College of Education and Professional Studies

Curriculum/Project Approach

Child painting

The UCO Child Study Center is organized in learning areas which facilitate the curriculum.

Art & Creative Expression

There are certain things that our age needs. It needs, above all, courageous hope and the impulse to creativeness.
--Bertrand Russell

  • Creativity
  • Sharing
  • Planning and evaluating
  • Cutting and pasting
  • Copying
  • Fine motor skills
  • Representational skills
  • Problem solving
  • Appreciation for self and art

Many materials are available for the children to express in their own creative way. In the art center, children are learning. Our program sees "art" as spontaneous, creative, and fun.  We do not focus on the finished product but rather the process of creating something new and enjoying the process.

See also: Children at Play.


Block play provides children opportunities for children to develop motor, social and cognitive skills. When we play in the block center, we are learning:

  • Cooperation
  • Symbolic representation
  • Planning and evaluating
  • Patterning
  • Problem solving
  • Symmetry
  • Critical thinking
  • Structure naming
  • Trial and error
  • Hand/eye coordination
  • Concepts - more, less, big, little, up, down, etc.
  • Sorting and classification
  • Dramatic play in this center, children learn creative ways in which to symbolize their outside world.  They work in concrete ways to build structures that can be used as houses, roads, buildings, and many more things.

A variety of size and shape blocks are available to encourage both small and large motor development and to encourage children to utilize their imaginations. Children may work together or alone to plan and create their ideas.


Teacher reading with students

The children are provided a variety of language and literacy experiences through small and large group times and during self-initiated play. In the language/literacy center children learn:

  • Language skills
  • Exposure to print concepts
  • Rhythm of stories
  • Picture/word association
  • Importance of reading every day
  • Left to right, top/bottom progression
  • Sequencing
  • Retell
  • Vocabulary

Children learn at a young age and have an interest in reading to being read to. Adults in the world model the importance of reading by giving children early exposure to books and other forms of print. The books area contains a variety of books and print related materials .The literature area provides children opportunities to practice reading, retell a story, and connect words with pictures. Language and literacy development is also being developed through experiences with letters, puppets, dramatic play and manipulative toys.


Teacher and students doing an experiment

When children play in the science center, they are learning and using their imaginations. They are learning about the world around and investigating their ideas. Nature and the objects in a child's environment are of particular interest to them. Therefore, we take this natural process of curiosity and expand it in the classroom.  Our children learn about animals, nature, and organisms in their environment. Children are given opportunities to observation, classification, documentation, experiment, measurement, predictions, and communication.

  • Caring for living things
  • Exploration
  • Predicting
  • Observation and documentation
  • Investigation
  • Cause and effect
  • Process of living organisms
  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Change and stability
  • Communication skills

Outdoor Play

Through outdoor play children learn:

  • Use of their large and small motor skills
  • Dramatic play
  • Direction following
  • Balance
  • Problem solving
  • Spatial Awareness
  • Cooperative play
  • Hand/eye coordination
  • Awareness of nature and surroundings

Our outside time is an extension of the classroom. Children learn to play together, follow rules, and most of all we work on our motor skills which are the building blocks of later development.  Outside we are able to play in our large sandbox and investigate our natural surroundings and play on the large climbing/sliding equipment.

Water Table

When we play in the sand and water tables, we are learning:

  • Imagination
  • Investigation
  • Sensory experiences
  • Relaxation
  • Problem Solving
  • Math skills
  • Communication
  • Manipulation
  • Fine motor skills
  • Cooperative play
  • Science skills

Children have a natural curiosity for sand and water. This curiosity helps to make this area a wonderful place for children to learn. By playing with friends to investigate what floats or sinks or how to build with sand. They learn important skills such as weighing, measuring and comparing quantities. By playing with friends, children are building important social skills for life.


Children playing

Manipulative materials can enhance motor skills, eye-hand coordination, mental, language, and social skills. Our Manipulative includes puzzles, blocks, stringing objects, legos, pegboards, and games.

When children play in the manipulative center, they are working on:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Matching, sorting, and classifying
  • Direction following
  • Sequencing
  • Problem solving
  • Completion
  • Directionality
  • Memory
  • Size and pattern relationships

Dramatic Play

Dramatic play can encourage children to try out social roles and real life dialogue. Dramatic play facilitates language, social and creative development. When we play in the dramatic play center, we are learning:

  • Symbolic play
  • Linking play sequences
  • Direction following and direction giving
  • Early leadership roles
  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Imagination
  • Sharing
  • Turn taking
  • Lengthened attention spans

Children learn the ability to pretend at a very young age.  This learning experience is the building block of future success.  In the dramatic play center children learn to assign and take roles from the other children.  They learn to pretend and imagine what their future might hold.  Our dramatic play area is constantly changing to reflect the environment in which the children live.  You may see it as a doctor's office, a fast food establishment, an airport, a grocery store, or many other places that children see in their world.  This area very often becomes a favorite for many children.

Music & Movement

Through music and movement activities children have opportunities to listen, sing, create dance and play musical instruments. The children are exposed to a variety of music and movement activities through group times and self selected play.