Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they’re going to catch you in next.

Franklin P. Jones

Sage Advice

All About Child Care for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers


by Kathy Lee

Understanding The Case For

Emergent Curriculum.

Is it possible that one can be passionate about a curriculum? Absolutely; especially if that person has already devoted twenty eight wonderful years working in the career field of Early Childhood as I have, experiencing the innate curiosity of children inspired by their sheer awe of the world around them. Taking all the questions they have about everything imaginable and fashioning a curriculum around that is nothing short of genius.

Many early childhood programs use “canned” themes developed by well intentioned but uninspired adults, creating text for future teachers to follow with predictable structures; Apples in September, Pumpkins in October, and yes, Snow in January. What a wonderful lesson it would be for all concerned if it was stimulated by the following scenario:  It’s early spring and the little child brings the first daffodils to class picked from her garden; the teacher displays them in a vase for the entire class to admire, who then go to their easels and paint their interpretation of what they see. This leads to more questions such as “what type of flowers are these?” and “what makes them grow?” So the teacher brings in a book on daffodils and the lessons begin building on their own. That’s the beauty of Emergent Curriculum.

Because Emergent Curriculum is not rigid, its unpredictable format gives it a common sense approach to teaching. It not only inspires the children through spontaneity, but inspires the teachers as well for the very same reason. The teachers become practitioners that trust in the power of play and their students become competent players in the learning process.  In other words, the teachers are encouraged to create their own hands-on understanding of a subject inspired by the children’s strong desire to learn all about it.

Leaders in childcare have expressed this kind of curriculum that develops when examining what is “socially relevant, intellectually engaging, and personally meaningful to children.” Expressing their views on whole learning involvement, they said: “As caring adults, we make choices for children that reflect our values; at the same time we need to keep our plans open-ended and responsive to children.” Some curriculum is also negotiated, reflecting what interests the children and what the adults involved know is necessary for the children’s education and development. Briefly, curriculum ideas emerge in response to concerns and interests expressed by different demographics at different times. Never built solely on children’s interests, experts clarify that each emergent curriculum evolves on its own by diverging factors that give birth to new possibilities beyond the initial planning process. 

Emergent Curriculum is therefore an Early Childhood learning environment that is built upon our children’s curiosity of the world in partnership with adults who possess an equal passion for providing them with the answers they seek. Emerging content varies based on teachable moments, culture, adult values, interests, and a variety of other similar factors. Picture your child being taught based upon his or her interests and imagine how exciting it is for them to learn what they really want to know at that moment. To my way of thinking, that is sheer genius. 

Leaving Some Time To Get Messy With A Clean Version Of “Mud, Goop, And Paint”.

OK, we’re into Spring and of course, we’ve arrived with fantasies of what it will be like to once again play comfortably outside.  Because toddlers love to explore and because sensory activities are so important at this age, some of the stuff they think about is usually considered by moms (and everyone else responsible for the cleanup) as being a little too messy to be an indoor activity. So now what?

On the other hand, keep in mind that toddlers can be a very temperamental bunch and extremely picky, so some of them might actually not like getting their hands messy with real paint. At the very same time though, those very same children might still love to “finger paint”, although preferring only to do it with things like shaving cream, instant pudding, or even Cool Whip. Well, at least they’re clean.

With that in mind, here are some of my favorite activities for toddlers that you can plan on doing outside, and inside as well, (you know, when it’s rainy or the sun is scorching hot) and I promise everyone a fun time. In fact, building fun memories like this is worth a little bit of a mess and of course, the cleanup is a lot easier than using the actual named substances will allow.

Make up some clean “mud”:

1.Cut a small bar of white soap into small chunks and place in a large bowl.

2.Have the children tear off individual sheets from a roll of toilet paper and add it to the bowl.

3.Slowly add water and squish the toilet tissue and soap together, creating the “mud.”

4.Add unsweetened Kool-Aid (for color and scent) and squish it in as well.

Get it going with cornstarch “goop”:

1.In a bowl, slowly add 1 cup of water to 2 cups of cornstarch.

2.Stir until the water is absorbed by the cornstarch. You can add food coloring if you desire.

Tip: To remove goop from carpets, allow it to dry, brush then vacuum. You can reuse the goop after it has dried out. Crumble it to a powder, then restore it’s “goopiness”  by adding water, a spoonful at a time.

Planning to play with shaving cream “paint”:

Let the children play right on the table top or “paint” on a cookie sheet to minimize the mess. Not only will this clean up well, it smells great throughout the whole activity. You can also add a few drops of food coloring to the shaving cream to create pretty pastels. Wash their hands when they’re finished to avoid any skin irritation and keep it out of their eyes.

Visit ooeygooey.com

for more activities. Go to Resources>Handouts.

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