This school year while collaborating on the yearly curriculum for the Tzabim class, the teachers were all in agreement that the curriculum should be based upon the philosophies and values centered on the school while also incorporating an emergent curriculum. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), an Emergent Curriculum is a learning environment based upon the observations and notes of educators that represents the content, conversations, and interests of exploration centered on the student’s interests.
As the 2017-2018 school year began, the teachers of Tzabim began to observe, listen, and take notes of the content of the children’s, conversations, play, and interactions. After the teachers grouped their notes together it was apparent that among the Tzabim class there was a weighted interest in a TV show called, “Paw Patrol”. During playground time, the kids would take turns pretending to be dogs, rescuing each other and helping each other while pretending they were injured, such as having a hurt paw after running. During lunch time there were conversations about the different characters of the show such as, “Which character is your favorite and why?”
With so much interest and investment on this program the Tzabim teachers decided to do some research on the content of this TV program. Paw Patrol is a show aimed for kids ages, three years and above. The show is centered on a child character that has a dog team. The dogs can talk and collaborate with their owner and if there are any problems within their owner’s community the dogs have the ability to “superhero-up” into different roles of community helpers such as fire-fighter, policeman, or construction workers. Some of the questions the Tzabim teachers asked in reaction to learning about this show included; What ways can we incorporate this content into the classroom curriculum? What parts of this show are the kids finding most interesting? The dogs? The idea of being community helpers?
First, we focused on the idea of taking care of pets. After some research, the children helped us turn our dramatic play area into a veterinarian office. We also built pet habitats and explored our community in the block area. We focused on what different pets the children have at home, the needs of these pets, and how a pet owner takes good care of their pet. Students understood that pets needed a safe home, needed to be fed properly, given proper attention and exercise, and taken to the vet for check-ups. The kids began to add these ideas and themes into their pretend play on the playground. We observed that the children began to practice the roles of pets and owners in a more structured way and focused highly on taking care of one another and being considerate toward each other’s needs. The context of this play was exhibiting the desired results and ideas of being a kind and caring friend.
The beginning of our second week was a nice transition to have a local pet groomer come in and talk about the importance of taking care of pets and shared some of the tools that she uses for her job. This was a great transition to incorporate the idea of being a community helper and also taking care of pets. From this we incorporated the idea of taking care of pet with the idea of community helpers by creating a vet’s office in the dramatic play area of the classroom. In this play students practiced collaborating in roles, taking turns, and being considerate of others ideas and dramatic needs. There was strong interest in the new changes in the dramatic play area that a new system to take turns in the dramatic play area was created. The children have begun using a signup sheet to keep track of whose turn it is next to play in the area.
In the block area the friends on the rug used blocks and figures of small animals to build pet habitats and used various blocks as the tools used to take care of pets. The children used teamwork to design and build a community and learned that members in the community have different jobs and depend on one another to help with different jobs. When writing in their journals, the children practiced writing new vocabulary words and explored ideas of how they can be helpers too. It has been a very busy and exciting few weeks in Tzabim and we can’t wait to see where the learning takes us next!