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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Halloween Guide

Tips for celebrating Halloween, plus alternate ideas for Fall celebrations!

by Judy Mullican

halloween-pumpkinsBelieve it or not, it’s time for Halloween again! I shared some thoughts on this last year, but here is an update with some new recipes and ideas! Some programs include Halloween and others don’t. How do you decide?

The first thing to do is consider your own feelings. You may have strong feelings one way or the other about the holiday. If it’s not a holiday you feel comfortable celebrating, consider whether there are ways you can let the children have fun without the parts of Halloween that make you uncomfortable. On the other hand, Halloween may be your favorite holiday, and you may be bursting with ideas for activities! Before you get started, you may find it helpful to talk to the children’s families. Some families may have a religious objection to holidays in general, and others may object to the emphasis on ghosts, goblins, and witches. Still other families may be making big plans for parties, trick-or-treating, and other celebrations, and be counting on you to join the fun! Look for common ground so your plans are fun for everyone.

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Summer’s Winding Down…and I’m Exhausted.

by Katie Brazerol

The other morning as I was going past the living room, my daughter asked me for a snuggle. I gave her a quick hug and said, “Not now, I have to work.” That afternoon, she asked again. “I can’t sweetie. It’s time to take you to your art class.” While lying in bed that night, I realized I never did have the chance to give her that snuggle. How sad. It seems to be the recurring trend for my family this summer.

Like many parents, I try to fill my children’s summer days with playdates and various activities to combat the usual “I’m bored!” statements. However, I believe I may have fallen into the trap of over-scheduling. We’ve been running from activity to activity with hardly any time to converse, let alone spend time together. We finally had a day with nothing scheduled yesterday, and guess what I heard all day long. Yup! “I’m bored!” I soon realized that being bored isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Continue reading