Photos courtesy of Sugar Pop Photography
Research has shown us that the more direct involvement young children have with their learning activities, the more effectively they learn. Children create their own knowledge by direct, hands-on interaction with the materials, activities, and people in their environment. Thus, children must have an especially rich environment full of materials, activities, and people who relate well to their ages and stages of development if they are to learn.
In addition, for learning to take
place, it is essential that all activities for the children are
developmentally appropriate. A two-part definition of
developmentally appropriate would include the following:
personality and style of learning. Again, in order to reach desired objectives,
each lesson and activity must take
into account the individual child. The curriculum must be
responsive to the individual needs and differences of each child.
At Pleasant Run Learning Center and
Preschool, we also recognize that children learn best if the
activities, art, and music.
Those areas are then taught through various learning centers.
Curriculum Topic Learning Center
Language Arts………………………………………… Story Center
Social Studies…………………………………………. Block Center
Physical Activities…………………………………… Large Motor Center
Art……………………………………………………. Art Center
Music………………………………………………… Music Center
Block CenterBlock building can contribute to children’s development in physical, cognitive, language, social, emotional, and creative areas. Children learn the physical skills of holding, stacking, and balancing the blocks. Arms and hands are strengthened as children take the blocks off the shelves and put them back again. The muscles in their fingers are strengthened as the children pick up smaller items and stand them in place. Balancing the blocks also promotes eye-hand coordination.
In addition, social skills are
enhanced in the block area. They learn social skills of sharing,
cooperation, taking turns, and playing cooperatively. Also,
their language is expanded through speaking and listening to each
other. Being able to build structures of their own design also
enhances their creativity. All this activity promotes a
positive feeling about themselves.
Lastly, the block center helps create
a great amount of cognitive growth through skills such as
categorizing, counting, sorting, and problem solving.
Computer CenterAgain, the computer center offers opportunities for children to grow in many different areas. For instance, three, four, and five year-olds should use the computer in pairs, not alone. Social skills, language skills, peer teaching, and even creativity will blossom when more than one young child uses the computer at the same time. Learning to share equipment and materials, to take turns, and to work in cooperation with others are all enhanced at the computer center.
In addition, computers are great
facilitators in cognitive growth. Software is available in
teaching shapes, sizes, colors, opposites, matching, classifying,
counting, measuring, estimating, sequencing, problem solving, and
memory skills. In addition, there is even software available
to promote creativity. These include many of the art programs,
music, and story programs.
The particular areas that preschool children need to learn involve four areas:
The above math skills can all be
achieved by using such activities such as picture dominoes, lotto
cards, puzzles, color bingo, tic-tac-toe, markers with caps,
different colored and sized shapes and figures, and blocks. Most
games involve some kind of sorting and counting.
There are also several things that a
teacher can do to help create emergent literacy. For example,
it occurs when teachers read books to individuals and small groups
or when books are available for children to look at on their own.
Also when stories are told orally for children to listen to and to
respond to, and when children make up their own stories that are
tape recorded or written down.
At Pleasant Run Learning Center and Preschool, our story centers are created with the following criteria:
2. The freedom for children to choose books and activities.
3. The time to become deeply involved so that books and activities become meaningful.
4. Reading books to individuals and small groups daily.
5. Providing a good selection of picture books appropriate to the children’s developmental levels.
Research evidence indicates that
there is a progression from random scribbling, to controlled
scribbling, to the writing of mock letters and words, and finally to
real writing as children experiment and mature. In order for
this natural progression from scribbling to writing to occur, we
must nurture it in our classrooms. At Pleasant Run Learning Center
and Preschool, we fill the children’s environment with examples of
writing and reading. We must encourage and support all of the
children’s attempts of writing. In addition, it is crucial
to display the children’s writing, so that they can take pride in
their accomplishments. A few examples of a print rich
environment would include the following:
in the classroom should have a label on it. That includes
doors, clocks, tables, furniture, grocery items, shelves, and
anything else in the room.
Names- the children’s
names should be on anything that belongs to the child. This
helps tremendously with their name recognition.
Sign-up sheets- each
time a child has to sign their name to a list or paper, the more
practice they have had.
Charts- they help
children visualize information. For instance, a class can chart the
children’s height, weight, color of hair, and eyes. It can
also describe the classroom rules, activities, menus, and weather.
In addition, writing centers can also
enhance growth in fine motor skills, creativity, and language
Art, like language, is a means of
communication and self-expression for children. It is visual,
though, rather than verbal, and involves the elements of line,
shape, color, and texture rather than words.
It is important to realize that most
young children do not begin their art projects with a picture in
mind, rather they are manipulating the medium to explore learning.
All children go through a similar sequence in the development of
drawing skills. They begin with scribbles that are repeated
over and over again until they emerge into shapes. Then
eventually, recognizable objects begin to appear.
In order to facilitate the
progression in art expression, Pleasant Run Learning Center and
Preschool creates an inviting art center. The art center must
be filled with diverse mediums of art such as crayons, markers,
paints, scissors, stamps, play dough, clay, tape, newspaper,
magazines, ribbon, chalk, hole punches, and glitter.
In addition, the art centers create growth in small motor development, cognitive
development, and social development.
Music CenterAgain, like art, music is a medium for children’s communication and self-expression. The elements of music that young children are involved with include tone, rhythm, and melody.
Music centers should become personal for the children and they should be able to bring in records or tapes of the music that they enjoy. They should also be able to explore different musical instruments and see the cause and effect method for each one. For example, if you shake the rattle, it makes a noise.
The children are also involved in
creating musical instruments. For example, beans in a paper
towel tube that has been taped can become a shaker.
In addition, music development encourages growth in several other areas. Music promotes language development, creativity, and cognitive development.
The science center is one the best examples of how children learn through self-discovery and investigation. Children, from infancy, are ready to explore their environment through their five senses.
In addition, to further explore,
they can use magnifying glasses and binoculars to learn about
their environment. What does a lemon look like?
What sound does a lemon make?
In order for our Science centers to
be successful, they should be set up based upon topics that are of
interest to the children. A few examples of topics are
children’s food, clothing, their shadows, dogs, cats, trees,
grass, frogs, the sun, and rain.
The cognitive concepts that are most appropriate for preschool children to investigate involve the properties of objects (their shape, size, color, texture, sound and odor); the actions of objects (how they move, react, balance, stand up, grow, and eat); and likeness and differences among objects. Preschool children need not be so concerned about “why” things are the way they are, but rather “how” they look, act, and interact.
Dramatic Play Center
It is essential to realize that
dramatic play is one of the most complex kinds of play that young
children engage in - and perhaps the most important. In
dramatic play, children use pretending to investigate their world.
The following are examples of the benefits of Dramatic Play:
1. Social Development
Values such as honesty, service, loyalty, and truthfulness
How to gain entrance into a group
How to be a leader
How to negotiate
to deal with people you disagree with
Concepts such as work, play, order, time
Concepts of travel and transportation
Concepts of illness, doctors, and emergencies
Roles of families and workers
How to carry on a conversation
How to speak as a different character
Meanings and uses of new words
How to express feelings in words
Use of words as a substitute for
How to express strong feelings in acceptable ways
How to control negative tendencies
How to deal with conflict
Mastering certain motor skills(
running, jumping, climbing)
New ideas, plots, and characters
Large Motor CenterRunning, jumping, climbing, and skipping are all activities associated with young children. Thus, the Large Motor Center must be set up to appeal to children’s own interest in motor skills. Growing bodies need physical exercise in order to grow properly. It is our responsibility at Pleasant Run Learning Center and Preschool to provide the opportunities for each child to practice his/her motor development.
With different activities and
equipment we provide opportunities for the following activities:
walking, running, galloping, jumping, hopping, leaping, crawling,
creeping, balancing, bending, climbing, creative movement, throwing,
catching, and riding.
Our staff takes the responsibility to invite, guide, and encourage children to explore all the centers and ultimately learn in several. The staff provides enough
opportunities to learn concepts so
that, whether a child selects one center or another, the end result
will be the learning necessary for that particular child’s growth.
By helping each child find that there are alternative ways of
learning the same thing, the child will discover what is the best
way for him or her to learn.
By setting up a series of centers
within the classroom, Pleasant Run Learning Center and Preschool
provides the following opportunities:
Once the learning centers have been prepared for the children, it is then the teacher’s responsibility to observe the children interacting with the materials and activities. With the observations, the teacher can then determine at what developmental level each child is at and which activities would enhance their learning.
In addition to the learning centers,
the teachers will also designate a specific amount of time each day
for guided lessons. This time includes calendar time, story
time, writing time, art activities, music, fingerplays, flannel
board stories, games, poetry, and rhythms. Guided group time also
includes outdoor (or indoors in inclement weather) when the children
may be organized into a more structured group for large muscle
activities, such a circle games exercises, or practicing a motor
skill. Also routine times when all the children may be eating,
resting, moving in or out of doors at one time.
It is our goal at Pleasant Run
Learning Center and Preschool to allow the children to explore their
own learning, but also give them guidance throughout their learning
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