When I decided to do some focused work around pumpkins this year, I knew there was a danger of traditional thematic learning hijacking best practices around early learning. While I know the experiences and activities were valuable, I had a nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me the approach wasn’t right – it wasn’t responsive, nor was it guided by H’s big questions.
I thought about developmental domains that were underrepresented and activity ideas that could enhance them, like content surrounding growth and gardening, additional sensory experiences like making and playing with pumpkin spice playdough, tangibly exploring different types of pumpkins and cooking and eating more pumpkin-based dishes. I also became acutely aware of the lack of opportunity to engage with art. But again, these ideas were coming from me and not necessarily respecting H’s interests.
Not only does this go against the vision I have for myself as an educator, but it also feels uncomfortable – I just spent the entire summer planning environments emergently (something I will share in future posts). And here I was planning and implementing around a theme. Sigh.
Moving forward, I want to dig deeper. Having meetings is a good place to start. What this entails is meeting with the children and determining their interests, what they want to learn about, their existing knowledge about the topic and what skills they need to develop. Then webbing and altering those webs so that they are responsive as time progresses.
I have a few more posts to draft and publish about activities we’ve done recently, but moving forward, a lot of my time is being spent on observing and planning.
I look forward to sharing the process with you!