Essay: Early Childhood Curriculum

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  • Early Childhood Curriculum
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Aim

The aim of this assignment is to produce two lesson plans one to be indoor and one to be an outdoor activity. The plans will promote learning contexts which support wellbeing and identity and belonging consistent with legislation and national practice guidelines.

The objective it to produce plans that will include aims and learning goals relevant to Identity and Belonging and Well Being in association with Aistear. The plans will include the method for implementation, assessment of the activity and feedback from the children, learning gained by the children and also my personal learning and any future recommendations. Also I will include application to relevant theory and strategies to facilitate learning and assessment and link to the curriculum in place in the ECCE setting.

The rationale is to evaluate children’s learning and my own personal learning which will be included with recommendations for further activities outlined.

Lesson Plan for Early Childhood Curriculum

Activity: Outdoor: Scavenger Hunt for autumn leaves, pine cones, chestnuts, and twigs

Time; Small group activity time No of Children: 4 Age of children: range between 3-4 yrs.

Links to Aistear Themes:

Identity & Belonging

Aim 1: Children will have strong self-Identities and will feel respected and affirmed as unique individuals with their own life stories.
Learning Goals 1: Build respectful relationships with others. :
5: Feel valued and see themselves and their interests reflected in the environment.

Aim 2 Children will have a sense of group identity where links with their family and community are acknowledged and extended
Learning Goals 1: Feel that they have a place and a right to belong to a group; their family and community are acknowledged and extended. 4: understand and take part in routine, customs, festivals and celebrations.

Aim 3Children will be able to express their rights and show an understanding and regard for identity, rights and views of others.
Learning Goals 3: interact, work co-operatively and help other.
6: demonstrate the skills of co-operation, responsibility, negotiation and conflict resolution.

Aim 4 Children will see themselves as capable learners.
Learning Goals 3: show increasing confidence and self assurance in directing their own
4: Demonstrate dispositions like curiosity, persistence and responsibility.
6: Be motivated and begin to think about and recognise their own progress and achievements.

Well-Being

Aim 1 Children will be strong psychologically and socially.
Learning Goals 3: Handle transitions and changes well.
6: Make decisions and choices about their own learning and development.
Aim 2 Children will be as healthy and fit as they can be.
Learning Goals 1: Gain increasing control and co-ordination of body movements.
3: Discover, explore and refine gross and fine motor skills.
Aim 3 Children will be creative and spiritual.
Learning Goals: 1: Express themselves creatively and experience the arts.

Exploring and Thinking
Aim 1 Children will learn about and make sense of the world around them.
Learning Goals 1: Engage, explore, experiment in their environment and use new physical skills including skills to manipulate objects and materials. 3: develop and understanding of change as part of their lives. 6: come to understand concepts such as matching comparing, ordering, sorting, size, weight, height, length, capacity, and money in an enjoyable and meaningful way,
Aim 2 Children will develop and use skills and strategies for observing, questioning, investigating, understanding, negotiating and problem solving and come to see themselves as explorers and thinkers.
Learning Goals 1, 4, 5 1: recognise patterns and make connections and association between new learning and what they already knew.
4: demonstrate their ability to reason, negotiate and think logically.
5: collaborate with others to share interests and to solve problems confidently.
Aim 4 Children will have positive attitudes towards learning and develop dispositions like curiosity, playfulness, perseverance, confidence, resourcefulness and risk taking.
Learning Goals 2 : address challenges and cope with frustrations.

Communications
Aim 1 Children will use non-verbal communication skills.
Learning Goals 1, 4, 1: use a range of body movements, facial expressions and early vocalisations to show feelings and share information. 4: understand and respect that some people will rely on non-verbal communication as their main way of interacting with others.
Aim 3 Children will broaden their understanding of the world by making sense of experiences through language.
Learning Goals (1,5,6 ) 1) use language to interpret experiences, to solve problems. And to clarify thinking, ideas and feelings. 5) have opportunities to use a variety of mark making materials and implements in an enjoyable and meaningful way 6)develop counting skills and growing understanding of the meaning and use of numbers and mathematical language in an enjoyable and meaningful way.
Aim 4 Children will express themselves creatively and imaginatively.
Learning Goals (1,6) 1)share their feelings, thoughts and ideas by storytelling, making art, moving to music, role-playing, problem-solving and responding to these experiences. 6) Show confidence in trying out new things, taking risks, and thinking creatively.

Equipment: Materials:
Camera, conkers, pine cones, Paper bags, scavenger list,

Method:

1: Firstly I plan to scatter some previously collected conkers and acorns as there are none in our area,
2: I plan to give each child a bag with a pre printed picture of the items that we are looking for on the front.
3: The children will then go outside to the assigned area and look for the items on the list.
4: The children will discuss what they are looking for and work as a group to look for the items.
5: When the children have collected all the items we will then bring them inside and talk about what we found.
6: Then we will find a place to leave them on view for the children to look at them.

Relevant application of theory to practice.
Highscope the curriculum approach used in the implementation of the activity plans believes that children learn best by being involved in the activities that hold their interest. It helps identify and builds on children’s strengths, interests and abilities. Highscope believes on the hands on approach with people, objects, events and ideas, therefore it links directly into these activities and children’s learning as the children are totally involved and have a hands on approach throughout the activity.
It evolves around children’s interests and choices. Highscope has 6 approaches to learning 1) Initiative: like exploring the world 2) Planning: making plans and following them through. 3) Engagement: focus on interests. 4) Problem solving: conflict resolution. 5) Use of resources: form ideas. 6) Reflection: on what they experienced. It works on a system of plan –do –review where the child decides what they want to do and how and then reflects on their plan and how it went. Therefore it definitely links to the children’s learning as there are working on what interests them i.e. autumn, outdoors and painting, Highscope (2015).

This system also integrates with the four themes of Aistear: wellbeing, Identity and Belonging, Communication and exploring and thinking as it helps the children work on all developmental stages and with the aid of scaffolding from the adult and other peers the children learn from their experiences which are necessary for life skills. Adults foster children’s 6 key developmental indicators (KDIs) which are creativity, curiosity, confidence, independence, initiative and persistence as they carry out their intentions, solve problems, and engage in a variety of learning experiences. Highscope’s Plan-do–review process is a central part of the children’s daily routine that strengthens these essential skills. The adult is there to assist and scaffold the children when needed, the adult helps the children to explore their interests and provides the materials necessary for the child to do so independently or with aid if require. The adult is there to observe and record information for to plan activities to suit the child’s development needs and interests within their zone of proximal development Vygotsky as stated by (Flood 2009).

Lesson Plan 2 Indoor Activity using autumn items collected previous day
Time: Small group activity No of children : 4 Age of children: range from 3-4

Aistear Themes

Identity and Belonging

Aim 1 Children will have strong self-Identities and will feel respected and affirmed as unique individuals with their own life stories.
Learning goals 6 express their own ideas, preferences and needs and have these responded to with respect and consistency.
Aim 2 Children will have a sense of group identity where links with their family and community are acknowledged and extended.
Learning Goals 4) understand and take part in routines, customs, festivals and celebrations.
Aim 3 Children will be able to express their rights and show an understanding and regard for identity, rights and views of others.
Learning goals 1, 3. 1) express their views and help make decisions in matters that affect them. 3) interact, work co-operatively and help others.
Aim 4 Children will see themselves as capable learners.
Learning goals 1) develop a broad range of abilities and interests.

Well Being

Aim 1 Children will be strong psychologically and socially.
Learning Goals 6): Make decisions and choices about their own learning and development.
Aim 2 Children will be as healthy and fit as they can be.
Learning Goals: 1). Gain increasing control and co-ordination of body movements .3): Discover, explore and refine gross and fine motor skills.
Aim 3 Children will be creative and spiritual.
Learning Goals 1): Express themselves creatively and experience the arts.

Communications

Aim 1 Children will use non-verbal communication skills.
Learning Goals: 3) interpret and respond to non-verbal communications by others.
5) combine non verbal and verbal communication to get their point across.
Aim 3 Children will broaden their understanding of the world by making sense of experiences through language.
Learning Goals: 4) become familiar with and use a variety of print in enjoyable and meaningful way.
Aim 4 Children will express themselves creatively and imaginatively.
Learning Goals: 2,) express themselves through the visual arts using skills such as cutting, drawing, gluing, sticking, painting, sculpting and sewing.

Exploring and Thinking

Aim 1 Children will learn about and make sense of the world around them.
Learning Goals: 3) develop an understanding of change as part of their lives. 5) develop a sense of time, space and place.
Aim 2 Children will develop and use skills and strategies for observing, questioning, investigating, understanding, negotiating and problem solving and come to see themselves as explorers and thinkers.
Learning Goals: 5) collaborate with others to share interests and to solve problems confidently. 6) use their creativity and imagination to think of new ways to solve problems.
Aim 3 Children will explore ways to represent ideas, feelings, thoughts, objects and actions through symbols.
Learning Goals: 1) make marks and use drawing, painting and model making to record objects, events and ideas. 2) Express feelings, thoughts and ideas through improvising, moving, playing, talking, writing, and story-telling, music and art.

Equipment Materials.

Camera, table chairs aprons
Stamp for child’s name paper, non toxic paints, brushes,
Newspaper to cover table Leaves, pinecones, chestnuts, twigs.

Method:

1: cover the table in with newspaper.
2: give each child some paper, brush, paint and selection of autumn items.
3) allow each child to choose which items they wish to use
4) allow each child to choose which colours they wish to use
5) allow each child to decide whether to print using the items or to use a brush.
6) Give each child a job to do while tidying up and returning things back to their places.

Assessment of lesson plan 1 Outdoor activity collecting leaves, conkers, pine cones and twigs.

Feedback from children.

When I asked the children if they enjoyed the activity, there were lots of yeses and yeas. From watching them outside they seemed to being enjoying the activity, they were running and laughing and shouting (look what I found, look at this teacher, I got a yellow one, brown one..What is this? and can we take more. Even one child who was a bit lost without his friend really enjoyed the experience and was engrossed in the activity and forgot all about his friend not being there.

Learning gained from activity.

I believe that there was a great deal of learning involved in the activity for the children. Firstly they were outside in the fresh air so physically they were running and stooping stretching climbing using all their large motor skills to develop balance and overcome fears, to take risks and be adventuress while also picking up small things and carrying a bag all the time which was working on their fine motor skills and coordination and ability to multi task as they collected their items and put them into the bag.
Intellectually they learned about the outdoors and the environment and the season of autumn. The children developed their ability to imagine or visualise things without actually seeing them, like the leaves or conkers falling from the trees. Outdoor activities stimulate their curiosity encourage decision making and choices as to which items to put into their bag and were to look for them. Develop concepts such as sorting and matching e.g. Matching what items they found to the picture on the bag and vice versa look for the items shown on the picture on the bag. This also increases their observation skills and memory. (Barnardos 2015)
With regard to language the children were all communicating with each other and asking questions and making statements, E.g. “Look I found one/is this conker”? “Mines yellow”! Learning new words, using descriptive and naming words like “this one is big/small/brown” etc. They were also developing their non-verbal skills through facial expressions and hand gestures.
Emotionally the children were able to express their feeling as they share their experiences and feelings during the activity. During the activity the children were more relaxed and open to suggestion and interacting with each other increasing their ability for self control. They were expressing feeling of joy and fun

Socially the children get to interact with each other as a group and as individuals during the activity; they have the choice to share their experience or to spend time on their own. They have the chance to interact with children they may not necessarily play with in free play giving them the chance to learn and work on social skills. The activity encouraged the children to cooperate with each other and develop turn taking.

When looking at the aims and learning goals set out in the lesson plan I do believe that most if not all were achieved.

With reference to Identity and Belonging
Aim 1 LG 1 &5 were met as the as the children mixed with each other during the activity and everyone was treated equally and all opinions were taken into account.
Aim2 LG 1 &4 were met as they were all included in the activity which was collecting the leaves conkers and pine cones all of which are fall from the trees in the season of autumn.
Aim 3 LG 3 & 6 were met as the children interacted with each other and the teachers and helped each other to find things and each child was responsible for their own bag and two of three children found the same conker they had to decide who would have it.
Aim 4 LG 3, 4 & 6 were met as they were curious and explored the area with interest and confidence and were determined to find the items on their pictures and as many as they could.

With reference to Well Being…
Aim 1 LG 3 & 6 were met when the children were find with moving outdoors to the grass area and when they got to decide for themselves what to put into their bags.
Aim 2 LG 1& 3 this was met as the children had to negotiate the slops in the grass using large and fine motor skills for walking running climbing stooping and picking thing up.

Aim 3 LG 1 was met as the children were free to be themselves and enjoy the outdoors.

With reference to exploring and thinking
Aim 1 LG 1,3,and 6 were meet when the children were outside exploring the environment looking for leaves conkers and pine cones and matching, sorting and comparing them to the picture they were given also they were experiencing how the seasons change and when the leaves fall .
Aim 2 LG 1, 4, 5 were met by the children looking at the various leaf types and thinking logically which belonged to which group and working together as a group and individuals to collect what they needed.
Aim 4 LG 2 was met when the children had to be independent and find things on their own and deal with frustrations like not having the same size or colour as someone else
With reference to Communications…
Aim 1.LG 1 & 4 were met by the children for who English is a second language as they use facial expressions to express their feelings as they interact with the group.
Aim 3 LG1, 5 &6 was met by the children using the twigs and leaves etc to make markings on the page and also the opportunity for counting the materials and markings and the children use their language skills to discuss and solve problems and to get a better understanding of things.
Aim 4.LG1 &6 were met when the children shared their thought about the activity and the art they made and how they were confident about what they wanted to do when using the paints

Assessment of lesson plan 2 Indoor activity painting with leaves conkers, pine cones and twigs.
Feedback from children

When I asked the children if they enjoyed the activity they replied yea. When I asked what was their favourite part, one replied “the painting” so I then asked did you enjoy using the leaves or cones or twigs? Some said “yes” some actually said “Leaves or twigs”. From watching the children at the table using the materials provided and chatting loudly and reaching out and asking questions, smiling and laughing I believe that they did enjoy the activity and were engrossed in it. The following day one of the children brought in a bowl of crab apples and chestnuts that he had found on a walk so that he could show them to the children.

From looking at the activity in term of PILES I found that with regard to physical development the children were using both fine and gross motor skills when stretching for items and using the twigs and leaves etc to paint with as well as brushes thereby increasing their handwriting skills as they used the tip of the twigs like pencils dipped in paint.
Intellectually this activity stimulates their curiosity and allows them the freedom to make choices and decisions for themselves. They also look at comparing and matching when looking at the various leaves and shapes they make with the paint. It encourages the children to think how they want their picture to look and whether to use a brush or just print with the leaves, to use one colour or all the colours and use their memory skills to remember which are pine cones or conkers.
From this activity their language develops and extends, when the children communicate with each other and the adult. This allows the adult the opportunity to provide (LASS) language acquisition support system as stated by Jerome Bruner (1915). which involves recasting, labelling and expanding which increases the children’s opportunity to develop phonics, syntax and sentence formation. It also allow for children who are non English speaking to hear words frequently and phonically sounded out for them and allows them to interact using facial expression or hand gestures.
Emotionally the children can use their art to express their feelings and allow themselves to enjoy the activity. Some children enjoyed getting messy and some of them didn’t and went to wash the paint off their hands every time they got messy. Children can also learn emotional regulation by being able to control emotions such as anger, fear joy excitement etc.
Socially they got to interact with each other, they had to share the materials and take turns when waiting for different leaves or twigs that they wanted to use. It also helps the children to develop socio-information processing i.e. understanding social quos learning what is acceptable and what is not

In relation to the Aistear themes this activity meets the learning goals set out in the lesson plan 2
With reference to Identity and Belonging
Aim 1 LG6 was met when the children were able to choose their own ideas on their page and what colour they preferred and that the adult responded to them with respect.
Aim 2 LG 4 was met during the activity when talking about the leaves and chestnuts falling from the trees in autumn
Aim 3 LG 1 &3 was met again by the children choose which colour and materials to use and by interacting with the other children sharing and waiting their turn.
Aim4 LG 1 was met as the children learned to use various items to make prints and to broaden their knowledge about autumn.
With reference to Well Being
Aim 1 LG 6 the children were allowed to make their own choices and decisions about what they want to know by asking questions and having the answered for them.
Aim 2 LG 1 & 3 was met again during the activity when the children were reaching and stretching across the table and fine motors skills were used when painting with the leaves and using the twigs to write with.
Aim 3 LG1 was met doing the art activity with the leaves, twigs, conkers etc.
With reference to Communications
Aim 1 LG 3 & 5 were met by the non English speaking children interacting with other children and the adult to display their feelings about the activity and to gain what they required to complete the activity with the aid of scaffolding, labelling, recasting, facial and hand gestures.
Aim 3 LG 4 this goal was met when the children used the twigs/leaves/brush/fingers to make their marks on the page.
Aim 4 LG 2 was met by using paint and brushes or printing during the activity.

With reference to Exploring and Thinking.

Aim 1 LG 3& 5 this goal was met by discussing autumn as season in the year which brings change to our weather like leaves falling, colours changing etc.
Aim 2 LG 5&6 again this goal was met in the activity with the children working together and sharing the leaves, twigs and conkers and working out problems like turn taking and thinking logically about how to do it.
Aim 3 LG1 & 2 was again met by using the various materials to make their marks on paper to represent events like autumn and by using art as a form of expression of their feeling and by listening to the adult recasting and labelling and storytelling about autumn.

Evaluation of my personal learning.
Firstly as the adult my role was to discuss with the supervisor the activities that I planned to do, then to ensure that all parents had signed the permission sheet for me to include their children in the activities (appendix A), to ask the children if they would like to take part (appendix B) and to carry out a risk assessment for the activities. See (appendix C).
I believe that my role in the planning of the activities was to ensure that the children got the best learning experience from the activities while also being child led and at the same time scaffold by the adult (myself) and that it was age appropriate. My role was also to ensure that the preschool regulations were adhered to, such as the care, play & learning standard 8.1 meeting the individual needs of the children and promote well being by providing indoor and outdoor activities to develop children’s (Piles) developmental needs. (Pre-school Services)(No 2)Regulations. I also looked at diversity and equality with regard to the needs of the individual children (NCCA (2004) Aistear) and the zone of proximal development as stated by Vygotsky (Flood 2013) which was building on their existing knowledge of autumn.
In looking at my personal learning I feel that I did carry out the implementation of the activities well. The children were actively involved in the activities at all times and showed great interest thereby developing their dispositions such as curiosity and resilience. I was supporting using labelling and recasting when necessary and allowed the children to make choices and explore and answered any questions they had while also making suggestion for those who were on sure by thinking aloud or by role modelling so that they were able to carry out the activity to the best of their ability at their own level.
My role in evaluating the activity was to observe the children and record their interactions and level of interest in the activity , so as I could build on their interest and learning using assessment for learning (AFL) to form and shape the next step in the activity and build on their existing knowledge. I also looked at their development needs with regard to physical and intellectual development and the ability to work independently.
As the adult I give the children choice in planning the activity, after reading a story on autumn I ask if they would like to see could we find things that fall from the trees. I passed around a sheet of paper with the picture of conkers, leaves, twigs and pine cones on it and asked if they would like to take part. The children used their stamps to make their mark on the page if they were interested in the activity.
When implementing the activity outside, the children looked for the items that matched the pictures, but were also given a choice to put other things they found in the bag too, like grass and moss. They looked at the different colours of leaves and which they preferred.
With regard to implementing the indoor activity I gave the children the choice as to which items they wanted to us and what they wanted to do with them, which meet with the goals of Aistear. They were given choice i.e. (colours, brushes, materials) and assisted when necessary, encouraged and scaffold during the activity.
After each activity I looked for feedback by asking the children if they enjoyed the activity or not and if so which part was their favourite or not. If they would do it again or rather do something different. Most of the feedback was positive with lots of children saying that it was fun or I liked the twigs/leaves. Some didn’t like the glue on their hands and wanted to wash them straight away; some finished quickly but then returned to it when they saw others still doing theirs.

With reference to my own attitudes, values and beliefs I had originally thought that one or two of the children would not be able to do the indoor activity, when in fact they were quite able and show a good interest and perseverance to finish it. I also thought that the indoor activity would have been over quicker when in fact it took longer than expected as they were engaged in using the twigs to write with the paint.
The outdoor activity went as expected as the children enjoyed the outdoors and the experience of climbing up hills and searching for items. With regard to healthy and safety it was very safe as the adjoining school had the day off and there were no cars in the upper car park so we had the whole area to our selves. I do believe the activity was age appropriate and within the zone of proximal development for all children with scaffolding.

Overall recommendations

The outdoor activity went really well and was enjoyed by all, the weather was great and the area was safe and clear of cars. The children all participated well and with interest. However with regard to the paper bags, I should have used stronger ones as the bags tore with the weight of the cones and chestnuts and the jaggy twigs. I think I would repeat the activity again outdoors as the children really enjoyed it, and extend it next time maybe collecting Halloween things like pretend spiders and nuts and treats for their bags.
The indoor activity went well; the children enjoyed emptying their bags out onto the table and deciding what to use to make marks on the pages using different colours of paint. Each child took part well in the activity and if I was to do it again I would extend the activity by letting the children to use glue to stick the leaves to pages or to make a fox shape face with leaves and googly eyes and a nose or to do rubbing with the leaves and colouring pencils.

From carrying out these activities I have learned that the children definitely participate more when they are involved in the planning and implementation of the activities. The activities helped the children develop their social skills; it aided their communication and intellectual skills and was suitable for large and fine motor skills. I found it easy to link the Aistear’s aims and learning goals of wellbeing and identity and belonging to the learning involved in the activity, I was also able to link the activities to the other themes of Aistear i.e. Communications and exploring and thinking. Also in conjunction with this I believe that children learn more by being hands on rather than just watching someone else doing it and it helps them to remember the experience more and then they are more likely to repeat the activity independently.

With regard to further training needs I would like to take on more physical activities from taking part in the Buntus Training course. Also I am going to work on some science activities for the children to advance their knowledge of the way things work around them, like blowing bubbles with a straw or using magnets to show negative and positive attractions

References.

References:
Barnardos 2015 accessed from www.barnardos.ie /assets /files accessed on 28.9.15
Flood E (2013) child Development for students in Ireland (2nd edn) Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE) (2006) Siolta National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education: Dublin: CECDE
NCCA (2004) Aistear, the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework the National Council for Curriculum & Assessment.
Approaches to learning in the Highscope Preschool (accessed from http://www.highscope.org/Content.asp?ContentId=7190 accessed on 13/10/15)
Child care (pre-school services) Regulations 1996 and child care (pre-school services) (amendment) regulations, 1997)
Bruner’s language acquisition (accessed from http://en. Wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome Bruner accessed on 13/10/15)

Table of Contents

Cover page 1
Aim, Objective and Rational 2
Lesson plan for outdoor activity
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