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Learning materials are the tangible things teachers provide to foster exploration, understanding, and mastery of concepts and skills. In early childhood, learning materials are particularly important because children’s access to and interactions with materials during this period influence their developmental and academic progress. This entry focuses on how and why materials are used to promote learning with young children.

Early Childhood Materials

Young children are “concrete” thinkers; they need materials of all kinds to explore their capabilities, interests, and environment. Working with materials helps them (a) process stimuli; (b) discover and understand the physical properties of objects; (c) practice emerging physical, social, and intellectual skills and language; and (d) provide an outlet for the imagination. The spectrum of materials for young children ranges from open-ended items that ...

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