Nov 24, 2013

Owl Theme within an Emergent Curriculum

Recently, I worked in a group childcare centre with an Emergent Curriculum. An Owl Theme came from the interest of the children, and then with the creativity of the caregivers and the children themselves, the theme unfolded into a learning process for all. We can still learn from other professionals, regardless of how long we are in the field. I certainly experienced this as I spent time within this Reggio influenced daycare.

After Halloween, the children were interested in owls, which is understandable as so many stories and pictures display owls in the background of Halloween "scenes". Throughout the next week or two, the children were provided books on owls, staff looked for pictures of owls from calendars and other sources. Luckily the center had a wonderful felt story about a mother and baby owl. I was happy to include my felt story about 5 Fluffy Owls into the mix.

Five Fluffly Owls from Felt Board Ideas

Over the next few weeks, I heard the children and teachers learning about owls. We discussed what owls eat and learnt the definition of nocturnal, to name a few facts. Although it never transpired while I was there, we discussed the possibility of talking about how feathers are light and setting up a sink/float type game. I also suggested a creative movement activity of moving around the room as if we were feathers. The ideas were definitely flowing.

One day, when I came into work I saw this display of natural settings for children to explore, and I immediately grabbed by phone to take some pictures! Love it.

Perhaps, the most impressed I was about a theme incorporated into a Reggio (emergent curriculum) program was to observe the art projects. In my history as an Early Childhood Educator, I would have provided owl shapes from paper and then material for the children to decorate them with, such as feathers and googly eyes.  However, at this center, open ended art is encouraged. One day, a picture of a baby owl was sitting on the table for viewing and the children were provided white paint and white feathers to paint with. Another day, they had pictures of owls to look at and draw and then stories were written out about the drawings. Another day, they made owls with playdough and natural ingredients, which were then placed on display. There were lots of  ideas!

 One Monday I walked into the daycare, and there hanging on branches displayed in a vase were adorable owls. One of the educators was at Target and couldn't resist. The children played with these owls all day long. All week long. It was a perfect ending to the owl time period. Yet, that being said, I left this center to work elsewhere, so whoooo hoooo knows if the theme will continue along or if it has run its course. With an emergent curriculum the children are the drivers and the topic will follow with their interest and involvement.

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