Promoting Play Through Independent Activity Centers

by Katie Brazerol

Children benefit from choosing and freely exploring materials in interactive learning centers throughout your setting. Providing a space that encourages children to explore, interact with others, and use critical thinking skills without constant adult direction allows them to gain independence. Children can use independent activity centers during free play or as transition activities while waiting for others to finish a task.

Set Up the Centers

  • Include materials to support current concepts and topics of interest to the children.
  • Offer age-appropriate materials that can be used with minimal adult supervision.
  • Promote multiple learning domains. Rotate activities that focus on language/literacy, math, science, social studies, social/emotional well-being, physical development, and creative arts (music, art, and dramatic play).

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Meeting Standards Using Themes

by Judy Mullican

More and more states are now publishing standards for early childhood programs. These lists are often long and may look intimidating! But when you dig deeper, most often you will find that the standards just put into words the good practices that you have been using for years.

Depending on where you live, your state standards may cover a few basic learning domains or a long list of domains, subdomains, goals, and indicators. Using themes can make it easier for you to plan activities that will address all areas of learning. Themes also help you build connections from one learning domain to another. High-interest themes can also promote excitement about learning and inspire both care givers and children to express creativity and joy!

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The Inclusion of STEM/STEAM in Preschool

by Katie Brazerol

In recent years there has been a push to include more science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills in education. As the trend has shown success, educators have recommended the application of STEM activities in early childhood as well. Incorporation of STEM activities will help children observe, analyze, and make predictions about things in their environment. They will learn to fulfill their natural curiosity and develop inquisitiveness about subjects and how things work. They will also strengthen math skills beyond shapes, colors, and counting, such as analyzing quantities, measuring, collecting data, and recording results.

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Red-Eyed Tree Frog Math

red-eyed-tree-frog-mathby Katie Brazerol

The second theme in our Fireflies® February Curriculum Guide is all about the Tropics. On page 43 of the guide, we create handmade red-eyed tree frogs for some math fun. While frog counters would work just as well, we offer this alternative for those who may not have counters on hand. Remember that children have fantastic imaginations; it doesn’t take much to turn an everyday item into a theme-related prop!

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The Importance of a Preschool Curriculum

by Katie Brazerol

Preschool education requirements are not the same for every state. While some states have specific guidelines, many states do not set mandatory guidelines for preschool education. A frequent question asked among child care providers and stay-at-home parents is: “Should I use a preschool curriculum?”

When I first opened my child care, I had only three children and they were all under the age of 2. (At this time the early learning guidelines in North Dakota are voluntary for child care providers.) As the children became more comfortable in my setting, I noticed frequent boredom and tension among them. After several months, it became apparent that we all needed some structure in our day. I ordered a kit from FunShine Express® to see if the activities would help break up our day. What a dramatic difference! Within a week, I noticed that the children stayed engaged, I felt like we were all enjoying new topics, and as a perk for me—time seemed to go by much more quickly!

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