As early childhood professionals we know that learning can be messy. Children often seem to be at their happiest when they are digging, painting, or creating. In fact, if each of us paused for a moment and thought about it, we could probably easily recall a time when the children in our care were consumed by swirling paint colors and painting over the same area on the page, piling sand into large mounds, or collecting an assortment of sticks and rocks. In each of these activities, children are honing many skills—fine motor, gross motor, cognitive awareness, and math and counting. Help children and families in your setting embrace messy play by getting outside and celebrating International Mud Day on June 29.
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.
by Kelley Jilek
Arts and crafts help children experience and master a wide range of skills such as small motor control, eye-hand coordination, and concepts about color, size, shape, form, and texture. Art projects also help with language skills, sensory perception, independence, confidence, social skills, problem solving, and self-expression.
Early childhood educators know the importance of pretend play in children’s lives. The sociocultural theorist Lev Vygotsky purported that when children are engaged in pretend play, they demonstrate and act out skills they have learned, often before demonstrating those skills in other learning areas. It’s knowing this that brings about concern regarding superhero play: Just what are children processing when they engage in play that is physical or aggressive?