To enhance a child’s creativity and self-expression, an integrated curriculum is an essential element. An integrated curriculum entitles children to grasp content in a holistic way, without being restricted by subject boundaries. In early childhood programs the curriculum focuses upon the inter-related activities of all different areas of learning including Language development, Cognition, Arts, Physical fitness and health and Socialization. According to B. Shoemaker (1989) integrated teaching combines together various aspects of the curriculum into meaningful picture to focus on different areas of development for children.
This form of teaching is called “sequenced integration”. The sequenced integration is used to combine all different learning activities and they are arranged and sequenced with an emphasis of meaningful connections. It focuses learning and teaching in a holistic way and reflects the real world, which is interactive. It flows with a series of connections and it can be beneficial to teachers as well as children. By using variety of materials and concepts children can learn in the most natural way. According to (Krogh, 1990) the benefits include use of natural learning, more flexibility and organized planning. It also gives opportunities to children to apply their knowledge to real life incidents.
In the above figure 1.1, we can see different aspects of same subject-Arts. Arts is an individual learning subject, but it can be easily integrated with language development, physical activity and social skills development.
Following is an example of an Arts-Integrated lesson plan.
ART ACTIVITY – HEADBAND (Theme: Christmas)
- Assessing Prior knowledge: A day before the activity, ask children have they ever done hand printing? Do they enjoy? Tell them tomorrow they are going to do hand printing.
- On the activity day: Show to children different colors and let them choose their favourite color and print their hands with it.
- The next day, ask children to cut their own handprint out.
- Let them decide their favourite character related to Christmas (Santa Claus or angel).
- Let them paste the character on the headband and attach hands to it.
- Finalise the headbands.
HOW THE DIFFERENT AREAS OF DEVELOPMENT WERE INTEGRATED?
In the above lesson plan, Arts was the basic medium but Physical Fitness was integrated through cutting and pasting (fine skills). The characters they chose (Santa Claus or Angel) is helping in their Language development. When they are choosing colors, talking about characters, finishing their headbands, it is helping in enhancing their creativity and developing social skills. As Leslie Hamilton. (1950), aptly quoted “Children are creative, we need to find different ways to replenish it”.