As a mom of two young children, ages 5 and 3 years old, play time is fundamental in our daily schedule. As an early childhood education by training, I am always trying to incorporate learning through play, as I know children learn best this way. Recently I have been a KinderMom with Kinder Canada, and love that this company advocates that children just play and have fun doing what they do best as kids and that is play! One of my assignments as a KinderMom is to talk to you, my readers, about how I incorporate play into my day. Well that is very easy, as I run a family child care program out of my home. Each weekday, I have six little people running around, playing, exploring and learning!
Since 1998 I have been employed in the field of Early Childhood Education in the Canadian Provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and most recently, Alberta. In the last two years, I have moved from working in day care centers to running my own family child care program out of my home. I have my Level 3 certification (Child Development Supervisor), as well have taken a number of workshops and attended numerous ECE conferences over the years.
One thing that I have noticed throughout the past few years is the shift from theme based curriculum planning to child-directed and play based programming. It is part of my personal early childhood education philosophy that children learn best through play, and having large amounts of uninteruppted play is critical to their overall development. Children learn so many wonderful things when they just play.
And I don't mean with the electronic toys that seem to be in abundance these days. Like handheld learning systems, Wii, Nintendo DS systems, etc. Don't get me wrong, we are a LeapFrog loving family, but there is a definite time and place for it.
When I talk play I mean just that....in my family child care program I have no less than 10 learning centers set up for children to explore. These are currently what are always set up:
1. Dramatic Play - costumes, puppets, prop boxes (brought out as interests determine), dolls, etc
2. Kitchen Center - dishes, Little Tikes Kitchen, Ikea table and chairs, food, etc
3. Music - a variety of children's music, CD Player, instruments of all kinds
4. Science - discovery bottles, photo album of zoo animals, I Spy bottles, rock and mineral collection, etc
5. Math and Writing - Weights and scale, mini clip boards and pens, plastic counters, Pattern blocks, etc
6. Manipulatives - puzzles, Mr Potato Head, lacing beads and buttons, etc
7. Block - duplo, megablocks, wood blocks, wood train set, cars, car mat, etc
8. Library - a sling shelf with at least 10-12 books switched up weekly and I try to add books that relate to either a theme or child's interest
9. Art - I use a shoe organizer to hold markers, crayons, feathers, scissors, glue sticks, etc and another container that sits at my kitchen table for the majority of the day for open ended art time
10. Outdoor - Little Tikes slide, basketball hoop, sandbox, balls, a fabric teepee, and more round out my children's outdoor play experiences. I also encourage the other learning areas outside too with a bucket of books, science tools for bug searching, etc
11. Baby Area - I currently have two infants in my program and have a shelf devoted to toys that are age and developmentally appropriate for them - shape sorters, soft toys, balls, board books, etc
I also will introduce my children and child care children to other props and toys as interest shows or if I have discovered new ideas from my blog readings. I have personally found some amazing ideas off the net. Thank you to all you amazing Early Childhood Education professionals that share their ideas on Facebook and the World Wide Web! You truly do inspire me!
Without further delay here are some basic pics of my playspace. Currently it is in the upstairs of my home, as we continue renovations of our basement. Once we are downstairs again, I am moving all my family child care programming down there (except for meals I think), so will post new pics hopefully in the fall!
Open Art Area - still in development in this pic
Main Play Space with centers
Again, these are just a few pictures of my space and I can't wait to plan and set up my new space!
Disclosure: I'm part of the KINDER Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own."