In the world of early childhood, science is presented to children as both process and content.*Â Process skills are seen as how children learn, while content is what children learn.Â Through experiences presented via a process methodology, children learn concrete information.Â Remember, for example, the celery stalk in the glass of red food coloring experiment?Â PictureBook Plays is no different.Â It presents drama through a process methodology, giving children a reinforcement of or introduction to concrete information.
Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a drama teacher work with five year olds in an after school drama class.Â They took a picture book, Caps for Sale, and assigned each student a part.Â I double checked: the teacher had chosen the children based on how well she judged their ability to remember lines, speak loudly, and follow her (the adultâ€™s) directions.Â The â€œextraâ€ children, who now knew they werenâ€™t capable of these skills, were assigned activities such as making hats, painting the tree and caring for other props.
Now, before you say, â€œWhatâ€™s wrong with this scenario?â€ consider what PictureBook Plays presents as process:
- After you read and become familiar with a particular story, children are asked what parts would they like to try out, what props will they use?
- When they â€œact outâ€ the story, they take charge of the story.Â Perhaps there are three peddlers â€“ perhaps a child is even a tree or a hat â€“ the difference is in the choice.
- Children take charge of the process and in that process gain content.
And the content?Â Self-assuredness, learning how to make a choice, and maybe even discovering how to take the â€œriskâ€ of speaking loudly enough to be proud of being a peddler.Â All this packaged up nicely becomes a child saying, â€œI am capable.â€
Now go back and look at the process I observed in the after school program and decide for yourself what sort of content is the result of that particular teacher-led dramatic programming.
*Dodge, Colker, & Heroman, 2000. Creative curriculum for early childhood:Â connecting content, teaching and learning. (3rd ed). Washington, DC: Teaching Strategies.