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Description: SECA Has Always Been There: Reflections on Play and SECA’s Commitment | Why Do Children Need Recess At School? | The 2013 SECA Exemplary Outdoor Classroom State Winners | SECA’s Commitment to Play and Outdoor Learning: A Wealth of Professional Resources

The SECA The SECA Reporter Spring has Sprung... Spring 2015 It s time to PLAY and Learn Outside In This Issue SECA Has Always Been There Reflections on Play and SECA s Commitment Why Do Children Need Recess At School The 2013 SECA Exemplary Outdoor Classroom State Winners SECA s Commitment to Play and Outdoor Learning A Wealth of Professional Resources Creating a Nature-Inspired Outdoor Learning Environment for Urban Spaces The 4th and Final Year of Our Exemplary Outdoor Learning Classroom Contest The first year of our contest was so successful that the SECA Board of Directors instituted a 4 year contest series. We realize that not all programs have resources time or space to create the ultimate classroom but we know that there are many exemplary outdoor spaces (sometimes within larger spaces) that have been created through innovation and ingenuity. SECA is committed to recognizing those innovative programs that have managed to provide an outdoor environment that maximizes learning opportunities for children. For more information about how to submit an application and show us what you have been able to do please CLICK HERE or go to http Deadline to submit an application is June 15 2015. Photos courtesy of BOARD OF DIRECTORS Kathy Attaway President Kentucky Carol Montealegre President-Elect Florida A Message from SECA For those of us throughout the South spring is a welcome break from weather systems that brought ice and snow to our states in early 2015. We re all ready for daffodils warmer weather and opportunities to enjoy the wonderful natural wonders in our states. This issue of The SECA Reporter will be dedicated to that all important opportunity for young children...PLAY and LEARNING OUTSIDE. We ll identify a wealth of resources that SECA has developed to assist you in developing your curriculum and schedule including ideas on how to develop your outdoor classroom. We ve just announced the 4th year of our Exemplary Outdoor Classroom Contest and this year we want to spotlight and recognize those urban outdoor spaces that have been developed to promote optimal learning for young children. We hope you ll consider entering the final Outdoor Classroom contest and receive recognition for all the great work that you have done. You ll find a re-print of an article from Dr. Margaret Puckett a pastpresident of SECA that clearly articulates SECA s continuing commitment to doing what s right for children and to ensuring that play remains an integral part of the early childhood curriculum. (We couldn t have said it better ) Dr. Susan Barnes a current member of the SECA Board has prepared a fact sheet on why recess is so critical for young children. It s time to get out and play We hope these resources will help you to make it both a fun and learning experience for young children. AFFILIATE REPRESENTATIVES Alabama Richard Hardison Arkansas Geania Dickey Florida Sister Roberta Bailey Georgia Anita Dailey Kentucky Maureen O Brien Louisiana Jo Carroll Mississippi Kathy Young Oklahoma Marti Nicholson South Carolina Deni Titcomb Tennessee Lisa Maddox-Vinson Texas Cille D Ascenzo Virginia Susan Barnes West Virginia Suzi Brodof MEMBERS-AT-LARGE Jeff Leffler Mississippi Joan S. Smith Virginia Glenda Bean Executive Director Maurena Farr Executive Assistant Southern Early Childhood Association P.O. Box 55930 Little Rock AR 72215-5930 (800) 305-7322 info STAFF Copyright 2015 Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA). Permission is not required to excerpt or make copies of materials in the SECA Reporter if they are distributed at no cost. SECA serves the interests of early childhood educators concerned with child development including university researchers and teacher educators early childhood kindergarten and primary-grade teachers and early childhood program administrators and proprietors. The association has affiliates in 13 Southern states. Non-affiliate memberships are available to anyone living outside the 13 affiliate states. For information about joining SECA contact the executive offices at P.O. Box 55930 Little Rock AR 72215-5930 (800) 305-7322 or on the web at Members receive a variety of publications throughout the year discounts in the SECA Store and conference registration fees. The SECA Reporter is produced by Glenda Bean Executive Director. Design by RB Fine Art ( Cover photo courtesy of J. Salter. SECA Has Always Been There Reflections on Play and SECA s Commitment by Margaret Puckett Ed.D. SECA President 1986-1987 ESSENTIAL PLAY Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in the child s soul. (Froebel 1897) Here we are making our way into the 21st Century. It has been 116 years since Froebel insisted that play was a natural and essential occupation of childhood. We still believe that don t we Yet increasingly (perhaps more so in the past 30 years than before) play has been challenged on so many fronts. Over and over again the early childhood profession is called to defend play against armies of misperceptions and overriding agendas. It is never untimely to address the topic of play. As one reads through The First Forty Years A History of the Southern Association on Children Under Six 1949-1989 (David 1990) play was clearly on the profession s collective mind. Conference themes in those early years of SECA (then SACUS) were a testament to the profession s concern for the well-being and education of infants and young children What is Good for Young Children (1950) For Every Child An Opportunity to Grow and Grow (1957). Presentation topics revealed unceasing foci on the essentials of childhood and the types and quality of relationships and experiences that promote growth development and learning. One can be certain that central to these presentations was an emphasis on child learning growing and developing through play. This emphasis has not abated. Throughout the years the Southern Early Childhood Association has been a fervent advocate for children s right to play. Through its peer reviewed journal Dimensions conference resolutions position statements and public policy workshops and seminars SECA has voiced its unswerving support for this important right of childhood. Publication of scholarly and practical books booklets fliers and a rich array of on-line material quicken our awareness enhance our practices and extend our resolve. Thus in addition to singing to the choir SECA makes important and timely information available to an ever widening audience of practitioners parents and policymakers. Photos courtesy of Canterbury Community Nursery School Richmond VA The Seca Reporter 2 Winter 2015 Contemporary research is equally insistent Optimal early brain growth and neurological development depend on certain types and timing of experiences. Among these experiences are the predictable nurturing and engaging relationships children develop with important people in their lives - parents family guardians caregivers teachers playmates friends. As well we are advised that the quality and availability of appropriate experiences at the right stages of development contribute to optimal outcomes. We are reminded that learning is cumulative building upon previous and foundational experiences. Additionally we are told that learning is optimal in situations that are at once challenging and stress-free. Years of scholarship have taught us that play is a powerful tool for learning and whether play is spontaneous or supported and guided by an engaged adult its contribution to child development learning and well-being is indisputable. Play contributes to all areas of human growth development and learning physical development which includes for example sensory-motor abilities and refined coordinations maintenance of strength agility and stamina good sleep wake cycles appetite and over-all health emotional and mental health benefits which include for example learning to trust self and others to delay gratification control impulses express emotions cope with frustrations grow in positive self-regard and self-confidence and quite simply stated to enjoy the mental and physical catharsis derived from healthy active satisfying play language development which includes for example finding enjoyment in spoken words growing a broad and rich vocabulary becoming an effective communicator sharpening listening skills gaining knowledge of print and learning another language cognitive development which includes for example forming ideas concepts gaining knowledge learning how to seek and find information to questions and curiosities employing increasingly higher levels of thinking problem-solving and processing information learning to make plans and maintain focus and enjoying the process of discovering social and moral development which includes for example understanding the perspectives and intentions of others making and keeping friends The Seca Reporter 3 Winter 2015 relating to people of all ages and backgrounds negotiating and managing conflicts and understanding rules of fairness justice and mutual respect. Play has many distractors. You know them overloaded family schedules the enticements of screen-time and ever-emerging electronics diminution of safe play spaces care arrangements that curtail opportunities for play over-scheduling of what otherwise would be children s down time and most concerning to experts in our field is the downward extension of upper grade models of education into the early childhood experience. Many of play s distractors distrust the potential for play to have a significant impact on learning particularly the academic fundamentals of reading writing and mathematics. A recent conversation with a distraught kindergarten teacher revealed that just weeks after the start of the school year all kindergartens in her school district were required to dismantle and remove pretend play centers blocks centers and pets or animals from their classrooms. The emphasis for the remainder of the year is to be on literacy and mathematics. Now that s the zenith of distrust The opportunities for learning in high quality play based early childhood programs can and does occur in the areas of literacy math science social studies music art drama and even (albeit very rudimentary levels) in subjects like architecture geography technology and engineering. To assume that play and academics are two different enterprises is to create a dichotomy where none exists. Well-balanced early childhood curriculums include experiences in all of these important subjects and do so by creatively and strategically embedding them in the activities and materials that are provided for the children. Early childhood educators focused on helping children learn purposefully guide children toward exploration and learning processes. In so doing time to play and time to learn academic material is integrated. Professionally trained and committed early childhood educators can do this. Whether play occurs at home within the family or in out-of-home early childhood programs included in children s play agenda should be opportunities for any of a number of the types of play that scholars have identified exploratory pretend creative small and large group cooperative play and games outdoor play rough and tumble play. And let us not overlook the importance of solitary pursuits where children can pursue individual interests and curiosities where they can retreat to reflect meditate and mentally process their experiences and absorb the fascinations of the world around them. A final word A gentleman in his 90 s an aeronautical engineer described his childhood to his children and grandchildren as idyllic. He shared with them how he enjoyed creating his own toys and games playing marbles and washers with his friends enjoying flying kites and shooting his slingshot at tin can targets. And when he was bored he poked around in the woods near his home collecting all manner of stuff or he was welcome to hang around his father s place of work. While his playtime activities would be considered unsafe even untenable in today s contexts the freedom and creativity that comes from relying on one s own imagination for playful activities and the description of a childhood as having been experienced as idyllic gives this writer pause. Oh yes it differs from today s contexts appreciably on many fronts. There is a take-away or two however. Simply said satisfying and engaging child-generated playtime experiences are fulfilling and provide lasting memories. The benefits of play in its many forms and contexts is our conversation. Good memories of a playful childhood is the conversation of a child grown-up to share with the next generation. We can make at least some of those memories for children through our work with them and with their families and caregivers. We can continue to use our collective voice and our scholarship to help others appreciate the importance of play the highest expression of human development. Yes indeed play is essential. David Alma W. (1990). The first forty years A history of the Southern Association on Children Under Six 1949-1989. Little Rock AR Southern Early Childhood Association. The Seca Reporter 4 Winter 2015 Why Do Children Need Recess at School What Teachers and Parents Need to Know By Dr. Susan Barnes James Madison University Virginia On Behalf of the SECA Board of Directors In this age of accountability and high-stakes testing primary grade teachers are feeling pressured to spend more time on preparing children for the reading and math assessments that are now tied to teacher performance evaluation. Schools are reducing the amount of time allotted for recess. Experts in child development know how important play and exercise are but how can teachers respond to building administrators and families who see recess as time that should be spent on academic endeavors Below are some facts that might be helpful to you as you advocate for children. What are the benefits of recess Children need a break from academic challenges of the classroom. It offers children a time to develop socially emotionally and physically. Recess allows children time to play rest move and socialize. They learn communication skills cooperation sharing and problem solving. The benefits of physical activity and fitness are met even when children are not playing vigorously at recess. The opportunity for children to practice movement in a way that they choose helps to offset the time that they spend just sitting in the classroom and at home. Research shows that children who have recess are more alert and attentive. Children who have brain breaks perform better on cognitive tasks even when they spend more time socializing than engaged in physical activity. The children get physical education class every week. Isn t that enough Physical education is not a substitute for recess. Children need both. While PE classes offer opportunities for physical activity they do not provide the necessary unstructured time needed for development in the other areas. Why can t they just play when they get home Many children do not go home after school and even if they do often there is no safe place for them to play. Children need supervision when they are playing near parking lots busy streets and unfamiliar adults. Safe play at home often means sedentary indoor activities involving less physical activity. Recess at school is safe and well-supervised. The benefits of peer-interaction are often limited at home where there are likely adults or children who are much younger or older than the child. For More Information Recess It s Indispensable Play Policy and Practice Interest Forum (http files yc file 200909 On%20Our%20Minds%20909.pdf ) The Crucial Role of Recess in School Policy Statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics (2012) (www.http content 131 1 183.full) Recess Rules Why the Undervalued Playtime May Be America s Best Investment for Healthy Kids and Healthy Schools Report. Princeton NJ Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2007) (http en library research 2007 09 recess-rules.html) The Seca Reporter 5 Winter 2015 Reprinted from Volume 41 2 Dimensions of Early Childhood The 2013 SECA EXEMPLARY OUTDOOR CLASSROOM STATE WINNERS To honor our theme for the 2013 SECA Conference Hand-in-Hand Children and Nature SECA launched a search for exemplary outdoor classrooms in the Southern region. One overall winner was selected and winners at the state level also were designated. Applications were reviewed based on the following criteria and upon designation as a potential winner on-site visits were made by members of the SECA Board of Directors to verify the application components. Criteria 1 Natural modifications and innovations in at least five of the following areas large motor climbing crawling space building area art area music and movement area garden area storage water dirt digging sand and wheeled toy area. Criteria 2 Effective and appropriate monitoring of children in these areas by caregivers teachers. In our first issue of Dimensions of Early Childhood in 2013 we introduced you to the overall winner of the 2013 Exemplary Outdoor Classroom Contest--Highland Plaza United Methodist Preschool in Hixson Tennessee. Through photos and text we led you through the wonderful outdoor space that the program had developed for young children. It had it all natural elements wonderful use of outdoor features connections to local places and geography and inventive uses of materials and spaces. But Highland Plaza wasn t the only exceptional outdoor space for children there were other programs that merited recognition and we re pleased to introduce you to the three programs that were designated as State Winners of the SECA Exemplary Outdoor Classroom Contest. Those winners are BB International Preschool & Kindergarten in Pompano Beach Florida. Westlake United Methodist Preschool in Austin Texas. Dora L. Lewis Family & Child Development Center in Richmond Virginia. Criteria 3 The use of natural materials in the outdoor classroom. Criteria 4 The use of materials specific to the region community. Criteria 5 Ease of maintenance of the outdoor classroom. Criteria 6 Compliance with local licensing regulations. Vicky Flessner Director of Highland Plaza United Methodist Preschool accepts the Exemplary Outdoor Classroom Award at SECA 2013 in Mobile Alabama. The Seca Reporter 6 Winter 2015 Join us as we travel to Florida Texas and Virginia to view three very different but equally wonderful outdoor spaces for young children. We ll share just a few of the innovative ideas and creative uses of materials in these outdoor spaces.....let them spark your imagination BB International Preschool & Kindergarten Pompano Beach Florida Owner Julia Musella director Picture yourself on a hillside in Tuscany with a warm breeze and the gentle rustling of lush trees over a red barrel tiled roof as the music softly encourages you to take a moment and do nothing other than enjoy the beauty of the gardens that surround you. Welcome to the daily experience for each child and every child parent and teacher of BB International Preschool. The BB International Preschool garden is an Italian inspired multi-sensory experience designed for children of all ages. The variety of foliage includes fragrant flowering trees that bloom during different seasons in different colors fresh herbs and vegetables a National Wildlife Certified Butterfly Sanctuary and textures that appeal to all senses.....Children enter their outdoor classroom experience eagerly continually delighted by the surprises that outdoor play brings to them. Nowhere in sight is evidence of a traditional playground setting. Instead they are brought to a place where their consciousness will forever be raised about what a garden has to offer and more importantly use their imagination and creativity to design the outside time. ( Julia s words from the contest application) The BB International Preschool bases its philosophy on Reggio Emilia and the outdoor space is planned around that philosophy. The morning assembly (an important part of the Reggio philosophy) takes place in the gardens and is used as a celebration of the day s projected activities and recognition of the journey in learning that will take place. The Seca Reporter 7 Winter 2015 Outdoor social dining experiences take place under the partially shaded pergola and Venetian style curtains provide additional shade. A wide selection of music plays during this time opera classical jazz and great American standards. The Musical Garden was created using recycled materials from a metal company and features a xylophone designed and created by a parent with the help of the children. The backdrop of the musical garden is a multi-cultural tile mosaic of musical notes and children playing various instruments... again designed by a parent (a local artist). The Herb and Vegetable Garden allows children to learn life cycles as the time of year changes and plants go through their natural cycles. It includes lessons in science nature by using natural methods of pest repellent and fertilizers to raise awareness of an alternative to chemically enhanced farming methods. The garden always begins with the children and parents having a homework assignment that allows them to participate together in the purchasing planning and cultivating of the garden. The Butterfly Garden is National Wildlife Certified and features a variety of plants and small birdbaths in which children can leave their snack scraps. Countless hours are spent searching for cocoons watching the development and finally emergence of the butterfly. This area (now 5 years old) was designed and created with the children by a graduate student of Florida State University in conjunction with the National Wildlife Society. The Bocce Ball Court exercises counting math skills and works on gross and fine motor accuracy as well as hand-eye coordination. This area allows for cultural awareness encompassing the international games of American bowling Italian bocce and French boules. What is Bocce An ancient sport from the time of the Roman Empire it developed into its present form in Italy. Want to know how it s played Watch this You Tube video. http watch v 2hhN6S-1urM The Seca Reporter 8 Winter 2015 The Caterpillar Tire and Obstacle Course was created as an art project by the children and provides the opportunity to crawl and balance atop the creative and colorful design. A local tire company donated the new tires. The Green a name borrowed from a college campus is an open space that the children and staff use for a variety of different activities or just plain gazing up. In summer the pergola on the Green turns into an area that has overhead water sprinklers raining down beach blankets abound on The Green. Photos courtesy of BB International Preschool Westlake United Methodist Preschool Austin Texas Director Sharon Coleman scoleman This outdoor play space has evolved from an existing area to encompass more natural elements and incorporate inventive spaces. The existing play space contains the traditional large scale equipment of slides parallel bars ladders platforms a climbing wall tires for climbing and a suspension bridge. As an addition to this area the play scape has been expanded to include outdoor areas for art water play dramatic play and gross motor activities. These new areas are built around naturalistic components many of which represent the geography and topography of the Austin area. Reflecting the natural environment of Texas an arroyo made of large rocks winds throughout the area and is ideal for climbing and balancing. There are also two log bridges large stumps for balancing and trees with low limbs for climbing. The Seca Reporter 9 Winter 2015 What is an arroyo The Spanish name for a brook it is a wash or dry creek bed that fills and flows with water after sufficient rain. It is found in drier climates and water flow is often a seasonal occurrence. The Seca Reporter 10 Winter 2015 The Art Area moves and changes daily. There is a three sided easel for painting or other art media and an outdoor weaving frame. Tiny Town storefronts are used by children as props for stores homes and restaurants. A casita made of cedar logs is a place for children to engage in dramatic play or just relax and read. What the casita becomes on any given day is dependent upon the props that teachers make available to the children. For music the area contains wind chimes musical instruments and large stationary bamboo pipes. What is a casita A casita is the Spanish name for a small house and the term is used primarily throughout the Southwestern United States. Three distinct garden areas are located within the larger space an herb garden lies next to the trike path an enclosed vegetable garden is planted and tended by the children and a butterfly garden filled with native plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds rounds out the garden areas. Not only do children learn many valuable science lessons as they watch seeds germinate leaf bear fruit ad go to seed but the sensory experiences are so valuable. The Seca Reporter 11 Winter 2015 Children dig in the soil when gardening making a place for a seed or plant to grow. There is also a space filled with sand under the trees that provides additional digging opportunities. Water play is available in a water table made of large PVC pipes that flow from one table to another finally ending in a drain. A favorite activity is carrying water to a sand pit where rivers dams and sand castles are constructed. Maintaining the outdoor area involves both staff and children. In the morning before the children arrive a designated staff member checks the outdoor area for damage locked gates any trash or debris and unlocks the storage areas. While the children are at school they help to maintain the area by picking up and returning toys to the storage cabinets returning rocks to the arroyo and helping to sweep sand from the sidewalks. Each afternoon a staff member checks the space to make sure that all materials have been returned to storage sidewalks and steps are cleared sandboxes are covered and art materials put away. Photos courtesy of Westlake Methodist Preschool The Seca Reporter 12 Winter 2015 Dora L. Lewis Family & Child Development Center Richmond Virginia Director Donna Peters dpeters This outdoor classroom consists of two separate areas one for 2-yearolds and another for 3-5-year-olds. Each area contains the same centers except for the gardens which are used by all of the classes. The Seca Reporter 13 Winter 2015 The building area is used for free play and exploration in small groups. It contains hard surfaces made of slate flagstones and a limestone wall where the children can build with natural tree blocks tree cookies and miniature bricks as well as other natural elements such as rocks pine cones and acorns. Building outside allows the children the freedom to take risks experiment collaborate problem-solve and use their imaginations as they explore building without the constraints of space and noise often experienced indoors. Children can experiment with making music and creative expression in the music and movement area. Each music and movement area contains a permanently installed all-weather marimba wooden slap drums and a variety of natural instruments from other cultures such as shakers tambourines and drums. Scarves encourage children to move and children are encouraged to make music and dance in unstructured ways learning about sound pitch and rhythm. A nearby deck offers an open space for the children to stage performances or just to move freely. The Seca Reporter 14 Winter 2015 This outdoor classroom also contains three distinct garden areas vegetable butterfly and herb. Additional planter boxes are located outside the classroom and children plant cultivate water weed and harvest. Used for free-play and exploration in small groups the dirt-digging area provides a space for the children to dig directly in the dirt bounded by a wooden perimeter. Using either small hand tools or large tools requiring whole body movement the children experience the textures smells and calming effects of dirt as well as the excitement of uncovering and exploring a variety of insects. The Seca Reporter 15 Winter 2015 The sand area provides a large organic space for the children to experiment with the properties of sand and encourages group interaction. The children experience a different tactile experience working with the sand as opposed to dirt surrounded by natural elements such as stump trees and galvanized metal buckets for digging and pouring. Children and teachers together are responsible for the care of the outdoor classroom with children assisting teachers and maintenance staff with cleaning decks and pathways as needed. As we ve explored these three very different classrooms we hope you ve come away with ideas that can translate to your outdoor space. All it requires is a little ingenuity some manual labor and a willingness to think outside of the box If you decide to undertake an outdoor renovation or create a new classroom we d love to get photos and ideas from you that we can share with your colleagues throughout the SECA region. Just send them to Glenda Bean Executive Director at gbean Remember to get photo releases from any of the children that you feature....if you need assistance or information about how to submit these ideas just call us at 1-800-305-7322. Look for some great honorable mentions and specific project ideas from the Outdoor Classroom Contest in the fall 2013 issue of Dimensions of Early Childhood. We still have much to share The Seca Reporter 16 Winter 2015 SECA s Commitment to Play and Outdoor Learning A Wealth of Professional Resources From Dimensions of Early Childhood & Dimensions Extra The 2013 and 2014 issues of Dimensions of Early Childhood and Dimensions Extra featured articles on the programs recognized for Exemplary Outdoor Classrooms. Each issue of the journal highlighted programs and Dimensions Extra provided additional resources that could be accessed to assist in developing outdoor classrooms. Copies of these journals are archived at http members_only.php for SECA members. From Our Monthly Membership E-mail Articles These e-mails are archived on the SECA website and available on the membersonly section of the website. You ll find them under the section Members E-mail Articles. There is an informational article and either a parent or staff flyer (or maybe both ) about the topic. Look for these specific e-mail articles on the topic of play and outdoor learning. October 2014 The Seca Reporter 17 Winter 2015 January 2014 March 2012 June 2012 From the SECA Reporter Learning Science Reading Writing and Arithmetic Outdoors (Fall 2012) May 2010--Giving Children a Safe Place to Play Connecting Children with Nature Two Resources for Early Childhood Educators (Winter 2012) Nature Rocks (Winter 2011) Green Schoolyards and Playgrounds Creating Outdoor Classrooms (Fall 2010) The Seca Reporter 18 Winter 2015 eaP ou r Y Did you know About 3.5 hamburger meals. About 12 donuts. About 3 fried chicken meals. About 12 cups of fancy coffee. About 4 taco meals. nal ssio rofe The Value of Association Membership Your annual dues to SECA are 22 per year. For that 22 you can purchase at our most popular fast food restaurants For that 22 each year you receive from SECA 3 issues of Dimensions of Early Childhood 3 issues of Dimensions Extra 4 issues of The SECA Reporter 12 issues of Public Policy Notes 6 issues of The Leadership Letter Monthly member e-mails on topics of interest to early childhood professionals Discounts on attendance at the annual conference Your annual SECA membership is just lunch money Thanks for making an investment in your professional future and the future of the children of the South. Note The remainder of the annual dues that you pay go to your state local and in some states NAEYC. Source Fast Food Menu Prices http Information retrieved 8 25 2014 Save the Date Join us in Tulsa Oklahoma for the 67th Annual Conference of the Southern Early Childhood Association February 11 -13 2016 Hyatt Regency Tulsa