A Global drive to achieve Excellence in Early Childhood Education
My trip to Sichuan and Chengdu in China provided a glimpse into Early Years Curriculum in China. A truly memorable and enjoyable trip! It provided inspiration for fifteen Early Years' outdoor learning projects.
The vibrant and inspirational Early Years curriculum is underpinned by China’s ancient history, architecture, cultural heritage and invention. The curriculum is based on real life practical experiences that replicate life in the community. This enables the children to make sense of the world around them. As a result, the nursery’s activities are a convincing recreation of the immediate locality. This provides children with a real sense of purpose and accomplishment. For example, the children got bored of using imaginary notes at the ‘local bank’ (one of the designated outdoor learning areas) Following discussions with their peers, their agreed preference was to conduct transactions using real money to facilitate their ‘banking experience’ This is because, in their view, continued use of ‘fake’ bank notes will eventually make the bank go bankrupt!
Children are taught how to use the paper mill and shown the traditional way of using a mill. They have excellent opportunities to use the mill, electric blender as well as their hands to grind paper to explore which method is the most efficient. The results were amazing and children’s depth of knowledge and ownership of their learning was stupefying. This was evident in the lively conversations to discuss their findings. One five year old child independently operated an electric blender (swift adult intervention to switch off the electricity supply prior to the jug being lifted off the base ensured safety!)
Independence is systematically developed through responsible roles to look after the nursery’s sheep named Bear (a popular character in children’s drawings and creative writing) Other key roles include collective responsibility to look after each classes' rapidly growing sunflower plant. Each sunflower plant is allocated a number. ‘Class 13 is the leading sunflower as it towers above the others!
Children are immersed in China’s ancient tradition and occupation. For example, children grow rice crops, apple trees, as well as black and green tea. They pick tea from their extremely well tendered, lush garden and teachers teach them the traditional way to make tea. Children subsequently write poems about the tea trees and show their parents how to make tea from fresh tea leaves at home, an uplifting experience that leaves parents in tears! Similar spiritual and cultural development experiences is the opportunity to explore the origin of the famous Chinese silk, by exploring the characteristics of the silk worm. They study the life cycle of the silk worm. Valuable opportunities to present their findings using pictures, illustrations and diagrams consolidates learning. Children’s emotive responses through the discovery that the silk worm had to die in order to produce the silk fabric makes learning memorable!
Children make chopsticks and Chinese snacks from clay to recreate the Chinese unique dining experience, including the ‘Chinese Hot Pot’ and oscillating dining table with an array of delicious and spicy dishes!
A fully functioning design technology room in one of the nursery’s allows children to use a range of traditional tools to undertake cutting, creative design and carpentry activities which develops their coordination, imagination and creativity.
For ideas about an inspirational and vibrant Early Years outdoor experience, click here!