Emergent Curriculum

A child was building with various materials today during class. We noticed that it was challenging for him to balance the hat, the shark, and other materials evenly. The child demonstrated advanced critical thinking and problem solving skills by surveying, analyzing, and adjusting all materials until he was satisfied with placement.


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Then, he stated that the dinosaur was “looking at him.”  The teacher engaged in conversation with him, focusing on how the dinosaur was watching him work. Then, the child sat down and started drawing and spelled his name “so the dinosaur could see.” Other children joined him and began drawing, writing, and influencing the activities of one another. This type of organic influence and leadership is what we strive to have. IMG_0717

Another activity that went on during the day is when a couple children were making cookies for a birthday party. After they made a “batch,” we placed the cookies on a piece of paper and began to count them. Soon, the girls were drawing around each cookie and enhancing the circular shape. This simple activity highlights their fine motor skills, one-to-one correspondence, and ability to recognize, design and recreate shapes. This type of emergent curriculum keeps their attention for longer periods of time and allows us to work through several subjects – math, reading, and writing – from this one activity.

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One child added play-dough to the train he was playing with and started to drive it around the classroom. We talked about his train, where he was going, what his train is doing, and gave him paper and markers to have another form of “communication” about his train. According to the Reggio Emilia learning philosophy, children “speak” through symbolic languages, including drawing, sculpting, dramatic play, writing and painting to communicate their thinking process and theories. As he worked through his idea of adding play-dough on his train and driving the train around, we encouraged him to add a different element and form of “communication” to his train, simply to encourage him to depict his understanding using a different representation.

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This is finished piece. Parents- notice how his scribbles go around the train and how much work went into this. Take note of how the scribbles are at the bottom half of the page and have long horizontal lines with short vertical lines. The child drew a train track that the train goes on!


As he began to put the loose train parts on the play-dough, the children and teachers counted together, and one of the teacher’s started to jot down notes concerning the conversation and how they were counting. However the children used her marker and paper to count each piece and made circles around them as they counted.

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These activities show how the principles and values of the Reggio philosophy hold a powerful image of a child. We believe the child is a capable, competent human being filled with potential and ambition. The children naturally engage in reading writing and math without direction from teachers and have an active role in instruction. As long as we follow their lead, engage in deeper understanding, and have an active role, rich learning experiences occur.

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