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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 6 Introduction work cooperatively with partners and groups, they must be aware of others around them, adjusting their movement patterns to avoid collisions. Of course, any time children work in pairs or in groups, as they will have an opportu- nity to do with this curriculum, they are learning lessons in cooperation and consideration. This book also offers a blend of teacher-directed activities and a creative problem-solving approach to instruction. The latter lends itself to success by allowing children to respond to challenges at their own developmental levels and rates. This approach increases children’s self-confidence, and thus their self-esteem, as they see their choices being accepted and praised. According to Muska Mosston and Sara Ashworth, two important results of problem solving are the “development of patience with peers and the enhancement of respect for other people’s ideas” (1990, 259). The development of empathy is also promoted through exposure to certain social issues that will, hopefully, make positive impressions in your preschool- ers’ and kindergartners’ young and open minds. For example, to physically imitate the movements and characteristics of a variety of animals is to imag- ine what it is like to be those animals. Those of us who wish to see children raised with a healthy respect and compassion for all the world’s creatures can certainly hope that once our children have imagined what it is like to be the animals, they will never be able to imagine a world without them. Cognitive Development It has been said that joy is the most powerful of all mental stimuli. For young children, movement is certainly joyous. Beyond that, however, studies of how young children learn have proven that they especially acquire knowledge experientially—through play, experimentation, exploration, and discovery. For example, when children move over, under, around, through, beside, and near objects and others, they better grasp the meaning of these prepositions and geometry concepts. When they perform a “slow walk” or skip “lightly,” adjectives and adverbs become much more than abstract ideas. When they’re given the opportunity to physically demonstrate such action words as stomp, pounce, stalk, or slither—or descriptive words such as smooth, strong, gentle, or COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL