Early Childhood Professional Development & Resources

Curriculum and Teaching Strategies 

Karen Rucker, M.S.
ECE Master Trainer


Interested in a topic not listed? Contact the instructor, Karen Rucker, regarding the possibility of customizing a session to address your center's specific professional development needs or to address a specific age group. For additional information, click on the Contact tab or send an email to  or call 717-314-8368.


Creative Art Experiences (2 hrs / C1):  It's time to think outside the box! Art should provide an opportunity to experiment with different mediums, express emotions and bring joy.  This interactive session will explore various process oriented open-ended art activities that support creativity and self-expression.

STEM Experiences for Young Children: Ages 2-5 years (2 hrs / C2) STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are cornerstones of the toddler and preschool experience.  During this session we will explore a variety of activities to support STEM and reflect components of the Learning Standards across multiple content areas.
NOTE: Target audience is those who work with children ages 2-5 years.

Webbing as a Tool to Create Preschool Curriculum (2 hrs / C2) Webbing is a brainstorming method used to generate curriculum ideas in multiple categories, such as topic areas, learning centers or developmental domains.  It also provides multiple opportunities to individualize instruction.  This hands-on session will take a look at how to create webs and utilize them in activity planning.

Using the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards to Inform Curriculum Development​ (2 hrs / C2) The Learning Standards reflect what research tells us children should be able to know and do at different ages to guide us in providing best practice in early care and education.  Equally as important, they provide a foundation and connection to future school success.  So, do you use this tool to its fullest?  Participants will dive into this valuable resource to explore and consider ways to increase its use in planning curriculum for young children.
IMPORTANT NOTE:  This session is primarily for birth through kindergarten utilizing the PA KEY Learning Standards and does not cover usage of the PDESAS website.  

Another IMPORTANT NOTE:  Ideal group size is 10-15 staff persons who all work with the same age group.  


10 Strategies to Extend Learning for Young Children - Ages birth to 5 years  (2 hrs / C2) An intentional teacher becomes skilled in capturing opportunities to scaffold children's experiences in the early childhood classroom.  Based on the book Powerful Interactions: How to Connect with Children to Extend Their Learning, this session explores ten strategies to expand children's discovery while employing curriculum and capturing teachable moments.

Why An Apple Is Worth 1000 Words: Learning Through Play (2 hrs / C1)  In the adult world, play is often viewed as the absence of work and is considered of lesser value or time 'wasted.'  In the child's world, play is the work that allows them to decode the world around them while creating and practicing relationship skills.  The tuned-in early childhood educator recognizes the value of play and sets the stage for children's construction of knowledge.  We will explore what research tells us about play and how to best support learning through play via the teacher's role.​​

Exploring Developmentally Appropriate Practices (D.A.P.) (2 hrs / C1)  D.A.P. is an expression that is frequently heard in our field, but not always clearly understood.  Based on the most recent NAEYC Position Statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practices, we will explore the six components of D.A.P. and the importance of implementing all of these elements in your classroom.

The Importance of Relationships: Creating Powerful Interactions to Support Children (2 hrs / C2)  There's a huge difference between going through the motions of teaching and actually supporting children's learning.  The key lies in the types of interactions - both verbal and nonverbal - that you engage in with children throughout the day.  Based on the book Powerful Interactions: How to Connect with Children to Extend Their Learning, this session explores strategies to become more intentional and purposeful in building relationships with young children.

KEYNOTE ONLY - Essential Ingredient of a High Quality Care Program: R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (1.5 hrs / C2) All children deserve to be treated in a way that respects who they are and who they have the potential to become.  Truly respecting children means that we talk with them, not at them; that we handle their bodies and minds with care, not carelessness; and that we afford them no less than we would want afforded to ourselves.  Join as we discuss the important role of respectful relationships in promoting positive outcomes for children.