Building Baby Muscle!

As we celebrated the Month of The Young Child, even our smallest friends got in on the action.  You may think that physical development at the infant age level is more about making sure babies have adequate nutrition to stimulate physical growth, but there is also a lot more that our teachers do to encourage gross motor development in our infant classrooms.

Even the littlest children are placed on their tummies at regular intervals to encourage mobility. This is done on play mats and carpeted areas rather than inside a restricted area such as a playpen, giving babies an opportunity to see more of the world around them and experiment in coordinating their muscles, which they will eventually use to crawl and walk.

Of course gross motor development is not taught and encouraged in isolation.  Babies’ physical and intellectual developments are inseparable. Crawling, for example, can improve a baby’s vision, which in turn could affect how easily s/he learns to read and write.  It is all interconnected!

And babies love to be held.  A lot of the learning that takes place while holding a baby has to do with social, emotional, and cognitive development as teachers talk, sing, and bond with the infants.  Physical development is at play here too, though.  Rocking and swinging the babies helps improve their vestibular (balance) system.

We spent the first week of April focusing on physical development activities for the Month of The Young child.  However, things like tummy time and rocking infants are things that are happening on a daily basis at Care-a-lot and can easily be done at home to encourage physical development in your infant!

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Fashion Fun!

A group of school-aged children decided to create and  present their own fashion show!   The creative juices were flowing and they found materials in the classroom to make it happen.

The children worked together and took on all the roles necessary for a show – designers, models, host, sound and back stage crew.  The dress design materials consisted of tissue paper, streamers, and masking tape!  Some of the costuming ideas were a challenge, however, the outfits turned out lovely and most colorful.  Some even used a theme of ‘Under the Sea’ to create the design!

As an added surprise, the costumes, music and show details were ready when some parents arrived at the end of the day so that they could be in the audience.  The show was also filmed so the participants could watch their creation at a later time.  It was a day of creative fun and a great way to learn some of the mechanics of putting on a show!

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Dancing with Direction!

Listening and following directions is not always easy to do when you are a young preschooler with a body that is interested in moving and exploring!   So including these tasks in a game makes it a much more enjoyable and experiential learning opportunity!

A group of 3 year olds gathered in the Big Room with four different colored hoops set on the ground.  The children were then instructed to dance outside the hoops while the music played. Once the music stopped the children were to choose a hoop and stand inside of it.  When each child had postioned him or herself inside a hoop, the teacher pulled a color coin out of a bag and announced the color.  The children standing inside that colored hoop were then moved out of the game until the next round.  Everyone took turns being out and all had great fun following directions and practicing their color identification!


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Insect Interest!

Spring Break may have been a break from the school classroom but it was not a break from learning!  Mr. Linn, an entomologist, shared some of his insect knowledge with our school-agers.  He brought in books, photos, and large posters to illustrate different traits of insects.  The children were interested to learn where all the parts of an insect would be located on their own body.  The biggest surprises for them were that the antenna is an insect’s nose and that there are insects without mouths that live their whole lives without eating!

Mr. Linn also brought half a dozen display cases of pinned specimens, which allowed the children to get a close look at the insects.  Some cases held large exotic specimens that the children would not ordinarily have a chance to study, while others held local specimens that the children can begin to look for in their own backyards.  Each case was organized with insects of a similar type, about which Mr. Linn explained the function in our world.  Based on the looks of these insects, there were many choruses of “ewww” and “gross”, along with displays of fear for even some of the most harmless insects!

The insects that probably made the biggest impression on the children were the live Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Mr. Linn brought in two of these cockroaches, each about three inches in length.  The insects must have felt pretty comfortable (maybe due to the fact that they were in the Beetles Classroom) because they did not make their distinctive hissing call.  As with many of the other unusual looking insects there were initial reactions of fear and misgiving about the large cockroaches; however by the end, many of the children surprised us (and possibly themselves) by mustering the courage to hold one!

Care-a-lot strives to create educational opportunities through unique hands-on experiences for our children, even on school breaks!


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