Nov 24, 2013

Owl Theme within an Emergent Curriculum

Recently, I worked in a group childcare centre with an Emergent Curriculum. An Owl Theme came from the interest of the children, and then with the creativity of the caregivers and the children themselves, the theme unfolded into a learning process for all. We can still learn from other professionals, regardless of how long we are in the field. I certainly experienced this as I spent time within this Reggio influenced daycare.

After Halloween, the children were interested in owls, which is understandable as so many stories and pictures display owls in the background of Halloween "scenes". Throughout the next week or two, the children were provided books on owls, staff looked for pictures of owls from calendars and other sources. Luckily the center had a wonderful felt story about a mother and baby owl. I was happy to include my felt story about 5 Fluffy Owls into the mix.

Five Fluffly Owls from Felt Board Ideas

Over the next few weeks, I heard the children and teachers learning about owls. We discussed what owls eat and learnt the definition of nocturnal, to name a few facts. Although it never transpired while I was there, we discussed the possibility of talking about how feathers are light and setting up a sink/float type game. I also suggested a creative movement activity of moving around the room as if we were feathers. The ideas were definitely flowing.

One day, when I came into work I saw this display of natural settings for children to explore, and I immediately grabbed by phone to take some pictures! Love it.

Perhaps, the most impressed I was about a theme incorporated into a Reggio (emergent curriculum) program was to observe the art projects. In my history as an Early Childhood Educator, I would have provided owl shapes from paper and then material for the children to decorate them with, such as feathers and googly eyes.  However, at this center, open ended art is encouraged. One day, a picture of a baby owl was sitting on the table for viewing and the children were provided white paint and white feathers to paint with. Another day, they had pictures of owls to look at and draw and then stories were written out about the drawings. Another day, they made owls with playdough and natural ingredients, which were then placed on display. There were lots of  ideas!

 One Monday I walked into the daycare, and there hanging on branches displayed in a vase were adorable owls. One of the educators was at Target and couldn't resist. The children played with these owls all day long. All week long. It was a perfect ending to the owl time period. Yet, that being said, I left this center to work elsewhere, so whoooo hoooo knows if the theme will continue along or if it has run its course. With an emergent curriculum the children are the drivers and the topic will follow with their interest and involvement.

Nov 21, 2013

Button Preschool Theme

Buttons are such a great way to allow children to add color and texture to glueing projects. Buttons are available to buy in large packages at most department craft stores, and dollar shops. If using buttons that have been donated, make sure to search through the buttons and use the ones that are flat with holes for better attachment. Be prepared for children to be using lots of glue for their art creations.



First of all, simply cutting out shapes, such as Hearts, Easter Eggs, or Pumpkins along with buttons for the children to search through and glue, makes for a fun and easy art process. Some other suggestions are....

  • Buttons for Leaves with Tree Shapes
  • Buttons with Flowers
  • Buttons with Teddybear Shapes or Gingerbread Men
  • Buttons onto Frames (have child holding a sign saying Cute as a Button---great present idea!)

From Preschool Crafts for Kids


1. Buttons in sensory tables with scoops and containers
2. Place Buttons into playdough
3. Use Buttons for Sorting and Sizing
4. Activity Button Sheets: Making Learning Fun Website has great Pete the Cat activity sheets
5. Learning to Button Table activities


To the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb
Trevor has buttons on his shirt, buttons on his shirt, buttons on his shirt
Trevor has buttons on his shirt, how many does he have.
(Change the name and clothing to match the children in the group)

Pete the Cat

With the popularity of Pete the Cat, including the story of his Groovy Buttons with the book and/or the felt story is a great idea!


Online Early Childhood Workshops with Circle of Ideas 


Nov 2, 2013

Five Senses: Hearing Games for Children

 Learning about our five senses is a common preschool theme. The following article, focuses specifically on hearing and provides fun activities for young children within any early childhood setting.

1. The Listening Game

Sometimes, this game can be found on CDs from the library or book/toy stores; otherwise it can be made by the adult. The CD is played providing a variety of sounds. If played with toddlers, hearing the sounds and labelling them encourages language development, as well as providing them an opportunity to share their knowledge. For instance, the sounds might be a dog, or a fire truck. They will excitedly tell you or simply smile knowing what it is. Older ages can turn the hearing into a game such as sound bingo, where they must place a chip onto the picture. The bingo sheets might come with the CD or can be made by the caregiver.

2. Sound Hunt

This listening game preferably involves going for a walking adventure in the community and listening for specific sounds. Alternatively, it could be played inside or outside facilities. Each child or group of children will receive a chart with pictures of what they must hear. The pictures will depend upon where the children are located, such as rural or urban. For example the pictures might be a bird, a siren, dogs barking, wind, rain, people talking and so forth. The children will check off what they hear.

3. Who is Ringing the Bell?

A fun circle game to play with a group of preschool aged children. One child is selected to go out of the room, while one child is given a bell or other sound making device. All the other children have to pretend to be shaking the bell whereas only one child has it. The chil

dren could have their hands behind their back shaking to help with this guessing game.


4. What is Making that Noise?

This game can be teacher directed or an open ended activity placed out for children to explore. It requires containers with lids. Shoe boxes and jewellery boxes work well. In addition, collect various items to shake, such as a pencil, pom pom, lego piece, small jingle bells, etc. The idea is for a child or group of children to guess what item is making the noise. A little song could be sung to help with the
timing and share taking. For instance to the tune of Happy Birthday:

What is making the noise?
What is making the noise?
Can you guess the item
That is making this noise?!

Similarly, this game can be played at a group circle with the teacher turning her back to the children and making a sound for the children to guess:

  • clapping
  • coins jiggling
  • bubble wrap popping
  • phone ringing
  • humming
  • closing a book
  • tearing paper

5. Find the Beep

This is a fun game to play outside or inside and requires some sort of toy or item that makes a loud beep, or any loud sound. The item is placed in a hidden location and the children, using their hearing, must try and locate it. Alternatively, a child can hide and make a sound, such as a bird chirping or cat meowing, and the rest of the group must listen to find where he/she is located.


6. Shakers

The teacher can make shakers with matching sounds for the children to try and find by listening carefully. Additionally, children can make their own shakers. It is crucial in this activity for the sound shakers to be securely closed! The filling material might be uncooked beans, rice, pasta, sand, small pebbles, or marbles. In addition, it is always a great idea to have shakers as part of an early childhood setting included with other musical instruments.

Final Thought: Our world is surrounded with sound and young children are very enthralled with their own skills. Providing these hearing activities are not only fun to engage in, they allow young children to feel proud of their abilities.

Online Early Childhood Workshops with Circle of Ideas