Activity Time is planned. When planning the class curriculum, the activities are planned as well. There should be varied types of activities. Activities should be mapped out to strengthen all the domains (and these are listed in no particular order of importance) :
Physical – There should be activities to target Fine Motor Skills like painting, coloring, drawing, etc.
Cognitive – The activities should strengthen the information that the teacher introduced so the children will understand and remember the concepts. Worksheets may fall in this domain.
Language – The communication skills of the children can be improved in exposure trips like going to the Grocery where the children are encouraged to talk to the sales ladies to ask for what they need to buy. Activity Time is not limited inside the classroom!
Socio-emotional – Activity Time can be small group time wherein the children accomplish the activity with a partner or group mates. This encourages friendship and cooperation. One of my favorite paired activity is where 2 students roll a can of milk lined with paper and contains golf balls dipped in paint. After rolling it towards each other several times, a nice painting comes out when you remove the paper lining.
Creative – I love it when children are given a blank piece of paper to draw on. Their creativity is heightened and not restricted in coloring within the lines or a printed picture. I usually tell preschool teachers to avoid drawing stick figures to represent people because the children just copy this when their imagination can show much more!
Activity Time is flexible. I once planned a painting activity for my toddler class. I noticed that they were so engrossed in the manipulatives area, playing with wooden blocks. I extended their play in that area without fear that the blocks time was encroaching on my planned activity.
Also, there should always be a back-up activity. If the planned activity is “rejected” by the students, another activity can be done.
Activity Time is FUN! Not only is creativity of the students heightened, the creativity of the teachers increases as well. They have to think of not only appropriateness but also FUN-ness!