Maryland EXCELS Toolkit  

Selection and Use of Materials Statement

Take a moment to look around the environment you created for the children in your program. Notice the materials you selected for the children to use as they play, work, explore, and learn.

If you were a visitor entering your setting for the first time, what would draw your attention? Do you notice places for activity and other quieter spaces? Are indoor and outdoor spaces available for use? Do the environment and the materials tell you something about the children and adults who occupy the spaces every day – their interests, cultures, or languages?

Many elements go into a quality program for children. Some are obvious and you notice them right away. Others are more subtle but just as important. But each element shows the care and planning that goes into providing quality care and meaningful learning experiences for children.

A young girl pouring water from one jar to another jar
Materials for Learning

This section guides you through reviewing, revising, or creating a statement that describes how your program uses the environment and selects materials to support children’s learning. It helps you meet the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Learning Materials: DAP 2.3.

Select the Requirements tab to learn about what to include in your statement.

Requirements

Let's look at the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Learning Materials: DAP 2.3. The following interactive shows key requirements that are marked by a bright dot. Select each dot to learn more about specific information to include in your statement.

Select the option that applies to your program type:

 

  Child Care Center
DAP 2.3: Learning Materials Materials are developmentally appropriate; accessible; promote multiple modes of exploration and learning; reflect children’s interests; and support children of all abilities. Documentation to submit: Selection and Use of Materials Statement

Family Child Care
DAP 2.3: Learning Materials Materials are developmentally appropriate; accessible; promote multiple modes of exploration and learning; reflect children’s interests; and support children of all abilities. Documentation to submit: Selection and Use of Materials Statement

School-Age Only
DAP 2.3: Learning Materials Materials are developmentally appropriate; accessible; promote multiple modes of exploration and learning; reflect children’s interests; and support children of all abilities. Documentation to submit: Selection and Use of Materials Statement

 

Instructions

To meet the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Learning Materials: DAP 2.3, your statement should include how your program selects and uses learning materials that:

The Policy or Statement Builder provides a step-by-step guide for creating your statement.






Developmentally Appropriate

Children learn and develop by actively exploring their environment and interacting with materials that match their age and development. Because children grow and develop at different rates and at different times, it is important to provide a variety of toys and materials that allow all children to meet challenges, receive feedback, and experience success.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your statement includes a description of how the materials and equipment you select and use in your program match the age and developmental levels of the children enrolled. You may use photographs from your environment to support your statement as a way of showing your materials are appropriate and accessible to all children.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

You are on the right track if your statement clearly describes the materials and equipment available to the children and explains why you selected and use those materials.

 

Where can you learn more?

These resources provide information on developmentally appropriate learning and materials. As you review these resources, you may find that you use similar materials already.

The Environment: Materials (Virtual Lab School)

The Environment: Materials | VLS

There are countless toys and materials available for preschool classrooms. It can be difficult to decide what to include in your space. This lesson will help you ensure a variety of developmentally appropriate materials are available. You will read about how to choose materials based on cultural relevance, children's interests, variety and learning goals.

Providing Developmentally Appropriate Learning

Module: Providing Developmentally Appropriate Learning: Resources for Early Learning

This site provides exciting, engaging media-rich learning opportunities for parents and educators of children ages 0-5. From detailed lesson plans to simple, everyday activities, you will find everything you need to help your children succeed.

Good Toys for Young Children by Age and Stage

Good Toys for Young Children by Age and Stage | National Association for the Education of Young Children | NAEYC

Electric toys should be "UL Approved." Be sure to check the label, which should indicate that the toy has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratories. In addition, when choosing toys for children under age 3, make sure there are no small parts or pieces that could become lodged in a child's throat and cause suffocation.






Accessible

All materials and equipment intended for children should be within their reach. Accessible materials encourage independence and responsibility particularly during free choice and clean-up activities. Even infants and toddlers benefit from shelving that allows them to pull themselves up to reach a toy that interests them. Some materials may need to be adapted to meet the needs of individual children. Simple adaptations such as adding wooden blocks to tricycle peddles or adjusting the height of an easel can make a big difference in a child’s ability to participate fully in activities.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your statement explains how materials and equipment are accessible for all the children in your program.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

Review your statement and look for information about accessible toys and equipment. This information might include specific steps you take to adapt materials or equipment for individual children. Try underlining the exact sentence or sentences that explain ways you create an accessible learning environment for all the children in your program.

 

Where can you learn more?

This link offers suggestions from the Head Start Office of Administration for Children and Families on ways to adapt the environment and learning materials for children with special needs. As you review the list, notice how many of the suggestions could benefit all children, not only children with disabilities.

Adaptations for Children with Disability

Children with Disabilities | ECLKC

Young children vary in their skills, knowledge, backgrounds, and abilities. Effective teaching requires individualized teaching and chances to learn for all children to access, participate, and thrive in early learning settings. Individualizing for children who need more support helps ensure effective teaching for children with disabilities and other special needs across all the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework domains.






Promote Multiple Modes of Exploration and Learning

Children benefit from many opportunities to experience and explore the world in different ways. A variety of materials should be available that allow children to use their senses, ask questions, explore and test their ideas, move, work, and play. Your materials should reflect a range of opportunities, as well as encourage and support different ways of learning (example: visual experiences, hands-on experiences, physical activity).

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your statement describes the materials you use that allow children to explore and learn in many different ways.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

You are on the right track if your statement clearly describes a variety of materials that allow children to learn and participate in different experiences. Try identifying the specific sentence or sentences that describe these learning materials.

 

Where can you learn more?

Sensory Play: Early Exploration Through the Senses

The Water Cycle Activity and the California Drought . Activities for Kids: Adventures In Learning . PBS Parents | PBS

Evidence of the ongoing western drought was all around us as we made our way across the country during our summer road trip. We saw bone-dry riverbeds in southern Utah, and in California there are shrinking lakes in Mammoth and trickles where gushing waterfalls once roared with power deep inside Yosemite.






Reflect Children’s Interests

Understanding children’s developmental levels, interests, and experiences helps you select materials that appeal to children and give them a sense of belonging and acceptance. For example, many young children enjoy dumping and filling activities. Sand tables, water play, and baskets of different toys all accommodate children’s interests in different ways. Include books and materials that build on children’s specific interests and experiences. Even the simplest material can spark rich conversation and promote language development, questions, and critical thinking.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your statement explains the many ways you choose materials that respect the children’s interests.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

You are on the right track if your statement includes a description of ways you select materials that represent the children’s interests. Consider including specific examples to support your statement.

 

Where can you learn more?

Play and Children’s Learning

Play and Children's Learning | National Association for the Education of Young Children | NAEYC

© National Association for the Education of Young Children - Promoting excellence in early childhood education 1313 L St. NW, Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20005 | (202)232-8777 | (800)424-2460 | webmaster@naeyc.org






Support Children of All Abilities

Ensuring that every child has access to materials that support his or her ability is important when selecting toys and equipment. Some children may be able to hold a regular cup, while others may need cups with handles. Traditional scissors may be appropriate for children with more experience, and spring scissors may help other children develop these skills. The important consideration is to assess and observe each child and ensure that materials and equipment allow all children to fully participate successfully in all aspects of your program.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your statement includes a description of ways you select specific materials to support each child in your program. Consider including specific examples to support your statement.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

Review your statement and look for descriptions of how you consider the needs of individual children as you select and use specific materials. Look for descriptions of how your environment supports the individual needs of children, as well.

 

Where can you learn more?

Making the Most of Creativity in Activities for Young Children with Disabilities






Policy or Statement Builder

This interactive helps you develop a statement that describes your selection and use of learning materials. You have the option of emailing your responses to yourself and editing your final statement before uploading it to the Maryland EXCELS System. You are encouraged to type your responses in full sentences to make it easier to edit your final statement.

 

Build-A-Statement: Learning Materials

Final Touches

Check your statement as you prepare to upload it to the Maryland EXCELS System. Remember, you can include photographs of your setting and materials to support your statement.

 

Check to be sure your documentation includes:

A statement that describes how the materials you select and use:

 
 
 
 
 
 

Save your document:

  • Use a file name that you can find easily when you upload it to the system (example: learning-materials.docx)
  • Use any one of these formats:
    • Typed electronic version of your written policy (examples: Microsoft Word, PDF)
    • Scanned versions of your written policy (examples: PDF, PNG, JPG)
    • Digital image / picture of your written policy (examples: JPG, PNG, PDF)

Next Steps

Use the following guide to upload your documentation, look ahead, and think about a plan for ongoing improvement.

 

Step 1: Prepare to Upload Your Document

  • Locate your username and password for logging into your Maryland EXCELS account
  • Locate where you saved your statement on the computer
 

Step 2: Look Ahead and Plan for Improvement

Look Ahead

This chart gives you a quick glance at the requirements for DAP 2.4 and DAP 2.5. Perhaps you notice that you already provide other types of learning materials that meet the requirements of higher levels.

table showing the additional criterion of 'Promote multiple modes of exploration and learning' for Quality Rating 3; that and 'Reflect children’s interests, culture, and language' for Quality Rating 4; and both of those plus the criterion 'Are rotated' for Quality Rating 5

Plan for Improvement

Set a goal to explore resources that may help you achieve a higher quality rating. Make adjustments to your environment or the materials you select for the children. Even small changes are important and benefit the children and families you serve. Remember to update your statement in the Maryland EXCELS System to reflect your any changes you make.

 

Step 3: Upload Your Documentation (DAP 2.3)

Log in to the Maryland EXCELS System to upload your written statement of the selection and use of materials in your program.

screenshot of Maryland EXCELS upload screen with a comment box
Upload Documentation