Posted on 03/21/2016 at 11:32 AM by Liz Determan
As the preschool year advances it becomes important that teachers think hard about ways to keep children engaged in learning during that daily 60 minute Choice Time. Let’s look at ways we can revitalize interest in the Creative Curriculum required areas of Discovery, Sand and Water, Library and Art.
The Discovery Area should be the hub of science learning. How about adding take-apart items? Old and broken small appliances such as telephones, toasters, record players, stereos, tape players, VCRs, radios, sewing machines, cameras and clocks are great for children to see how things work and what’s inside. Also provide tweezers, short and stubby screwdrivers, containers for parts, and paper and markers for children to draw what they see. Related books and photographs can enhance learning as well.
To keep it safe provide goggles for children to wear, cut off cords, remove batteries and glass, and always have an adult nearby. Send a note home to parents to help you collect items and you will find that children can spend hours just taking apart, all while you’re developing skills for those little potential scientists in your classroom.
How about setting up for specialized play in the Sand and Water Area? Create a dishwashing set-up by offering dish soap, plastic dishes, sponges, rubber gloves, a dish rack and towels? Or a rock garden set-up by providing an inch or two of water, lots of different types of rocks, plastic plants, scrub brushes and towels, scoops, rakes and magnifying glasses?
It’s also that time of year when you can take Sand and Water play outdoors. How about making a bubble factory? Fill a table with 2 gallons of water, 2 cups of liquid soap and ¼ cup glycerin. Provide standard blowing wands, old eyeglass frames, plastic 6-pack rings, coat hangers, plastic lids with shapes cut into them, plastic berry boxes and canning jar rings.
Choose items that will excite children’s curiosity and further their exploration. Start out with fewer items and rotate the selection to keep children’s interest. Remember that too many props can interfere with play.
Sand and water play on a regular basis helps children develop their minds and bodies in relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable ways. Have it available every day.
Though literacy should occur in all interest centers, the Library Area is the hub of it. How about adding additional materials for story retelling so children further develop comprehension skills and an understanding of language structure and story sense? Pick a story that has repetitive phrases and an easy to remember sequence that children have heard several times and have seen be retold with props.
You could add a story clothesline where children use clothespins to hang illustrations of story events in the correct sequence, or place story pictures in the pockets of a child-sized apron for children to pull out and talk through. Also providing puppets made with craft sticks using cutouts from those heavily used paperback books that are now too dilapidated to use on the bookshelf.
Retelling a story requires skills that go far beyond just hearing and understanding a story that is read to them. It is especially important that children have plenty opportunity to do that as the preschool year advances.
The Art Area should be a studio for children’s development and learning. How about providing materials for children to make mobiles? They are constructions that have suspended moving parts from a stationary overhead base. The Internet has plenty of pictures of real-life mobiles that you could print and place around the art area for children to get ideas from. One-level mobiles may be best for young children since the balancing skills for creating multi-level likely will be beyond their skill level.
Provide children with items that will work for the overhead base such as coat hangers, tree branches, dowels, wood slats and rulers. You will also need to think about a place for mounting. Also supply items for suspended moving parts such as string, yarn, ribbon, wire, various kinds of paper, small wood or cardboard pieces, cotton balls, leaves, tiny toy items and all kinds of recyclables.
Creating three-dimensional mobiles has great appeal to young children while adding an exciting perspective. You may find that the same is true for the adults in the classroom.
The classroom with all its interest centers if like a textbook for preschooler’s learning. It needs to become more challenging as the year goes on and that way remain exciting for the children.