Bottle Caps, Beanbags and Imagination … July 28, 2012

Day care providers from across the island were invited to a workshop to learn new teaching techniques.

We tried something new today. It involved uncooked pasta, bottle caps and a host of other materials you might find around the house. All for the sake of education—an important part of the Friends of Cozumel mission.

FOC provided a training workshop today for directors and staff of 12 local day cares that provide services to families with limited resources. About 45 people attended to learn educational techniques for children ages one to four years old. The focus was how to use low cost, easy to access materials to reinforce learning, develop motor skills and encourage cognitive development.

“We really want to encourage active learning,” said Karen, a coordinator of FOC.

Two FOC volunteers served as instructors while two more local helpers acted as translators. First they explained the learning activities, then the day care providers practiced on each other. They practiced identifying colors and shapes with a type of bingo game that used cereal instead of game pieces. They experimented with coordination skills with beanbags. And they learned just a bit of chemistry while dying dry pasta with alcohol and food coloring.

Translator Marco assists instructor Lara.

Lara was one of the instructors volunteers who also teaches fourth grade in Texas. “Everyone here is really excited to try these activities. When you see the adults enjoying themselves, you know they’ll transfer their enthusiasm to the kids,” she said.

Translator Nuria assists instructor Barbara.

Another instructor was Barbara, a kindergarten reading teacher from Texas. She turned a pile of used bottle caps in various sizes and colors into another activity that caught the attention of the workshop participants.

“Classifying and sorting really helps with reading skills,” she said.

Both instructors and participants were pleased with the workshop.

“I think this workshop is good for all of us who work at the day cares. It will help us develop the skills of our kids,” said Noemi from Cozumel. “I’m learning new things. For example, I didn’t know how to use things that we already have in our houses to make things to play with our children.”

Noemi caught the essence of a lesson that can easily be passed on to others. Active learning isn’t limited to those with big budgets for materials. The real cost is time and imagination. –Phyllis


Candi (left) and Noemi (right) learn how to use color, shapes and cereal to create a bingo game.

Beanbags change from toy to learning tool when used with new techniques learned at the FOC workshop for day care providers.


Sorting bottle caps turns household objects into a learning experience.

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