As a parent and teacher, I have given and received gifts of handprint flowers, footprint snowmen and thumbprint hearts. These momentos are cute, sweet and sentimental; cherished for years to come.
As children develop, they are able to do much more than handprints. They are ready to paint with their fingers or at an easel as well as draw and write with markers, crayons and pencils. They are able to use their ever expanding language to express their thoughts and dictate a message. They are ready for more than precut shapes and they are ready to control the glue.
Sometimes, we adults forget the children are ready for more. In our quest to help and show children ‘the right way’, we can inhibit their creativity, individual expression and self-confidence.
Quality early learning activities are developmentally appropriate, open-ended, child created and teacher supported. Children are able to explore and experiment, make decisions and choices. Teachers scaffold and extend the activity as they observe and learn about the children’s skills and interests.
If the activity requires an adult to prepare the materials, direct the process and contol the final product; it’s not developmentally appropriate and it’s not a quality early learning activity.