Child Care Center Spotlight
Project Based Learning
Older Preschool Presents:
"The Queen, The Rock, and The Magic Spell"
By Caitalin Hill and Dana Berg
At Joyful Noise Child Development Center, Portland OR, we base our projects on Emergent Curriculum, which begins with ideas initiated by the children in the classroom. The teachers then facilitate and the children guide the learning process. Our latest project is precisely what our center curriculum and philosophy encompass.
For many weeks prior to the holidays we began the long process of producing our own play, The Queen, the Rock and the Magic Spell. It was multifaceted and included many aspects, from the plot development and set design, to acting and finally directing the final product.
Our first phase of this project emerged in the dramatic play areas in our classroom environment. The children used the stories from books in the classroom or from home, as a guide to stage their own plays. These impromptu plays led to many discussions at circle time about all the parts of play production. This portion of the project allowed the children to share knowledge from their experiences outside of the classroom environment.
Our second phase of the production was planning and creating. Everyone in the classroom played a part in this phase as they chose their own role; Stage Manager, Director, Costume Designer, Script Writer, Actor, Snack Booth Manager, etc. Within each child’s role they worked individually and as a group to discuss their prior knowledge about what each job entailed. The class then expanded and collaborated together to develop their roles further, building on their previous learning and creating a deeper understanding of the roles in the environment around them. In addition, each role utilized specific skill sets including pre-math skills for roles such as costume design and snack booth; literacy skills and character development within the plot; creative expression through performance; and organization and leadership with their contribution to the process as a whole.
The third and final phase of the production was practicing and performing. We made invitations and tickets for children from two different classrooms in our center to come view the performance. The performance was filmed and edited into a final “movie.” There were two culminating events that wrapped up the project. The first was a black tie “Movie Premiere,” by the suggestion of our parents and children, where we all got to see the performance live on screen.
The project was a wonderful learning opportunity for children and teachers alike; and we all enjoyed letting our imaginations soar. In addition, it provided an occasion to explore the entire process of theater production.