"Want to PLAY?"

April 07, 2021

4.7.2021 Books on the Rug

It’s true that we usually think of book time as academic time. Literacy development is surely a critical aspect of educational programming with many parts and portions of its own. But there’s also a social aspect of sharing books that can’t go unsung, and that is what today’s story is about.

Ms. Jena, Room 4‘s teacher gives the children a time slot each day to hang out on the rug with each other and read. Most of these youngsters can’t really read in the adult sense of the word, however by being exposed to a variety of books at various levels, they are developing valuable literacy skills that will help their reading abilities develop. Additionally and pertaining to this article is the matter of social skills, something that is also deeply important for our Crossroads students. Here are 5 social skills that are targeted at this time:

  1. Tolerating others in a group space. Many children prefer to be on their own, but it’s not realistic to go through life in solitary. So, decreasing resistance to being part of a group in a shared space is important.
  2. Understanding personal space. When in a group space, there are boundaries to personal space that youngsters don’t comprehend until they learn them. Book time on the rug is the perfect setting to establish personal space using markers on the rug and corners of the area.
  3. Waiting patiently. Kids typically want it and they want it now. It’s part of life to have to wait and to be patient while waiting. When kids share a bin of books, the opportunity is likely to have to wait for a desired book that is being enjoyed by a friend.
  4.  Sharing and taking turns. These are actually two different things but for the sake of keeping things simple for this purpose, let’s just say that a bin of books offers a bin of opportunities to share books and take turns with books. Further, some of the books are being read aloud by a team member, requiring the students to take turns in selecting the book to be read and to share the attention of the adult.
  5. Modeling. Some students are recognizing the front and back of the book, while others are reading words. Some are identifying letters, and some are pointing to pictures. Being part of a group of rich diversity allows everyone to learn from each other, make efforts that wouldn’t come to mind on one’s own.

3.23.2021 Figures and Buildings

There are endless benefits of play to a child’s learning. Important concepts such as colors, labels, quantities, and sizes of things are communicated by parents and teachers when playing with children. Toys have names, they have substance and qualities that give the child a greater understanding of the world we live in.

In Room 3 some of the concepts children are working on are prepositions. In, out, on, off, next to, between over, under… the difference between them can be tricky for children. That makes this playgroup a great one. There are buildings – here a treehouse and a farm – and there are figures – little figures of animals are used today. The classroom team guides students, for instance, to put the horse IN, or to put the cow ON, and so on. The children are in small groups, center-style, and will switch after a certain time period.

Along with prepositions, social skills such as turn-taking, playing within a group of children, sharing, and staying seated in a short group, are all getting a work-out. This year alone, the kiddos in Room 3 have improved their skills in this area in so many ways.

3.2.2021 Building and Connecting

Opportunities to construct are important for young children. Toys that connect to each other help children learn how objects are used together, and how things work. Children can be creative when building, and also might enjoy watching what other children are doing with similar toys.

Children in Room 7 enjoyed playing with interlocking blocks and bubble beads recently in play centers. Connecting the blocks and beads, and taking them apart again, naming the colors, and showing their work to teachers and friends were just some of the skills the students accomplished here.

11.25.2020 Little Hands and Little Toys

There’s no question that children enjoy toys, but playing with toys actually benefits children, too. Youngsters learn new motor skills – both fine and gross motor – when playing with toys. Cognitive skills are created and strengthened such as problem-solving, color, shape and functional understanding, and pretend skills. Social skills are also fortified when kids play near or with others as they do in their classrooms. They watch and imitate each other, and use their toys to interact with their environment and each other.

It’s always amazing to watch kids hard at play, and that’s why we have this story to share with you. Room 1 contains some of our youngest children, and learning to play with toys is still somewhat of a new experience for many. Two months ago, when our Fall Session began, learning Play Center routines was somewhat challenging for many of the classrooms, including this one. But now in November, there’s already so much progress in how the students are playing, happily and with focus.

Great job, Room 1!

10.26.2020 Puzzles are important for lots of reasons!

From eye-hand coordination, to shape recognition, puzzles are developmentally beneficial. Children work on puzzles in every room, moving from puzzles with one piece to several, to many as their skills improve. Most of our teachers are keen on the wooden puzzles, which are hardy and also theme-based, however, cardboard or foam puzzles and interlocking ones are also handy depending upon the child and his or her current ability and interest.

Here’s a really great article about the benefits of puzzles, by Premium Joy:

11 Advantages of Puzzles for Child Development

In Room 4 recently, students played on the rug with lots of choices of puzzles. There were firetrucks and dinosaurs, farm vehicles, and farm animals. Everyone was engaged and successful, and team members were close by to offer help as needed.

As puzzles are a lifelong leisure interest, these little guys are working now on something they can get better at forever. Great job, Room 4!


What happens when you’re home from school due to a seriously contagious virus? Your child is asking for his friends and teachers, or her speech therapist, or lunch buddy.

We’re all in this crummy COVID-19 virus boat together, and the team members at Crossroads are working hard to help. Here’s a YouTube video found and shared by Room 12‘s Special Education Teacher, Mrs. Erin, that might just be the ticket to helping your child understand why he or she can’t play with friends right now.

11.20.19 “Wanna play?”

Words everyone remembers from their childhood when a peer runs up to you on the playground and asks if you’re in for a game or romp through the slides. Whether with cars, dinosaurs, dolls, or legos, play is a basic element of childhood that many kids intrinsically grasp easily and naturally.

But, at Crossroads, we know that not everyone knows how to play.

Not naturally, not intrinsically, and certainly not easily.

Many kids, especially those with special needs, need help to learn how.

Play is a term that encompasses everything from dolls to toy trains, from Trouble to soccer, from house to superheroes. Play builds skills in every area of life, from independence to interaction, from attending to transitioning, from people skills to school skills to job skills.

Playing with a toy in its intended manner, interacting with others in ways that are positive, using one’s time in fun and healthy ways, engaging in new activities to build variety and interests…. so many things to learn! Yes, it’s an area that’s tremendously important to work on with children.

All of Crossroads Center for Children’s classrooms, whether preschool or school age, have toys, games, and most importantly, a time set aside for the class to work on play skills. Some classrooms call it social skills, others call it play centers, but no matter the name, the skill set being worked on is play. Play and social skills are further addressed during other group times, such as Circle, Centers, Art, Music, Physical Education. The progress of the individual children in the classroom is facilitated through strategically planning activities, interactions, and opportunities to target each students’ particular goals.

How are play skills taught? The same way as other skills at the school are addressed – by breaking the skills down into more manageable sets and steps, by modeling the steps, by gradually lessening the prompting, and by taking data so that progress is truly measurable. For example, when teaching how to build with legos, rather than lining them up, the teacher might start with having the child stack just 2 legos, and reinforcing this achievement each time the child succeeds. When the child is consistently successful with 2 legos, he or she can work with 3, and so on. In this manner, little by little, students make gains that they can carry over into other, generalized settings. Armed with knowing how to play, the child is more able to join in and play with others when “wanna play?” is asked by a peer.


Building successful lives, one play activity at a time

Kids Connections Early Learning at Crossroads ProgramLearning in groups