Crash…Bang…Giggle…Boom! The early years are a time when children are learning about the world around them through experiences. By providing opportunities throughout the day for children to engage in loud, active, energizing play, we are supporting brain connections and developmental skills. So, how do teachers bring loud and active play into the daily routines of the classroom?
Types of Loud and Active Play
STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math, encourages active experiences throughout the classroom. STEAM engages a child’s understanding and vocabulary, building on their critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and reflection skills. We can set up these opportunities for children to explore problems and come to solutions in new and authentic ways.
As teachers, we can focus on what children learn and the process of how children learn through these activities. Some examples of STEAM activities might include projects, like a garden center, problem solving, like moving a swing back and forth, or play-based stations, such as a sensory table exploration. These types of experiences will often take off in new directions as children build their understanding and extend the experience. Our curriculum at Experience Early Learning, provides daily opportunities for children to engage, explore and question “how” within their environment.
Music and Movement
A 2016 study at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute found that musical experiences in childhood can actually accelerate brain development, particularly in the areas of language acquisition and reading skills. Music ignites all areas of child development, including cognitive, social-emotional, physical and language development. It helps the mind and body work together.
Not only does music have intellectual benefits, it’s fun too! Dancing, singing, moving your body, are all great ways to burn energy, express yourself and feel the joy of the beat. By providing opportunities for music and movement, children can build their muscle strength, balance, and gross motor skills independently. Dancing builds confidence and self-expression. How can you incorporate music and movement into your daily routines? Here are some examples to try in your own classroom:
- “Free” dance: Allowing children to move their bodies to the beat of the music in any way they want. Spinning, waving, tapping their toes, in this type of movement, anything goes! Each month in your Experience Early Learning curriculum, we include a CD of songs related to the curriculum’s theme. You can use these or other musical opportunities to get their bodies moving.
- Structured dance: With this type of dance, children mimic a movement or directions. For example, in “Head and Shoulders”, you are asking the children to identify body parts sung in the song. We provide unique opportunities for structured dance and music in the Dance ‘N’ Beats DVD. Children can watch songs and copy the movements to connect language and physical development with friends!
From chefs in a kitchen to vets at a pet hospital, all of these adventures may just seem like some simple afternoon of fun, but children are actually engaging in the positive learning experiences of dramatic play. Why does it matter for your kids? Believe it or not, something as simple as an hour of pretend playtime can provide real benefits to children’s cognitive development. Some of the benefits of engaging in dramatic play include problem solving, conflict resolution and channel emotions. This popular station doesn’t require a lot of money spent either! Add your own spin to your classroom as you set up this space for success:
- Provide a prop-box or coat rack of costumes for children to investigate roles.
- Bring in clean, empty food containers or boxes to help children identify labels and pretend to cook.
- Use real supplies that are age appropriate to explore the “tools of the trade.” For example, use stethoscopes and thermometers in your pet hospital, or construction hats on your build site.
- Ask open-ended questions while children are engaged in play to expand their knowledge and vocabulary skills.
Daily Inspiration with Experience Early Learning
Each lesson week in the Experience Early Learning curriculum incorporates creative, active play around dramatic play. Dive into your box and see what your children will be exploring this month!
- Read more about Why Dramatic Play Matters.
Movement is an easy way to boost your children’s brain power. Have a dance party, investigate a bug’s life cycle or eat at a “restaurant”! All of these loud and active play activities will stimulate your child’s development, engage them in activities and make learning fun! Go get your groove on!
Bright Horizons. (2022). Children and music: benefits of music in child development. https://www.brighthorizons.com/resources/Article/music-and-children-rhythm-meets-child-development
Erstad, W. (2022). 6 Reasons why dramatic play matters. Rasmussen University. https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/education/blog/why-dramatic-play-matters/
Girsema, E. (2016). Children’s brains develop faster with music training. University of South Carolina. https://news.usc.edu/102681/childrens-brains-develop-faster-with-music-training/
Linder, S.M. (2020). Breaking down STEAM for young children. NAEYC. https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/tyc/feb2020/breaking-down-steam