This is my planning map from about one month ago. There are many more relevant things that can be added, I am sure, but these are things I have planned for so far. We seem to be zooming towards the "bird"section; children seem to talk most about that, and we began this week on that topic.

Planning maps are encouraged in both Emergent Curriculum and The Project Approach; they are also a nice thing for a teacher to lean on, as following children's interests can really seem overwhelming and chaotic at times. About one month ago, I had taken the students out into the forest to draw once, and we watched a slideshow of photographs from a forest walk once while we did watercolor paintings on the topic. But the children were not bringing up the topic independently and spontaneously in their play, so I was frustrated. Why wasn't the project working?

For one, I had not talked with them about beginning the project, so they had not had the chance to give me their input. We began that last week. Now we all know that we are starting a study of the forest that is literally outside of our classroom window, and we have a lot to talk about as it has transformed so much since our first visit in September.

Tomorrow, we are spending our whole day in the forest, in the Scandinavian waldkindergarten fashion. Another teacher at the school is taking us through the forest to look at the bat houses and bird houses that were installed and are maintained by some older students. We'll do some observational drawings, eat a picnic snack, have an outdoor storytime, and play at the secret playground.

What are your children interested in? Are you using their interests as a focus?