Care for a mud pie? That’s the special today in the brand new Mud Kitchen at Marmara Campus. It has been so popular at Hisar Campus that the franchise had to open another location! And we even had our Hisar students visit to take part in the Grand Opening!

One of the most important aspects of Early Childhood Development is playtime for children. IICS has actively developed and documented its Play-Based Learning program and has even started sharing best practices at international conferences and local workshops.

Play-Based Learning is not just fun; numerous studies show a direct link between young children’s playtime and their brain development. Since most of a person’s neurons are formed between 0-8 years old, it may interest parents to know exactly how play helps a child develop. Actually, Early Years students learn quite a lot from activities that seem to us adults to be, well, just too fun to have a practical application. For instance, more than a decade ago when growing our Play Based Learning progam, our IICS Early Years Teacher then (Carol Paget) reminded us all how important these fun activities are to a child’s development…

You may not think that dough is a terribly educational toy, but physically it develops muscles, enhances motor skills when children must master cutters, rolling pins, etc. Cognitively children explore textures and shapes and start gauging mass and volume. In terms of language, it helps to introduce new vocabulary when children discuss texture and it encourages children to discuss what they’re making. Emotionally, there is no ‘correct way’ of making something, so children are free to independently create.

Playing with sand develops fine manipulative skills and eye-hand coordination. Cognitively children learn about properties of physical matter—how something dry can behave like a liquid. They develop more understanding of texture. Emotionally it is a soothing material or can be a healthy release of aggression when pounded into sandcastles and destroyed. Socially sand play can be done independently or cooperatively depending on the child’s needs.

Painting helps children learn the connection between shape, form, and color while developing their coordination and helping them gain the fine motor skills needed for using writing instruments. It develops their hands and upper arms. Cognitively they learn colors—and how mixing paint makes new colors. They learn the physical properties of liquid and how to observe objects: to look, think, and record. Children learn new vocabulary by discussing shade, hue, tone, light, dark, and by talking about their work. Emotionally it builds their esteem when others admire their creations.

These and additional ideas are discussed in detail in Planning Play and the Early Years by Penny Tassoni and Karen Hucker.