At Free To Be we strive to design the curriculum based on negotiations between children and teachers. The “project approach” is implemented, which means engaging in in-depth studies of subjects worth learning more about. Children and teachers research and learn together.
Projects do not constitute the whole curriculum. They are compatible with themes and
other activities offered throughout the year.
When a teacher carefully collects, analyzes, interprets and displays evidence of learning it is called “documentation.” Documentation is an integral part of the project approach. Documentation usually includes observations, collections of children’s work, portfolios, self-reflections of the child, photos and narratives or stories of the learning experience. Parents, children, staff and visitors are encouraged to look at the visual displays of learning that can be found throughout the school.
The Leaf Project
Children first expressed their interest in leaves when they made use of the baskets we provided for them. They used them to collect leaves in the backyard and on nature walks in our forest. Also, a letter went home to parents informing them of our study of leaves and requesting they help their child find a leaf at home to bring in.
The Baby Project
In anticipation of two pending births within families at Free to Be, Morgan’s and Teacher Brandon’s, we decided to undertake a project on babies. We discovered several children had baby brothers and sisters as well. Almost everyone knew a baby somehow. With this common knowledge as a basis for our study, we began our project.
The Playground Project
In the Fall of 2008, months in advance we knew there would be plenty of changes at Free To Be during the Fall Semester. New safety standards by the NJ Department of Community Affairs had started the ball rolling for a playground renovation. We knew the original playground needed to be removed and eventually replaced with all new equipment. Additionally, this project would include improved handicap accessibility, landscaping, new siding and roof, along with a new porch. In other words, we knew we were going to be provided with events, materials, experts and opportunities to engage the children in an in-depth exploration of a “Playground Project”.
The Art Project began with an invitation to families to bring in art from home to be displayed at school. The children were exposed to a wide variety of art and learned that artists can be young or old, amateurs or professionals.
The Free To Be Art Book: Spring 2009
During the children's study or art they often referred to The American Art Book for inspiration. The book presents 500 artists in an A to Z format. Each artist is reprsented by a full-page color plate of a significant work, accompanied by an informative and engaging text explaining the art and the artist. Using the same style we created a Free To Be version of this valuable reference work. Enjoy!
The Box Project
It all began when a child brought in the book, NOT A BOX, by Antoinette Portis. It is a classic story about the magic of cardboard boxes and a child’s imagination. Probably everyone has had the experience of giving a child a present, only to see him/her get more pleasure out of the box. Often a child’s interest in a new toy lasts minutes, but interest in a good box can last a very l-o-n-g time. Who can resist the lure of a box?With the children’s imagination and curiosity steering the project, we were ready to embark on a journey to explore boxes. During the Beginning Phase of the Box Project we read the book several times and discussed the topic with the children, attempting to learn more about their current interest in boxes.