Tag Archives: Emergent Curriculum in ECE

Tiny Realms

by Katee

When exploring the Remida center during our Tuesday field trip last week, many of the children had two favorite things they got to d0- ride the bus, and play with the ‘tiny realms’.  They had set out small divided scenes filled with tiny things for the children to play in.  There was a box filled with soil, sticks and moss, a tray filled with sand and cups and a slide, little homes with appliances and creatures, and many reused materials.  The children had several rooms to explore in this area but all were entranced at the tiny realms.

I had a chance to talk with the Remida director about the tiny realms and we were so excited to see the children so happily intrigued.  “In this world, they are giants.”, she told me.  We discussed that children can feel in control of a world with this play and have the opportunity to play the role of a larger entity and a powerful being.  We also discussed how children of this age are often so attracted to small things.  Maria Montessori called this age a ‘sensitive period’ for many things, including small objects.  They seem to have a natural compulsion to master this area and it is so exciting to observe.

After this inspirational field trip, we brought tiny realms to Tulip Tree.  We have done work with this throughout the year, but this time intentionally built different terrains and scenes side by side.  The children have been happily exploring there all week.


Bake Sale Day

By Nora

At the end of every school year, the students take part in a culminating activism project that builds off of what they have passionate about throughout the year. As many of you know, one of the biggest themes that emerged this year has been babies. Holding them, changing them, feeding them, keeping them safe, what it means to be a midwife, babies in our own lives. This year, for our activism, we have decided to host a donation-based bake sale to benefit the PDX Diaper Bank. This organization provides disposable and cloth diapers to low-income Portland residents. Since diapers are not covered by SNAP or WIC, it can be a tough expensive for many families. They also offer free workshops on how to use cloth diapers. We thought that the diaper bank would be a good fit for what the children are passionate about and add to our social justice curriculum.

Leading up to the bake sale, the children did skits to demonstrate how a bake sale works. This helped clarify who the the stakeholders were and how the money was going from our bake sale customers to us and then eventually to the diaper bank to help families. This monetary exchange is tricky for children to comprehend, but acting it out helped them see it in action. Additionally, we had two women from the Diaper Bank come and talk to the children about what they do. The children had collaboratively made a song about the Diaper Bank with Katee and performed it when the Diaper Bank representatives came.

When it came time for our first bake sale, we made thumbprint cookies, black bean brownies, and lemon bars. Katee made chocolate cupcakes at home. The children had a lot of fun baking, knowing that their hard work in the kitchen would eventually help some babies be healthy and safe. We made signs for our table and several of them stood behind the table the whole time explaining to parents who came by what the Diaper Bank was, which baked goods were gluten free, and what “donation-based” means. I was so impressed by their excitement for what we were doing and their knowledge of why it was important. And this was just the first one! We will be having another bake sale next Thursday, May 18th from 3:30-4:30, so make sure to stop by for that one as well.

“It’s like a whole little city in there!”

By Katee

This week we have been deconstructing a variety of electronics.  This started with an old keyboard we unearthed that has become a prized item in the classroom.  The keys had been pulled out and rearranged and the children wanted to further this process- deconstructing and reconstructing it to spell different names.  So we got another keyboard and set it out with some screwdrivers to see what might happen. It was taken almost completely apart before snack time.

Inside they found a rubber mat with knobs on it that they said “looks like octopus legs!” and layers of transparent plastic sheets with electrical mappings on them that they said, “looks like train maps!”.


We also set out an old car stereo to see what we might find. This had way more screws and a pretty unassuming shell.  While they worked at it for days they guessed what might be inside: Continue reading

A Robot of Our Own

By Nora

One of the aspects of teaching at Tulip Tree that I appreciate the most is following the children’s lead to develop further curriculum. One day during lunch after returning from winter break, SH asked me how our micro greens were doing. SH was remembering that we had planted these greens before winter break, and checked on them often, but she had forgotten that we in fact ate our micro greens during lunch right before winter break. “Do you think our greens would still be growing today even if we were not at school for two weeks?”, KM and SH looked at each other with hope and nodded their heads vigorously. “Hmm, really? Do you think they would still be getting bigger even if there was no one here to water them?” I asked. KM and SH thought for a minute, rethinking their initial idea. SH excitedly waved her finger in the air and exclaimed that our greens would definitely be able to keep growing if there was a robot that could water them for us while we were on vacation! The excitement of this possibility spread through the whole table and suddenly NC, KM, SH, and NCC were brainstorming a plethora of ideas for this robot. They discussed in detail how the buttons would work, how the robot would move, where the buttons would be, what it would be made out of, etc. I sat back and listened as they continued to imagine the possibilities of our indoor garden growing without our help. The final vision for this machine was a robot inside a rocket ship. The purpose of the rocket ship was so the robot could move around and get to the windowsill where our greens are. I asked the table if they wanted to make this robot and rocket ship someday soon. They all look at each other and nodded their heads with huge smiles and endless imaginations.

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Sewing and Growing

By Katee

After an overwhelming spark of interest in sewing before our break, we have2-DSC_0479 been storming with ideas to bring more of this practice into the classroom.  Of course the children are excited to sew- it is a practical life skill that feels useful and empowering.  Especially at this green age when it often feels to them that they have little to offer in helping society, practical skills like sewing can be a big boost to their confidence.  After all- knowledge is power!

3-DSC_0493As an Early Childhood facilitator, I get very excited about the children’s interest in sewing.  This practice is not only useful, it is also nourishing to a growing brain and body.  Sewing requires a lot of concentration, and can be a wonderful mindfulness practice.  Crafting, especially knitting or sewing, has found to be a great form of mediation. The rhythmic over and under, over and under… can really get you in the flow and bring a sense of relaxation.

Sewing builds hand-eye coordination and fine motor control.  The needle is so thin, and the target is often so small.  The child must use their best 3-finger grasp, developing similar focus and coordination essential in manipulating a writing utensil.   Continue reading