What is an emergent curriculum?
An emergent curriculum is a way of planning based on a combination of the children's interest and teachers' goals. This is the curriculum we use at Little Red Wagon PlaySchool.
How do teachers plan activities?
Our emergent curriculum is carefully constructed by our teachers' during weekly planning meetings. As the teachers plan together, they share their observations of the previous week. The teachers notice what groups of children, as well as individual children are thinking about and set the classroom environment and activities to help the children expand on these ideas and thoughts.
Do you have weekly themes?
The core concepts of "Me and my family", "Building classroom community" and "Nature and seasons" are incorporated throughout the year. In addition, as the teachers observe the children, individual and group interests emerge. These interests develop into "projects" which may last for days, weeks or even months.
Is there structure to your program?
There is a well-defined, predictable structure to our day. The components of the day are always the same. Children enter and 'sign in'. Studio Time, Morning Meeting, Activity Time, Outdoor Time, Recap Meeting, Lunch, Rest and Kids Club are necessary components to the day. All children are encouraged and expected to follow the routine and structure of the day.
Do the children "play" all day?
Children learn through play. Our Activity Time is made up of "purposeful play". The classroom and activities which are put out are designed to enhance learning. We allow as much uninterrupted time as possible in order for children to become engaged in their "play". This uninterrupted time allows children to think deeply to extend their learning.
How is the classroom designed to facilitate learning?
Dramatic Play/Kitchen Area: As children play in the kitchen area, they are learning to negotiate with each other, the give and take of relationships, and problem solving. Opportunities for literacy are abundant as telephone books, address books, cookbooks and calendars are added to the area. Pencil and paper are used in the Dramatic Play area as children write down phone messages and shopping lists. Math comes into play as the children set the table for a tea party, matching each plate with a cup and saucer. Social Studies is examined as children play with dolls and dress up clothes from different cultures. The children learn about family as they role play the members. The children are figuring out the adult world in the safety of their own classroom.
Block Area: As children build with blocks, they are learning basic geometric concepts while designing their roads and bridges. Clipboards, paper and pencils are strategically located near the blocks so children may design their "blueprints" or make road signs to enhance their play. Social Studies comes into block play as children design neighborhoods or homes for their animals. The teachers extend block play by placing different objects with the blocks (e.g. jungle animals, farm animals, cars and trucks or baby dolls).
Book Area/Listening Center: Books along with books on CD are used on a daily basis by individual children, small groups of children as well as the whole class. Our books range in selection to include rhyme, repetition, literature, facts and knowledge and cultures. In addition to the classroom teacher reading to a group of children, you will often hear a child reading or paraphrasing a familiar story to a group of children.
Sensory Table: Water, sand and a variety of sensory materials are placed in this table. Science, math and language acquisition is occurring as children pour and dump, fill containers, funnel sand, measure amounts and learn vocabulary and concepts such as wet, dry, soft, rough, more than, less than, etc..
Writing Area: Although writing is not limited to one "writing area", there is a central place in the classroom where children can locate and independently use a variety of markers, crayons, pencils, scissors, glue, hole punchers, rulers, stencils and different types of paper. This is very often the busiest place in the classroom as children spend time drawing, writing notes to friends and family and creating props for use in their dramatic play. In preparation for kindergarten, individual journals are placed in this writing area for children to use as desired.
Other available items in the preschool classroom include board games, dice games, dominoes, puzzles and pattern blocks. In addition, the classroom teachers set up daily and weekly activities to go along with the children's interests and the teachers' goals for the children. For example, if the teachers notice an emerging interest in doctors and hospitals, the dramatic play area may become equipped with stethoscopes and band-aids, the dress-up area with 'scrubs' and the block area with ambulances and rescue vehicles. The book area may contain stories about going to the doctor. In the writing area, the words 'doctor' and 'hospital' may be displayed as children make badges or signs. Most importantly, the teachers will ask the children what they think should be added to the classroom and every attempt will be made to put the child or children's plans into action!
Will my child learn the alphabet?
Yes!! The children learn the alphabet in a way that is meaningful and purposeful to them. The children learn the letters and corresponding sounds as they use them for a purpose. For instance, every morning the preschool children "sign in" as their parents sign in. As the children recognize the letters in their own name, they also begin to recognize letters in their classmates' names. As the children make the connections, the teachers provide them with the appropriate phonics as well. The teachers encourage the children to write their name on their work so both teachers and students will know whose it is. The writing center in the classroom is always equipped with markers, crayons, pencils, paper, scissors, and other items. Writing is incorporated into their play on a daily basis. As a child asks a teacher for a certain item that is not readily available, the teacher may ask the child to "write her a note" to remind her to bring in the item for the next day. As the child draws a picture with some letters to represent the request, he/she is learning about "graphic representation" - an important and necessary precursor to writing and reading. This is an example of purposeful writing.
Will my child learn how to count?
Yes!! Counting, along with other math concepts, is incorporated into the children's everyday activities. In addition to rote counting in activities such as the calendar at morning meeting, their counting experiences are purposeful as each preschool child has a turn to be the "caboose counter". The caboose counter is the child at the end of the line who counts all the children to make sure they are all together before they go out to the playground. Children are using math skills as they play basic board games, work on puzzles and build with blocks. Children sort buttons, string beads and create patterns with pattern blocks. Dice and dominoes are part of the classroom. Measuring activities often emerge as children question who made the longer train, who is taller, and which animal is larger - a bear or a dinosaur?
What are story plays?
Story plays are an everyday part of our Little Red Wagon PlaySchool preschool curriculum. During Activity Time, the teacher will invite a child to dictate a story. The teacher writes down the child's words but the story is completely the child's invention, from beginning to end. The only question the teachers ask is "and then what happened?" At a meeting time, the child will ask classmates to be characters in his/her story. The teacher will then read the words as the children act out the scenario. The children who are not in the story play are the audience.
What is the significance of these story plays?
As the child dictates the story,
The child is receiving individual attention from his/her teacher;
The child is developing the important conceptual skill of beginning, middle and end of story telling;
The child is developing language and communication skills;
The child is seeing his/her words being turned into print by the teacher
As the children act out the play,
The child becomes empowered as the author, producer and director of his/her story.
The children are learning the art of standing up in front of a group;
The children are fostering the sense of community and learning how to work together as they act out the skit.
The children are learning from each other as they hear one another's stories.
What is the significance of art in the classroom?
In addition to basic art materials (paint, glue, markers) our classrooms house an ample supply of recyclables for children to create. Art is just one of a variety of ways for children to extend their thinking. The younger children spend time becoming familiar with the different materials, such as paint, clay, glue, fabrics and various textures. This is the first step to being able to use these items purposefully to extend learning. Parents see this first hand as their children's creations go from non-representational to representational!
Art is used to help children notice detail. For example, the teachers notice the children are interested in insects. The teachers provide photos of real insects and invite children to replicate them, using paint, clay, and/or wire, for instance. By attempting to replicate the insect, the children are paying close attention to numerous details such as how many legs and wings the insect has.
Art is a precursor to writing. Painting at the easel provides children with the appropriate wrist motion needed for writing. Use of clay, play dough and beading strengthen children's fine motor skills.
Art is science. The children are constantly experimenting with colors, discovering what colors mix together to form other colors.
Art is math. The children are learning about volume and weight as they add water to clay. The children learn about patterns as they string beads onto a necklace.
Art is problem solving. For example, a child attempts to connect two paper towel tubes to create an airplane. Should he/she use tape or glue? Where will the propeller go? The list goes on and on!
Art involves active thinking!
Will my child learn about the holidays?
As holidays have many different meanings to different people, Little Red Wagon PlaySchool does not promote any one holiday over any other. We do, however, celebrate diversity. Children may learn about each other's holidays as families share their traditions with the class. In this spirit, we welcome and encourage any parents or family members who would like to come in and share their culture and holiday traditions with us. This may include bringing in any special foods, songs, stories or other activities in which your family may partake at home around the holidays.
Will my child learn another language?
We are fortunate to have many different languages represented in our school. Greetings in all the languages of our families and staff are displayed in the hallway. Our classroom materials include books and songs in different languages. Children hear their friends speak in their native language. If the teachers notice a particular interest, they will go with it. For example, after a trip to Japan, a child brought in a Japanese book. Some children became interested in the Japanese letters and the writing area was set up to encourage the children to experiment in Japanese letter-writing!
Do you have a music specialist?
The teachers integrate music and movement into their classrooms on a regular basis. We have many CD's that incorporate song, music and movement. The teachers and children use rhythm sticks and other musical instruments. Our teachers integrate music into their everyday activities. The teachers and children have the advantage of being able to 'sing and dance' as often as they would like!!
Do you offer "enrichment programs?"
We prefer to think of our whole school as "enriching". We have our own afternoon Kids' Club program. This program provides children with a variety of enriching activities based on the children's interests. Some of our Kids' Club activities include story time visits from the librarian at the Newton Public Library, yoga, music and cooking.
Will my child be prepared for kindergarten?
Yes! Our goal is to provide your child with an academic background in literacy, math, science and social studies, with an emphasis on critical thinking. In addition, we promote social awareness and sensitivity as well as independence and empowerment! Little Red Wagon PlaySchool provides your child with the foundation to build life long skills! It is not a coincidence that many of our children have parents who are teachers and professors. Little Red Wagon PlaySchool has received national attention for our curriculum and our administration has provided training workshops to local preschools.