I use to run a program called “Snack-time Stories,” which is just what it sounds like. The best part of the program wasn’t the concept though, it was that the kids choose the stories and created snacks that went with the theme, or they picked a snack and we found stories that created a theme. Either direction it was child driven, just as a program should be.
Today, most programs use pre-packaged curriculums. It’s much easier to plan out lessons and prepare materials for activities with a curriculum like Mother Goose Time where the materials are separated into day bags and enough materials are laid out for the number of students you are teaching. Many who believe in child driven programs question how pre-packaged curriculums can benefit diverse learning styles, but I’m finding ways to still utilize student interest – especially with my own boys. Although they are not preschoolers as the package is designed for, they love the program. They love the games and crafts … they love the stories and the recipes that come in each box. They love looking through the box when it arrives to see what’s planned for the month, then inspecting it closer before each weeks topic. This week was all about Paul Bunyan and they were most excited about the day planned for mid week ~ making pancakes. They were so excited that I decided to rearrange the week and make them wait for the last day of the session for that activity (another benefit to the flexibility of Mother Goose Time).
We started off with the birth of Paul Bunyan story, we build a raft for dramatic play, made our growth chart … and since they already know the letter B is for babies – we found other B items babies need: bibs, bottles, binkies, baby dolls, teddy-Bears… This day led to great discussions as we are starting to take care of some babies in our child care and they were able to discuss the babies needs and how they will help care for the babies. This day also led to discussion of fact vs fiction – for example – the babies will will care for are not big enough to need a raft to rock them to sleep! In fact these babies are tiny, so comparing how big we are to how little our friends are led ways to discussion of how we grow, how we are big enough to be helpers, how we are too big for some things now, how we are too big to rough-house with little ones…
(Click video for a look into the Folktale fun!)
The second day we enjoyed stories of Babe and Bessie, Paul’s pets. Our daycare is considering a pet / “mascot,” but we decided Babe and Bessie would not fit anywhere safely – even though we live on farm land. Babe and Bessie encouraged some great story telling, especially when combining the days story pieces to the last days pieces. Realizing each day this week came with more story pieces we decided we needed to put felt on the back of the pieces and collect them to further our stories each day. The Log Jam story, the Frozen Flames story, the Flapjacks… all the story pieces started to create a whole world outside of the stories we read, so the boys and their friends started to make up new tales about Paul Bunyan, his lumberjack pals and the pets. Oh the adventures they had! My boys decided Adventure Academy needed to bring back “Snack-time Stories,” which we re-named “Lunch-time Literacy.” We would read the daily story (or create one) and create a lunch to go with it. Since lumberjacks eat a lot they decided they needed big portions which led to great discussion of proportions, healthy meal planning and other healthy habits.
So how did all this pre-packaged curriculum lead to child driven education? Well each discussion led further into interest, such as the healthy meals and healthy habits. They decided lumberjacks had to be healthy and strong to do their jobs.We ended up having a lumberjack day playing with logs, which grew into an interest of what logs are used for (building homes, tables, shelves, boats … ), and apparently campfires are the most exciting use. Campfires led to a discussion about campfire safety, forest fires, home fires… which led to tornado safety, gun safety, swim safety, body safety, stranger danger … which led back to babies and then baby Paul Bunyan … and when I write “led” I mean child led – I’d ask open ended questions and listen. Listen to your kids and the kids you work with. They have great ideas which lead to many questions which lead to new discoveries. You don’t have to only teach what’s presented in a lesson plan, and you can teach that lesson out of order (if it makes sense), and you can add to topics of interest. If a child enjoys a story find a snack that goes with it! This unit on Fables and Folktales from Mother Goose Time can start you off with some fun ideas. The best ideas come from kids – just ask “what snack would go with this story?” Share ideas below:
If you live near Kingsley, Michigan and are looking for a child care program that uses Mother Goose Time and other top rated curriculums, check out ADVENTURE ACADEMY!