Learning in Play!

Moving and exploring are favorite activities in the older infant classrooms!  Children aged 12 to 18 months are constantly on the move as they quickly crawl and slowly learn to steadily walk on two feet.   Through their mobile play, this age group is intensely interested in investigating how things work, how things move, and how they can be used.

Play is the mechanism by which children learn—how they experience their world, practice new skills, and internalize new ideas—and is therefore the essential “work of children” (Paley 2004).  Through play, children learn about the world and engage in activities that encourage their cognitive, emotional, and social development (Elkind 2007). For example, when a child bangs on a drum, she learns she can create a sound. Through play, she learns the important concept of cause and effect.

Providing complex toys in the classrooms stimulates and offers multiple opportunities for children’s learning experiences.  By exploring, children create their own learning experiences and exercise their small and large muscles.  Repetition ensures the assimilation of a newly learned skill.  And once a skill is mastered it can be applied to other new learning experiences!

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Fishy Fun!

The toddler classrooms of Care-a-lot Canandaigua are very excited about the new fish in their tank. Each of our toddler classrooms has it’s own fish tank. Fish lend a natural living element to the classrooms. One of the rooms sports a beta fish, another has several large goldfish, and the third just introduced a new school of neon tetras, Glofish, a fantail guppy, and a clown barb.

The teachers use the fish tanks to safely model how to care for animals. This is the basis for introducing the children to ecology – the study of how organisms interact with one another and their environment. A fish tank also adds to a stimulating learning environment, which engages children’s curiosity about the world around them. In our classrooms, we have the fish tanks placed so that the children can easily observe the fish safely and independently.

By providing natural materials and living creatures for the toddlers to study and explore, we are creating a path for lifelong learning. When adults introduce nature in the earliest stages of development, children will be open to new ideas and skills. Learning through nature can provide children with real world experiences, leading to a greater understanding of our dependence on the earth’s physical environment. Hopefully they will take these skills and interests with them to use throughout their lifetime!

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Movers and Bouncers!

Children need space to move and shake and romp and roll, even when it’s too cold, snowy or rainy to be outside!  In the center’s large indoor play spaces, there are opportunities to use their gross motor skills and exercise their large muscles, which are important in their physical development.

Riding toys provide practice for children’s leg motion and direction.  Children work on their motor and directional skills by moving the cars forward and backward, around and straight.  They learn control by not running into their friends or the walls!

As children crawl through tunnels, they practice both leg and arm muscle movements.  Slides offer opportunities to learn how to safely navigate different kinds of surfaces by going down on their bottoms, feet first!

Sitting on bouncey balls gives children freedom to hop wherever they want.  It’s a fun way to get from point A to point B, and bouncing is also great exercise!


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Pen Pals!

The school-age children at our Greece center are engaged in a pen pal activity with the school-age children at Cameron Community Ministry’s after-school program in the City of Rochester. New friendships are forming and the children are sharing their stories through pen and paper!

In today’s society where social media is such a popular means of communication for our children, it is a relatively unused experience for them to sit down and write a letter to someone! They are finding that this form of communication can offer a close and personal means of interaction with others. It also offers a way to get to know someone through their words and stories.

Writing, mailing, and then waiting for a response is a somewhat new and different experience in this age of immediacy in technology. It has assisted the children in learning the art of patience and appreciating the postal system!

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