Foundations 1, Part 1
Lesson 1: Webs Are Visual Maps
Webs are great tools for designing lesson plans. They are visual maps that help show the connections between concepts, activities and new ideas.
In this topic, we will explain how you can use webbing to plan your month, week and daily lessons.
PLANNING FOR THE MONTH
Use a web to brainstorm all of the possible topics and ideas that may be explored with children in a given theme.
Read on to learn how the Mother Goose Time Theme Web is organized.
Notice how the month’s theme is located in the center, with four sub-themes branching out in smaller circles.
The four sub-themes guide us in developing week-long investigations.
Think of what children might wonder about each of the sub-themes. These ideas become the daily topics.
Before you begin each week, ask your children open-ended questions to learn more about what they wonder or already know about the sub-theme. Here are some examples of questions you might ask children to prompt inquiry and investigation at the beginning of the week:
- Week 1: What does the ocean look like? What might we find in the ocean?
- Week 2: What large creatures do you think live in the ocean?
- Week 3: What small creatures might we find in the ocean?
- Week 4: Where would you want to go in the ocean? What surprises might you find in the ocean? What would you do if you found a treasure chest?
- TIP: While you use Mother Goose Time, you and your children might have additional ideas for how to extend the learning. Feel free to write these ideas on the Theme Web (included in your Teacher Tool Bag) to expand the thematic study according to the children’s interests.
PLANNING FOR THE WEEK
Mother Goose Time also uses webs when planning a collection of theme-based STEAM stations that invite children to experiment on their own.
New STEAM stations each week add an element of surprise and delight to the children’s hands-on exploration. We brainstorm simple ways to enhance the areas you already have set up in your learning environment, including block areas, dramatic play corners, science trays, or sensory tables.
Mother Goose Time lists STEAM station set-up ideas in each week of the Teacher Guide (see pages 8-9). Prepare these STEAM stations at the beginning of each week or use our list as inspiration to create your own. Keep the stations open all week so children can return to them for multiple days of exploration. Week-long STEAM stations maintain an interactive environment that helps children build on their ideas day after day.
Below are examples of how we list STEAM stations in the Mother Goose Time Teacher Guide:
- TIP: The goal is to come up with simple and safe supplies you can set out for children to explore on their own. Your role is to observe, ask questions and help them connect their hands-on experiences to the larger ideas of the monthly theme.
PLANNING FOR THE DAY
One thing we love about webs is that they are non-linear. Learning never happens in a straight, predictable line. How many of your days run exactly as planned? If your days are like many of ours with young children, then being flexible is key to a successful learning experience.
By planning a web of activities rather than a minute-by-minute schedule, you can maintain a daily goal for what you would like to teach and explore while staying open to the rhythm of the day.
For this reason, Mother Goose Time uses webs to plan each daily lesson. We brainstorm a series of topic-related games and activities that reinforce literacy, math, social-emotional and physical skills.
A variety of play experiences are incorporated in each day to make sure that all learning styles are embraced.
For example, imagine the weekly investigation is “Five Senses” and that the topic of the day is “Touch.” In your Teacher Guide, you will find the following activity categories: (1) Circle Time (2) Creative Art (3) Small Group (4) Table Top (5) Story Corner (6) STEAM Station and (7) Music & Movement. These categories appear in the same order in each lesson, so you can quickly and easily plan each day.
Each activity is designed with three elements in mind: skills, learning style and group size.
These elements make up the foundation on which each activity is built, providing balanced yet open-ended days of learning.
SKILLS: The first skill listed under each activity title is the primary skill that drives the focus of the children’s learning. Other listed skills are integrated into the activity from different learning domains to create a balanced learning experience.
LEARNING STYLE: Each activity category provides a different way for children to learn. Whether it’s singing a song, playing a game or creating art, Mother Goose Time activities allow children to explore their different learning styles.
GROUP SIZE: It is important to offer a balance of large group, small group and independent learning opportunities. Although children may not feel comfortable in certain settings, participation in groups and working independently encourage the development of social and self-regulation skills.
The Community Challenge, Story Corner and Music & Movement are all designed to be large group experiences.
Each day features one small group game.
Table Top experiences can be explored independently or with a friend. Educators often set out multiple table top trays so children can select what they want to do.
For more free choice and open play, there are two stations that can be set up and left open for children to independently visit when desired: the Creative Art area and STEAM stations.
By having learning goals and planning a variety of options for children to explore and investigate, you invite children to discover and engage with new ideas every day. But remember: curriculum merely sets the stage—it’s the children who write their own unique learning stories.
A web is a visual map that provides a big-picture view of the various concepts introduced to your children throughout the month, weeks and days. You can use webs to set learning goals or communicate with parents. Webs are non-linear and can therefore change in response to the emerging interests, needs and goals of children.
Benefits of webbing include:
- Helping you brainstorm ideas
- Showing you how learning topics are related to each other
- Allowing you to focus on goals yet still adapt to the flow of the day
Our job as educators is to help young children connect new ideas to past experiences or existing knowledge. Webbing reminds us to identify those connections and talk about them throughout the day.