If playing with blocks is such a foundational pillar of education why is block play still largely relagated to a "choice" activity, limited by space and time? What if block building were a central element in your curriculum and schedule?
The children and nature movement is fostering wonderful new ways for kids to play outdoors, yet most of these new approaches are challenged in one vital dimension: frequency. If we really want to power-up nature-based play, it needs to be available where children can enjoy it almost any day, without adult involvement or confining schedules.
It’s mud season again and good things are being made. How about a chocolate mud pie, decorated with yellow dandelions? Or a luscious cupcake sprinkled with sand and cherry petals? A mud kitchen can be a stimulating, and very accessible, addition to your outdoor space.
Gardening with young children isn’t nearly as romantic in practice as most people think. Yes, it’s fun; and yes, there are moments of wonder and discovery. But gardening with a group of young children is seldom as calm, intentional, or controlled as most teachers hope it will be. So, why garden?
Earth Day is a great opportunity to teach children more about sustainability, nature, and what it means to “be green”. This fun project demonstrates those values by using recycled materials and planting seeds. Plus, the funky green hair is hard to beat! Good for Earth Day, or any...
Are You a Leader?
You may not think of yourself as a leader, but you probably are. There are all kinds of leaders: the conventional ones—CEOs, managers, coaches, principals of schools, or directors of centers—and the more subtle, but just as influential, leaders we encounter in daily...
Our children need to fall, they need to climb, and they need to get dirty. They need to experiment and to stretch their limits. My parents gave me a gift—it was the gift of Nature as a prepared environment, a place to play freely. Let us give every child the same gift.
You are cordially invited to begin to de-clatter your classroom. Begin to think differently about how your physical space is structured and organized. Search for new ways of creating transparency in your space.
Sand and water hold a tremendous attraction for young children, but as time for play is increasingly threatened by standards and curriculum driven activities, how can teachers validate the educational value and necessity of sand in the classroom?
Play is one of the primary approaches to learning available to children in early childhood. Yet despite its importance for cognitive, social-emotional and physical growth, play has largely been pushed out of kindergartens and is currently vanishing from preschools.
Along with nutrition, physical activity, and secure attachments, sleep is a basic requirement for a child’s growth and brain development. Sleep is important for health and wellness, especially for growing infants and young children. Unfortunately, the amount of time children spend sleeping...
The study of early childhood education has produced some extraordinary findings as of late. Many tenants of early childhood that we previously just knew or had a gut-level feeling for, now have research to confirm these beliefs.
There is no evidence to suggest that early reading is a helpful step for long-term school success. Yet teachers of young children are pressured to devote hours every day to test-driven curricula at the expense of play and other free choice activities. Joan Almon pleads the case of kindergarten children, so eager to learn by inquiry and investigation, so hampered by today’s core standards.
Children need a childhood filled with opportunities to develop the dispositions, knowledge and competencies that allow them to embrace life with enthusiasm. An environment with challenge and its associated risk is vital for this. In a risk-averse culture obsessed with litigation, Jan White challenges educators to address this important issue.
Real play means taking risks. As educators we have the responsibility not only to understand the inevitability of risk, but to know the importance of providing adventuresome opportunities for children. In this article Joan Almon advocates for a childhood rich in play and appropriate challenges.