I did not intend to write this as a blog entry, but someone on the Reggio Emilia list asked me to describe our program. So this is what I do when I am not waggling my fingers over a keyboard.
The main thing about my work is that I devote all my time to planning the environment and taking children’s ideas and designing activities that suit the group. Mostly I work on activities that I can put out and each child can use in their own way. This summer we disassembled a typewriter. All the children worked on it. The 7 year old got the most out of it, but our 2 year olds used screwdrivers and wire cutters and had a great experience also. For math we do a calendar with patterns. We choose one more symbol each month. Each symbol has a different color. We do not do this at circle, but during free choice, and as our classroom is so small all the children participate either actively or passively in the process. We are also creating a paper chain that will by the end of the year circle our classroom.
We have circle at about 10:00 after about 1 1/2 hours of free choice. Circle is pretty much this: I read a book. We discuss what we will do that day. We have sharing in which children talk about what they have brought from home to share, or do a dance, or sing a song, or share a project they are working on. Then we have snack and discuss more of what we would like to do that day or the rest of the week. After that we have pretty much free choice until 2:30 when we clean up and have quiet table time, and our Spanish teacher comes in for 15 minutes of Spanish. For lunch, at about 12:00, I clean off our work table and tell children it is ready for them their lunch. At quiet table time children bring a chosen activity to the table to work. They also have the choice of helping me clean the room. Spanish is usually the Spanish teacher reading a story in Spanish and she and I speaking in Spanish with the children while I clean the room in preparation for the end of the day. About 12:45 if some children have not eaten, I ask them to eat at least one item from their lunch. Our school provides an ample snack. Children bring their lunches.
At one point during the year I had the children sign in, which some of them did very readily learning to write their names quickly while others were not interested at all. All of the older children are actively involved in the reading/writing process through their own choice. There is so much more, but it really mostly applies to our group and may not translate well to another. If you want you can ask me questions and I can send you some pictures of our environment. But again, our environment is pretty unique and may not translate to your situation. Have you looked into using The Creative Curriculum as an open ended model. We did this in our Reggio based Head Start program just to cover our documentation obligations to the Feds. It worked well. Always too much paper work, but it did not hinder our explorations.
This week we are planting seed starts for our garden project along with the usual mayhem.