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Curriculum Enhancement Proposal

Teresa Albers's picture

Enhancing the Currriculum: Observation and Storytelling Skills

The students in my classroom are between the ages of three and six, they come into the classroom with a plethora of observations about the natural world in which they have lived. The children have a range of skills for giving voice to their observations and in the degree of refinement in their observations. It is my goal to bring refinement to their observational skills, to enhance their ability to vocalize their stories and to build their story telling skills. Through the activities listed in this curriculum enhancement plan, I also hope to build my prowess for facilitating these processes.


"Intellectual to lead the child from the education of the senses to ideas."    Edward Sequin 



Building Observational Skills

Building children's observational skills is a process which must address to aspects of development:

Refinement of sensory perception:Overview

Young children continuously and unconsciously gather sensory impressions. The degree of refinement of these perceptions varies by child and age. Specifically designed activities can enhance sensory perception by engaging the child in activities which bring sensory perception to a conscious level of activity.


"The training and sharpening of the senses has the obvious advantage of enlarging the field of perception and of offering an ever more solid foundation for intellectual growth." 

Maria Montessori, Discovery of the Child, p. 99 


Development of expressive language skills:Overview

Children need practice in building their expressive language skills. They need exposure to and opportunities to use context-related vocabulary. They also need the capacity to convert their internal expreiences it languge form in order to express their experiences and understandings. Togehter, this skills allows children to communicate about their internal world and to understand their peers.

This curriculum enhancement plan includes the following activities to help refine their sensory experiences and to build their expressive language skills.


"Sensori-motor intelligence lies at the source of thought, and continues to affect it throughout life through perceptions and practical sets."    Piaget 


Refinement of sensory perception: Activities

  1. Sensory Mystery Bag: A cloth bag filled with ichanging collections of items. Pairs of children use the Mystery Bag to play blindfolded retrieval games based upon request for objects by touch and name.
  2. Sorting Activities: Activities where children sort items based upon similar characteristics. Item collections increase in complexity from items similar in one characteristics to items similar/different in multiple characteristics.
  3. Observation Basket with Magnifying Glass: A basket of items from the natural environment is used to observe the detail of these items.
  4. Exploration Basket: Collections of objects are provided and explored with the eyes blindfolded.
  5. Drawing of simple props or objects. Art mediums are provided for children to draw simple objects.
  6. Use of Montessori materials designed to refine sensory perception, including Series gradation tasks, Color Boxes, Sound Boxes, Smell Boxes, and Temperature, Smelling, Texture, and Weight comparison activities. Geometric activities for perception of spatial relations are also utilized.

Development of expressive language skills: Activities

For the develpoment of expressive language skills, modelling is as an instructional tool. Mixed ability and group size sessions are held to model vocabulary, sentence structuring, and metacognition processes used to describe and perceived the objects. Modelling is also used for story dictation using sentences such as "I see..." or "I feel...."

    1. Collection of photographs and props (like physical objects) are used for children to their observations of the photographs. As children develop, their observation statements emerge into stories about the photograph's content.
    2. Dictated stories and observations from blog pages.
    3. Description Basket contains items, and a magifier, for which small group sessions can be held to describe the objects. Objects are described for a variety of physical characteristics.
    4. Small group sessions are held for the Mystery Bag, Observation Basket, and Exploration basket to discuss the attributes of the objects and their similarities/differences. Proper vocabulary is introduced.

Building Storytelling Skills: Overview and Activities

Building children's storytelling skills is an inherent part of the early childhood classroom. A variety of activities are enlisted in the curriculum that suport this development. Those activities are listed below along with two new activities, Story Basket and Story Circle, which will be added to the classroom this year. A significant change in the curriculum is that this year I will with greater conscious of building storytelling expereinces and skills employ those activities, which were already part of the curriculum.

  1. Read books that use simple words and phrases to describe things (i.e., Rough and Smooth)
  2. Use flannel board stories so children can reenact the stories with props.
  3. Learn nursery rhymes to increase literacy fluency skills
  4. Dramatize stories using children as characters in the stories
  5. Read books with props from the stories for story retelling with peers.
  6. Story Basket with items that can be used to build a story line based on the items in the basket. The items in the basket will be rotated by number, within each collection, to illustrate how stories can be revamped and extended with the addition/deletion of items. Completed item collections will be changed only after children have exhausted their interest for that particular collection of items. Modelling of story creation for the items will be utilized as an instructional tool.
  7. Story Circles about today's events.

Monthly Curriculum Enhancement Plan

This plan is a scaffold for easily incorporating the listed activities into our curriculum in a hopefully seamless manner. The science activities listed are not inclusive of all we do, they are those in which I plan to particularly observe and understand the pathway for building the listed skills. The plan is to evaluate this proposal in terms of efficaciousness in building observation and storytelling skills with the intent to tweek the plan the following year.

October: Begin to refine sensory perception with Montessori materials. Introduce Sorting Activities and simple descriptive books. Begin small group sessions to talk about Oral Story Picture Cards. Begin dictation stories about photographs and props. Introduce Observation Basket and how to use magnifier while modelling metacognition used in the observation process. Begin daily Story Circle about today's event(s).

Science: Exploration with magnets using magnetic boards, lodes and magnets, magnetic snake play, and classification of magnetic/non-magnetic items. Introduce discussion of observations and story telling about experiences/observations.

November: Introduce Story Basket and model oral story telling with the items in the Story Basket. Introduce Prop Drawing activity. Begin Flannel Board stories.

Science: 1- Bubble exploration with wands of assorted shapes and sizes. Introduce prediction. 2-Ball bouncing using an assortment of balls. Use prediction and record keeping of number of bounces.

December: Introduce Description Basket and small group sessions to describe the objects in the basket using adjectives. Begin Story Dramatization. Begin Dictation stories and observations from Blog Pages.

Science: Mirror exploration with assorted mirrors, objects, and a book that has mirror exploration activities. Gravity exploration.

January: Introduce Exploration Basket and small group experiences with the basket. Begin discussion of Sorting experiences and build metacognition skills to verbalize why/how items were sorted as they were.

Science: Water properties including freezing, evaporating, melting, and condensing. Begin processes of assessing background knowledge, predicting, observing, recording, evaluating, and explaining (story telling).

February: Enhance activities for building observation skills by incorporating more small group sessions to talk about observations of various activities in the room and daily events.

Science: Seed germination varying germination and growth environments.

March-May: Continue with activities listed for building observation skills and storytelling skills. Increase the use of Interpersonal and Intra personal loops to build understanding, language skills, and storytelling skills.

Science: March: Air and wind exploration.

April: Color mixing and separation. Ants.

May: Caterpillars.

Proposed Expenditures

The money provided will be used to provide science projects such as an ant farm, caterpillars, a worm habitat, and magnifying glasses. Additionally, funds will be used to buy moldable sand (building eye-hand coordination), supplies for science projects (little things like cups, straws, bubble wands, seeds, soil, bubbles, etc.), and watercolor paints. Finally, it would be nice to buy an inexpensive digital camera, if money is left, to build a scrapbook timelining our year.


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