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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Choosing Words Wisely

by Judy Mullican

“Wow! You are a great builder!” Ms. Tammy says as she looks at Josh’s complex block construction. No doubt Ms. Tammy means her words to be encouraging, and Josh probably enjoys hearing them. But research shows us that these words are not the most likely to lead Josh to develop persistence and a willingness to try challenging tasks. Ms. Tammy’s words can be termed people praise. That is, they focus on the type of person Josh is rather than his actions. In contrast, process praise focuses on a child’s actions and efforts. Using this type of praise, Ms. Tammy might say, “You worked on that building a long time, Josh. You balanced the blocks carefully so they didn’t fall. I think it’s the tallest one I have seen you build so far! Did it turn out the way you were hoping?” These words draw attention to Josh’s efforts and actions.

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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 Importance of Play

by Kelley Jilek

Baby newborn in the shirt closeup on white background.When children play, they develop their knowledge of themselves and others, learn to make sense of the world around them, and learn to communicate with peers and adults. As children grow and develop, play changes, but the importance of it remains. There are a number of ways that educators and other adults can support play for various ages of young learners. But first, you need to understand how it evolves.

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New Curriculum Features for 2016-2017

FunShine Express is always looking for ways to Simplify Your Day. With that goal in mind, we launched our Three Guarantees:

  • Save you one hour per day in prep time
  • Alignment to your state standards
  • Provide you with support and training

You can read more about these guarantees here. Another way we strive to Simplify Your Day, is by making changes and improvements to the components included in our curriculum kits! Check out what is new with our Fireflies® preschool program starting September 2016:

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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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