Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) for Early Childhood Education

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What is Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)

  • DAP is an approach to education that is meant to optimize early childhood growth and development
  • Goals of DAP include:
    • Educators seeing where children are
    • Educators meeting children at their developmental location
    • Educators supporting children in reaching their learning goals

Three Core Beliefs of DAP

  • Knowing about child development and learning: this means understanding what the important developmental milestones at different ages and stages are.
  • Knowing what is individually appropriate: this means paying attention to the children in our classes, their individual needs and development patterns
  • Knowing what is culturally important: this refers to getting to know the communities that we are a part of and care for and understand their cultural uniqueness.

DAP suggests that these three core beliefs should inform all educational programming in order to provide the best learning outcomes for children. Essentially, DAP requires us to be aware and engaged educators, who are responsive to children’s individual and group needs.

To learn more about DAP visit source:


BITAA: A Fresh Perspective for Early Childhood Education Program Planning

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Many educators and parents are familiar with this question: “What can I prepare for the children to do today”? For many educators and parents, this question arises because we want to provide the best variety of engaging and educational activities possible in order to support our children’s development. No matter how many years of experience you have working with or raising children, answering this question in a meaningful way can still be a struggle sometimes. And it is not as if there is a shortage of resources out there. On the contrary, it can appear as though there are too many ideas, resources, and activities for one person to process on a day to day basis.

Here is where Bitaa comes in. Bitaa is a system we have begun to utilize at Parkland Players. It offers a collection of hand-picked activities from a number of different educational resources for ages ranging from 0 to 12. The Activity Book covers a variety of developmental areas, and skills. Bitaa is also wonderful for a Reggio Emilia inspired centre like ours, because it keeps activities open-ended and leaves plenty of room for parents and educators to put their own twist on activity implementation.

Check out this article to see what Bitaa is all about: What Is Bitaa? Visit their website to learn more:


The Environment and Play: A British Columbia Perspective

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Today we are talking about the importance of having a nurturing environment for children’s play. As mentioned in previous posts, an environment that supports inquiry and exploration is key to stimulating early childhood experiences in the child care setting.

This article BC’s early learning blog, shares some of the key aspects of a successful early learning environment.

Give it a read!


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: