How many times have you played peek-a-boo with a child? Too many to count, I would assume. Children naturally engage in games starting at a very early age, hiding themselves with their hands or with a blanket draped over them. As children grow older, they utilize various materials that they find. Reflecting back on my days in the classroom, there were many times that children gave me a role to play in their games or play.
When considering materials for the classroom, specifically if you are using The Creative Curriculum®, our team worked to curate a collection of materials that support children’s natural curiosity and desire to problem-solve. These materials offer an opportunity for children to work independently, with a teacher, or with peers. Imagine your manipulative area with materials that stimulate children’s senses, encourage exploration, and complement the existing materials in the Toys and Games area.
When providing new materials, we often consider how to present materials to children. As with many things, a common response from our Educators is, “It depends.”
As the teacher, you know much more about the children within your classroom than we might. However, there are many ways that we might present new materials to children. Here are some suggestions when adding new materials to your environment.
- There have been many times that I have had a class meeting to discuss a new material in the environment. It might be as a large group or even as a small group meeting. With this type of meeting, children and teachers are able to discuss the material(s) as a whole and think collectively about how the material(s) might be used.
- Another option is to display it on a shelf. Many children are quick to notice a change in available materials. Further, it is a chance to see how they will initially interact with the material and use it in a way that we may not have even noticed! This is a great time to observe children’s cognitive skills as they experiment with construction, invention, fine motor skills, and social-emotional skills.
- Other times, I have displayed materials on a table with other supporting materials to provide an environmental prompt to children. Additionally, the option for children to bring other materials from the environment to support their play and learning.
With these three options, there are always pros and cons. It depends on the material, the children, and the goals behind adding in the material(s). As the Teacher, you will find some ways work better for your group of children. Either way, the learning opportunities are endless when providing a wide range of complex developmentally appropriate toys and games.