by Chalimar Ríos
Two challenges educators face when offering board games is group size and child interest. Playing board games has many benefits, but depending on children’s skill sets, educators may need to be more hands-on. Begin by making sure each child is interested in being part of the game. It is important to have their attention before giving directions, so they can understand them clearly. If you have a small group, you might want to include yourself as part of the game, take turns with children, and celebrate their attempts so they can understand you are happy to engage and play with them. For large groups, some suggestions are to sort children by age or interest. You may want to begin by playing with the most excited number of children and then try gathering the rest of the group at a different time to play and have a much quieter or individualized experience.
Research tells us that every aspect of early childhood development is impacted by nurturing and caring relationships. These relationships begin during infancy when the adults and caregivers in children’s lives set the stage for learning and growing. Much of our work around caring for infants involves a focus on routines—feeding, changing diapers, and managing sleep schedules. It can be hard to step back and think about learning opportunities and implementing unique approaches for addressing each child’s needs. Sometimes the key to individualizing learning and meeting children where they are is to have a supportive classroom setup.
What is STEAM?
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Many people think that STEAM can only be used with older, school-aged children. However, toddlers and preschoolers are naturally curious and enjoy exploring, discovering, and solving problems. STEAM can be an easy way to incorporate hands-on play and learning. Follow our STEAM Series to learn more about each component of STEAM and some activities to try with your little learners.
The S in STEAM
The S in STEAM stands for Science. Encourage children to observe, collect data, solve problems, and change behaviors to change the result. Science-based activities will help children discover and learn different ways of thinking. Be available to help ask and answer questions, further their discoveries, and supervise the use of materials.
Here are 5 easy Science ideas to incorporate in your setting:
by Chalimar Ríos
Twelve years ago, when I was still studying in college to graduate as a teacher and educator, we were asked to create a teaching material that would stand out in some way or that would involve a different way of teaching. With a thousand ideas in mind, I went to a department store and bought different colors of felt, Velcro, hot glue, and fiberfill. I came up with the great idea to create a “concept cube.” I imagined it as a tool that I could use easily by changing the pictures often to work on multiple skills with the children and teach new concepts. The day came, I presented my idea, and it was a success. I saved that concept cube as one of my best teaching tools and used it for years in my classroom.
Years later, I find myself working for FunShine Express, where I have the great opportunity to see and be a part of creating good, quality educational materials to help teachers and caregivers make the teaching process easier and more effective. And guess what? They have a Concept Cube! The idea I had more than 10 years ago was already being implemented by FunShine Express as part of the materials sent in their monthly kits. Teachers receive Concept Cube Cards, a mix of drawings and real pictures, to place in the Concept Cube to play games with children, making learning fun and interactive and helping children make connections between learning and the real world. Join me in discovering how to use one of my all-time favorite learning tools by reviewing our February Concept Cube components.