Children learn from real life experiences

February 10, 2012 Feature Print Print

Chris James/Pioneer
Jackson, 2, Emmanuel, 2, Kade, 2, Reagan, 2, and Jonah, 1, are learning as they play with the water table in Kendra’s class on Feb. 3. Kendra’s class is learning everything they can about water.

The OCCC Child Development Center and Lab School bases its curriculum around projects that are incorporated into daily classroom activities and lessons.

The projects are inspired by questions the children have about the world around them. For example, when construction began next door on a new parking lot, the kids began asking questions about the construction vehicles.

The questions prompted their teacher, Sandy Pogue, to use their curiosity for teaching various things about construction.

Pogue said the theme carries throughout daily activities like art, science, math, language, literacy, books and music.

The children also have dramatic playtime, which has the children enacting some real life situations like going to the grocery store. Don’t forget, these are preschoolers. Additional class projects are based on other interests. Lisa Jones said her class has been interested in learning about light and shadow since coming back from Christmas break.

Chris James/Pioneer
Four year old Kate uses a light board to trace her name Friday morning, Feb. 3. Lisa J. is teaching Kate and her class about light and shadows.

They’ve been working with transparent and opaque objects, light boards, and a shadow room where the children can play with flashlights and look at glow in the dark stars.

Heather Pierce said her class is doing things like painting snowflakes and learning about warm clothes, because they took an interest in winter.

The kids are fascinated with water and its cycles in Kendra Miller’s class. She said they have access to a water table and are making things with water bottles.

Constance Pidgeon said the children are learning about bread in her class. The children are baking breads based on recipes brought from home and doing dramatic playtime to enact running a bakery.

In Adrien Wright’s OCCC student-scheduled classroom, the children had questions about what mom and dad were doing at college.

Wright said they are currently learning all about OCCC while looking at campus maps and pictures.

One of the other student-scheduled classes is taught by Julie Wray. She said that in her class, the kids had an interest in rocks. They are doing activities like examining rocks with a magnifying glass and also painting with them.

Chris James/Pioneer
Bronson, 2, is looking at a map of OCCC with Adrian, while Emma, 1, reads on Feb. 3. Adrian’s class is learning all about where mom and dad are when they go to school.

Once the kids take an interest in something, Lisa Jones said that the first step in developing a program is finding out what the children already know about the subject of interest.

The second step should be asking the kids what they would like to find out. From there, she said it goes deeper into investigating the subject and learning about it until the children become interested in something else. Then they move on to another project.

Lee Ann Townsend, Child Development Lab supervisor, said the idea of projects being incorporated into all of the daily activities started back in the 1980s. She said the children learn best in this way.

“The research shows if children are learning about things they are interested in and what they already know something about, then the knowledge that they are building is meaningful learning,” Townsend said.

“All of our projects are about things the children have already had real life experiences with. Because the infants and toddlers have not had many real life experiences yet, their projects are subjects like water.”

OCCC students interested in enrolling their children in student-scheduled classes should contact Barbara Carter at 405-682-1611, ext. 7450.

Spots for children age 6 weeks to age 8 are filled on a first-come, first served-basis, and enrollment for a semester opens at the same time as OCCC college courses.

To contact Chris James, email

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