Charlie’s Cues: Using Your Learning Center/Early Learning Materials

What would you think if I told you that a single teaching tool could help you teach math, fine motor, social-emotional, cognitive, and language concepts to young children—a tool that could be used in both directed or independent play? Each month we offer just that in our Fireflies and Buttercups kits!

Fireflies is a curriculum designed for children ages 3 to 5, ages during which children are interested in cooperative activities where they are challenged to think and learn actively. To support this interest, Fireflies includes Learning Center Materials as part of its monthly curriculum. Locate your August Curriculum Guide and in the first theme, Summer Discoveries, you will see the What Belongs? Learning Center Material. This LCM invites preschoolers to appreciate a summer scene with a blue sky, clouds, and green grass. Then, the children observe pieces to decide whether or not they belong on the summer scene. While using this LCM, children are developing thinking and reasoning skills, actively exploring science and math concepts, and have the opportunity to build strong social-emotional and language skills as they work with partners and discuss their ways of thinking or ideas with each other. The Learning Center Materials provided in the Fireflies monthly kits offer endless possibilities to interact with children and challenge them across learning domains.

Buttercups is a curriculum designed for children 0 to 3 and includes a similar component called Early Learning Materials. This component allows young children to engage in social-emotional, fine motor, and language activities. Two of the Early Learning Materials provided in July/August are Follow the Path and Body Bubbles. These are found in the third and fourth themes, Summer Discoveries and 1, 2, 3, Review with Me. Body Bubbles nurtures socio-emotional skills as children are invited to place the bubble pieces on the character and thus identify parts of the body. On Follow the Path, toddlers are encouraged to move the pieces on the path as they wish but also listen and acquire new vocabulary when the provider describes the way the pieces move and follow an adult’s directions.

The Early Learning and Learning Center Materials vary throughout the school year. They are both thoughtful and creatively designed every month with the objective of being used in and for different learning areas, skills, and concepts.

Benefits of Using Learning Materials in Your Setting

Through the use of Early Learning and Learning Center materials, children have the opportunity to learn as they bond with adults or caregivers, engage in small conversations by asking or answering questions, and following directions. While observing the pictures and pieces, children are able to appreciate different cultural traits and diversity.

Cues for Including Learning Materials in Your Daily Routine

  1. Offer learning materials in different exploration stations based on the children’s interests, theme, and classroom setup.
  2. Summer months can sometimes bring rainy days. Offer the learning materials as an option for children to use freely on rainy days. They might use them like board games or come up with new ways to play with the pieces.
  3. Join children’s play as they use the learning materials throughout the month. Invite them to talk in complete sentences according to their age and language development. Celebrate their efforts as they participate so each interaction between you and the children is a positive experience.

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