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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL • Children’s individual needs are respected. • Children learn in play-based settings. • Activities are age and stage appropriate. • Environments are physically safe. • Children’s new challenges build on their existing knowledge or skills. • Children are offered experiences that build skills across all developmental domains. • Schedules and routines are tailored to individual children. • Staff talk and cooperate with parents in culturally sensitive ways. If you work in a high-quality early care and education program, you already have the knowledge and expertise to provide the care I’ve just described. You know how to give infants, toddlers, and two-year-olds, including children with special needs, the experiences they need to grow. If you are new to high-quality care, my compan- ion book, Foundations of Responsive Caregiving: Infants, Toddlers, and Twos, offers you the key principles of infant and toddler growth and development. Reading it can acquaint you with recent research on early learning and your role in helping children develop. Foundations of Responsive Caregiving explores strategies you can use to help very young children learn: attachment theories, brain development, designing the environment, developmentally appropriate practices, curriculum planning, observa- tions, and assessments. Foundations of Responsive Caregiving can also help you create learning environments in which children can joyfully explore the world. This book has a different goal: it takes what I present in Foundations of Responsive Caregiving and applies it to day-to-day play activities. This book shows you how to use the principles and theories in Foundations of Responsive Caregiving as underpin- nings for activities that promote learning across the four learning domains. Each of the activities is easy and fun; each engages children playfully in learning new skills. It’s my hope that you’ll enjoy some discoveries of your own while you’re helping children test their newfound abilities and curiosity. As a responsive caregiver, you can make a big difference in the lives of young children. 2 Introduction COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL