Emergent Curriculum

Constructivist Theory

Our emergent curriculum does not subordinate children to be mere consumers of culture, but allows them to create culture. Their culture is capable of intellectual and artistic expression with innovation, as well as integration of social conventions. In this context play becomes academic, processes and products are both valued, and symbolic representations incorporate and go beyond numbers, and letters. Feeding such a culture creates many expressive languages.  This is what Malaguzzi symbolically called 'The hundred languages of children." To enable children to explore, and express themselves in 100 ways is creating intellectual explorers with a love of learning. It is in contrast to the limitations of modes of education that almost forbid creativity and innovation. A language is a tool to invent and explore relations. Can you think about the alphabet and grammar of the wind, or conversing in the language of clay and wire?  In the expression of physical languages children combine balance, coordination, strength, and stamina. In developing 100 languages, children are practicing focus, perseverance, resourcefulness, team work, and problem solving. 

All of this effervescence leads to the formulation of projects where children and adults collaborate as co-researchers of knowledge, and authors of new works of arts and science. Some projects are short and intense, others last the whole school year or summer, or even span over several years. 

Rooted Projects

Our Rooted Projects arise out of the common human experience. They are projects inspired by human emotions, questions about self and others, relationships, birthdays, life on earth, foods, colors, etc.

Happy Birthday

Every year we highlight each child's birthday with a community celebration. The birthday child travels around the sun for each year of age and receives a birthday canvas as a present from fellow students. The creation of each of these canvases is a process of study of each child's unique style and interests. Each canvas project takes several days or weeks to complete and children are delighted to contribute and deliver the beautiful surprise.  

Branched Projects

Our Branched Projects emerge from nature. Examples of such projects are the study of the weather, light and shadow, birds, acorns, wasps, and bones.

Wasps are Insects that can Sting

So many insects walk and fly in the fall, it's fun to watch, but when some of them come down to sting you, that's a provocation one cannot forget. We were full of questions for the exterminator, and we continued to read books to learn more about yellow jackets. We also collected and observed many other insects.  We studied anatomy, behavior, feeding habits, and nest building.  We created an insect food chain game, and even made a bug hotel complete with a compost restaurant!


Trunk Projects

Our Trunk Projects develop from culture and routines such as quilting, storytelling, comparing holidays and events in different countries, the enchantment of writing, pet care, and so on.

Leaf, Flower, Fruit Projects

Smaller group projects bud and blossom from these three categories where children take-on a large role in the thinking, planning, organizing, and execution of the projects. In doing so children develop life long skills while constructing knowledge.

Acorns of the Oak Tree

Our acorn project for example has been very rich in observations and questions about biology for he past 4 years.  In the context of our interest in a prolific oak tree on the playground, we found out that squirrels and insects use the acorns to feed in different ways.  Our main question: "How many acorns fall from the oak tree?" provide ample opportunities to explore mathematical languages.  We count, add, multiply, and sample acorns. We order numbers and learn the significance of mode and median that we use to estimate that 18000 acorns fell from the tree the first year, but only 3000 last year! How many acorns will we find this fall of 2016?