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Active Learning in Cradle Roll

Jacquie Vanatta

Helpful tips to get babies and toddlers involved in learning.

Albert Einstein said, "Knowledge is experience-everything else is just information."

Nowhere is this more true than with children--and especially children in cradle roll. Creating experiences that increase knowledge for children birth to 3 years old is one of the greatest challenges facing the church teaching staff.

Dr. Burton L. White, director of Harvard University's Preschool Project and author of The First Three Years of Life, writes, "In their simple everyday activities, infants and toddlers form the foundations for all of later development."

What a responsibility for teachers and parents. Meeting the developmental needs of this age group will take prayerful study and a lot of imagination. But with some basic principles, you can do it!

*Make the room appealing to a small child. Start by using your imagination with the room you meet in. Stand at the door of your meeting room. Imagine you're 2 years old. What would invite you in? pique your curiosity?

Be sure the room is clean and safe. Then take a look at the decorations. It's important to have decorations as lifelike as possible. You want children to feel the "realness" of Jesus as they handle the decorations.

Think about your quarterly theme as you decorate your room. Let's say your theme is "Jesus as a Boy." Let your imagination go. I've made a backdrop on one wall from a large, blue full-size bedsheet. We created a Nazareth-style house from cut-up polyester pants. Then we cut out a large tree and flowers and glued them on, too. Poly-Fil clouds filled our sky.

In front of the backdrop, we placed a large, nontoxic plant. Then we set a large doll dressed up like the boy Jesus in front of the house.

Our children had a great time actually handling the things of the Bible. They were able to feel Jesus and see where he lived. Just by a simple decoration we were able to stimulate kids' learning.

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