• The five elements of a truly child-centered program (pages
41–42) • Three advocacy tips (pages 48–49)
• The seven programming guidelines that make an (un)curricu-
lum possible (page 52)
• Five reasons society has lost faith in saying, “Go play” (pages
12–15) • Eight reasons to throw away your lesson-planning books (pages
150–151) • Nine problems with boxed, preplanned curriculums (page 16)
• The twelve principles of brain-based learning (page 31)
• The six characteristics of an (un)curriculum (page 29)
• The ten principles of physical spaces that permit children to be
the boss of their own learning (page 79)
Depending on where you were trained, where you went to
school, who mentored you, and what bandwagon the USA was
riding when you cut your early childhood teeth, Jeff and Denita’s
message might be affirming or frightening. When I first started
teaching and working in child care centers, I was told, “This is the
theme. Now go plan activities that fit it.” There’s nothing wrong
with predetermined themes, but there’s a lot wrong with how they’re
often implemented: talking about XYZ topic Monday through
Friday come hell or high water even if it has no context or relevancy
to the children in the room. As I grew and was exposed to emergent
curriculum, I started planning for the bones of the day but moved
away from the themes. I started paying attention, observing, and
using what I was seeing the children do as fodder and inspiration for
deeper investigation. I played with language, and “theme” morphed
into “projects”; “lesson planning” turned into “documentation and
observations.” It can take time to change minds. We must be patient with our-
selves, our programs, and our children. We must trust the process.


We must trust the children. We must trust our ability to create an
appropriate and engaging environment. And finally, we must trust
ourselves. Then and only then will we start moving to the sidelines
of children’s lives, which, as Anna Quindlen says, is “where we
belong if we do our jobs right.”
Lisa Murphy
Early Childhood Specialist
CEO and Founder
of Ooey Gooey, Inc.

Lisa Murphy, BS, CEO and Founder of Ooey Gooey,
Inc., has been involved in many aspects of early
childhood education for over twenty years. She is
the author of four books and conducts hundreds of
training seminars each year. Like Denita and Jeff, Lisa
encourages you to become play obsessed!
Use your smartphone to
scan this QR code to visit
Lisa’s website, or go to xii