Project Based Learning
Our curriculum is integrated so that learning in all traditional subject areas occurs primarily through projects and themes of study which reflect children's interests and suggestions. For example, a social studies/science project such as creating and operating a classroom market provides a wealth of engaging opportunities for: working in collaborative groups; planning (discussing, dictating/writing or drawing plans); problem solving; categorizing merchandise; pricing; doing inventories; making uniforms, signs, advertisements; doing research by going on field trips to real markets; reading books to gather information on where various food products come from—animals, farms, etc.; dramatizing farm life; creating plays/puppet shows; making fiction or non-fiction books on an aspect of study; singing, playing instruments, dancing, and creatively moving on an aspect of the project; working an adding machine/cash register; paying for merchandise; figuring out change; writing checks; studying/comparing nutritional qualities of foods; cooking/preparing meals the American, Chinese, German, or Hungarian way, etc. Skills are taught and used as needed to accomplish goals of the project, never as the goal itself. Art, music, movement, dance, active games, science, social studies, reading, writing, and math are all integrated in the project. (Parents wanting to know more about our integrated project approach are referred to Engaging Children’s Minds: The Project Approach by Lillian Katz & Sylvia Chard and to The Hundred Languages of Children, by editors Edwards, Gandini, and Forman. These may be ordered from a local or Internet bookstore.)
Concepts and skills in reading, writing, and oral expression are presented in a Whole Language framework (which includes all aspects fundamental to successful reading, including phonics) through relevant, concrete contexts which progressively move toward symbolic and abstract representation.
Math, also, is presented in relevant, concrete contexts which progressively moves toward symbolic and abstract representation as well. Our math program is much more than arithmetic skills, enabling children to be real mathematicians inventing their own methods for problem solving. The sharing, analyzing, and evaluating of various methods, checking answers, and going over disagreements creates a real learning environment of social co-construction. Our math program also teaches children to represent real world problems using math symbols as a language. A variety of physical materials, manipulatives, games, experiments, story problems, station activities, puzzles, and pencil and paper activities are all utilized in our program.