Keeping kids engaged and active in preschool is a challenge for many daycare providers. We wanted to provide daycare providers with wonderful ideas for keeping kids active in both mind and body with learning centers and games. We tapped Nancy James, Director of the MTSU Child Care Lab. Nancy James provides a host of great ideas that help at the preschool (3-5 year olds) facility in part 2 of this blog post:
Gross Motor Play
It is also important to have time to be outside or a time for gross motor play where they can use their large muscles to play such as running, jumping, climbing, riding a trike, etc. I am partial to having a little more outside play that what is required (the P.E. teacher in me) but we go out 3 times a day for 30 minutes each time (sometimes a little longer if the weather is right). We have a large playground that includes a wooden structure with attached slide, swings, climbing gym, a large sandbox, large dirt tire to dig in, two concrete pads (one for ball playing and hopscotch and one for the tricycles), and a grass area to hit different types of balls, and a small hill to run up or roll down. We are also fortunate to have some nice shaded trees and a storage house with a porch. I personally like the children to pick and choose whatever they like to do and then before we come in maybe do a teacher-directed gross motor activity (such as set up a simple obstacle course before they go in such as jumping over ropes on the ground, then climb, then run around the house and go in).
Curriculum and Lesson Plans
Our teachers have two curriculums they follow which have suggestions to go with the lessons. One is Little Treasures curriculum. We picked it because it caters to a multi-age group, it suggests activities for different centers, and it also has a social-emotional component that assists the children how to learn to self-regulate their emotions and interact with peers and adults. The other curriculum is called Primarily-Kids, LLC by Marcy Hemminger. It is a curriculum filled with activities around holidays, special events, topics, etc. I am also fortunate to have veteran teachers who guide and plan lessons but let the children take the lead on what they would like to do. If something does not seem to interest the children they take note and if there is an activity that sparks their interest, they will play it out as long as the interest holds.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has great resource materials for what is developmentally appropriate for different ages/stages. The website ParentsKnowKidsGrow.org is another source. In Tennessee we have a program called ABC123 Healthy Kids in Tennessee. Their website is www.abc123healthykids.com. They have activities that focus on nutrition, active play/fitness, and health awareness. Most facilities are licensed by a state agency which would also provide resources.
In Tennessee, we also have at our disposal the Child Care Resource and Referral Service that assist facilities with areas such as active play. It is important to remember that most children who get the proper amount of sleep/rest, eat nutritional food, are active every day, and feels loved and safe, will be successful in interacting in a structured setting forming positive relationships with peers and adults. It is a building process to build resources/centers/games that can be rotated throughout the year so the activities they participate in do not become boring.
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