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DeJardin - ECED160 - Current Curricular Approaches in Early Childhood Education  

Last Updated: Oct 23, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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ECE Research Guide

For general research help and list of resources for the Early Childhood Education program, your first stop should be the ECE Research Guide.  Look for these boxes on each page when relevant resources can be found on the ECE Research Guide.


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Early Childhood Education


Curriculum Models

Listed below are definitions for each curricular approach and an example article from our databases to demonstrate which resources are appropriate and available for each topic.  Click the links to see catalog listings for each article.  Try investigating these professional journals and publications to jumpstart your research!

Theme-based Learning:  “A thematic approach to curriculum planning consists of organizing activities around a central topic or idea...The thematic approach can promote and reflect the cohesiveness of the curriculum, curricular integration across subject matter and/or developmental domains.  Sometimes groups select themes that are based on the interests of the children” (Chaille, 1992).

      Check This Out:  Development of theme-based, interdisciplinary, integrated curriculum: A theoretical model.  Lonning, R. A.,
      DeFranco, T. C., & Weinland, T. P.  School Science and Mathematics.  

Emergent (Reggio Inspired) Curriculum:  “Activity plans that follow the interests of the young children in a particular group.  Caregivers have curricular goals in mind, but do not present them in a predetermined sequence.  Instead they observe children’s work closely, act as facilitators for the child’s own work, and present supports and challenges to advance the child’s initiated activities” (Collins & O’Brien, 2003).

      Check This Out:  Project work with diverse students: Adapting curriculum based on the Reggio Emilia approach.  Abramson, S.,
      Robinson, R., & Ankenman, K.  Childhood Education.

Inquiry-based Learning:  “A form of instruction in which teachers provide students with information, experiences, or problems that serve as the focus for the students’ research activities.  The students generate hypotheses or tentative solutions, gather relevant data, and evaluate the data to arrive at a conclusion” (Collins & O’Brien, 2003).

      Check This Out:  Engage, Investigate, and Report: Enhancing the Curriculum with Scientific Inquiry.  Blake, S.  Young Children. (Article is available in print at the Ft Steilacoom library.)

Integrated Curriculum:  “A program of learning in which a topic or theme is studied from different disciplinary perspectives.  In early childhood, this means that the theme of study is explored with materials that stimulate all the senses and appeal to different learning styles, and includes cognitive, physical, and social/emotional components...An organization of the curriculum in which subject matters that are traditionally taught separately are combined.  Instruction typically draws from two or more subject areas and focuses on a theme or concept” (Collins & O’Brien, 2003).

      Check This Out:  Defining the Difference: Comparing Integrated and Traditional Single-Subject Lessons.  Zhbanova K.S., Rule
      A.C., Montgomery S.E., & Nielsen L.E.  Early Childhood Education Journal.

Project-based Learning
:  “An instructional approach in which students are engaged in a project involving sustained, in-depth exploration of a central question or problem.  The projects usually link several disciplines, require diverse skills to solve, allow for multiple solutions, are of extended duration, involve small group collaboration, and draw upon the teacher as coach.  Project-based learning is purported to promote students’ intrinsic motivation and engagement through studies of real-world topics” (Collins & O’Brien, 2003).

      Check This Out:  Using the Project Approach with Toddlers.  LeeKeenan, D. & Edwards, C. P.  Young Children.

Collins, J. W., & O’Brien, N. P. (Eds.).  (2003).  The Greenwood Dictionary of Education.  Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press.

Chaille, C.  (1992).  Projects, Topics, and Themes.  In Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Education.  Williams, L. R., & Fromberg, D. P. (Eds.).  New York, NY:  Garland Publishing, Inc.


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