New Video: Incorporating Math Into Gross Motor Play

Preschool girl filling dump truck with blocks sorted by colorIn this new video in the Reflections from the Field series, preschool teacher Jessica Abildgaard incorporated a sorting activity in an obstacle course using toy trucks to suit her student’s developmental needs. In order to prepare her students for kindergarten, she wanted to strengthen their numeral identification and sorting skills while incorporating gross motor play. When combining physical movement with toys, she expresses how an activity similar to this can increase student’s mathematical enhancement in fun and creative ways. Watch Incorporating Math Into Gross Motor Play.


CECE Reaches One Million Views on Our YouTube Channel!!!

Arial view of front of CECE building in fall colorsThe Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE) is thrilled to announce reaching a big milestone earlier this month: the center has achieved one million views on our YouTube channel! To acknowledge this accomplishment, the center released a short video, “Celebrating One Million Views.”

The center began producing video content in 2006, creating “Guiding Young Children’s Behavior” for preschool teachers in U.S. Navy child development centers (the project was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense). The center created a website in 2008 and posted our first video on-line, “Five Predictors of Early Literacy,” from the popular e-clips video series. The center’s YouTube channel went live on January 29, 2013, with 12 videos. Since then, the center has posted more than 125 videos to the channel.

CECE videos have featured more than 50 teachers, home child care providers, home visitors, program administrators, faculty, and other experts in the field. To date, 23 communication students have helped to create the videos, and 17 student research assistants have been featured in videos outlining research findings. Videos have been viewed in more than 200 countries, and have been incorporated into courses for current and future early childhood teachers across the United States and Canada. CECE videos have received six Telly Awards for technical excellence in video production.



Eastern Announces Results of the 2017 TIMPANI Toy Study

IMG_0979 410x273Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Early Childhood Education announced on December 6th that the Animal Kingdom Mega Pack Playset by Animal Planet has been named the 2017 TIMPANI Toy in the annual study conducted by faculty and student researchers.

The study, now in its ninth year, investigates how young children play with a variety of toys in natural settings. For the 2017 study, 10 toys were selected to represent the different types of toys typically seen in a preschool classroom. The toys were placed in preschool classrooms and scored on subscales of 1) thinking and problem-solving, 2) cooperation and social interaction, 3) creativity and imagination, and 4) verbalization. Student researchers videotaped the children playing with the toys using hidden cameras and coded the videos according to the study’s evaluation rubric.

The Animal Kingdom Mega Pack Playset, which includes plastic animals from a variety of habitats, is an example of a replica play toy. According to Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, principal investigator of the study and Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education, replica play toys provide important opportunities for children to engage in symbolic, make-believe play. “When children are playing with these kinds of toys, they have to do something beyond just becoming a make-believe character themselves. They actually have to project themselves into the role of an animal. This takes what some researchers call a ‘greater symbolic leap’ from reality to the make-believe play theme.”

In addition to receiving the highest overall score in this year’s study, the toy also scored the highest in three of the four subscales: creativity and imagination, social interaction, and verbalization. It was the highest-scoring toy for both boys and girls. It also scored highly for children from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. “This was a toy that inspired high-quality play by children of all different backgrounds,” said Julia DeLapp, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Education and co-investigator of the study.

Dominique McLean, a psychology and early childhood education student involved in the study, noted, “The animals were an open-ended toy that allowed children to bring their prior knowledge into their play narratives. They collaborated with their peers to create habitats and to sort the animals.” Nicole Green, an English and elementary education student involved in the study, said that the study made clear to her how important play is for children’s learning. “I just saw so many important life skills that were being taught as children were playing with each other, and I think that those need to be fostered even as they get a little older and move into elementary school.” Other students involved in this year’s study were Amanda Terenzi, a social work student, and Stefanie Dominguez, a communication and early childhood education student.

The results of the study were first announced at the annual meeting of the National Association for the Education of Young Children in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 15th. Findings will be disseminated to preschool teachers nationally to inform their decisions about the toys to include in their classroom. Findings will also be shared with families.

For more information about the TIMPANI Toy Study and to watch a video featuring the animals and other high-scoring toys from the study, visit


New Video: Using a Visual Schedule

Visual Schedule3Helping children know what to expect throughout the day is an important part of setting up the classroom environment. In “Using a Visual Schedule” from the Teaching Strategies series, preschool teacher Patricia Lee describes how she uses a visual schedule on a daily basis. Young children can refer to the pictures on the schedule independently to see what comes next, which can help them to regulate their own behavior. A visual schedule can be especially helpful for children who struggle with transitions or changes to the daily routine.