Interest Area Learning
Fort Collins Preschool benefits from a spacious classroom that is divided into interest areas organized around specific kinds of play.
Art is an important part of the curriculum. Every day, children find a variety of art materials available. Drawing, painting, cutting, pasting, and playing with play dough are not only enjoyable but also provide important opportunities for learning. Children express original ideas and feeling, improve their coordination, develop small muscle skills, learn to recognize colors and textures, and develop creativity and pride in their accomplishments by exploring and using art materials.
Blocks, the hard wood units that come in proportional sizes and shapes, are one of the most valuable learning materials in the classroom. When children build with blocks, children learn about sizes and shapes, spatial relationships, math concepts, and problem solving. When children lift, shove, stack and move blocks, they learn about weight and size. Each time they are making decisions about how to build a structure or solve a construction problem. During block play children learn to judge distances, space and size, they develop eye-hand coordination and small muscle control, compare and sort by size and shape, enhance descriptive vocabulary and skills when explaining their construction.
The house corner is a very important part of a preschool classroom. The work children do in the house corner is called dramatic play or pretend play. In the house corner children take on a role and recreate real life experiences. They use props and make believe about a wide variety of topics. The ability to pretend is very important to children’s later academic success in school. When children pretend, they have to recall experiences they have had and re-create them. To do this, they have to be able to picture their experiences in their minds. During dramatic play children have to be able to cooperate with other children and defend their own ideas.
Sand, water, rice, beans are all things you might find in the water table. Providing children with a variety of materials to experiment with provides a natural setting for learning. When children pour water into measuring cups they gain a foundation for mathematical thinking, when they drop corks, stones, feathers and marbles into a tub of water, they observe scientifically which objects float and which sink. When they comb the sand into patterns, they learn about both math and art. Encouraging children to experiment with these materials and asking questions as they do encourage them to think about and explain what they are discovering.
Library, Reading & Writing
The book area is an essential part of the program and of your child’s life. It’s where children gain the foundations for reading and writing. It’s also a place where children can relax and enjoy the wonderful world of children’s literature. Every day we read stories. We read books to introduce new ideas, to develop pre-reading skills, to help children deal with problems, and mostly to develop a love of books. We encourage children to repeat words and rhymes, to write or draw their own thoughts and ideas. Books, tapes and writing materials are wonderful ways to help children learn. Reading to children everyday is the very best thing to help children grow to be successful readers.
Manipulatives include puzzles, marble run, table blocks, and other small construction materials such as Legos, and collections of objects. When children play with manipulative toys they learn many new skills and concepts including: sorting and classifying things according to their own categories, judging distance, direction, right and left, up and down, and describing what they are doing. They also enhance fine motor skills and special relations skills.
Cooking offers a special treat for children. It allows them to do the things adults do. With all the adult things children aren’t allowed to do, it is very rewarding for them to be encouraged to cook “just like grown-ups”. When children cook they have an opportunity to learn about food, to be creative, and to prepare their own snacks. Lots of discoveries happen during cooking. When children see mixtures or see dough rise they learn about science; when they measure ingredients they learn about math. Following picture recipe cards they learn skills that will prepare them for reading. In addition, they can learn to make healthy eating choices.
Outdoor play offers children the chance to let off steam. They love to run, jump, climb, swing and slide. Outdoors children get the opportunity to use the large muscles in their bodies. They can race around, breathe the fresh air, look at the clouds or catch a bug or a ball. They not only satisfy their physical need for large muscle activities but also develop a sense of wonder about the miracles that take place in nature.