Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Importance of Play...pass it on

This quote was featured on ExchangeEveryDay this morning.  It is worth another posting to further this important message.

"Play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being of children beginning in early childhood.  It is a natural tool for children to develop resiliency as they learn to cooperate, overcome challenges, and negotiate with others.  Play also allows children to be creative.  It provides time for parents to be fully engaged with their children, to bond with their children, and to see the world from the perspective of their child.  However, children who live in poverty often face socioeconomic obstacles that impede their rights to have playtime, thus affecting their healthy social-emotional development.  For children who are under resourced to reach their highest potential, it is essential that parents, educators, and pediatricians recognize the importance of lifelong benefits that children gain from play."

This strong statement on the importance of play summarizes a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics published in the January issue of Pediatrics

And yet, these are the very children that once they get to a school setting are taken away from free play to do much more skill and drill activities in the mindset of helping them to "catch up".  

Please help to pass this article along to others in this field.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Artistic Explorations Workshop

I had a great time today presenting a workshop on Artistic Explorations to the teachers at Mountain Lakes Country Day School in New Jersey.  I had a power point presentation featuring hundred of photos of children partaking in the various art experiences as I explained them, but the most important part of the workshop was the play.  Following the presentation the teachers were encouraged to use the materials set up around the room and give the experiences a try for themselves.

The group that had been quiet for an hour was suddenly quite animated.  They circulated the areas playing with all of the materials trying out many of the experiences they had seen in the slides.

And then the creative process took over and they started inventing new ways to use the materials.  Materials separated on table were combined to create a new activity or experience.

I heard many expressions of, "we could do this..." or "we should try this..." or "they would love this..."  On the evaluation forms the teachers were so appreciative of the chance to try the materials for themselves..in essence to have time to play.

How lucky they are to have a director who values the importance of this type of staff development.
I'm sure if someone asked you how you learned to use your cell phone, you would say, "I just played with it". As adults we need to allow ourselves the time to play, to explore, to create and to wonder ourselves.

I hope you have had some time to play today.

If you are interested in this workshop for your staff or group, please contact me via email at danagorman@playfullylearning.org

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Crazy Cake

We have several food allergies in our class this year so baking is a bit more challenging.  We were thrilled to see that this recipe fit all of our requirements and was so delicious that I had to share it with you.

It is called Crazy Cake because you make it right in the cake pan and you mix it....with your hands!!!

Then you create holes in the dry goods and add the wet items into these wells.  The children loved seeing the liquid pour over their holes.

The last of the mixing is done with a whisk, so the mess is minimal.

It seems a bit thinner than a regular cake batter when you put it in the oven, was what came out was a fluffy rectangle of yumminess.

We sprinkled it with powdered sugar and enjoyed our creation.

 We hope you will, too!

You will probably need the rest of the recipe ;-)  I just want to point out here that we use these large recipe cards with the children when we bake.  They are the size of a sheet of poster board and have a lot of picture clues on them to encourage print awareness and reading.  There is so much math, science and reading learning  going on when cooking with children.  Have fun with this.

One last thing, we noticed that the vanilla is missing from the ingredients list.  We used a teaspoon.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sticky Paper Collage

We have these terrific rolls of really large clear tape that we bought from Bev Bos’ company Turn the Page Press.  We bought the last few rolls they had at the time.

We put the tape on the table with the sticky side facing up and tape it down with masking tape. 
Baskets of tissue paper strips were put along the edge of the tape for the children to layer.

They worked together overlapping the strips.  When two colors meshed, a new color formed. 
Some made patterns and straight lines; others crisscrossed and weaved while learning about the cause and effect of the sticky surface.

They were also learning to work around each other while adding to the same surface. 

Of course, the process was the important part of this experience, but they do look beautiful when the sun shines through them.  

Recycled Square Painting

I love to find ways to use recycled materials with the children.

We recently opened a new mosaic toy.   The cards came in large cardboard sheets and had to be punched out.  What were left were these great cardboard square forms.

We put them at the easel with tempera paint in small cups and foam dabbers.

The children enjoyed painting inside the squares with the cardboard facing different ways. 

They also discovered flipping the board over to make a rubbing or putting another piece of paper over the top of the first painting and rubbing it. 

It was very interesting to watch the children choose their colors and decide which squares to paint inside.  Some did all of them and some chose an arrangement.

It was an activity that garnered interest for the entire week with many children repeating it several times.