"Want to PLAY?"

November 25, 2020

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 benefits of puzzles, by Premium Joy:

11 Advantages of Puzzles for Your 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 You Tube 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 superheros. 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, 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

The Schenectady FoundationThanksgiving 2020 at Crossroads