Complete Early Childhood Education For All Families, Including Health, Nutrition & Family Support Services For Children Six Weeks To Five Years Old

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Yale University Pre-K RULER
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What's Happening at CLC

CLC Invites the Community to Join in Virtually Celebrating 
The Week of the Young Child

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC), the second-largest center-based early childhood education nonprofit in Connecticut, is inviting members of the community to join in virtually celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Week of the Young Child.

The Week of the Young Child will be held Monday, April 12 – Friday, April 16. It is an annual celebration sponsored by the NAEYC. The purpose is to focus on young children and their families, as well as recognize the importance of quality early childhood education. Learn more about it here.

“Research has shown that 90% of the brain is developed by the time a child turns five, and the greatest return on investment in education comes from a high-quality early childhood education program,” explained CLC Chief Executive Officer Marc E. Jaffe. “The Week of the Young Child allows us to demonstrate the ways in which early childhood education is so critical.”

Each of CLC’s programs has put together a schedule so that every day during the Week of the Young Child will have a focus. This will include Work Together Wednesday and Tactile Thursday in Head Start and Early Head Start. “Music” Monday and “Wacky” Wednesday in School Readiness and Artsy Thursday and Fun Day Friday celebrated by Child Development.

Members of the community are invited to get involved!

Share a video with well wishes or an activity that the children in the Head Start and Early Head Start Programs would enjoy by emailing enriquepabon@clcstamford.org.

Volunteer to read a story to the children in our School Readiness Program virtually on Tuesday, April 13 which will be Bookworm Tuesday, or any day of the week by emailing, jasmineyepez@clcstamford.org.

Volunteer to read a story to children in the Child Development Program on Tuesday, April 13 which will be Read Together Tuesday, by emailing Linda Barge, lindabarge@clcstamford.org or by calling (203) 653-1335.

Rundown of Events for Head Start & Early Head Start

Music Monday: Learn/Teach a new song with the children

Artsy Tuesday: Have children explore their senses through creating shapes with play dough or teach children about drawing different patterns

Work together Wednesday: Plan activities that require students to work together and practice social skills

Tactile Thursday: Discuss/demonstrate with the children all the important tasks that their hands help them complete

Family Fun Friday: Encourage children to draw activities they enjoy doing with their families. Families will be provided a Google Meet link to join their child’s classroom.

Rundown of Events for School Readiness

“Music” Monday: Children will be making their own instruments from recyclable materials and exploring hands-on actual musical instruments including a piano! Classes are also joining in a virtual sing-a-long! Learning new genres of music and having fun with old favorites!

“Bookworm” Tuesday: Guest readers have volunteered to read virtually to the children. Some have chosen old favorites and others a new story to be told!

“Wacky” Wednesday: Children will come to school wearing wacky clothes of fun loving color! Anything goes from crazy hats to silly socks!

“Artsy” Thursday: Each cohort will work together to create a mural expressing themselves through art media in this community project. Focus will be on the individual child learning to share, cooperate and work together toward a shared purpose.

“Friendly” Friday: All classes will participate in a Parade with their banners. Please send your child in wearing their cluster/classroom color. Parade will take place in and around the playground.

Children will enjoy a “Popsicle treat”!

Rundown of Events for Child Development

Music MondayClasses will enjoy a special virtual musical performance with Lizzie Swan of ‘The Swingset Mamas’.The children will also explore musical instruments, listen to different genres of music, sing, dance and create their own music throughout the day! When children sing, dance, and listen to music, they develop their language and early literacy skills while being active and encouraging movement.

Read Together Tuesday: Children love story time and especially on Read Together Tuesday when special guest readers read virtually some of our all time favorite classics! 

Work Together Wednesday: When children build together they explore math and science concepts and develop their social and early literacy skills. On Work Together Wednesday the children will use their imagination and recyclable materials to create a structure. Their creations will be displayed for Earth Day, April 22.  

Artsy Thursday: Think, problem solve, create! Children develop creativity, social skills and fine motor skills with open-ended art projects where they can make choices, use their imaginations, and create with their hands. On Artsy Thursday, celebrate the joy of  creativity as our classroom community quilt takes shape with each child creating their own individual quilt square. The squares will be joined and a classroom quilt will be made and displayed for all to enjoy. 

Fun Day Friday: A fun filled Friday has the children making kites of their very own. Teachers and children will enjoy time out in the CLC play space flying their kites. A great hands-on way for children to learn how weather conditions influence kite flying.

Popsicles will be enjoyed by all!  

About Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC)

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) has been a leader in developing and implementing high-quality and affordable early childhood education and care programs since 1902. All of the nonprofit agency’s eight locations are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or approved by Federal Head Start.

CLC is committed to providing early childhood education for all families, with direct services and programs focused on health, nutrition & family support for children aged 6 weeks – 5 years of age. CLC is grounded in the mission that together, we’ll shape a generation through early childhood education.

To learn more, please visit www.clcfc.org.

Thank you to the Irish-American Cultural Society of Stamford for your generous donation of diapers and wipes, as well as for making CLC part of your Parade of Giving on Wednesday, March 17 along with so many other wonderful organizations!

The Benefits of Outdoor Play for Toddlers & Preschoolers!

With warmer days ahead, outdoor play is something many children and parents are looking forward to! Outdoor play is also a wonderful way to incorporate movement and exercise into your child’s day, while providing opportunities for them to learn in a number of different ways.

Whether at school or at home, playing outside provides unstructured playtime which gives children a break during what are normally predictable and structured hours during their day. It also gives them free time to explore and learn in new ways. Because of that, outdoor play does not need a lot of elaborate equipment to be fun and productive for children.

Enrique Pabon, Education Manager for Head Start and Early Head Start at Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) is explaining the best ways to participate in outdoor play with your child.

What skills does outdoor play help children develop?

Peer to peer interaction: During unstructured outdoor play, children have the freedom to engage with their peers and understand how to interact with one another. It also allows children to develop and express their individual personalities. Some children like being the leader, while others prefer to go along with the group and some enjoy playing on their own. Yet other children enjoy doing all three. Outdoor play lets children establish relationships with their peers in the way they feel most comfortable.

Language Skills: By freely interacting with peers, children have the opportunity to speak to one another, have conversations and continue improving their language skills.

Gross Motor Skills: Outdoor play allows children to work on their whole body movement. This includes actions like alternating their feet to walk up and down the stairs, bouncing, climbing and jumping. Spatial awareness is also a skill that outdoor play helps to make children aware of. This includes a child’s ability to navigate through equipment, learning to avoid bumping into objects and being mindful of looking ahead rather than behind them when walking. These are skills a child will benefit from on a daily basis, but need to be practiced!

What are some good outdoor activities for a toddler?

In order to determine the best outdoor activities for toddlers, look at the range of developmental milestones for your toddler’s age, but keep in mind that each child will reach these milestones at a different time. Utilize activities that will allow them to work on the skills associated with each milestone, while allowing them to begin exploring the outdoors with you.

It is also helpful to incorporate materials like a ball. During ball play, toddlers learn how to manipulate a ball with their hands and throw. If your child is using playground equipment, make sure the equipment is age appropriate so that your child will feel successful during playtime. This means that some of the equipment may be smaller than the equipment used for older kids.

It is also helpful to balance structured and unstructured play with a toddler. Let your toddler explore on their own with your guidance. For example, stand with them when they go down the slide and help them if necessary or go down the slide with your child on your lap.

When it’s warm outside, water play is often fun for toddlers. It can be as simple as filling a Tupperware container with water and letting your toddler splash around with their hands or adding some of their toys to the water play. You can also do messy art activities like finger painting outdoors. Think about activities you do not do inside because they can be messy, and bring them outside.

What are some good outdoor activities for a preschool age child?

Outdoor play for preschool age children is very similar to outdoor play for toddlers. But you can usually give preschool age children more independence than you would give to a toddler.

Water play is often very popular with this age group! As with toddlers, it can be simple.

Ball play is also a good activity for preschool children because at this age, children can run with the ball, kick it and catch it. They can also participate in ball play with their peers, and have more space for this activity outdoors than indoors

Think about incorporating a parachute into outdoor playtime. It can be large or small. Get a group of kids together to play with the parachute and practice sensory integration. Children love to run under the parachute and feel the breeze when the parachute goes up and down. You can also incorporate a ball on the top of the parachute move the ball along the top, or see how high they can make the ball jump in the air.

Playing with bubbles is another great outdoor activity for preschool age children. A variety of large and small bubble wands will provide multiple opportunities for discussions & interactions.

If you want to come up with other ideas for outdoor playtime with your preschooler. Think about what you liked to do during gym class when you were younger! Did you like playing tag or having wheelbarrow races? Replicate what you enjoyed doing when you were younger, with your child! It will allow them to explore and develop new, unique skills.

How can parents get involved in making outdoor play a fun learning experience for their child?

As a parent, the best thing you can do is take an interest in what your child is playing and how.

One way to do this is by narrating what they are doing. For example, say something like, “I see that you jumped up the stairs and then slid down the slide.” This confirms and reassures your child that you see what they are doing. You can also add to the narration by asking a follow up question that will enhance their play. Encouragement is always something children want to hear. But also describing what they are doing helps to get you more involved in their activities and holds a lot of value to the child.

It is important that the adult not “takeover” outdoor playtime, since it is meant to be an unstructured time for your child. This can be done by simply paying attention to the child’s reactions. If you are throwing the ball with your child and they walk away, note that it’s time to do something else and let their interests help you determine what the next activity will be.

About CLC

At Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County, our play-based learning philosophy allows children to discover the world at their own pace through hands-on, fun activities. All of our classrooms use the Creative Curriculum, which is backed by comprehensive child development research. The curriculum is built upon hands-on learning, sensory awareness, creative expression, multicultural socialization and lessons that develop literacy and science skills, as well as self-esteem and physical development.

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) is committed to providing early childhood education for all families, with direct services and programs focused in health, nutrition & family support for children aged 6 weeks – 5 years of age. Find more information about enrollment, here!

Using the Yale University Pre-K RULER for Social and Emotional Development

At Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County, our play-based learning philosophy allows children to discover the world at their own pace through hands-on, fun activities. All of our classrooms use the Creative Curriculum, which is backed by comprehensive child development research. The curriculum is built upon hands-on learning, sensory awareness, creative expression, multicultural socialization and lessons that develop literacy and science skills, as well as self-esteem and physical development.

Social and Emotional Development

At CLC, social and emotional development is also a crucial part of our programs. Yale researchers, along with CLC teachers, administrators, children and families have created the first early childhood version of the breakthrough RULER program, an innovative approach to social and emotional development.

RULER is an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning. It was developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and supports entire school communities in understanding the importance of emotions, building the skills of emotional intelligence, and creating and maintaining a positive environment at school.

Using the Yale University Pre-K RULER 

Preschool is the time when children begin to understand the cause of their emotions, making social and emotional development a crucial part of the preschool experience. Empathy also emerges and for many, it’s the first time they are asked to regulate emotions around people outside their families.

The Yale University Pre-K RULER is all about helping children manage their emotions to create a positive place for learning.

“The early childhood years are a sensitive period for the development of emotional intelligence. Children’s language and vocabulary skills are rapidly developing during this time and ensuring that children have the language and strategies they need to manage their emotions can have a profound impact on early childhood classrooms,” said Shauna Tominey, Ph.D. and Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

What does RULER stand for?

According to the Yale University RULER Approach website, RULER stands for:

Recognizing emotions in oneself and in others.
Understanding the causes and consequences of emotions.
Labeling emotions with a nuanced vocabulary.
Expressing emotions in accordance with cultural norms and social context.
Regulating emotions with helpful strategies.

It is a way for children to use their emotions effectively – which improves everything from decision making and judgment to physical and mental health, according to Yale researchers. The program is used across all of CLC’s locations and programs.

Why are emotions important?

According to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, research shows that emotions influence many areas of our daily lives including:

  • Our attention, memory and learning
  • Our decision making
  • Our creativity
  • Our mental and physical wellbeing
  • Our ability to form and maintain positive relationships
  • Our academic and workplace performance

CLC teachers say RULER helps to create a calmer atmosphere in the classroom. By using RULER, they say they have seen students help each other and find ways to have more pleasant feelings, which improves the learning environment for everyone.

RULER Tools

Developing skills through RULER is based on four tools which the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence has outlined. They include:

Charter: Building and sustaining positive emotional climates by creating agreed-upon norms for how people want to feel and how they can help each other to experience those feelings.

Mood Meter: Enhances self and social awareness while supporting the development of a nuanced emotion vocabulary and a range of strategies for regulating emotion.

The Mood Meter is a chart with four squares, each in a different color. The squares are green, blue, yellow and red. Students put a sticker of their face on the square with the color of their mood every morning. They then rate how much they are feeling that emotion on a scale of one to five. This allows teachers to understand how the child is feeling that day and offer extra support where they need to.

Learn more about the mood meter and why it’s so helpful for preschool children’s social and emotional development in the video, here.

Meta-Moment: Provides a process for responding to emotional situations with strategies that align with one’s best self and that support healthy relationships and personal well-being.

Blueprint: Supports the development of empathy and conflict resolution skills by serving as a guide for reflecting on conflict and restoring affected communities.

Each of these tools is outlined on the Yale University Ruler Approach website, here.

What do CLC teachers say about RULER?

“It makes them aware of their own feelings and gives them a way to get it out,” said CLC Room 5 Head Teacher, Jackie. “They learn how to express and understand their feelings, which allows them to understand one another and act with more kindness,” she added.

You can learn more about the evidence for RULER here. They include positive shifts in school climate, enhanced academic performance, quality relationships, less bullying and aggressive behavior.

The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence named CLC a Marvin Maurer Award winner for our work developing the Pre-K RULER program. It’s given to organizations that exhibit outstanding commitment to promoting emotional intelligence.

Learn more about the RULER program here and the evidence for RULER here.

About CLC

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) is committed to providing early childhood education for all families, with direct services and programs focused in health, nutrition & family support for children aged 6 weeks – 5 years of age. Find more information about enrollment, here!

Sensory Bottles

incorporating science experiments into their curriculums, that engage our
students’ senses!

Sensory activities help our children to understand the world around them using the five senses; taste, touch, smell, site and hearing.

Sensory bottles are one of the activities our teachers do with students in the classroom. They are a great option for engaging the senses of sight and touch with preschool age children, while also being very calming to look at once the project is complete. It’s a project that parents can easily do at home with their children, also.

It is fun to get creative with what items you put in your sensory bottle! The possibilities for items and themes for your sensory bottles are endless! Just use yours and your child’s imaginations.

Best of all, you can make a sensory bottle with your child that contains items that they are interested in. Does your child love animals? Use animal figurines! Does your child love the color yellow? Add some yellow food coloring! Even create a theme for your sensory bottle with your child’s favorite television show or movie characters!

You can pour into a water bottle a variety of small items that you find around your home or in a craft store. Just be creative! As you fill the bottle with your child, ask them how each item looks and feels. Best of all creating sensory bottles in an activity that you and your child can do together, while also engaging in conversation about what you’re doing and what they like best about it! Creating these bottles also allows you to engage other skills depending on your child’s age, which we have outlined, below.

If you need some help getting started creating sensory bottles, we are sharing six different types of sensory bottles that our teachers enjoy making in the classroom. You can easily make them at home using only a few materials, that are all easy to find.

Sensory Bottles

Materials:

Please note: All items are not needed for all sensory bottle options. However, you will need a bottle, tape and water to make all six sensory bottles.

  • Baby oil
  • Water
  • Water or other type of bottle with a cap, you might also want clear tape to ensure the bottle remains closed at the end.
  • Glitter
  • Pom poms
  • Food coloring
  • Mini colorful rubber bands
  • Mini shells
  • Tiny fish, dolphin and shark figurines
  • Water absorbing beads

Ocean in a Bottle

  1. Drop small shells, fish or other small ocean animal figurines into the bottle.
  2. Pour water into your bottle, almost to the top.
  3. Add 1 drop of blue food coloring to your bottle of water.
  4. Pour in baby oil to the top of the bottle of water.
  5. Close and seal the water bottle with clear tape.

This sensory bottle is great for a child who enjoys trips to the beach and to the aquarium!

Glitter in a Bottle

  1. Pour a small amount of glitter into your water bottle.
  2. Add water to the top of your water bottle.
  3. Close and seal your water bottle with clear tape.

You can create this sensory bottle over and over again by using different color glitter each time, or even a combination of glitter colors to create a brand new and interesting experience for your child.

Pom Poms in a Bottle

  1. Drop some pompoms into your water bottle.
  2. Add water to the top of your water bottle.
  3. Close and seal your water bottle with clear tape.

Turn this into a math activity by counting the number of pom poms you put into the water bottle, as you drop them in.

A Red Bottle

  1. Fill half of your water bottle with water.
  2. Add three drops of red food coloring to your water bottle.
  3. Add baby oil to the top if your water bottle.
  4. Close and seal your water bottle with clear tape.

This sensory bottle can be done with any color of food coloring. Ask your child what color they would like to make their sensory bottle to decide which color to use!

Rubber Bands in a Bottle

  1. Drop some mini colorful rubber bands into your bottle.
  2. Add water to the top of your water bottle.
  3. Close and seal your water bottle with clear tape.

Water Absorbing Beads in a Bottle

  1. Drop some water absorbing beads into a bowl.
  2. Pour water into the bowl.
  3. Allow some time for the beads to absorb the water in the bowl and grow.
  4. After the water absorbing beads grow, pour them into your water bottle.
  5. Close and seal your water bottle with clear tape.

If you have water beads in a variety of colors, turn this into a color identifying activity by asking your child what color each bead is as you drop them into your water bottle. You can also ask your child to explain what they saw happen to the water beads when you put them in the bowl of water.

Note: Water and baby oil do not mix. That is why these two liquids will separate in the bottle.

Once Your Sensory Bottle is Complete, Observe!

When your sensory bottle is complete, your child can shake the bottle, roll it around and flip it over to observe what is happening inside each one. Ask your child to describe in their own words what they see happening in each of the bottles as they move it around. If you make multiple types of bottles, ask them to tell you in their own words what is different about each sensory bottle, how they look and what happens when you flip them upside own.

You can also change this part of the activity, according to the skills your child is working on. If your child is beginning to learn how to read and write, incorporate those skills! Write questions down for them, such as, “Describe what you see with your eyes.” Then, ask your child to write what they see on a piece of paper and read their response together, out loud.

Leave the bottles you create out at home for your child to play with and continue to roll, shake and flip over so that they can continue observing what is happening inside. Since the lid of the bottle is taped closed and secure, this is also a great way for your child to engage in sensory play without making a mess around the house.

Since this is an activity that allows you to change the materials you use in your bottle, it is certainly one that you can do with your child over and over without the activity every getting boring! After creating one or two sensory bottles, ask your child what items they would like to add to their next sensory bottle. You can even create a place in your child’s room or playroom to collect all of their sensory bottles to go back to play with and look at any time they would like to.

Build a Sensory Board

Further stimulate your child’s sense of touch by getting a poster board or piece of cardboard and gluing or taping items with different textures to the board. Have your child touch each of the items and describe how they feel. Which one feels bumpy, fluffy, soft, rough, scratchy and smooth? You can even ask your child which item they like the feel of, the most.

Items to consider including on your sensory board include small pieces of bubble wrap, sand paper, felt, large pompom, cotton round, Velcro (both sides) and aluminum foil. These items all have very different textures and will provide a wide variety of textures for your child to experiment with touching.

This is something else that can be put up in your child’s room or playroom to play with and experiment with, any time!

Incorporate Senses into Daily Conversation

When you are talking to your child every day, incorporate questions that require them to use and think about their senses. While you are out on a walk together ask, “What do you see?” When they pick up a leaf or run through the grass barefoot ask, “How does it feel?”

Questions like these are great ways to show your child that they are using their senses all the time to observe what is happening in the world around them. Asking these questions is also great when trying to extend the lessons created by making your own sensory bottles, into your child’s daily life.

For more fun activities like these, order CLC’s Play to Learn Book.

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) is committed to providing early childhood education for all families, with direct services and programs focused in health, nutrition & family support for children aged 6 weeks – 5 years of age. Find more information about enrollment, here!

Easy Winter Paper Crafts for Kids

Whether you are spending the weekend at home or looking for an after school activity, paper crafts are a great activity option for your toddler, preschool or elementary school student!

Many paper crafts require few supplies (most are supplies that you probably already have around the house) and the instructions are simple to follow. They are also a great opportunity to allow your child’s imagination run wild while they work to improve their fine motor and other skills.

These crafts are also great if you are looking for fun ways to incorporate your child’s creativity into their bedroom or playroom décor because you can easily hang them up once the project is complete!

Creating a theme for your child’s craft projects, especially when doing several in one day, will also allow you to have conversations with them on a topic. Seasons are often a great topic of conversation for children.

We are sharing some of our favorite paper crafts for winter. Some are projects that the teachers at Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) are doing in the classroom with students! Others are included in CLC’s Play to Learn Book! All are fun and easy to replicate at home.

Lacing Mittens:

Having your child use their hands to trace and then lace paper mittens is a fun way to practice fine motor skills!

Materials

  • Construction paper or cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Safety scissors
  • Single hole punch
  • 3-foot piece of yarn
  • Marking tape

Instructions

  1. Put your construction paper or cardboard on the table. Put your child’s hand on the paper, palm down. Keep the fingers together and let the thumb stick out.
  2. You or your child can draw around their hand to create the outline of a mitten.
  3. Use safety scissors to cut out the mitten shape. Be sure to have an adult help with this step!
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 with the opposite hand.
  5. Punch holes around the mitten’s edges. The exact distance between the holes does not matter.
  6. Wrap a piece of masking tape around one end of the yarn. This makes it easier to poke through the holes.
  7. Start at the bottom of the mitten. Poke the yarn down through one hole, up through the next and so on. Continue all the way around the mitten.
  8. When all the holes are laced, tie the yarn ends in a bow. Trim the ends, and your mittens are done!

This is a good activity if your child is learning how to tie their shoes. You can show them how to tie the bow at the end and have them try to do it also, before trimming the ends.

Use this as an opportunity to talk to your child about the clothes we wear in the winter! Mittens are one type of winter clothing, ask them what some others are. Ask them why it is important to wear winter clothes when you go outside and which of their winter clothes is their favorite!

Add Marshmallows to Your Hot Chocolate:

Teach your child math while creating a little masterpiece and their own paper cup of hot chocolate!

Materials:

  • Bowl of marshmallows
  • Draw a cup of hot chocolate on a piece of paper and put a number in the corner
  • Glue
  • Crayons or markers

Instructions:

  1. Give your child the bowl of marshmallows and piece of paper with the hot chocolate and number drawn on them.
  2. Ask your child to tell you what number is on the paper.
  3. Ask your child to count out the number of marshmallows that go into their hot chocolate to match the number on the paper.
  4. Help your child glue the marshmallows to the hot chocolate.
  5. Ask your child to color in their hot chocolate with crayons or markers!

Once your child is finished with their cup of hot chocolate, ask them to count how many marshmallows are left in the bowl!

Ask them to describe the mug of hot chocolate they colored. What colors did they choose to use and why?

Paper Snow People

Let your child create their own snow people, even if there is not any snow on the ground outside! Best of all, they will not ever melt!

Materials:

  • White paper
  • Construction paper
  • Crayons
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Safety scissors
  • Any odds and ends for added features like a hat, scarf, arms, eyes and buttons.

Instructions:

  1. Copy different size circle shapes onto paper.
  2. Use safety scissors to cut them out to make the snow person.
  3. Tape or glue the circles together to put your child’s snow person together.
  4. Have your child color their snow person and glue on any features they’d like to add! Remember eyes, nose, mouth, hat scarf and arms!

Ask your child about their snow person. What features did they add?

Paper Plate Snowflakes

If you are interested in adding some winter decorations to your child’s room or to the playroom, paper plate snowflakes are the perfect option. Not to mention they are fun to make!

Materials:

  • Thin, white paper plates
  • Safety scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn

Instructions:

  1. Fold a paper plate to make two halves.
  2. Fold the paper plate in half again to make a cone shape.
  3. Have your child use safety scissors to cut away parts of the plate. Any small cut is great! Do not cut all the folded edges since these edges hold everything together.
  4. Unfold the paper plate to see the finished snowflake!
  5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 with other paper plates to make more snowflakes.
  6. Punch a hole through each snowflake. String a piece of yarn through each hole and tie the ends together.
  7. Hang the snowflakes in the room of your choice! Hanging them from the ceiling is a really exciting option!

Paper plate snowflakes are a perfect opportunity to talk to your children about nature. In nature, no two snowflakes are the same, just the same as their snowflakes will each look a little different.

You can also use the paper snowflakes to talk to your child about how snowflakes are symmetrical, meaning they are made of repeating parts. Ask your child how many of the same parts their paper snowflakes have and encourage your child to talk about the patterns in their snowflakes.

Even ask your child to describe a real snowflake. What do they feel like? What do they look like?

Snow Paint

Make snow paint and create a winter picture of what a snowy day looks like!

One of our classes at CLC enjoyed reading the book, “The Snowy Day,” by Ezra Jack Keats and then they talked about how the children in the story were making snowballs, igloos, snowmen and were going sledding. Students then created their own winter scene with paint. They got to use brushes of different sizes, sponges and even some glitter to show what they love to do outside in the winter time!

Materials:

  • ½ cup of salt
  • ½ cup of white flour
  • ½ cup of water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Paint brush
  • Small sponge
  • Dark construction paper
  • Acrylic paint (optional)
  • Squeeze bottle (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Measure the salt, flour and water. Then pour into a mixing bowl.
  2. Stir well with the mixing spoon to make a thick paste.
  3. Use a paint brush, small sponge or both to paint with the snow paint on a dark piece of construction paper.
  4. Allow your snow picture to dry.
  5. Use other colors of the acrylic paint to add finishing touches!

To make the snow paint look different, thin it with water and put it into a squeeze bottle. Let your child squeeze the paint onto the paper! Ask your child to talk to you about the picture they are creating as they work.

Use this project as an opportunity to talk to your child about real snow. Explain that snow is made of tiny pieces of ice. The ice reflects light and colors. When many colors reflect at the same time, we see white. Ask our child to describe the sparkling snow. Can they see any colors in the sparkles?

Start a Craft Drawer or Bin

If you want to do more crafts like these, start a craft drawer or bin at home. That way, you will have supplies on hand when you and your child are ready to start a new project! Make sure to have construction paper, paint, paint brushes, crayons, markers, buttons, pom poms, ribbon, squeeze bottles, and any other items that your child likes to use when doing art projects.

For more fun activities like these, order CLC’s Play to Learn Book.

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) is committed to providing early childhood education for all families, with direct services and programs focused in health, nutrition & family support for children aged 6 weeks – 5 years of age. Find more information about enrollment, here!

Winter Science Experiments

Nurture your child’s curiosity by introducing simple science experiments! Science experiments give toddlers and preschoolers the opportunity to explore and learn in new ways. It also allows them to learn about new topics in the world around them.

Since we are in the season of winter, it is easy and fun to incorporate basic lessons about the season when doing science experiments with your child at home and in a hands-on way. Some can be done indoors, while others can be taken outdoors to utilize the chilly temperatures as a tool for teaching. But, you will not need real snow to participate in any of them. In fact, you can even create your own!

These experiments will help answer questions like; how do animals stay warm in winter? Why does your breath freeze in the cold? What happens to water when it gets cold?

The teachers at Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) are sharing experiments they love doing with students in the classroom, that can also be done at home. We are also sharing experiments from CLC’s Play to Learn Book. Find a list of materials and steps for each, below. Many of these experiments only require a few materials.

Make Snow Inside

Make snow with your child INSIDE! They will be thrilled to see how a couple of basic ingredients create a pile of snow that they can play with on the table or inside a bin. They will not even have to worry about it melting! Best of all, you will only need two ingredients and this activity will result in hours of play time.

Materials:

  • 3 cups of baking soda
  • ½ cup of white hair conditioner

Instructions:

  1. Combine the baking soda and white hair conditioner.
  2. Let your child explore in their pile of snow! Let them create igloos, snow angels or even get little cars and other figures to play with in the snow. The possibilities are endless!

Talk to your child about what they like to do in the snow and why. Ask them how the snow they created feels and how it looks. How does it compare to the snow they play with outside? What is the same? What is different?

Is your child learning their letters? Spread the snow out on the table and ask them trace letters with their finger!

Blubber Experiment

Teach your child how animals with blubber stay warm even in the icy ocean water, using a simple science experiment!

Materials:

  • Plastic baggies
  • Lard
  • Bowl of ice water

Instructions:

  1. Put the lard in one baggie. 
  2. Place your child’s hand in a clean baggie and put it into the ice water for a couple of seconds.
  3. Then place your child’s hand inside the baggie with lard and put it into the ice water for a couple of seconds. 
  4. Ask your child what difference they felt between the two times they put their hands in the water.
  5. Explain to your child that when they placed their hand with the “blubber” in the ice water it stayed warm. People wear warm clothes to stay warm in the winter but animals don’t wear clothes, they have blubber, and that’s how they stay warm even in icy cold water!

After doing this experiment, read books about and look at photos of animals that live in cold climates and have blubber to keep them warm! Seals, whales and walruses are great examples of animals that have blubber to keep them warm in cold water!

Freeze Your Breath

Head outside for this science experiment… or just to your kitchen freezer! This experiment will teach your child about why their breath freezes in the winter and what they observe when it happens.

Materials:

  • Drinking glass
  • Magnifying glass
  • Paper towel

Instructions:

  1. Put the drinking glass outside (if the temperature is below freezing) or in the freezer. Leave it there for about 15 minutes.
  2. Pick up the glass. Bring it close to your mouth and blow your hot breath onto the glass.
  3. Ask your child to look at the glass and tell you what they see. (There should be frost on the glass).
  4. Look at the frost through the magnifying glass. Ask your child what they see now. Can they see anything they didn’t see before?
  5. Go inside and put the glass on a paper towel. Check it every few minutes. You will see the frost melting into water and dripping down the glass. Ask you child what they are seeing.

If the temperature outside is below freezing, it is also fun to put coats on and go outside to let children experiment with their breath. Ask them what they notice. Does their breath freeze into clouds? Ask your child about animals. Does your child think that animal breath freezes in the cold weather?

Melting Away

Teach your child about what happens to their breath in the wintertime. You can head outside for this activity, or to the kitchen freezer!

Materials:

  • Non-paper plate
  • Several sheets of dark paper
  • Various frozen substances including: ice cubes, snow, freezer frost, ice cream and popsicles
  • Magnifying glass

Instructions:

  1. Place a non-paper plate on a table in a warm place.
  2. Put a sheet of dark paper on the plate.
  3. Put any frozen object on the dark paper.
  4. Watch what happens to the object by looking through a magnifying glass. Ask your child what changes they see.
  5. Remove the paper and throw it away when the object has melted. Place a new paper on the plate. Repeat steps 3 – 4 with a different item.
  6. Repeat the steps as many times as you like and watch different things melt.

If you live somewhere with snow, help children catch snowflakes on dark paper. Look at the snowflakes with the magnifying glass before bringing them indoors to melt. Ask your child how the object were each alike and different in this activity. Ask them what caused the frozen items to melt.

Trapped in Ice

Freeze small toys into blocks of ice and create hours of fun. This will also show your child what makes things freeze and melt, as well as what water looks like as a liquid and as a solid.

Materials:

  • Small waterproof toys or object like plastic animals, marbles, shells buttons and blocks
  • Re-sealable plastic bags of any size
  • Water
  • Your kitchen freezer
  • Baking pan or tray with raised edges

Instructions:

  1. Put the small waterproof toys or objects into re-sealable plastic bags. Let your child put many objects in one bag or decide to put one in many bags. Encourage them to group the objects in different ways. For example, by color or size.
  2. Fill each bag two-thirds of the way with water.
  3. Squeeze out as much air as possible in order to tightly close each bag.
  4. Place the sealed bags in the freezer. Leave them in the freezer for several hours, until the water is frozen solid. Overnight might work best!
  5. Remove the bags from the freezer. Hold he bags under running warm water for 10 – 15 seconds to loosen the ice block inside.
  6. Show your child the bag. Ask them what they notice now that the water turned solid. What happened to the toys inside? How about what happened to the toys? Encourage children to touch the ice and describe how it feels.
  7. Open the bags. Slide the ice blocks onto a baking pan.
  8. Ask your child to free the objects from the ice blocks! How can they do it? Be sure they have adult supervision and they can scrape the ice with a spoon, hit it with an object or let the ice melt!

For some extra fun and a little competition, turn it into a race. Have each sibling or friend freeze the same type of object and see who can free theirs first! Whoever wins can be named the Ice Master and wins the game!

All of these winter science experiments will teach your child a little bit about what happens in nature during the winter and why! These science experiments will also help your child talk about what they see and feel in the winter, keeping their curious minds engaged and learning.

Even after your experiments are over, they provide an opportunity to continue talking to your child about the winter season. When you head outside, ask them how they feel. What do they like about winter? What do they dislike? When they go outside, what do they see? 

For more fun activities like these, order CLC’s Play to Learn Book.

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) is committed to providing early childhood education for all families, with direct services and programs focused in health, nutrition & family support for children aged 6 weeks – 5 years of age. Find more information about enrollment, here!

Educational Games for Preschoolers

Play is an essential part of your preschoolers’ learning and development. That is what makes educational games and activities so critical both while at school and at home!

At CLC, our play-based learning philosophy allows children to discover the world at their own pace through hands-on, fun activities. All of our classrooms use the Creative Curriculum, which is backed by comprehensive child development research. The curriculum is built upon hands-on learning, sensory awareness, creative expression, multicultural socialization and lessons that develop literacy and science skills, as well as self-esteem and physical development.

When it comes to using play as vehicle for learning, utilizing both games and activities is a perfect option both in the classroom and at home.

Below, you will find a game or activity that helps with each of several skills developed in preschool, including cognition, social and emotional development, physical health and development, language and literacy, creative arts, mathematics, science and social studies.

The teachers at CLC participate in many of theses activities with students in the classroom. But, they can also be done while you are at home with your child! Many of these activities and games can be done using items that you already have at home such as paper, crayons, dolls, stuffed animals and other toys and items. Each activity allows you the flexibility to get creative and use what you already have!

Cognition

Cognition involves preschool children developing skills in exploring, asking questions, making choices, remembering and recalling.

Activity

Read a fairytale with your child, such as The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears and The Gingerbread Boy. Provide storybooks, storybook characters and props like puppets, dolls and stuffed animals to encourage your child to build the setting in a dramatic play area and act out the story. This can be a great activity for siblings to participate in together!

Get your child involved by asking them what their favorite storybook is and asking them to act that out for you! Create an even larger audience for their dramatic show by lining up dolls and stuffed animals who can watch along with you.

Social and Emotional Development

Social and emotional development involves relating to others, caring, showing affection, developing relationships, safety and well-being.

Social and emotional development is a crucial part of preschool. It’s the age children begin to understand the causes of their emotions. Empathy also emerges and for many, it’s the first time they are asked to regulate emotions around people outside of their families.

Yale researchers, along with CLC teachers, administrators, children and families have created the first early childhood version of the breakthrough RULER program, an innovative approach to social and emotional development. It’s all about helping children manage their emotions to create a better place for learning. Learn more about the RULER program here.

Activity

Create a Mood Meter! This can be done using a ruler, paper and coloring supplies to represent how your child is feeling. Ask your child open ended questions (that don’t simply require a yes or no answer) to develop language and knowledge of feeling words. Encourage your child to express their feelings and ask them why they feel the way they do and what makes them feel certain emotions. Emotions are a great conversation starter between you and your child that allows you to share your emotions with them, as well.

Learn more about the mood meter and why it’s so helpful for preschool children’s social and emotional development, here.

Physical Health and Development

Physical health and development involve teaching preschool children to eat healthy, participate in physical activity and help with self care.

Activity

Create an obstacle course for gross motor time either indoors or outdoors. Your child can climb, jump, run, walk, skip, hop, slide, through the course while developing large motor skills. Use items around the house like chairs, a laundry basket, hula hoop, a bouncy ball, bucket and anything else that could be fun and safe to create the obstacle course.

This is a game that you can do over and over again by simply switching out the obstacles in your obstacle course with new ones! That way, the obstacle course is a little bit different each time your child does it and never gets boring for your child!

Language and Literacy

Language and literacy involves teaching preschoolers how to interact with people, talking, enjoying books, songs and writing, as well as expressing ideas, needs and feelings.

Activity

Use the Mood Meter you created and pictures to depict different feelings to encourage your child to identify each feeling. Then, create a “How I Feel” booklet with your child so that they can practice writing feeling words such as happy, sad, calm, angry/mad. Have your child draw a picture to go along with each feeling they write down.

Creative Arts

Creative arts include your preschool child enjoying music, dancing, making art, creating music and being creative mediums.

Activity

Play different genres of music for your child and give your child colored scarves to dance with. Your child will dance to each genre as the music makes them feel. This is a fun activity for the whole family to participate in together! Try having a family dance party with your child before or after dinner. At the end, you can even ask your child what song they like dancing to the most.

Mathematics

Mathematic skills for preschool students involve counting, measuring and comparing.

Activities

Have your child practice counting and cardinality using blocks, teddy bears and even counting the letters in their name. When counting the number of letters in words, you can create a graph of the names of your family members using words like biggest, smallest, more, less, longest, shortest.

Organize and play Bingo games with matching numbers, shapes or letters. You can find ways to incorporate counting in many of your child’s favorite games at home. Ask your child what other items around the house would be fun to count. Do they have a collection of cars or dolls? Ask them to count how many they have while they play!

Science

Science for preschoolers involves exploring, experimenting, investigating and learning about living things

Activity

Provide your child with cars and trucks of all different sizes, as well as ramps (you can even build a ramp out of cardboard) and put the ramps different angles. Perhaps one can lean against the couch, another against a stack of blocks and another against a chair.

Have your child push each car or truck down the ramps empty and then loaded with items like sticks, leaves and bark. Encourage your child to notice the speed of the trucks and how the speed changes between when the truck is empty and when it is loaded with items. Even load one truck up, leave the other truck empty and have them race. Who wins and why?

By playing on the ramps with cars and trucks of different sizes and weight, you will help your child gain investigating scientific skills as they experiment with velocity.

Social Studies

Social studies include your preschooler understanding family, listening to stories about the past and recognizing how people are both the same and different.

Activity

Read your child stories about families from different cultures. Using paper, crayons, and glue, help your child create a family picture or collage with pictures that represented their culture and their family. At CLC, each child creates their family picture or collage at home and then they bring the finished product into school and the teachers create a classroom quilt with everyone’s creation!

Reading books with your child about diversity is another good way to begin teaching social studies. Some of the books that the teachers at CLC enjoy reading to promote diversity include:

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong

Hair Love by Matthew Cherry

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

I Am Enough by Grace Byers

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

More information

To learn more about why play is such an important part of your preschooler’s education, the NAEYC outlines 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play. In the article, the NAEYC explains that play is more than meets the eye, from symbolic to dramatic, functional, and games with rules it can even be used to reduce stress and anxiety in children.

Play and learning go hand-in-hand. Best of all, play is an easy and fun way to help your child learn while you are at home and spending time together! These activities and games can be played while you are at home with your child in the evening or during weekends when you are looking for something fun to do together.

For more fun activities to participate in at home with your preschooler, order CLC’s Play to Learn Book.

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) is committed to providing early childhood education for all families, with direct services and programs focused in health, nutrition & family support for children aged 6 weeks – 5 years of age. Find more information about enrollment, here!

Building a Friendship Chain!

Learning about friendship and the shape of a heart by creating a heart-shaped friendship chain!

  

Building Igloos!

Let’s build an igloo!

Whether it’s for reading or playing… our children built igloos based on the book, “The Three Snow Bears” by Jan Brett.