Hi, friends! I hope you’ve been having a blast celebrating your incredible little learners and this amazing stage of life during NAEYC's Week of the Young Child(TM)! So far, we’ve highlighted the importance of music, nutrition, and fitness in early childhood (0-5 years-old). Today is Work Together Wednesday, so let’s explore another concept integral to the pre-school years—“work together, build together, learn together.”

As we discussed yesterday, play is how young children learn, express themselves, and workout. NAECY notes that “[w]hen children build together [aka play] they explore math and science concepts and develop their social and early literacy skills.” On several occasions, I have witnessed this awesome situation as toddlers or preschoolers build magnificent block towers and they, or younger children, knock them down. In this situation, those building the structures employ math skills to sort, count, and pattern blocks. They learn valuable lessons about the scientific method, gravity, and form fitting function. By interacting with peers, they communicate their ideas and engage in self-regulation strategies while striving to keep their towers upright and when those towers are invariably knocked down. The builders learn early literacy skills by using vocabulary words and exercising hand and finger muscles essential to writing (especially if the blocks are smaller). The younger children responsible for knocking down the towers begin to form a rudimentary understanding of math concepts by exploring the blocks’ shapes and properties through touch. They learn about gravity through this experience and develop social skills by observing and interacting with the older children. The younger ones' literacy skills also benefit through exposure to vocabulary and the opportunity to use hand and finger muscles. All of this wonderful learning is hidden in the fun of play.

…And there’s our Zumbini® tie-in! During any given Zumbini® class, little learners “work together, build together, learn together.” In this case, learning components (cognitive, social, emotional, physical development) are hidden in the fun dancing/singing/playing/bonding nature of the class, as little ones and their caregivers work together to make (“build”) a beautiful, community atmosphere. By participating in a class session, rather than a drop-in experience, children are able to continuously build on their skill sets by gaining familiarity with the class structure (know what to expect), material covered (can follow rhythms), and their classmates (interact).

Just like in the block example, Zumbini® allows young children to “explore math and science concepts and develop their social and early literacy skills,” all while working and playing together. Let’s take a quick look at a few examples of this happening in Zumbini® class. Some of these may look familiar. (Checkout Monday's post HERE if you missed it.) As we've learned when teaching concepts to young children, repetition is key. So, hopefully this will drive home the many benefits of Zumbini®!

Math Exploration

  • Numbers & Operations: counting lyrics, numbered drum beats, etc. 
  • Patterns: repeating choreography, finger play, lyrics, class structure
  • Geometry: recognizing spatial relationships between self/classmates or illustrations in the story/song book
  • Measuring: counting steps in choreography
  • Collecting/organizing: returning materials during class
*Categories derived from Greenburg, Jan: https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/Images/resources/pubs/rockingandrolling_yc0512.pdf

Science Exploration

  • Physics: making objects move by "throwing, swinging, dropping...twirling"**
  • Habitats: engaging in songs that group animals by habitat (i.e. jungle animals, etc.)
  • Scientific Method: children determine how to make music with instruments
**Bucher and Hernandez: https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/jul2016/beyond-bouncing-ball-toddlers-and-teachers-investigate-physics

Social Skills

  • Working together to make music, collect materials
  • Experiencing the therapy of singing/dancing/playing with other little ones & caregivers**
  • Building self-confidence through bonding and self-expression (singing, dancing, and playing)
***Bullard, J.: https://www.education.com/reference/article/music-center-enhance-children-development/

Literacy Skills

  • Exploring story/song book
  • Bolstering auditory processes/memory – learning how sounds come together, distinguishing between pitches, inflection, volume****
  • Encouraging writing/scissor skills through motor movements (Read our blog post!)
****Tarbert, Kelsey: http://www.luther.edu/oneota-reading-journal/archive/2012/learning-literacy-through-music/

Whether with blocks or instruments, take time to enjoy building something amazing with your little learner today! See you tomorrow for Artsy Thursday!