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Curriculum Post any curriculum ideas, activites or projects that wouldbe helpful to our Daycare community. What is your teaching philosophy?

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Old 07-09-2014, 08:43 PM
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Default Play Based vs. Planned Curriculum

I know I have been posting a lot lately, but I can't help it. Please forgive me.

How many of you are strictly play based vs having a preschool like curriculum? And how do YOU define play based? I am feeling really inferior in what I offer because for the most all I do is the traditional "go play" route and I feel like maybe the parents are expecting more than I am offering. I have babies and preschoolers and I find it difficult to offer a structured curriculum with the varying ages and needs. I originally thought that I would do more structured learning during nap times, but with the developmental levels of the preschoolers, I am finding it hard, plus I really need to keep them quiet in order for the little ones to sleep (naps are a high priority for the parents) and you know how loud kids can get even when they think they are being quiet.

So I guess I needs ideas, either of how to implement more learning activities or how to spin the "play based learning" so that it sounds more professional.

Thanks.
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:53 PM
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Depends on what they are paying for. If they are paying a play toys rate then go with that.
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by KellyinCalgary View Post
I know I have been posting a lot lately, but I can't help it. Please forgive me.

How many of you are strictly play based vs having a preschool like curriculum? And how do YOU define play based? I am feeling really inferior in what I offer because for the most all I do is the traditional "go play" route and I feel like maybe the parents are expecting more than I am offering. I have babies and preschoolers and I find it difficult to offer a structured curriculum with the varying ages and needs. I originally thought that I would do more structured learning during nap times, but with the developmental levels of the preschoolers, I am finding it hard, plus I really need to keep them quiet in order for the little ones to sleep (naps are a high priority for the parents) and you know how loud kids can get even when they think they are being quiet.

So I guess I needs ideas, either of how to implement more learning activities or how to spin the "play based learning" so that it sounds more professional.

Thanks.
My curriculum is play-based but I have themes for the month. Like, for Sept. one of the themes is apples so I set up an apple market with recipe books (literacy), cash register (math), fruits/vegetables can be used for science, phones (language), interaction takes place for social-emotional, labeling these items is beneficial as well but the children basically create their own learning experiences while I just facilitate it. ....each play center is filled with what kids need to prepare for the next level. My actual group-preschool time is small...i.e. calendar, weather, plans for the day...my story time sometimes has everyone join in, sometimes a few, sometimes one....my infants sleep on one side of the room with a fan running so the noise doesn't bother them...Don't feel inferior by all this info, I didn't always know this nor did I know how to implement it in my program....I have been here 22 years and have a great mentor along with being a part of many child care organizations and early childhood peers......just breath and start putting together how you want to do this....there are multiple ways to enhance children's learning...find what works best for you and the children in your care.... Good luck!
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:05 PM
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I do preschool curriculum two days each week and the others are play days.
We have a sign hung by the cubbies so that kids recognize which day is which.

I find that two days of the more structured learning is plenty for my group, and they are SO happy to "go play" the other days.

I began the formal curriculum as an experiment, but the parents and kids love it, so I continued. I have come to like the balanced approach of doing both. I am generally totally full on my preschool days (I do all part time care) so that tells me that it's desired. And I like having a slightly smaller group on "play days" because I can often get a few things done, as well as spend extra time one-to-one with each of the kids. It's also when I have new families visit, and days that I recommend to parents of new infants.

I am happy on "play days" when I can observe their play skills, supplement their interests with a few extra items, and pull out books that support their interests OR to give them "seeds" for new play ideas. I consider "play days" to be MY strength - good old-fashioned family child care It develops strong social skills, creativity, self-awareness, and allows each child to learn at their own level.

And, if you ask any one of my kids, ever, what their favorite part of preschool is, they will tell it that it's "learning centers" which is basically FREE PLAY

Not sure if any of that is helpful to you, but it's what I do
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:09 PM
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I do preschool curriculum two days each week and the others are play days.
We have a sign hung by the cubbies so that kids recognize which day is which.

I find that two days of the more structured learning is plenty for my group, and they are SO happy to "go play" the other days.

I began the formal curriculum as an experiment, but the parents and kids love it, so I continued. I have come to like the balanced approach of doing both. I am generally totally full on my preschool days (I do all part time care) so that tells me that it's desired. And I like having a slightly smaller group on "play days" because I can often get a few things done, as well as spend extra time one-to-one with each of the kids. It's also when I have new families visit, and days that I recommend to parents of new infants.

I am happy on "play days" when I can observe their play skills, supplement their interests with a few extra items, and pull out books that support their interests OR to give them "seeds" for new play ideas. I consider "play days" to be MY strength - good old-fashioned family child care It develops strong social skills, creativity, self-awareness, and allows each child to learn at their own level.

And, if you ask any one of my kids, ever, what their favorite part of preschool is, they will tell it that it's "learning centers" which is basically FREE PLAY

Not sure if any of that is helpful to you, but it's what I do
I agree with the "learning centers" play because children are allowed to make their own choices which makes learning fun......
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:16 PM
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Depends on what they are paying for. If they are paying a play toys rate then go with that.
I don't know quite what a "play toys rate" is. I am in Canada and parents pay a flat monthly rate, not by the week. I charge what other dayhome providers in the area charge, which works out to be $200/child/week. During interviews, I have never said that I was going to do a curriculum or themes, just that I provide a safe, caring place for your child while you are at work. No one has ever asked either. The parents haven't said anything, it is just how I am feeling. My husband thinks I am over thinking again, but every time I come on here, it reminds me of what else I am not doing, kwim? And to add to that, when I tell my husband some of the ideas I get on here, he puts them down because that involves spending more money on toys/supplies (ie. the apple theme example) and making more work for myself. You all seem like true professionals and I feel like a glorified babysitter.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Annalee View Post
I agree with the "learning centers" play because children are allowed to make their own choices which makes learning fun......
Yes, I believe they are also seeking out what they need:
Social skills - interpersonal relationships, teamwork, cooperation.

(I also write my curriculum, based on their interests. They don't quite realize that they have an active say in it though. They just think that I read their minds I am good with that )
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:23 PM
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Yes, I believe they are also seeking out what they need:
Social skills - interpersonal relationships, teamwork, cooperation.

(I also write my curriculum, based on their interests. They don't quite realize that they have an active say in it though. They just think that I read their minds I am good with that )


Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyinCalgary View Post
I don't know quite what a "play toys rate" is. I am in Canada and parents pay a flat monthly rate, not by the week. I charge what other dayhome providers in the area charge, which works out to be $200/child/week. During interviews, I have never said that I was going to do a curriculum or themes, just that I provide a safe, caring place for your child while you are at work. No one has ever asked either. The parents haven't said anything, it is just how I am feeling. My husband thinks I am over thinking again, but every time I come on here, it reminds me of what else I am not doing, kwim? And to add to that, when I tell my husband some of the ideas I get on here, he puts them down because that involves spending more money on toys/supplies (ie. the apple theme example) and making more work for myself. You all seem like true professionals and I feel like a glorified babysitter.
I get it on the money-thing....many things can be found at dollar mart....we did circus once and I found popcorn bowls at dollar mart, saved corndog boxes from home, etc...I made a puppet theatre out of pvc pipe from pinterest and had my aunt make 2 sets of curtains so I can change it into an apple market, store, circus for selling tickets...etc...point being many things can be turned into something else and and still keep children's interest....like I said earlier, I am just passing forward some info that was shared with me years ago! Doing things like this inexpensively does wonders for MY self-esteem.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by SignMeUp View Post
I do preschool curriculum two days each week and the others are play days.
We have a sign hung by the cubbies so that kids recognize which day is which.

I find that two days of the more structured learning is plenty for my group, and they are SO happy to "go play" the other days.

I began the formal curriculum as an experiment, but the parents and kids love it, so I continued. I have come to like the balanced approach of doing both. I am generally totally full on my preschool days (I do all part time care) so that tells me that it's desired. And I like having a slightly smaller group on "play days" because I can often get a few things done, as well as spend extra time one-to-one with each of the kids. It's also when I have new families visit, and days that I recommend to parents of new infants.

I am happy on "play days" when I can observe their play skills, supplement their interests with a few extra items, and pull out books that support their interests OR to give them "seeds" for new play ideas. I consider "play days" to be MY strength - good old-fashioned family child care It develops strong social skills, creativity, self-awareness, and allows each child to learn at their own level.

And, if you ask any one of my kids, ever, what their favorite part of preschool is, they will tell it that it's "learning centers" which is basically FREE PLAY

Not sure if any of that is helpful to you, but it's what I do
I like the idea of the 2 days a week structured, makes it less over-whelming. I also like the part about developing social skills, creativity, self -awareness,etc. I am going to steal that.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Annalee View Post




I get it on the money-thing....many things can be found at dollar mart....we did circus once and I found popcorn bowls at dollar mart, saved corndog boxes from home, etc...I made a puppet theatre out of pvc pipe from pinterest and had my aunt make 2 sets of curtains so I can change it into an apple market, store, circus for selling tickets...etc...point being many things can be turned into something else and and still keep children's interest....like I said earlier, I am just passing forward some info that was shared with me years ago! Doing things like this inexpensively does wonders for MY self-esteem.
Great ideas!! I like the idea of re-purposing items. I will have to find that on Pinterest and convince hubby to make it for me.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by KellyinCalgary View Post
I don't know quite what a "play toys rate" is. I am in Canada and parents pay a flat mexercise, ly rate, not by the week. I charge what other dayhome providers in the area charge, which works out to be $200/child/week. During interviews, I have never said that I was going to do a curriculum or themes, just that I provide a safe, caring place for your child while you are at work. No one has ever asked either. The parents haven't said anything, it is just how I am feeling. My husband thinks I am over thinking again, but every time I come on here, it reminds me of what else I am not doing, kwim? And to add to that, when I tell my husband some of the ideas I get on here, he puts them down because that involves spending more money on toys/supplies (ie. the apple theme example) and making more work for myself. You all seem like true professionals and I feel like a glorified babysitter.
Being a babysitter is a great job. I've been one for 20 years. I do CARE. Good food, deep restorative sleep, good exercise, great toys, excellent supervision, and well behaved friends.

No pressure to do anything else.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:28 PM
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I like the idea of the 2 days a week structured, makes it less over-whelming. I also like the part about developing social skills, creativity, self -awareness,etc. I am going to steal that.
No stealing! It's yours! I'm sure others will give you little tidbits of phrases that work for what you do too. I know, I found it hard to "justify" what I do on play days too, but at the same time I could see the tremendous value in them! So, as you start to borrow words from everyone, you will find the ones that fit you the best
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by nannyde View Post
Being a babysitter is a great job. I've been one for 20 years. I do CARE. Good food, deep restorative sleep, good exercise, great toys, excellent supervision, and well behaved friends.

No pressure to do anything else.
And that is just what kids need!
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:51 PM
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My "curriculum" is child-led, play-based learning. By that I mean that I have the environment set up in learning centers and they can choose where & when to play.

I do monthly themes, mainly based around the seasons, and plan at least one "activity" each day, but by "activity" I mean I put something out, step back, and watch the fun. In Reggio inspired programs it's called a "provocation" and Denita Dinger of Play Counts calls it a "plop."

I also change materials in the learning centers according to the children's interest, but I wouldn't call it "Project" learning... maybe more "Emergent."

Don't worry - we all started where you are now and evolved our own style as we went along.

Provocations: http://iaminspiredbyreggio.blogspot....ovocation.html

Plops: http://playcountsdenitadinger.blogsp...pping-101.html (Sorry it's so hard to read - she changed her blog theme but apparently not all the changes worked.)

Project: http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/ar...ased-preschool

Emergent" http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/...lum-works.html
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Old 07-10-2014, 02:55 AM
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I am play based with a curriculum. Is that an oxymoron? I have a total child care dedicated space with play based centers. Blocks/construction/vehicles, kitchen, book corner, easel (I set out markers), puzzles and manipulatives, science area (very simple - like a few sea shells and magnifying glasses) general toys, sensory table, crayons/ markers/coloring books, & play doh.

I have a long, low table the kids eat at modeled after an Ikea table my husband built. It's pushed up to the wall. I've found that the puzzles, play doh, a manipulative game, markers/paper, and science area works well here. It still seats six and there is plenty space to eat.

I do circle time each day. It is about 5-7 minutes long. I do LOTS of flannel board stories. Books on CD are well loved too. We also do Weekly Reader. Kids love those. It's only $5.00 a year per child.

I offer creative art about two times per week. Very simple and open ended. A few times a year more crafty type. My favorite over the years has been kool-aid painting. Cut out a shape-say if the theme is spring it would be a flower shape and then sprinkle on dry unsweetened kool-aid. Kids paint it with water. It changes color, it smells great, they are fascinated, they love it!

I love to cook with kids too.

I've been setting up outdoor fun spaces with ideas from the Happy Hooligan blog. Things like the soap factory, flower soup kitchen, etc. it's just set on two kids picnic tables. They are only set up a day or two.
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Old 07-10-2014, 04:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyinCalgary View Post
I don't know quite what a "play toys rate" is. I am in Canada and parents pay a flat monthly rate, not by the week. I charge what other dayhome providers in the area charge, which works out to be $200/child/week. During interviews, I have never said that I was going to do a curriculum or themes, just that I provide a safe, caring place for your child while you are at work. No one has ever asked either. The parents haven't said anything, it is just how I am feeling. My husband thinks I am over thinking again, but every time I come on here, it reminds me of what else I am not doing, kwim? And to add to that, when I tell my husband some of the ideas I get on here, he puts them down because that involves spending more money on toys/supplies (ie. the apple theme example) and making more work for myself. You all seem like true professionals and I feel like a glorified babysitter.
For many years I did a preschool program, similar to what another poster described (monthly themes, learning centers, etc.) I LOVED it...BUT the reality was in the parents eyes, I was still the "sitter." I thought parents were choosing me because of that(preschool stuff), but the reality was that they want a safe place to leave their child while at work - period. The learning stuff is a perk because they think it means the tv won't be on all day
That said, if you want to do more, DO it! Just know you are doing it for you...
When I was starting out and money was tight, I used our local library, free internet sites, etc to put together activities. Obviously I don't know your financial situation, so your husband may be under a lot of stress especially if you are just starting out and not making a lot. I know my husband gets testy when things are tight and I'm spending like a Trump But really you can incorporate themes without spending a lot. And sometimes you have to spend a little money to make some money...
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Old 07-10-2014, 09:00 PM
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As usual, great suggestions! I am bookmarking this thread for reference.
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Old 08-18-2014, 05:01 PM
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I have been a huge fan of emergent curriculum, and so have my daycare kids, but I am finding that many parents just don't get the concept at all. It's one of those things where if I have to explain it...they probably aren't going to get it. KWIM?

I am adding a structured curriculum to our routine on September 2nd, but we WILL NOT lose the emergent curriculum either. In my opinion, it is just too valuable. So I will be doing what I feel is best, and I will be doing something a little more structured alongside of that which will be kept developmentally appropriate at all times.
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:51 PM
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I am a pre-school teacher and, in my experience, when children are given the opportunity to play freely, things go awry. I also work with children with behavioral problems so my opinion may be irrelevant. I implement weekly themes in my classroom based off of the letters in the alphabet. (A-animals, B-bubbles, C-circus, etc) I plan several activities for each day that relate to the theme. Usually I will have two art activities, one science, one math, an outdoor experience, sensory activity and 4-6 books to read as well. ALL of which relate to the theme. But the children also have ample time (about 4 hours total) of free play whilst in the indoor gym, on the play ground, or in the classroom. I choose my themes based off of the children's interests, keeping them happy and their parents happy
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Old 03-31-2015, 06:15 AM
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I sooo understand what you are saying!! This is a dance I feel like I do all the time. If you look at my facebook page (MrsSteinelsHouse) you will see that over the past year I have changed- and even in the past couple of months I feel like I have hit another level.

Play based- child led is where I am heading. I try to think about it as "what can I put out that is going to provide them the opportunity to explore?' I change out toys and what is in the playroom so they have different opportunities. Sometimes they ask for something specific and I try to provide that. I really have been trying to listen to the kids and figure out what each one needs. So 5 yr old- some writing and letters but through play for the most part. He is also the one that has the hardest time just playing so sometimes it is just questions for him. How high do you think you can stack those? etc to get him started. 1 1/2 year old it has been helping her get the sorting blocks through the holes and I say the shapes names a lot! 3 yr olds- social skills They are really working on playing together and it is awesome! 4 yr old - read Humpty Dumpty on my fb I really have been trying to think of them as individuals and not a group. So if 1 1/2 yr old and 3 yr old want to paint - great it doesn't have to be a group thing.

Right now I pulled out a bunch of spring books. I read as they ask or as I feel like doing it. I have out dishes and food. A couple of building manipulatives. Small people and pooh figures. Easter eggs, Mr Potato Head, cars and trains... stacking cups (they are always out) pom poms are going to be back there today too. That is one of their favorite small parts! Before 9 am they play and eat breakfast. After 9 the table is generally available so they may play play doh or paint or cut, glue etc.

Outside is king especially this time of year! So if we can be outside we are. Now, this has changed over the years in appearance depending on who is in my group. If I have 3 under 2 then walks and play on the patio where it is easy for me to have pack and plays etc. But right now I have all walkers and it is up in the back yard- generally digging in the dirt! But, like I said this has varied over the years depending on the group. I try to be outside an hour in the morning and at least an hour in the afternoon.

Hope this helps some. I feel that my job is to set up the environment for them and then let them explore!

*and I always have something "up my sleeve" in case if the day is not moving along nicely- ie sidewalk chalk, a bucket of odd things, tape and things to tape (a favorite) a GREAT new book, etc
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Old 04-15-2015, 10:51 PM
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I'm glad I'm not the only one! I feel exactly the same way. Right now we have 3 infants and 1 toddler (my son) and we plan to get 2 more toddlers enrolled.
So far we've been really providing care, nothing intentionally academic just play based(free play). Now with the pressure to reach full capacity with two more toddlers I don't think parents will understand play based learning and seek out more traditional academic settings.
I'm still trying to juggle the two ideas so I plan to have 1 hour/day dedicated to more of the academic approach during times like circle time or whatever. I do plan to incorporate some sort of theme like alphabets, numbers, colors and shapes. That being said, I truly believes in play based learning so if the children are not interested then we don't force it.
We are going to have a tour tomorrow for someone interested in the toddler spot. Wish me luck!
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Old 04-22-2015, 09:55 PM
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I read most of the posts here but thought I'd give my 2 cents.

We do a lot of free play but in the morning when the babes are napping we do our activity time. We start with reading for 20 minutes(each kid picks a book or 2) and that time gives the babes some quiet so that they can fall asleep. By that time they are passed out and we can chat it up

Our activity usually has an educational element but i look for things that take very little prep. Yesterday i wrote M is for...and they colored(mountains, monkeys, mommies). This helps my 3 year old recognize letters and my 5 year old year with the phonetics and our 2 year old is on his own planet but i know he will pick things up later.

In the afternoon we do sensory play ( ie making cookies, making play doh and playing with it, a bin sith colored rice and baking items, stuff around my house)

All these things make me the happiest because i feel like i accomplished something that day and the kids usually like each other better by the end of the day.
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Old 04-23-2015, 12:07 PM
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I also get what you are saying and question myself all the time. I think of myself as play-based, but I do do weekly themes and we do activities that correlate with the themes and we have a weekly letter, number, shape, and color that I introduce to the kids and throughout the day, find things that have to do with them, such as having them find a blue ball, things like that. We do a calendar-which the kids love. We have circle time every day, but it's their choice to join or not. Most of them do anyways and if they don't, they are still listening. My ds doesn't like to sit in circle, but he always seems to know what we are talking about.

I don't do a "preschool curriculum" and try to only have kids infant to around 3/3.5 so I feel that play based learning is best for those ages, but then get myself confused about if what I'm doing is considered play based, and then decide it is and then get confused...lol
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