Each month the Lagoon Playgroup teacher/director provides children with an exciting curriculum designed to develop their knowledge and skills and support their love of learning. She uses the following learning centers to support that curriculum:
Block building is important to cognitive development. In playing with blocks, children recreate experiences they have had. The ability to create these representations is a skill necessary for abstract thinking. In addition, children learn about sizes, shapes, angles, and planes. They develop fine muscles used later on in writing. This is an area where children learn to share materials, ideas, and experiences. Development of mathematical concepts and organizational skills begin here. Conversational skills are also developed during play.
Children play ‘house’, ‘veterinarian’, ‘dress-up’ and more here. They are trying out various roles, some familiar, some not. As children act out their roles they learn about themselves, their families, and those around them. Happy and sometimes unhappy experiences are recreated here and cooperative skills begin to emerge. Imagination and language get a boost.
Art is a process of self-expression. Through the use of paint, clay, chalk, markers, playdough, crayons, and collage materials children create, experiment, and solve problems. They experience pride in their creations. They learn about color, line, shape, size, and texture. They learn how to use tools and materials. They learn to describe their actions. They develop fine motor skills.
Sifting sand and pouring water provide soothing sensations in addition to opportunities for socialization, fine motor coordination, sharing materials, and observing changes in form and substance.
Books provide an opportunity to learn about oneself and the world around us. As children look at books and listen to stories, make up their own stories, and act out familiar stories, they become motivated to learn to read and write. They learn to cope with difficult events in their lives, learn how to be friends, develop a sense of humor, and develop listening skills.
Children respond to music. They enjoy moving to music in various ways, using their bodies to express themselves. Musical games encourage cooperation, and singing songs develops language. Playing instruments in a marching band helps children to feel part of the group. Music plays an important part in our program.
These are areas for gross (large) motor development. Children run, jump, hop, skip, slide, roll, and crawl — in short, MOVE. They also learn to take turns, climb, throw, catch, and YELL! They enjoy the freedom of space. They ride tricycles and scooter boards and learn to avoid crashes. They learn rules of safe play.
Through exploring the world around them they develop a sense of where and how they fit into this great big world, curiosity, excitement, creation and change. Observing nature provides the opportunity to be hands-on with the earth and explore the “critters” that share our school area; waiting and watching. They learn sequencing in planting seeds, watering them and seeing what happens next. Children increase visual discrimination while watching silkworms hatch and grow.They observe metamorphosis, (a really big word) and increase their vocabulary.
Through cooking, children change a liquid to a solid (playdough), changing a solid to a liquid (melting ice) and create a gas (while making volcanoes with baking soda and vinegar).
Field trips into the community are planned about once a month. This allows children an up-close and personal view of their neighborhood and often a “behind the scenes” experience that they may not get otherwise. These experiences allow children to broaden their understanding of basic concepts while reinforcing previous learning.
The essential element in all of the above categories is play. All this wonderful learning takes place because it is play. It is fun. Never underestimate the value of play. Preschool years are for play, which lays the groundwork for academics in elementary school.