The Project Approach

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The project approach to child care and preschool curriculum planning is gaining popularity. It is not restricted to child care centers either. Here Sandi (littlebluebird), a family daycare provider shares her experience with the project approach in her family daycare home.

I have been studying the Reggio Emilia approach to child care/preschool. For those of you that don't know, it is more of a child led learning experience. The "teacher"(me) learns along with the students. A topic is chosen by the interest of the children.

We chose horses as our first project. The kids that are working on this are 2-3 yrs old. The outcome is for the child to have a near (age appropriate) complete mastery of a topic/subject. This may sound outrageous to some, but 3 yr olds know quite a bit about horses and want to learn all they can! The length of the project depends on the interest of the kids. I am thinking that we will work at least one more week, maybe 2 on horses.

First we made a chart of what we do and don't know about horses. The things that we didn't know are the topics we are exploring. So far we have worked on how does a horse stay clean? and what are horse shoes?. This was the first week that we worked on it and it has been a blast!

Part of my job is to keep records/notes about our project. It is so much fun to get the kids input on what we have learned.

At the end of the project, I am going to have a friend of mine bring over her horse on a Saturday morning for the kids to see. I chose a Saturday because part of the Reggio Emilia process is to involve the parents in the learning. This way the parents and the children can come and see the horse. In addition, hopefully the children will be able to tell their parent's some of the things we have learned about them.

I really have enjoyed this a lot. The next thing they want to work on is chickens. I have one boy who is obsessed with a love of chickens. So I am hoping to hatch some eggs while we are working on it.

I was so tired of the same ole' themes that half the kids were not interested in, so that is mainly why I chose to go down this road.

I just keep records of what we have done, what the kids said about things, what question did they ask, etc...I am going to compile all this at the end and hopefully make copies and staple them together for the kids to take home.

I have found most of my information from books that we checked out at the library. I checked out most of the books they had on How to care for a horse, etc.. they have great pictures that the kids love to look at. I also have found a tremendous amount of info on the internet. Also from the local 4-H horse project leader. I also checked out kids books at the library about a horse, farm animals and there was one that was a Cowboy alphabet book. One of the books we read was "Farmer Will". It is the cutest book!

Other things we have done so far:

Pencil drawings of a horse. (some are recognizable, some not, the thing that they all had on their picture that could be recognized were the 4 legs:) I framed them with construction paper and hung them up.

Horse shoe prints. This was fun! I just took a plastic meat tray and cut it into a horseshoe shape. I attached a wooden block to hold it with and they "stamped" it into black paint and then onto paper. We used a long strip (6ft) of paper and everyone did it on the one sheet. so that it looked like a horse had walked down the paper. We put it in the hallway where the parents come in so they would "think" that a horse had walked through the house. LOL.

With horse shoe shapes cut out of cardboard the kids covered them with aluminum foil. They loved the scrunching up of the foil.

I also had them color a printed picture of a horse with the question of "If I had a horse, what color would it be?"

One other coloring sheet we did was a picture of a curry comb/brush that people use to brush their horse. They then tried cutting them out with scissors. The scissors scare me to death! However, we got through it and 2 of them did a fairly good job:

I also have been taking some digital pictures records. I will try to attach one at the end of this post.

Well, it does take some getting use to. Not planning in advance I mean.

When we first made out chart on the things that we wanted to know more about, I sort of planned or thought up activities that would go with those things. Some things are pretty spontaneous like the horse shoe prints that we did. I just sort of made that up on the spot (the kids had been wanting to paint that day so that is what I came up with. Also when looking things up on the net I got some ideas, too.

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