Teacher-Directed vs. Child-Directed Art

by Katie Brazerol

The child brings home a sheet and proudly shows it to her mom. Her mother looks at the sheet and sees…a mess. She murmurs something polite like, “That’s nice, Honey.” The artwork never makes it to the fridge because it doesn’t look like anything to showcase.

Teacher-directed vs. child-directed art has long been a hot topic in early childhood. Teachers and providers usually understand the importance of keeping art projects age-appropriate and child-focused, but many parents pressure them to offer crafts that are cute, theme-related, and showcase-worthy. Some teachers avoid all mass-produced crafts while others struggle with freestyle art because some children do not stay engaged long without specific instruction.

Let’s first address why art matters in early childhood: Continue reading

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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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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Goldilocks and the Three Bears Read-Aloud

And the Benefits of Classic Fairy Tales

by Katie Brazerol

Our second theme in January is all about classic stories. Classic stories and fairy tales have long been passed down from generation to generation. Stories such as “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” and “The Three Little Pigs” are well-known all around the world. Recently, however, classic stories have come under scrutiny for being violent or inappropriate for children. While original versions of traditional classics often have disturbing endings, many authors have done a fantastic job retelling the original stories so the events and outcomes are less harsh—without compromising the moral or the flow of the story.

In addition to exposing children to classic tales, we also encourage you to offer stories in a variety of ways. Offer audiobooks, look for online video versions, and invite local community members or the children’s families to come to your setting to read aloud to the group. Here we have provided two read-aloud versions of the story “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, as part of an activity in the Fireflies guide on Tuesday, January 24 (p. 45). The first story is traditional while the second option provides a little spin on the classic tale. Invite the children to view one of the stories. Continue reading

Celebrating New Year’s

by Cora Miller

New Year’s Eve will be celebrated soon. How do you explain what the holiday is all about to young children? Keep your explanation simple. Explain that New Year’s Eve is a holiday that celebrates the end of one year and the beginning of another. Parties and celebrations are held all across the country to welcome the new year! Show the children a calendar from this year and one for next year, if possible.

Seven kids in colorful clothing raising their both hands upHave fun ringing in the New Year with some of the following activities for young children:

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