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An Explanation of Active Learning in Early Childhood and Activities to Promote Active Learning

Active learning is defined as learning in which a child, through interactions with objects, people, or new concepts, develops new understanding. Active learning requires the participation of the child—it cannot happen without it—and is built around these key truths:

  • Learning requires the participation of the learner.

  • Children learn in different ways and at different rates.

  • Learning is both an individual and social process.

Active learning puts children in charge of what they learn. Learners are encouraged to choose from several different activities or experiences. Learning is meaningful, with plenty of opportunity to touch, move, and experiment, and the goal is to allow children to think for themselves, ask questions about their experiences, and solve problems.

With active learning, teachers go through the learning experience alongside students rather than taking the helm and instructing. This requires trusting the learner and allowing him or her to make mistakes. Teachers can guide children, helping them see “mistakes” as learning opportunities, and modify expectations based on each student’s capabilities.

The Integral Role of Play in Active Learning

We have said this many times—play is fundamental to early learning. The two are inextricably linked, for it is through play that children begin to understand the world around them and their place in it.

Through play children learn to explore and discover new realities around them. They can create problems through play and learn to solve them. As a child plays with blocks he or she is learning about spatial relationships, balance, and cause and effect. A child participating in pretend play is learning about social norms while they improve their language development.

Active Learning Activities for Young Learners

Gardening for Letters

This fun and interactive activity blends gross and fine motor skills with letter identification, and it takes minimal DIY-prep on your part.

Orange pool noodles are cut into “carrot” rings with a green ribbon “stem” attached. Write a letter in the alphabet on each ring then take them outside and “plant” them in your yard. If you don’t have a yard, you could plant them in your sandbox or even in a baking pan or shallow tub filled with dirt.

Allow your child to dig up the carrots, calling out the letter on each. This is a fun and unconventional way for children to practice letter identification.

Don’t Drop the Cookies

We love the fact that this site offers free printables for this fun, fast-paced math matching game.

Print a set of cookies for each child who will be playing. Each set includes eight cookies with 1 – 8 chips on each. Children can scoop the cookies then match the number of chips on their cookie to the number on the tray.

This game can be set up in a variety of ways for single players or for groups and is wonderful for honing fine motor skills and visual perception while teaching early math skills.

Indoor Bug Hunt

If you have both older and younger learners, you know just how hard it can be to find an activity that engages both ages. This fun activity does just that!

All you need is a few sheets of colored construction paper and a collection of objects in corresponding colors (you could use things like click-together blocks or crayons you have at home, or order a set of sorting bears from Amazon).

Hide your objects around your house, then instruct your child to look for an item and place it on the color paper it matches. Younger children will love the matching portion of the game, and older children can be asked questions like “Which color has the most pieces? Which one has the least?”

Squirt Gun Science

From indoors to outdoors, this game is big on fun…but has the potential to be messy, so it is best played in a backyard on an outdoor patio.

This game uses items you likely have laying around your home and in your pantry—a pan, a bowl, baking soda, food coloring, vinegar, protective goggles, and a squirt gun.

Place random drops of food coloring in the bottom of your baking pan then cover the bottom of the pan with baking soda. Fill your water gun with vinegar, then grab your pan, your child, and your goggles and head outside.

Tell your child to take aim and fire, and watch their amazement as the surface erupts in bubbles and color. This is a great way to introduce children to the concept of color blending and can keep children entertained for hours.

Giving children permission to seek knowledge through play allows them to ask questions in a safe and structured environment. Providing plenty of opportunity for active learning will go a long way in helping your child be better prepared for the rigors of primary school.

For any more information, call Clovel Childcare and Early Learning Centre, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. For any information about our Educational Programs, give us a call at 02 9199 0294 or fill in this contact us form.

Thanks for reading,
Clovel Childcare
1300 863 986