As 2022 comes to a close and we start to plan for the year ahead, we look back and evaluate the year’s learning curriculum. What worked well? What experiences did the class enjoy most? What resources were the most popular, and what made them barely spend a minute on the shelf as children delved into play each day?
It’s not just the high quality that ensures a resource lasts a long time (that’s important of course), but the high value of that item that makes it a winner. But what’s high value in an early childhood setting?
Undoubtedly it’s the open-ended play value of a resource that allows for endless adaptability. Innovative resources that empower children to inquire and experiment that nourish creative minds to find creative solutions. For children’s autonomy and confidence to blossom, in turn, giving them the desire and strength to explore and continue exploring new and exciting things.
Let’s read on to take a closer look at MTA’s top EC resources for 2022, and some of the reasons why they make the difference.
Early Years Planner Tidal Creek
Is there any better way to start each day than with a satisfying feeling of organisation? Everyone’s favourite MTA Early Years & Teacher Planners are the ultimate organisational tools. Exclusively developed with teachers & educators, these premium quality A4 spiral bound planners provide flexibility for your teaching programme and class curriculum.
It’s not just the flexible layouts of these planners that make them a favourite; it’s also the ‘extras’ featured throughout. There’s inspiration to motivate, teaching tips & ideas to support educators in their profession, dedicated spaces to keep on track with goals & plans and possibly the absolute most important – spaces to make sure ‘me time’, or self-care happens for wellbeing. Brilliant!
The Tidal Creek cover has fast become the most popular, with artwork designed by Lauren Greatorex. Lauren is a proud Malgana, Nyikina and Jabirr Jabirr woman living on Kariyarra County in Port Hedland. Her artwork is inspired by her mission to connect with her ancestral heritage. ‘Tidal Creek’ represents the tidal pools during a king tide on Nyikina. Lauren loves acrylic because of its ability to dry fast, which allows her to layer colours when painting.
We love it when functionality is also beautiful!
Bamboo Counting Set
Maths meets loose parts! The Bamboo Counting Set consists of 10 bamboo cups with 55 wooden sticks for endless number exploration. Children are encouraged to place the correct amount of sticks in the corresponding cup or find and collect objects in nature or around the classroom. Objects can be sorted in a variety of ways: by size, colour, material, shape, etc. It’s a brilliantly authentic resource for children to learn through doing as they experiment with written numbers and their quantity relationship.
Number sense, or the basics of learning numbers, can be a source of fun and intrigue. Simple games and rhymes, visual aids, patterns, classification and measurement involving numbers can all lead to numerical confidence. Use the Bamboo Counting Set on its own or combine with markers & paper to promote mark-making as children experiment with symbols and their meaning, recognition of quantities and mathematical language.
A lifelong love of maths is ready to begin!
Natural Spaces – Low Heavy-Duty Adult Chair
There’s so much to say about the Natural Spaces Low Heavy-Duty Adult Chair, you see, it’s not just an ordinary chair…
This chair is specifically designed for adults to sit at low levels. Educators and teachers often have to sit on children’s furniture which is too small or not stable enough. OHS ergonomic assessments have identified the need for a low chair which is designed for adult use. To solve this problem, MTA have designed a chair which accommodates educator comfort while working at lower heights. This chair is the result of tests that use the innovative ViSafe movement sensing technology. These tests have resulted in a chair which is specifically designed to provide adult educators a comfortable and stable seat while working.
Made with beautiful maple ply and a solid silver metal frame tested to 170kg as specified under AUS/NZ 4688.2:2000. Each leg has a plastic foot to avoid classroom noise and minimise floor scratches. It even features low maintenance wipe clean surfaces. Yes please!
Why is it important for educators to sit at low levels?
Being part of the group where they can meaningfully socialise and engage with their educators and classmates at eye level brings possibilities rich with learning. Children feel a sense of belonging, ensures children feel safer, more in control and more connected. Being at eye level communicates that you’re meaningfully there for them, paying attention to their needs and interests.
We learn by seeing and doing too. When you’re at eye level, you’re there to support and scaffold children’s learning, to role model safe & appropriate behaviours, to join in and demonstrate tasks or the use of tools, including cutlery at mealtimes, scissors at the craft table, speech and communication and so much more.
The possibilities of a chair!
Harmony Outdoor Moveable Play Kitchen
Outdoor cooking adventures await! The Harmony Outdoor Moveable Play Kitchen makes a welcoming invitation for copious hours of imaginative culinary play. Built to last, it’s made from sturdy FSC Eucalyptus and features stainless steel fittings & rust-resistant metal hardware for extra longevity. Its manoeuvrability makes this furniture piece a firm favourite too. Whether you’re chasing the shade, resetting play spaces or sharing resources between classes, simply lift one side of the kitchen with the handle and move it about the learning environment on its sturdy wheels.
A child-sized version of a kitchen provides the perfect space to engage in imaginative and creative play, building independence and autonomy to scaffold valuable life skills. It’s a space for children to imitate the actions they see at home and in the wider community, widening vocabulary and communication styles as children work with new objects, engage in conversation and talk about what they’re doing. It can be social play rich in teamwork and problem-solving as children negotiate, share, take turns and work with each other. Or it can be quiet, solitary play where children immerse themselves in their own culinary world as they take a break from a busy day. In any which way, the Harmony Outdoor Moveable Play Kitchen is responsive to children’s changing needs.
What culinary treasures will be served up today?
Magic Scarves remain a favourite open-ended resource for their limitless play possibilities, with the play value ensuring value for money! Each set of 12 scarves comes in 4 primary colours – blue, yellow, green and red. They’re ultra-durable and yet super soft and light as a feather! They provide tactile experiences that nourish children’s senses, creativity and imaginations for years to come.
You see, Magic Scarves can transform into any myriad of things, giving free rein to children’s imaginings as they adapt the scarf into anything the day brings. Will the scarf be a set of colourful fairy wings, a protective superhero cape or a majestic wizard’s cloak? Whether they’re used for decorative drapery, curtains for cubby houses or puppet shows, small world scenery, music, dance and movement, to wrap around dolls or to wear as dress-ups, the generous 68cm size makes them large enough for just about anything!
They’re a must for every class!
The simple design and absence of facial features adds to the open appeal of Rainbow Families, with children’s imaginations, or inner picturing abilities, adapting the figures to represent literally anyone and to express any range of emotions as they engage in play, rich with possibilities. Made with FSC schima and finished with non-toxic paints and dyes, these adorable colourful people also bring peace of mind to an environment well-looked after.
From a doctor with their patients to a café owner and their customers, the whole community can be represented as children use these 16 brightly coloured block play people to imitate real life. They’re ready to engage in small-world play, practise naming and sorting colours, compare and classify sizes and so much more. They enrich play with dollhouses, building sets, towns and roadways and make the most beautiful classroom displays. In any which way you choose, they’re built to last the rigours of play.
Rainbow Families would love to reside in your learning community!
dëna – Kids Diverity Set
Children begin to develop their sense of self from a young age, making their interactions, their environment and wider community influential to their identity. A simple yet significant way to support children in developing a positive understanding of themselves and others is ensuring they have access to a wide range of inclusive learning resources. Learning resources that nourish children’s self-esteem and confidence to flourish while fostering respect and open-mindedness for others.
This dëna Silicon Diversity Set communicates the values of empathy, equality, diversity and inclusion with a powerful tribute to the beauty of all skin tones. The kit includes a large 12-piece rainbow along with 12 people – representing the skin tones of everyone on our planet.
It’s a wonderfully open-ended resource suitable for children of all ages – right from birth. BPA, PVC, latex and phthalate free, these multifunctional silicon sets evolve with children’s developmental stages too. They’re ideal as a teether, a sensory resource, stacking and building, small world play, cooking moulds, water play, classroom displays and more.
Little hands won’t want to put them down!
Multi-Sensory Pre-Writing Tray and Board
The Pre-Writing Tray & Board is a multi-sensory tablet for developing pre-writing skills and eye-to-hand coordination through the creative representation of figures using touch – inspired by the Montessori methodology by engaging sensory stimulation to further engage children’s processing and memory. By engaging the thousands of touch receptors in our fingertips, neurons fire signals via nerves to the spinal cord, the brain stem, the thalamus and finally to the cerebral cortex for processing. Children can use this sensory input to explore early literacy and numeracy by experimenting with mark-making in the sand – drawing shapes, and connecting lines and curves as they begin to form shapes, symbols, numbers and letters.
And for easy setup, these sets include all you need to get started – a wooden tray with reversible board (one side is a blackboard for chalk and the other side is a whiteboard for erasable marker pens), chalks, eraser, felt tip pen, a bag of sand (0.5kg) and a sand smoother. Brilliant!
Let literacy and numeracy abound!
Stockholm Rectangle Corner Mirror
Mirrors and the reflections they make can be a source of fun, intrigue and experimentation, creating a whole host of incredible learning opportunities too. Available in Rectangle and Square, these Corner Mirrors make terrific spaces for open-ended play that nurture children’s natural curiosity, leading to endless inquiry and discovery.
Made from environmentally friendly FSC plywood, these mirror pieces feature a wooden base panel plus 2 x mirrored side panels for mesmerising mirror investigation. The mirrors themselves are scratch resistant and made from acrylic so they won’t shatter like glass for super safe learning environments and peace of mind.
Add in some open-ended resources to invite children to play with colour, light and reflection or create an inspiring space for dramatic play. Why not add cushions or drape fabric over to create a magical cubby or sensory nook?
Who knows what they’ll be each day!
Wooden Outdoor Pan Scale
Numeracy is part of our daily lives – the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions to use mathematics in a wide range of situations each and every day. Whether we’re managing money, scheduling calendars, measuring cooking ingredients or tallying up sports scores, numeracy plays a big part of what we do.
Promoting the development of numeracy competencies in early childhood welcomes children to become confident & familiar with numeracy from a young age, learning by doing as they engage in mathematical ways of thinking, extend mathematical language and vocabulary as they use mathematical concepts to make sense of their world – in turn, sparking a lifelong love of mathematical knowledge. Who knows where their journey will take them?
A terrific way to enrich numeracy exploration is offering problem-solving situations to experiment with. As children work through solutions to obstacles, they strengthen their analytical skills – resourcefulness, creativity, abstract thinking and logical reasoning.
Made from sustainable Eucalyptus wood, this Outdoor Pan Balance has become a fast favourite to take numeracy exploration into the great outdoors, where children can explore the weight of objects found in nature. Gumnuts, pebbles, pinecones, shells and all sorts of outdoor treasures provide children with natural provocations to explore. Combine found objects with traditional building blocks, Fraction Blocks and loose parts for any number of possibilities.
Experimenting with the weight of objects today can lead to the weight management of intergalactic rockets tomorrow!
Thanks for joining us over here at the Modern Teaching Blog today!
We’ve loved chatting about our Top 10 resources for the year; which one has been your favourite?