Once you have chosen a theme you need to find out what the children already know about the topic so you can extend their knowledge on the topic, that is the purpose of doing a preassessment.. It's surprising what you find about your own children doing this. Sometimes I find that my boys know things I didn't realize they knew and vice versa.
Some ways to do this are by:
- asking open-ended questions
- questions using visual aids
- observing the child
Here is just one example of a preassessment.
*Note- from here on out I will refer to my 4 year old as Mario, 2 year old as Luigi and my baby as Toad. :)
"I was eating an apple and asked Mario and Luigi, 'Do you know what I am eating?' Mario told me it was an apple. 'What do you do with apples?' He replied that we eat apples. Then I asked, 'What kinds of foods can you make with apples?' He didn't think we could make any other foods with apples he then added, 'They grow bigger and bigger.' I agreed and then asked, 'Where do you think apples grow?' Mario said he didn't know. I prodded more asking if they grew in the ground, he told me no. Then I asked if he thought apples grew on trees. He said no. After asking him a few more places he said he thought that apples grew on trees and 'get bigger and bigger.' Then I asked, 'What colors are apples?' He told me they were red and Luigi piped in that they were red. 'Are they other colors besides red? How about green?' They both replied, 'No!' I asked if they could be yellow and they said no to that as well."
From this preassement I learned that they knew that apples can be red, but didn't realize that apples can be other colors as well. Mario had a vague idea that apples grow on trees, but it took some prodding to get that out so I'm not sure how well he understands that. He did know that apples grow and get bigger. Neither realized that we can get other foods from apples.
From this preassessment we can then develop which concepts we want to teach. For example I could choose
Apples can be different colors.
Apples grow on trees.
We can make different foods using apples.
Stay tuned in for my next post about preparing a Gathering Time.