Cooking at Home is Cross-Curricular!

Did you know that cooking with your child can boost their development? It’s a simple activity, one can do at home, which touches on multiple learning areas. Here are just some of the benefits of doing a cooking activity with your child:

  • Increases Language Development
  • Enhances Fine Motor Skills
  • Increases Math Ability
  • Improves Reading Skills
  • Introduces Kids to Scientific Concepts
  • Increases Focus and Attention
  • Teaches Life Skills
  • Promotes Healthy Eating

One of our Preschool students, Anthony, loves to help his mom in the kitchen, and it’s a great cross-curricular moment as well.

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Here we see Anthony, helping his mom your one of the ingredients they are using to make the cupcakes. By doing so, he is focusing on his fine-motor skills, and also practicing the idea of “sequencing,” so he knows which step is after another. By using the measuring cup, we are also able to incorporate “math” and talk about the quality of the item going into the eggs.

Language skills are also focused on while cooking, because we can talk about different items, how they are pronounced, and one can even practice spelling them out, and identifying the letters in the main ingredients afterwards.

Just in a simple activity of baking cupcakes, we are also able to talk about science as well, because we can see how the cupcakes look before baking, and talk about how it changes once out of the oven.

Share your cooking at home activities with us, by using #ElliesAcademy when posting on social media!

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Activities While Home!

In light of recent news, many parents, across the country, are working from home, and trying to find ways to keep their smaller children engaged at the same time. We wanted to put together some activities, which we’ve come across over the years, that can keep the learning on while at home!

Sticker Line-Up
This simple activity uses white butcher paper, and dot stickers. Roll out about 3 feet of the white butcher paper, and then draw a combination of zig-zag, curly, loopy, and swirly lines down the paper.

The goal of this activity: to focus on fine-motor skills, tracing, counting, and patterns

By doing this activity, any toddler or preschool-age child is not only engaged for a good amount of time, but we’re able to talk about colors, shapes, patterns. A parent can start the patterning by putting down certain colors down, and then explaining to the child what to do next.

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Sort & Drop with LEGO Bricks
This is a nice & simple activity which I had come across during my teaching years. And the materials are also items you’d find around the house: easel paper, packing tape, box, knife, scotch tape, colored sharpies, and LEGO bricks.

I had found an Amazon box, and covered the top with the easel paper and taped the paper in place. Once you cover your box, make five squares into the top of the box and taped the edges around squares so that they don’t easily rip. Finish by outlining each square with a different color!

Now it’s time to get your Toddler, Preschooler or Pre-K child up and around the house, having them search for all of their LEGOs. Then sit with them and ask them to find the red LEGO and drop it into the cut out of the red square. As you do this, you can discuss the shapes and sizes of each one. Use words/phrases like “bigger than” or “smaller than,” when talking about the different LEGOs.

Once done, you can always turn this into an extension math project, and talk about graphing! Dump out all the LEGOs, and then count how many of each color are there. You can use this graph paper, to color in the number of squares for each color LEGO there is. And by doing so, the children are able to visualize, in a different way, which colors were “more than”, or “less than,” the other.

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Golf Tee Push
For any busy child, keeping them actively engaged is a task in its own. But this activity only takes seconds to do, and it’s a great one which focuses on fine-motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and spacial awareness.

Find any old box, and add a few holes into it. Give them the golf tees, and allow their independence to flourish! Once all the tees have been put into the holes, you can discuss math by counting the number of tees he/she was able to push, and then also color recognition. If you have an older child at home also, join them into the fun and have them discuss quantities, and practicing writing the colors and numbers.

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Money Hunt
This activity is perfect for your Preschooler or Pre-K child! You can use real coins if you like, but we suggest to use this – so even if they get lost (or stuck in the sofa), it’s not a big deal 🙂 Place the coins out in a plastic tray, which you can find at the Dollar Tree or may even have at home! then cover the coins with fun (colored) rice; (this is yet another great activity you can do also!)

Now give your child some useful “tools,” so they can look for their treasure! Some of these will also play into fine-motor skills, depending which items they choose to use when searching.

As the children are searching and finding coins, they can sort the into smaller containers. (Sorting = math!!!)

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Vibrant Colored Rice
This is something a child, of any age, would have a great time doing! For this simple activity you would need white rice, hand sanitizer (fruit-scented is nice!), a few toothpicks, and then mason jars! I would also suggest that if you’re doing this with a Toddler or even Preschooler, to use a funnel. Inside the mason jars, add a few squeezes of sanitizer, then added gel dye, and toothpick.

Fill a larger bowl with rice and then ask your child to pour about 1 cup into each. (For your older child, you can discuss measurements and quantities as well!) Close the jars tightly, and then let your child shake everything up. You will see that the color is spreading onto the rice inside the jars.

Once all the jars are mixed together, you can pour then onto a baking sheet and make a beautiful rainbow, and then slow transfer it into a sensory bin, so they have this to use for quite sometime!

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If you work on any of these at-home activities, we would love to see your child in action!

Product vs. Process Art

Product versus process art has always been a battle that many early educators have been fighting within their classroom! So what are the differences between these two types of art forms:

Product-art is when the child begins a project and knows exactly what the end product should look like; and moreover, they are following a distinctive set of directions, in order to get to their final product. When one does this type of art, there is a right & wrong way to do things.

Process-art is when a child has an open-ended project, alongside the opportunity to creatively express themselves through their work. The end product is solely based on the child’s discovery, uniqueness and their individual creativeness.

To dive in a bit deeper on this topic, let’s see how NAEYC (The National Association for the Education of Young Children) view process-focused art and its characteristics:

  • There are no step-by-step instructions
  • There is no sample for children to follow
  • There is no right or wrong way to explore and create
  • The art is focused on the experience and on exploration of techniques, tools, and materials
  • The art is unique and original
  • The experience is relaxing or calming
  • The art is entirely the children’s own
  • The art experience is a child’s choice

Children, my all means, should be given the tools to do a project or accomplish something; but how they do it is key in the field of Early Education. Here we see some children in the Preschool classroom, who were shown artwork by Picasso and Van Gogh.

The children, on two different occasions, were given the tools to allow them to paint their own versions of these images.

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Below are two of the children, proudly showing off their work:

As you can see, each child’s final paintings are completely different than the originals they were shown; however, it expresses their individual creativity and talents. And that, readers, is the difference between product-art and process-art!

Playing Cards in Preschool!

We’ve all played the classic games: Go Fish!,  Solitaire, Rummy.

But did you know that when children play these games, they encompass numerous educational aspects also! Today, we popped into our Preschool classroom, where Miss Gina had her students in different centers. Some were playing with manipulative, some were engaged in board-games, and the rest of them were grouped at a table playing Uno!

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Here, one of our Preschoolers, Charlotte, is seem playing Uno! (And we absolutely love how intense and into the game she was!) But at the same time, here are the educational aspects with this family-fun, card-game:

Cognitive Skills:
When engaging in a card game, one’s cognitive skills are triggered in multiple ways: from memorization to matching, number & pattern recognition, and these also increase, depending on the complexity of the game. As card-games become more intricate and difficult, it allows children to utilize their intellect more in providing solutions and in finding new ways of winning.

Emotional Intelligence:
A simple card-game can indeed go a long way when it comes to one’s emotional health. Small children interact with their teachers & peers, in a familiar environment and they are encouraged to take part in friendly competition. When playing such card-games, the end goal of achieving a win is as important as learning to understand and manage a loss.

Patience and fair-play can be developed or taught from early ages and card games are extremely useful means for it. All card games require communication; therefore children have to talk to each other, to negotiate or comprehend the rules, to take turns and to challenge each other. 

Games, such as Uno, also teach children very important social skills, such as:

  • Verbal communication
  • Sharing
  • Waiting
  • Taking turns
  • Group interactions
  • Numbers
  • Color recognition 

The next time you sit down for “family game night,” think of all the amazing educational opportunities you are  providing your little one with!

Importance of Literacy

​As early childhood professionals, we have recognized the importance of language and literacy in preparing children to succeed in school. It is because of this very reason that literacy is infused in every age-group’s, especially for Infants. Children who are exposed to books at an early age begin to imitate the language & gestures their parents and teachers use while sharing stories. This could be the way they turn pages and sometimes even them murmuring (which is indirectly an early verbal skill), as they “read” the pictures.

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Developing language and literacy skills begins at birth through simple interactions, such as sharing books, telling stories, singing songs and talking to one another. In our Infant classroom, the children are able to build a relationship with books, learning how to hold them, and developing their fine-motor skills as they turn the pages. These are all emergent skills when it comes to literacy.

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Research has shown that within the first 18 months of an infant’s development, start to show an understanding of pictures which will represent items in the real world, (source: Barton & Brophy-Herb 2006). As the infant grows to become a toddler, when they re-read and re-listen to a book which they’ve read since they were a tiny baby, they start to imitate actions from the book. When this child starts to comprehend the pictures which they see in the book to real-world objects it is the beginning of their literacy development.

Importance of Literacy in Early Education

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No child is too young to be spoken to and read to. It is beyond important that both parents and teachers of these young infants should read & speak to them at every opportunity possible. Even when you are changing a diaper, you should be speaking to the child. When you are laying them down in the crib, take this as an opportunity to sing to them. Whenever we speak to these young children, the words, phrases and songs sit in their subconscious.

Cross-Curricular Learning in the Classroom

What is “cross-curricular” learning? It is important to understand this before we move forward.

Cross-curricular is when the skills, knowledge, and attitudes of several different disciplines are applied to a single experience, theme, or idea. This style of teaching creates a connection between all subjects through a common theme, giving kids an opportunity to learn multiple subjects without even realizing it.

Cross-curricular learning is extremely important in the field of early education; it allows for children to learn multiple subjects at one time, and sometimes without even knowing so!

Here we see two Toddler students who are engaging in what seems to be an art project. Yes – they are in fact glueing shapes onto their construction paper to make a shape collage. But at the same time, this is an activity which encompasses fine-motor skills (learning to pick up the shapes & glue them without assistance), and also math (identifying the shapes & counting how many of each shape).

Simple activities such as these are not only things which parents can do in the home-environment, but they are also great ways to reinforce the learning happening in the classroom!

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¿Qué es el aprendizaje “curricular”? Es importante entender esto antes de avanzar.

Cross-curricular es cuando las habilidades, el conocimiento y las actitudes de varias disciplinas diferentes se aplican a una sola experiencia, tema o idea. Este estilo de enseñanza crea una conexión entre todas las asignaturas a través de un tema común, brindando a los niños la oportunidad de aprender múltiples asignaturas sin siquiera darse cuenta.

El aprendizaje intercurricular es extremadamente importante en el campo de la educación temprana; ¡permite que los niños aprendan múltiples materias al mismo tiempo, y a veces sin siquiera saberlo!

En la foto de arriba, vemos a dos niños que están haciendo un proyecto de arte. Sí, de hecho están pegando formas en su papel de construcción para hacer un collage de formas. Pero al mismo tiempo, esta es una actividad que abarca las habilidades motoras finas (aprender a recoger las formas y pegarlas sin ayuda), y también las matemáticas (identificar las formas y contar cuántas de cada forma).

¡Las actividades simples como estas no solo son cosas que los padres pueden hacer en el hogar, sino que también son excelentes maneras de reforzar el aprendizaje que ocurre en el aula!

 

Hands on Science – Making Fluffy Slime

When children are fully engaged in an activity, it makes the learning even more interesting and fun for them. Today, our Preschool and Pre-K students were able to experience just that and more, when they made fluffy slime!

Making slime in the classroom is one of the best projects a teacher could execute. Children are fully engaged while they are busy mixing slime, squishing, and stretching it, and at the same time, discussions take place about the different compositions that makes up slime! Talk about the ingredients you are using and why, when combined, they form this rubber substance known as slime. Mixtures, molecules, polymers, viscosity, reactions, are tons of great science vocal words just waiting to be explored while you make homemade slime.

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The children learned mathematical terms, as they measured the different ingredients, and had to quantify how much of each item they were using. The children all took turns, to make 6 different containers of fluffy slime.

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The project created so much excitement that the Toddlers came to join us as well! They had fun mixing in the food coloring, to make our different colored fluffy slime! The only ingredients which were used were:

  • baking soda
  • Elmer’s white glue
  • water
  • shaving cream
  • contact lens solution (secret ingredient)
  • food coloring (if you want to make different colored slime)

This is a great activity to try with your little one at home!

Week of the Young Child, 2019

This year, Ellie’s Academy is getting ready to celebrate “Week of the Young Child,” a nationally celebrated week of celebration for early childhood educators. WOYC was established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world’s largest early childhood education association.

But do you know the reason behind this week long celebration?

NAEYC chose to establish “Week of the Young Child” to garner more attention on the importance of early child programs. This special week of recognition was first established in 1971, and years later, centers across the United States put together week-long activities for their children and families to participate in.

And at Ellie’s Academy, we’re looking forward to what we have planned for our center’s children and families!

April 8th– Music Monday

  • Musical performer, Mr. Ray, will be coming to the center and performing for the children. Families are encouraged to come and attend the event if they would like to. The Mayor of Somerville, Dennis Sullivan, will also be visiting the center for a special announcement as well!

April 9th– Tasty Tuesday

  • Healthy eating is an important aspect of growing up! And at Ellie’s Academy, we like to promote healthy eating throughout the center; so that is why we’re setting up a DIY fruit parfait at pick-up time. Parents are encouraged to pick-up their children and visit the parfait station for a healthy afternoon snack!

April 10th– Work Together Wednesday

  • The importance of “Work Together Wednesday” is to showcase how different people can come together for a particular cause. The students of Ellie’s Academy are going to be working together to make a center-wide garden; and at the same time, they will learn responsibility because they will be taking care of the plants by watering them, and ensuring they are growing properly.

April 11th–Artsy Thursday

  • On this day, we will be hosting a family-friendly “paint & sip” event. Parents who have signed up for this event will make a beautiful work of art with their little one(s) and enjoy some sweet treats at the same time!

April 12th– Family Friday

  • We could not think of a better way to end the week than with a family game night and dinner for all to enjoy! This is our special way of saying THANK YOU for choosing Ellie’s Academy as their child’s home away from home!

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As you can see, Week of the Young Child isn’t just about promoting the importance of early education. But it’s also about engaging everyone who is a part of our childcare center. We look forward to hosting these special events for our families!

 

The Importance of Handwriting

Handwriting is a very important skill which children learn when they are in Preschool.

The most important thing to know is that handwriting helps develop a child’s fine motor skills. When one teachers a child how to write, one of the first things they learn is how to grip the pencil and proper letter formation.

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It’s also important to know that these fine motor skills will develop over time and eventually, the child will choose a dominant hand for writing themselves.

However, preschoolers can learn a lot more from handwriting as well; it also helps a child’s developmental skills. Once they learn how to hold a pencil correctly and how to move up and down the paper, inevitably children will soon learn how to write numbers and letters. During this phase they then become familiar with the alphabet and number recognition, which leads to reading and counting.

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Here we can see two of our Preschoolers who are prating their handwriting skills; they are currently at the phase where they are able to identify the letters in their names, and are tracing letters on their own. They have passed the phase of hand-over-hand assistance.

It’s More Than Just a Boardgame!

Boardgames have always been an important part of anyone’s childhood! And it’s amazing to see boardgames from our childhood still being used by today’s children. What makes it even better is that they are used in the field of early education, working to teach children other important skills while having fun!

1. Cognitive Functions
Depending on the chosen game, cognitive functions (memory, information retention, problem-solving, and others) are honed when playing. The mind is further developed and the memory is also equipped to retain the information. It has been scientifically studied that when engaging in boardgames, the body is enhancing the prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain which is responsible for complex functions!

2. Brain Development
It goes without saying that engaging in boardgames is a crucial role in any child’s growth & development. When playing board games, children are learning social and communication skills. Additionally, they are also learning to concentrate longer and focus over longer periods of time

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Pictured below are two children from our Preschool classroom; Miss Gina, the lead #preschool teacher, had the children engaging in #boardgames, which is a great cross-curricular activity! With such a simple game, the children are able to incorporate math (counting skills & number recognition), social skills (patience & taking turns), language, and color recognition!

Kudos to Miss Gina for brining out so many learning avenues with a simple game!

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Here are some other games you can play with your child(ren) as they grow older as well:

Scrabble Junior,
Learning Avenues: literacy and language skills

Boggle Junior,
Learning Avenues
: Teaches letters, words, spelling, matching skills

Monopoly Junior,
Learning Avenues:  math, color recognition, reading, reasoning, social skills