Author Archives: Jamie Le Sesne Spears

Vaccines and Quarantines: COVID-19 from a Pregnant Mom’s Point of View

by Jamie Le Sesne Spears, Family Engagement Specialist

My journey to motherhood has been a long and winding road. Like most, it started with hopes of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby. However, our story took a different path. Over the past five years, I have experienced infertility, failed fertility attempts, at-risk pregnancy, and infant-loss. Simply put, it has been more difficult than I ever imagined.  

My Pandemic Pregnancy

When we became pregnant with our rainbow baby in the fall of 2020, I was naturally hopeful and anxious. Yet, this time my pregnancy had an extra layer of fear due to COVID-19. I suddenly had to face the pandemic with a different perspective; I no longer was protecting myself but also my growing baby.  

Parenthood is a constant state of making decisions that are best for you and your children. This is no different for pregnant moms. 

After finding out I was pregnant, every decision I made about leaving the house and wearing a mask was influenced by my pregnancy and the current status of the pandemic. Some decisions were made for me. For instance, my husband was not allowed to attend my appointments. I know many women who delivered with their masks on and family far away. Every pregnancy story is different, and yours will be different than mine. Nonetheless, we all faced mandates and tough decisions this year regarding our pregnancies and deliveries.   

Pregnancy and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Hope came in the form of a vaccine early this year, but the decisions I had to make seemed heavier. With the science still in pre-trial stages for pregnant women, it brought more uncertainty for pregnant and breastfeeding moms. It was and continues to be overwhelming when resources are circulating from a variety of institutions, not to mention the varying opinions found in social media. 

To help answer questions, Child Care Answers reached out to Patrick Glew, MPH, from the Indiana Immunization Coalition. With his knowledge and support, we created a one-page resource for pregnant and breastfeeding moms. Despite the evolving research and trials, there are some facts that can help inform your vaccination decision.  Please check out our resources below to learn what we know and how to stay informed.  

COVID-19 Resources for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Moms

Inspiring your preschoolers to be readers and artists

by Jamie Le Sesne Spears, Family Engagement Specialist

Even before your little one can read, their journey to becoming a reader begins with you! Story time is more than just fun for children; reading aloud is an essential part of supporting literacy and developing language skills.

Encouraging your preschooler to participate in story time

The need for reading aloud starts as early as infancy and continues well into your child’s school-age years. As your child grows older, this is a great opportunity to encourage additional participation during your read-alouds. Preschoolers can begin to:

  • Hold the book.
  • Turn pages.
  • Read alongside you.
  • Retell parts of the story.
  • Point out letters.
  • Ask and answer questions.


Step up your read-alouds with art

Moving down the path to reading, you can provide art experiences that engage with the books you read together. These experiences create a fun, engaging way to interact with the text. Your child can creatively retell parts of the story, make personal connections, and express their own thoughts. When you add adult questions alongside the art, you enhance their development even more. Your child can practice answering questions about a story, respond to the characters, as well as predict what may happen next. 


Good reads to encourage art and literacy

You can enhance many books through art, but I have found that children’s books about art support both literacy and creative development. These children’s books about art both engage children and provide an easy transition into an art experience:


Scribble Stones by Diane Alber

A little gray stone discovers its purpose to bring joy and creativity to the world!

Art Experience

  • Go on a walk and gather a few stones (rocks).
  • Take them inside and let your child wash and dry their stone.
  • Provide markers, paint, or sharpies
  • Encourage your child to add “scribble” and “splatter” to their stone.
  • Try adding stickers to add texture and patterns to their art.

Question to Ask

How can we use our Scribble Stone to give joy to someone else?


The Color Monster: A Story About Emotions by Anna Llenas

The color monster’s feelings are all mixed up! He learns to put his feelings in the right place by matching each feeling with a color.

Art Experience

  • Pull out different colors of construction paper, scissors, and markers/crayons.
  • Draw or cut your own color monster.
  • Give your color monster a feeling.
  • Try making your color monster 3D by sculpting it with playdough!

Question to Ask

What color do you feel when … ? (i.e. I tell you “no” or you are playing outside)


Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg

This book teaches children that everyone makes mistakes and those mistakes can be created into something beautiful…and it’s a favorite of our Family & Community Engagement Manager, Tom Taylor!

Art Experience

  • Provide scrap paper, scissors, hole-punch, ruler, or markers/crayons.
  • Encourage your child to take a mistake or create a mistake by cutting or tearing paper.
  • Encourage them to transform that mistake into something new!

Question to Ask

What are some ways from the story that you can make an oops beautiful?


If Picasso Painted a Snowman by Amy & Greg Newbold

Everyone knows what a snowman looks like, but through beautiful illustrations, this story shows children that artists see snowman a little bit differently!

Art Experience

  • Take out your watercolors, paint, or markers.
  • Provide a space that you do not mind getting a little messy.
  • Encourage your child to create their own snowperson.
  • Try recalling an artist and creating a snowperson in a similar style.

Questions to Ask

What was your favorite snowman from the story? What about it do you like?


Additional Art+Literacy Resources

10 Inspiring Children’s Books for Budding Little Artists

Reading Skills: What to Expect at Different Ages

KidLitCrafts Blog