Tuesday, June 26, 2018
How a Former Laminated Lady Embraced the Project Approach
This week's post comes from a local early childhood educator who wanted to share her own learning story as she began to explore emergent curriculum. This is Karen's story and Karen's journey of reflection and professional growth. The Chicago Chapter of Illinois AEYC acknowledges that there are many ways to approach developmentally appropriate practice; this is just one story we are featuring.
I am a former “Laminated Lady”.
My ways included themes, themed centers, and product art. I laminated most things to preserve them forever.
Why would I change my ways? I accepted a new teaching position at a school that embraced the project approach. Teachers and students created the curriculum together. Center time was not a themed affair. They were open times meant for discovery and exploration. Could a Laminated Lady hang with this?
As the school year began I observed my class. I connected with their personalities. Discovered likes and dislikes. Noticed which centers they enjoyed the most. I fought the urge to do a September unit on apples…because well apple units are done in September.
One of our favorite activities was putting on plays. My class loved setting up props, casting the play, and hearing applause at the end. We would often act out the same story 4 times in a row, so each child could participate. They were engaged every single time. Could I do a project on plays? Would Pinterest help? Should I pretend they were really interested in apples?
I decided to go for it. And, it was AMAZING.
My class and I decided to investigate the theater. We began by discussing what we already knew about putting on plays and attending the theater. They decided that putting on a performance for their families was the end goal. We voted on the plays we would like to perform: Goldilocks, The 3 Little Pigs, and Tortoise and the Hare. We also were singing an original song.
Once we set the date for our plays the project fell into place. When we discussed roles we would like to play we studied actors. Not all kids wanted to have a speaking role so we assigned a Stage Manager and a Costume Designer. When they noticed we did not have a stage, we built one. Costumes were made using paper, glitter, and a little imagination. We poured over Playbills and made our own for our families to receive on play day. They were insistent on concessions. We popped popcorn for our audience. We explored, practiced, discovered, and learned together.
I was worried that their interest would fade in one week. Could I fall back on apples? But, it never did. We wrote our Playbills, constructed our stage, created our costumes, and popped the popcorn. Vocabulary was introduced and used daily by the children. Not because of flashcards, but because we were living it.
Play day arrived. Every child had a family member in the audience. The play was a celebration of our study. They were so proud to share all their knowledge and plays with their families. It was so much fun!!
Our project ended just before Thanksgiving. Did I do unit on turkeys? Nope.
I let my class explore, create, and play. And that led to our next project…
Karen has teaching preschool for 16 years in Peoria and Chicago Illinois and is currently a junior kindergarten teacher at Creative Scholars Preschool. She graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Child Development. When not planning her next preschool project, she can be found running with her husband and pup, reading, at brunch, or watching Bravo.
She has been teaching preschool for 16 years in Peoria and Chicago Illinois. She graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Child Development. When not planning her next preschool project, she can be found running with husband and pup, reading, at brunch, or watching Bravo.