Friday, April 6, 2018

Emergent Curriculum ~ Piggie & Elephant

From a Preschooler's Perspective - 1

Preschooler #1: "I want to have the mermaid (stuffie) at rest time."
Preschooler #2: "I want to have it tomorrow."
Preschooler #3: "OK, I'll have it on a different morrow!"

From a Preschooler's Perspective - 2

A couple of preschoolers were telling me that they can speak other languages. One told me that she can speak "Spanglish" while another told me that she can speak "Franklin".

Emergent Curriculum ~ Piggie & Elephant

This year the preschoolers have really gotten into Mo Willems' Piggie and Elephant series of picture books. As part of our emergent curriculum we have built on this interest in a variety of ways. We read these books on a regular basis, the children will often act out the characters' roles while reading (with or without adult support), the children frequently choose to read these books during rest time, and parents have even joined in on the Piggie and Elephant excitement that has taken hold in our classroom.

Following are some pictures of members of our preschool community selecting, reading and enacting some Piggie and Elephant stories. As is usual in the preschool, a variety of skills (in various domains of learning) are being acquired and practiced while the children are happily participating in the activities that they are choosing to engage in. During these literature based activities the preschoolers are improving their knowledge in areas such as: oral language development, using interactive language, social skill development, reading comprehension, understanding how text works, learning about letters and words, reading with fluency and expression, and developing an appreciation for books and literature. And, of course, the preschoolers are learning to greatly value and enjoy being involved in the learning process while at school!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Emergent Curriculum ~ Tall Towers

From a Preschooler's Perspective:

I was doing some "snack math" with a few of the preschoolers. Our conversation went like this:

Teacher: "How many straws do I have?"
Preschooler: "Four."
Teacher: "And if I give one out?"
Preschooler: "Three."
Teacher: "And if I give another one out?"
Preschooler: "Two."
Teacher: "And if I give another one out?"
Preschooler: "One."
Teacher: "And if I give the last one out?"
Preschooler: "Then it's time to go to the grocery store!"

Emergent Curriculum ~ Tall Towers

The play based, exploratory, hands-on approach to learning that we employ in our classroom is a component of what is described by early educators as an "emergent curriculum". What this term signifies is that the activities that the preschoolers are typically engaged in are based on their own interests and preferences. This is one of the primary reasons that our students tend to be so enthusiastically involved in what they are doing in school.

For my next few blog posts (beginning with this one) I will focus on several different activities that are child-centered and child-driven. It should be obvious from the pictures that are presented that the emergent approach to teaching and learning is a powerful means of keeping our children productively engaged in the learning process. 

Emergent thematic learning can last for a short while or can span much longer periods of time. In our classroom, the children's fascination with constructing tall towers out of all sorts of preschool materials has been a major component of their explorations and play for the past two years. It is obvious that building these structures is highly interesting to, and motivating for, the members of the group. And from my experience with students of all ages, when children are enthusiastic about the activities that they are involved in they are much more likely to value the educational process, to make significant gains as learners, and to enjoy being in school.