Early Childhood Activist Toolkit

Early childhood is the time in our lives when we develop our core dispositions – the habits of thinking that shape how we live; our work as early childhood educators is to nurture dispositions in young children towards empathy, ecological consciousness, engaged inquiry, and collaboration. These dispositions undergird just and equitable communities; they are at the heart of activism and in the heart of activists.

– Ann Pelo, Rethinking Early Childhood Education

We have heard from many of you who are working hard to keep developmentally appropriate teaching, learning and assessing in our early childhood classrooms. As we know, current education reform is often working against these goals. In response to your call, we have created this Early Childhood Activist Toolkit to help you advocate in schools, communities and nationwide for more child-directed, play-based learning. Check out our INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES, ACTION RESOURCES as well as our ACTION MINI GRANTS initiative. Also check out the DEY Mobilizing Kit and DEY Power Point Presentation, and DEY’s advocacy reports and publications.





We are excited to offer this mini grant initiative to help foster your good work in your community as related to DEY’s three principle goals:

  • To mobilize the early childhood community to speak out with well-reasoned arguments against inappropriate standards, assessments, and classroom practices.
  • To track the effects of new standards, especially those linked to the Common Core State Standards, on early childhood education policy and practice.
  • To promote appropriate practices in early childhood classrooms and support educators in counteracting current reforms which undermine these appropriate practices.

We are offering grants from $200.00 to $500.00 and are currently accepting applications on a rolling basis beginning. Applications will be reviewed and up to 20 awards will be granted (depending on grant sizes). Possible actions include, but are not limited to:

  • Hosting a parent information meeting
  • Organizing a Call Your Legislator Day
  • Spearheading a letter writing campaign to politicians
  • Organizing a “Play-In” at the local school board
  • Publicizing an “Opt Out” campaign
  • Hosting a viewing and conversation of chapter or two from A Year at Mission Hill; or When a Child Pretends from the Sarah Lawrence Series (see above)
  • Holding an Open Forum for community members and stake holders (DEY supporting materials coming soon).
  • Whatever else you may think of…

Download the mini grant application here.
Email your completed application to Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin at DEYdirector@gmail.com and please use the subject line “Mini Grant Application”.

23 thoughts on “Early Childhood Activist Toolkit

  1. Pingback: Announcing our *new* Early Childhood Activist ToolKit | Defending the Early Years

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  3. I am so very happy to have found this! I JUST today wrote an application about what we can do to encourage creativity as the adults around the kids who are being tested into blank stares. I am meeting more and more students who are bewildered by the white page, or a stack of construction paper. What do we do? We can’t wait for the assessment craze to end! We have to act as the adults in the circles of children outside of school, and IN schools, if we are teachers, modeling creative behavior. This takes special courage. THANK YOU for this inspiring list, I am starting my reading RIGHT NOW, and thanks to Diane Ravitch for posting your links. Debra Frasier, Author & Illustrator, picture books.


  4. Thank you for this website! This is my number one concern (of many!) with Common Core. I plan to utilize a lot of the tools you have provided here. I like that they are focused on actions you can take at the very local level to advocate on behalf of your children, where the need is the most immediate.


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  6. Pingback: Guest Post and Action Mini Grant update – Play is the thing! | Defending the Early Years

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    • Hello. What would you like a PDF copy of? Please let me know your email address so I can send it to you. Thanks – Blakely Bundy, Co-Director of DEY


  8. Giving educators the tools to find their voice for the children is very helpful. Offering grants to groups to ensure funds for advertisement is a wonderful idea and plan.


  9. At our school we use the Open classroom method as well as play learning but the parents are bewildered what about when they go to “real” school especially from those who have children currently in elementary school and are being tested. My coworker and I struggle with the idea also of are we really fulfilling the need for when these children move on to a more fornal, if not how could we without Deming them the chdren, their childhood of joy and natural inquiry into learning.


  10. I could not agree more with everything said here. I always get children to try to figure out things. Questions like uh oh what happened what can we do to fix it,,,what else can we do. Are must in the early childhood o classrooms.


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