The TA-DA! Curriculum
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Some time ago, I wrote an article called “The Boo-Boo Curriculum,” which reminded readers that every moment contains countless opportunities for exciting learning experiences and meaningful time together with children. I could write an article a day demonstrating that concept! The following story is today’s article.
Before we begin, though, a few reminders: every group is a unique blend of its own dynamic energy and diverse personalities. What you plan for one group could turn out to be the greatest idea since fireworks, but it might be a complete dud with another group of same-age children. Nothing is guaranteed!
A helpful image to start us off: imagine children as newly budding, soon-to-bloom flowers in a garden (after all, kindergarten means “garden of children”). Have you ever witnessed the first dramatic appearance of bright, colorful petals blossoming seemingly overnight? It’s like a magic trick. In my decades of being with children, I have rarely experienced an entire class bursting and blossoming all at once. But it happened today.
Michelle and Allison’s nearly 3-year-olds usually bounce cheerfully into the dancing and music room, greeting me with smiles and attentive, listening ears. But today the children are an explosion of energized voices—a celebration of excited jangles with urgent news to share: TA-DA! Every child has something to show and to say! They jump! They clap! They toss their newly discovered words into a smorgasbord of announcements:
“See my new shirt!”
“I have toe polish!”
“My mommy has a baby in her tummy!”
“My fish died!”
“My grandma is coming!”
Ta-Da! Every pronouncement is like a curtain call!
Details for the day’s lesson were written in my plan book. I could have said, “Hey, friends, could you stop talking now, because we haven’t started oral language yet?” or “Hey friends, can we tell these stories at circle time tomorrow?” But taking developmentally appropriate practice very literally, I put my plans on hold and said, “Let’s hear what everyone wants to say. We’ll all take turns. No one will be left out—everyone will have a chance to tell us whatever they want to share.”
Every child has something special to share, from “I got a New York Yankees cap” to “Our cat got lost, but we found her.” The children listen intently to the speakers. They pay attention, take turns, delight in the session, and are excited by their new language abilities.
When all the children have had a chance to speak, we celebrate their amazing accomplishments with one of their favorite activities—a parade.
Thomas Moore, one of America’s beloved children’s music makers, composed the song “Look At Me! See What I Can Do”—a perfect finale to a memorable day in the lives of the children and those who care for and share their early learning experiences with them. Any one of the contributions from the children could inspire days of discussion, discovery, and extended activities. How special it is to have the privilege of witnessing such a blossoming.
There’s so much to celebrate every day. Ta-Da!
Note: Allison Shrock and Michelle Crow teach at the Early Childhood Program of the Leo Yassenoff Jewish Center, in Columbus, Ohio. They report that their students have been talking nonstop since that day!
Photograph: Courtesy of Leslie Rosen
Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld began her teaching career in Albany, New York, in 1956, teaching fourth grade. Since that time, she has taught adults and children of all ages and grades, from Head Start to Upward Bound, from New York to Hawaii. She loves celebrating the arts and creativity in all her programs. Her latest book, Still Teaching in the Key of Life, was published by NAEYC and Redleaf press.