Friday, November 25, 2011

Play is the most important activity in the lives of children

Future Engineers?
Masha'allah, so many important skills are learned through 'play'


Human Development and Family Studies
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension

Rain, Rain
go away
Come again
some other day,
Little Johnny
wants to play.

-Children's nursery rhyme
Play is the most important activity in the lives of children. Sometimes it seems more important than eating and sleeping. Sometimes play is easy and fun. Sometimes play is trying hard to do something right.

Play is the work, the occupation of childhood. If you study how a child grows, and watch children play, you will understand why play is so important.

This section is for anyone who cares about children and wants to know something about children and their play: Mothers, Fathers, Babysitters, Brothers, Neighbors, Sisters, Teachers,
Grandparents, and Students

When you read this section you will:
  • find out what play really is,
  • learn about the kinds of play,
  • discover how play helps children grow,
  • find out how people who take care of children can help children play,
  • discover fun things to do with children, and
  • find many more books to read if you want to know more about play.
You will see children playing at home, school, church, outside in the yard, at the store, in their room, and in the park. Start now to watch children play.


Play is important because it helps children grow strong and healthy.
When children run, jump, roll, throw, catch, or swing they are building muscles. They burn energy that makes them tired and hungry. Physical play improves strength, endurance, and balance. Body coordination improves when children play in physical ways. Physical play helps
children sleep and eat better.

Play is important because children can learn about the meaning of things in the world.

Games help children learn what words mean, like "stop" or "go." Play with sand and buckets help children learn what "full" or "empty" means. They learn to collect and use information. They learn about time. They discover how things feel and taste. Children learn about art, science, math, music, nature, animals, and people when they play.

Play is important because it helps children learn about people.
While playing, children will learn to take turns and share. They will act out their feelings, listen and talk to playmates, and follow rules. They will try leading and following. They will start to understand themselves and others. Play helps them know what they like and what they don't like. During play they can pretend what it's like to be someone else, like a firefighter, doctor, mother, or teacher. They can pretend they are a baby or grandfather.

Play is important because it helps children learn and grow in a way that helps them feel good about themselves.
Children enjoy play. It is easier to learn when we are relaxed. We remember things we've done when the things were fun. Even when play is hard, children are excited when they discover that they can control their bodies and actions. "I did it!" means "I feel good about me." Good play offers children success.

Play is important because it is practice for being grown-up.
Children at play learn to pay attention and to stick with a job. They learn to face problems and solve them. Play helps them learn what is right and wrong. They learn to be good sports, honest, and not to cheat. Children develop their imagination when they play. They learn to follow directions. All these skills will be important when children become grownups.


Did you ever think about all the different ways children play? You could make a long list, but it is easier to remember if we put them into groups.
Children are supposed to be active. They will swing, cut, saw, pound, roll, spin, and run. They will have contests and races. They will form teams and play "red rover" or jump rope alone. Children need lots of space for playing ball, but not much space to play jacks. Children enjoy dancing.
This kind of play is make-believe play where children can act out their wishes: "I wish I were a princess; let's pretend we're going to the moon; let's play dress-up; I'll be a firefighter." Children can pretend they are anything - a person, animal, car, or even a banana! Children can act out stories, write a play, or have a circus.
Children are free to create new things - pictures, designs, ways to do things. They paint, cut, sew, draw, build, twist, and write. They sing, hum, whistle, or beat a drum.
Young children like to play alone, but around 3 years they will begin to play with others. Think of all the things two or more children can do together. Social play is interaction between children. Group games, races, talking to each other on toy telephones, and playing house are social activities.
Mental play is exploring and discovering. Words, numbers, touching, tasting, and seeing are part of mental play. Children use their minds to remember what cards have been played and plan how to win a card game. A baby learns that someone picks up what the baby drops from the high chair. It becomes a "game." Children count and read. They start collections; butterflies, stamps, insects, and coins and learn to classify them. It is fun to find a new thing to add to a collection. Children tell jokes and riddles about flowers on a nature walk, and learn colors from balloons.

There are many more ways that children play. You will learn more about the kinds of play when you read *Good Times with Toys*.


Play helps children grow and change in four ways: physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. As you learn about these, there is one important thing to remember: all children are different. You will notice this as you watch children play. You will see differences in children who are the same age. A child who cannot throw a ball at all now may throw a ball better than anyone the next time you see the children play. Remember, there is a general path of development that all children will follow, but all children will not go the same way at the same speed. Some babies crawl for a long time, while other babies stand and walk without crawling much at all. Even twins grow in different ways at different times. Understanding that there are individual differences in the speed and style of growing is an important principle of human development.
When children play they learn to use muscles. Gross motor play involves the large muscles. Fine motor play involves use of smaller muscles. Large muscles like those in their arms and legs get stronger and work better as children run, hop, and climb. Small muscles in fingers and toes become more controlled.

Babies grasp with their whole hands; 4-year-olds can easily pick up little pieces. The ability to balance comes with the practice of walking along curbs, climbing trees, and monkey bars, and playing hop scotch. When parts of the body work together so that the whole body moves smoothly and accomplishes a task, it is called coordination.

Children have a lot of energy. They need lots of chances to play physically in order to burn up energy, then they sleep and eat better, so they will continue to grow. At all ages, motor coordination ability depends on play experience. If children do not have enough chances to
draw and paint, they will not be as skilled as children who do have these play experiences. An infant looking at a colorful mobile over the crib is developing eye muscles. The child's eyes follow the movement and color.

When children learn to walk, they want to pull things across the room. The toddler jumps and runs and builds a block tower. The preschool child uses a wooden hammer to pound pegs, rides a tricycle, and climbs. They take a puzzle apart and put it back together again. In doing this they are learning to use their fingers. They want to touch the ice in their glass or taste the soap.

Children of school age keep on growing. The 6- and 7-year-old uses crayons and scissors to color and cut with skill. The 8- and 9-year-old can hit a ball with a bat, ride a bicycle, jump rope, and play jacks. Older children can thread a needle, catch a fly ball, build a model plane or car.
When children play they learn to use their minds. An important child psychologist, Jean Piaget, who studied how children develop, has helped us understand a lot about how children learn. They learn through their senses, by tasting, smelling, seeing, feeling, and hearing different things wherever they are playing. They learn size, color, texture, and weight. Counting in early childhood leads to skills in reasoning and logic in later childhood.

Games and play should be hard enough to challenge a child, yet easy enough to prevent failure and long term frustration. Children become bored with toys and games that are too easy. The challenge of making something work, figuring out problems (like where a puzzle piece goes),
and building or rearranging something helps children grow.

Children do a lot of experimenting when they play. They discover for themselves that dirt tastes terrible. While playing they learn that some toys are heavier than others, that a ball bounces, and boats float. They learn the names of colors and that some things will hurt them. They learn to imitate what others do and how sharing works.

Children like to think hard about what they are doing and try out their own ideas. They can solve the problem of building blocks so they will stand high. Finding the pieces of the puzzle that belong in certain places and dressing and undressing a doll are pleasant problem-solving activities. Play helps minds and bodies work together to finish a task.

Children's creative imagination is used when they make things from materials on hand. A child can decide what to do with blocks, sand, paper, water, boxes, paints, crayons, paste, rhythm instruments, kits or supplies for playing store, or costumes for dress-up. The real fun of playing comes from doing something with things. Simply watching others do things or watching a mechanical toy does not provide the child with creative enjoyment.
How children relate to other people is called social development. People who have studied children's play noticed that children relate to people in different ways at different ages.
Early Play (Infant) Most of an infant's play is with parents and other family members.
Babies like this play and the good feeling it brings. You can sing to babies, move their hands and feet, nuzzle their tummy, and the babies will smile, laugh, and coo. When baby is a little older, simple games like peek-a-boo are fun. Babies especially like the good feelings that come from being talked to and held close.
Solitary Play (Toddler) The toddler enjoys playing alone. At this age there is little play with
other children of the same age, though they may walk around each other. Older toddlers, about the age of 2 1/2, will begin to relate to other children by touching and speaking to them.
Parallel Play (Preschool) At this stage, children enjoy being with each other, but they do not
interact very much. They will play side by side, watch, and listen to each other. They sometimes may fight over the same toy.
Associative Play (Preschool) Children still are doing their own thing. They often do the same thing as other children, but they do not do it together. Children sitting side by side in a sandbox will repeat what the others are doing.
Cooperative Play (Preschool) When speaking and listening skills are more developed, children can communicate. They plan, and tell each other what to do. They do things in response to what others do. They pretend to play house, be a mother and father, and try out relationships.
Later Play (School) School-age children structure their play with rules and time limits. All
those playing together are expected to play fair. They choose up sides and form teams. They take turns.
Drawing, painting, and music encourage self-expression. Play helps children feel good as they learn to control their actions and bodies. They are happy when they learn to enjoy the beauty of colors, the rhythm of a melody, or the action of games. Playing with dolls, stuffed animals, or carpenter tools also may help them express anger or hurt. They often work out feelings in play that they dare not show in everyday living. Children act out their hopes and fears in creative play. When children are encouraged to tell their own stories, paint their own picture, act out their own feelings, or build their own pretend world, they are better able to hold onto their own hopes and dreams. Without that support, dreams may fade. Ambition and self-approval may decline. Snuggling up to children, gently patting or stroking them can give children a feeling of security. When someone is not around to play with a child, a familiar blanket or a furry toy animal will comfort the child.

Read more here

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Encouraging Creativity Through Open Ended Art

Painting our 'Kaba" for Hajj

Children's Open-ended Art

Encouraging Creativity through Open Ended Art
by Debbie Gray

Creativity is defined as the ability to generate a new idea and product.
Creative thinking is random and intuitive, meaning, exciting ideas appear from nowhere, unexpected connections occur, and solutions to different problems can reveal themselves.  Creative thinking is as
important as the analytical thinking which our society has traditionally emphasized.  Creativity needs to be nurtured.

Young children have the desire to create.  Art is a means of selfexpression, a way for a child to show his/her feelings and express emotions.  It is important as educators that we take a child’s artistic
talent seriously and appreciate and value the process of creating open-ended art as well as the product.  Open-ended art allows the children to do “free art” and make independent choices on what materials to use and the outcome of the work.  Open-ended art is focused on individual expression rather than
on the final product.  When a child experiments with open-ended art with a variety of materials, the child is learning initiative, problem solving, taking risks by showing originality, and expressing herself through representation.

In contrast, with pattern or teacher directed art work, the focus is on the finished product.  This type of art work stifles the child’s creativity and can hurt their self esteem if their picture does not look exactly like
the pattern or their friends’ work.

How do we as educators (and parents) support and encourage open-ended creative art work?
• Provide a rich assortment of materials and experiences.
• Follow the child’s lead.  Children generally learn from experiences that are an interest of their own.
•  Expand on the child’s ideas whenever possible by explaining other uses for the materials that are provided, and asking open-ended questions.
• Make objective observations.  As the child is creating try to make descriptive, factual observations about the work, for example, “I like the way you used a lot of green and red.” or  “I see you have made a lot of blue circles in your picture.”instead of statements such as “I like your picture.”
• Encourage conversation by asking open-ended questions or prompts such as “Tell me about your picture.”
Exploration and creative thinking are linked to meeting challenges throughout our life!
 Parents As Teacher National Center –Born to Learn Curriculum 3 years to Kindergarten Entry.
 Zellich, K. (1996).  Constructivist Art-Decoding the differences

My Bird is Very Hungry

Sensory Exploration

1: My bird need a house- I am making a house ----.2: I make a ducky cake -
3: Oh no -its so messy - I need to clean --sister Fatima
4: I make a chicken cake too

5:My bird is too hungry --

Teacher's comment- We set our sensory table with birds food and some plastic birds-Children were excited to interact with the grains. Each of them have their unique style and use creativity to play with the material.  It was interesting to hear when one child said that she made a duck cake - she was stirring the grains with the metal spoon - patting it and placed all the grain inside the bamboo basket.  Other children wanted to follow her idea-- they all were making duck cakes, chicken cake and bird cake as well.  They were sharing the cake with each other and pretending they were eating the real cake.  Next, insha'allah, we will feed the real birds outside...

Early Learning Framework:

Exploration and Creativity- Develop a sense of wonder for natural environments:  The children's interest in bugs was used to expand their understanding of materials and creatures found in nature.  Building and expanding on their interest in bugs, we have been exploring different types of birds, birds diets and Allah's many wonders found in the natural environment.

Language and Literacies- Develop diverse language abilities and the capacity to communicate with others in many ways: The children had many opportunities for one-to-one and group language interaction, both with a teacher and other children.  The teacher introduced new vocabulary during these interactions and used the props to role model language and creative expression.

Social Responsibility and Diversity- Learn to appreciate diversity:  Children were able to recognize uniqueness in each other's ideas and find value in them.  Different types of birds and seeds were explored, drawing attention to Allah's diverse and wonderful creation.

Useful Information

To Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth.
He creates what He wills.
He bestows female (offspring) upon whom He wills,
and bestows male (offspring) upon whom He wills.
The Noble Qur'an - Ash-Shura 42:49

The Essentials of Early Literacy Instruction 

Developing Children's Thinking Skills

Learning and Art

Let The Children Play (research into play in early learning)
Play and Literacy
There are consistent findings in research 
about the close relationship between 
symbolic play and literacy development and 
good evidence that increasing opportunities 
for rich symbolic play can have a positive 
influence on literacy development.

Pretend play with peers engages children 
in the same kind of representational 
thinking needed in early literacy activities. 
Children develop complex narratives in 
their pretend play. They begin to link 
objects, actions, and language together 
in combinations and narrative sequences. 
They generate language suited to different 
perspectives and roles.......

Thursday, November 17, 2011

We're Going on a Bug Hunt

We're Going on a Bug Hunt

We’re going on a bug hunt! (echo)
We’re going to catch some big ones. (echo)
What a sunny day. (echo)
Are you ready? OK! (echo)
Subhanallah! A bee! A black and yellow bee. Flying over flowers, BUZZZZ
Subhanallah! A ladybug! A red, spotted ladybug, Crawling through the grass, SHHHHH
Subhanallah! A grasshopper! A big, green grasshopper Hopping around the tree,BOING BOING
Subhanallah! A butterfly! A pretty, orange butterfly, Floating in the sky, WHOOSH, WHOOSH
Subhanallah! A spider! A big black spider, Creeping on ME! CREEP…CREEP… SCREAM

There's a bug on the table!

We see a bug

Ladybug, Ladybug,
Gentle Please 
Can you see the ladybug?
Spider web-  Look for the spider

Searching for spiders

Non-Newtonian Fluids

Goop: Squishy solids and lumpy liquids
The children explored textures and consistencies, 
solid-liquid and suspension,
wet and dry...

Reading Tips for Parents

Reading Tips for Parents of Preschoolers

By: Reading Rockets
Read early and read often. The early years are critical to developing a lifelong love of reading. It's never too early to begin reading to your child! The tips below offer some fun ways you can help your child become a happy and confident reader. Try a new tip each week. See what works best for your child.

Read together every day

Read to your child every day. Make this a warm and loving time when the two of you can cuddle close.

Give everything a name

Build your child's vocabulary by talking about interesting words and objects. For example, "Look at that airplane! Those are the wings of the plane. Why do you think they are called wings?"

Say how much you enjoy reading

Tell your child how much you enjoy reading with him or her. Talk about "story time" as the favorite part of your day.

Read with fun in your voice

Read to your child with humor and expression. Use different voices. Ham it up!

Know when to stop

Put the book away for awhile if your child loses interest or is having trouble paying attention.

Be interactive

Discuss what's happening in the book, point out things on the page, and ask questions.

Read it again and again

Go ahead and read your child's favorite book for the 100th time!

Talk about writing, too

Mention to your child how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.

Point out print everywhere

Talk about the written words you see in the world around you. Ask your child to find a new word on each outing.

Get your child evaluated

Please be sure to see your child's pediatrician or teacher as soon as possible if you have concerns about your child's language development, hearing, or sight.

Helping Your Child Become a Reader

By: U.S. Department of Education
Parents who limit television, choose child care that is literacy-rich, and read and talk to their children often can help their children become readers. Learn about steps parents can take to promote reading in their children's lives.
There are a number of steps that parents and other family members can take to help prepare their young children to become readers and to support the reading habit once they are in school. These include:

1. Talk to your child

Feed your child a diet of rich language experiences throughout the day. Talk with your infants and young children frequently in short, simple sentences. Tell stories, sing songs, recite nursery rhymes or poems, and describe the world around them to expose them to words. Name things. Make connections. Encourage your child's efforts to talk with you.

2. Read Aloud

Try to read aloud to your children for 30 minutes daily beginning when they are infants. Ask caring adults to be your children's daily reader when you are unavailable.

3. Test your child's eyes and ears

Have your child's eyesight and hearing tested early and annually. If you suspect your child may have a disability, seek help. Evaluations and assessments are available at no cost to parents. Call the early childhood specialist in your school system or contact the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities.

4. Choose child care carefully

Seek out child care providers who spend time talking with and reading to your child, who make trips to the library, and who designate a special reading area for children.

5. Ask the teacher about your child's reading

Ask your child's teacher for an assessment of your child's reading level, an explanation of the approach the teacher is taking to develop reading and literacy skills, and ways in which you can bolster your child's literacy skills at home.

6. Limit TV watching

Limit the amount and kind of television your children watch. Seek out educational television or videos from the library that you can watch and discuss with your children.

7. Create a reading corner

Set up a special place for reading and writing in your home. A well-lit reading corner filled with lots of good books can become a child's favorite place. Keep writing materials such as non-toxic crayons, washable markers, paints and brushes, and different kinds of paper in a place where children can reach them.

8. Visit the library

Visit the public library often to spark your child's interest in books. Help your children obtain their own library cards and pick out their own books. Talk to a librarian, teacher, school reading specialist, or bookstore owner for guidance about what books are appropriate for children at different ages and reading levels.

9. Show that you read

Demonstrate your own love of reading by spending quiet time in which your child observes you reading to yourself. You are your child's greatest role model. Show your child how reading and writing help you get things done every day-cooking, shopping, driving, or taking the bus.

10. Join a family literacy program

If your own reading skills are limited, consider joining a family literacy program. Ask a librarian for picture books that you can share with your child by talking about the pictures. Tell family stories or favorite folktales to your children.

11. Give books

Consider giving books or magazines to children as presents or as a recognition of special achievements. Special occasions, such as birthdays or holidays, can be the perfect opportunity to give a child a new book.

12. Tap relatives

Connect your children with their grandparents and great-grandparents. Encourage them to read books together, talk about growing up, tell stories, and sing songs from their generation.

13. Attend book activities

Ask about free readings and other programs at bookstores in your community.
Adapted from: Raising Readers: The Tremendous Potential of Families. (July, 1999). Start Early, Finish Strong: How to Help Every Child Become a Reader. America Reads Challenge, U.S. Department of Education.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bug Hunting

We have seen so many different types of bugs when we were outside. Some of the children were so excited to watch caterpillars when they were playing with the fall leaves. One child told me that,  "I found a caterpillar." The caterpillar was already on her palm, lying down like a ball. I kindly told the child to put it down gently, so that the caterpillar will not be scared. The child gently put it down. Then I asked all the children-who created all the bugs? They Said-ALLAH. Then I told them that we need to be gentle with all the creations of Allah. All the children were so curious to see what the caterpillar was doing, so we decided to bring our science bug jar to the outdoor area and place the caterpillar in the jar. One of the child said-"caterpillar too hungry, we need to give him food." They collected some leaves and told me to put it inside the jar. Listening to the children, I placed some leaves inside and put the jar on the log to explore the bug. The next day we read the story of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' with some colorful felt props.