Our curriculum is based on the concept of the Storybook Journey, which was developed by Sue McCord. We take a book and expand its themes, ideas and concepts to fill our one-room schoolhouse. It is an experience-oriented, immersion program.
Children create with paints and scissors, build with blocks, wood and sand, listen to stories and even make up their own. They make believe, sing, run, ride tricycles, and explore the world on field trips. They care for pets, and learn to care for each other. Lessons are pulled from a drop of water beneath a microscope or a pile of blocks turned into a house; lessons surrounded with wonder and awe, lessons of exploration, and they last a lifetime because for the young child, each moment is a new experience.
About Storybook Journey
Each area of the classroom focuses on a different aspect of concepts connected to the story. In the dramatic play area, costumes, props and the environmental setup provide choices, involvement and challenges for all children. Dramatic play is valued as a critical aspect of a child’s social, emotional, linguistic, cognitive and physical development. By developing story lines in play, children are actually developing the skills necessary for literacy.
The art area provides many textures and tactile stimuli for children to be creative. It balances child/teacher initiated learning. Children become active decision-makers in the creative process. Teachers will provide a wide range of activities for children to explore different properties (i.e. food coloring and water, sand, shaving cream, corn starch mixed with water, mud). The collage bins and the paper bins supply materials outside of what the teachers have selected so children have options to originate their own art projects. Also, science concepts are an integral part of this area.
Through investigation in all areas of the school children are provided a space to immerse oneself in a variety activities. Books, puppets, puzzles and miniature environments set the stage for an opportunity to invent original stories which support the understanding of new concepts and vocabulary. Scientific exploration enables children to gain the knowledge which is a precursor to all literacy.
The journey towards literacy asks readers to be able to do more than identify 26 letters and produce their sounds. It requires having personal experiences that we, as readers, bring to the text. For example, we may be able to read certain theories of a physics book, yet this does not insure that we will be able to understand, apply or demonstrate any knowledge of these concepts. As readers, we need to bring a basic level of understanding to the readings in order to acquire new knowledge. The Storybook Journey provides this basic level of understanding to new concepts because it begins with the physical experience.
Children’s House Preschool has promoted the Storybook Journey curriculum since 1989.
Among supporters of this kind of approach is Daniel Meier, author of The Young Child’s Memory for Words: Developing First and Second Language and Literacy. The Colorado Preschool Program directors’ group in Boulder County has studied Meier’s book. (Elaine is one of ten such directors.) The current professional development resource of the group will be the “Creative Curriculum” which has been adopted by the Colorado Department of Education.
The Storybook Journey curriculum also lends itself to creative “sharing” topics. Sharing – where children bring something from home to share with their classmates — happens on Thursdays and Fridays. Sharing themes flow from our Storybook Journey so that children will have the experience of resourcing a subject outside of the school. This can provide an important home-school connection that inspires children to talk with their parents about school and develop comfort with having the attention of a group focused on them.
The sharing topic is just a general outline. Sharing items can be many things: a picture drawn by the child, a photograph, a magazine picture cut out by the child or a toy or item that follows along with the theme. There is space for children to define their knowledge of words and ideas; i.e. “bring something with horns” may produce “musical items” or “animals with horns”. Both of these items are appropriate and it is a very natural way to teach synonyms.
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