There are four kids in our group. We meet once a week for a 2-hour drop-off block. Each mom takes a turn hosting/teaching the group for two consecutive weeks, then she has six weeks off. We each follow the same basic schedule: arrival/free play, welcome/circle, snack, art, activity, circle/goodbye. We share and pass around a bin of supplies: paints, markers, smocks, alphabet chart, parachute, CD, rug squares. Our teacher pool consists of an art historian, an avid athlete and outdoorswoman, a speech-language pathologist, and an early childhood music teacher. Not bad, eh?
But here's what I'm really excited about. This year we are using an approach called The Storybook Journey. I first experienced it when I was doing my graduate practicum hours in the Child Learning Center at the University of Colorado. It's a literature-based approach to every aspect of curriculum: "The environment, materials, and experiences are intentionally designed to immerse the children in a playful exploration of the story's rich literacy potential, concepts, vocabulary, sequence, and plot, as well as the sheer delight of exploring a story through their play." (The Storybook Journey: Pathways to Learning through Story and Play by Sue McCord.)
We are obviously more low-key than a full-blown preschool program, but here's how we will do it. Each teacher will choose a book she wants to use for each 2-week block. She plans by brainstorming every single concept she can eek from it, from colors and art, to concrete objects, to life lessons and emotional or literary concepts, etc. Then she chooses how she can apply any or all of those ideas into the daily schedule. We'll always introduce and read the book during welcome/circle time, and again at closing circle time. And in between, well, that's the journey!
I went first this year. Here's what we did.
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
Concepts: bunnies, cardboard, black & white, black/white & red, pretending a thing is something different, boxes, squares/rectangles, firemen, mountains/mountain climbing, robots, cars, thinking, asking and answering questions, "NOT", pirates, boats/ships, elephants, hot air balloons, rocket ships, wh-questions, things that rhyme with "box"
Related/support books: Too Princessy by Jean Reidy, Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis
Arrival - Big and little empty boxes to play with
Snack - Boxes of goldfish and boxes of juice; loose discussion about what else comes in boxes
Art - Paint your own "Not a Box" page (with glittery red paint!)
|Artists at work|
|They all worked together to build "a city"|
Poppy's conclusion of the day: "I like my school. They are all boys. But it is good." When I asked her what was her favorite part, and named a few of her choices, she replied, "I like all of those. They are all my favorite."