Case study – Toddler Liam the non-listener, climber, hitter, pusher, swearer……

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Meeting children’s needs and interests

Are you listening to children to create the curriculum? Discover children’s interest to enhance positive behaviour and learning.

Case study – Liam the non-listener, climber, hitter, pusher, swearer……

Child misbehaves so the educator gives the child a clock, sits him in a space away from the other children and tells him to watch the second hand of the clock until it goes around. She tells him to think about his behaviour while watching the clock. The child is two years of age. Do you think this approach has worked?

A different approach to the clock – Liam – the architect and builder

Step 1 Find out what really interests the child

Step 2 Create curriculum and experiences to develop this child’s interest

Step 3 Scaffold the child’s knowledge as an intentional teacher

The wonderful educators Tegan and Mahalia set up the play experience below to extend upon a child’s interest in ‘diggers’ and construction. This process allows us to watch, join in and contribute to the play, but more importantly the children will show us what they know, can do and understand about construction.

This in turn will allow us to plan and extend the children’s knowledge in a meaningful way.

Extending Play in a meaningful way

Tegan built on children’s interest in the construction activities happening next to the service. Tegan asked, “Does anyone know what has to happen before construction begins on a building?”

The toddlers shrugged and some of them said “no.” Tegan showed them a video all about architects. “The buildings have to be designed first,” she explained. “An architect is what we call a person who designs buildings.” As the children watched the video their faces lit up with excitement and wonder! (Socio-cultural theories)

Liam expressed his desire to further his learning about architects. “Would you like to see some sketches done by architects Liam?” Tegan asked. “Yes!” he replied. As they searched for sketches Liam picked the ones he wanted printed.  Tegan saw an opportunity to extend Liam’s numeracy skills and asked, “What do you think these numbers mean?”

Liam shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Don’t know.” “Well they tell the builder how high to build the walls,” said Tegan. “Oh, very high!” he replied. “Do you think we could draw like an architect?” Tegan asked. “Yeah!” Liam yelled as he fist pumped his hand in the air.

Tegan handed him the sketch pad and placed the architect’s drawings next to him. Tegan drew the lounge room then Liam began by drawing the door for the lounge room. As he drew the different aspects of the house he referred back to the architect’s drawing as a guide.

One morning the toddlers followed on from their enjoyment of construction over the past week. Tegan brought Liam’s drawing over to a table with plasticine and small wooden sticks. Aiden, Liam, Harper, Scarlette, Lachlan, Sophia, Charlie and Bronte were excited to discover what Tegan was doing.

They sat down at the table as Tegan explained what the drawing was all about. “This is Liam’s plan of a house. This is the lounge room and this over here is the door to the lounge room.” She continued to explain the different aspects for the building as Liam relayed them to her the day before. “Do you think we could build some houses?” Tegan asked “Yeah!” called Scarlette and Harper.

“Okay, so what do you think we need to build first?” Tegan asked. See how Tegan is skillfully assessing the children’s knowledge.

“Roof!” called Liam. “Do you think a roof could stand all on its own?” Tegan questioned.

“Nah” Liam replied with a smile on his face. Tegan placed an architect’s sketch of a house on the table and pointed at the walls of the house. “What do we need to build the roof so it has something to sit on?” she asked. “Wall!” shouted Harper. “Yes, that’s right!” praised Tegan.

The children used concentration and patience as they slowing placed their pieces of wood into the plasticine, making sure it resembled the house they were trying to build. Harper referred back to the picture every so often to make sure she was still on track.

“What part of house is this?” Tegan asked as she pointed to one of the sticks Harper had placed on the outside of her plasticine. “Wall” Harper replied. “That’s great Harper. What else do you think you need to build?” Tegan asked. Harper glanced back at Liam’s picture and laughed. “Door!” she giggled.

The houses look wonderful! We can’t wait to discover what else we can discover about construction.

Painting with a purpose

In the photos below you can see how the educators skilfully explored and extended children’s knowledge about architecture and design through a purposeful painting activity.

Curriculum display

Here is a display of the learning and samples of documentation. The educators were able to show the parents what they had been learning about and invite them to assist in extending learning further. “Oh that makes sense now,” said a mother. “We have been talking about building a new house at home.”

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