Selecting and Using Manipulatives

Published 8/31/2020

1. Invest in good quality materials. It may seem like a lot of money to spend upfront, but the investment will more than pay for itself as your manipulatives withstand use by young children day after day after day.

2. Choose well-constructed materials, ones with pieces that fit together well and are easy to manipulate. 

3. Make a commitment to eventually buy enough equipment for each child to have his or her own set. Being patient and waiting or a turn are difficult for toddlers. Provide enough blocks, beads, etc. for each child to work successfully. 

4. Before you buy materials, check for overall safety. Are there any sharp edges? Are the pieces too big for a toddler to swallow or choke on? Also, be sure to check the materials in your room periodically to make sure they remain safe. 

5. Select equipment that can withstand a lot of washing. Paperboard products are difficult to clean. Wood and plastic equipment is better suited for this age group. 

6. Limit the number of manipulative toys that are available at any one time. Too many choices are confusing for young children and can make it more difficult for them to choose an activity. 

7. Just sitting on the floor next to toddlers as they work with manipulatives can encourage them. Refrain from directing their play or asking too many questions. Let them explore the manipulatives on their own. As you watch them work, however, be ready to step in and offer a little assistance if their frustration level gets too high. 

8. One way to encourage the use of a variety of table toys is to set out just one toy at a table. Sit with your children as they experiment and figure out what to do. As their interest wanes and they go on to other things, put that table toy away and get out another one. 

9. You may find that at the end of a play time, several different sets of manipulatives have gotten mixed up. Make the cleanup of the toys a game, and have your children help you sort them. 

10. Involve your children in the care of the manipulatives. When it is time to wash them, let the children help. Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water and let the children scrub and clean the toys.

 Sorting Toys

1. Sorting toys are very easy to make. You can use an assortment of almost any small item and a container such as a basket, a plastic jar, or a box. For safety, check that any items you use are too big for a toddler to swallow or choke on. 

2. Give each toddler his or her own container and several items for sorting. Sit at the table with your children, with your own container. Play alongside the children, putting one item at a time into your container and talking about what you and they are doing. This activity, putting in items one at a time, is the very first toddler sorting activity. 

3. Toddlers love dropping clothespins into a plastic container or moving pompoms from one container to another with kitchen tongs. 

4. A basket is great fun for sorting. Your children will enjoy putting objects into the basket and taking them out again. 

5. Cut a square hole in the plastic lid of a large empty container. Show your toddlers how to push small blocks through the hole. 

6. For older toddlers, you can make a sorting box by cutting a square hole and a round hole in the lid of a shoebox. Put the lid on the box and let your children put empty thread spools through the round hole in the lid and square blocks through the square hole. 

7. Have each child take off one shoe and put it in the middle of the room. When all the shoes are piled up, let your children sort through them to find their own shoes. 

8. Put out a variety of items in big and little sizes: socks, plates, and books. Let your children put the big items in a big basket and the little items in a little basket. 

9. Collect three toy cars and three stuffed toy animals. Mix up the cars and animals, and then have your children sort them into two separate piles. This works with any two kinds of toys or materials you have. As your children become more skilled at this, you can increase the difficulty by having them sort two similar items such as toy cars and toy trucks. 

10. Toddlers love this color sorting activity. Set out two sheets of construction paper: one red and one blue. Find three red toys and three blue toys. Let your children place the red toys on the red construction paper and the blue toys on the blue paper. Help the children say the color of each toy as they put it on the paper. Repeat with any other colors you wish to introduce to your children.

SOURCE: "Terrific Tips for Toddler Teachers" by Gayle Bittinger, Mary Ann Hodge, and Jenny Cooper Rose

10 for 10: Ten Activities to Occupy Toddlers for Ten Minutes, Part 1

BY SHAUNA SMITH DUTY
Published 9/7/2020

Toddlers are busy little people, working hard to explore their new world and learn everything they can. They move from one challenge to another in a matter of minutes and require a great deal of chasing, engaging, cleaning up after, and redirection.

These ten creative activities will keep toddlers occupied for at least ten minutes at a time, and they are great for encouraging both an increase in their attention span and developing motor skills.

1. Sorting Machine. Most toddlers love to sort things. For a toddler who enjoys organizing, provide a few handfuls of multi-colored, O-shaped cereal and a muffin pan. With a little direction, she'll sort the cereal by color into the muffin pan cups and enjoy a healthy snack. For a non-edible activity, use blocks or colored manipulatives.

2. Future Picasso. A bowl of soft, chopped fruit with a little cream cheese and graham crackers is great for an entertaining, edible art project, First, spread the cream cheese on the graham cracker. Then have the toddler press fruit chunks into the cream cheese to create a nutritious work of art. You may just inspire the world's next Picasso.

3. Toy Rotation. A bin filled with toys can be stashed away for months in a closet or cupboard. When the forgotten toys are reintroduced, toddlers feel they have rediscovered them.

4. Shake It Up. Place toys or treats inside clear containers with the lids attached. Children love to shake and rattle things, and when a toddler realizes a treat is inside, the activity will be even more appealing.

5. Water Colors. Add a drop of blue food coloring to a shallow wading pool or sand and water table. Toss in some sea creature toys. Fora change of theme, use green food coloring and jungle creature toys. It makes a great outdoor activity on warm days. Remember to closely supervise any waterplay.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

-----

Shauna Smith Duty is a freelance writer and home-
schooling mother of two in Roanoke, Texas. She writes activities, crafts, and parenting articles for websites, magazines, and newsletters. Visit www.shaunasmithduty.com to find out about her latest projects.

 

10 for 10: Ten Activities to Occupy Toddlers for Ten Minutes, Part 2

BY SHAUNA SMITH DUTY
Published 9/17/2020

Continuing from last week's post: Toddlers are busy little people, working hard to explore their new world and learn everything they can. They move from one challenge to another in a matter of minutes and require a great deal of chasing, engaging, cleaning up after, and redirection.

These ten creative activities will keep toddlers occupied for at least ten minutes at a time, and they are great for encouraging both an increase in their attention span and developing motor skills.

6. Paper Play. Consider allowing toddlers to wrap themselves in toilet paper and pretend they are snowmen, or to decorate the room with toilet paper streamers. You may want to use the game as a potty training introduction or celebration of a potty success.

7. Lid-Le Ideas. Try presenting toddlers with a tub of plastic containers and their detached lids. Children can find and affix the matching lids to each container. Cleaned and dried plastic bottles like those used for condiments (ketchup and mustard), and grated cheese have distinctive lids that are easily identified and attached.

8. Roughin’ It. Turn over a table or gather chairs into a circle in the center of the room, then drape blankets over them to construct tents. Flashlights and a non-sticky snack can create a fun
environment while you read a story or sing songs.

9. Obstacle Course. Use nap mats on their sides, propped against chairs or tables, to form walls for a maze. Pillows can be hopped over, crawled on, or used as steppingstones in an obstacle course. Play Follow the Leader in the obstacle course, changing
the leader each time you reach the beginning. Encourage the children to vocalize - can they travel as kittens, as cows, as racecars?

10. Footsteps. Place a small amount of washable paint on a pie tin or sturdy paper plate. Encourage the toddler to step into the paint with her bare foot, or feet, and walk across banner paper. She can even have a different color for each foot. This activity can be confined to a wading pool or tarp to ensure caster clean-up.

Conclusion
With all their energy, providing constant stimulation for toddlers can be difficult. These inexpensive and easy ideas will afford early childhood educators a few minutes of downtime while encouraging children to use their minds and their bodies to
explore, play, and learn in their new world.

-----

Shauna Smith Duty is a freelance writer and home-
schooling mother of two in Roanoke, Texas. She writes activities, crafts, and parenting articles for websites, magazines, and newsletters. Visit www.shaunasmithduty.com to find out about her latest projects.

 

What Children Can’t Do… Yet, Part 1

BY Dan Hodgins
Published 9/24/2020

When working with children, keep in mind what they are ready for and what they are not; what they can do and what they are unable to do… yet.

I can’t share.
Children use possession of objects as a device to understand autonomy. Just as babbling comes before talking, so owning comes before sharing. To share fully, a child must fully possess.

I can’t say “I’m sorry,” and mean it.
Saying “I’m sorry” has little meaning to the young child. To say “I’m sorry” and understand what you are saying, you must also be able to understand how the other person feels.

I can’t remember what you told me.
Most children remember only what is important to them. A child may not remember that you just told them to walk, and not run, while indoors. Adults often forget that children have trouble remembering.

I can’t focus on more than one task at a time.
“Pick up your toys, put on your shoes, and wash your face; we are going out to play.” This command has three more tasks than a young child is able to focus on. Most young children will remember the last task or the task most important to them. With the above command, all the child may focus on is that he or she is going out to play.

I can’t understand negative commands.
If a child reaches to put his or her finger in an electric wall outlet and you say, “don’t”, the child is confused because he or she doesn’t know how to reverse their action. Saying “Pull your hand back; that’s dangerous.” gives the child a positive action to take.

I can’t measure.
When you want a child to pour a glass of milk or juice and you hand him or her a full pitcher, expect the child to pour all the milk into the glass, even if it pours all over the floor or table. Young children do not understand that all of the milk will not fit into the glass and so keep pouring until it’s too late.

I can’t tell you the truth when you set me up.
If you see a child do something inappropriate, and you ask if he or she has done it, the child will probably deny it. Don’t ask the child if you know what happened. That only sets them up for failure.

Dan Hodges writes from Flint, Michigan, where he is coordinator of the child development program of Mott Community College.

What Children Can’t Do… Yet
Earlychildhood NEWS / THE PROFESSIONAL RESOURCE FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS EXCELLENCE – © 2006 Excelligence Learning Corporation, All Rights Reserved.

What Children Can’t Do… Yet, Part 2

BY Dan Hodgins
Published 10/5/2020

When working with children, keep in mind what they are ready for and what they are not; what they can do and what they are unable to do… yet.

I can’t sit still for very long.

Young children are often told to sit still, while their bodies are telling them to move. When the large muscles in a preschooler’s arms and legs are growing rapidly, they cry out for exercise. As a result, preschoolers feel a need to move about.

I can’t play with other children until I am ready.
Children go through different stages of social interaction. If allowed to grow at their own pace, they will begin to interact with other children when they are ready.

I can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy.
When a child has a bad dream, it is very real to him or her. Telling a child not to be a “baby” does not help. Playing fantasy is real for the child and very important for control and development.

I can’t express myself in words very well.
Children resort to physical means of communication because they don’t have the verbal skills to express frustration and other feelings. You can help by giving the child words to use.

I can’t wait.
Try not to put children in situations where they have to wait for long periods of time. Waiting often makes taking turns difficult.

I don’t understand right and wrong.
Because young children don’t understand cause and effect relationships, they can’t fully understand right and wrong. A young child does not understand intentional versus unintentional actions, can only see issues from his or her own perspective, and views issues as black and white.

I can’t be ready until I’m ready.
Children all grow and develop at different rates. Don’t compare children or force them to do things before they are ready.


Dan Hodges writes from Flint, Michigan, where he is coordinator of the child development program of Mott Community College.

What Children Can’t Do… Yet
Earlychildhood NEWS / THE PROFESSIONAL RESOURCE FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS EXCELLENCE – © 2006 Excelligence Learning Corporation, All Rights Reserved.

Improving Children’s Oral Language

Courtesy of: Texas Child Care / Summer 2003
Published 10/8/2020

During their early years, children need supportive adults who will engage them in conversation, read to them, and provide experiences in which they can learn new words (IRA and NAEYC, 1998). Children also need adult role models for reading and writing activities – reading the newspaper and writing a note to parents, for example. Children with these experiences will have a tremendous head start when they begin school.

Offer Oral-Language Activities

A rich environment enhances children’s language development indirectly. You can also enhance development directly by providing activities aimed specifically at improving oral language skills.

Preschoolers

- Provide props.

Place props in the dramatic play center or use at circle time. A dentist kit, for example, may encourage the children to talk about their experience in going to the dentist.

- Discuss art work.

Encourage children to discuss their creations: “Tell me about your painting.” “How did you feel while making this collage?”

- Talk while playing.

Encourage children to talk while playing in the block building and dramatic play centers; these activities are interactive and collaborative. While children are playing and talking, their vocabulary will improve because they hear themselves and remember some of the words they have heard adults use.

- Tape a story.

Read a story and record it on tape. Make the tape available for children to play and enjoy as many times as they want.

- Encourage pantomime.

Encourage a child to retell their favorite story or pretend to be a character from the book in front of a mirror.

- Play a rhyme game.

Say “Ball rhymes with call.” Spell out the words – “Ball, b-a-l-l and call, c-a-l-l.” Encourage the child to say the words to feel and hear how they rhyme.
- Play “Objects in a Bag”

Place a few items such as a cap, plastic cup, and spoon into a bag. Invite the child to pull an object from the bag and talk about it. The child can describe the object and talk about how it’s used.

- Record sounds in nature.

Take an audio recording of sounds from the outdoors. While playing sounds such as birds, moving vehicles, and dogs barking, encourage children to talk about what they hear. Encourage children to write about or draw pictures representing the sounds they hear.

- Solve a puzzle.

While working with a child to solve a puzzle, talk about the pieces, colors, and shapes. Encourage conversation.

- Take field trips.

Expose children to a variety of experiences by visiting the zoo, library, park, and museum. Encourage children to make comments and to ask questions.

- Read or tell a story every day.

Vary the reading format, using books as well as flannel board and puppets, for example. Have a well-stocked book center that children can use on their own.

Use books to stimulate oral language:

- Always have available a variety of books.

- Choose high quality books about topics such as animals, places, and things that children like.

- Choose books that positively reflect children’s identity, home language, and culture.

- Discuss the story before, during, and after reading.

- Discuss the title and what might happen in the story. Encouraging the children to make predictions stretches their thinking and imagination.

- Point to the pictures and talk about them.

- Help children relate words to their prior knowledge and experiences such as taking a bath, eating, or playing outdoors.

- Read in a natural way, as if you were talking. Use expression by changing your voice tone with each character. Use hand and body gestures.

- Pause to explain unfamiliar words.

- Encourage parents to take advantage of times in the doctor’s waiting room and at the laundromat by talking and reading to the children.

A Mind Is a Wonderful Thing to Challenge

Courtesy of: Dr. Margaret E. Griffin, Assistant Professor of Child Development at Iowa State University.
Published 10/18/2020

Parents and teachers can help children to use both their creative and intellectual abilities by encouraging the following:

1. Creative behavior often involves taking risks and testing limits; it can be time consuming, messy, and generally unsettling.

2. Openness to perceptual experiences – sights, sounds, textures, tastes, smells.
Development of the problem-solving process. Children should have concrete experiences in which they are able to observe sequentially, hypothesize, predict, test, and evaluate. Adults can support this process by:

  • Demonstration (“Watch what happens, listen/look at this, hold/smell/touch/feel this.”)
  • Encouraging the child to think and express that thought. (“Tell me what you saw, heard, felt… what you think caused… what will happen if…”)
  • Allowing or helping the child to carry out an idea. (“You have an idea, try it.”)
  • Encouraging evaluation in a nonjudgmental manner. (“You thought… what do you think now?”)

3. Open-ended questioning – looking for all possible solutions for a problem. A question is open-ended if it meets any one of the following criteria:

  • It allows the child a variety of ways to respond.
  • It suggests there are many possible responses.
    It allows the child an opportunity to observe without responding.
  • It allows the child an opportunity to hypothesize at his/her own level.
  • It allows the child an opportunity to make predictions.
  • It allows the child an opportunity to test an idea.
  • It allows the child an opportunity to evaluate his/her hypothesis.

4. A question is closed-ended if it meets any of the following criteria:

  •  It requires a “yes” or “no” answer.
  • It requires a single word response.
  • It indicates there is one right answer.
  • It does not allow the child an opportunity to hypothesize.
  • It does not allow the child an opportunity to make predictions.
  • It does not allow the child an opportunity to test an idea.
  • It does not allow the child an opportunity to evaluate his/her hypothesis.

Circle Time or Anytime!

Courtesy of: “Circletime Activities for Young Children by Deya Brashears and Sharon Werlin.
Published 10/22/2020

Simple yoga exercises help the children settle down and focus on the new gathering time. If you begin each Circle with yoga, the children will expect it and learn to relax and enjoy this healthy activity. Yoga helps develop awareness training, relaxation, strengthens the body, energizes the child, and helps balance and muscle control. As you continue to use yoga, it will become second nature to the children and they will learn to come together for a more successful Circle Time. To see illustrations of the poses described, 

LOTUS POSITION
It is best to introduce yoga with the Lotus Position. The leader describes the position as she is actually demonstrating the exercise. For example: “Let’s sit up straight with our legs crossed, our hands, palms up, on our knees or thighs. Be sure to keep your back straight. Close your eyes and mouth. Now, breathe in through your nose slowly. Keep your mouth closed. Hold the air in and let it out through the nose slowly. Let’s try it again together as I count. Breathe in –- 1 – 2 – 3, breathe out --- 1 – 2 – 3.”

To help the child get his back straight, say, “Have you ever seen a puppet on a string? Imagine there is a string on the top of your head pulling you up so your spine is straight. Pull the imaginary string and sit up straight.”

CLEANSING BREATH

Between yoga exercises, or at the end of an exercise, it is important to do a cleansing breath to energize the body before going on to the next activity. For example: 

“Close your eyes and mouth.  Breathe in through your nose and hold.  Think about any unpleasant things that may have happened today –-- a fight with a brother, a rushed morning, not being able to share a toy.  Now breathe out these unhappy feelings through your mouth.  Now breathe in love and happiness and good feelings, and again breathe out any bad feelings.” 

THE LION

Kneel with your hands on your knees and your spine straight, inhale deeply.  Force every bit of air from lungs with a ferocious lion's roar. Look ferocious as you do it! Repeat. 

THE MOUNTAIN

Sit in the Lotus position then position your legs as if they are folded like a pretzel. Your legs will be the base of the mountain. Your arms and hands are the peak. To make the mountain top, stretch your arms over your head with your fingertips touching and your palms together. Inhale and exhale slowly through your nose and imagine that you are as still and peaceful and quiet as a mountain. 

Toy Soldier and Ragdoll

Stand up straight and tall, feet together, head erect, arms stiff at your side, tummy in, and chest out.  Inhale through your nose and pretend you are a toy soldier guarding the castle gates.  Now, exhale and relax your entire body.  You are now a floppy rag doll.  Bend at the waist, hang your head down, sway it from side to side, bend your knees and swing your arms from side to side. Inhale and repeat Toy Soldier position.

Conceptual Differences, Part Two

Courtesy of:  Ginger Sprague, Curriculum Coordinator, The Center for Early Learning.
Published 11/07/2020

ACTIVITIES CORNER
Here are concept-skill activities for all levels of experience. There’s sure to be plenty of fun and skill-building for everyone.


Treasure Hunt – Tell the children you’re going to have a treasure hunt. Give them a category to look for, for example, “We’re looking for treasure that you can read.” Use a large cardboard box for a “treasure chest.” Let a few children at a time hint for the treasure and bring it back to the treasure chest. After everyone has had a turn, take the items, one by one, from the chest and have the group “appraise” the treasure to make sure it belongs to the category that was being hunted.


A fun variation to this activity is to name a category for the treasure hunt early in the morning and give the children the rest of the day to collect the treasure in the chest. As a wrap-up activity at the end of the day, go through the contents of the chest with the class.


Puzzle Picks – This is a self-checking game for grouping concept items. Instead of each puzzle forming a single picture, it forms a concept group. Each piece of the puzzle shows a different member of the group. Several puzzles are mixed together and the children have to sort out the groups. Fitting the pieces together tells if they’ve chosen the right members. Start with just a couple of puzzles mixed together and progress to more complex problems with more and more puzzles added.


It’s in the Bag – Talk with the children about “definitions”. Explain that a definition is a way to tell someone about something without actually showing it to him. Tell them that the best definitions explain the most important things about the object – what it looks like, what it’s used for, what it does, etc. Then give them an example: “A squirrel is a small animal that eats nuts, climbs trees, and has a long, bushy tail.”


Once the children become skilled at defining objects, take several large paper bags and inside each, place a familiar object. Close the top so the object can’t be seen. Now, have a volunteer choose one of the bags and peek inside without telling anyone what he sees. He must give the class the best definition he can without naming the object. The person who guesses the identity of the object gets to choose the next bag and give a definition!

What a Child Needs Most…

Becci Nicholls, Swords & Snoodles
Published 12/09/2020

Stability
Hugs
Kind words

To be loved for who they are

Your time

Second chances To be heard

The freedom to make mistakes

Explanations instead of explosions

A good example

To be able to cry without judgment

Unconditional love

A healthy balanced diet

Recall Time Checklist:
How Adults Support Children at Recall Time

Published 12/11/2020

Adults examine their beliefs about how children learn at recall time.

Adults recall with children in a calm, cozy setting.

  • Recall in large groups.
  • Recall with those who shared the experiences children are recalling.

    Adults provide materials and experiences to maintain children’s interest at recall time.
  • Group games
  • Props and partnerships
  • Representations

Adults converse with children about their work-time experiences.

Adults take an unhurried approach to recall.

Adults invite children to talk about what they have done:

  • Pick up on children’s opening comments.
  • Comment on child’s play.*
  • Ask an open-ended question.

Adults watch children and listen attentively.
Adults contribute observations and comments to keep recall narratives going.
Adults use questions thoughtfully and sparingly.
Adults support children’s co-narratives and conflicting viewpoints.
Adults acknowledge (rather than praise) children’s work-time experiences.
Adults note connections between children’s recall narratives and plans.

Adults anticipate changes in the way children recall over time.

*Teddy Bear Day Care and Preschool refers to “play” as “work”.
High/Scope Approach to Preschool Education, Daily Routine Participant Guide, Second Edition, page 36

Copyright 2007 by High/Scope Educational Research Foundation

Small Group Time Develops
CRITICAL THINKING

Adapted and prepared by Ms. Charlottee N. Umoja
Published 12/13/2020

Definition of critical thinking:


Skillfully analyzing information to come up with a conclusion using facts and events.
Critical thinking, or logical thinking, is the process of determining accuracy or value of something, analyzing and providing support to your own conclusions and a willingness to change your view of evidence is convincing.

Critical thinking skills include being able to identify, analyze, and evaluate.
It is a way to develop reliable, rational evaluation making reasoned judgement. Applying reasoning and logic to unfamiliar ideas or situations.


Basically, it is using criteria to judge or make a conclusion about something.

Conceptual Differences, Part One

Courtesy of:  Ginger Sprague, Curriculum Coordinator, The Center for Early Learning.
Published 10/29/2020

Developing a child’s ability to form concepts can be a real challenge! Often, in the rush to teach specific skills such as reading and writing, it’s easy to overlook the importance of developing basic thinking skills. A child’s ability to conceptualize is his link between simply perceiving the world and using that information in reasoning and communication. In short, it’s the key to the productive use of his mind.


JUST FOR FUN
Here’s a festive idea for your next class party. Invite the children to make ice cream clowns of their own design! You’ll need ice cream, cones, marshmallows, candies, paper plates, and spoons.


Place a scoop of ice cream on each child’s plate. Show the children how to put a cone on top for the clown’s hat. Now they can go to work on making the clown’s face and collar. Invite them to make the collar from colored marshmallows or gum drops arranged around the scoop of ice cream. They can make the face by carefully pressing candies in the ice cream for the eyes, nose, and mouth. If you want to get really fancy, the children can use tubes of icing to draw the features on the ice cream. Tell the children they can’t take too long to make their clowns or they’ll have clown soup!

The final part of this activity, of course, is to have the children eat their clowns. (They won’t need any instructions for this.) Try to get around the class to admire everyone’s work before it disappears!

Children often have difficulty in expressing themselves. Giving clear directions or explaining something can be a problem for them. Much of it is simply the lack of vocabulary development. As adults, it’s hard for us to imagine not having the words to express a simple idea, but for a child, it’s an everyday happening.

10 for 10: Ten Activities to Occupy Toddlers for Ten Minutes, Part 1

BY SHAUNA SMITH DUTY
Published 1/13/2021

Toddlers are busy little people, working hard to explore their new world and learn everything they can. They move from one challenge to another in a matter of minutes and require a great deal of chasing, engaging, cleaning up after, and redirection.

These ten creative activities will keep toddlers occupied for at least ten minutes at a time, and they are great for encouraging both an increase in their attention span and developing motor skills.

1. Sorting Machine. Most toddlers love to sort things. For a toddler who enjoys organizing, provide a few handfuls of multi-colored, O-shaped cereal and a muffin pan. With a little direction, she'll sort the cereal by color into the muffin pan cups and enjoy a healthy snack. For a non-edible activity, use blocks or colored manipulatives.

2. Future Picasso. A bowl of soft, chopped fruit with a little cream cheese and graham crackers is great for an entertaining, edible art project, First, spread the cream cheese on the graham cracker. Then have the toddler press fruit chunks into the cream cheese to create a nutritious work of art. You may just inspire the world's next Picasso.

3. Toy Rotation. A bin filled with toys can be stashed away for months in a closet or cupboard. When the forgotten toys are reintroduced, toddlers feel they have rediscovered them.

4. Shake It Up. Place toys or treats inside clear containers with the lids attached. Children love to shake and rattle things, and when a toddler realizes a treat is inside, the activity will be even more appealing.

5. Water Colors. Add a drop of blue food coloring to a shallow wading pool or sand and water table. Toss in some sea creature toys. Fora change of theme, use green food coloring and jungle creature toys. It makes a great outdoor activity on warm days. Remember to closely supervise any waterplay.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

-----

Shauna Smith Duty is a freelance writer and home-
schooling mother of two in Roanoke, Texas. She writes activities, crafts, and parenting articles for websites, magazines, and newsletters. Visit www.shaunasmithduty.com to find out about her latest projects.

 

JANUARY ENROLLMENT SPECIAL

Published 1/4/2021

ENROLLMENT SPECIAL FOR OUR ALEXANDRIA LOCATION IN THE MARK CENTER!
Enroll prior to February 1st, 2021
Get every 4th week of child care and preschool FREE during 16 consecutive weeks of enrollment!
Call 703-671-7382 to schedule your tour and to take advantage of this one time offer before it expires.
* You must be a new or returning enrollment that has not attended for at least 30 or more days.
* Enrollment fee of $100 per child must be paid at the time of enrollment or re-enrollment to receive this offer.
* The value of a free week is based on each individual's weekly tuition payment.
* Weekly tuition payments must be current in order to receive each 4th FREE.
* Enrollment must take place prior to February 1st, 2021 in order to receive this offer.
* Families with an agency assigned copayment will receive 25% off each month for 4 months.
LET YOUR FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS KNOW!
THANK YOU!

Selecting and Using Manipulatives

Published 12/28/2020

1. Invest in good quality materials. It may seem like a lot of money to spend upfront, but the investment will more than pay for itself as your manipulatives withstand use by young children day after day after day.

2. Choose well-constructed materials, ones with pieces that fit together well and are easy to manipulate. 

3. Make a commitment to eventually buy enough equipment for each child to have his or her own set. Being patient and waiting or a turn are difficult for toddlers. Provide enough blocks, beads, etc. for each child to work successfully. 

4. Before you buy materials, check for overall safety. Are there any sharp edges? Are the pieces too big for a toddler to swallow or choke on? Also, be sure to check the materials in your room periodically to make sure they remain safe. 

5. Select equipment that can withstand a lot of washing. Paperboard products are difficult to clean. Wood and plastic equipment is better suited for this age group. 

6. Limit the number of manipulative toys that are available at any one time. Too many choices are confusing for young children and can make it more difficult for them to choose an activity. 

7. Just sitting on the floor next to toddlers as they work with manipulatives can encourage them. Refrain from directing their play or asking too many questions. Let them explore the manipulatives on their own. As you watch them work, however, be ready to step in and offer a little assistance if their frustration level gets too high. 

8. One way to encourage the use of a variety of table toys is to set out just one toy at a table. Sit with your children as they experiment and figure out what to do. As their interest wanes and they go on to other things, put that table toy away and get out another one. 

9. You may find that at the end of a play time, several different sets of manipulatives have gotten mixed up. Make the cleanup of the toys a game, and have your children help you sort them. 

10. Involve your children in the care of the manipulatives. When it is time to wash them, let the children help. Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water and let the children scrub and clean the toys.

 Sorting Toys

1. Sorting toys are very easy to make. You can use an assortment of almost any small item and a container such as a basket, a plastic jar, or a box. For safety, check that any items you use are too big for a toddler to swallow or choke on. 

2. Give each toddler his or her own container and several items for sorting. Sit at the table with your children, with your own container. Play alongside the children, putting one item at a time into your container and talking about what you and they are doing. This activity, putting in items one at a time, is the very first toddler sorting activity. 

3. Toddlers love dropping clothespins into a plastic container or moving pompoms from one container to another with kitchen tongs. 

4. A basket is great fun for sorting. Your children will enjoy putting objects into the basket and taking them out again. 

5. Cut a square hole in the plastic lid of a large empty container. Show your toddlers how to push small blocks through the hole. 

6. For older toddlers, you can make a sorting box by cutting a square hole and a round hole in the lid of a shoebox. Put the lid on the box and let your children put empty thread spools through the round hole in the lid and square blocks through the square hole. 

7. Have each child take off one shoe and put it in the middle of the room. When all the shoes are piled up, let your children sort through them to find their own shoes. 

8. Put out a variety of items in big and little sizes: socks, plates, and books. Let your children put the big items in a big basket and the little items in a little basket. 

9. Collect three toy cars and three stuffed toy animals. Mix up the cars and animals, and then have your children sort them into two separate piles. This works with any two kinds of toys or materials you have. As your children become more skilled at this, you can increase the difficulty by having them sort two similar items such as toy cars and toy trucks. 

10. Toddlers love this color sorting activity. Set out two sheets of construction paper: one red and one blue. Find three red toys and three blue toys. Let your children place the red toys on the red construction paper and the blue toys on the blue paper. Help the children say the color of each toy as they put it on the paper. Repeat with any other colors you wish to introduce to your children.

SOURCE: "Terrific Tips for Toddler Teachers" by Gayle Bittinger, Mary Ann Hodge, and Jenny Cooper Rose

Magic Moments

Published 2/9/2021

What is the HighScope Preschool Curriculum?

Most early childhood educators expect a curriculum to lay out a set of daily prescribed and sequential tasks – explicit lesson plans that make up the content for an educational program. HighScope is not packaged in this manner. Instead, it offers a set of principles and practices that can guide teachers and caregivers in developing their own programs and plans around the interests, needs, and styles of the particular group of children and adults involved.
HighScope’s Educational Approach is centered around the belief that young children learn optimally by working directly with people, materials, events, and ideas and that the adult’s role is not to direct or control this learning process but to support it. The approach is based on developmental validity or the belief that children develop in predictable sequences, within which there are optimal times for particular kinds of learning and particular methods of teaching as well.

HighScope classrooms are divided into interest areas that address all aspects of children’s play and development including, for example, a block or building area, house area, toy area, book area, and sand or water area. Adults establish a predictable daily routine with consistent times for children to plan (planning time); carry out their plans (work time); remember, reflect on, and share their experiences (recall time); engage in Small and Large Group experiences; share a snack or a meal; clean up the classroom; and play outdoors.


The Plan-Do-Review sequence is the hallmark of HighScope’s daily routine. Research supports HighScope’s belief that daily planning and recall experiences for young children promote essential qualities that they need to succeed: initiative, self-confidence, competence, and a sense of community. Planning guarantees that children will be engaged in experiences of their own choice, gives them a sense of purpose and control of their environment, and ensures that they participate in the program at their own developmental level and pace. During Work Time, children initiate and carry out their intentions, solve problems they encounter along the way, and interact spontaneously with peers and adults. These experiences foster feelings of competence, promote interdependence, and extend children’s skills according to their interests and readiness. Opportunities to recall allow children to reflect on their experiences, share them with others, and use words, actions, and symbols to represent what they have done.


Adults in a HighScope program create a warm and caring atmosphere by showing positive attention, attending to those who are upset, getting down to the child’s eye level, calling children by name, smiling, hugging, and using a calm and supportive tone of voice.

Children develop literacy and numeracy skills by having plentiful opportunities to express their thoughts and ideas in personally meaningful ways and to interact with a variety of materials and people. In HighScope, children’s interactions with the world are captured in a series of Key Developmental Indicators (KDIs) in child development that help them to encounter and understand their environment. The KDIs are organized into seven major categories. Teachers use the KDIs as a conceptual framework to help them plan experiences, observe children, think about the day, and make sure they provide the variety of experiences that are critical to the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional growth of children.


HighScope’s belief in child-initiated learning has been confirmed by historical research findings of its long-term studies, which suggest that preschool programs that encourage children’s self-directed learning do indeed have a positive impact on children’s later lives.

Approaches to Learning
-Social and Emotional Development
-Physical Development and Health
-Language, Literacy, and Communication
-Mathematics
-Creative Arts
-Science and Technology
-Social Studies

Now Hiring!

Published 1/25/2021

Teddy Bear Day Care and Preschool in Fairfax is accepting applications for a PT Teacher Assistant in their 3-5 year old program. Candidates must be available M-F from 3-6 (no exceptions). If you are an individual that is flexible, energetic, and enjoys interacting with young children please forward your resume to clehnhoff@tbdcva.com.

We are always looking for dedicated, passionate people to join our growing Team at Teddy Bear Day Care & Preschool.

Many of our Early Child Care Educators have been with us for decades. We are proud of our rich history of providing quality early care and education since 1972 and appreciate you reaching out!

If you are interested in joining our Team, please let us know more about you.

Are YOU looking for a CAREER that makes you feel like you are making a BIG difference in the world?

If you enjoy spending time with young children, ages 6 weeks to 5 years, then you may be a great fit for Teddy Bear Day Care & Preschool (TBDC) at one of our VA locations in Alexandria and Fairfax.

We’re always looking for caring, positive, and energetic individuals to help provide quality child care to our growing enrollment of amazing children, while desiring to learn more about having a career in early childhood education.

If you’re ready to be part of a work culture that has existed since 1972 that believes in our employees and strives for excellence, TBDC is anxious for you to apply and learn more about us.

WHY IS PLAY IMPORTANT? Pt. 2

Published 2/23/2021

Children of all ages love to play. Whether your child is five months or five years old, play is the best tool for fostering learning. As your child plays, he or she is building a foundation for academic skills, learning to get along with others, and developing pride in their accomplishments.

At different ages, a child’s play styles and interests grow and change. As a parent, there are many ways to facilitate that growth. If you have an infant or toddler, laughing, singing, and cooing to your little one offers early social play and language experiences. Also, exploring a variety of toys or household objects like pots and large wooden spoons will stimulate hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and intellectual growth. If your child is two or older, your involvement enriches his/her play and communicates that play is important.
Here are just a few things your child learns while playing both at home and at school.

SAND AND WATER PLAY

As your child uses sand to measure and fill plastic bottles or places a toy boat and a marble in water to see if they float, he/she is learning basic concepts related to science and math.  Sand, water, or the two mixed together offer children play that engages their senses and challenges them to think.

At home – Enjoy water play with your child using the sink or bathtub.  Just make sure you keep a large towel around the area!  Or, try filling a homemade sandbox with rice or dried beans.  Gather some of the props mentioned and you’re all set to explore.


ART

Whether it’s dropping a glob of red paint into a glob of yellow paint or sculpting playdough into just the right shape, your child is experiencing something entirely personal.  With art, your child feels free to experiment and discover.

Because preschoolers aren’t always able to translate what they feel into words, art takes on even more importance.  Art experiences enable your child to express his/her thoughts and expand their creative powers through color, shapes, textures, and design.

At home – Encourage your child by providing materials such as playdough, plastic utensils and cookie cutters, paints, paper, brushes, a smock, fat pencils and crayons, markers, safety scissors, scraps of paper and material, and paste.  Choose an easily accessible storage place and decide on an easy cleanup method.  Pick a place to display your child’s work.

Play gives your child a chance to try out new ideas, see him/herself as successful, and develop a positive attitude toward participating in new experiences.  Learning takes root in early childhood, through play!  Play with your child and enjoy this special time together!

WHY IS PLAY IMPORTANT? Pt. 1

Published 2/15/2021

Children of all ages love to play. Whether your child is five months or five years old, play is the best tool for fostering learning. As your child plays, he or she is building a foundation for academic skills, learning to get along with others, and developing pride in their accomplishments.

At different ages, a child’s play styles and interests grow and change. As a parent, there are many ways to facilitate that growth. If you have an infant or toddler, laughing, singing, and cooing to your little one offers early social play and language experiences. Also, exploring a variety of toys or household objects like pots and large wooden spoons will stimulate hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and intellectual growth. If your child is two or older, your involvement enriches his/her play and communicates that play is important.
Here are just a few things your child learns while playing both at home and at school.

BUILDING WITH BLOCKS
When building with blocks, your child is solving problems in creative and imaginative ways. Whether building the tallest tower in the world or a miniature network of cities, he/she is learning about weight, balance, space, and dimension. He/she is also developing valuable language and social skills as they communicate ideas and cooperate with friends.
At home – Find room to play and provide shelves so blocks can be stored safely. Listen to your child describe what he/she is building and help find appropriate props to enhance the play, such as paper and crayons to make signs and scenery and dress-up clothes to complement what your child is building.

DRAMATIC PLAY
“Let’s play house!” is a familiar sound at home and in any preschool setting. Through dramatic play, your child expands their imagination, creates their own world, and safely acts out any fears and life experiences. Your child may decide to give a party or act out waking from a nap because of a thunderstorm. Whatever the situation, he/she is experimenting with new roles.
At home – If you have the space, set up a small house corner in your child’s bedroom or store play props in easy-to-reach boxes. Provide dress-up clothes, dolls, household props such as silverware and dishes, a play telephone, etc. Ask questions to stimulate play, such as: “Are you having any guests over for lunch today? How is your baby feeling this afternoon?” Your enjoyment of make-believe enhances your child’s dramatic play.

ENJOYING BOOKS
At preschool, the library corner is a place where children can go to relax, think, get lost in a book, or share a story. Through books, children learn that language is useful and powerful. They can find new information, deal with important feelings and changes in their lives, and let their imaginations run free.
At home – Visit the library together and pick out some favorites. Your child might enjoy time to browse by themselves. Then later at home, you can share a story or two. If possible, provide low shelves for storage and a comfortable pillow to lean on.

Now Hiring!

Published 3/32021

Are YOU looking for a CAREER with PURPOSE?

Are YOU looking for a CAREER that offers training at no cost to YOU to earn a national credential?
Do young children make YOU smile?

If you have answered YES to all of these questions then Teddy Bear Day Care and Preschool may just be the place for YOU. We have the following positions open at our Fairfax location:

FT or PT Floating Teacher Assistants from 9a.m.-6p.m.; 9a.m.-3p.m.; or 3-6p.m. (M-F)
FT Infant Lead Teacher from 8:30a.m.-5:30p.m.
Email your resume to clehnhoff@tbdcva.com