Take a 3-step approach to small group times. Whether setting up a math or literacy experience, you will discover that children are often at different developmental levels. By using this 3 step process to implement small group experiences, you will engage all learners at their unique levels.
Discuss & Explore
Begin with an open-ended discussion and time to freely touch or explore the materials that you set out for the small group activity. This exploration time provides a transition from whatever the children were doing minutes before and helps focus their attention on the new experience. Your role, as the teacher, is to set out the materials and ask open-ended questions such as the ones in the Experience Preschool Curriculum lesson pictured – the question here is, how many ducks will sink our boat?
Next, show children how to do the planned activity or what to do with the journal, book or game materials and encourage them to mimic you. Guide and support the children through the activity.
The Educator’s Role
Your role during this time is to support the children as they play. As you observe them work, reflect on ways to adapt the activity to the child’s interest and level. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who can do it by themselves, without help?
- Who can do it but needs a little help? Can another child help or will I help?
- Who cannot do it, how can I simplify the experience so they can still participate?
- Who can do it by themselves and is ready for even more challenge? How can I extend the activity?
- What next? Is the child expressing an interest or curiosity we could extend now or later in the day?
If using the Experience Preschool Curriculum, simplify and challenge prompts are included in the activity description.
Observe & Assess
As children play, assess their skills.
Small group time offers you many opportunities to document the learning as it’s happening. Sometimes there is so much happening, that it might be difficult to know what to focus on and document. Select one skill and observe for evidence of that skill while the children work.
If using the Experience Preschool Curriculum, there are multiple skills listed under the title of the activity. Use the first skill listed as your focus skill for assessment.