Thursday, December 23, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Of course, there are also figurative relationships, such as the one between experiences and development:
The adults in a child’s life play a critical role in determining what types of experiences are made available to the child and, consequently, in determining the course of development. (Children and Families, Fall 2009, p. 34)
That means you! You have the awesome opportunity of deciding what your children get to play with, learn, and observe every day.
At The Adventurous Child, we want to help you provide fun and educational experiences for your children that will assist them in meeting and surpassing developmental milestones. Whether you want them to learn how to recognize different sounds, develop an appreciation for reading, or improve their balance and coordination, we are devoted to working with you to meet those needs.
What kind of experiences are you making available to your children? Whatever they may be, I hope that reading our blog will give you a better idea of some of your options. Thanks for stopping by – we look forward to hearing from you!
Monday, November 8, 2010
Some of the fun things you can do with children outdoors right now include*:
· Engaging them in discussions about animals and plants that are going through autumnal changes
· Ask them whether the lighting is different (this works especially well if you take them outside at the same time every day)
· Bring a notebook to use as a nature journal for written descriptions or pictures
· Bring a recorder to capture the sounds of the day
· Bring several baggies and a black permanent marker to give your children practice with sorting. Collect seeds, nuts, pinecones, rocks, and leaves and place them in the labeled bags.
At the end of your hike, whether it lasts 15 minutes or an hour, you can sit down at your literacy gazebo and write and draw about your experiences. Children will be excited to talk about everything they saw, smelled, felt, and heard… while tasting some nice apple cider (our favorite autumn treat).
* (Thanks to Renee Carver for these fantastic tips!)
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Our focus is to provide outdoor playground equipment that meet each state’s Early Learning Standards and to provide children with fun environments that feature environmentally-friendly recycled plastic. Our passion is to help create outdoor classrooms that are learning places, just like the indoors—full of fun, free play and the ability to meet the state’s current Early Learning Standards.
We are proud and excited to be celebrating our 24th anniversary this year. The customer thank you notes, testimonials and referrals for the last 24 years tell me that our customers are grateful for our values. We hope you enjoy stopping by my blog and by Steph’s blog. Feel free to shoot us a message! We really appreciate receiving feedback, and we’d love to answer any of your questions.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
For example, weather is a great topic to teach young children. But why not teach it to them outside? By only discussing the phenomena of weather indoors, children are being denied opportunities to truly experience nature’s mercurial ways. Reading a book or watching a movie clip is incomparable to taking them outside during a light rain shower, when they can see the clear drops, feel their wetness, taste the water, smell them, and hear their pitter-patter against the ground.
A multidisciplinary approach to learning is imperative for expanding children’s learning. Why not integrate learning, discovery, delight, and determination with the Weather Station Learning Center?
With the Weather Station Learning Center in your outdoor classroom, kids will:
· Measure water collected in the rain gauge
· Observe the weather vane to note the wind’s direction
· Using the barometer and temperature gauges, discern variation (whether they are reading the numbers or simply observing the change)
· Become capable of documenting weather at the weather weekly panel
Thursday, October 7, 2010
“Assessment is an integrative process…. Learning is personal, active, and genuine; discovery invites mastery and empowerment; delight feeds passion and a quest for more; and determination nurtures confidence and creates a sense that learning is forever” (Hughes & Gullo, 2010, p. 58-90).
By making learning a delightful journey that encourages determination among children, you are giving them a gift for life. A thirst for learning – not just seeking the answer to a question, but the process of seeking it as well – will carry children through school and life.
Since learning contains several components – discovery, delight, and determination – it stands that assessment must be multivariate, as well. How many ways do you currently assess your children? Do you give some methods more weight than others?
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Make your children’s favorite stories come to life with a store front. Place the store front along a bike path and let children create their own story —maybe a lemonade stand, a counter at a bank, post office or fast food restaurant – the possibilities are as plentiful as the imagination. Just remember: as the teacher or care provider, “if you dominate the play, you take away some of the creative value for the children” (Miller, 1989. p. 41). Let them be in control.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Hot day? Take your kids outside and let them cool off with a car wash.
A great addition to any outdoor play area, the car wash allows children to enter and exit through realistic plastic flaps, similar to a real car wash. A pipe runs down the roof line and has several sprayer jets that release water on the children as they ride through the car wash. Connect a standard hose to the sprayer jets, turn on the water and the fun begins!
As I discussed earlier, water play can improve children’s physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development. Playing with the car wash will allow them to participate in a variety of gross/fine motor and sensory activities, make simple cause/effect predictions as well as use new vocabulary, and role play different types of occupations. Consider adding a car wash to your outdoor play area today!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
playhouse offers abundant opportunities for movement and creative play. A playhouse provides the structure but the children create the story. Depending on the children’s imagination, the playhouse can be a home, bank, restaurant, covered bridge, etc. Throw a sheet over the playhouse and it’s a cave. The options are endless!
A gas pump allows children to fill things up, including their bikes, wagons, wheelchairs, or even shoes. Children will increase their ability to problem solve through exploration (i.e., pump gas like an adult).
An example of a fun playhouse and gas pump can be found at The Adventurous Child and at The Outdoor Preschool Store.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Join us on Thursday as we take a look at playhouses and gas pumps.
Monday, August 30, 2010
This area includes two bookcases and three benches. The sixth side of the area is open for entering and exiting the area. Each bookcase has four different shelves for displaying materials. One of the bookcases is designed to hold art supplies such as paper and markers so children can draw and tell their stories; the second one is designed to hold books.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wouldn’t it be nice to never have to run back inside for something? The Teacher’s Organizational Post is a multipurpose structure for centralizing outdoor teacher supplies. Ideal for outdoor classrooms, the post contains a large hook to support hanging items like backpacks, a shelf for clip boards and writing activity, and a child-accessible tissue holder and trash receptacle so children can retrieve their own tissues and dispose of them in a hygienic manner.
This organizational post will make a fantastic addition to your outdoor classroom. After all, if you have stations for writing activities and tissues, and a closet for backpacks, why not set up a similar area outside?
Monday, August 23, 2010
Over the next couple weeks, I will be talking about some products that will make the back-to-school transition go smoothly. (First up: the Teacher’s Organizational Post!)
However, before we talk product, let’s talk goals. What would you like to do differently this year? Is there a teaching method or activity you would like to try? At the end of the school year, what lessons or answers do you want your students to walk away with?
Sasha Azevedo, an American athlete, once remarked: “We can teach from our experience, but we cannot teach experience.”
Let’s make this the year of experience for our children. Make this the year that you teach and learn through creation, demonstration, and observation. Play outside, conduct experiments, and engage in nature. Experience the world together.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Speaking of stops and starts, recognizing signs is a big first step to driving. Teach drivers’ safety to your children early on with these signs:
These signs are great for dramatic play and teaching vehicle and pedestrian traffic safety. The signs may also spark a conversation about safety. You could use the signs to create a safety town: Place the signs along the bike path and the children will love coming to a screeching halt to avoid a collision or a traffic ticket. Children will enjoy talking about safety and ways to ensure it on their “roads.” The possibilities are endless!
Monday, August 16, 2010
Another great thing about cycles is that they do not require much preparation. Grab your kids, trikes, and some sunscreen, and you’re set!
Karen Miller, author of The Outside Play and Learning Book, offers some fantastic ideas for tricycle play:
· Angle parking: paint lines on the sidewalk to look like parking spaces. Encourage children to park their tricycles in the spaces without going over the lines or bumping the tricycle in the next pace
· Staying on the road: draw a road with chalk for the tricycles on your sidewalk area. Put in curves and corners. Challenge children to ride the tricycles without crossing the chalk lines
· Obstacle course: with the children’s help, mark out a course for the tricycles using milk cartons or cones. Use chalk to make a line indicating where riders must go (this line could be straight or zigzag). Children must ride their tricycles and maneuver the course without knocking over the obstacles (Miller, 1989, 66-69)
On Thursday The Adventurous Child will add something fun to the driving mix to teach children about safety on the road. As always, we understand if you’d like a head start… just click here!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
“Absolutely not! A new NIEER study that provides an objective summary of all the research on preschool education’s effects finds substantial positive effects on achievement, special education, grade retention, and social behavior at ages 10 and higher. This is really the last nail in the coffin of the idea that preschool effects disappear at third grade. If you look at all the research – don’t cherry pick for results – it shows that long-term effects are robust even if smaller than initial effects. The idea that preschool effects fade out by third grade originated with one flawed study in the early 1960s, and this belief continues to be propagated by those who cite a few methodologically weak newer studies.”
So, the next time you’re wondering if you are making a difference, rest assured: You ARE.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Having an outdoor Nature and Science Learning Center is a fantastic way to encourage different types of learning, and by proxy, will lend itself to different types of assessment. Some of the activities child will be able to accomplish and enjoy include:
· Use the magnifying glass to observe small objects and describe them by journaling
· Draw pictures and scribble to generate and express ideas
· Use new vocabulary picked up from these experiences (“soil,” “insects”)
· Grow plants from seeds in the garden box
· Observe and then sketch the root system of a plant using the root garden
Thursday, August 5, 2010
The Adventurous Child is committed to outdoor learning environments and products that promote developmental milestones for children ages six months to six years through evidence-based principles of play. Whether your kids are learning the letters of the alphabet or how to connect words to sounds on the literacy gazebo, or they are dropping a ball through the tracking panel to learn about speed and observe different shapes, our outdoor play equipment encourage many different types of learning!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Reading this article has given The Adventurous Child a lot to think about. At your pre-school or day care, how do children learn? Do they learn by lessons, interaction with instructors and classmates, or perhaps another way? What kinds of opportunities do you give them to show you what they know?
Thursday, July 29, 2010
But if you were to take the children outside, and allow them to stand in front of a mirror, what would happen? The children would enjoy studying the reflection of their bodies in the outdoor mirror, as well as the things that surround them. By looking at the mirror, they will be learning:
· Cause and effect (if they move their bodies, the mirror will reflect those movements)
· Perspective (their size will change depending on their distance from the mirror)
· Self awareness (viewing themselves in a new context)
Monday, July 26, 2010
“It is a strange time. We live in an age when our children may know far more about bizarre people we care nothing about or a cartoon world than the workings of their own back yard – that marvelous ecosystem teeming with life. They may know more about, or rather have more information on, exotic zoo animals and farm animals than the snails, squirrels, birds, worms, and bugs that live outside their windows.”
“Young children are perpetual tourists without much life experience, truly strangers in a strange land. They are developing their minds and bodies at such a rate that they are literally new people with each sunrise. Their backlog of life experience is so slight that each day, each new place, each old place, brings surprises. Their courage rises and falls like the tides.”
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Sheila Milnes from Pennsylvania State University is a huge proponent of water play for children. She explains that water play can improve children’s physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development. For example, water is a fantastic way for children to learn about scientific principles such as sinking, floating, melting, solids, and liquids. Add manipulatives, and the young scientists can observe and explore the physical properties of water, snow, ice and other sensory items.
A water table will offer multiple opportunities for learning and play.
According to Milnes, there are three stages of water play: functional, constructive, and dramatic. In functional play, a child plays with water and explores it with his senses, realizing what can be done with it. In constructive play, “children move from exploring water to using it for play--for example, pouring water over a toy person and pretending he is taking a shower.” When children begin using water to act out a story, they have moved into dramatic play. As the children move from one stage to the next, their physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development will improve. A water table will lend itself to all three stages of play, with fun and learning at every stage!
Check out The Adventurous Child for more information on water tables and neat ways to use them.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
There are a lot of options when it comes to gardening. A mini garden allows children to access all sides of the garden to plant seeds, pull weeds and water the plants without actually stepping into the garden. (Great for staying neat.)
They can dig, plant, nurture and harvest a variety of plants. This is the perfect size for planting some flowers by the front door; or planting vegetables that the children can grow and eat for a healthy snack.
Speaking of “yum,” why not consider adding a pizza garden to your facility? Make a delicious pizza to share by growing pizza herbs, onions and tomatoes.
Have you ever wondered about the underground world of roots, worms, and insects? Jump into that world with a root garden! Children can learn about the growth process as they plant seeds, water, weed and harvest the “crops.” Periodically, children can open the Observation Doors and study the underground world of the root garden.
Check out The Adventurous Child to learn more about our gardens!
Stephanie from The Adventurous Child is our go-to garden expert. Here are some of her tips for exploring nature with children:
Take only things that won't harm the environment
Avoid picking wild flowers and breaking branches
Plan for your garden
Will you plant things you can eat?
Will you plant flowers to beautify?
Consult with Drug and Poison Control about your plant choices
How much sun will the area get?
How close is the water source?
Will the garden area be safe from the mainstream of play traffic?
Limit the duration of the task
Work with small groups
Wear old clothing
Monday, July 12, 2010
Victory gardens were all the rage during World War II. This was due to the shortage of public food supply, as well as an effort to boost public morale. Today, “victory” gardens (fruits, vegetables, and herbs) are a fantastic way to teach children how to be “green,” economical, and nature-oriented.
By introducing children to the wonderful world of gardening and to the intricacies of nature, you will open their worlds to new ideas and experiences. Is there a greater gift?
On Thursday I will share some tips for gardening with children from our in-house expert, Stephanie. Stay tuned!
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Check out The Adventurous Child for more information on this xylophone and other neat musical instruments.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Drums are fun, but they are also educational: “Children’s personal tempo (ability to feel and express a steady beat) correlates with achievement test scores in grades 1 and 2 (Weikert et al, 1987)” (Parlakian and Lerner, Young Children, March 2010, p. 17).
Beware: it may not be enough to simply watch your children hit the drums. We won’t laugh at you if you make some noise, too. (Our fun-loving group at The Adventurous Child has been known to play the drums for stress relief occasionally.)
Monday, June 28, 2010
wings to the mind,
flight to the imagination,
and life to everything."
In the next few weeks we’re going to talk about the importance of music in outdoor education for children six months to six years old, and how The Adventurous Child can supply your outdoor classroom with musical equipment for play and for learning.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Every so often, our blog will examine a different kind of fine art. First up: music!
Monday, June 21, 2010
Our stepping pods are another great way to monitor children's physical development. While crossing the Playground Stepping Pods, a child’s brain, eyes and feet all have to work in accordance with one another to move from lower pods to higher pods and back, and to step from a small object to another small object. Aside from assessing development, this is fun, too!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
In a few days, we’ll show you some of our products that will assist you in assessing children’s developmental milestones. Of course, if you’re too excited to wait, here’s a sneak peek.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Kim Hughes and Dominic Gullo from the magazine Young Children wrote about assessment:
“Assessment is a continuous process. Ideally, assessment describes the progress of a child’s learning not just after a single test but over time. There is no beginning, middle, or end to learning, so it follows that assessment of children’s learning should not be limited to measurement only at the end of an instructional unit” (Hughes & Gullo, 2010, p. 57-8).
We at The Adventurous Child want to know… how do you assess your children?
Thursday, June 10, 2010
If you’re a teacher, parent, student (or former student), then you know the importance of assessment. Teachers strive to evaluate their students as fairly as possible, but it can be difficult to know what “fair” assessment is. Kim Hughes and Dominic Gullo wrote a fascinating and effectual article about assessment in the May 2010 issue of Young Children. The authors examined the importance of assessment, describing it as continuous, comprehensive, and integrative.
In the next couple weeks we are going to look at how The Adventurous Child’s products and play structures will not only create fun and educational opportunities for your students, but will offer you innovative ways to assess them as well.