Parkland Players

Fall Art Activity: Leaf Man Collages

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Developmental Goal/Activity Objective: To create art inspired by literary works while learning about the seasonal changes of fall and using natural manipulatives.

Materials Needed:

  1. A copy of the book “Leaf Man” by Lois Ehlert
  2. Leaves
  3. Construction Paper
  4. Glue

Procedures/Strategies: (how to present activity and what children will do)

  1. Read the book “Leaf Man” as a group. Talk about the imagery in the book and how characters, animals, and scenery are created using leaves.
  2. Go out to the park or walk around the neighbourhood with paper bags and collect leaves of different shapes and sizes. Each child should collect their own leaves to make a collage.
  3. You may also put out supplementary items for children to use, like pom poms, buttons, googly eyes, etc.
  4. Each child should be given a piece of construction paper and some liquid glue. They can them create a collage using the leaves of whatever they like. People and animal are great ideas but give them the freedom to create however they want based on the inspiration of the book.




Reggio Emilia and the Environment: Tips for Making the Environment “The Third Teacher”

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According to the Reggio Emilia Approach, the environment is a key component of healthy early childhood education. The environment refers not only to the natural environment, but also the social, physical, and educational components of the classroom. So how can you make your environment a conducive place for children to direct their own learning? Margie Carter is a teacher educator in the US and Canada and she has some important tips for creating an environment that is a third teacher. Here we outline some of her key strategies (full source article listed below).

  1. BRING WORDS TO LIFE: you can do this in a variety of ways but start by looking at quotes or information about the environment that you want to share. Now create a visual representation of that philosophy or idea.
  2. ELIMINATE AS WELL AS SUPPLEMENT: declutter and replace unnecessary items with items that provocate thought and learning
  3. EXPLORE VALUES FOR YOUR ENVIRONMENT: if you work in a place where you are sharing classroom spaces with other educators, get together and discuss what values you want reflected in the environment (for example, do you want to emphasize that this space is a home away from home, that it is a space of creativity and exploration, that it is a space for active play?), then discuss how you can arrange the environment to reflect these goals.
  4. SET GOALS AND ADDRESS BARRIERS: certain aspects of the environment you want to create might not be practical or feasible at the time you are brainstorming. Set reasonable goals for how you can alter your environment to make it the third teacher and address how you can get around barriers to these goals.

Source: Carter, Margie (2007). Making Your Environment “The Third Teacher”. Exchange, The Early Leaders’ Magazine Since 1978. Redmond, WA. Web:



September Dr Seuss STEM Challenge

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At Parkland Players, we have been loving the STEM challenges lately! This week we are sharing a fun Dr Seuss inspired STEM activity. Activities like this one can be good for early in the school year in order for children to build teamwork and social skills and get to know each other a little better. Give it a try!

Dr Seuss STEM Challenge: Stack the Cat’s Hats

Developmental Goal/Activity Objective: To practice cognitive skills associated with problem-solving and planning and fine motor skills.


Materials Needed:

  1. Red and white large and small cups
  2. Construction or computer paper
  3. “The Cat In The Hat” by Dr Seuss
  4. Scissors

Procedures/Strategies: (how to present activity and what children will do)

  1. Read the story “The Cat In The Hat” by Dr Seuss.
  2. Cut squares of paper appropriate for the size of cup you are using so that the pieces of paper are slightly larger than the circumference of the cup.
  3. Invite kids to stack the cat’s “hats”. See how tall they can make the stack.
  4. Challenge them to make other structures as well.
  5. Kids should work in teams to do this task.
  6. If you want to make it competitive, add a time constraint and see who can stack the tallest tower in that period of time.





Back to School 2018 – Tips for the Transition

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Happy first week of school to everyone! We hope all the students and families in our Parkland Players Community are having a wonderful week back.

Today we are sharing one of our own posts from the beginning of last school year. Last school year we shared an article form Fraser Health with some guidelines to ease the transition in to the school year, and today, we thought we would remind everyone, or for newer families introduce everyone, to those tips for the transition.

Back to School is an exciting time but it can also be an anxiety producing period for many kids, and parents! So visit our post from last year here: in order to get some useful information for going back to school!


Critical Reflection as a Key Element of Developing as an Educator

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Back to School is right around the corner, and if you are an educator like us at Parkland Players, right now you are spending a lot of time planning for the upcoming school year. You are thinking about what activities to do, what lessons to plan, what goals you have for yourself and your student.

Sometimes, when making these kinds of plans for the future, it can be beneficial to look backwards and reflect on what has worked (or not worked) for you and your class in the past.

As the quote shown above suggests, British Columbia’s Early Learning Framework emphasizes the role of reflection in an educator’s well-rounded practice. Reflection is also a key component of the Reggio Emilia Approach, which is a key influencing program at our centre.

So today we are sharing some suggestions with our fellow educators on how to better incorporate critical self-reflection in your own teaching and learning objectives.

One article from provides a wonderful outline of the different ways in which a teacher can approach reflection. These include:

  1. Peer Observation (with colleagues)
    1. Each participant would both observe and be observed while teaching and then discuss afterwards
    2. This could involve a pre-observation conversation, an actual observation period, and then a debrief after the observation where the teaching educator shares their concerns, and the observing educator shares constructive feedback
  2. Written accounts
    1. Written accounts are emphasized in the BC ELF as a great way to reflect. The ELF suggests paying attention to the small moments where children are guiding their own education. Recording what is happening in those moments, and teasing out how to create those moments again in the future
  3. Journal Writing
    1. “The goals of journal writing are: (1) to prvide a rcord of the significant learning experience that have taken place, (2) to help the participant come into touch and keep in touch with the self-development process that is taking place for them, (3) to provice the participants with an opportunity to express, in a personal and dynamic way, their self-development, (4) to foster a creative interaction” (Rosalie Serra, source site below)

If we are truly lifelong learners, as many educators claim to be, then reflecting on the ways we continue to create the learning environment is essential for our professional growth. So for the 2018/2019 school year we are suggesting all educators take pause for a moment, and consider incorporating reflection into their practice.


Additional Source, BC Early Learning Framework:


How Early Childhood Education STEM Challenges Can Also Be Staff Team Building Exercises

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At Parkland Players, we love a good STEM Challenge! It is a great way for children to build problem solving skills, integrate the learning areas of science; technology; engineering; and math, and to practice communicating with others.

So last night at our staff meeting, we decided to have some STEM fun of our own! We used this activity:


  • Get into teams of approximately 5 people
  • Materials Needed:
    • Rubber bands
    • String
    • Cups
    • Scissors
  • Procedures/Strategies:
    • First, build the contraptions for moving the cups. Tie lengths of string (5 or 6) around a rubber band like the image above.
    • Next, work in groups and try to lift cups using this contraption, with each person holding one of the string extensions, and build a pyramid.
    • You are NOT allowed to touch the cups with your hands, only with the tool for picking the cups up.
    • The pyramid should have 3 cups on the bottom, then 2, then 1 on the top, like the diagram above.
    • First team to build their pyramid wins
  • Source:

Although the activity was meant for kids, our staff had a blast! The activity really showed where our staff succeeded in communicating with each other, and where there could be some room for improvement. The only thing we could have done differently, was maybe make a bigger pyramid, as our activity was finished pretty quickly.

So at your next staff event, consider giving STEM a try!


13 Benefits of Early Childhood Education: According to Educators

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There are a lot of theories and research out there regarding the impact of early childhood education on healthy long term development in children.

Today we are sharing an article written by a teacher with over 35 years of experience. Based on her personal observations she claims that there are 13 key benefits to early childhood education, including:

  • Socialization
  • Concept of Cooperation
  • Encouraging Holistic Development
  • Enthusiasm for Lifelong Learning
  • Education Through Experience
  • Respect
  • Teamwork
  • Resilience
  • Concentration
  • Patience
  • Confidence and Self-Esteem
  • Exposure to Diversity

We liked this article because the author emphasized some of the more qualitive benefits of early childhood education, certain things that can’t always be quantified in formal studies but are just as important.

For the full article visit:


Music and Cognitive Development

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Do you play music at home? What about when you are working, cooking, cleaning? Music is great for cognitive development, especially in the early years.

Check out this article for some of the awesome benefits of music on both a behavioural and brain level: 00cc It also has some great tips of what kind of music to play for different age groups and how music can be incorporated into games in order to maximize positive effects on development.

How do you incorporate music into your child’s daily development?