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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Surprise! No Leak!

by Katie Brazerol

In our Fireflies® March Curriculum Guide (p. 45) for the Sail Away theme, we share a quick and easy trick you can do to amaze the children in your setting.

Please note: Test the plastic zippered bag ahead of time to make sure there are no leaks in the seal. You may wish to try the experiment on your own before showing to children to make sure you know how much pressure to apply when pushing the pencil through the bag. (The first time I tried it, I didn’t push hard enough and I ended up poking a hole into the bag without the pencil going through.)

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Experimenting with Density

by Katie Brazerol

This fun little experiment will help children begin to understand the concept of density. The activity is featured in our December Fireflies® Curriculum on page 17.

What You’ll Need:density1

  • unbreakable clear glass or jar
  • water
  • vegetable/canola oil
  • pancake syrup or dark corn syrup
  • small items (marble, bell, plastic lid, button, paper clip)
  • paper
  • markers

Step 1:  Talk with the children about density. Density is the amount of parts squished together to make up a liquid. The more tightly packed the parts are, the more dense the liquid. (This is difficult concept to explain, so experiments like this will provide a visual aid.)

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