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Climbing Walls Help Children and College Students Learn and Grow

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The Center for Early Childhood Education and the Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) are pleased to share a special video completed by Eastern students in their Documentary Production class. Ready to Climb highlights two climbing walls recently installed at the CFDRC through the generous support of the ECSU Foundation. The climbing walls serve two important purposes: 1) support children's cognitive, social-emotional, creative, and physical development; and 2) provide critical experiential learning opportunities for Eastern students who hope to work with young children in their careers.

 

View the video at http://www.easternct.edu/cece/ready_to_climb.html

 

 

Magna-Tiles and Brio Trains Both Named 2013 TIMPANI Toy

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Faculty and student researchers at Eastern Connecticut State University's Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE) have announced the results of the 2013 TIMPANI toy study. Two toys tied this year, both receiving the highest ratings of all toys studied: Magna-Tiles by Valtech, LLC, and My First Railway by Brio. Study findings were announced at the annual meeting of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and at a press conference on Eastern's campus on December 4th.

Magna-Tiles web.jpgThe TIMPANI toy study is an annual empirical study that looks at how young children in natural settings play with a variety of toys. Each year, nominated toys are placed in preschool classrooms and videotaped using remote cameras. Researchers use a scientific instrument to determine which toys best promote children's development in three areas: thinking and learning, social interaction and cooperation, and self-expression and imaginative play.

The 2013 study marks the fifth year that the CECE has studied toys, and trends suggest that basic, open-ended toys seem to inspire the highest levels of play. According to principal investigator Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, "The high-scoring toys tend to be fairly simple toys that are not too realistic, and they don't have a lot of gadgetry or computer chips. They are often the ones we played with when we were growing up. In addition, construction toys have done very well in our studies over the past five years. They tend to inspire a lot of problem-solving as children figure out how to construct different objects, but we also see a fair amount of pretend play and social interaction."

Brio Trains web.jpgIn addition to providing useful information to parents and teachers about toys, the TIMPANI toy study provides opportunities for a number of Eastern Connecticut State University students to participate in research. Undergraduate students Chamari Davis and Cassie Savalli were responsible for conducting videotaping for the study, coding footage, and helping to analyze the results. They also co-presented the results at the NAEYC conference with Dr. Trawick-Smith and CECE Program Coordinator Julia DeLapp on November 22nd.

For more information about the TIMPANI Toy Study, and to watch a video of children playing with toys studied, visit www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani.html

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12/5/13 update: See TV news coverage of this story at http://www.wtnh.com/news/windham-cty/study-on-how-children-play-with-toys

Hear researchers discuss what makes a good toy on the radio: http://www.wili-am.com/images/audio/ecsu_tympani_toy_study_dec_5_2013.wma

Read story in the Norwich Bulletin: http://www.norwichbulletin.com/article/20131204/NEWS/131209801/10283/NEWS

12/11/13 update: Read Dec. 10 editorial in the Norwich Bulletin: http://www.norwichbulletin.com/article/20131210/OPINION/131219995/10309/OPINION

12/13/13 update: Read New Yorker article about the influence of STEM-oriented toys that includes interview with TIMPANI researcher Jeffrey Trawick-Smith: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/currency/2013/12/can-toys-help-create-future-engineers.html

Center Wins Third Telly Award

 

Copy of telly_newlogosmall.jpgThe Center for Early Childhood Education has been awarded a 2013 Telly Award for "Investigating Balls," a video that explores how teachers at Eastern's Child and Family Development Resource Center engaged preschoolers in different learning activities while investigating the properties of balls.  The video is part of the new Investigating series of videos from the CECE, which highlight how teachers implement engaging projects--called "investigations"--on a variety of topics.

The Telly Awards honor television, video, and film productions and programs, as well as work created for the Internet. Each year, the Telly Awards receive thousands of entries from throughout the United States and abroad. "Investigating Balls" received a bronze award in the category of Internet/Online Video: Education. The Center also received a Telly Award in 2011 for "The Importance of Play" and in 2010 for "Five Predictors of Early Literacy." 

The Center for Early Childhood Education congratulates the following staff and students involved in the development of the video: Ken Measimer, Director; Julia DeLapp, Producer and Author; Sean Leser (Eastern student), Videographer and Editor; Ross Page (Eastern student), Music Composer; and Nick Napoletano, Animator.

The Center also thanks the teachers and children at the Child and Family Development Resource Center for appearing in the video and doing the wonderful work that inspired the video.

To view the video, visit http://www.easternct.edu/cece/investigating_balls.html

Duplos Named the TIMPANI Toy for 2012

TIMPANIcolor.jpgFaculty and student researchers at Eastern Connecticut State University's Center for Early Childhood Education have announced the results of the 2012 TIMPANI toy study. The toy receiving the highest ratings of all toys studied this year was DUPLO bricks, a toy made by LEGO Group. Rainbow People by Environments, Inc. received an honorable mention. Study findings were announced at the annual meeting of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and at a press conference on Eastern's campus on November 16th.

Copy of DSC_4079.jpgAccording to principal investigator Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, "DUPLO bricks pose many problems for children to solve, so there's a lot of deep thought that goes into building. Construction toys have done very well in our studies due to the fact that they don't suggest any one use. They can be used in many different ways, so children tend to interact more and negotiate what they want to build."

The TIMPANI toy study is an annual empirical study that looks at how young children in natural settings play with a variety of toys. Each year, nominated toys are placed in preschool classrooms and videotaped using remote cameras. Researchers use a scientific instrument to determine which toys best promote children's development in three areas: thinking and learning, social interaction and cooperation, and self-expression and imaginative play.

Researchers noted that while most of the toys studied this year showed very positive results in the classroom, only DUPLOS scored highly 1) across all three days of testing, 2) with both boys and girls, 3) with children from all socio-economic backgrounds, and 4) with children of different ethnicities.

In addition to providing useful information to parents and teachers about toys, the TIMPANI toy study provides opportunities for a number of Eastern Connecticut State University students to participate in research. Undergraduate students Jamie Vallarelli, Marley Koschel, and Jenny Wolff were responsible for conducting videotaping for the study, coding footage, and helping to analyze the results. They also co-presented the results at the NAEYC conference with Dr. Trawick-Smith on November 9th.

For more information about the TIMPANI Toy Study, and to watch a video of children playing with toys studied, visit www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani.html

 

Student Researchers Featured in Hartford Magazine

The work of six Eastern students assisting in Center research was featured in a Hartford Magazine article entitled "Through the eys of a child: ECSU students study how play affects learning." The July 2011 article describes the work students did to support research by Dr. Sudha Swaminathan and Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith on how teacher-child interactions during play influence children's mathematical abilities. The study was funded by the Spencer Foundation. The students involved in the research were Christina Cammisa, Claire Fryer, Tasia Supino, Eliza Welling, Jennifer Wolff, and Kelly Zimmermann.  Read the article Hartford Magazine article.pdf.

Faculty and Student Honored for Article

Trawick web.jpgAn article written by Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair in early childhood education, and one of his students, Tracy Dziurgot, has been selected as Outstanding Research Article in Early Childhood Teacher Education for 2011, awarded by the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators and Taylor and Francis Publishers. The article, "Untangling Teacher-Child Play Interactions: Do Teacher Education and Experience Influence Good-Fit Responses to Children's Play?," reports research findings that indicate that higher levels of education predict preschool teachers' sensitivity to and understanding of children's play in classrooms. Trawick-Smith and Dzuirgot will be honored in an award ceremony in Orlando, FL, in November.

Results of TIMPANI Toy Study Announced

TIMPANIcolor.jpgResearchers at Eastern Connecticut State University's Center for Early Childhood Education have announced the results of the first annual TIMPANI Toy Study. The toy receiving the highest ratings of all toys studied this year was "Wooden Vehicles and Traffic Signs" by Melissa & Doug, LLC. Study findings were announced at the annual meeting of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and at a press conference on Eastern's campus on November 17th.

According to principal investigator Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, "The results of this study might give pause to parents and teachers who believe that children today need high-tech, complex toys in order to learn. This simple, beautiful, wooden toy set engaged children in almost every type of play behavior that is useful for development: solving problems, pretending, communicating with peers, and staying engaged for long periods."

The TIMPANI toy study is an annual empirical study that looks at how young children in natural settings play with a variety of toys. Each year, nominated toys are placed in preschool classrooms and videotaped using remote cameras. Researchers use a scientific instrument to determine which toys best promote children's development in three areas: thinking and learning, social interaction and cooperation, and self-expression and imaginative play.

vehicles.jpgThe high-scoring Wooden Vehicles and Traffic Signs toy set includes a variety of painted wooden vehicles, including a fire truck and ambulance. It also includes 10 common traffic signs that children may be familiar with, such as a stop sign. Researchers noted that children playing with the toy engaged in high levels of language and social interaction. Children also exhibited unexpected creative play, even using the container that the vehicles came in to construct garages and bridges.

In addition to providing useful information to parents and teachers about toys, the TIMPANI toy study provides opportunities for a number of Eastern Connecticut State University students to participate in research. Sociology/early childhood education student Liza Welling noted what she learned as a student researcher: "It was very interesting to see that such a simple toy made such a big difference in the classroom. You don't, as a teacher, have to include all these high end toys that everyone is saying are amazing...letting students use their imagination and create their own world is actually more important."

For more information about the TIMPANI Toy Study and to watch a video illustrating how children played with the toy, visit www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani.html.

 

New Video Featuring Eastern Students

  Copy of Denise and Dan 002.jpgThe Center for Early Childhood Education recently developed a video highlighting the work of Eastern students in research and professional activities. The video notes that, in partnership with Eastern's Child and Family Development Resource Center, the Center involves about 180 students a year in research, creative activity, course assignments, and teaching experiences. In the video, four students discuss what their experiences with the Center have meant to them, and how their research and professional experiences have enhanced what they've learned in class. To view the video and read more information on student engagement at the Center for Early Childhood Education, visit our student engagement page

Center Launches "Featured Students" Page

  Kass reading.JPGThe Center for Early Childhood Education has a strong commitment to providing Eastern students with meaningful, relevant work that enhances their overall education, prepares them for post-college employment, and contributes to student retention. Since the Center's inception, a total of 48 students have been involved in Center work, and 25 students have been involved in the 2009-2010 academic year alone. CECE students participate in a variety of meaningful work, including assisting in research projects, conducting assessments on young children, and serving as video production interns. The Center is now highlighting the work of these students on a new Student Engagement section of our website. The page also includes profiles of a few individual students, with quotes on how their experiences at the CECE have enhanced their education.

Eastern Students Provide Service to Willimantic Preschools

Ten Eastern students, under the direction of Eastern's Community Partners for Early Literacy (CPEL) project, recently conducted 589 early childhood literacy assessments at Eastern's Child and Family Development Resource Center and Windham Public School's Early Childhood Center. The students all received professional-level training from Dr. Maureen Ruby and Dr. Ann Anderberg in administering standardized early childhood literacy assessment tools. The students are majors in Eastern's Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Psychology, and Spanish programs, and include seven students with bilingual (English and Spanish) skills. These bilingual students were critical to assessing those preschool children who are English Language Learners.

 

The assessment services provided by these students is providing critical information to Willimantic preschool teachers that enables them to plan instruction to best meet their children's learning needs, thereby better preparing them for kindergarten.

 

Working as early literacy assessors has had an impact on these Eastern students. The students have shared many comments about the experience of working as assessors with early childhood educators and preschool children:

 

·         "It's been an insightful experience that has helped me not only further my understanding of young children, but it has also helped me to understand myself in relation to children. Additionally, through working with ... teachers within both school systems I have been able to construct, so to speak, an idea of the kind of teacher I would like to become. All in all, it was simply a rewarding experience that has taught me many things about children, teachers, and myself."

·         "It was definitely an experience I'll never forget, and I definitely learned about how kids develop and how they learn. Since I grew up in an English speaking school it was especially interesting to see how the kids learn in Spanish."

·         "It gave me more experience working with children and seeing how developed a child's language is at certain ages."

·         "The experience working with children and trying to help them in their academic understanding, was a meaningful task because I wasn't just teaching myself something."

·         Assessing the children gave me "a lot more insight into language development."

·         Working with the Spanish-speaking children "helped me get back in touch with my culture."

·         Assessing has "enhanced my understanding of language and literacy development" and the experience would benefit Eastern's education students by helping them understand the world of assessing and teaching.

·         One student has been telling her classmates that the experience "opens doors for you."

·         A student who is interviewing for education jobs has said, "My work for CPEL has definitely elevated my qualifications and provided me with a unique distinction in the field of education. In my interviews I have cited the ability to build a rapport with students of varying personalities and backgrounds as a strength I possess. Working for CPEL allowed me to refine this strength on a daily basis by assessing children throughout multiple classrooms in two early childhood centers. Currently, assessment is a big movement in education [and] it is used to determine how to drive instruction. Being trained in assessments [is] significant to the administrators who have taken the time to interview me."

 

CPEL is proud to be able to provide meaningful work and community experience that enhances students' overall educational experience and prepares them for post-college employment.

 

For more information about the Center for Early Childhood Education's CPEL project, visit www.easternct.edu/cece/CPELMain.html.