Valentine Learning!

Holidays and special occassions are more than just party celebrations at Care-a-lot!    To prepare for Valentine’s Day, our pre-schoolers used the Valentine theme to make red Kool-Aid playdough, play a matching game with hearts, and complete a number recognition project with heart shapes.

Young children love to play with playdough!  Through squishing, rolling, sculpting, and molding, the opportunities for creating are endless!  This simple material provides children with a medium to use their imaginations and strengthen the small muscles in their fingers—the same muscles they will one day use to hold a pencil and write. Using and making playdough with others supports children’s social skills such as sharing, taking turns, and enjoying being with other people. Playdough also encourages children’s language and literacy, science, and math skills—all at the same time!

Matching games and number recognition activities build children’s cognitive skills, as well as support small muscle development. Learning opportunities can be found in every theme and everything we do during the day!


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Skills in Movement!

The toddlers had great fun in the big room throwing and catching soft balls with each other!  Their teacher also made sure that each child had a turn throwing and catching the ball with her.  They were encouraged in their attempts and given verbal supports to continue their efforts.  The children didn’t realize it, but they were learning and honing their gross motor skills, as well as practicing hand-eye coordination!

Many people believe children automatically acquire and perfect motor skills, such as running, jumping, and throwing, as their bodies develop.  However, these skills are not completely the result of natural physical growth.   The ability to perform gross motor skills is related directly to physical fitness. A competent mover will gladly keep moving; he or she will engage in such activities as dancing, jumping rope, and hanging and swinging on playground equipment. A child who feels physically awkward and uncoordinated tends to avoid movement.

Since poor movement habits tend to remain from childhood into adulthood, a physically inactive child is likely to grow up to be an inactive adult.  Considering the health hazards for the unfit—obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other risks—teaching children motor skills is indeed just as important as teaching language skills!  Get active together!



Wildlife Defenders!

The Wildlife Defenders were welcomed at the Farmington / Canandaigua Center!   They brought three of their exotic animals to share with us.  The Wildlife Defenders Program is a wildlife education outreach group run by members of the Bridges for Brain Injury.  The handlers are all adult survivors of brain injuries or other challenges.  The group shared interesting facts about their animal ambassadors and encouraged environmental and wildlife conservation awareness.

The Defenders brought a three-banded armadillo from Brazil to share with the children.  It is one of the only armadillos that is able to curl itself up into a complete sphere, interlocking its tail and nose. This was an exciting site for the children!  It surprised us to learn that the armadillo is actually a mammal because it doesn’t have a fuzzy coat, only tough armor!

The group also brought a giant toad from Brazil.  The children learned that the toad is also a frog.  All toads are frogs; however all frogs are not toads.  We were also able to meet a beautiful bird, the Red Crested Turaco, from Angola.  This was the most popular animal of the day!  While the turaco is not a very strong flier, it has beautiful plumage and a loud distinct call.  There were many laughs every time the bird called, especially when interrupting the handlers as they were speaking!

Not only were the children able to learn some interesting facts about exotic species that they ordinarily would not have an opportunity to see, they also had an opportunity to learn a bit about people facing challenges.  Both the different animals and people led to some good discussions about tolerance, which tied in nicely with the lessons planned for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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Hibernating Inside!

To demonstrate how animals hibernate, the toddler class made a bears den in their room! They took a sheet and put it over a table to create a covered area; they then explored the newly created space!  In their den, they read books about how animals hibernate in the winter, experimented with flashlights in the enclosed space, and brought selected toys into their cozy den.

At the end of the week the children even had a “hibernation pajama party”!  They all wore their warm, fuzzy pajamas and had fun pretending to hibernate themselves!  Also during this week, the children played with shredded paper that they called “snow” for an added sensory experience.  Using the snow and small containers, they then created covered spaces for their toy animals to hibernate and keep warm.

Using hands-on learning experiences, young children can readily experience and gain an understanding of new ideas and concepts!

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