As an early childhood professional, do you take advantage of ongoing professional development in the early childhood field? There are many immediate and long-term benefits of professional development. To be an exemplary childcare provider and preschool teacher, you must be informed with the intent to inspire, encourage, and educate. [More]
Do you struggle with choosing apps for the children in your care to use? With all of the different apps available, it’s up to you to do the research and find the right software options for the students in your class. [More]
Even though they may not understand what you’re saying, reading is an important part of young children’s brain development. When you read to infants and toddlers, it helps them learn about speech patterns and beginning language skills while also giving them the foundation they need to enjoy reading throughout their lives. [More]
The 43rd Annual National Head Start Conference and Expo will be held in beautiful Nashville, TN, from May 16–20. With Head Start beginning a new phase in its history, this year's conference theme is "The Next Generation of Opportunity". [More]
Children love to play and build things with blocks, but blocks are often an underappreciated and underused learning tool in the classroom. Keith Pentz, National Early Childhood Specialist for Kaplan Early Learning Company, has worked in the education field for more than 35 years and strongly believes that block play can have a much bigger role in the classroom learning environment. [More]
Do you have a tablet, camera, or laptop in your classroom and want more ideas on ways to integrate them into learning activities? Here's five ways to involve your children and have fun while doing it!
1. Online video sharing
With the help of a video camera (or a regular point-and-shoot with video capabilities), you can take videos of your students on field trips or while they are playing indoors or outdoors. Upload them to video-sharing websites, such as YouTube or Vimeo, to give parents and caregivers a look inside your classroom or center during the day.
2. Image and photo editing
Computer programs like Photoshop Elements, Paint, or Pixelmator can give children an opportunity to play around with images and pictures on the computer--or make new drawings themselves! These programs offer fun ways to edit photos that children will love.
3. Word processing
Use programs like Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, OpenOffice, Pages, or even Google Documents to encourage children to create their own stories or recipes, and write them down as they do so. They can also create classroom books, signs, or newsletters to send home to their parents or caregivers.
4. Video chatting or conferencing
Skype, Google Chat, FaceTime, and AIM provide good video chatting platforms for you to use in your classroom. Children can use these programs to communicate with classmates who have moved away, or family members who are deployed in the military; you can also use them to take virtual field trips when travel is not possible.
Expand on the children's experiences with word processing by helping them create presentations in programs like PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, or SlideRocket. They can make signs, slideshows of photos from their field trips, or step-by-step instructions to follow a recipe.
Leave a comment and let us know how you have used technology in your classrooms and centers!
For more guidance in choosing and implementing the right technology tools in an early childhood classroom, check out Digital Decisions by Fran Simon and Karen Nemeth (available in paperback and e-book formats).
Kaplan Early Learning Company is thrilled to announce the release of Learn Every Day: The Preschool Curriculum, a comprehensive curriculum planning resource for early childhood educators!
Based on current research and written by national experts, Learn Every Day is designed to help teachers prepare an interactive, multisensory learning environment for children. In accordance with state guidelines, each curriculum volume builds upon goals and objectives designed to meet national standards for a quality preschool education.
Learn Every Day: The Preschool Curriculum is a three-book set. Book one contains a foundation guide with information about best practices. Books two and three contain a total of 36 units, and each unit consists of five lessons – enough ideas for a full year’s worth of exploration! Each of the 36 thematic units contain ESL tips, special needs adaptations, and suggestions for extending the learning beyond the classroom. The Learn Every Day curriculum set also includes a music CD with original music by Sharon MacDonald.
Principal authors include Clarissa Willis, Sharon MacDonald, Kimberly Johnson, and Virginia Jean Herrod. Other contributing authors include Pam Schiller, Rebecca Isbell, Karen Nemeth, and Jana Crosby. Additional information was contributed by Chapel Hill Training Outreach Project and the Devereux Center for Resilient Children. Learn Every Day: The Preschool Curriculum is packed with more than 1,300 activities that incorporate literacy, math, science, social studies, and the creative arts in ways that will enable students to learn every day!
“We worked with a team of experts to design an innovative curriculum that respects individual differences, honors every child’s culture, and recognizes that family members are equal partners in a child’s education. Learn Every Day: The Preschool Curriculum combines all the elements of best practice in early care and education," says Clarissa Willis.
To explore Learn Every Day: The Preschool Curriculum, visit the curriculum's interactive website. For ordering information, visit Kaplan Early Learning Company.
Karen Nemeth will be hosting an online Q&A via the National Association for the Education of Young Children website (www.naeyc.org) next week on September 12-16, 2011.
Her online discussion will be related to one of the most important topics facing educators and child care providers today – strategies for supporting dual language learners in the coming school year.
With as many as 25 percent of children under the age of 6 coming from immigrant families in the U.S., more children than ever will be speaking languages other than English in teachers' classrooms this year. What better time could there be to listen in and pick up on a few tips?
Karen will answer questions about meeting state requirements, adapting curriculum, enhancing small- and large-group instruction for multilingual groups, engaging diverse families, assessing children, preparing teachers, equipping classrooms, and much more.
As a contributor in NAEYC’s Teaching Young Children magazine, Karen provides tips to help early childhood educators with the dual language learners in their programs. She is also the author of Many Languages, One Classroom: Teaching Dual and English Language Learners.
It is sure to be an interesting discussion, so don't forget to join in!
Researchers at Appalachian State University's Lucy Brock Child Development Lab recently released the results of a study analyzing how babies interact with toddlers and two-year-olds in a group care setting.
Despite the growing number of children placed in a daycare or family child care environment, the results of this study are among the first to examine the impact of these group care settings, and the relationships made with other young children in them, on an infant's social and emotional development.
Adults are often cautious and careful to limit interactions between infants and toddlers, mostly because a toddler has trouble playing gently with an infant. However, the results of this study conclude that with proper guidance (and the proper products), young children of different ages can thrive on interactions with each other.
Of particular note, researchers found that using transparent gates and barriers allowed infants, toddlers, and two-year-olds to generate interest in and observe one another. This mutual observation developed into a strong bond between the children as they later began to interact through exchanging smiles, laughs, touches, and toys.
Kaplan is proud to offer transparent gate, barrier, and crib products to help foster relationships between the infants, toddlers, and two-year-olds in your daycare or family child care center.
The Shape-A-Space™ Panel System allows you to create the perfect enclosure for managing different age groups in a playtime setting. The complete set includes four plexiglass panels, so that each age group is still able to easily observe and interact with one another.
The Biltmore Clearview Crib contains a plexiglass panel, allowing infants and twos to observe and interact with the bigger children around them.
With just a few, small changes to the design of your daycare center, the young ones in your care will reap some serious benefits!
For more information on these findings, the entire study is available for review. For more information on other studies conducted by the Lucy Brock Child Development Lab, check out their website.
Just because it's back-to-school time, doesn't mean kids enjoy time with sand and water any less! With Kaplan's sand and water products and some fun activities from Sand and Water Play, your students will think it's still July and they're back at the beach!
From creating a rainbow maker to making waterwheels, Sand and Water Play by Sherrie West and Amy Cox, is filled with fun and original ideas for incorporating a sand and water table into everyday, preschool activities. Here's one of our favorite activities from Sand and Water Play, called Sand Stew.
Intellectual: Children will identify objects in nature and respect the environment.
Literacy: Children will write creatively with the teacher's help.
Emotional: Children will have a tactile experience as they create their sand stew.
Social: Children will share their ideas as they work together.
Objects from nature, such as rocks, sticks, leaf bits, dandelions, grass, and so on.
Sand and water table
Water cans and toys
Our suggestion: Add some Colorful Kidfetti to your stew to spice things up!
Setting Up the Activity:
Go outside with the children and help them gather the "ingredients" (objects from nature) to make sand stew.
Bring the sand and water table outside and pour sand into it.
Make sure the children wear paint smocks for this activity. Encourage the children to add water and other ingredients to the sand. They can mix everything together using sticks.
Ask the children to create a recipe for their concoction. Write it down for them and create a class recipe book.
A Tip for this Activity:
The children can learn to respect the environment at a very young age. Encourage the children to collect only the things they find on the ground that are not growing.
Open-Ended Questions to Ask:
What do you think will happen when you mix water with sand?
Will the sand melt?
How can you respect the world around you?
Is wet sand heavier than dry sand?
How does wet sand look different than dry sand?
Words to Spotlight During this Activity:
For more activities from Sand and Water Play, purchase your own copy at www.kaplanco.com. For more sand and water play products from Kaplan, visit our sand and water products page!
Enjoy your sand and water adventures!
The classroom environment is an essential component for maximizing learning experiences for young children. By infusing elements of key design principles, you can create a classroom that intrigues, invites, and stimulates many senses. [More]
Tips for Providing a Safe Environment for Young Children
The most important developmental need of young children is security - the confidence that the adults in their lives will protect them and relieve their fears and anxieties. Teaches have a profound responsibility to support children's sense of safety. This becomes even more important after a disaster.
To provide a safe environment for young children who have experienced a disaster:
Give physical comfort.
Listen and respond with statements like:
I understand that remembering the flood is scary for you. Do you want to talk more about it right now?
I can tell you miss your brother very much. Could we draw a picture of him or look at some pictures of him?
When children describe their experiences in the disaster or ask questions about the disaster, help them handle fear and anxiety by responding simply and honesty.
Our wildfire happened because the trees were dry and it was very windy. When wildfires happy, the firefighters let people know if they need to go somewhere else to be safe.
Yes, the storm was very scary for all of us. I'm glad it's over now.
I was worried that my house was gone. The roof, which is the top of the house, did blow away but the walls were still there.
I am so sorry that your grandmother died. I know you must miss her very much. Does it help to think about happy times you had with her?
Restore or create a familiar, predictable classroom routine.
Give extra attention to children's needs during transitions.
Provide quiet areas.
Provide times for outdoor play.
Avoid punitive time-outs.
For additional information, read Preparing for Disaster: What Every Early Childhood Director Needs to Know and After the Crisis: Using Storybooks to Help Children Cope.
We know that children learn more by doing than by listening. We also know that children come to school with widely varying backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge.
The goals that follow establish a foundation for early childhood science learning:
Provide an environment that supports active discovery.
Promote the development of fundamental problem-solving skills.
Promote the dispositions of good scientific problem solvers.
Promote children's awareness of careers in science, mathematics, and technology.
Raise children's comfort and confidence levels with science through conscious efforts to counter bias against science.
Promote development of a knowledge base of basic scientific principles and laws, providing the foundation upon which a clear and accurate understanding of the world can develop. A solid foundation reduces the risk of children acquiring misconceptions that may hinder their understanding of more complex science concepts later on.
The Preschool Scientist helps teachers by providing purposeful activities that are exicting and intellectually challenging for young children in all kinds of settings.
Young children "do" art for the experience, the exploration, the experimentation. In the "process" they discover mystery, creativity, joy, frustration. The resulting masterpiece, whether it be a sticky glob or meritorious gallery piece, is only a result to the young child, not the reason for doing art in the first place. Art allows children to explore and discover their world. Sometimes the process is merely feeling slippery paint on the fingers, other times it is the mystery of colors blending or the surprise of seeing a realistic picture evolve when blobs were randomly placed. Art can be a great way to "get the wiggles out" or to smash a ball of clay instead of another child.
Sometimes adults unknowingly communicate to a child that the result is the most important aspect of art. Encourage discovery and process by talking with a child about his or her artwork.
Tell me about your painting.
What part did you like best?
You've used many colors.
Did you enjoy making this?
How did the paint feel?
The yellow looks so bright next to the purple!
How did you make such a big design?
I see the painting is brown. What colors did you use?
Providing interesting materials and watching what a child can do on his or her own is better than saying, "Paint a green fish in blue water." It can be far more exciting to paint on a piece of frozen paper or to paint with a feather instead of a brush, with no idea of what will happen, than to follow an adult's idea of what to paint.
Process art is a wonder to behold. Watch the children discover their capabilities and the joy of creativity.
About the Author
MaryAnn Kohl is an experienced educator and publisher who interest in creative art comes from years of teaching young children. She is the author of many award-winning books, including Preschool Art, which offers over 200 process-oriented art experiences for children ages 3-6 using materials commonly found in the home, childcare or preschool program.
Autism is a spectrum disorder. Children with autism display a range of behaviors and abilities from very mild to quite severe. In other words, the word autism can describe a child who fits anywhere within that range.
Always use 'child-first' language or 'people-first' language when describing the child. The child in your classroom with autism is just that -- a child with autism and not an autistic child. People-first and, in this case, child-first language helps others see that you view the child first and the disability second.
Focus on the child's interests. When trying to encourage a child with autism to play, focus on the interests of the child and make interactions with others as natural as possible.
Novel situations can be overwhelming. Recognize that children with autism may have difficulty adjusting to new play situations and new play materials.
The environment is important. Children with autism need a special place in the room where they can go without distraction and without all the sensory input they receive elsewhere.
Social skills training should begin early. Learning how to respond in social situations should begin as early as possible. It is a critical skill for children to possess and enables them to interact with others more easily.
View parents as partners. Parents often agree that the one thing a teacher can do to understand their perspective is to be respectful of their opinions and treat them as valued contributors.
Value the uniqueness of each child. Each child is unique, and while she may have characteristics typical of other children with autism, she will have other characteristics that are not.
There is no one single method that works. There is no magic pill or specific program that can cure or fix autism. While many programs and methods have been tried and are successful with some children, they may not be successful with others. Look for methods with a solid research base.
Learning about autism is a process. Learning about autism is not about a product; it is about a process of gathering information and making informed choices, based on the needs of the individual child.
Contributed by Clarissa Willis, Ph.D. Dr. Willis has worked for the past 20 years on behalf of children with autism spectrum disorder and their families. She is the author of five books including the award-winning titles Teaching Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Inclusive Literacy Lessons for Early Childhood. Her articles on child development and early childhood special education have been published both nationally and internationally. Formerly an Associate Professor of Special Education and the Associate Director of the Center of Excellence in Early Childhood Learning and Development at East Tennessee State University, she currently works as an early childhood consultant and frequent speaker at national and international conferences. Dr. Willis lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.