Happy Friday! Today, as part of our February theme of highlighting our programs, we’re taking a trip to two of our full day care centres, stopping by at the Preschool room at CH Norton in Burlington, and the Toddler room at Lakewood in Port Dover. Let’s take a look…
It was just a toy on the shelf… Until it grabbed the attention of the Preschoolers at our CH Norton Center. Then it became the focus of a week of fascination for the rambunctious group of children (we say that with love). The toy was a dinosaur, and the activities ranged from play to… well, keep reading!
“I was in my office one day, and I heard roaring,” Kelly Zerebny, the Program Coordinator at CH Norton, told us. “Roaring?” we asked. “Roaring.” she replied. And that’s how Kelly and her team of ECE Teachers discovered that their Preschoolers were interested in dinosaurs.
“They weren’t just playing with the toys we had,” Kelly explained. “They wanted to take the dinosaurs out of their play area and use them in other activities.” When the group went for a nature walk, the children brought back small logs to use to renovate the dinosaur play area. When Kelly’s team wanted to start an art project, they brought the dinosaurs along too – the Preschoolers painted their favourite toys and had them “stomp” around on paper. Kelly even used dinosaurs to teach some valuable manners and responsibility – after covering the toys in paint, the children had to wash them off themselves.
The dinosaurs of CH Norton show how a single spark of interest (in this case, a chorus of roaring preschoolers) can lead to a wide variety of activities. Sometimes, the lessons that are being learned don’t even have anything to do with the dinosaurs.
When you’re dealing with Toddlers, it can be hard to develop any sort of consistent program. But that’s exactly what Carrie McMillan at our Lakewood centre managed to do with her “Small World” area of her classroom. “The children consistently point, gesture, and repeat animal sounds and mannerisms inside and outside of the classroom,” Carrie told us. She and her teachers used this interest in nature to great effect in the classroom.
“I was introduced to the concept of “small world play” through a workshop I attended during the February Flurry event: ” Building an Outdoor Nature Movement in Early Childhood Education”,” Carrie said. This led to some new additions in the room: natural wood cookies, some synthetic grass place-mats, and an assortment of realistic woodland creature figurines.
The children love the new play area. Carrie told us she sees her Toddlers constantly stacking blocks, sorting animals, and building new environments for their animal friends. “Often the play will extend to the sand bin and to the block area.” Carrie is excited for Spring to come to Port Dover, so she can take her Toddlers outside and explore the new arrivals to the playground: “bugs, toads, worms, all of the tiny creatures!”
Thank you so much to both Kelly and Carrie for taking some time to sit down with us and tell us some amazing stories. Is there something cool happening at your local Today’s Family centre? Tell us about it! Shoot us a tweet (@TodaysFamilyOnt) or like us on Facebook (Today’s Family Early Learning and Child Care). We’d love to hear from you.
Until next time!
– Today’s Family