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12 Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Learning about Children’s Deep Interests and Passions Elizabeth: Through observation I learn about children’s strengths and needs, likes and dislikes, what’s important to them, and how they think. I also gain an initial assessment of each child’s abilities. Observation helps you see what children’s interests are. Noting what areas of the classroom they spend time in or what materials they choose to use again and again gives you insight into their strengths and favor- ites. Paying attention to the topics that they talk about or incorporate into their play can help you plan curriculum that is more motivating to them because it is based on their interests. Read the following observa- tion note about Darius and Justin. Notice how they show their interest in cooking, and then write down follow-up activities that you would plan for these boys both indoors and outdoors to continue to build on that interest. Darius (4 years, 5 months), Justin (4 years, 8 months) Darius and Justin go to play in the sandbox after a cooking project. Darius says to Justin, “Let’s make what Antonio’s mom makes. Pass the sugar. That’s one cup of teaspoon. We crack the eggs. We need milk, cinnamon, need teaspoon salt.” He uses a shovel to add sand to the measuring cup. He takes the cup and pours it into the bowl. He takes a spoon and adds more sand then moves the spoon around in the bowl. He pours it onto a plate and tells Justin, “Okay. Take it to the oven.” Using information for assessment Both boys are playing out cook- ing steps that they experienced in classroom cooking activities. Such representation of real objects with sand shows their abstract thinking and ability to pretend, all important cognitive capabilities for chil- dren their age. Using information for planning Inviting Darius and Justin to help prepare snack foods, to write out simple recipes, to plan future cook- ing activities, and to use measuring cups and spoons in sand and water outdoors would all be ways of using this observation for cur- riculum planning. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL