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Start Right – Finish Ahead

ThinkTune Inc.

Date Submitted: 09/09/2021

Contact Information:

Erin Hines Early Childhood Educator


ThinkTune Inc.

408 Ash NW, Piedmont, OK 73078

Rating Category: Emerging Practice

Focus Area: Social Emotional Learning

Focus Population: Children, Teachers, Owners, Caregivers, Guardians, Administrator, Parents

Goals and Outcomes:

The goal of this this submission is to provide a 1-2 year program that has been tested for more than ten years in numbers of settings (homes, learning centers, schools, etc) for the EC age child. The program is designed to allow for an opportunity of success from a widely disparate group of children with a variety of pathways for learning. The suggested interaction between the children and their guide, (be it parents, teachers, home school leaders) are designed to use musical experiences for groups and individual children to help unify their concept formation. Therefore, it allows for an opportunity toward success from a widely disparate group perspective. It can help build confidence and care for learners who might not fit the norm.

The name of our program is All Aboard, the Music and Math Connection and Ally Dog Depot! (AAMMC/ADD) Now, more than ever, we know that families are struggling to keep the learning going in their homes. Our program has shown success in helping aid and developing a love of learning for all. Music can provide opportunities to impact behavior and strengthen learning by diving deeper into many topics including music concepts, movement, math, language and social/ emotional skills. Research and student observation show the power of engagement provided by interaction with music as it develops success in learning.

Our research has shown amazing outcomes in learning what could be considered the “hard” subjects. The All Aboard’s success speaks for itself as the program has been successful with approximately 17,000 students, over 10 years in the mid-United States.

Brief Summary:

To summarize our submission please see the bulleted list below:

  • A complete program ready for teacher or any leader who desires to share songs and fun with children ages 3-5. These materials have been developed since the late 1990’s.

  • All necessary classroom materials such as “Floor Graph,” recorded musical examples, teachers’ materials and detailed lesson plans, ongoing narrative and much more.

  • Supportive, independent research that displays success in multiple early childhood settings. The studies, conducted by independent scholars with individual equity, the focus on helping each child as they participate with their comfort and knowledge level.

  • Fun Character Cards that introduce new characters as the story progresses. Each character demonstrates the fun of knowing their particular concept. Then, the recorded music helps extend the memory of the child as well as building their individual comfort level with concepts.

  • All copyrighted materials are owned by the applicants who are native Oklahomans who live and work in Oklahoma.

  • Considerable materials are presented in our Appendixes for close familiarity with the flavor, as our materials demonstrate what the children refer to as real characters that they visit daily.

  • We intend to continue our teacher/child hotline where they can easily reach one of the authors for questions or comments. In the past, we’ve had wonderful response to this feature and our ongoing teacher training. The initial and ongoing teacher training will be available online.

  • Our target population is early childhood caregivers and families. Our program promotes and supports early childhood caregivers and families with meaningfully fun activities that help support their social emotional wellbeing, the child’s development, and encourages strong and healthy homes and relationships.

Rated by another Clearinghouse: No

Practice-based idea in early childhood:

Since 1996, we have created a practice based program named All Aboard, the Music and Math Connection and Ally Dog Depot Learning Videos! It’s considerably strengthened by our independent university-level research, teacher feedback, and parental and child approval. It is common for us to have such comments as the following, “This is the most fun I have ever had in my Whole Life!” (Michael age 4). Our initial work, including many hours of classroom/home and school observation indicates that the central success is using the Power of Music to discover the Fun of Math & Learning! We’ve created a fresh approach to the basic subject matter without leaving the gentle discovery of how the child’s world works. Our program promotes and supports early childhood caregivers and families with meaningfully fun activities that help support their social-emotional wellbeing, the child’s development, and encourages strong and healthy homes and relationships.

For more than a decade, our team has continued to work toward creating a program designed to help EC children and families develop a “can do” spirit as they embark on their educational and social emotional growth for the whole child. One of our observed keys to success swells from a child discovering the fun of learning – even in the “hard” subjects.

We have had the privilege to work with many different educators over the years. Please see below what they are saying about our program. Please note these are unsolicited comments.

“All Aboard and Ally Dog Depot are magical to the pre-school mind. The kids fall in love with Ally Dog starting on day one. They respond to the story line and activities because they are perfectly designed for the preschool age student. The songs, characters, and activities allow for development of the innate curiosity in the young mind. The music is engaging, creative and exciting for the student and the teachers. I never get bored using the All Aboard curriculum. The lesson plans are clearly laid out, step by step, but still allow for creativity to customize to individual class situations. Each lesson comes equipped with a detailed list of materials to help busy teachers know exactly what is needed for every lesson. I also use the videos at (ADD) to extend the learning. The episodes are a favorite with my kids. Then ask to see them again. It makes my job so easy.” - Bech Reinig, Teacher Mound City Schools, MO

“What a fun, easy to use, my major prep was to learn with my children!” - Amanda (Parent) - Norman, OK
“I like that it’s research-based and developed by educators. No one is using the power of music the way Ally Dog Depot does.” - David (Educator)-Denton, TX
“I love that this program checks all the learning boxes at the same time. I love that we can use these activities together as a family too!” - Sarah (Parent) - Springfield, MO

Also, it is important to list the various studies and suggestions that have been a result of our efforts. Dr. Michael Raiber, (at the time) an OU associate professor of research in music education. Appendix A has detailed information.

We have also presented several sessions at state and national conferences. At some we were invited, and at others we were chosen to make an hour-long presentation after a competition from organizations like: NAEYC national conference, National Association of Schools of Music: This is a national conference presentation by invitation for deans, directors, professional administrators of higher education. Our purpose was to “expose” the lack of sufficient training for all walks of education and the resultant preparation of professionals in many areas.

Most recently we have expanded our “at home” resources for families to keep the learning going at home with our new program called Ally Dog Depot. Here, families can find two-time Heartland EMMY winning educational videos and hands-on activities.

Practice Used in Early Childhood Settings:

The Team of Involved Professionals

We have three tiers of contributors giving of their time and expertise to develop and improve our program. A brief description follows.

The Authors

The two creators of AAMMC (All Aboard the Music and Math Connection/ADD)

  • Erin F. Hines: Early childhood teacher with 15 years of teaching experience. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from OU in Early Childhood Education. Erin uses this program in her various classes (both virtual and in person) and leads many teacher training sessions throughout the Midwest.

  • James Faulconer, Ph.D., OU Professor of Music Theory and Composition. Author of McGrawHill educational publications for K-8. Also, member of statewide interdisciplinary committee to observe PreK-3 schools (1996-2007) using interdisciplinary studies as a basis for learning.

The Advising Teachers

The two crucial teachers who reviewed each lesson-group of our program in their classroom as it was being created.

  • Becky Reinig: 25+ years of teaching experience in MO schools. In addition to teaching, she also is a teacher-trainer for various programs, and a professional recording musician.

  • LuAnne Shaw: 25 + years of experience in TX public/private schools. While serving as a music teacher, she holds a Master’s degree in math education. She has been a teacher trainer for many years.

The Advisory Council:

Is comprised of a group of professionals from various fields of study. This group was recruited to provide input during the formation of our program. Upon request, this list is available.

Also, there are independent groups of teachers and parents who gave of their time and interest as they informally observed and provided feedback during implementation. Several were parents of students or school administrators in OK, TX, MO, CO, KS and AZ.

  • In the last 10 years, over 100 teachers in TX, OK, MO, CO, AZ in either in private studio or public, private, or home schools. This group has chosen to implement our program in their various teaching environments as listed above.

  • In the last 10 years, we’ve had (approximately) of 17,000 students who have had fun and notable results in our program. Please see Appendix A with a representative list of comments from parents and teachers regarding specific children, or related circumstances.

  • Our close association with OU has stemmed two long-term studies of our program. More details and long term impact is in Appendix A Also our two studies will list our official research studies and the refereed publication of our initial study. Plus, the Appendix A presents a yearlong study comparing of childhood growth in comprehensive progress through one whole academic year. Incidentally, both studies are qualitative.

  • In the last 4 years, we’ve had considerable teacher/parent input suggesting that we provide focused lessons in video format. Despite the rather high cost of production and the Covid interruptions, we have completed 14 educational videos providing fun interaction for children in a multitude of environments. During 2019 & 2020 our Ally Dog Depot video productions were awarded EMMY’s for quality and innovative content.

Promotes equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging:

Because music both unifies the thoughts of groups, but it can also have a multitude of different responses as well - - there is happy news: almost all are “right” to some extent. Furthermore, when math is experienced through musical examples, it substantially increases the possibility of pathways to the brain of individuals. Thus, this particular approach of encountering concepts via fun and challenging experiences, allow for a very fertile area of discovery. When also using music to unify the thoughts of groups of children, there are easy perception items that can bring a group together (i.e., having children learn to clap or jump at a particular spot in a song gets a group to move, speak, or think about something at the same time). Therefore, these experiences can break the barriers of concept formation - - making something much less complicated (or difficult) for children to experience and practice leading to concept formation. Equity: Musical involvement for a group of children can be a very strong unifying feature of concept formation. Therefore, it allows for an opportunity toward success from a widely disparate group perspective. It can help build confidence and care for learners who might not fit the norm. Diversity: The practice or quality of including or involving people from a wide range of different social and ethnic backgrounds. This description of a learning environment has been at the fundamental core of AAMMC/ADD since its inception. Inclusion: The basis of creating a program utilizing music to discover math concepts indicates a devotion to including all students. Music can be an opening to the mind of a child and encourage the participation within the “can do” circumstances of music. Belonging: Music, by its very nature, creates a feeling of participation and belonging in a group. Happily, even when one is alone, music recalls a feeling of participation and belonging to the group where it first occurred to a child (or adult).


Depending on the scope of the response to this application, our implementation recommendation would start with identifying early learning centers all over the State of Oklahoma. Once the centers have been identified and are willing to participate we would start with teacher training (3x per school year), parent orientation “family fun night” as well as materials for both the teacher and families to use at school and home to keep the learning going and promote social-emotional wellbeing, child development and encourage strong and healthy homes and relationships. These materials include books, activity cards, music and learning videos. This has all been created and is ready to be put into an action plan.

Our recommendation for implementation in early childhood in Oklahoma would be a partnership between early childhood care providers, students, families and AAMMC/ADD. Given our history and experiences with early childhood centers, public, and private schools, we believe we have a model that will help support the teachers and families to promote a the best and healthy learning environment for the child/student. Please see appendix B for a complete summary of our current programs.

Evaluation plan/recommendation:

We have found in our many years experience that our best evaluation plan would include pre and post evaluations/assessments on each student. Depending on the scope of the response, we would have a team of researchers help follow the students growth over the next three to five years.

Supports Available: N/A

Standards/guidelines, models, outcomes, programs:

We will list a large list of fundamental guideposts that we have implemented.

  • Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains: Provided a powerful component of our understanding of the need to diversify our content toward creative problem- solving and creation of original thoughts, examples, and student age-appropriate creativity. A specially designed example of Bloom’s triangle is among the materials sent with every package of AAMMC.

  • National Standards for Music Education This is a basic referral to these published standards of age appropriate guidelines for both musical competencies in performance and basic musical knowledge. This is especially important because most musically oriented college programs would refer to these documents.

  • The National Association for Education of the Young Child There are 10 Standards in these recommendations. In our particular case the NAEYC Standards that are most applicable to our efforts are: Standard 1: Relationships, Standard 2: Curriculum, Standard 3: Teaching, Standard 4: Assessment of Child Progress.

  • Of course, we are familiar with all of these standards. In fact, we were invited via competition to present a 1.5-hour session at the annual 2018 national convention.

  • National Association of Teachers of Mathematics This set of guidelines has been an important guidepost for content and progress with this organization. In fact, we have worked closely with a former national committee member of NATM – Rita Ferrandino. Her treasured comment for us was that she said “I’ve known of many “so called” music and math curricula.” She stated a number of times in discussions with us and in public that she thinks we are … “the only such ‘animal’ that really includes mathematics beyond simple arithmetic.”

Training material and manuals:

One of the supporting documents (please see appendix C) shows all the materials needed for the success of this program. With our team of educators we have developed multiple teacher trainings, lesson books, activity cards, music recordings, portfolios, parent notes, EMMY Winning educational videos, and hands-on manipulatives. Currently the retail price for the AAMMC program is approximately $1,500 per teacher, (this price doesn’t include the ongoing teacher trainings). Our online subscription (for this proposal only) for ADD - learning on the go is currently $59.99 per year. These materials are currently published through ThinkTune Inc. an Oklahoma corporate. It is owned by the applicants. Erin Hines, 405-990-6451 and Dr. James Faulconer.

Implementation Costs:

Depending on the scope of the response, these prices may vary. We have found the best implementation process is to have 3 teacher trainings per school year: one before the start of the program and then, two follow-up mid-year trainings. We have also found that the most success occurs when we include the families in a “Family Fun Night” at the start of the program.

In partnership with the early childhood care centers, our team would provide these trainings which sets all participants up for success.

The cost per teacher is $1,500 (materials) + $150 for training (this price includes 3 teacher trainings for the year)

This price also include the following materials:

  • Lesson books (7)

  • All parent note/activity resources

  • Student portfolios

  • Over 75 music recordings

  • Teacher activity cards (over 200+)

  • Character cards and train map

  • Floor graph

The cost per student $59.99 (ADD is a discounted rate for this proposal) includes:

  • All access pass to the Heartland EMMY winning learning videos and recordings for one year

  • Hands-on activity book

  • Family fun night activities

Other Information:

As we hope you can see, we are perfectly aligned, research based, award winning, and ready to help support the early childhood community: children, teachers, parents, owners, caregivers, and administrators for the early learning development, social- emotional, well-being, and success in Oklahoma! We thank you for this opportunity to submit and welcome any questions you might have.

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