Educators are creative, so coming up with activities is not the issue. The issue is: Can educators justify the chosen activity pedagogically? What do the children learn from this?
First of all, before anything else, I would like to remind you about some important terms. These terms are the base of quality educational activities.
CURRICULUM = The main guide for educators. The curriculum shows the essential contents for teaching so that every child has opportunities for diverse learning experiences. Educators should use all the areas in their teaching equally. Curriculum = learning areas + learning objectives.
LEARNING AREAS = Guide educators when planning and implementing activities together with the children. Wide entities. Choose the learning area you want to focus on during the specific activity or project.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES = The starting point for creating activities. Choose the learning objectives you want to go for in this specific activity or project. 1-3 learning objectives per activity is enough.
CHILD-CENTERED ACTIVITIES = Children are the starting point and the ultimate reason for creating activities. The activities should be based on children's interests, capabilities, needs, and/or developmental stages.
Why do the activities need a pedagogical base?
Advance lesson planning is the main step in securing quality learning. Every educator can come up with nice activities for children – for example, “Let’s take finger paints and paint! That is fun!”.
Educators are creative, so coming up with activities is not the issue. The issue is: Can educators justify the chosen activity pedagogically? Why is that activity useful for the children? What do the children learn from this?
Doing nice activities one after the other is fun and makes the days go by. Children probably enjoy and families get to see nice crafts – but these types of activities do not have a pedagogical base behind them. These nice little activities come and go, but they serve no real purpose if the educator does not think of the reason why she or he is organizing that activity.
Get your free lesson plan sample from here!
It is okay to organize nice activities just for fun sometimes. The main focus should anyway be on pedagogically planned activities. It is also important that educators keep in mind to plan activities from all the learning areas - that is what makes teaching and learning holistic and fair for the children.
Educators should focus on planning activities that:
Have a reason: we paint because children are interested in learning about colors, children need to learn to name them correctly, and they are eager on trying new art techniques
Fall in a pre-planned learning area(s): Diverse forms of expression + Diverse world of languages
Contain pre-planned learning objective(s): I learn different art techniques, I take part in planned activities, I learn new vocabulary – names of the colors
Support the children’s development: color recognition, hand-eye coordination, language development, and fine motor skills
Know your curriculum & identify the learning goals
The City of Helsinki has created a curriculum for their educators Helsinki’s curriculum for early childhood education and care. The document is based on the National Finnish Curriculum and explains the overall approach in Finland.
Helsinki’s curriculum includes learning areas and learning objectives. The areas of learning describe the main goals and content of the pedagogical activities. They guide the staff when planning and implementing diverse and playful pedagogical activities together with the children.
The areas of learning have been divided into five groups:
- The diverse world of languages
- Various forms of expression
- Our community and I
- I explore and act in my environment
- I grow, move and develop
The learning areas of the curriculum will help you to structure your teaching, documentation, and assessment. The pedagogical objectives of the curriculum are the starting point for creating activities.
Learning objectives in Kindiedays Educator app
When using Kindiedays Portfolio software, all the learning areas and learning objectives are already available, following educators inside the app. The Educators have them available on the Kindiedays Educator App always when needed.
When do educators need the learning areas and learning objectives then?
When educators plan activities, the aim is to plan each activity based on the curriculum and children’s developmental stages and needs. The curriculum (= all the learning areas and learning objectives) can be found in the app so it makes planning easier, more professional, and goal-oriented.
While the children are participating in a guided activity, educators tap the learning objectives for marking down which skills and areas of learning developed during the activity.
The curriculum should be actively in use in early childhood education. If the curriculum stands in a folder in an office, how many staff members are reading it on a daily/weekly/monthly basis? I guess not that many. If the curriculum travels around daily in every educator’s phone, the chances of reading it raise 100%.
Planning pedagogically competent learning activities
It simply isn’t possible in the real world for every lesson plan to be entirely original to the educator - at least some premade materials are necessary because planning time is limited for all of us.
Kindiedays Lesson Plan Package is designed to guide and support educators to provide lessons based on a valued curriculum. Each lesson plan is carefully planned to match the learning areas and pedagogical learning objectives outlined in the Finnish National Curriculum for Early Childhood and Care. The lesson plans can also be used with any other curriculum, as long as playful learning is close to your heart.
In our next blog post, we will discuss more the systematic implementation of the activities. Stay tuned!