The Children are The Curriculum
At Marvelously Made, the children are the curriculum. That means the teachers follow the children’s lead in what to study and focus on. As the students show interest in different areas, the teacher takes that opportunity to research and provide experiences to guide their interest and their learning.
Sometimes this comes from a question they may ask. Or it may be from something they find in the Outdoor Classroom. It may be a behavior that the class animals show or something they read in a book. Sometimes it comes from an invitation we have placed in the classroom, to see if it sparks something more. Below is how a teacher takes one of those opportunities and turns it into more.
A Lemon Experiment
Recently, the Kindergarten and Primary Classes set out to juice lemons. We had some extra lemons from Dad’s Day and wanted to put them to good use. Our purpose in the invitation was to strengthen their hand and wrist muscles. We know that strong hands create strong writers.
Juicing lemons was a fresh, new experience to strengthen those muscles. As the students started to squeeze the lemons, they realized they need to use more than just their wrists to get all the juice out. They had to use their whole arm, shoulder and upper body muscles. The students wanted to get every drop out of the lemon.
Here is where the student’s took the lead on this activity. As they were juicing lemons the students start asking questions.
“What are we going to do with this juice?”
“Why are we doing this?”
“What is this for?”
“Can we drink this?”
“Can we make lemonade?”.
The teacher listens and then asks questions back.
“What do you think we could do with all this juice?”
“Should we make lemonade?”
“How would we make lemonade?”
The role of the teacher here is not to answer the questions, but to listen and ask questions in return. This allows the children to take control of the learning and make a plan.
“What do we need to do, to make lemonade?” The students quickly gave many suggestions- lemon juice, lemon juice and water, sugar and lemon juice, lemon juice and ice, water and Crystal Lite, “That’s how my mom makes it.”.
After much brainstorming, we decided to try 4 recipes.
- Lemon Juice
- Lemon Juice and Water
- Lemon Juice and Sugar
- Lemon Juice, Water and Sugar
The next day, the teacher had prepared the four recipes and the students came up to try each one. They started with lemon juice. Many responded that was not good, it was too sour, spicy, or salty. They knew they didn’t like it, but weren’t quite sure what the word was to describe it.
As they tried each recipe their body went from tensed up to completely relaxed. Many even sighed as they drank the last lemonade recipe.
As a class we graphed our results of the preferred recipe. The students used tally marks to choose their favorite.
What We Learned
After the experiment, the class looked at the graph. They were able to use to the graph to see that the favorite recipe was lemon juice, water and sugar. Some liked lemon juice and sugar recipe. No one liked lemon juice with water or just lemon juice.
From our tally mark graph, we transferred the information to a bar graph and a pie graph.
Then, the students wrote about their lemonade experience. They described what each recipe was like for them. They wrote sentences at their developmental stage and those that wanted to could present them to the class.
This is how we took lemons and turned it into part of the curriculum. From juicing lemons to strengthen muscles, we moved through the Scientific method. Then, we applied several Math skills and explored creating and reading graphs.
Through questioning and talking through the process we built vocabulary and the students applied their knowledge of reading and writing to describe their experience through print.
At Marvelously Made, this is how curriculum is written. This whole experience was much more meaningful to them because they created it. They showed an interest and the teacher took that and built around it. The students own their learning.