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craft

Autumn Display

Posted by: Rhonda October 16, 2018

When your children can’t resist gathering dried weeds, grasses, seedpods, and colored leaves on your autumn walk, here’s an attractive way to display their collections:

  1. Cut a long strip of corrugated cardboard about 2” high with the ridges running up and down.

  2. Roll the strip into a tight cylinder.

  3. Hold the roll together with a rubber band or fasten with tape.

  4. Decorate with paper, paint, felt pen, or crayon.

  5. Insert the stems of your collected nature items into the holes made by the ridges of the cardboard for a beautiful fall centerpiece.

More fall activity ideas here.

guiding block play

Guiding Block Play

Posted by: Rhonda October 9, 2018

“As an author of a book on block play, it was an obvious choice,” writes Rosanne Regan Hansel. “For his first Christmas, I gave my grandson, Dagan, a set of wooden unit blocks.”

But just being gifted a set of blocks (or simply having a block area in your classroom) isn’t necessarily enough to promote a successful building experience. Parents and teachers hold a key role in supporting children’s learning during play. Dagan was fortunate to have parents who got down on the floor to play with him, and to be enrolled in a childcare program that encouraged block building. From her grandmotherly observations, as well as years of experience in the education field, Hansel maintains that “every child can be a ‘genius builder’ if they are guided by a caring adult.” 

There is a fine line, though, between supporting and interfering in a child's play. In this article she offers helpful tips for guiding children in appropriate ways during block building. Read now.

pumpkin fun

Pumpkin Song

Posted by: Rhonda October 2, 2018

Young children learn best when all their senses are engaged. In autumn, the seasonal and sensory exploration offered by a pumpkin is hard to beat. From the thrill of scooping out the stringy innards to the crunch of roasted seeds, each experience is a memorable learning opportunity.

Another great way to extend children’s learning is through singing and movement—especially it if directly relates to familiar experiences. Right now the “Pumpkin Song” is back at the top of the hit list in our center:

Scoop out the inside of a pumpkin
Make a mouth, a nose, and two bright eyes.
Put a light inside your pumpkin,
Then you’ll have a jack-o-lantern surprise! 

The tune is simple enough for anyone to catch on to and the kids love the hand movements. Learn it here.

bowerbird

Lessons from the Bowerbird

Posted by: Rhonda September 25, 2018

This is an invitation to think beyond the ordinary. Think beyond the pictures in the early childhood catalog. Think beyond the room next door. Think like a bowerbird.

Although an unlikely role model for teachers, this small native of the South Pacific may have a lot to teach us about intentional classroom décor. With painstaking precision, the male bowerbird selects and places beautiful objects in his nest, or bower. His one aim is to send a message to the female bowerbird: You are important.

“Unlike the clutter present in many early childhood classrooms, the objects in these bowers are intentionally chosen for their value and purposefully placed. Far from institutional, each nest is a unique and artistic creation. Take a new look at your classroom through the eyes of a bowerbird and see how you can make your space more appealing, beautiful, and purposeful.” Read more from Sandra Duncan.

shadows

Shadow Portraits

Posted by: Rhonda September 18, 2018

Some sunshine, pavement, and sidewalk chalk are all you need for this simple activity incorporating both art and science (plus a lot of fun).

Find a suitable space of pavement in full sun. Have one child pose, as still as possible, while a partner carefully traces around his shadow. Once the outlines are done, color or decorate in any creative way.

Creating shadow portraits at different times of day will provide an interesting discussion about how shadows work—morning people will be much taller than noon people!