Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Our Philosophy of Learning

We've been in a current series on this blog about our curriculum. We've already discussed our mission (on Feb 15-17), and our values (Feb 22 & 24). From the post that prompted this series, the next topic to discuss is "What's our philosophy of learning? What elements should be incorporated in our programming?"

To be honest, this is a difficult area for us as a staff. We are far from being experts in childhood development and curriculum. That's why we are so glad to have had talented volunteers who have contributed so much to our curriculum writing process over the years. We could not be where we are without them!

For Camp Grace (1st - 4th grade), here are the main elements that we use:
  • Big Group skits that teach the principle of the lesson mostly use "camp"-type characters (lifeguard, lunch lady, janitor, etc) 
  • Occasionally, we have videos of the skits, depending on how well the skit can be performed live
  • Big Group music with a live band (sometimes we may just have a guitar player, based on our volunteer availability; at times we have just had everyone sing with tracks)
  • Big Group competitions, just to have a little fun!
  • Small Group lessons that are Bible-centered (see an outline and a sample lesson on our website)
  • Small Group crafts and activities that reinforce the Bible lesson
  • Take-home activities (Smore card and ROAD Bookmark) to help parents engage their children in what they learned, and to help children apply what they are learning
For Preschool (2 years old - 5k), the main elements are very similiar:
  • Big Group skits or puppet shows, that either re-enact the Bible story or show a real-life application of the principle
  • Big Group music that involves singing with tracks and using hand-motions and dancing
  • Sometimes we will use things like shakers or scarves during the music
  • Small Group lessons that are Bible-centered (see an outline and a sample lesson on our website)
  • Small Group crafts, songs, and activities
  • A Bible memory verse card sent home on the first week of every series; we also can provide magnetic holders for these cards so that parents can put the verses on their refrigerators
  • A take-home Parent Page to give parents tools to engage their child in the lesson we taught
(Note: During the past few summers, we've used a curriculum called KIDMO for our preschoolers.  This curriculum uses a DVD teaching for Big Group time, and has provided a nice change-of-pace for our children and volunteers during the summer months.)

As you can see, we try to incorporate visual, audio, and hands-on elements. Not only that, we want to help families apply what they are learning.

For those of you who are educators or have experience in childhood development, we would love to hear what you think are important elements in learning for each age-group. More specifically, what would you consider crucial and what would you consider good options and ideas?

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