With a multi-age group in a licensed family childcare home it can be difficult to balance the needs of all the children. Nap time is especially challenging when I need to be able to supervise the youngest children napping as well as the older ones who do not. It can be tricky to find quiet activities for the older preschoolers that will keep them engaged without disturbing the little ones who need to sleep.
In my current group the older three and four year old children seem content to independently look at books or do puzzles over and over again during quiet time. However, I was beginning to feel like maybe I should introduce some other activities to expand their learning opportunities. I have a small light panel which rarely gets used because it is too small for group activities and too delicate for toddler use. The older children seemed interested in using it but I didn't have many accessories available to use with the light panel.
I received the Light Panel Early Learning Bucket from Quality Classrooms to provide some additional resources. Personally I feel the 'bucket' is a little difficult to store - square or rectangular containers are easier to fit efficiently on shelves. I like that the individually packaged materials in the bucket make it convenient to select which items we want to use without having to dig through all the little pieces.
At first the children simply tried to fit as many items as possible on the light panel but didn't seem to have any other goal.
Eventually they started to sort the pieces by shape and colour and then use them to make pictures.
This one is a 'car'.
With a little guidance they practiced some numeracy skills.
This light panel is too small to accommodate all the letters so the children couldn't use it to arrange them all alphabetically. Instead, we've been working on recognizing and matching the letters in printed words.
This has proved to be a little frustrating when they want to try spelling words that have more than one of any letter as the set contains only one of each. I think it would be nice to have smaller letters and more of them.
Some of the literacy and numeracy activities we've tried to do require more assistance than they or I would like - we do value independence. These children much prefer using the shapes to create pictures and patterns which is a wonderful child-led activity. As an additional quiet time activity the light panel and accessories have offered an interesting variation but will never replace the books and puzzles that they love so much.
Written by Cheryl, an experienced ECE II who runs her own daycare (Cheryl’s Child Care).