There are many factors to consider when selecting materials and equipment for young children in an early childhood environment. Some of those considerations are the following:
- Selection of materials should be based on developmental practices of supporting social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth of children.
- Select materials and equipment that are high quality — you will save on replacement and repair costs.
- Selection of furniture and equipment should be based on the multiple uses of children on a daily basis.
- Materials should be open-ended and allow for a wide range of manipulative and creative uses by children.
- Cultural representation of the program's enrollment should be integrated throughout the classroom with appropriate materials and props.
- Creative and expressive materials that stimulate thinking, problem solving, and emergent literacy should be selected for all play areas in the classroom.
- Purchase the following for each child: cot/crib, chair, and cubby for personal belongings.
The following are South Carolina Materials Guides to help you when selecting materials and equipment.
Since there is a national emphasis on science and math experiences in the early childhood environment, including STEAM Education (“Science & Technology interpreted through Engineering & the Arts, all based in Mathematical elements”), contact your county's SC CCR&R Quality Coach or fill out and submit our web form to request on-site technical assistance to develop an early childhood STEAM environment at your program.
A large percentage of early childhood programs incorporate learning or activity centers in their environment. Learning centers provide children with an appropriate and stimulating learning environment. Materials used in all learning centers should include items that reflect language, culture, and diversity.
- Children will create a wide range of artwork drawing, painting, coloring, working with clay, creating collages, and structures
- The art area requires a table and chairs for a group of children to work comfortably.
- Storage cabinets are needed for containers of materials and tools children will use.
- The area should have a bulletin board to display children’s work at their eye level for viewing.
- The area should have easels for painting, and a place for drying work.
- Children should have easy to clean work surfaces and chairs at an appropriate height.
- The area should feature space for finished work or work in progress to be displayed.
- A large carpeted area is ideal for construction and building activities.
- Each classroom should have several complete sets of blocks.
- Props may include play figures, transportation toys, play animals, block-size doors, windows, and signs. Include containers for appropriate storage.
- Add other construction items such as sticks, rocks, tubs, and hollow blocks.
- Each classroom needs child-size house furniture that includes table and chairs, refrigerator, stove, sink cupboard, doll beds, ironing board, high chairs, sofa, and rocking chair.
- Role play props include multi-cultural dolls and doll clothes, variety of dress-up clothes, play food, dish set, and pots and pans.
- This area should have an unbreakable mirror and storage for dress-up clothes.
- Puppets enhance the dramatic play area.
- Shelving and containers keep role play props organized.
- Include a variety of collections of things for children to explore, look at, and utilize their process skills to play with.
- Make tools available, such as magnets, scales, and balances.
- Provide fish or other classroom pets in appropriate habitats.
- Plants, an insect discovery cage, stick bugs, and a butterfly house are just a few more discovery items to include in the classroom.
Water/Sand Play Area
- Provide an appropriately sized water and /or sand table.
- Include props for both water and sand activities.
- Shelving and storage areas will be needed for play materials.
- Flooring should be tile or messy mat.
- Include materials that allow children to classify objects, build structures, and solve problems such as table toys that fit together for building and designing, and puzzles.
- Include fine motor materials such as pegs and peg boards, beads and other items to string and lace.
- Storage containers for manipulative, shelving units to hold containers, and storage racks for puzzles.
- Children will come to this area to read and look at books, create and listen to stories, and play with materials.
- Book collection should include at least 5 – 10 books for each child in the classroom.
- Quality book collection should include picture books, story books, and poetry books, including a wide range of topics: families, humor, word, alphabet, cultural diversity, seasonal, holidays, fantasy, science, and true stories.
- Include materials for children to create pictures and stories: paper in a variety of sizes, writing tools, and writing boards.
- Story tapes and flannel board stories are ideal for both individual and group use.
- Audio-visual equipment is essential to your literacy area. Include a tape recorder, listening center, and earphones.
- Place a bulletin board in the literacy area at a child’s eye level and display photo picture collections, children’s stories, and art work.
Music & Movement Area
- You will need a record player, CD or cassette player/radio in this area.
- Include a high quality collection of age-appropriate music.
- Create a classroom collection of musical instruments.
- Collect instruments that reflect diversity of sound and culture.
- Include storage and shelving.
- May need extra adult supervision for children handling tools.
- This area needs a child-size workbench.
- Include safety goggles and apron for each child who works in this area.
- Include a basic carpenter tool set.
- Tool box and container for storage of wood, nails, screws, sandpaper and supplies, such as non-toxic wood glue.
Outdoor Play Area
- Outdoor play area should be considered your outdoor classroom. Children are developing physical, creativity, problem-solving, learning concepts, and social skills.
- Conduct daily safety inspection of all outdoor play areas.
- Regulations require specified square footage per child outdoors.
- Separate play areas for different age groups.
- Outdoor play area must be contained with a fence.
- Quality outdoor play areas have separate areas for a variety of activities: active games, sand/water play, play structures, storage space, climbing structures, and bike baths.
For more information or assistance on other materials & equipment contact the SC-CCRRN office at 1 (888) 335-1002 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.