QUESTIONS: REFLECTION 12 – SCIENCE AND NATURE
1. According to Chapter 10, how can teachers support scientific inquiry?
2. Chapter 10 discusses supporting life, physical, and environmental sciences. Discuss what you have learned and what kinds of activities support those sciences.
After viewing the film "Learning with Nature" answer the following questions:
1. What theorist most relates to this video?
2. What surprised you? What was your "ah-ha" moment?
3. What scientific explorations did you engage in as a child?
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El Camino College Childhood Education Department
CDEV 115 Introduction to Curriculum
Introduction to Curriculum for
Early Childhood Educators
An Open Educational Resources Publication by College of the Canyons
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Introduction to Curriculum for Early Childhood Education
An Open Educational Resources Publication by College of the Canyons
Created by Jennifer Paris, Kristin Beeve, and Clint Springer
Editor: Alexa Johnson Cover: Ian Joslin
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College of the Canyons would like to extend appreciation to the following people and organizations for allowing this textbook to be created:
California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook
Santa Clarita Community College District College of the Canyons Distance Learning Office
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Further Acknowledgements I would like to thank: My department including my full-time faculty colleagues, Cindy Stephens and Wendy Ruiz, who supported me pursuing the grant that funded this book and believe in the purpose of our OER work. James Glapa-Grossklag for taking a chance on working with me for this grant before he really knew me and for all the opportunities I have been afforded since then. Brian Weston for his leadership, guidance, and just being there to help facilitate the amazing project that this book is part of. Alexa Johnson for her painstaking work on the book and taking words and images on pages and turning them into this beautiful book. Chloe McGinley, Joy Shoemate, Trudi Radtke, Ian Joslin, and any other OER and Online Education staff that helped me maintain my sanity in this project. My co-author, Kristin Beeve, for her tireless efforts and collaboration. The peer reviewer, Clint Springer, for bringing a fresh set of eyes to the book and his work to make the book better. My family, especially my children Ashlynn and Aidan, for being understanding of the time and energy commitments that this book, the larger project it is part of, and my advocacy for OER have taken. The California Department of Education for giving us permission to use the amazing resources currently available that support Early Childhood Education that were foundational for this book. Amanda Taintor, for being such a great collaborator and ally in developing and promoting OER in Early Childhood Education. The larger OER community that keeps me thinking and pushing my understanding of what open is, what it should be, and what role I can play in that.
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Further Acknowledgements I would like to thank: The Early Childhood Education Faculty at College of the Canyons for continuously inspiring me and assisting in my professional growth through amazing collaborations. I feel truly blessed to be a part of a department so passionate in supporting faculty and students in Early Childhood Education. Jennifer Paris for her unending leadership, patience, and support throughout this entire project. The OER staff who have assisted us with graphics, obtaining permissions and attributions, and especially with formatting this incredible book. My husband, Greg, and children Emily and Matthew, for their on-going support of my professional goals and by being patient and understanding of my passion for teaching and helping me to balance life and work. My parents for allowing me the opportunity to discover my path in ECE, whom also supported me tirelessly throughout my career. The teachers, administrators, parents and children that provided me “on-the-job” training that has assisted my ability to ascend to my current role as a professor.
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Table of Contents
Section I: Understanding How Children Learn 8
Chapter 1: Foundations in Early Childhood Curriculum: Connecting Theory & Practice 10
Chapter 2: The Importance of Play and Intentional Teaching 35
Section II: Developing Curriculum to Support Children’s Learning 49
Chapter 3: The Cycle of Curriculum Planning 50
Chapter 4: Developing Curriculum for a Play Centered Approach 63
Section III: Setting the Stage for Children’s Learning 85
Chapter 5: Setting the Stage for Play: Environments 86
Chapter 6: Guiding Behavior and Managing the Classroom 113
Section IV: Planning for Children’s Learning 136
Introduction to Planning for Preschoolers 137
Chapter 7: Social and Emotional Development 148
Chapter 8: Language and Literacy 161
Chapter 9: Mathematics 185
Chapter 10: Science 205
Chapter 11: Creative Arts 236
Chapter 12: History & Social Science 271
Chapter 13: Physical Development 300
Chapter 14: Health and Safety 330
Introduction to Planning for Other Ages 353
Chapter 15: What Curriculum Looks Like for Infants and Toddlers 355
Chapter 16: What Curriculum Looks Like for School-Age Children 401
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Section V: Making Children’s Learning Visible 437
Chapter 17: Documentation and Assessment 438
Appendix A – Blank Planning Form 463
Appendix B – Sample Classrooms 465
Appendix C – Developmental Milestones 474
Appendix D – Developmental Sequences of Fundamental Movement Skills 489
Appendix E – Inventory of Practice for Promoting Children’s Social-Emotional Competence 497
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Section I: Understanding How
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Preface Introduction to this Textbook Welcome to learning about how to effectively plan curriculum for young children. This textbook will address:
• Developing curriculum through the planning cycle
• Theories that inform what we know about how children learn and the best ways for teachers to support learning
• The three components of developmentally appropriate practice
• Importance and value of play and intentional teaching
• Different models of curriculum
• Process of lesson planning (documenting planned experiences for children)
• Physical, temporal, and social environments that set the stage for children’s learning
• Appropriate guidance techniques to support children’s behaviors as the self-regulation abilities mature.
• Planning for preschool-aged children in specific domains including o Physical development o Language and literacy o Math o Science o Creative (the visual and performing arts) o Diversity (social science and history) o Health and safety
• How curriculum planning for infants and toddlers is different from planning for older children
• Supporting school-aged children’s learning and development in out-of-school time through curriculum planning
• Making children’s learning visible through documentation and assessment
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Chapter 1: Foundations in Early Childhood Curriculum: Connecting
Theory & Practice
Figure 1.1: Children learn by playing.1
Chapter Objectives Students will
• Explore How Children Learn
• Identify Theories in Early Childhood Programs
• Connect the Theories to Practice through Interaction & Intentionality
• Explore Use of 21st Century Technology in ECE Early Childhood Educational Programming is fundamentally grounded in developmentally appropriate practices and is supported through theoretical foundations woven throughout a curriculum. Various types of programs may emphasize one theory over another or take on more of an array of theories by combining approaches to achieve program goals.
How Young Children Learn: What Science Reveals Children play in order to figure things out, much like scientists who experiment and investigate in order to figure things out. Scientists who study how infants and young children think and feel describe them as small scientists (Gopnik, Meltzoff, and Kuhl 2000) who spend their days actively gathering and organizing information about what objects and people are like. As they play, children investigate how one object relates to another or how people relate to each other.
1 Image by Skitterphoto on pixabay
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According to Gopnik, Meltzoff, and Kuhl (2000), children actively build knowledge as they interact with the world around them. In the early twentieth century, scientists and theorists—such as Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky— developed widely studied theories to explain how young children acquire knowledge. Scientists have continued to study children’s ways of knowing by care- fully observing and listening as children pursue new skills, explore materials, solve problems, work together with others, and encounter experiences that prompt them to think and reason (Shonkoff and Phillips 2000.) Young children’s actions and their explanations provide clues about how they develop ideas, master skills, and build knowledge. This research illuminates a key finding—infants and young children actively construct concepts and build skills by interacting with objects and with people, much of it occurring in the context of play. By nature, children are active participants in making meaning and constructing knowledge. The body of research on the developing mind of the young child also adds to our understanding of what it means to teach and to plan curriculum for infants and young children. The long- standing image from K–12 education of an active, talking teacher who imparts information to passive, quiet children does not fit with what is known from the science of early learning and development. Young children seated at desks and quietly listening, not interjecting their ideas, represent an image that diverges from the image generated by developmental science: that of young children who seek to participate actively in an experience to build concepts, ideas, and skills. Studies show that infants and young children are highly motivated to explore new materials and to take on new challenges (Bowman, Donovan, and Burns 2000.) Robust scientific evidence provides a starting point for guidance on planning and implementing early childhood curriculum. Reviews of research point clearly to three principles with respect to how young children learn (Bowman, Donovan, and Burns 2000; Hirsh-Pasek et al. 2009; Schonkoff and Phillips 2000):
• Children actively construct concepts like numbers, spatial relations, causality, and story.
• Children actively build skills like drawing, moving with ease, negotiating conflicts, and confidently and respectfully communicating ideas and feelings.
• Children actively develop dispositions such as thoughtfulness, empathy, and responsibility.
These principles guide the approach to early childhood curriculum described in this chapter. Children’s thinking, their feelings, and their dispositions are the center of the curriculum and inform the planning and implementation of educational experiences. This approach contrasts with a subject-matter approach to curriculum, commonly used with older children and adults, in which the subject of study (such as science, literature, or mathematics) is placed at the center of the curriculum and used to organize the daily schedule of learning experiences and the learning environment. When the curriculum is organized around children’s thinking, their feelings, and their dispositions to learn and to relate with others, the focus is on providing contexts in which children have rich opportunities to build concepts and skills through meaningful exploration and active experimentation.
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For example, for a group of three- and four-year-olds fascinated by the heavy equipment vehicles passing outside the yard, a teacher might use a construction site next to the school as the context for study or focus of the curriculum. The children’s excitement about the ongoing construction inspires an investigation with the children of the events underway in this neighboring lot. In considering the study of the construction site, teachers can envision ample opportunity for children to build concepts related to science, mathematics, literature, the arts, and social studies. The teachers create learning contexts that engage children in finding out more about the events underway in the neighboring construction project. Such an investigation offers many possibilities for the children to explore concepts from various domains or subject areas addressed in the three volumes of the preschool learning foundations such as size, number, spatial relations, causality, story, song, drama, visual representation, and much more. With the preschool learning foundations and curriculum framework as guides, teachers can within this study tap multiple domains—social science, natural science, physical science, language arts, visual arts, physical development, and mathematics.2
Figure 1.2: Construction vehicles in the sandbox could be one opportunity teachers could provide.3
Theoretical Foundations Early Childhood Educators rely on theories to provide evidentiary support to their program goals, philosophies and methods felt throughout their programs. While there are numerous theories, a few are highlighted in this chapter in how they relate to creating programs for learning for young children.
Cognitive Theory Jean Piaget explained learning as proceeded by the interplay of assimilation (adjusting new experiences to fit prior concepts) and accommodation (adjusting concepts to fit new experiences). The to-and-fro of these two processes leads not only to short-term learning, as pointed out in, but also to long-term developmental change. The long-term developments are really the main focus of Piaget’s cognitive theory. After observing children closely, Piaget proposed that cognition developed through distinct stages from birth through
2 The Integrated Nature of Learning by the California Department of Education is used with permission (pg. 4-7) 3 Image is licensed under CC0
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the end of adolescence. By stages he meant a sequence of thinking patterns with four key features:
1. The stages always happen in the same order. 2. No stage is ever skipped. 3. Each stage is a significant transformation of the stage before it. 4. Each later stage incorporated the earlier stages into itself. Basically this is the
“staircase” model of development mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. Piaget proposed four major stages of cognitive development, and called them (1) sensorimotor intelligence, (2) preoperational thinking, (3) concrete operational thinking, and (4) formal operational thinking. Each stage is correlated with an age period of childhood, but only approximately. In Early Childhood Education, we primarily consider the first two stages as they are most common for children ages 0-8 years.
The Sensorimotor Stage: Birth to Age 2 In Piaget’s theory, the sensorimotor stage is first, and is defined as the period when infants “think” by means of their senses and motor actions. As every new parent will attest, infants continually touch, manipulate, look, listen to, and even bite and chew objects. According to Piaget, these actions allow them to learn about the world and are crucial to their early cognitive development.
Figure 2.3: Sensorimotor learning in action.4
The infant’s actions allow the child to represent (or construct simple concepts of) objects and events. A toy animal may be just a confusing array of sensations at first, but by looking, feeling, and manipulating it repeatedly, the child gradually organizes her sensations and actions into a stable concept, toy animal. The representation acquires a permanence lacking in the individual experiences of the object, which are constantly changing. Because the representation is stable, the child “knows”, or at least believes, that toy animal exists even if the actual toy animal is temporarily out of sight. Piaget called this sense of stability object permanence, a belief that objects exist whether or not they are actually present. It is a major achievement of
4 Image by the California Department of Education is used with permission
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sensorimotor development, and marks a qualitative transformation in how older infants (24 months) think about experience compared to younger infants (6 months). During much of infancy, a child can only barely talk, so sensorimotor development initially happens without the support of language. It might therefore seem hard to know what infants are thinking, but Piaget devised several simple, but clever experiments to get around their lack of language. Piaget’s findings suggest that infants do indeed represent objects even without being able to talk (Piaget, 1952). In one, for example, he simply hid an object (such as a toy animal) under a blanket. He found that doing so consistently prompts older infants (18-24 months) to search for the object, but fails to prompt younger infants (less than six months) to do so. (You can try this experiment yourself if you happen to have access to a young infant.) “Something” motivates the search by the older infant even without the benefit of much language, and the “something” is presumed to be a permanent concept or representation of the object.
The Preoperational Stage: Age 2 to 7 In the preoperational stage, children use their new ability to represent objects in a wide variety of activities, but they do not yet do it in ways that are organized or fully logical. One of the most obvious examples of this kind of cognition is dramatic play, the improvised make-believe of preschool children. If you have ever had responsibility for children of this age, you have likely witnessed such play. Ashley holds a plastic banana to her ear and says: “Hello, Mom? Can you be sure to bring me my baby doll? OK!” Then she hangs up the banana and pours tea for Jeremy into an invisible cup. Jeremy giggles at the sight of all of this and exclaims: “Rinnng! Oh Ashley, the phone is ringing again! You better answer it.” And on it goes. Children immersed in make-believe may seem to have an inaccurate understanding of the world, in that they do not think realistically. But at some level, Ashley and Jeremy always know that the banana is still a banana and not really a telephone; they are merely representing it as a telephone. They are thinking on two levels at once—one imaginative and the other realistic. This dual processing of experience makes dramatic play an early example of metacognition, or reflecting on and monitoring of thinking itself. As we explained previously, metacognition is a highly desirable skill for success in school, one that teachers often encourage (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997; Paley, 2005). Partly for this reason, teachers of young children (preschool, kindergarten, and even first or second grade) often make time and space in their classrooms for dramatic play, and sometimes even participate in it themselves to help develop the play further.5
5 Educational Psychology by Kelvin Seifert (OpenStax) is licensed under CC BY-3.0
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Figure 1.4: Children engaged in make-believe play.6
Pause to Reflect As a lab school, students often visit children’s classrooms to observe the environments and interactions to connect theory with practice. One day, I decided to take a small group of students to observe the environment in one of our preschool classrooms. As we opened the door, I heard a young child (age 3 years) say to her caregiver, “Why are all the mommies here?” The caregiver acknowledged the child’s observation, but explained that the visitors were there to learn about the classroom. The child continued to watch us as we walked through the classroom. 7 How does this example provide evidence of Piaget’s Cognitive Theory?
Children grow and develop through stages, and so does their play. Children’s earliest play experiences are highly sensory driven and simple exchanges with caregivers and materials within their environment. Many of the early play experiences promote a sense of discovery and lead to positive interactions among children and adult caregivers. As the child develops more complex play develops too. Infants observe and interact with materials through the use of the five senses. As the infant develops, he or she continues to observe, explore and experiment with materials within the environment, thus obtaining knowledge.
Sociocultural Theory Lev Vygotsky (1978), whose writing focused on how a child’s or novice’s thinking is influenced by relationships with others who are more capable, knowledgeable, or expert than the learner.
6 Image by the California Department of Education is used with permission 7 Content by Kristin Beeve is licensed under CC BY 4.0
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