I get a daily electronic newsletter for Early Childhood professionals, filled with articles, tips, and ideas. I thought it would be fun to share something I loved from a recent installment.
The 5 Best Toys of All Time--published in Wired Magazine.
Here is the list:
4. Cardboard Tubes
You might want to add another item to the list, perhaps a ball or a roll of tape. As the holidays are almost upon us, it might be nice to know you do not have to fight the crowds at the toy store as many of the items on this list can be found in your home or backyard. One of my favorite holiday memories is when my mother told me I could KEEP the roll of Scotch Tape I was using to wrap presents. Kids still love tape, a lot!
Here are some fun things to do during the holiday from CHP:
Make some play dough ~ A nice gift idea would be to purchase some fun new cookie cutters, a rolling pin, or even a garlic press to use with the play dough. You can try some unusual food coloring colors and see what happens when you make different colors and mix the colored play dough together. Get your child a large professional cookie sheet so that they play with the dough in one place and it does not travel throughout your home. If you keep the mess at a minimum, odds are you will be doing a lot of play dough manipulation this winter.
Just in case you haven’t made play dough yet, here is the recipe:
- 4 cups of flour
- 1 cup of salt
- 4 cups of water
- 4 tablespoons of oil
- 1/2 cup cream of tartar
a few drops of food coloring
- Mix the ingredients in a pot and cook over a low heat.Stir often.
- Cook until the play dough is completely formed and no longer sticky.
- Let the dough cool and store in a clean zip-loc bag.
You can store the play dough refrigerator for a fun sensory experience of using cold dough.
Make some colored macaroni ~ Here is an easy mess-free activity to keep your children in colored macaroni. Ziti, Rigatoni, or pasta with large holes is the best for stringing.
- Get yourself some food coloring and a box of zip-loc bags.
- Pour enough pasta to fill about 1/3 of the zip-loc.
- Make one squeeze of food coloring into the bag with just a splash of rubbing alcohol.
- Close the bag and give it a good shake and massage. Your children can help with this.
- Add more food color if needed.
- When every piece of pasta looks coated, take a cookie sheet covered in a grocery bag—this way, when you pour the pasta on the cookie sheet, clean-up is so easy.
- Put the thoroughly dried pasta into a clean zip-loc and discard the soiled grocery bag. Nothing to wash!
Make a few color and pasta shape choices and keep each one in a clean zip-loc. Moms, Grandmas and friends just LOVE pretty macaroni necklaces to wear for the holidays. You can also make a lovely garland for your Christmas tree. Macaroni stringing is a great fine motor activity. You can also count the number of macaroni “beads” used and even experiment with making a pattern with the pasta shapes and colors.
Enjoy your holiday time together with your family. Health and happiness to all for the New Year.December 09, 2011 · Categories:
I joined Cobble Hill Playschool as a staff member during the 1992/1993 school year. My wonderful director, Kathy Crawford, was the person responsible for bringing the Reggio Emilia philosophy to CHP. Kathy’s husband Bob was the former head of the science department at St. Ann’s. During his tenure there, he was awarded an educational grant from the Geraldine Dodge Foundation and was subsequently hired by Dodge to determine and award educational grant money. Through Kathy, Bob and his affiliation with Dodge, I was introduced to the Reggio philosophy (and Dr. Howard Gardener and Multiple Intelligence theory, too). In the mid-nineties, I knew few educators who were familiar with this philosophy. I was in graduate school at that time and frequently found myself called upon to explain the Reggio approach to classmates and colleagues. Now, almost twenty years later, so many preschools are proponents of this approach.
It has been quite some time since CHP has embraced the Reggio approach; it serves as the foundation of what we do and why we do it. Many of the staff have attended Reggio workshops. Some of the following text is gleaned from those workshops.
Advantages for Exploring the Reggio Approach
The Reggio Emilia approach is not a method or a curriculum; it is a set of principles for integrating children's development and social-cultural environment with the best theory and practice concerning children's education. This approach has created great enthusiasm among parents, teachers and educators throughout the world's educational community.
The Reggio Emilia approach to educating children brings about learning that is inspired by the richness of life. It constantly invokes a child's sense of wonder, evokes his emotions, provokes his thought processes, and nurtures in him an intrinsic desire to learn.
Learning In Flexible, Multiage Groupings
A multiage education program is a union of an organizational structure and unique combinations of teaching and learning strategies. The way learning occurs is made possible by the multiage structure.
- Allows for flexibility in the grouping of children according to need, ability, or interest; not just by age
- Overcomes problems associated with a yearly transition from one grade to another
- Establishes a more natural learning situation
- Children work at their own pace, the program is not geared to the work of a single year, but can be adjusted over two or more years
- Benefits older children by the quality of leadership and responsibility they develop
- Broadens children’s social experience with increased opportunities to lead and to follow, to collaborate and to make stable peer relationships
- Teaches a child to work cooperatively with others as either “novice” or “expert”
Advantages for Children:
- Is based on children’s abilities, skills and motivation
- Models learning by doing in a more intentional way
- Recognizes children as unique and valuable
- Encourages children to have “voices” –Ideas and thoughts
- Allows children the opportunity to work in small groups
- Respects each person’s point of view while supporting socialization, collaboration and provoking thought
- Teaches children to become better communicators as each child is encouraged to use a variety of ways, both verbal and non-verbal, to symbolically represent thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences
- Records learning process though documentation
- Bases learning, both formal and play-based, on children’s true interests—an interesting and meaningful approach to education
- Nurtures and encourages curiosity in children
- Supports and extends learning through observation and listening
- Exposes children to many materials (clay, paper, paint, shadows, etc.) that offer children tools with which to express themselves—children in turn will be more adept which the use materials as they get older
- Acknowledges through the use of materials, that children are capable of using materials to explore their theories and ideas – children know that they are recognized as capable because of the amazing materials they are given
- Allows children to develop a stronger self-image by providing photographs, videos, displays of children’s work, and by exploring these images as a whole group
- Uses displays for children to see their abstract ideas become more concrete as they are encourages to express themselves through the use of materials
- Develops children’s self-esteem through mastery by building competencies
Advantages for Teachers:
- Promotes teachers’ learning and development as thinking is supported and challenged while given time to reflect and dialog
- Respects teachers’ point of view
- Encourages teachers to have ideas and theories
- Establishes to have ideas and theories
- Exposes teachers to the learning process
- Establishes a sense of community with colleagues
- Creates identity for the school and community
- Extends the ideas of teachers and children
- Recognizes teachers’ as learners and researches as it is modeled for children
- Encourages teachers to work and collaborate in teams
- Exposes teachers to many materials so that teachers develop a sense of exploration and competency
- Supports teachers to become good models for exploration, pursing ideas, and constructing their own knowledge
- Impels teachers to go beyond the textbooks so that they have the opportunity to create and to pursue their own passion
- Shows teachers how to slow down and become more aware, not just children but themselves
- Encourages teachers to respect both process and product
For the Program:
- Is alive and growing as we are always learning
- Uses a collaborative approach with staff, administration, and parents
- Emphases listening too/observing children to extend learning so teachers know the children
- Displays high-quality work by the children so parents, and visitors then are able to learn more about children’s capabilities and potential—this work also promotes the program
- Provides children with amazing opportunities and real materials
- Provokes parents’ curiosity and empowers them to participate in the learning process with children and teachers
- Builds teams through the collaborative approach
Many people in the neighborhood know me as an Early Childhood Director and subsequently, a lover of children's books. Because of this passion, I was invited to read at the LOVE YOUR LIBRARY day last spring. Shortly after the successful event, the Friends of the Carroll Gardens Library group approached me and asked if I would continue to read at the library; they pitched the "Storytime with Carol and Friends" idea. Many years ago, when my children were small, I was a Friend of the Carroll Gardens Library too. Now, almost 20 years later, I agreed to get involved with our little library again by supporting literacy and reading to children.
October 15th is TRY SOMETHING NEW day at the Carroll Gardens Library. This event will be the kick-off for Storytime with Carol and Friends. On October 15th and every Saturday until year’s end, you will find me reading to 3-6 year-olds at the library (hopefully with early childhood colleagues and author/illustrator friends) from 10:30 to 11:30 AM. Reading to children is one of my greatest joys. Ironically, I think I enjoy it more now than I did when I read to my own children!
Hope to see you at the library this fall. “Storytime” is open to everyone in the community, so spread the word. I am hoping some of my young graduates will come back to visit the library. In the last few years, one of my missions for CHP has been to expand our classroom library and to offer staff development in evaluating and selecting children’s books. Whether or not you can attend the library readings, I will continue to share wonderful new books (and old favorites) with our CHP families.
Selecting and Evaluating Children’s Books:
When visiting the library, look through the bookshelves for books you think your children would enjoy, then read them prior to checking them out. It is easy to be enamored by a beautiful cover and catchy title but the old adage remains true: “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” You have to read it to make an informed decision. I have also happily anticipated new books from favorite authors and, on occasion, found once I purchased them, they were not as wonderful as I expected. Before I purchase any book for CHP I preview it. I sit in bookstores and libraries and read. This practice also lends itself to discover a really great children’s book you never knew existed!
New York Library Recommendations: 100 Picture Book Titles for Reading and Sharing.
The titles on this year’s list of Children’s Books were selected by a committee of librarians working in the branch libraries of the New York Public Library
Carol’s Tips for Reading to Your Children:
1. Never read a book "cold." Make sure you have read the book prior to reading it to your child. This way, you can read it with feeling. Have fun and act it out! If you feel there is something in the book that might be hard for your child to understand or might be a bit confusing or scary, you will be prepared to soften the content a bit.
2. Talk about the story while you read it. For example, ask about the names of the animals in the story, count items, talk about the feelings of the characters in the story.
3. Younger children like to hear the same story read and reread. That’s okay. While you are reading, they are thinking, remembering and making predictions about the outcome of the story.
4. Introduce the words "author" and "illustrator." Read books by the same author/ illustrator and compare and contrast the stories.
5. Read to your child when you can devote the time it takes to read that book. You will be a better reader and your child will be a better listener.
6. My own children read their own books now. Remember, there is only a small window of time when you can read together with your child…cherish it!