School-Age Play!

Care-a-lot’s after-school program provides a variety of activities for children.  Upon their arrival, children can meet their need for quiet time and relaxing by enjoying a soft chair, reading a book or expressing themselves with a creative project.

Children also need opportunities for free play to use their muscles and release their energy through more vigorous and rough play.  Sometimes called roughhousing, horseplay, or play fighting, children are using their bodies to learn through this activity.  With school-agers, the play often involves running, chasing, fleeing, wrestling, tagging, swinging, and falling to the ground— often on top of each other!

As in all appropriate play, rough play shares these characteristics; when children involve their bodies in this vigorous, interactive, very physical kind of play, they build a range of skills. Children learn physical skills—how their bodies move and how to control their movements. They also develop language skills through signals and nonverbal communication, including the ability to perceive, infer, and decode. Children develop social skills through taking turns, playing dominant and subordinate roles, negotiating, and developing and maintaining friendships. With boys especially, rough play provides a venue for showing care and concern for each other as they often hug and pat each other on the back during and after the play.

Because at times this play may resemble fighting, some adults find it to be one of the most challenging of children’s behaviors. In spite of its bad reputation, rough play is a valuable type of play—one teachers and families need to understand and support.  Adults need to understand the importance of tumble play and allow it to happen under appropriate supervision.  Parents can also engage their child in this play and role model appropriateness.  Enjoy vigorous activity together as children use their physical outlet to grow and learn!

DSC00163 BP GR June 25           DSC00165 BP Gr June 24



Sensory Learning!

Toddlers particulary enjoy sensory play!  In these photos you can see them engaging hands-on with Playfoam, a squishy, moldable substance that children can use to create and recreate sculptures, much like play dough.  Sensory activities are perfect for children of this age because young children learn best (and retain the most information) when they engage their senses.

Sensory play stimulates many different areas of learning.  Children’s cognitive skills are sharpened as are problem solving and decision making. As children manipulate a substance, their brains catalog its properties and try to figure out how to achieve different effects.There are also science skills involved; such as cause and effect – what happens when I push it, pull it, bounce it, roll it between my hands?

And although it may not seem immediately related, sensory play also provides many linguistic learning opportunities.  Children can’t define parts of language until they’ve experienced the true meaning of the word. The attempt to convey something without the proper words to do so can be frustrating for children—and adults! Sensory play encourages children to use descriptive and expressive language, and to find meaning behind essentially meaningless words or gibberish. Take for instance, the word “squishy.”

There are many benefits to sensory play, but perhaps the most important is that everything children learn is retained because they have directly engaged their senses! 


004 Can Sensory June


Safety in Summer Sun!

IMG_5214 Sunscreen Hen

Outdoor play and learning is one of our favorite summer activities! To ensure that we maximize our time outside and keep the children safe, we make sure that all children are well equipped to handle the sun! Each child is encouraged to bring in a sun hat and sunscreen. Teachers apply sunscreen to children 6 months and older, both in the morning and in the afternoon, before they venture outdoors. Hats keep the sun’s rays off the children’s heads and faces, which allows them to see better and protects their delicate skin.

Children are also provided with water to keep them hydrated while they are outside.  Temperature and humidity indicators are used to determine whether outside play should be limited in high heat.  After running around and heating up their bodies, children enjoy taking a break in our shady areas while sipping cool water.

Enjoy the fresh air and as much outside play as possible this summer.   But remember to keep your child safe and take precautions for the sun and the heat!

IMG_5150 sun baby Hen                     IMG_5208 Sunscreen Hen   

IMG_5198 sun glasses hen


Learning Centers!

Classroom activities at Care-a-lot are presented with the understanding that children learn by doing. They are active learners, who acquire knowledge through opportunities to interact, experiment and explore new experiences, and practice newly acquired skills. Care-a-lot teachers design and prepare the classroom environment so that it provides stimulating and challenging materials and activities for children.

Learning centers are available throughout the day for children to explore, learn and have fun.  Classroom areas labeled as learning centers include spaces for dramatic play, blocks, manipulatives, games, books/reading, and science.   These activities stimulate children’s cognitive, social and emotional development.

When children are free to choose and learn in age appropriate centers, a Bingo game becomes an opportunity to find and recognize letters, numbers, and pictures.  They learn to identity what they need to play the game successfully, like using dots to cover their boards to keep track of what has been called.  Games also support children in learning to take turns, interacting with others, following directions, and helping their friends in understanding.

Putting on dress-up clothes, working in a pretend kitchen or workshop, or caring for dolls, also provides children many opportunities for learning to interact, experience emotions, and explore relationships with others.  Make believe and dramatic play offer children the opportunity to identify with people, role play situations, and practice their communication and problem solving skills.

Children learn in different ways and at different rates.  Letting children practice their skills in various challenging activities, facilitates their development and learning!


DSC01932 Bingo         DSC01929 Blocks