Less Is More

Seeing Children Do More with Less

Posted by: Rhonda May 22, 2018

“Imagine not offering babies any toys until they find their hands for play,” writes Deb Curtis.

“My mind started spinning as I listened to Janet Gonzalez-Mena describe the approach used by the Pikler Institute in Hungary, where they have documented over 75 ways that babies learn to use their hands for play. This is such a different emphasis than what I often see in early childhood programs in the United States. Babies are regularly surrounded by colors and images on walls and fabrics, along with toys that beep, rattle, and flash.

“The story of the Pikler babies and their hands challenged me to rethink my practice. In my desire to give children all they need to grow and learn, am I giving them too much?” Continue reading.

Shaker Painting

Active Art: Shake the Paint!

Posted by: Rhonda May 15, 2018

This highly active art activity will inspire even your most wiggly kids to create masterpieces. In fact, it’s all about the energy you put into the process. Moving and creating—what kids do best!

Try this outside where there is lots of room for movement—jumping, dancing, and shaking. You’ll need large plastic containers with tight fitting lids, paint, paper, and some small loose objects. Instructions here.

Block math concepts

The Best Way to Understand Math

Posted by: Rhonda May 9, 2018

Contrary to a commonly held mindset, math is not just a bunch of rules, formulas, and equations. Mathematics has always been defined as the study of the relationships between objects or quantities. Seen like this, the practice of teaching early math concepts with a pencil and a worksheet seems completely illogical.

Wooden unit blocks, on the other hand, can be held, measured, compared, and counted, making them a “perfect hands-on medium for children to deeply experience these relationships between objects,” writes Hal Melnick of Bank Street College of Education.

If you want your kids to have a solid understanding of STEM concepts, let them play with blocks! Read more.


Trouble with Screens

Posted by: Rhonda May 1, 2018

In an attempt to thwart the infiltration of screens into the lives of kids, many families and schools are going screen-free this week. Are you?

Regardless of “good” or “bad” programming, technology is attacking the foundation of healthy development for young children: interactive relationships with peers or caring adults. This is creating a generation who struggle with resilience, problem-solving, and basic social skills.

The increase of media in the lives of children, combined with fewer opportunities for play and interaction with others, feeds a troubling condition which Diane Levin characterizes as “Compassion Deficit Disorder”. There is a remedy. Read the article.

Sensory play1

Messy Learning

Posted by: Rhonda April 25, 2018

Play is not always tidy—especially sensory play. But can you really get the most out of sand without adding water? Or mud, without feeling it oozing between your bare toes?

Children learn best through direct experiences. If a child’s environment is too sterile they are deprived of the deep exploration that comes from “making a mess”. How can an educator embrace this rich learning without worrying about keeping the floor clean or the furniture intact? Take it outside!

Watch this group of children completely absorbed in outdoor sensory exploration. You’ll see the engineers, artists, and collaborators of tomorrow in training. Don’t worry about the wooden play equipment—it’s completely mess-proof and there’s nothing a hose can’t clean up at the end. Watch now.