When I give presentations on emergent curriculum and The Project Approach to teachers they often ask about the various centers in the room while invested in the current topic.
Unlike with theme teaching, every center is not related to the topic being studied. We set up learning investigations that are related to the questions the children have raised.
For example, this week we are making casts in our art center because the children became interested in how they worked and how they were different than other bandages. So we are casting paper towel tubes and once dry, cutting them open with a saw the way a cast is prepared and removed to fix a broken bone.
We are using plaster and pieces of paper towels in strips to mimic bandages (for a lot less money)-and also because I had left all of the many fabric pieces I had cut up at home-gotta love Mondays :-)
The children mix the plaster and then dip the material in it, wipe it down and wrap it around the tube.
When they are dry we will be cutting them with a saw from our workbench area and then we'll be able to try them on and see how a cast would feel.
The other center in our room is our Doctor's Office which has been discussed in many recent posts. In this area the children are "trying on" all of the information they have been gathering from books and our visiting experts.
Other than that, our centers right now do not have to do with the doctor topic. They are engaging centers that use a variety of modalities and focus on other objectives of our program. We are building puzzles, trying to figure out which cars go down a ramp faster than others, pouring rice into various containers and comparing them, using our sticky easel, retelling stories with felt pieces, practicing writing our last names or names in lower case letters on chalk boards, drawing, reading, building, singing and learning to get along-all of the many activities that make a good preschool program. That is this week, next week will be a different set of experiences.
Children interested in the doctor topic have interesting places to play and discover and those who are not interested have places to play as well. Tomorrow we'll be talking about whether or not we have more questions or things we want to discover about this topic or if we feel we have finished with it. And how will we share what we have learned with others? It it not up to me. It will be a decision we make as a learning community.