This is a hands-on center which helps children develop hand-eye coordination. The children are also developing feelings of accomplishment as they master tasks that require trial and error.
An example of some of the items in this center may include: cause/effect toys, play dough, nuts & bolts, puzzles, sorting & classifying items (shells, nuts, mosaic boards, waffle blocks,etc). In the manipulative center, children learn sequencing, problem solving, critical thinking, number concepts, matching, sorting, and classifying, and following directions.
We keep a large variety of materials for children to use to enhance creativity and imagination. We balance between child centered, which focuses on the process not the product, and teacher centered art, in which children follow a set of instructions while simultaneously being guided by the teacher to create something. Students learn problem solving, creativity, cutting & pasting, fine motor skills, representational skills, planning & visual discrimination, sharing and collaboration, listening to instructions
In the block area, children learn planning & symbolic thinking, cooperation, problem solving & critical thinking, trial and error, hand/eye coordination, concepts of up, down, under, over, sorting and Classification, patterning. Children use their imaginations and creativity to create something, or recreate structures found in the real world. Children are also learning about sizes, shapes, weights & balances, height & depth, and smoothness & roughness. They can work together to use blocks to support dramatic play, to build structures for toy cars, or to sort, count, and organize.
Children begin taking on different roles and using their imagination at a very young age. The dramatic play area allows children to experiment with familiar roles, as well as negotiate and assign them. Role playing gives children the opportunity to practice using both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, as they pretend to be someone else and interact with diverse roles. The ability to use symbolic representation is an aspect of this play, and very important to later cognitive skills, such as reading. They learn about problem solving, critical thinking, imagination, sharing and turn-taking, linking play sequences, direction following and giving, and focused attention.
Children are “natural scientists,” whom have a natural curiosity about the world around them. This curiosity drives them to explore. Children need guidance and structure in order to make sense of what they are experiencing. At ORNS we make scientific connections through science experiments, engaging materials in the science area, and the utilization of our magnificent playground area. Children are also given the opportunity to help care for the classroom pet. Caring for a living creature not only gives the children responsibility, but also makes the child feel he is needed and part of the classroom community. One of our philosophies is that the school belongs to “all of us,” and we work together to create a happy environment. Students are investigating cause and effect, questioning, observing and predicting, problem solving and experimenting, taking care of a living animal, and communicating and working together.
The music area has so many wonderful learning activities, and children thoroughly enjoy it. Activities might include a couple children, a small group, or a class activity. The centers have a diverse arrangement of instruments the children can practice playing. When played by an individual, the child can see how their movements and actions change how the instrument sounds. Activities such as, “Going on a Bear Hunt,” require children to listen to a set of instructions, and follow along with the group. In the Music area, children learn balance and coordination, large motor skills, small group interactions, rhythm, pitch, and sounds, sharing, instruments, multi-cultural music, following directions, and cause and effect.
Technology is an essential component in education, which is why a technology center is so important. In this center, children are beginning to lay down the foundation of how to appropriately use a computer, while also creating an interactive learning environment. The software is selected according to educational value, age appropriateness, and overall entertainment level. In the computer area, students learn hand/eye coordination, listening to and following directions, problem solving, pre-typing skills, mathematical reasoning, and literacy skills.
Each room is equipped with an Apple Ipad, and is used throughout the week to enhance the already planned activities. The teachers also use them to take pictures of the children during authentic play. With your consent the teachers post pictures of the children participating in daily activities and play and post them on closed Facebook groups. These are groups only parents are involved in and can see.
We switch this table out with various sensory materials such as, water, rice, sand, ice, Easter grass, flour, goop, instant snow, and bubbles are just some of the things we use for sensory play. We also provide items such as mixing and measuring cups, spoons, strainers, bowls of various sizes, shapes, and depths, funnels, colored jewels, etc. There are many activites the children can do at the sensory tables. Children may pour (sand, water, ice) into different sized containers, mix cornstarch with colored water to make “goop,” or experiment with different consistencies using flour and water. Students are learning math and science skills, cooperative play, sensory experiences, manipulation, imagination and experimentation, and fine motor skills.