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The Dramatic Play Corner

What we do and why:

The dramatic play corner is a very important part of our curriculum. The work children do in this corner is also called role play or pretend play. In this corner the children take on a role and recreate real-life experiences. They use props, dress-me-up kits and make-believe about a wide variety of topics from real life or imagination.

The ability to pretend is very important to children’s later academic success in school. When children pretend, they have to recall experiences they’ve had and re-create them. To do this, they have to be able to picture their experiences in their minds. For example, to play the role of a doctor, children have to remember the tools a doctor uses, how a doctor examines a patient, and what a doctor says. In playing the role of a doctor, children have to be able to co-operate with other children and put across their own ideas.

When children are engaged in dramatic play in the classroom, we encourage them to talk about what they are doing. For example, we might ask

“What do mothers do when children are sick?”
“What kind of cake are you going to make: chocolate or vanilla?”
“Why does your baby cry so much?”
We ask questions that help children extend their thinking and their play.

What you can do at home:

You can encourage the same kind of pretend play at home. Such activities are particularly good for a rainy day. One way to extend your child’s dramatic play is to collect different kinds of dress-up clothes (so try to keep back some clothes that he/she has outgrown) and put them in boxes with pictures showing the contents. For instance, one box might contain an apron, bibs, cups, plates, spoons, small cooking utensils, and other objects for use in the kitchen. Another box might include hats or recognizable insignia denoting an occupation, shoes, neckties, shirts, vests, coats, or trousers. A hospital prop box could hold nurses’ caps, white coats (converted from daddy’s shirts), toy thermometers, stethoscopes, empty pill bottles, a small pillow, an eye patch, and a watch.

When the time is appropriate, you can give your child one of the boxes and encourage play by asking questions such as these: “What can we do about this sick baby?” or “Will you make grandmother a birthday cake?” When you play pretend with your child, you are teaching important learning skills like logical thinking, language development and spending valuable time together.

Music and Movement

What we do and Why:

Music and rhythm is like magic to children. They form an important part of all children’s lives. For example, the tick tock of the clocks, the purring of the cats, the rhymes and songs accompany them as they grow. Children express themselves, through music. In response to the music they sway, bounce or move their bodies.

We do a lot of singing and creative movement in our program. The combination of sounds that has rhythm and melody is pleasing to the child’s ear. Singing and moving to music gives the children a chance to move freely, practice new skills and feel good about what their bodies can do. The children love our daily time for singing together and it helps them develop the ability to co-operate in a group. Here are some of the things we do to encourage a love for music and movement: We switch on the music system indoors and outdoors and the children dance and act out the songs. We give the children coloured pompoms, ribbon sticks and shakers to use as they love to move with them to the sounds of music. We play musical instruments. We use songs to help us get through the daily routines such as clean up time, settling down for nursery rhymes, perfect posture, concept time etc.

We have a wide variety of CD’s for children to listen to when they are doing different activities during their daily routine time table.

What You Can Do at Home:

You don’t have to be musical to enjoy music with your child. Taking a few minutes to sit together and listening to music can provide a welcome break for both of you. Also, the music you share with your child doesn’t have to be only “Kid’s Music”. It can be rap, reggae, country, jazz, classical, bollywood or any music you like. Here are some ideas for enjoying music and movement with your child:

Children love a song about what they are doing at the moment, especially when it uses their name. While pushing your child on a swing, you might chant, “Swing high, swing low, this is the way Megha goes”. The child likes this because it is about what he/she is doing and the rhythm matches his/her movements. Songs and finger plays help keep children involved at tough times, such as during car or bus trips, while waiting in line, or while grocery shopping.

Chanting or singing also helps at times when your child needs to switch gears and start picking up toys, getting ready to go outside, undressing for a bath, and so on. You might try a chant such as, “Water is filling up the tub…” or “pick up a toy and put it on the shelf...” (Sing them the tune of “Its time to put our toys away”) Musical instruments can easily be made or improvised at home. You (or your child) may already have discovered cooking pots and lids make wonderful instruments. Happy Musical Times!!!

Sand and Water Play

What we do and Why:

Although you’re probably used to your children splashing in the bathtub and digging in a sandbox at the playground or beach, you may be surprised to know that the sand and water area is an important part of our classroom. This is because sand and water aren’t just fun – they’re also a natural setting for learning.

When children pour water into measuring cups, they gain a foundation for mathematical thinking. When they drop corks, stones, feathers, and marbles into a tub of water, they observe scientifically which objects float and which sink. When they comb sand into patterns, they learn about both math and art.

We encourage children to experiment with these materials and as they do so, we ask questions that encourage them to think about what they are discovering. For example, we might ask:

“Why do you think the wet sand won’t turn the wheel?”
“How did the water change when we added the soap flakes?”
“How many of these sponges filled with water will it take to fill this bucket?”

What You Can Do at Home:

In addition to your child’s everyday experiences with sand and water at home, you may want to find some places in your home where your child can play regularly with sand and water in the same ways we do at school. If you choose to do this, be prepared for some mess. Spilt water and stray sand are natural by-products of children’s enthusiastic play! Here are some thoughts on the setting up for sand and water play at home:

Water play can be set up in the bathroom or kitchen (under complete supervision of course!!!). A large towel should be laid on the floor. Alternatively, a small pool, tub or an old baby bath tub can be used. A tub can be used as miniature sand box. Your child could use this sandbox on a table or on the floor. Collect small items for the miniature sand box such as shells, plastic animals, etc.

Giving children an opportunity to play with sand and water on a regular basis helps them to develop their minds and bodies in a relaxing and enjoyable way. It is a stress-buster activity for you too. Do try it with your child. No expenses involved, just time.

And, of course we are fortunate enough to have our wonderful beaches in Mumbai.

Table Toys

What we do and Why:

Table toys include puzzles, various table blocks, and other small construction materials such as Lego blocks, ring stackers, shape sorters and a collection of objects (including bottles with caps, and buttons). When children use table toys, they learn many new skills and concepts, including sorting and classifying things according to the colours, shapes, sizes, judging distance, direction, right and left, up and down; and then describing what they are thinking and doing.

When children use table toys in the classroom, we encourage them to talk about what they are doing. For example we might say:

“Tell me about those blocks you are using?” or “What is this that you have built?”
“How did you get those rings in order?”

We also ask questions that help children extent their logical thinking as they play with table toys. For example we might ask: “You have grouped all the bottle tops by colour. Can you put them together any other way? Maybe, you can put them together by size.”

These questions and comments are designed to help children become aware of what they are doing and develop their thinking skills.

What You Can Do at Home:

Small coloured cube blocks offer many opportunities for your child to build patterns and designs. These cubes can be made into a tower or any other formations, depending on the child’s interest. Different coloured beads can be used to make patterns of colours and sizes: red, blue, yellow, and then repeat; large, small, medium, and then repeat.

You might collect various small objects such as buttons (but always under supervision) and plastic bottle tops. You can give your child a tray to use on the floor if the surface isn’t level, or let your child sit at a table to play. Make suggestions such as sorting all the buttons that are of the same colour or all the caps that are of the same size. Encourage your child to tell you about the design he or she is making or why things belong together. Here their mathematical thinking of making patterns and sorting into groups is developed.

Playing with table toys at home promotes a child’s development in many important ways. However, the most important contribution you can make to your child’s learning is to take an active interest in what your child does.

Outdoor Play

What we do and Why:

Outdoor play is an important part of our curriculum. After their quiet time with concepts, nursery rhymes and art activity, the children want action time. When the children are outdoors, they like to run, jump, climb and use all the large muscles in their bodies. They need space to work out and let off steam. They can race around, breathe the fresh air, look at the clouds or catch a ball or a butterfly. They not only satisfy their physical need for large muscle activity but also develop a sense of wonder about the miracles that take place in nature.

When we take the children to the outdoor area at school, we talk about the things we can see, hear, touch, and feel so that the children become aware of the changes in the weather and the seasons and the growth of plants. We help the children notice changes by asking them what is different about the trees or the sky. We point out the many kinds of birds that fly over head, butterflies, falling leaves and rain as it begins. We wonder aloud where all these things come from.

By playing outdoors, your child can learn the following:

• Notice changes in nature
• Use his/her body in increasingly skillful ways
• Learn social behavior by playing in groups
• Be a good observer

When the children play outdoors, we encourage them to talk about what they are doing. We also ask questions that help children extend their thinking as they play outdoors.

What You Can Do at Home:

You can provide a big paintbrush and a pail of water to “paint walls”, large balls to kick and throw. You can take a walk around the block with your child and play “I spy” and talk about all the different colours of cars that pass by. Your child will also take great pleasure in watching birds or airplanes in the sky.

You can try some of these ideas with your children outdoors at home or on a trip to the garden, the beach or wherever you can find a place to run. Playing outdoors is fun for parents and children and it enhances a child’s learning in many important ways. And do not forget to ask questions and tell them about things like….

• How come the See-Saw is going Up and Down?
• Why do we stop at the Zebra crossing?
• Red says “Stop”, Orange says “Get ready” and Green says “Go”.
• Share the Merry-go-round with your friend, playing with friends is lots of fun.

Block Play

What we do and Why:

Blocks come in proportional sizes and shapes. They are one of the most valuable learning materials in our classroom. When they build with blocks, children learn about sizes and shapes, spatial relationship, math concepts and problem solving. When children lift, shove, stack and move blocks, they learn about weight and size. Each time they use blocks, they are making decisions about how to build a structure or solve a construction problem. When children build with blocks in the classroom, we encourage them to talk about what they are doing. For example, we might say:

“Tell me about your building.”
“How did you decide to put those blocks together?”
We also ask questions that help children extend their thinking about their block play. For example, we might say:
“You have built a tall building. How do the people get to their floor?
“Where do people park their cars when they come to visit the shopping center/mall?”

These questions and comments are designed to help children become aware of what they are doing and think of ways to extend their work.

What You Can Do at Home:

There are several types of blocks you might want to have at home to support your child’s learning. For example, you might wish to purchase table blocks, coloured wooden cube blocks or cardboard brick blocks.

Small blocks can be stored in shoe boxes or plastic tubs and containers. You can put a picture label on the container so your child knows where the materials belong. Identify a place where your child can build and play with the blocks, either on the floor or on a table. As your child builds with blocks, you can talk about the structure and ask questions. Props such as clothespins, small plastic animals, cars and trucks will extend your child’s play and inspire new ideas. While playing with large or small blocks, your child can learn to judge distances, space and size, create scenes for dramatic play, stack blocks carefully (using eye-hand coordination and small muscle control), compare and sort by size and shape and use words to describe a construction. Perhaps the most important contribution you can make to your child’s learning though blocks is to take an interest in what your child builds.