“The Power of Play”

Have you ever heard someone remark about an early childhood program – even ours, perhaps – “All the children do there is play”?  At good early childhood programs there is a lot of play – and there should be!


Years of research on children’s learning and development document  the many benefits of play for children’s intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and language development.  Children at play are actively involved in creating themes, exploring and establishing environments, solving problems, and developing shared understandings.


Children play in many ways.  They play independently, sometimes near each other but with each child engrossed in his own activity.  They engage in what is called “parallel play”, perhaps using each others’ toys or even talking, but not coordinating their play.  They also play cooperatively, organizing roles and scenarios for group play.  As they get older, children are capable of more cooperative, coordinated play.  But all kinds of play are valuable.


As kids play with each other, they learn to see other children’s points of view and begin to become more empathetic and caring.  They come to understand customs and rules in their own culture and to appreciate those of others.  They learn to use language in new ways to describe their play and to interact with others.  And in play, children develop their muscles and coordination.


At CDC we organize our curriculum into thematic units and support children’s play by providing space, opportunity, and materials.  We offer opportunities to stretch and expand horizons while respecting the child’s need and right to learn at their own pace.   We provide them with simple, interesting materials – no newfangled, expensive gadgets required – and the kids take it from there.


Play is fun.  But it also is serious business that pays big dividends to its eager, young investors.  


Daily Structure

Children are enrolled in classes by age and development.  The children participate in a variety of activities throughout the building during the day.   The big room and playground are used for large motor activities.  We rotate classes in the lunchroom and use this area for cooking activities.  There is a music room and a room for small group activities.


Schedules vary for each class as is fitting for their age group.  Younger classes have a very flexible schedule with more structure added as it benefits the development of the children. 


Learning Centers:  A variety of hands-on activities are planned for the children in the 2, 3, 4, and 5 year old class rooms.  Children choose to participate in one or all activities.  Some centers are independent while others require teacher interaction.  The learning centers are planned to foster development of fine motor skills, social and emotional skills, cognitive skills, and language skills.  Learning centers change often to fit the unit and the class .


Circle Time:  Circle time includes stories, songs, finger plays, show & tell, and learning games.  Children’s literature is an important part of circle time.


Music:  Cubs, Lil Critters, Giraffes, Amigos, Explorers, Monkeys, Superheroes, Superstars, and Discoverers participate in a music program.  The children have the opportunity to sing, dance, play musical instruments, and experience creative movement activities.


Free Choice:  At sometime each day, every class has a free choice time when the children are encouraged to choose from the materials in their class room.  Our class rooms are well equipped with manipulative materials, dramatic play props and toys.  Equipment and materials are alternated frequently so that new experiences are available on a regular basis.


Specials:  With planning done by the director and assistant director, specials include science and literature extension activities as well as chapel.  The children in Explorers through Discoverers participate in chapel.  Chapel is held once a week and rotates days so that as many children as possible have the opportunity to participate.  The children in Explorers, Superheroes, Monkeys, Superstars, and the Discoverers participate on a rotating basis in the science and literature extension activities.


Outside/Big Room:   Each class goes to the playground/big room at least once each day.  This is an important time for large motor activities and unstructured play.  Social development is also a key element of this time.  A variety of equipment is available to support children’s play. 


Lunch:  Lunch is a social engagement for preschoolers and a tactile experience for toddlers.  We hope for a good deal of conversation at this time and are seldom disappointed.


Naptime:  Our younger classes have a planned naptime.  The infants are in cribs and the toddlers and two year olds have mats for naps.  Older classes do not nap, but usually have a quiet time which provides a change of pace.



Teachers are responsible for planning and implementing the curriculum for their class rooms.  All of our teachers are certified by degree, training, and/or experience.  Ongoing staff training keeps teachers aware of current trends and new ideas in the field of early childhood education.  We boast a very low turnover rate.  Most of our staff has been at CDC for 5 -10 years or more. 



CDC/Big School Connection

On the following pages, you will find some of the many activities that can be found throughout our program along with the skills developed and the academic area to which it relates.


We seek to enrich the learning experience for the children of Southern Hills Child Development Center.  Our curriculum is carefully designed to support a child’s construction of knowledge.  In this process, children learn to make choices, to solve problems, to negotiate solutions, to socialize with peers, and to trust themselves as learners.  Our hope is that as children construct knowledge and skills in all areas – physical, social, emotional, and intellectual – our curriculum establishes a foundation for lifelong learning.



Listed below are a variety of activities that are a part of the curriculum at CDC, along with the skills being developed, and the curriculum connection to “big school”. 



Skills Developed

Curriculum Connection

Role Playing

Vocabulary/Language, Cooperation

Reading , Language

Dramatic Play

Vocabulary/Language, Comprehension, Social

Reading , Social Studies, Math

Block Play

Eye-Hand Coordination, Balance, Cooperation

Math, Reading , Science

Story Time

Listening, Attention Span, Vocabulary/Language

All Areas

Rhyme (nursery rhymes, rhyming stories, finger plays, songs)

Listening for specific sounds


Student/Teacher Conversation

Vocabulary/Language, Reading, Listening

All Areas

Student/Student Conversation

Vocabulary/Language, Reading, Listening

All Areas


Matching Sounds, Memory


Writing Center (crayons, markers, paper, etc.)

Eye-Hand Coordination, Fine Motor, Organizing Space

Reading , Writing, Math

Cutting with Scissors

Eye-Hand Coordination, Fine Motor  


Finger Painting, Easel Painting

Eye-Hand Coordination, Fine Motor, Organizing Space

Reading , Writing


Eye-Hand Coordination


Sensory Table: Pouring sand, water, rice, etc.

Eye-Hand Coordination, Understanding Equivalence

Reading , Math, Science, Comprehension

Color & Shape Activities

Visual Discrimination, Sorting, Classifying

Writing, Reading , Math, Science


Eye-Hand Coordination, Attention Span, Spatial Relationships

Math, Reading , Writing

Sorting & Classifying

Organizing material by function, Vocabulary

Reading , Math, Science 

Patterning Activities                     exp: ** & ** & ** & **

Learning patterns of objects, letters & numbers.   

Reading , Math, Science

 Peg Boards  

Left to Right Sequencing, Fine Motor



Measuring, Sequencing, Following Directions

Math, Reading , Science

Comparing & Graphing

Weight, Height, Measurement, Compare & Contrast 

Math, Science, Reading