While every day in a child’s life is one of learning, and everything around them is part of that, providers can offer safe and constructive learning opportunities with “learning stations.”
Learning stations are designated areas of the classroom where children play freely, with little to no direction about how to use materials, while having playful and engaging interactions with the adults around them.
The way learning stations are organized and the materials offered play an important role in inspiring imagination, learning, and play. There isn’t just one way to set up and organize learning stations, but I can offer some guidance to help you get started.
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.
by Katie Brazerol
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.