An Emerging Project, or a Dud?

So far in this school year, we have not been focusing on any one topic.  We have worked on building our community - an incredibly important aspect of the classroom - and establishing routines as we get to know each other.  We spend some time emphasizing language that supports our classroom community  "kind" being an important one.

Watching the children at play and work over the past few months, one theme comes back daily, day after day.  Babies.  I have spent time lingering over ideas, mapping out ways that I might support this interest.  I have also been thinking about a workshop that I took last year on guided inquiry:  what is the concept that we can focus on that encompasses this interest in babies?  The concept that I keep returning to is "care", and I am still thinking about how to promote the interest in babies without simply bombarding them with dolls and baby things.

We have been visiting the babies in the infant room in small groups; and I have found it challenging to figure out what the next step(s) should be.

I think I have mentioned here that I have been trying to promote writing and drawing - mark making, basically.  The children tend to engage in other parts of the room.  When I first thought about promoting a project on babies, we visited the room and the children drew pictures afterwards.  The baby was sleeping, and many of the groups walked around the room, looking at the baby things (which is a potential aspect of the project).  The second time I had time to take groups, I just took two girls - who are often engaged in "baby" play.  We brought the clipboards into the room with us, and when I suggested that we draw V, the baby, they were eager.  One of the girls who is drawing, B, rarely draws representationally.  They seemed motivated with the baby right in front of them!

There was also a clear interest in the baby things, from the automatic swing to the soft blocks and mirrors.

I have seen these girls, with others in the classroom, explore and experiment with showing affection to babies.  Singing lullabies, rocking them as they say "shhhhh", using gentle and affectionate touch as they play with babies in the baby room, and more.  There was an endearing moment last week when J lifted her baby doll high into the air and smiled big, bringing the baby down to her face to give it kisses and speak in motherese, using a high pitched voice and exaggerating her intonation.

So what does this mean for us as a whole class?  Where do we go from here?  We have an amazing resource for this interest in babies with a room full of them across the hall; but thinking about the concept of care might help find the real interest that lies underneath what we are seeing on the surface.