Monthly Archives

May 2015

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development in Early Childhood Education

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Lev Vygotsky was a developmental psychologist who studied the processes through which children learn. He developed the theory of a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), which suggests that “children require activities that both support past learning and encourage new learning at slightly more difficult levels” (Beverlie, 75). This means that in order for successful learning to occur children need to be engaged in both activities that they are proficient at, and activities that are slightly outside the child’s comfort zone.


In the ZPD theory, there are 3 major areas of learning. First are the things a child can do on their own, second are the things a child can do with some assistance, and third are the things a child cannot yet do. Vygotsky proposed that in order for learning to occur, tasks had to exist in the zone of proximal development, which is the area in which a child can do something with some assistance. This task would require some attention and help from a teacher but over time a child would master it and the task would move to the category of thing’s a child can do.


Through this theory, early childhood educators play a duel role. They both support children in accomplishing difficult tasks, and they expose children to tasks that a slightly beyond their current skillset. This strategy helps develop children’s learning and confidence.


Source: Dietze, Beverlie. Foundations of Early Childhood Education: Learning Environments and Childcare in Canada. Pearson Learning Solutions, 2006. VitalBook File.


Physical Activity Cube

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To get a little more physical activity into your kid’s life, or to let them use some of that abundant energy they seem to have here are a cool idea that is good for indoor and outdoors.



  1. using cardstock paper, cut out 6 squares.
  2. Write an activity on each square
  3. Tape the squares together using clear tape
  4. Before you tape the last square on, stuff a few pieces of crumpled newspaper in to give more stability


Here are some options for activities to put on each side (however you can put anything you think of):

  • Spin in a circle
  • Jump 5 times
  • Flap your arms like a bird
  • Hop on one foot
  • Dance
  • Run from the front door to the back door




Painting Without Brushes

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Most children love art activities like painting, drawing, collage, and more. And a lot of the time, the messier it is, the more they like it! So if you’re in the mood to get a little messy with your kids, here are some options for painting . . . without brushes!


One option is to use other tools such as feathers, sticks, roller brushes, loofas, dish scrubbers, fly swatters, spoons/forks or large combs. This is fun because it turns anything you can find into a “brush” and allows your child to explore the effects of different textures.


Now most of us have heard of finger painting. But a twist to this alternative to brushes, is feet painting! Paint children’s feet and then let them step on a large piece of paper to make a footprint masterpiece! (this activity is probably best done outside on a sunny day) Have a bucket of water so they can rinse their feet and swap colours.


Source: Petersen, Sandra H., and Donna S. Wittmer. Infant and Toddler Curriculum, 2nd Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions, 2012. VitalBook file.


Fostering Creativity

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At Parkland Players we value each child’s unique creative abilities. We strive to facilitate and encourage these abilities and to provide opportunities for children’s creativity to shine. Some of the strategies we use to form a creativity friendly environment include:

  • celebrating creativity and being a creative partner
  • providing time and space for creative expression through a variety of art activities
  • provide toys and materials conducive to creativity so that imaginative play can occur
  • provide a psychological climate conducive to creativity so that children are not shy or afraid to express themselves
  • pose problems that require creative solutions so that children are engaged in critical thinking
  • ask open-ended questions so children are forced to come up with unique answers
  • recognize, encourage, value and model creative thinking


Source: Petersen, Sandra H., and Donna S. Wittmer. Infant and Toddler Curriculum, 2nd Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions, 2012. VitalBook file.


Sensory Experiences for Toddlers

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Infants largely experience the world through their senses especially touch. Here are some ways to stimulate this sense during play.

  • Make texture cards by cutting pieces of cardboard and cover these cards in pairs with cotton, corduroy, terry cloth, wool, sandpaper, fur or other materials. Children can explore what each card feels like; older children can be encouraged to match pairs.
  • Finger painting with sand or other gritty, grainy substances added for texture.
  • Try drawing on different textures, like sandpaper or corrugated cardboard and try using different materials to draw with, such as chalk, charcoal, pastels, pencils, etc.
  • Sand and water paly are also great sensory activities


Source: Petersen, Sandra H., and Donna S. Wittmer. Infant and Toddler Curriculum, 2nd Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions, 2012. VitalBook file.


Books for Children Ages 2-3

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Reading is an important part of language and creative development. Children’s books can aid this development in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples of categories in which children’s books contribute to learning of language, and other skills.


  • Books about Emotions
    • Funny Face by Nicola Smee
    • In the Rain with Baby Duck by Amy Hest
    • Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
  • Books about Letter Knowledge
    • A Child’s Day: An Alphabet of Play by: Ida Pearle
    • Creature ABC by: Andrew Zuckerman
    • Max’s ABC by: Rosemary Wells
  • Books with Rhymes
    • Baby Danced the Polka by: Karen Beaumont
    • Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton
    • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
  • Books about a Toddler’s World
    • Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Waking Up? By: Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson
    • I Love You, Nose! I Love you, Toes! By: Linda Davick
    • Say Hello by: Marie-Louise Gay


Source: Port Moody Public Library


Fundamentals of Reggio Emilia

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As previously mentioned, Parkland Players uses the Reggio Emilia Approach to childcare. This approach emphasizes the positive potential and individuality of children.


Here are some of the fundamental principles of Reggio Emilia:

  • Children are capable of constructing their own learning
    • This means that children are all different with unique interests that should be supported in their education
  • Children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world through their interactions with others
    • Humans are social beings by nature and at a young age it is important to develop social skills, collaborative capabilities and understanding of others
  • Children are communicators
    • They are inquisitive and their mode through which they communicate their curiosities is often play
  • The environment is the third teacher
    • The natural environment serves a great purpose in children’s development of other skills and understanding of how the world works
  • The teacher is a mentor and guide
    • This means that the teacher plays an important role in encouraging children’s natural interests and inclinations
  • An emphasis on documenting children’s experiences
    • At Parkland, we do this by taking photos of the various activities children engage in here
  • The hundred languages of children
    • This principle is one of the most important parts of the Reggio Emilia Approach as it emphasizes the individual differences in how children may express their intelligence and understanding of new concepts. There is no single right way, there are a hundred languages in which children communicate their development