Ms. Amy Szymaszek
Ms. Szymaszek’s classroom is a mixed-age classroom of 3-5 year olds. Classroom curriculum is based on the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, which focuses on child-centered, long-term investigations that are developed collaboratively between teachers and children. Project investigations may last a few weeks or cover an entire semester and integrate literacy, math, science and social studies into the daily activities that children explore. Activities also develop language, small and gross motor skills, as well as critical thinking and social skills.
Our current investigation is an exploration of pathways and mazes. The children are very interested in creating complex designs, both individually and as part of a group. They have been creating a large scale maze on the floor in the classroom. After testing out the maze, the children decided that it needed to be harder. They decided to develop several “dead ends” throughout the maze, along with multiple ways to exit the maze. The children continued to revise their ideas by drawing plans and discussing problems or challenges during our meeting time. When the children felt that the maze was complete, we wrote a group letter inviting children from another class to try out the maze. Now, the children are beginning to explore the differences between mazes and labyrinths.
A typical class session will include a variety of large and small group activities. Our day begins with a morning or afternoon meeting where we gather as a large group and discuss plans for the day. We also use this time to discuss ongoing project investigations, read stories or discuss current events. During constructive play time, the children are engaged in activities based on their interests and our current long term investigation and move freely among activities, such as art or sensory explorations, block play, creative play (dramatic play, retelling stories using props), writing and drawing activities and activities planned by university students. A nutritional snack is provided at this time during both morning and afternoon sessions. We also encourage the children to have outdoor experiences as much as possible. We plan outdoor activities during constructive play time when the weather cooperates and the children have daily free play opportunities outdoor at the end of the morning and afternoon sessions.