Ms. Kelly Lenihan
Our classroom is a multi-age room of 2 ˝ to 4 ˝ year olds. During our school day we engage in several ongoing investigations that are based off the children’s interests. These investigations are explored in small learning groups which give children the opportunity to work on projects at their own pace. We also have a whole group meeting time where we discuss new ideas and interests or revisit and reflect on past work. The children are encouraged to try new experiences and strengthen needed skills throughout our day.
The projects that are explored by the children can range between weeks and months. One project that our classroom investigated was the idea of waterfalls. We noticed that the children were consistently mentioning that materials looked like the motion or shape of waterfalls. We came together as a whole group to discuss our ideas of what a waterfall actually is. From there, we researched them on the computer, created our own representations through painting, drawing, and wire, and created a larger version with paper mache. The children then continued the investigation by exploring water, its motion, and steepness of different materials. Other projects we have studied include Motion, Exploring Natural Materials, and The Effect that Materials have on Painting. Core concepts are intertwined with our projects. There are several opportunities to integrate literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies within our research.
In our multi-aged classroom the children learn to become peer mentors and leaders. Their interactions are rich and they create genuine relationships at a young age. The ECEC is a laboratory school which supports undergraduate and graduate students at the UM–Dearborn. The children interact with these students daily, engage in lessons they create, and help them develop a better understanding of child development and teaching strategies.