This course examines various components involved in developing high quality programs for children ages birth to eight. Students learn about the physical space children inhabit and how the child interacts with the space. The course involves a study of appropriate methods required to create an educational environment that is nurturing, stimulating, and welcoming for all children to explore. Discussions around developmentally appropriate practice ensure that students understand the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language needs of young learners. Students gain an understanding of these needs through a study of major learning and childhood development theories. Learning is demonstrated through designing appropriate learning activities and applying knowledge of theories.


Licensure/Accreditation Statement: This course is required for students completing an associate or baccalaureate degree in early childhood education.

II. Required/Optional Materials

  1. Designs for Living and Learning: Transforming Early Childhood Environments. Deb Carter & Margie Carter, Redleaf Press, 2003.
  2. Developmentally Appropriate Practice: Curriculum and Development in Early Education (2nd ed.). Gestwichi, C., Cincinnati, OH: Delmar Publishers, 1999.

Optional/Support Materials
Decker & Decker. Administering Early Childhood Programs (Required text for EDEC 2283).


  • Laying a Foundation for Living and Learning
  • Creating Connections and a Sense of Belonging
  • Keeping Space Flexible and materials Open-ended
  • Designing Natural Environments That Engage Our Senses
  • Provoking Wonder, Curiosity, and Intellectual Engagement
  • Engaging Children in Symbolic Representation, Literacy, and Visual Arts
  • Enhancing Children?s Use of the Environment
  • Facing Barriers & Negotiating Change
  • Tools for Assessing Your Environment

IV. NAEYC Standards

Standard 1. Promoting Child Development and Learning
Candidates use their understanding of young children?s characteristics and needs, and of multiple
interacting influences on children?s development and learning, to create environments
that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for all children.

1a. Knowing young children?s characteristics and needs
1b. Understanding multiple influences on development and learning
1c. Using developmental knowledge to create learning environments

Standard 4. Teaching and Learning
Candidates integrate their understanding of and relationships with children and families; their understanding of developmentally effective approaches to teaching and learning; and their knowledge of academic disciplines to design, implement, and evaluate experiences that promote positive
development and learning for all children.

4b. Using developmentally effective approaches
4c. Understanding content knowledge in early childhood
4d. Building meaningful curriculum

Standard 5. Becoming a Professional
Candidates identify and conduct themselves as members of the early childhood profession. They know and use ethical guidelines and other professional standards related to early childhood practice. They are continuous, collaborative learners who demonstrate knowledgeable, reflective, and critical perspectives on their work, making informed decisions that integrate knowledge from a variety of sources. They are informed advocates for sound educational practices and policies.

5b. Upholding ethical and professional standards
5c. Engaging in continuous learning
5d. Integrating knowledgeable, reflective, and critical perspectives


Knowledge: The preservice teacher education candidate will demonstrate knowledge of:

  1. Essential components of developmentally appropriate practice.
  2. Components of effective scheduling.
  3. Health and safety issues in varying environments.
  4. Characteristics of room arrangements that are developmentally appropriate.
  5. Social/emotional issues of young children as related to caregivers and the environment.
  6. Appropriate/inappropriate adult responses to a young learners? social/emotional behavior.
  7. The importance of outdoor and indoor environments.

Skills: The preservice teacher education candidate will be able to:

  1. Differentiate between active/passive children, play, materials.
  2. Examine classroom management as it relates to environmental construct
  3. Define major theories of learning and development i.e., Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Dewey, Montessori, Piaget, Vygotsky, Erikson, Reggio, and others.
  4. Identify developmental milestones in respect to various ages: infants, toddlers, preschoolers, primary-aged children.
  5. Identify elements of appropriate physical environments: room arrangement, furniture selection, equipment, materials, toys, health, & safety.
  6. Conduct a playground assessment and identify playground needs based on that assessment.

Dispositions: The preservice teacher education candidate will:
Demonstrate willingness to:

  1. Use developmentally practices to work with children and colleagues.
  2. Advocate for developmentally appropriate practices in varying levels of early childhood environments i.e., childcare, preschool, elementary classrooms.


Attendance Policy & Course Participation Requirements__________Dec. 18_____(50 pts.)
Effective learning requires you to be an active participant in the construction of your own knowledge which includes active, involved, quality participation in class demonstrated by entering into discussions, asking questions, and offering thoughts and ideas for further exploration. Constructive learning of this nature can only occur if you are present. Up to three points per class will be awarded on the basis of attendance and active class participation.

Most assignments are authentic, thus involving a service learning component i.e., planning an event, conducting an environmental survey that can be shared with the school/institution, etc.

Three Program Visitations and Reaction Papers_________________________(150 points)
Students will be required to visit three different types of preschool/childcare (private, public, Head Start, etc.), collect data, review policies, and write a report on their findings. Put yourself in the shoes of the 3-6 yr. old children who spend their days in a space and use the following statements, from a child?s perspective, to assess the space:

I can see who I am and what I like to do at school/home?
There are comfortable places where adults in my life can sit and talk with me.
The natural world can be found here (objects from nature, animals, living specimens)
There is something sparkly, shadowy, wondrous/magical here.
My teacher leaves a special object out every day so I can keep trying to figure out more
about its properties and how it works.
I can feel powerful and be physically active here.
I can learn to see things from different perspectives here, literally, and through assuming
roles in dramatic play.
I see my name written, or I get to regularly write my name here.
I get to know my teachers here- what they like, how they spend their time away from
school, and which people and things are special to them.
Collect data [school brochure, enrollment package-including tuition, parent/staff
handbook, visit website)

Playground Visit/Analysis__________________(150 points)
Students will visit 3 different playgrounds, categorize them, reflect on and make recommendations about their design.

Description of Playground (Blueprint/layout)

Categorization Defined
Specific Zones/Equipment (Active/Passive play areas)
Safety Considerations
Relaxation Areas/Incorporation of the Senses
Loose parts for children to use/explore

DAP Play-based Activity_________________________100 points
Students will create/participate in an outdoor play activity based on the following guidelines:

The Big Idea
Purpose of activity
Activity itself
Materials (list materials needed by the child/children)
Manipulation (describe the use of the materials)
Choice (Modified options made available for children
Language/Literacy (Opportunities for communication)
Integration (Connectivity to content standards/indoor learning opportunities)
Support (how will adults/peers help the child think about his/her work
Time (Required time/use of time)

Concept Paper______________________________________________________50 points
Examine early and contemporary pioneers in early childhood education, refine your personal philosophy in the context of their concepts, and define your vision of what is possible.

Alignment with Early Pioneers
Alignment with Contemporary Pioneers
Present Philosophy
Visioning Change/the Future