Featuring early learning themes was something I struggled with and pondered about for quite some time, until I thought about how powerful it could be for preschool aged children to be able to explore strong concepts in many different ways. This all felt potentially positive as long as after the initial introduction, children were invited to take this learning where they wanted it to go as us educators stood by, ready to support any teachable moments – especially guiding and caring them through the social-emotional ones. Considering all of this, starting off with the theme All Around The World seemed a perfect choice as there is so much diversity here to explore. Throughout the unfolding of this unit in the Junior Kindergarten classroom at Bright Horizons Early Learning Centrein South Delta, BC, it proved to be a wonderful place to begin to help support our children to embrace both their differences and similarities.
Written by Lorrie Holmes
We start off this classroom story with a beautiful wooden puzzle from Discovery Toys called WE ALL BELONG. After sharing this puzzle with our children and watching how they reacted to it, it was definitely not a surprise to learn that this puzzle was recently awarded the recipient of the 2022 Puzzle Of The Year (Toddler Puzzle Category) from Creative Child Magazine. This puzzle showcases how we can truly celebrate all of our differences with its many interchangeable pieces that are so adorably designed on these chunky, durable wooden parts. The children loved to switch them around and stand them up and play with them as well. We would highly recommend this puzzle in any early learning setting, especially for 3-5 year olds. We feel so blessed to have crossed paths with toy representative, Stefanie Agostini, who also happens to be an early childhood educator and she is very passionate about customizing orders for fellow early childhood educators to provide enriched learning experiences for young children!
Next I decided to introduce the children to the Netherlands as my country of choice since it offers something different and exciting for them to learn about from the continent of Europe and according to UNICEF, these children are deemed the happiest in the world.
With the goal being to provide the children with a fun representation of Holland, I decided to source some people, places, and things that I thought the children would find interesting and fun to play with and learn about. While conducting this search for our felt story, I was excited to discover a crafty early childhood educator, Meg, of Meg Felt Stories who has recently started creating her own felt stories to offer to other teachers. I DM’d her and inquired to see if she’d be open to making us some felt pieces for our story about Holland and how the children play in this beautiful country. Meg was very open to customizing a felt story for us so I quickly compiled some clipart and sent her visual examples of each item we were looking for: from fish in a bun to the famous tulips of Holland, to wooden shoes and of course, to the canals and bicycles being their most popular form of transportation. We even made a special treat on Fun Friday, where our children were able to sprinkle Dutch treats onto a toasty husk to experience what Dutch children often enjoy for their breakfast! I was so impressed when Meg sent us back these felt pieces within a week which was absolutely perfect in it’s colourful and adorably playful representation of The Netherlands! The children’s responses are a strong testament as they eagerly played with the piece after they were introduced at Circle Time. I would highly recommend getting in touch with Meg if you would like something customized for your Story Time as she is experienced at using these in her own background as an early childhood educator. She also has a fun catalogue that she has created so check her out!
You can order your favourite felt stories or have one custom made by Meg by DM on Instagram.
Last but very not least is Sensory Mama Creations. This lady certainly knows how to put a sensory package together! You have to check her out if you’d like to order something extra special and fun to add to any of your classroom themes or day-to-day activities. Melissa goes that extra mile in giving you exactly what you want in your sensory kit and her prices are very reasonable to fit into your classroom budget. She provided us with a very special play dough set for this theme so we could make characters that had different skin tones. I paired this up with a card set of children’s greetings from around the world from Fiddlesticks Education so children could see the various skin tones and make their own characters with our beautiful wooden figures to be painted with our various play dough skin tones. The children also surprised me when they started to try to match the play dough to their own skin tones – so sweet!
Order your amazing sensory kits through Sensory Mama Creations by DM onInstagram.
We are ending off this theme by completing our passports which came from a download at Kid World Citizen. Using an inquiry based approach, this project has been a work in progress with my mostly working with small groups and/or one-on-one with children to complete what they would like in their passports and this offered so much opportunity to talk about the world. We began with offering the children a booklet of 16 countries to learn about and to decide which ones they wanted to earn stamps from in their own passports. I had matching flags and the children were invited to colour in the flag colours in their booklets and if they matched the colours, they could earn a stamp in their passport of that country. There was also an opportunity for children to cut out their own stamps and glue them into their passport or to just select a pre cut stamp. This project is not yet complete as it needs to be done so at the pace of each child so they enjoy the process as we are not product based in our approach. As such, each passport will look different when completed and be the result of what each individual child decided to put into it.
We would like to extend a big thank you to Bright Horizons Early Learning Centre in South Delta, BC, for inviting us into your Junior Kindergarten classroom for this story! Next month we will be featuring our summer theme in this same classroom which will include our Ice Cream Shop that we have set up for the month!
AROUND THE WORLD WE GO! was last modified: July 18th, 2022 by Lorrie Holmes