You can help meet the many needs of infants and toddlers by creating activity centers within your program. These centers can include:

An active-play space, where equipment such as crawling ramps, exercise mats, and balls can be used for motor development on a carpeted surface.

An art area created in a space where washable floors and a low table, low easel, and shelves with markers, crayons, and paper encourage children to create.

A book center offering fabric and soft-vinyl books with simple, bold illustrations that young children can explore. Comfortable places to sit and shelves that display books at children's eye level help make the center "user friendly."

An imaginative-play area, where props including dressup clothes, toddler-size table and chairs, puppets, and dolls inspire all kinds of pretend situations.

A manipulative area, where materials including shapesorting boxes, interlocking blocks, stacking rings, and rattles are available. Offer a few manipulatives at a time, rotating them frequently. It's important not to overstimulate young children with too many objects.

A music and movement area, where tape players, cassettes, and musical instruments invite children to listen, move, and respond to music, and to explore their own natural rhythms.

A sand and water area, where a low sink, plastic dish tubs, or a sand and water table can be found. Include plastic funnels, containers, colanders, and scoops for children to work with in their explorations.

Keep in mind that well-defined activity centers, while challenging and stimulating for children, also satisfy an important need for stability and order.