Dramatic play invites children to learn about the world and how it works, though active first hand interpretation of the experiences that are important to them. As children engage in dramatic play they use and develop their imaginations, interact with other children, and learn to share, take turns and solve problems. The world can be a confusing and overwhelming place for children, dramatic play helps make the world child sized. As children play out roles and make decisions about what adults do and think, they can build knowledge and cognitive competence, develop language and literacy skills and explore and practice mathematical skills and concepts. Children, eager to develop their own dramatic play scenarios, need to assign roles, develop dialogue and gather props. Set up and clean up of dramatic play allows children to take on responsibility for maintaining the classroom environment.
As children work with blocks, they explore and develop concepts of size weight, shape, scale, balance and symmetry, structure and design recreate their world through concrete representation, and pose and solve problems alone with each other.
Working with manipulatives offers opportunities to develop confidence, create designs, solve problems, and hone math skills such as matching and classifying. Physical development is enhanced through experience in fine motor activities.
Art activities such as drawing, painting, clay and collage, provide children with the opportunity to develop creativity, experiment with color, shape, design and texture, and express their ideas and feelings through their creations. As children work with art materials, they are able to strengthen small-motor and eye-hand coordination, make symbolic representations of what they experience in the world, and develop self esteem.
MUSIC AND MOVEMENT
Music and movement provide an opportunity for children to enhance their aesthetic skills and extend their learning in language, literacy, math, social studies and science.
Children love going outdoors when offered quality outdoor experiences; children feel a unique sense of freedom as every area of their development is enhanced. Here they use all five senses as well as both large and small motor skills. Here they practice social skills, experience their community and get to know other living things first hand. Here they run, jump, skip, climb and stretch. Here they breathe fresh air, feel the sun, wind, rain and snow as stress and pressures fall away. Following a well planned outdoor experience, children return to their classrooms refreshed and ready to continue their learning. There is no substitute for being outdoors.
“Language and literacy experiences for children are the most successful when they capitalize on children’s inherent motivation to communicate—to listen, speak, read, and write. Children learn these skills most naturally in the context of social interactions. Teachers seize the many opportunities throughout the school day to have children apply language and literacy skills in an integrated way across the curriculum” (Bickard; Jablon; Dodge; 1999). A balanced approach to literacy instruction includes a variety of strategies and experiences.
Reading aloud is viewed as one of the most significant factors affecting children’s success in learning to read. Reading aloud provides a pleasurable experience that children want to acquire for themselves. Reading aloud allows children to focus on the story while building vocabulary, comprehension and listening skills. In many classrooms where children read on various levels (non-reading to fluency), reading aloud gives the whole class an opportunity to enjoy literature together.
Shared Reading allows children to be verbal participants in the process of reading through books, songs, poems, and other printed materials.
Guided Reading occurs when the teacher meets with a small group of children to observe their reading and provide small group instruction.
Independent Reading gives children an opportunity to relax and enjoy books they can read without assistance. The purpose of this time is to let children choose their own reading materials and read quietly. This is one way to encourage children to view themselves as readers.
A balanced writing program provides children with ongoing and varied opportunities to write. Watching the teacher write the morning message, dictating words and stories, sharing the writing in class collaborations, attempting to write names and words that convey meaning, learning to edit and revise fiction and nonfiction, and writing independently in journals are examples of experiences that help children develop as writers.MATHEMATICS
Mathematics is about patterns and relationships. Create classroom environments where children can be active learners who seek answers to interesting problems. The emphasis is on doing and solving math problems and understanding the concepts. As new math concepts are introduced, children use manipulatives to help gain mastery.
We present Mathematics in a developmental sequence that provides children a natural transition from one concept to the next, preventing gaps in their understanding. For example:
When children are allowed to explore many objects, they begin to recognize similarities and differences of objects.
When children can determine similarities and differences, they can classify objects.
When children can recognize, copy, extend and create patterns, they can arrange sets in a one-to-one relationship.
When children can compare sets, they can begin to look at the "manyness" of one set and develop number concepts.
This developmental sequence provides a conceptual framework that serves as a springboard to developing higher level math skills.
“Social studies is the study of people-how they live, work, play, solve problems, get along with others and are influenced by their environment. Children investigate topics to learn about the world around them and to appreciate the importance of culture and heritage. They build upon their growing knowledge about themselves, their families, and their communities to make sense of this new information.” (Bickart, Jablon, Dodge, 1999, p. 343)
Children are natural scientists. Curious about the world around them, they are eager to ask questions, conduct investigations, and find their own answers. Active scientific exploration and experimentation provides children with the opportunity to develop important skills such as observation, problem solving, critical thinking, data collection, and documentation.
Children love to cook. It is a satisfying, enjoyable, educational activity which provides young children with an important link to family and home. Classroom cooking provides young children with an important link to family and home. Classroom cooking affords children the opportunity to develop social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills and allows teachers to integrate math, science, social studies and literacy. As they cook, children learn to share, take turns and solve problems together. They develop large and small muscle strength, skill and coordination. They practice reading by following instructions prescribed sequence and decoding recipes, develop language skills and new vocabulary, explore mathematical concepts of volume, capacity and measurement, as well as scientific concepts such as cause and effect, change, growth, temperature, health, nutrition and safety. Favorite family recipes and family members as guest chefs can strengthen the important connection between school, culture and home.
Sand and Water
Children are naturally drawn to sand and water. As they engage in sand and water play exploration, children are able to interact each other, develop language, solve problems, create play schemes, explore concepts of size, capacity and weight, make observations and predictions, and strengthen motor and eye-hand coordination.
— Bank Street College of Education, New York, USA