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All Tip Sheets are available in English and Spanish (español). Most Tip Sheets are available in Polish (Polski). Selected Tip Sheets are available in Korean (한국어), Chinese (中文 (中国), Arabic (العربية), Russian (Русский) and French (Français). IEL Tip Sheets are easy-to-read, one-page resources on a variety of topics of interest to parents and teachers of young children. You can also search Tip Sheets by Topic.
Graphic Tip Sheets
Graphic Tip Sheets are meant for busy families. Put them on your refrigerator, corkboards, or other common household areas as quick reminders of important activities you can enjoy with your family.
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Tip Sheets by Series
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Videos & Podcasts
These videos show some family activities that help infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children learn about the world. For each video we provide some background information, a transcript, and a list of resources about the topic.
Early Learning Moments Videos
The Illinois Early Learning Moments have been developed to assist infant/toddler care providers in implementing the strategies for interaction outlined in the Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age Three (IELGs). Each Early Learning Moment includes a video, information about the area being covered, suggestions for creating an environment to support children’s development, and a series of questions to help you assess whether your everyday environment and interactions support the development of the children under your care.
These videos were filmed in various child care settings. For each video, we provide some brief background information, a transcript, and a description of strategies teachers or caregivers used to help children meet standards in the Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age 3. Having promised parents and the child care center that the children’s identities would remain anonymous, IEL has dubbed out any mentions of the children’s names in these videos. In the transcript and the introduction to the videos, we have inserted pseudonyms for the children.
These videos were filmed in a variety of settings, including programs at public universities, community colleges, and private homes. For each video, we provide background information, a transcript, and a description of how various 2013 Illinois Early Learning and Development benchmarks are met.
Podcasts are a great way to explore early childhood education topics on the go. The Illinois Early Learning Project will continue to add new audio content that can be streamed or downloaded to your device.
Standards & Guidelines
Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age 3
2013 Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards
Illinois Learning Standards for Kindergarten
Kindergarten Standards Resources and KIDS Assessment
Children with Disabilities and Developmental Delays
Increasingly, children with developmental delays or disabilities attend child care or preschool programs where teachers may have limited information about how to include a child with special needs. Parents who have a child with special needs also may want to know more about adapting family activities to more fully include the child. View more blogs.
Culturally Responsive Practices
An increasing population of children entering child care or preschool who speak a home language other than English. This blog is intended to help parents and teachers support these children as they learn English and their home languages. View more blogs.
Learning and Growing Together
Children grow and develop rapidly in the first five years of life. Every day routines and playtimes provide rich opportunities for young children to learn. This blog explores practical and enjoyable ways that caregivers, families, and teachers can help children learn as they play and explore their world. View more blogs.
Perspectives on the Project Approach
View blogs by Lilian Katz, Sallee Beneke, or practicing early childhood directors. View more IEL blogs.
Learning at Home Activities
Questions and Answers (Q&A)
The IEL staff has prepared a series of questions (and their answers!) on topics in early learning.
These Resource Lists are related to popular topics and contain a wealth of information on early care and education.
Our tool kits are designed to assist teachers and caregivers in their work with young children. The resources have been created as starting points for developing materials that address the individual needs of the children and families in their programs.
Find resources, strategies, and activities to keep young children learning at home and at school during the COVID-19 situation.
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Each Project Guide will suggest a topic suitable for project work in preschool settings, with an explanation of why the topic is worth studying. All Guides include several components: ▪ potential strategies for introducing the topic and engaging children’s initial interest ▪ suggestions for possible roles for the teacher and activities for the children during each phase of project work ▪ a list of Illinois Early Learning Benchmarks that are addressed by the project activities described in the Guide, showing how specific activities address those benchmarks Many teachers find it easier to start using the Project Approach when they have some resources and suggestions for how to begin. Others who have experience doing projects with children often report that they would like some help deciding on a worthwhile project topic. Still others say that a short time into their projects, they sometimes find that they have “run out of ideas” for extending children’s investigations. The IEL Tip Sheets on the Project Approach offer brief introductions to the phases and features of project work. Project Guides are intended to provide “the next step” for teachers.
Illinois Educators are invited to submit simple documentation of project work from their classrooms. IEL staff will help edit and publish your project! By sharing documentation of their experiences implementing the Project Approach, Illinois teachers can help each other learn new strategies and ideas for implementation.
Lesson Planning in the Context of Projects
Teachers who use the Project Approach value the ways that a project emerges from the children’s engagement and their investigation activities. The fact that investigations may go in unanticipated directions is one of the aspects of project work that appeals to many educators. However, the fact that the course of project work can be unpredictable can also present challenges to a teacher’s planning process, especially when a program’s sponsors require that teachers submit detailed lesson plans in advance. The Illinois Projects in Practice Web site hopes to address that problem with this special section. Key activities in any project can address Illinois Early Learning Benchmarks as well as broader intellectual and social-emotional goals. Such activities as making a topic web with the children, field sketching, interviewing experts, and taking surveys can all be planned in advance, even as much project work emerges from the children’s interests. Lesson Planning Aids for the Project Approach are designed to be quick, adaptable references for teachers who wish to use the Project Approach but are required to create lesson plans ahead of time. Each lesson planning aid provides suggested step-by-step procedures for an important Project Approach activity, along with possibilities for expanding upon the…
Project Approach Tip Sheets
Blog: Perspectives on the Project Approach
View the most recent blog postings. View blogs by Lilian Katz, Sallee Beneke, or practicing early childhood directors.
Project Approach Resources
The Legacy of Lilian Katz
Perspectives on the Project Approach
This blog focuses on using the Project Approach in early childhood settings.
Exploring Project Work Through the Eyes of Toddlers and Twos
Focused Explorations and the Project Approach
Universal Design for Learning and Project Work
Selecting Useful Topics for Projects
Doing Projects With Families From a Distance
Coaching Others in Implementing the Project Approach
Adjusting Pace and Location of Project Work
Project Work as a Context for Social Development
Project Work Engages Young Children’s Intellects
Accreditation Renewal Sparks an Anti-bias Journey
Continuity of Contact
Insight as Part of Teaching Young Children
Making Preliminary Field Trips
The “Bottom-up” Perspective on the Quality of an Early Childhood Program
Giving a Project a Narrative Title
Thoughts on Project Work with Children Who Have Special Needs
Math and the Project Approach
Talking Straight to Children
Documentation: The Basics, Part 2
A Multiage Project on “How Things Work”: An Unexpected Adventure
Documentation: The Basics, Part 1
Following the Child’s Lead
Project Work in a Program Serving Highly Diverse Communities
Standards of Experience
The Project Approach and the CLASS Observation Tool
Discussing Project Work with Children in Inclusive Classrooms
Project Topics in Neighborhoods Where Safety Is a Major Concern
The Feed-Forward Problem
Displaying Documentation: Providing Supports for the Viewer of the Display
Supporting a Large Staff in Implementing the Project Approach
Some Benefits of Multiage Grouping
Developing a Class Album
Two Approaches to Implementation of the Project Approach
Successful Long-Term Implementation of Projects
Helping Children Seek Knowledge and Understanding
Merging the Project Approach with Other Curricula
Organize High-Quality Professional Development on the Project Approach in Your Own Backyard
Responding to Children’s Interest in a Topic
Props, Teachers, and Projects: Engaging Learners in Representational Play
Beginning a Center-Wide Commitment to Project Work
Thoughts on Leadership
Moving from Thematic Units to Projects
The Question Table
Flexibility and the Project Approach
Journey into the Project Approach
Projects that Strengthen Children’s Sense of their Communities
Materials for Representation in Project Work
A Project on Trees: Suggestions for Teachers
Tips for Supporting Teachers’ Implementation of Project Work
How Many Projects per Year?
Informing Parents about the Project Approach
Field Trips and Fieldwork
Building an Appetite for Project Work
Helping Children Take the Lead
The Horse Project (blog)