During the month of May, classrooms at The International Preschools focus their curriculum on growth and transitions. We use several topics to assist the children in understanding the idea of growth and “moving on” (in terms of changing classrooms or schools, or transitioning into summer vacation and/or camp).
One of these themes is studying life cycles of plants and animals. There is a correlation between the children “growing” and the plants/animals “growing”: for a time period (the school year), the children learn and grow in their classroom, much like the caterpillars, ladybugs, and plants do. The children are taken care of by their teachers; the caterpillars, ladybugs, and plants are taken care of by the children. Finally, when they are ready, the animals are “set free” to go out into nature and the plants are “sent home” with the children; the children, meanwhile, are also “set free” from their current classrooms, to go forth into summer vacation, summer camp, and the upcoming school year.
During April and May, IPS students will plant lima beans, grass seeds, and flower seeds. They will learn about the parts of a plant and/or flower, and learn what plants need in order to grow (i.e. water, food, air, sunlight). By participating in play-based, hands-on learning through caring for their plants, the children really share in the growth of their plants.
Continuing with the life cycles theme…all of the IPS students bear witness to the life cycle(s) of caterpillars and/or ladybug larvae. The process is similar to that of the plants: the children learn the specific parts of the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly (i.e. egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly) and observe the changes that occur each day. The children also take care of the butterflies, once hatched, by feeding them fruit and sugar water. Once the butterflies are ready to move on to the outside world, classes will travel to the school playground or a nearby park to release the butterflies into nature. For the ladybugs, once they are mature, children will guide the ladybugs onto outdoor plants for them to create their new homes.
Next week, the blog will showcase the next part of IPS’ end-of-year curriculum: the growth of the children from babies to “big kids,” and how each class goes about its learning in different ways.
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