The Early Learning
Language and Literature
Language development consists of four
components: sound, words, syntax and use. The connection process is essential
for successful literacy. From birth on, children hear sounds and imitate them
in order to communicate. During this first learning process, gestures accompany
the verbal messages. As they gradually become successful in communication their
vocabulary increases from one word communication to sentences. Once sentence
structure is mastered, language use becomes the main means of communication.
Language development is accomplished through
daily interaction, usually between the child and a parent. This is the child’s
learning world prior to school and social interaction.
Children learn what they are taught by primary
caregivers and imitate their language and communication model. The preschool
years are the prime time for development of both receptive and expressive
language. This is also the formative time for pragmatics, the rules of
We are all programmed for language, but it is the
exposure to language that will determine our potential. A successful early
start with language development leads to language acquisition and successful
literacy: reading and writing.
A literacy Rich Environment: Books, Books, Books
Felt boards, basket stories, musical stories, hand, finger and stick
puppets, drama, prop boxes, magnetic stories…
Real picture books that reflect diversity.
Books created by the teacher and books by the children.
Photo albums with real class pictures that invite and generate conversation
about school experiences and friends.
Poetry- The rhythm and the rhyme of poetry is aesthetically pleasing to
the sense of hearing and has a calming effect on children as well as adults.
Poetry displayed on ‘poetry boards’ invites children to ask what the words say.
A poetry board is usually colourful with pictures or drawings reflecting the
Children’s Personal Books - we use a binding machine to create blank
books for the children. Children enjoy creating and ‘reading’ their own books.
Children will vary in their stages of print. Younger children will tell their
stories with “basic scribbles” while others, closer to four and five years old,
will ask for words. In the course of a year, the progression of art and print skills
is documented through these books
Big books. Every child creates a page for the group book and then the
book is read to the class.
Magnetic board with pictures of the children with magnetic strips on
back. Children can move the pictures to tell stories or to recap the day or
certain adventures they’ve experienced.
Writer’s centre; paper, pens, crayons, pencils, and rulers.
- Drama provides the
opportunity to express emotion, a chance to role play and enjoy the
excitement of fantasy.
- Drama provides language
- We encourage children
to act out stories that deal with pro-social behaviours.
- A puppet theatre with a
diverse range of puppets and that allows children to create the story.
- Variety of props: fake
or real trees and actual stumps for a forest; blue cloth for an ocean;
cloth wings for birds; flashlights.
- Variety of drums and
instruments for sound effects.
- Keeping with what will
make sense to the children, the immediate environment and community offers
endless opportunities for topics to study or research with the children.
- Community connections:
firefighters, police officers, dental hygienists, artists, musicians,
actors, puppeteers, scientists, gardeners, crafters, and woodworkers.
- Parents and Family:
sharing careers and interests
Art is an
emergent process. Children begin with a series of basic scribbles and progress
into pictorial representation. This process is vital to early literacy. The
skills build upon one another. Fine motor skills steadily develop as the child
progresses toward literacy. Allowing the emergence of art skills engages both
sides of the brain, builds synapses, and enhances divergent thinking.
open-ended, allows complete freedom of choice, and challenges creativity
because there is no definite end product. We collect recyclable items for
collage. Recycling demonstrates a sense of social responsibility. We are
reusing and saving money. We model the enjoyment of creative open-ended art and
the freedom to make it. The children become more resourceful, more
self-reliant, happier and more content.
- We never use food for art - it could be a meal for a family.
culinary experiences offer an opportunity to talk about and practice nutrition.
This process leads to gaining self-help skills.
Measuring, estimating, weighing and counting are some of the math skills
gained from cooking experiences.
- Instruments are great
outlets for emotions and to be part of a group.
- Classical music is
particularly emotionally soothing.
- Humour and songs make
children feel good; toe-tapping music makes us all smile.
- Children begin to
understand themselves and others around them as they explore the vast
array of music and dance from other cultures.
Natural materials for math concepts contribute to a child’s innate
curiosity beyond the math centre. A walk outdoors may lead to counting trees or
picking up rocks to count.
Matching, sorting, classifying, ordering, counting and number recognition
– rote to rational
- New discoveries challenge the thought processes in problem solving
and new-found knowledge. Children enjoy experiments when they have the
opportunity to estimate the outcome.
- Magnets, magnifiers, scales, science books, microscope, and science
displays and posters.
Manipulatives and Puzzles
- Variety for different stages and developmental levels
- Use of natural materials
Ideas for “alone” time; a basket with textured balls to hold or a mini
Zen garden in a box lid with a tiny rake to smooth sand.
Indoors and out: water, sand, and mud
Something different; small pebbles, pine cones and leaves in the
Malleables such as clay for tactile exploration are soothing.
centre for taking apart used computers and common gadgets and using the parts
to invent something new. This is divergent thinking at its best. This helps to
promote the recycling and reuse philosophy. It also helps to eliminate the attitude that new
manufactured toys are best.
kitchen, table, chairs, dishes and multicultural dolls. An area to role plays
offers an opportunity to discover a new creative medium in which to experiment
and invent. The process instills a feeling of accomplishment from successfully
designing and building something like a birdhouse or an airplane. Large and
small motor development occurs when using a hammer and nails. Eye and hand
coordination are improved. Finally, these kinds of activities provide an
opportunity to design and make a gift rather than purchasing. We use real
Blocks: variety of sizes with cars, trucks,
animals, people, rocks, sticks and logs.
Outdoors: Spending time in nature and the
outdoors provides emotional and spiritual development and well-being.
development-large motor skills.
- Cognitive development.
- A natural
environment-emphasis on nature and our natural surroundings.
- All materials can be
taken outside-the outside environment can be an extension of the
- Importance of fresh
- Appreciation and
respect for our natural world. Teaching how to care for our natural
environment and all living things.
- Fosters curiosity and
exploration through all senses.
- Playing in the rain,
mud, water-an opportunity to get messy!
- Spare parts; wood to
- Balls, trucks,
basketball hoop, digging area, bubbles…
plants, vegetables, and flowers provides the following benefits:
- Offers collaborative
group planning and implementing.
- Provides therapy and
healing for all children.
- Fosters large motor
development from digging, raking, watering.
- Encourages a hands-on
approach with insects, bugs, and soil
- Helps children
internalize a sense of the seasons.
- Children can observe
the many life cycles within a garden.
- Develops an
appreciation of aesthetics in nature.
Aesthetics in the classroom are important
in creating an atmosphere of caring and love.
- Seasonal displays.
(pinecones, leaves, dried flowers)
- Soothing colours and
textures of nature indoors.
- Outdoor gardens and
- Children’s art
The Concept of Big
and importance of ‘big’ movement is amazing; the sense of freedom in movement
when using the whole body frees the mind and soul and breaks the typical
barriers in self-expression. Self-esteem increases, both sides of the brain are
used and all areas of development are enhanced. Big movement experiences
exercise the whole body, thus enhancing total body health - activities such as
huge painting easels, large pieces of paper to draw on, large sculpting
experiences, oversized water and mud fun, large musical instruments and large