“Crisscross-Applesauce. . .” This familiar mantra has been heard in early education settings for decades. “Legs crossed, hands in lap, eyes on me!” The idea, of course, is that kids will pay greater attention to the teacher if they are required to sit still. But now, with abundant research showing the benefits of movement for learning, isn’t it time to call this practice obsolete?
Even for a limber adult, sitting on the floor, cross-legged, back straight, with hands in your lap, is a challenging position to maintain for more than a few minutes. So what are the alternatives? Read Rae Pica’s popular and controversial blog post here.
Over the last decades there has been great emphasis in our field on Early Literacy, STEAM skills, and other abilities that can be tested to measure learning. While these may be important components of education, it is vital to remember that each young child in our classroom is a whole, creative, curious, and capable person.
“In today’s early childhood classroom, educators play a vital role in designing environments, interactions, and experiences that will support holistic learning,” writes Dr. Rebecca Isbell.“The most meaningful and engaging learning in the early years is integrated learning. In these experiences, all the domains are woven together, responding to the natural development of the child. There are many effective ways to weave these areas together in your classroom.” Continue reading.
A Community Playthings Case Study
The church basement was less-than-ideal. It had, in fact, been previously used as a bowling alley. Could it possibly be transformed into a magical space for play and learning?
Armed with passion and imagination the director and staff at Millbrook Preschool in upstate New York faced this challenge. They envisioned spaces that would “beckon children in,” appealing to their need to climb, build, socialize, and create. “As educators, we always have to be willing to adapt, rethink, and reimagine until we get it right,” states former program director Maureen Sarma. “We have a moral imperative to make this a wonderful first learning experience for children.”
With help from Community Playthings room planners, this vision became a reality. See how it turned out here.
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!
In her book, Mind in the Making, Ellen Galinsky outlines the following list of seven essential skills every child must develop to be successful, not just in school, but in life:
#1: The ability to focus and exercise self-control
#2: The ability to notice and understand the needs of others
#3: The ability to communicate
#4: The ability to make connections (what fits together)
#5: The ability to think critically
#6: The ability to take on challenges
#7: The ability to become engaged, self-directed learners
Which classroom activity should you promote that supports children acquiring these invaluable assets? (Hint: it does not happen at a desk.) Read here.