We ask our young kindergarteners to be active participants in their learning from the beginning. Common phrases in the Kindergarten classroom are “Hmm, that’s an interesting question” and “How can we find out more about that?”
When children enter Kindergarten, whether coming from home, preschool, or daycare, it is a natural time to explore community. They are entering a new community with many familiar and unfamiliar components. The class starts with an examination of themselves, their families, and their homes through self-portraiture, art, and stories. The class begins with the question “What is a community?” The discussion flows and many questions emerge, “Can worms be a community? Can trees be a community? Must a community include buildings?” Open-ended questions allow the project to flow in the direction of the children’s interest.
Even though the Kindergarten class may study communities every year, the project never unfolds in exactly the same way twice. One class may study a worm "community" in its natural element, another may focus on the TCS community and develop a school-wide postal system, and yet another might focus on how things move—trains, cars, buses, airplanes--in a community.
From all of this wonderful discussion and investigation, one class decided to create their own community: Peace Town. Guided by their teacher, the children first determined what type of community they wanted to build; rural, urban, a combination? Would it be grounded in reality, or make believe? What types of businesses or institutions would be included?
The children created everything within their community; buildings, animals for the farm, supplies for the hospital, goods for the businesses to sell, and currency. In their roles as different community members, children practiced academic skills such as writing, reading, counting, and measuring as well as strengthening their own classroom community by working collaboratively to make their vision of Peace Town a reality.