The toddler teacher excitedly shared her documentation of the study of paper, and together we recalled her reluctance let go of her preconceived notions of curriculum. Our work together had begun with the challenge of seeking something in the environment that is taken for granted and then exploring it more deeply. The exploration of paper began to unfold, and this teacher began to write a new story for herself and the children. Soon newspaper was everywhere, crumpled, thrown, torn, used as paintbrushes, and worn as clothing. The collection included wallpaper, waxed paper, scrapbooking scraps, and wrapping paper. Objects made of paper, such as cups, boxes, and bags, were explored for holding treasures, building, stacking, and carrying. More importantly, the teacher’s notion of curriculum began to shift from cute, product-oriented, teacher-determined themes to big ideas that connected the children more deeply to real and relevant materials at their fingertips.
In loving memory of Gryphon House author Leanne Grace, MEd, we are sharing pieces of her inspirational writing every Wednesday. Leanne was the director of professional development at Hildebrandt Learning Centers and a lifelong advocate for early childhood education. She inspired the early childhood community to prepare children as lifelong learners with her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. One person can make a difference, and Leanne did just that. She will be sorely missed.