Planning a Successful Block Center in Child Care

block corner

Blocks are great for every child care classroom. They come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Children in child care can use blocks to support dramatic play, to build structures for toy cars, or to sort, count, and organize. Blocks are also extremely versatile, and with proper care they can last for years, if not a lifetime. Below are suggestions for choosing blocks and adding blocks to your classroom.  

Choosing Blocks

Many different types of blocks are available …

Why is creative art an important part of the child care curriculum?

By engaging in art activities, children practice a variety of skills and progress in all areas of development. Creative art helps children grow in physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development. Children also practice imagination and experimentation as they invent new ways to create art.

Creative art activities focus on the process over the product, meaning what the children do while creating art (feeling paint between their fingers, holding a pencil, or experiencing the stickiness of glue) is more important than …

Finding Inexpensive Toys for a Child Care Program

waffle blocks

All child care providers should offer children a variety of age-appropriate learning activities that help them practice important skills. But you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on expensive toys to provide valuable chances for children to learn. Many of the best play and learning materials are free or inexpensive.

As you consider these suggestions, the most important thing to remember is that the toys must be age-appropriate for the children you are caring for. If you are a …

How do I choose music that is appropriate for the children in my child care program?

Music is an important addition to any early childhood program. Participating in music teaches children a variety of skills, including

  • creative expression
  • understanding of emotions
  • rhythm
  • memory
  • appreciation of different cultures and musical styles

Creating music is also an enjoyable activity. When choosing music, try to introduce a variety of different types and styles. Start with the American Library Association’s Notable Children’s Recordings list (which includes both recorded stories and music) and the vast Children’s Music Web.


I've heard the phrase "process over product" to describe art activities. What does this phrase mean, and how can child care providers tell whether an art activity is process-focused or product-focused?

Young children love to create art, but they tend to focus much more on the process of creating and are not as interested in the finished product. It’s important for child care providers to realize that many young children may not want to keep their artwork once it’s finished or may not even be able to identify which piece they created. This doesn’t mean the activity was a failure; it simply means that the child focused on the process but …

What does "developmentally appropriate practice" mean?

• Developmentally appropriate practice (or DAP) is a way of teaching that meets young children where they are — which means that teachers must get to know them well — and enables them to reach goals that are both challenging and achievable.
• All teaching practices should be appropriate to children’s age and developmental status, attuned to them as unique individuals, and responsive to the social and cultural contexts in which they live.
• DAP does not mean making things …

Early Learning and School Readiness in Child Care

Kindergarten classroom

Young children in child care are always growing, developing, thinking and learning. We now know that the first few years of life are extremely important for children’s brain development. Without early opportunities to explore, learn and discover, children may be less ready and able to learn later on. Child care providers play an important role in supporting and nurturing young children’s learning.

The idea of getting children school-ready or ready to learn is still important, but high-quality child care programs …

Basic Math Skills in Child Care: Creating Patterns and Arranging Objects in Order

Building cubes

Ordering, sequencing, and patterning are important foundational skills for mathematics. Child care providers can build young children’s early math skills by help them learn sequencing, seriation, and patterning.

  • Sequencing is the ability to create and identify patterns. For example, children may stack blocks in a pattern of red, blue, red, blue, and so on. As adults, using calendars is one way we use sequencing skills. We look at a calendar and look for the pattern that helps us predict what

Hands-On Activities for Child Care

blocks and baby's feet

Welcome to the eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care Database of Hands-On Activities. Here you will find hundreds of hands-on, ready-to-do activities especially designed to help young children of different ages learn, develop, and flourish. The activities can be used in the curriculum of child care classrooms or family child care homes. Parents and grandparents may also enjoy sharing some of the activities with children at home. Search or browse classroom activities to find what you need for language …