the future.” ...

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From the Front Lines of Child Care: Jean's Story

“I just ask that you realize we are essential business owners ALL the time, not just during the pandemic.” When Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued the stay-at-home order, Jean Mathison ...

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New Public Policy Intern Joins Think Small Team

By Kristie Thorson, Communications Specialist Ever since she was a little girl, Kieu My Phi knew she wanted to grow up and help other children. Her enthusiasm for advocacy, especially ...

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Guest Post: Scottish Intern Reflects on What She's Learned in Minnesota

By Katie Burke, Public Policy Intern Hello there! You may remember me from the blog post introducing me earlier this year. My name is Katie Burke and I am in ...

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New Public Policy Intern

By Kristie Thorson, Communications Specialist When Katie Burke arrived at the Minnesota State Capitol several minutes before the doors opened on a frigid January morning, she had to find a ...

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Six Lessons from the Todd Otis Public Policy Internship

By: Emma Klingler Greetings! You may remember me from the blog post introducing me back in March. My tenure as the Todd Otis Public Policy Intern for Think Small is nearly ...

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Meet the First Todd Otis Public Policy Intern: Emma Klingler

Think Small’s first Todd Otis Public Policy Internship is underway. The internship is a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about Minnesota’s early learning policy and advocacy landscape. Todd Otis’ lifelong ...

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Policy Hour - Changes to Child Care in Minnesota

  Staff from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) presented at November Policy Hour about the changes to child care in Minnesota. During the 2017 legislative session, many changes ...

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Children Experiencing Homelessness Benefit from Early Learning Scholarship Changes

Early Learning Scholarships allow children ages 3-5 from low-income families to attend high-quality early learning programs. During the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers made a change to allow children 0-5 from ...

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Families First: Connecting Southern MN Children with Early Learning Scholarships

The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what ...

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Northeastern Minnesota Addresses Child Care Shortage

The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what ...

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Small Talks - Talk to Me: How Early Conversations Impact a Child's Life

Small Talks features leaders who will share key insights on early childhood education and discuss innovative solutions to early learning issues in Minnesota. By Kristie Thorson Talk to Me: How ...

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West Central Minnesota Child Care Providers Benefit from Forgivable Loans

The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what ...

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The Triple Bottom Line of Child Care

The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what ...

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Early Learning Scholarships Are Critical for Children in Child Protection

The Policies in Play series takes a closer look at the recently passed state legislative policies that affect early care and education. We work with partners to find out what ...

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Policies in Play

Join us on the playground as we explore Policies in Play! Think Small believes that placing a priority on children and their families through access to high quality early childhood ...

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Free Early Childhood Text Messaging Program Offered to Minnesota Parents

Child Care Providers Can Meet Parent Aware Requirement by Encouraging Families to Sign Up When Woodbury parent Amy Raleigh heads to the store with her 4-year old daughter Fiona, she ...

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Think Small's Publishing Division Wins Big at Midwest Book Awards

Winners of the Midwest Book Awards Gala were announced May 12, 2017, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Think Small’s publishing division, Redleaf Press, took home top honors in three categories: Education/Learning, ...

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Celebrating the Debra S. Fish Early Childhood Library!

 Did you know Minnesota’s best resources for early childhood professionals are available FREE to you?  April 9 – 15 is National Library Week!  What a great opportunity to explore a ...

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Early Education Spotlight: Little Angels Child Care

By: Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Early Education Spotlight is an ongoing series that showcases great work happening in child care and preschool settings across Minnesota. From innovative ...

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Early Education Spotlight: Little World of Angels

By: Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Early Education Spotlight is an ongoing series that showcases great work happening in child care and preschool settings across Minnesota. From innovative ...

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Policy Hour: Reports Propose Solutions for Early Learning in Minnesota

Legislative Task Force on Child Care Access and Affordability Senator Melissa Wiklund, DFL-Bloomington, was one of the presenters at the February Policy Hour organized by Minnesota’s Future and hosted by ...

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Baby Steps To STEM

This month marks one year since the start of the Think Small blog. To celebrate, we’re using January to highlight information and initiatives from Think Small and our partners about ...

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Brain Development in Infants and Toddlers

90% of brain development occurs by age 5. 80% of the brain is developed by age 3. These eye-catching statements sound impressive but can be confusing and misleading. Learning certainly ...

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Think Small’s 2017 Legislative Agenda

The 2017 Legislative session starts in less than one month. In preparation, Think Small created our policy priorities. The priorities all support our mission of advancing quality care and education ...

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Make a Difference for Give to the Max Day

Think Small is participating in Give to the Max Day on Nov. 17. The annual event, sponsored by GiveMN, encourages Minnesotans to donate to their favorite nonprofits and charities on ...

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Never Give Up on the Children, Regardless of How Hard it Can Get

There is much to mourn over recent weeks, with terrible acts of violence in Louisiana, Texas, and our very own home Minnesota. Current events expose great rifts in our communities, ...

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Poverty's Immense Impact on Brain Development During Childhood Explored

By: Maya Fanjul-Debnam More than 16 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level, $23,550 a ...

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Learning Starts at Birth: Implications for a Lifetime

By: Maya Fanjul-Debnam From the moment they are born, children are learning from their surroundings. Everything from brain growth to approaches to life are shaped by what does—or does not–happen ...

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Quality Child Care Impacts Karen Community in Minnesota

This is the first in a series of videos showing the impact high-quality early learning has on children, families and child care providers across Minnesota. Check back here for a new ...

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