Bloorview School Authority
and the Integrated Kindergarten Program
Each day inside Paul Alcamo and Melissa Markus' Integrated Kindergarten Program, little chipmunks, squirrels, and geese can be found playing together in the life-sized homes they have collectively built.
“This pretend center began with students being curious about what happens in the fall. We took an exploration walk where the students collected articles that they thought were important to bring in for our squirrel, who needed a place to live. We asked them where each part of the drey should go - vines, branches, leaves and sticks are all used to make the animal home look as natural as possible. It is also large enough for all students, including those with wheelchairs and walkers to easily engage."
As the children began immersing themselves in the animal habitat, a chipmunk appeared in their spontaneous play. Paul and Melissa responded by reading about what kinds of places chipmunks might call home. From there, the chipmunk burrow was born alongside the squirrel drey. “Chippy” can now be seen hiding in his burrow, playing with his friend the squirrel, and gnawing on the food he has collected for the winter.
"We believe that teaching through text is very important, but also physically experiencing what we are learning as well. We research through books, pictures and outside in the natural world, all of which is brought back to be incorporated in our pretend centre. This makes learning meaningful and relevant to our students!”
Natural Curiosity and the Laboratory School at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute for Child Study are grateful for our ongoing partnership with Bloorview School Authority.
A Teacher's Tale:
Using Inquiry Learning to Build Community
In July 2013, Learning for a Sustainable Future partnered with Natural Curiosity to host two “Using Inquiry Learning to Build Community” professional development institutes in Toronto. Educators from across Southern Ontario attended the 3-day workshops which engaged them in activities and transformative learning practices to help bring inquiry and community-based learning into their classrooms.
Amanda Williams-Yeagers, a grade 3/4 teacher at John T. Tuck Public School was eager to start these practices with her students—and so she created an inquiry question for her students, which led them on an adventure through their curriculum and their community! Read the full story of Amanda's inspiring inquiry here.