of the Box Curriculum
The members of my list members
know all too well that I am all for "out
of the box" themes. There are a lot of
pre-packaged curriculum on the market and
the price can vary depending upon the components,
age level, etc. I have reviewed most of the
curriculum packages and found that none of
them are complete, and are designed to be
supplements for existing curriculum. I began
writing blurbs on my list server about developing
curriculum, and the most common response I
received from teachers or child care providers
was that they didn't feel that they were creative
enough to develop their own curriculum. I
believe that developing age appropriate, creative
curriculum is a skill. With all skills, it
takes practice and an interest in the subject
to perfect it. Developing curriculum is something
that will evolve from the initial concept,
to a product that can be put to work in a
classroom or child care setting.
I have found during my years
working with children that if I wasn't really
interested in a subject, I had a harder time
presenting the topic/subject/theme. I also
noted that the children would not pay attention,
or their attention spans would be much shorter
if they were not interested in the topic/subject/theme.
To remedy that, I would spend time asking
the children what their interests were. A
learning environment is endless, but you have
to be able to present the information in a
way that can be adapted to meet the needs,
moods, temperments of the children.. Observing
what the children's interests are, and acknowledge
when a project or theme is a hit or a flop
is a big deal. Always have a back up plan/theme/project
so that you can redirect the attention and
peak the curiosity of the children in your
classroom/program. Keeping the program interesting
will help eliminate discipline issues.
Becoming Inspired: What
inspires you? Do you like the change of seasons,
or are there specific themes that peak your
curiosity or inspire you to expand on them?
If so, what are they? A lot of teachers that
I know personally, will draft out what themes
they will cover prior to the school year.
I don't do that because you just never know
when something NEW will crop up into my brain.
Seasons, and holidays are generally times
when the themes are pretty well lined out.
Those that teach in environments where secular
holidays are not celebrated, or emphasized,
you may have a litlte more planning to fill
in the weeks that other teachers may involve
themselves in holiday planning.
Thinking Outside of the Box:
Not everyone understands the concept of thinking
outside of the box. These people aren't to
be teased, or talked about at social gatherings.
Not everyone thinks or learns in the same
way. There are people who have to see examples
in a book and try to follow along, and then
there are those who prefer to fly by the seat
of their pants. Identifying your own particular
style is a prerequisite to creating your own
The whole concept of thinking
outside of the box is to come up with activities/themes
that do not follow the same path year after
year. Do you teach the same lesson plan every
year? Understandably, some school districts
actually require a set curriculum to be taught.
However, it is possible to embellish particular
components of the curriculum so that it isn't
the same every year.
How do you do it? Trial and
error. You won't know how something will work
if you don't try. One of my favorite things
to do is prepare a shoe box with different
activities in it. I don't stick with one particular
task if the mood of the children isn't right
for it. It does take practice and pretty good
observation skills to understand the needs
of the kids. If you're a first year teacher,
you're probably still feeling a little bit
uneasy about what is expected of you to try
new things. My advice there is to relax, and
go with what your most comfortable with. If
a project doesn't go over like you think it's
supposed to, it isn't the end of the world.
Not every classroom/or group
of children is going to be the same. One year
you may find that you have a relaxed group
of children that are engaged in all activities
that you present. The next year, you might
have children that you would swear were abducted
by aliens, as the only explanation for their