Welcome to my Blog!

Greetings and welcome to my page. My name is Rebbecca, I am a mom of two and a preschool teacher in southwestern Virginia. I have had the blessing of working in a Reggio Emilia inspired center for nearly 10 years, with the Greenies (my students) for 7 of the last 10 years. Our emergent curriculum and play based learning approach has changed the way I think about working with children. I am looking forward to sharing my inspirations, reflections and stories with you. So glad you're here!

“If you are a dreamer,come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” Shel Silverstein

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"We are doing a show." Part 2

The group of Greenies are very excited that I have taken interest in their idea. We begin to formulate ideas as a group at circle time to determine the direction of our project. 

We discuss this idea with the larger group at circle time and start a web of our ideas. The Greenies express an interest in using our dramatic play area to create a “stage with curtains and make the walls look like a castle.” The children also express a wish to do their “play on a real stage” and for our families. I begin to encourage the Greenies to keep thinking about how we can achieve this. We will be going to see a production of "The Nutcracker" at a theater on our campus next week. 


We meet again to do a language chart based on the Greenies observations of the field trip to see The Nutcracker.

“After watching The Nutcracker, what ideas do you have for transforming our dramatic play space into a stage?”

KW: “We need a big space.”
JH: “We need curtains so we can change into costumes.”
EP: “There was those pictures on the walls to make it real- huge pictures of the story- you know, the back of a picture frame? Maybe that’s what held them up.”
RL: “We need ballet shirts and socks and shoes.”
SS: “We need our building bigger.”
OM: “We have to build the stuff, we’ll all have to help, we need nails and a hammer.”
BA: “We could build a castle on top of the railing.”
EB: “We can put a stage and move everything out.”
JMH: “We need a big space where we can put all of the chairs.”
SS: “I have tools at home we can build with.”
LL: “We could move EVERYTHING out of our classroom.”
OM: “Upstairs (our loft) could be the castle.”
CE: “We can do it outside when it’s summer, the climber can be the castle.”
SS: “We can put… I have power tools, too.”
JMH: “We need people to watch the show.”

We notice the children are focusing on their interests- JMH is thinking about how to accommodate an audience. SS is anxious to build a set- his language is one of construction. Using these observations I begin to introduce theatre related terms- set design, cast, crew. EP later expresses her concern- she does not want to be in the show. We talk about possible ways for her to be involved including set design- art is a language of hers. She smiles and is eager to begin to design a set which goes underway in a few days. 

Construction and the challenge of including everyone continues in Part 3.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"We are doing a show." Part 1

I love working with the emergent curriculum. If you may mot of heard of it, here is my take in a nutshell: The emergent curriculum takes the Reggio philosophy of seeing children as co-collaborators in their own learning. The teachers act as guides to sustain interests and find meaningful ways to encourage further explorations thus maximizing learning opportunities.

One way we do this is through project work or project based learning. In our circumstances the word project refers to, “an in depth investigation of a topic worth learning more about.” This topic is often child initiated or it can be part of a teacher initiated provocation. We have done many projects in our classroom, some the current families who have children in my room previously still talk about past projects. One of the magical things about projects is how they come about. As stated above they can be child or teacher initiated. A project can be started then fall apart days later- but once in a while you'll engage in a project that the children continue to invest in over weeks or months. Our class is currently in the second month of a child initiated investigation- or project. Our project is known as the "Show Project." 

It began in early December when I overheard a group of children in dramatic play talk about wanting to do a "show." I sat near by and inquired as to what they had in mind. It was a small group and clearly excited! One child, JH, spoke up and began to explain who the characters are (he used the word character! Nice!) As he went along the other children in the group confirmed or redefined what JH was trying to tell me about the characters. I imediatly decided that I needed to start writting this down. I took a pad of paper and the "characters" to a quiet space in our classroom and we sketched out what their show was about. This is what they told me: 

Prince- JH
Horse- KW
The Bad Girl (later described as the Evil Queen) – OM
Judge- SS
King’s Friend- RB

LL, “The curtains open, and then…”

OM gives LL an apple, LL is dead.

JH comes on his horse and takes LL to the palace where RB lives.

RB fixes up the princess using a magic spell.

OM turns into a dragon. 

JH fights the dragon, KW helps.

After the dragon gets killed the prince and princess have a dance contest, “dance off.” The Judge picks the best dancers. He picks everybody so nobody will feel sad.

The dragon comes alive and it’s nice and dances.

The prince and the princess get married and live happily ever after.

The dragon and the horse also get married. 

Of course these themes sound familiar but it is their story and it is what they know. In the coming weeks we begin to flesh out this idea and amazing, wonderful ideas begin to come to life in the Green Room. 
To be continued.....