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Emergent Curriculum: What Makes it Emerge?
February 19, 2019
"Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it. "
-Marian Wright Edelman
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Lois M Ingellis, in her Exchange article, “Men’s Hats and Red Shoes: Journeys in Emergent Curriculum with Preschoolers,” describes the process of how she supported emergent curriculum in her work with preschoolers:
“I reflected on the way that themes emerged this year. We didn’t do any snow-related themes because there was no snow to speak of. I often read the book Dreams: The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. (by Peter Murray) to the children for his birthday in January. The story included his experience getting new shoes, which served as the impetus for the class doing something with shoes.

I’d done some graphing with children’s shoes before, but this group of children led this year’s activity by asking about the experience of buying shoes and sharing their experiences. They related to Martins’ getting new shoes more than anything else. Other years, the children related to the idea of dreams and we had explored nighttime/dreams/the winter night sky.

[This year] when the discussion moved to getting new shoes, the children said things like:

‘I don’t like to wait in the shoe store.’ ‘I saw a baby cry about his shoes.’ It was something everyone had experienced.

I like not knowing exactly where we are going to end up, and am often surprised at the depth and breadth of the children’s thinking. (It wasn’t always so as a new teacher.)”

The author goes on to explain the diverse and rich ways the “shoe project” began to grow (exploring shoe-shine kits, reading a variety of  books about shoes, etc.) – all stemming from the children’s initial curiosity about Martin Luther King Jr.’s own shoe-buying experience.





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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 Comment
Padmaja Prabhakara · February 19, 2019
NIST Child Care Center
Gaithersburg, MD, United States


That is a very creative way to encourage language development, social skills, team work and more than all how children get involved with sharing their experience. Great emergent curriculum.



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