The joy of a wooden tool bench and more!

100_7894  This is another addition to the building and construction area!  I prefer wooden toys that really do what they claim.  I also enjoy the fact that the tools all work and are just right for young developing fine motor muscles of children ages 3-5. 🙂

100_7893  This particular learning set is one the children could have worked on as a cooperative team to put together.  Instead I put it together and that is how I judge whether a toy is a toy or an actual learning tool.  When you are out searching the stores for toys that are also educational keep in mind that you should play with it first.  If you take the time to play with toys/ educational materials before you give them to your child, you will have a much broader understanding of how versatile or not your purchase is.  You will discover quite quickly if it is just a toy for entertainment purposes only, or if there are many learning experiences packed in the gem you found.

100_7891  This wooden tool bench is perfect for two children to enjoy.  Three could use this as a small group, however if tools are popular I have another possible solution.

I have a standing area for one or two children to explore a plastic version of tools as well.  So even though plastic is not my first choice, this will do if tools are the popular item of the moment.   When setting up extra materials that are popular with the children I always take into account their actual physical play patterns.  This way I can set up interest areas based on where they would naturally explore.  This may or may not work even with my considerations taken into account, but at least it is a good try for capturing their curiosity and encouraging deeper thoughts.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 100_7895


As you can see the children are once again able to engage in mathematical learning experiences that incorporate communication if working as a team or small group.  Each is also exploring shapes, spacial relations, eye-hand coordination and developing fine motor skills while thoroughly enjoying themselves! 🙂

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Heidi Scott, BA & MIT  The Marigold School of Early Learning

Colorful Counters

100_7874  My new wooden dolls came in this great divider and I thought it was perfect for my new colorful counters!  Reusing items you already have is not only more cost effective but easier on our environment as well. 🙂  

100_7872  Using colorful counters to incorporate shapes and letters are a couple ways of using this very versatile tool!  I roughly drew some common shapes on the perimeter of the paper and then used the counters to outline, then I made a capital letter “S”.  This would be an example for children of a more close ended provocation.  However, it is only close ended if the children do the same thing with their attempts or if this turns them off to trying.  Most young minds will take note of what they see and do exactly what they want, which is what I want, so it is a win, win situation for all.   🙂

100_7873 With this provocation I am incorporating both mathematics and literacy.  Children can either continue with making shapes, separate the colors for each shape or move on to letter formations.  More creative minds will use the counters to create more imaginary pictures and if they are in the mood to share I can scribe their ideas, explanations and stories.  One thing to always remember is that when you become a young child’s scribe you are capturing a child’s imagination and showing him/ her your respect for their thoughts.  You are also helping that child develop an appreciation and understanding for literacy.  Children value their own words more and want to learn about letters and words with more intensity if they are learning literacy through their own creative  and purposeful thoughts.  Never underestimate a child’s imaginative stories or real life explanations for his/ her thoughts.  A child’s own words can be just as powerful if not more so than books at certain points during their young development.

100_7951 This is also another example of how to use small learning spaces to their maximum.  Two provocations are set up for standing work, counters and painting.  Just think about how often you see your child standing and engaging in an art or craft project.  Think about how often you offer him/ her a chair and they refuse by pushing it away.  Sometimes children learn better by standing and allowing their whole being to be involved in the learning process rather than sitting in a more confined and restful pose.  We want children to literally be active learners because they are by nature.  So why not set up a learning environment that supports how they naturally learn. 🙂


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Heidi Scott, BA & MIT  The Marigold School of Early Learning

Math and Science through Plant Exploration

Math and science are aspects of early childhood education that can be learned through plants.  Columbine and spider wart are two plants that have unique petals and leaves; each plant allows for children to learn about how a plant grows and incorporates numbers and patterns.

                                                                                                  Heidi's School Pics 059

There are a couple of ways I will mention that a provocation for math and science can be set up for children to question, explore and learn from.  First I like to set up a potted plant or fresh cut flowers so that the children can admire the plant and incorporate both art and literacy by drawing a picture of each and writing a story about them based on any inspirational ideas that come forward by admiring the plant or flowers (I act as  their scribe).  Math comes in to play when the children can, in essence, dissect the plant visually and artistically; drawing the leaves, the vanes, and the petals.  As their scribe, I can dialogue with the children and model how to write/draw numbers for each part of the plant they have illustrated.  For science, we can explore the role and purpose of soil, the nutrients it contains, and the rain and sunshine’s impact on the plants.  So as you can see we actually are encompassing not simply math and science, we are including art and literacy; four content areas are being explored and utilized in a natural and holistic way of teaching and learning.   No worksheets or artificial methods are being used to teach something that is freely available in all of nature.


Heidi's School Pics 061     California poppy is another commonly grown flower that can easily be used to teach math and science.  I enjoy taking pictures, but I love planting with children and allowing them to be responsible for the care and maintenance of a plant or flower.  As each child watches a seed transform we learn how the sun, rain, and soil cause a seed to grow.  I introduce actual scientific terminology and age-appropriate reading with illustrations to support the children’s learning.  Of course, if we are exploring plants and how they grow it is because the children have shown and communicated a strong interest.  When children have internal interest their attention spans are quite long and a simple question turns into a month or more long project. 🙂  I do not introduce complicated vocabulary for the children to memorize or know off hand, rather I introduce the terms as a way of building a foundation for further information to be added as the child gains his/ her understanding of how plants grow and thrive.

There are many different provocations and projects that can be explored through the use of nature and I enjoy seeing each child come to his/ her own understanding through inquiry, exploration, manipulation, and implementation.  Either individually or as a collaborative effort young minds construct knowledge, and as the Teacher, I am a facilitator and support to their ever constant and changing development of knowledge.

You as Parents or Grandparents are a constant source of knowledge and support for your young child and together we work as a team preparing young minds for their future educational careers. 🙂

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning