Cars and Dolls role in Play!

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Playing with cars is more than just the act of pretending to drive and sound effects. Cars can take on the role of multiple characters to inspire imaginary play. Cars can be used to experiment driving on different types of constructed roads, they can be measured against different length strings and they can be used to paint with.  The list really can go on and on, but the one thing to remember is how cars are not just toys to add sounds and drive. 

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When a child’s mind opens to imaginative stories cars become characters in those stories. They can play supporting roles or be the main cast.  For a child having that imaginary character around will help them be inspired to explore textures, measure, count, pattern, and paint.  

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Dolls are also a traditional aspect of childhood play, but these little wooden dolls have abilities that the bigger baby dolls aren’t quite as handy at.  And that is their small size allows them to travel to many different stories. They fit into baskets, buckets, bowls and are easier to incorporate wherever a child goes. We call these wooden dolls fairies and sometimes they are supporting characters in the stories the children create, but they have yet to be main characters.  Some children will automatically incorporate dolls as their playmates or main characters of their stories and will often include them in family role play.  However, there are also children who have other interests and dolls come in second. Children really do have diverse and similar interests, but often they do not follow stereotypes unless the adults around them are encouraging them to follow the stereotypes put out by multiple toy media companies and TV shows. Listen, observe and converse with children to know what toys/ tools they prefer instead of just assuming girls like dolls and boys like cars.  Often both girls and boys like both. And since both materials are used as characters in stories they are an important part of a child’s process of learning about the world they live in.

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Toys are tools to gain knowledge with, they are materials that are more inviting and successfully used when they have multiple purposes so the child can continue to learn and grow with every use.  Open-ended materials are wonderful for children to have and to use in ways they can understand.  Yet, open-ended materials are also wonderful ways to bridge the gap between understanding concepts and not understanding.  And open-ended materials provide just the right disequilibrium or challenge for every age!

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Let children enjoy learning! And the best way is through play!

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT

 

 

Early Writing and Fine Motor Development

101_4223  Fine motor development in preschoolers cannot be rushed, yet like disequilibrium when being challenged at the right level children can interact with their learning environment in several different ways that support a kind of challenge that is just right to help move along their fine motor skill development.  You may think I mean worksheets or having the teacher sit the child down and trace either letters or numbers, but that is not what I am referring to.

101_3384 By using my school classroom as a “third teacher”, I am able to incorporate many different sized materials that are appropriate for young children’s growth and development of their fine motor muscles.  Setting up provocations to see if they have an interest in drawing is one example.  A common provocation, activity, lesson, whichever you prefer to call it when paper and crayons are present children will usually gravitate to that table because of all the joy they find while exploring colors and expressing themselves artistically.  However, they do not always want to draw a picture.  Sometimes they are writing as they explore colors.  Scribble form is the beginning of writing and is a developmental process all children go through and every child experiences this step.  Children will go back and forth between scribble and symbolic as they gain new information and interests while their skills become more advanced. 

Revisiting the word “provocation”.  When I set up crayons and paper it is not an activity or lesson, it is an invitation to create.  The provocation is open-ended meaning the child can do whatever they want and while they are exploring, experimenting and creating I am observing the entire process and admiring the process.  This child loves to arrange the colors in rows, counts them, sorts them by color and on occasion experiments with patterning.  When other objects are included by the child, such as cars, a narrative emerges and soon the scribble form is accompanied by the child verbalizing a story while “writing”.  As I scribe the words the child is saying aloud, I also inquire as to whether I am writing the words they want me to.  This is a great way to support a child’s writing development and keep the child engaged in the learning process by tapping into their internal interest they are showing at that moment.

cropped-101_4140.jpg By providing young children with choices for drawing/art tools they are able to challenge their fine muscles to move along those skills of development, just as when disequilibrium occurs to challenge children at their level cognitively. A continued example is of oil pastels and how they are a bit thicker than regular crayons and pencils, so more of a whole hand grip is needed for drawing, while the other tools I mention can be held differently to adjust to the size, shape, and weight of the writing tool.

101_4478  101_4802 In addition to writing/drawing tools, there are of course real tools!  Above is an example of both plastic tools, and real tools such as screws and nuts of three different sizes.  The real tools are part of the “Loose Parts and Intelligent Play Things” theory that I’ve incorporated in different parts of the classroom and am still collecting.  We see that once again fine motor skills are in use in different ways and each challenges the child.  Holding onto a screwdriver with a thicker handle and figuring out which way to turn it and how tight or loose of grip to have can cause some children disequilibrium until they have mastered the tool and move on to something more challenging.  Trying out real tool parts such as screws and nuts is also a chance for children to be in disequilibrium because they are getting the hang of aligning the screw and nut so twisting will cause the nut to move up or down the screw.  Getting things aligned can be a challenge and just the right kind because with a little persistence and a little support the child will have this skill down pat in no time.  All while continuing to develop their fine motor muscles.

101_2582  The Marigold School of Early Learning is a Reggio Emilia Inspired Preschool for children ages 3-5. 🙂 Support your child’s natural curiosities and development by encouraging your child to play and observe closely to see what your child is really interested in.  You may be very surprised with the process your child demonstrates.  Children are intelligent people and all they need is us adults to support them on their journey of natural curiosity which leads to an ability of unlimited learning.

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT 🙂 cropped-100_8088.jpg

 

 

Reggio Provocations, creativity and the zone of proximal development

Another older post that I find relevant for today’s children. Please share some of your thoughts and experiences with the topics I’ve brought up in this posting.

The Marigold School of Early Learning

101_5964  Earlier in the week, I posted a blog about having an open discussion centered around the broad topic of provocations.  Provocations, of course, stem from the Reggio Emilia approach. To continue with this discussion, I would like to talk about not only provocations but the growing and evolving role of creativity and the “zone of proximal development”, a term coined by Lev Vygotsky.

I am a teacher inspired, changed and constantly growing in my understanding of how young minds learn.  I attribute this to learning about the Reggio Emilia approach several years ago.  Before I learned of this branch of constructivism, I was much more close-minded and rigid in my view of education in general and of what capacity young children were capable of in terms of learning for understanding.  Since opening my own preschool and being able to fully take advantage of the fact that I can implement as much…

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2018 Preschool Fair!

101_3268  Once again another wonderful time at the Preschool Fair put on by the Mom’s Club!  I love how so many quality early learning programs can come together for families to see what our area has to offer. 🙂

It is such a pleasure meeting so many kind families with happy, energetic and intelligent young children ready to continue the journey of learning through challenges, curiosities, and sheer joy!

The Preschool Fair comes around once a year and is located in different parts of Clark County so as to accommodate a wide array of families.  Each preschool is unique and diverse so as to enable families to make the best decision for their child’s first school experiences.

The Mom’s Club sponsors this event and preschools wanting to attend pay a donation fee for their table.  The donation fee goes to an established charity The Mom’s Club chooses to support.  And a different charity is given to each year.  We love being able to donate funds to organizations in need.

The Marigold School of Early Learning was happy to be a part of this wonderful yearly event and we look forward to 2019! 🙂  Please walk, ride a bike or drive to The Marigold School of Early Learning!  Heidi Scott, BA & MIT

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The Marigold School of Early Learning: A Reggio Emilia Inspired Preschool

 

 

The Marigold School of Early Learning is a Preschool

Designed for Children Ages 3-5.

 

 

A Reggio Emilia Inspired Preschool for curious open minds.

 

 

A place for a child to explore, discover, plan, construct and create!

 

 

Academics are integrated into an ever-evolving emergent curriculum!

 

 

Wherever your child is in the cognitive developmental continuum The Marigold School of Early Learning supports every step of the journey.

 

 

The foundation of all learning is strengthened and nurtured during these special early years.

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Healthy balanced organic snacks for growing bodies and minds are provided  🙂

 

Heidi Scott is an experienced Early Learning Teacher with a Bachelor’s in Human Development with a Focus in Early Childhood Development and a Master’s In Teaching grades preschool – eighth

 

 

 

 

 

Counting

100_7092 In the early years of child development gathering, collecting, sorting and counting can become a great passion for many young and eager learners.  You may notice young children will count a wide variety of objects.  As a child constructs knowledge/ understanding the information they are exploring, questioning and manipulating will transfer to many other areas.  Children aged three often are gatherers and carriers, meaning they enjoy finding every small to medium sized toy, object, tool and collecting them all together, then traveling with them.  These items are then incorporated into the child’s imaginative play.  

I’ve witnessed many early learning teachers trying to stop this behavior in their classrooms for one reason and it has nothing to do with learning; the children are making a mess and mixing the materials.  Now if the items were being destroyed, ruined so other children could not use them, then, of course, we must put a stop to destructive actions, yet when a child is simply following natural development of the brain, there is no valid reason to stop this behavior.  Gathering, sorting, transferring and using items for different purposes is natural and engages a child’s mind in a more meaningful way than being told how to play with those items.

An educationaviewpoint embraces this stage of child development and encourages the child to continue with their explorations, questions, ideas, and plans.  Using the classroom toys, tools and materials for different purposes show the child is constructing knowledge.  The vehicle on which new understanding is being formed comes from the child’s ability to dramatize with the items, role play.  Those mixed up and jumbled materials take on a role in the child’s ever-changing stories and make-believe adventures. When items like buttons or magnet numbers are collected and treated as frosted cookies, the child is displaying their understanding so far as to how life works.  Too general of a term?  The child is communicating through this process that there is an understanding of family roles, friendship roles, professional roles, and many more life roles that we all play a part in for our entire lives.  And yes, the child is using objects, not for the purposes they were designed for, but rather as a way to formulate concrete understandings of an abstract world.

Counting is a regular part of academics in any household and early learning environment with young children.  Learning number symbols is a part of the continued construction of knowledge.  A knowledge that will be built upon with every small advancement made.  Again we see that any object can be counted.  Any object can take on the role of a number.  When young minds count a variety of materials that action is displaying a mathematical understanding.  If the child only counts one specific type of object, understanding is then still in its infancy, so to speak.  However, when a young child can count anything and not be inhibited by what that object is, counting has meaning understanding is further along.  Strength in mathematics can be in every child/ boy, girl or otherwise.  We as early learning professionals should always put learning/education first with our young students.  Human beings never stop learning, so let’s not get in the way of our youngest minds!  Be sensitive to what the child is telling us.

100_7791 100_8006   Children want to understand so the best way to formulate knowledge is for them to physically manipulate any object they can get their hands on.  Counting items over and over again and incorporating a wide selection of materials to be counted allows for the brain to build several pathways all with the goal of complete understanding ahead of them.  Magnetic numbers do not have to be in numerical order for the child to formulate numerical sense.  Each number symbol is just that an abstract symbol in the form of a concrete object that can be counted and lined up to organize and keep track of.  A strong pathway has formed through many tiny pathways leading to this moment.  The foundation is set for all future learning.  As a three-year-old grows to four and five those abstract number symbols will be better understood, their value and meaning made clearer.  Entering K-3rd grade the mathematical concepts explored so vigorously in preschool will ensure a deep understanding when they are needed for more complex theories and strategies.  However, the most successful are not just those inclined with one of Howard Gardner’s intelligence categories, but those children allowed to fully explore the environments they inhabit.

100_7193 100_7777 We can see that while counting a child is also formulating an understanding of left to right progression. (My camera makes it look the opposite) In our culture, we write from left to right, so children see this modeled countless times.  Writing is not the first time children show this concept and display understanding, yet all too often this skill is overlooked.  Let’s stop rushing and pay attention to the little details children communicate to us.  After all, children communicate in 100 different languages, children’s language, which is universal.  Early writing is the scribble stage of development and a left to right progression is being practiced, yet in counting this is also happening.  A transferring of information equals understanding.  At the same time pathways for writing left to right are being constructed not only during the times a child picks up a writing tool but whenever a child finds objects to count and sort.  All these pathways form while children are exploring, questioning, planning and discovering.  And each is enabled to learn more and be successful as the elementary years emerge.

Paints and teacups with buttons follow the progression of direction.  Mixing red and white to make pink is not the only skill being learned at this moment.  As this child paints the progression of left to right is being followed, practiced all on her own and not with any influence from me directly.  Forming a line with teacups filled with buttons has many skills involved.  First sorting and filling each cup with the buttons, then carrying them to a specific location, which requires balance and motion, then lining them up. 

 

I value early learning and respect every child’s capacity and ability to learn!  Preschool is the place to start when you want your child to be as prepared as possible for all future educational endeavors.  Learning is fun and us adults should embrace that joy!

The Marigold School of Early Learning is a Reggio Emilia Inspired Preschool Specifically Designed for Children Ages 3-5.

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT is an experienced Teacher