The joy of making music on the playground can now be enjoyed at any age. We’ve expanded the collection of Rhapsody® Outdoor Musical Instruments with six instruments that are a bit smaller and lower to the ground—sized just right for kids ages 2 to 5.
Rhapsody was originally introduced in January 2016, and has been a hit at playgrounds, community centers, schools, senior centers and more. That’s why we’ve added the junior Rhapsody instruments to the mix. This music playground activity is now ideal for
childcare centers, preschools and other early childhood facilities.
See below to learn more about the new junior-sized chimes, metallophones and drums:
Warble™ Chimes Kids can bing and bong their way along one full octave on this richly toned instrument.
Don’t forget… musical playgrounds welcome all ages and abilities! The original Rhapsody Outdoor Musical Instruments are perfect for kids and adults ages 5 and up. Add all 12 instruments to your play space to encourage multigenerational play.
In the past few years, we’ve noticed an increase in childcare facilities focused on nature-inspired activities and nature-themed playground equipment. And the Early Childhood Family Center (ECFC) in Stillwater, Minn., is just one example of a childcare facility providing opportunities for kids to reconnect with nature.
“Our ECFC chose a nature-inspired playground, which accents the surrounding landscape,” explained Betty Soine, early childhood supervisor. “Also, research supports the value of using natural environments to encourage children’s overall growth and development. Our parent education program encourages parents to get outside with children during all seasons to experience the variety of outdoor environments, breathe the fresh air and explore the wonders of nature through the eyes of their child. An outdoor play environment that mimics nature supports a health and wellness focus for all our families and staff.”
The Early Childhood Family Center added a nature-inspired playground designed for kids ages 6 to 23 months. The Infant Single Poly Slide, Infant Balance Bar and Chimes Panel provide the right amount of sensory stimulation, balance, coordination and strength challenges. Even more, a play space for kids ages 2 to 5 has realistic bark, wood and rock textures, natural colors and discovery items like chipmunks, worms and insects built into the Log Stack Climber, Log Steppers and Recycled Tree House Roofs.
“Equipment was chosen with children of all abilities in mind,” said Betty. “Our team of staff professionals studied and selected types of equipment that could support building strength, mobility and cognitive skills through interactive outdoor play. The children are engaged in all types of movement and activities everyday that encourage and support physical, social and emotional, language and cognitive development. Our nature-inspired playground does exactly what we envisioned and more!”
This post comes to you from Marnie Norris, director of programs at Shane’s Inspiration. Earlier this month, she presented at the 2012 National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Conference. Marnie’s session, titled Together, We Play! discussed how to use play-based techniques, including peer buddies, to integrate children with and without disabilities, support children with sensory and communication differences, and minimize conflict opportunities. Read below for ideas she shared as well as took away from the discussion.
At a major conference with thousands of attendees and a wide variety of sessions to choose from, you always wonder how needed your information is…how much is social inclusion on the minds of early childhood educators?
As the room filled up two weeks ago in Atlanta, it was clear that teachers, principals, and professionals need tools to support the social interaction between students with and without disabilities…interaction that can happen spontaneously in early childhood but not always consistently.
Here are few tips and tools that we shared with each other during our workshop:
1. Start ability awareness early…in Kindergarten, a book and guided discussion, followed up by consistent interaction through play, is enough (We Can Do It! By Laura Dwight, Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis). At that age, we focus on the fact that everyone has a hard to and a can do. For some, the hard to may be walking or for others talking. Help the students to connect their can dos and hard tos! Together, we can do.
2. Turning the challenge into the tool…if you have a student unable to connect through play find out what he/she is focusing on (ex: my student does nothing but spin the wheels on the train…find a peer who loves playing with trains. Let the peer hold the train while his buddy spins the wheels as a start. Give them time away from the group and excess stimuli to explore trains together.)
3. Flexibility in group activities…if you have a student interested in but unable to interact with the group, isolate one or two of her peers and let them play as a small group. Once the connection is made with a smaller number of children consistently, she may be more drawn in to circle time/group play.
4. Grouping the students…if you have a few students with disabilities in your classroom, create play groups consisting of two or three students with typical abilities and a student with disabilities. Give the groups identities: Bears, Penguins, Butterflies. Let them use the playground or indoor space as a group to encourage social interaction in smaller numbers.
5. Sensory stimulation…many teachers spoke about students having tantrums/outbursts because of being over stimulated. Find out what your student’s sensory profile is: is he triggered by sound (if so, is it specific or the wall of noise), touch (too much light touch, too little deep pressure on their bodies), light/color, etc. If you can, have Mom and Dad share what triggers him at home. Then you can modify his environment to support the sensory needs: some students are under-sensitive to touch and need bigger movements, deeper hugs or weighted jackets to help them register the sensation.
Most importantly…keep trying! Creating awareness and understanding in students (and adults) as to how our peers who have differences communicate, feel and socialize will help everyone. Combine consistent play with that awareness and you have a powerful foundation for social bridges!