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:
The Bad Girl (later described as the Evil Queen) – OM
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.....