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Play, Play, and More Play!

Research indicates that children learn best in an environment which allows them to explore, discover, and play. Play, and especially free-play, is an important part of a developmentally appropriate child care program. 

Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.

At Nanaimo Innovation Academy, we are strong advocates for play-based learning. We are also lucky to be in a beautiful part of the world where we have easy access to nature's playground, as it is important for children to connect with their surroundings. 

Visual Arts


By engaging in art activities, children practice a variety of skills and progress in all areas of development. Creative art helps children grow in physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development. Children also practice imagination and experimentation as they invent new ways to create art.

Creative art activities focus on the process over the product, meaning what the children do while creating art (feeling paint between their fingers, holding a pencil, or experiencing the stickiness of glue) is more important than what the finished product looks like. 


Performing Arts​

Plays, theatre games, and improvisation build self-knowledge and confidence. It promotes teamwork,

creativity, and empathy. It support literacy by helping children understand the concept of stories. Our children learn to story tell through performance and puppetry. 



Dance is a powerful ally for developing many of the attributes of a growing child. Dance helps children mature physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. The physical benefits of dance are widely accepted, but the emotional, social and cognitive attributes have only recently begun to be appreciated. Music and dance are fun and help children be playful with each other and with their child care providers. 

  •  Physical Development: Dance involves a greater range of motion, coordination,

        strength and endurance than most other physical activities. This is

        accomplished through movement patterns that teach coordination and

        kinesthetic memory. Dancing utilizes the entire body and is an excellent form of

        exercise for total body fitness. Young children are naturally active, but dance

        offers an avenue to expand movement possibilities and skills. 

  •  Emotional Maturity: Dance promotes psychological health and maturity. Children

        enjoy the opportunity to express their emotions and become aware of

        themselves and others through creative movement. A pre-school child enters a

        dance class or classroom with a history of emotional experiences. Movement

        within a class offers a structured outlet for physical release while gaining

        awareness and appreciation of oneself and others. 

  • Social Awareness: Dance fosters social encounter, interaction, and cooperation.

        Children learn to communicate ideas to others through the real and immediate

        mode of body movement. Children quickly learn to work within a group dynamic.

  •  Cognitive Development: Young children will create movement spontaneously

        when presented with movement ideas or problems that can be solved with a

        movement response. Movement provides the cognitive loop between the idea,

        problem, or intent and the outcome or solution. This teaches an infant, child and,

        ultimately, adult to function in and understand the world. The relationship of

        movement to intellectual development and education is an embryonic field of

        study that has only recently begun to be explored.


Music is a incredible tool that helps children learn new thinking skills. When children play with musical instruments, they explore cause and effect. They can see that pressing a key makes a sound. Additionally, they learn to pay attention to changes in sound, noting for example that certain keys sound deeper than others. We invite guest musicians as an effective way of introducing children to unfamiliar musical instruments.

  • Music and Language: Singing songs is a powerful way for young children to practice language. When children sing, they practice pronouncing words and putting together sentences. Learning the lyrics to songs is also an effective way to remember information. 

  • Music and Motor Skills: Songs with motions help children practice fine-motor coordination. Doing the finger motions of a song like "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" or a finger play like "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" helps children practice their hand and finger control -- a skill necessary for writing and handling small objects.

  • Music and Emotions: Listening to music can help children learn about emotions. Music can also be soothing and comforting. 

  • Music and Routines: Music and singing can help children follow the routine of the child care program. Playing quiet music is a clear signal for nap time. Loud, energetic music can get children up and moving or help them use up energy before they settle down to a quieter task.




Many student contribute to our community garden. In our climate, it is possible for us to grow vegetables year-round. We have a partnership with Morgan Creek Farms. Farmer Aaron visits us once a week to work on gardening projects with the children.  In the spring, he brings an incubator so that we can watch chicks hatch.


Here are three great reason why all daycares should provide yoga:

  1. Yoga helps kids learn to focus

  2. Yoga enhances kids’ imaginations

  3. Teach kids yoga to improve their physical health and bodies

In yoga at NIA, we learn to breath deeply, show gratitude for things in our lives, and manipulate our bodies into a variety of different yoga poses. 

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