Approaches to Learning & Social and Emotional Development – Snowmen At Night

I have chosen to build my own curriculum for my family child care program. I’ve found this allows me to have my lessons align better with the interests of the children within any given group I’m working with. Many of the points I’ll share in this training are adaptable for any book and thus will work with your curriculum whether purchased or also self developed. 

I use the Maine Early Learning Standards (MELDS), not as my curriculum, but as a guide to be sure I’m providing the children I work with the foundation they will need for continual growth in their development. Too often I think providers look at the MELDS in isolation. When I first started using the MELDS I was surprised with the number of MELDS that l could repeatedly cover using books and their expanded activities as part of a unit of learning. It was a good surprise. I’m hoping this training allows you to maybe see the MELDS in a different way. 

For this training I’ve pulled the standards that I think “Snowmen At Night” has learning value around through it’s reading and expanded activities. Most of these standards are also covered by other snowmen books. Snowmen are just so adaptable to activities that support the learning growth of children.

My philosophy about teaching children is driven by my belief in the importance of my “Intention” in any interaction I have with children. 


The following two sections of the MELDS are always part of the equation in the larger planning I do as I develop a unit of study. Each book shared within any unit and the planned expansion activities work together to continue to build towards meeting these standards.

Approaches to Learning 

“The young child is by nature, curious and inquisitive. Children will explore their world in the context of the trust and guidance of significant others, and based upon their own temperament and interests. Children’s drive to learn develops from their need to make sense of the world as they attempt to understand their own experiences. Children display their approaches to learning by expressing an eagerness to learn through asking questions, making choices, exploring, imagining, inventing, concentrating, and applying prior knowledge to new learning experiences.” 

Initiative & Curiosity:

  • Expresses (verbally or nonverbally) an interest in a widening range of topics, ideas, and tasks
  • Shows interest in how and why others do things
  • Develops increased ability to make independent choices
  • Explores materials and actively uses them to follow through on an idea 

Engagement & Persistence:

  • Engages in individual or group activities that express real life experiences, ideas, knowledge, feelings, and fantasy
  • Participates in an increasing variety of tasks and activities 
  • Begins to sets goals, develops plans, and completes tasks
  • Demonstrates an increasing capacity to maintain concentration for a meaningful period of time 

Reflection & Problem- Solving:

  • Recognizes and attempts to solve problems through trial and error and by interacting with peers and adults
  • Explains part, or all, of the problem when asking for help
  • Uses self-talk to guide when solving a problem

Social and Emotional Development

“Young children’s social and emotional development is fostered through positive interactions and in settings where guidance for healthy and safe relationships exists. Children between the ages of three and five years develop a growing awareness of themselves as an individual as well as of others around them. While children each develop social and emotional skills and regulation at their own rate, as they grow socially and emotionally they will begin to express their needs and feelings, communicate and develop a growing awareness of self and others, begin to recognize the feelings of others and to develop sympathy and empathy for their peers. Children at this age display increasing confidence in themselves by their willingness to take on new tasks, by initiating play with their peers, and by demonstrating an understanding of routines and rules for behavior in their daily environment.” 

Emotional Development- Self Concept:

  • Develops and communicates a growing awareness of self as having certain abilities, characteristics, preferences and rights
  • Chooses individual activities
  • Compares self with others
  • Expresses own ideas and opinions

Emotional Development- Self-Regulation:

  • Shows progress in appropriately expressing feelings, needs and opinions in difficult situations and conflicts without harming themselves, others or property
  • Demonstrates increasing competency in recognizing and describing own and others’ emotions
  • Develops increased capacity to share materials or caregiver/teacher’s attention
  • Shows increased ability to wait for his/her turn in a simple game or for use of equipment
  • Will use private or inner speech to help remember the rules and standards of behavior
  • Uses materials and equipment purposefully, safely and respectfully
  • Begins to accept consequences of own actions
  • Listens with interest and understanding to directions
  • Listens with interest and understanding during conversations

Emotional Development- Sympathy and Empathy:

  • Realizes and expresses how another child might feel
  • Recognizes other children’s kind behaviors 

Emotional Development- Adapting to Diverse Settings:

  • Explores objects and materials, and interacts with others in a variety of new settings
  • Begins to demonstrate ability to be flexible or adjust to routine or unexpected changes including physical setting, daily schedule, staffing and group size/ attendance 

Social Development- Building Relationships with Adults:

  • Approaches adults for assistance
  • Offers to assist adults
  • Follows caregivers’/teachers’ guidance for appropriate behavior in different environments
  • Interacts appropriately with familiar adult(s) and peers

Social Development- Building Relationships with Children: 

  • Plays beside and interacts with peers
  • Participates in group glee
  • Understands the concept of “mine” and “his/hers”
  • Joins a group of other playing children with adult prompts, as needed

Social Development- Respecting Similarities and Differences:

  • Compares similarities or difference of others’ physical characteristics, interests, and abilities, may use self as a reference
  • Develops varied relationships with others based upon shared experiences and engagement in activities not based upon gender, ethnic background or special needs
  • Asks questions about other families, ethnicity, language, cultural heritage, and differences in physical characteristics
  • Begins to demonstrate an understanding of inclusion or fairness through words and actions 

Using a drawing app on the iPad allows for assessment. Here’s an example of asking a child to draw a snowman. Assessment of this type allows for you to see the process and record discussion. This provides information you cannot get from written notes. Ongoing Assessment is important, so we can continually adjust our lessons to be meeting the true developmental needs of each child in the program.


Next section: Reading Standards for Literature