"PLAY IS THE CHILD'S WORK!!"
Children play everyday. Play is considered to be one of the primary needs of a child and play is often said to be a child's work! Play provides the foundation for academic or 'school' learning. It is the preparation children need before they learn highly abstract symbols such as letters and numbers. Learning isn't just repeating what someone else says; it requires active thinking and experimenting to find out how things work and to learn firsthand about the world they live in.
DEVELOPMENT THROUGH PLAY
Children learn best when they have "object they can manipulate; when they have chances to explore the world around them; when they can experience and learn from trial-and-error within a safe and stimulating environment" or in another word, "PLAY". Play is now seen as being crucial to the development of the child - it is through play that children learn many things about the world around them! Play is the main way in which children learn, therefore play affects all aspects of a child's development.
Manipulative skill is the ability to use one's hands or finger with dexterity. It is important for young children to develop such skills so that they learn not only to button and zip clothes and hold pencils with ease but also to learn to read without difficulty later on. Eye-hand coordination is important for developing the visual perception necessary to read from left to right.
PUZZLES & BLOCKS
Puzzles not only help children develop spatial awareness and the ability to think logically, they also give children with eye-hand coordination, fine manipulaitve skills and memory skills. All these skills are basic to later thinking tasks that involve the symbols and concepts found in reading, mathematics and problem-solving.
Block play has parts that children can handle and examine with their hands and eyes. Fine motor skills are developed (eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity) and concepts are acquired (matching, classification, seriation). This is also an excellent activity for improving a child's spatial awareness. It is good for pre-math skills of understanding of the concept of volume.
Mathematics plays a vital role in our lives. The ability to count, measures and have some feeling of spatial awareness enable us to carry out everyday tasks. Children need to "experience" mathematics rather than being taught it in a formal way. It helps children move from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract, or symbolic. Children need experiences with concrete three-dimensional materials in sorting, classifying and counting before they can progress to more abstract work with number symbols.
In early childhood years, scientific processes are the ways children seek answers to their questions. Children engage in various science processes by observing, describing, comparing, organizing data, etc to introduce children to the marvels of science and let them exercise their natural curiosity.
Reading and writing fit together, as most children develop these skills side by side. We can assist children develop these skills by developing their hand-eye coordination, creating the awareness of print, providing plenty of opportunities for children to read and write.
Puppets make powerful teaching tools. Even through the word 'puppet' comes from Latin word for doll, puppets are more than dolls. They invite children to explore their imaginations and share their imagination with others. Puppets add life to their learning processes and are a natural vehicle for creativity, imagination and self-expression.