Thursday, July 14, 2011

Engaging Children's Minds: The Project Approach Day 1

I am currently attending Engaging Children’s Minds: The Project Approach with Dr. Lillian Katz and Dr. Sylvia Chard.  

Today I asked Lillian to explain the difference between Emergent Curriculum and the Project Approach.  It was not an easily answered question.
First I was surprised that she didn’t have strong feelings about Emergent Curriculum or react as if she had heard this question a million times before.  I would have thought this question would come up often.

I am still trying to formulate my take on the explanations she and Sylvia gave, but I believe the gist of it is that Emergent Curriculum follows the lead and interests of the children, but on a more surface level.  The Project Approach takes an interest of the children OR of the adult who has made it engaging for the children and then investigates it at a much deeper level.  The children are much more responsible for conducting the investigations not just participating in activities related to this area of interest. 

In thinking about what I do in my classroom, I believe I am doing a hybrid or rather a combination of the two.  My classes and I participate in in-depth investigations of topics and participate in the three phases of the project.  At the same time, I create learning centers that relate to the investigation we are attempting. 

What I have not done, is chose the project for my students, which she describes as perfectly acceptable.  She explained that sometimes children are not interested in something because they haven’t been exposed to opportunities to even know about it in the past.  If it will expose them to something new, fitting in the guidelines of topic selections for projects: real, meaningful and relevant, than it has merit. 

I so want a one-one session with these two women to describe what I am doing in my classroom and have them help me define it.  Then, again, why do I have to have a clear definition of one or the other? This hybrid is working and working very well.  Would it be better more clearly delineated?  Do we ever actually only teach one way?

These are the questions I am wrestling with among many others at the close of day one. I am looking forward to simulating the approach starting tomorrow as we will be studying our own projects in groups and going through each phase.
A few women I have met today and I are thinking of investigating the water features in the hotel; the fountain in the lobby, the pool and yes, the hot tub.  We will need to do a lot of research!

I am interested in engaging in this discussion, so I would love to hear your thoughts.  

Cool Off with Car Wash Play

A wonderful outdoor activity for these hot summer days is to have a car wash or bike wash.

Fill big bins with soapy water and add large sponges.

The children love dunking the sponges in and carrying them to the vehicle of their choice to scrub.

Some even get very thorough turning the cars and bikes on their sides to get underneath-this can even lead to some interesting discoveries of insects….but that is another post.

Then have buckets for rinsing the cars.

We used a small sprinkler and smaller buckets for rinsing. The children got cooled off in the sprinkler while waiting for their rinse buckets to fill. They can even ride through the rinsing station on the soapy bike or car.

It’s even more fun if you play some cool music outside as well!

And the added bonus is that all of your bikes, trikes and cars will be nice and clean.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Painting with Cans

Inspired by another wonderful blogger Hands on: As We Grow and her post on An Eric Carle Caterpillar, we used unopened cans of pumpkin to paint.

We set up ramp shaped blocks.
Took the labels off two large cans of pumpkin.
Attached the paper to the blocks with a piece of tape.
The children squirted foam paint on the top of the paper. (We get ours from Discount School Supply)
Then they held the can at the top of the ramp and let her roll!

The experience was very fun and the paintings were so colorful.  The rolling can mixed the paint colors into swirled patterns.  They really enjoyed the squirting out of the foam paint and the feeling of it as it covered their hands.

As we did this outside, we did lay down a large piece of butcher paper to keep the cans from getting sandy as they rolled off the ramps.  They didn't roll as far when we moved the activity from the blacktop to the sandy area.

The children got a kick out of the thinking that they "painted with pumpkin".  

Have some fun and give it a try!

Rainbows and spray bottles

Thanks to Deborah at Teach Preschool for this fun idea that we tried today.

She has wonderful detailed photographs on her blog site, so go check them out.  This worked great as an outside activity.  The children especially loved the squirting part.

We had a lot of two year olds today, and many of them just wanted to squirt the water.
Luckily our bull eyes were still up from the mud balls giving them a more appropriate spot to aim than a friend's face.

Rainbow Ooblick

Had a blast today at summer camp with our rainbow ooblick.

We spend most of camp outside, so we have two sensory tables out in our outdoor classroom.
We made ooblick- a mixture of cornstarch and water.
Then we added liquid water colors to the corners and some edges. While the children played with the ooblick, the colors swirled and made this tye dye effect. It was quite dramatic and they loved it.

My 13 year old was even enthralled with the ooblick and spent a lot of her counselor time playing there with the children.

And clean up was a breeze as we could just hose the tables down at the end of camp.