Providing Space, Time and Materials for Play

Teaching Children the Skills of Play

“Play is a mode of response to experiences that can and should be taught in early childhood education. We teach young children to play by providing them with space, time, and materials; offering them support in problem solving; presenting new problems for them to solve; paying attention to their spontaneous interests; and valuing their eagerness to learn about the world in which we all live together.”

– D. Koralek, 2004 Continue reading

Social and Emotional Development in Preschoolers

“Emotional development and behavioral self-regulation are as important to early development as learning to read.  In order to promote literacy, early educational programs have to attend to the whole child, attending also to the promotion of emotional development and health.”

C. C. Raver, 2002

Emotions Matter

Playing with Little Little Ones

IMG_2469The early days were not easy; in fact, they were down right brutal at times!  I felt as though I was in a never ending fog that filled the outside and suffocated my insides.  The days drudged on relentlessly and I dreamt of sleep while my eyes laid open.  I was thankful for the long naps R took early on so that I had me time to do nothing and yet everything.

For the first few months, I didn’t do much of anything in terms of activities – I spent time trying to recover and rest!  My advice to new moms is to trust yourself and your body.  If you need to rest, then rest!  Once you feel up to it, start slowly and do what works well for you and your little one! Continue reading

Dramatic Castles, Sticky Houses and Thread-able Noodles

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R was 16 months old at the time of this activity

Book: 

See Inside Castles by Usborne – See Inside Castles is a great book with lots of flaps to flip, making reading the book even more enjoyable, especially for reluctant readers.  I had these books out in my classroom for quiet reading time.  Many of the children, especially the boys in my class, were drawn to these books.

Activity:

1. Cause and Effect Castle

IMG_8384I made a cardboard castle for R to explore some cause and effect relationships.  I didn’t get a chance to paint the castle, but lots of fun things were added.  I used lots of duct tape and twine to put it all together!  There was a draw bridge, a sliding wall that had spy goggles using cardboard rolls, a room and a pulley mechanism to pull toys up to a window. R played with all the parts of the castle for a long time.  I usually tidy up the activities after our activity time, but I left the castle out and she continued to play in there for over an hour and over many days.  My favourite part was when she brought in a pillow and laid down inside with her stuffies! Continue reading

Pool Noodle Obstacle Course

IMG_0155IMG_0175For outdoor play time, I set up an obstacle course using pool noodles stuck into the ground with bamboo BBQ skewers.  I was so lucky to have so much help today!!! I had a bunch of errands to run and so after R’s nap, my sister was with R during outdoor play time. My sister encouraged R to kick the ball through the pool noodles and also crawl through them.

This activity is so simple and is great for kids of many ages.  It can be used with younger children to encourage them to crawl and can be used with older children to practice ball skills.  The ball can be thrown through the hoops or kicked through.

Play with multiple kids and set up two pool noodle nets on either side of the yard and make your very own soccer game!   Set up two rows of pool noodles to run through and have races with two groups of kids.

Critical Thinking: Ask Open-Ended Questions

“Asking questions that don’t have one right answer encourages children to respond creatively without being afraid of giving the wrong answer.”

– Scholastic Website

Learn More Here

Stomping Around Town

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R was 16 months old at the time of this activity

Book: 

In My Neighborhood by Mari C. Schuh – In my neighbourhood is an informative book about different places you will find in a neighbourhood. It fit perfectly with our building activities for the day. I used this book during our Communities unit with my Kindergarten and Grade 1 students. It provides a lot of information about the people and places you may find around town.

Activity:

1. Soft Block Zone

IMG_8277I made a neighbourhood in a large cardboard box using soft blocks and R’s toy vehicles.  Using black permanent marker, I drew on some roads and a railway line to encourage R to move the vehicles through them, but she did as she pleased!  Sometimes she’d topple the buildings down and other times she’d build them back up.  She enjoyed slamming the vehicles into the buildings and toppling them over, the most.

Extension Activities:
a. Put photos of different homes and buildings along the inside panels of the box to stimulate curiosity in building structures and shapes and to provide some inspiration for the child.  Offer the child the following open-ended question to spark critical thinking: How does a house look different from a store or building?  How can you show the difference?  Have the child use the soft blocks and any other materials s/he needs to make different structures in their town.
b. Encourage Writing.  Have the child label the different structures around town.  Encourage the child to write as many sounds as s/he hears.  The child may be able to write just the first letter (and that’s totally fine!) or more.

Continue reading