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 conversation.
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 poem.
- 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 development.
- 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.
Collage is 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.
These 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 sand/water table.
- Malleables such as clay for tactile exploration are soothing.
A unique 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.
Housekeeping: kitchen, table, chairs, dishes and multicultural dolls. An area to role plays and socialize.
Woodworking 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 tools.
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.
- Physical 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 classroom.
- Importance of fresh air.
- 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 build, buckets…
- Balls, trucks, basketball hoop, digging area, bubbles…
Caring for 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 pathways
- Children’s art displayed
The Concept of Big
The power 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 boxes.