The Blue Bowl

In this video, we see a large blue mixing bowl spark children’s interest and lead to this type of complex play. The children work together in a group to reach a common goal of making “soup” in a bowl. They explore the outdoors and find several materials to put in the blue bowl for their “soup.”

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Are You Being a Monkey?

In this video, we see the beginning stages of a friendship connection as we watch 3-year-old Aaron try to engage his peer, John, age 5. Children begin by observing each other and playing side by side. In time, friendships become more complex. Younger children are often very interested in the activities of older children.

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‘Look at Your Lines!’

Teachers help children develop their science skills by creating engaging activities that activate children’s curiosity and desire to discover the properties of materials. A visual art activity, such as the finger painting activity we see in this video, can be an opportunity to explore science concepts.

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Look What This Can Do!

In this video, we see Mario and his mother, Norma, as they play in a playroom at a local community center. Norma shows Mario different ways to use the toys. When Mario bangs the toys together, Norma encourages his inventiveness by commenting on the creative ways Mario uses the toys to make noise.

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How Teachers Can Help When a Child Says, “Mommy, I Don’t Want to Go to Preschool!”

While there are many reasons a child may not want to come to school, there are a few things teachers can do to support children during this difficult time. Things that help build a sense of belonging may increase the child’s willingness to come to school. These include providing positive interactions, creating equal opportunities to participate in events, and maintaining attitudes of acceptance.

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You Made It

This video takes place in the gross motor room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. This room is used for gross-motor activities by all classrooms in the center during inclement weather. Max (21 months) is trying to get up the climber, and the teacher helps him get to the top.

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Two Trains

Sadie (26 months) pulls two trains across the carpet and sits down on the teacher’s lap. Sadie and the teacher are talking about the two trains while Daniel watches. Daniel reaches down to take the handle of one of the trains, to which Sadie objects. The teacher then asks Sadie to give one of her two trains to Daniel.

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Tea Party

Through a progression of short clips taken over a span of 30 minutes, this video focuses on Hudson (at 30 months, the oldest in the class) gathering items, stuffed animals, and dolls; arranging them on a couch; and (briefly) enjoying his tea party with his stuffed animals.

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Press Here

Jayden (20 months), Mason (21 months), Spencer (20 months), and the teacher, Sui Ping, are sitting on the floor engaged with an activity box. Sui Ping is demonstrating for Mason how to make the small bear “jump” off the toy by pushing a button. The other two boys are also trying to play with the toy, but the teacher and Mason remain focused on getting the bear to “jump.” Although the teacher could have asked Jayden to wait his turn when Jayden pulled on the toy, simply saying “please” worked and gave Mason an opportunity to make the bear “jump.”

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Let’s Get Up

Micah (30 months) is lying on the ground next to the slide. The teacher leans down and teasingly touches both of his hands before lifting him up to his feet. Micah walks over to the corner, picks up a ball, and throws it off-camera to the teacher, who tosses it back. Micah had shown very little interest in activities that morning, but the teacher was able to engage him briefly in a game of catch.

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I Don’t Like That

This video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Jordan (29 months) has put on sunglasses, and Sadie (25 months) walks up and stands very close to him. He tells her “I don’t like that,” but she stays close to him. The nearby teacher steps in and tells Sadie that Jordan “does not like that. Please stop.” She then attempts to turn Sadie in another direction. Her interaction with Jordan and Sadie was brief but effective in eliminating a potential conflict.

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Filling the Trains

This video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Daniel (25 months) and Sadie (26 months) are playing with trains and putting people back into their trains. The teacher is nearby talking with them, narrates their activities, and helps Sadie to see that she needs to put the people into another train because she is out of room in hers.

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Down There

The video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Max (19 months) and Levi (27 months) are in the glider chair looking at a nursery rhyme book together. They are engaged in the books for a short while and then begin to rock the chair together. The nearby teachers did not intervene in the interaction after setting the stage for them.

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All Done

This video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Daniel (25 months) and Mia (23 months) are standing at the Lego table. A teacher is helping Mia ask Daniel to share the blanket he is using when he is done. The teacher provides her with words to use, expands on what they are saying, and asks them both questions.

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A Big Tower

The video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Anna (28 months) is building a tower alone with large interlocking blocks. Kenyon (26 months) runs in and knocks over her new tower. Anna takes it in stride, and Kenyon helps her rebuild. He promptly knocks over their new tower. Although the teacher is off-camera interacting with other children, she comments on Anna’s work and is aware of what was happening.

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Mix and Count

This video shows 22-month-old Waylon helping his grandmother mix pancake batter for breakfast. His 6-year-old brother, Luke, and his father talk off camera. In the video, we see adults using strategies for interaction that help Waylon learn about the world.

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Making Pizza Together

Preparing meals is part of the “real work” of family life. Preschoolers can help their parents fix simple foods. The whole family can benefit when parents involve preschoolers in cooking activities. Doing this kind of “real work” together gives family members something meaningful to talk about. It also gives children a chance to learn life skills by watching and listening to real “experts” on family life—their parents. Working together also helps members of a family to feel connected to each other.

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Going Camping

Three-year-old Ellie and her mother are playing with familiar toy family figures, a dollhouse, furniture, and a camper. By listening carefully to what Ellie says as they play, her mother discovers things that she can help Ellie understand in areas such as counting, good manners, and nutrition.

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The Baby and the Trike

Family time at home can be an occasion for a baby to learn about things and people in the world around him. When parents make playthings available in a “child-safe” space and provide unhurried time for exploring, babies can use trial and error to solve problems and find out more about what they can do with their toys.

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Straw Painting

Lucille, the young girl in this video clip, is painting outdoors on a sheet of white paper on a table. Instead of using a brush to move the paint and mix the colors, she aims a drinking straw at tiny puddles of the wet paint and blows through the straw to move the paint.

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Bethany Draws a Wheel

The community college child care center in this video was near the automotive lab, where auto mechanics were trained. The families of the children were students, faculty, and members of the local community. Many of the families qualified for subsidized child care because of their income. Children had many different attendance patterns, due to their parents’ class or work schedules.

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Cherishing Children’s Treasures Can Create Many Opportunities to Learn

Adult definitions of what makes something a treasure may differ from what a child would consider a treasure. Children find treasures everywhere. Some treasures that excite children are sparkly sequins for a craft project, pebbles, pinecones, seeds, beloved toys, or a tattered blanket. The items that capture the attention of children may be different than those adults may focus upon.

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Thoughts on Project Work with Children Who Have Special Needs

The 2013–2014 school year was my first year at John L. Hensey School, where Kim Burd and Laura DeLuca teach our early childhood special education classes. I have enjoyed observing their teaching methods and learning about the Project Approach with them. Theirs is a very hands-on, real-experience classroom where they create opportunities for all learners to be engaged at their own levels.

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