an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

March 25, 2015
by countryfun

A Message to Families:

Dear Families,
I believes that all children deserve the opportunity to be healthy and successful. Healthy eating and physical activity are crucial for proper development and improve concentration, memory and mood, helping children become better learners. To support this Country Fun Child Care participates in Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 Goes to Child Care, a community program that is helping through trainings and resources, as I continue working to make this program a healthy place. Many of you already know of my involvement with Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0, but I want to take this opportunity to again share that Country Fun supports the 5-2-1-0 Every Day message, which states the following:


To further support healthy children and families, Country Fun follows the five Let’s Go! healthy strategies.

  1. We limit unhealthy choices for snacks and celebrations and promote healthy choices instead.
  2. We limit or do not provide sugary drinks and provide water instead.
  3. We do not reward children with food.
  4. We provide opportunities for children to get physical activity every day.
  5. We limit recreational screen time.

These strategies are promoted in our community and help ensure a healthy environment for children throughout the day. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask me or contact Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 directly by visiting

Thank you for your support in helping to create a healthier place for your children to grow!


March 5, 2015
by countryfun

Colors and Shapes are Starting

There has been a lot of random labeling of colors and shapes within our play recently. By random I mean the children are just trying out the labels without correctly applying them. This is a group that also gravitates to puzzles. To observe the knowledge base, I pulled out an activity using these interests that would provide me with a chance to see color and shape working together.

I video taped all interaction during the activity. Here’s a chance to see our starting point. I’ll be reviewing and pulling goals for future activities.

(warning this video is around 12 minutes in length)

M4H06326 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

March 3, 2015
by countryfun

Learning Without a Lesson

I’ve always believed that learning occurs from whatever activity you are involved in. I believe that for young children especially the best learning occurs naturally whenever they are engaged. I also believe it’s about the process, not the product.

I have always made materials to use for lessons and activities here. I have also often let the children help in the making of the material. Why I do this is for that “learning without a lesson”. There are important lessons that can not be taught in what we think of as school lessons or play.

While observing a visiting specialist’s lesson an idea was triggered and I went on the hunt for CVC cards which I would be able to use to work with both beginning and ending sounds and word families. I could make myself, but I figured I could probably find some online and save time. I did just that. On TPT, I found CVC Phoneme Segment cards by Lavinia Pop – 76 cards to download for $3.

I decided to print the cards off this morning the children were playing. I wondered if it would draw any attention. If so I intended to get the children talking about the pictures that were printing off. What image? What was beginning sound? What letter makes that sound? Could they figure out the last letter by it’s sound?

The 1 Pre-K here today came right over and our conversation started. Other children came and went. I also decided to write in the letters for each image, as I thought would provide more ability to adapted the material for later usage. “R” handed me the printed sheets and named each letter as I silently wrote them out. Not only did this provide reinforcement of letter recognition, but she saw we engaged in writing out words composed of letters – reinforcing that concept.

Once done it was time to cut apart and laminate. “R” got out the laminator and sheets, but waited for me to plug in. Allowing to help in this way supports independence, self-esteem, and also safety practices. Next “R” asked where else she could help.

I showed her how to place the cut cards, telling her only 4 to a sheet and she proceeded to problem solve that – 2 rows of 2. DSC06314DSC06312 She also put the sheets through the laminator.

M4H06315 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

I had to reshow her how to push in until the rollers grab. We talked about why it worked that way and what a laminator does. Learning here includes following directions, expanding language, fine motor, math, science, value of tools, following through with project start to finish. Working with an adult.

Again others were in and out, but “R” was completely engaged.

DSC06316Last part was sorting out some bulk letter tiles I have. We worked together to sort into uppercase/lowercase. To start, we will be using the lowercase to play with the cards as I wrote the CVC words out in lowercase.

With the help of one willing learner our game material is completed and waiting for use for other lessons to be learned.

March 2, 2015
by countryfun

Future Engineers?


We have tons of building materials always available here, and recently my 2 – 4 yr olds have been taking a pile of recycled cups and stacking “mountains”. This activity shows a skill growth over just stacking legos or our large cardboard blocks.

I’ve been observing this team work and process and today finally was able to get the activity on video. (There are 3 separate videos to cover the activity to provide easier viewing.)

– Watch how they know cups might need to be moved to get the correct distance to allow for the stacking.

– Watch how they are cooperating as they stack on opposite ends.

– Listen to the conversation during the building for language and vocal intonations.

We also had some inappropriate interaction that was handled through removing of self and off camera reflection on better way to handle response. I also redirected a younger child to find other play. This younger child is not at a developmental level with their play to be engaged in the building with these materials. Although wanting to be part of the activity it ended up interfering and I felt it was important to support the effort of the 2 builders.

M4H06304 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

M4H06305 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

I supported the problem solving in this child-directed activity by explaining and modeling a solution. You will also see the children problem solving solutions as they ran out of stacking materials.

M4H06306 from Country Fun Child Care on Vimeo.

So much learning demonstrated through this play as demonstrated through the Maine Early Learning Guidelines:

Approaches to Learning Domain

A) Initiative and Curiosity

  • Expresses an eagerness to participate in and learn about a widening range of topics, ideas, and tasks
  • Finds more than one solution to a question, task, or problem
  • Recognizes and solves problems through active exploration, including trial and error, interactions and discussions with peers and adults

B) Persistence and Reflection

  • Persists in and completes an increasing variety of tasks, activities, projects, and experiences
  • Sets goals, develops plans, and completes tasks
  • Demonstrates a capacity to maintain concentration for a meaningful period of time on a task, set of directions, or interactions, despite distractions and interruptions
  • Applies prior experiences, senses, and knowledge to new learning situations
  • Considers and implements different approaches to carrying out a task
  • Alters approach to tasks when initial approach does not work
  • Recognizes and solves problems independently through trial and error and by interacting with peers and adults
  • Seeks help appropriately from another child or an adult when encountering a problem

Mathematics Domain ~

Mathematical Decision-Making Domain

  • Uses planning to acquire a desired outcome (e.g., selecting appropriate types and quantities of materials)


  • Begins to recognize, copy, extend, and create simple patterns

Personal and Social Development Domain ~

A) Self Control

  • Seeks adult help when needed for emotional support
  • Recognizes own and others’ emotions
  • Describes own and others’ emotions

B) Self Concept

  • Explores and experiments with new interests
  • Develops a growing understanding of how own actions affect others
  • Accepts the consequences of own actions
  • Expresses pride in accomplishments

C) Social Competence

  • Interacts appropriately with familiar adult(s)
  • Interacts with one or more children
  • Interacts respectfully and cooperatively with adults and peers
  • Participates as a member of a group through sustaining interactions with peers
  • Listens with interest and understanding to directions
  • Listens with interest and understanding during conversations
  • Uses compromise and discussion in play, and resolution of conflicts with peers

Science Domain ~

B) Scientific Process

  • Explores and experiments with different materials, objects and situations
  • Identifies problems and proposes ways to solve them

February 23, 2015
by countryfun

Another Snow Problem

It’s getting harder and harder to have all this snow (problem 1), yet it’s too cold (problem 2) day after day to spend much time outside playing in it. Winter kids want to play in the snow……….

Need to solve the “no playing in the snow” problem.

Solution: bring inside

Click to play this Smilebox photo album
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Another photo album by Smilebox

Follow up with our poem app for a poem about out inside snow experience.

February 19, 2015
by countryfun

Hug Monster

Wrapping up a week of heart related activities available to play with, I pulled out my dollar store gadget box, paint and pink papers. After each child that wanted to explore made a choice of paper I took my scissors to them. For fun I tried to cut around the perimeter before the children counted to 10 twice. Almost made it. Figured a fun way to practice counting and pushed me to cut quickly and slightly messy.

Paint onto our lids and time to explore the textures the different gadgets made.DSC06246  DSC06247


Once dried I asked if anyone wanted to make a “Hug Monster?” Round of “Yes!!!” and “What’s a Hug Monster?” My answer – “Can you show me how you would hug a friend?”  “What does Cookie Monster or Grover look like?” Took off from there labeling body parts, fur, big eyes…..

I cut out desired eyes, mouth, nose parts from our scrap paper box. (Each folder in the box holds a different color of paper to make it easier at selection time.)

DSC06254  DSC06255

I showed how to take long strips and accordion fold arms.

Then a heart was chosen from the hearts left over from other activities this past week.

Glue everything where desired and you get:

DSC06260 DSC06261 DSC06262

What would you need for your “Hug Monster”.

February 8, 2015
by countryfun

Love Those Little Unifix Cubes

Unifix cubes are a material I find children of all ages love to play with. I do keep them up and away from daily play, because of infants in care, but with direct supervision even infants can have fun with unifix cubes.

I love to teach with them, so they often find their way into the space. Check out the learning fun we had  today when the cube box came into the space.

Understanding patterns is a foundation concept for mathematics. Unifix cubes allow us to build great pattern towers in a small space, working individually or in group.

DSC06182  DSC06183

Then you can branch off to just building the biggest tower you can. That means you have to solve a couple of problems: how to keep a tower from breaking apart and how to get up high enough to place the cubes. DSC06184 “R” solved by bringing over a chair and asking for me to hold the tower.

Lets sort and then build our own patterns. DSC06186 and build……DSC06190 and build DSC06193 until taller than myself. Another opportunity to problem solve: how to measure against myself? DSC06196 “M” solved this by laying his tower on the floor and laying down next to it. Once he could see blocks past his head he knew the tower was taller than he was. Used the wall of the fort to be sure measured from the same starting point.

They make a wonderful sensory tub for little hands. The interaction between ages is great for a little one who wants to do what the rest are doing.

DSC06189 DSC06188

What about counting to 100 by 10’s……..DSC06187 That means lots of counting with some addition and subtraction.


Picking up and stacking or making a finger pattern is great for fine motor.




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