Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy Through Children's Literature

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Big Ideas for Little Kids includes everything a teacher, a parent, or a college student needs to teach philosophy to elementary school children from picture books. Written in a clear and accessible style, the book explains why it is important to allow young children access to philosophy during primary-school education. Wartenberg also gives advice on how to construct a "learner-centered" classroom, in which children discuss philosophical issues with one another as they respond to open-ended questions by saying whether they agree or disagree with what others have said.

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Editorial Reviews

This book is an excellent resource, helping primary teachers of RE to develop children's ethical and spiritual thinking through well-chosen stories, and providing a structure and methodology for them to do so.
Sam Swope
Oh, to be a child in a literary discussion with Thomas Wartenberg! He understands that young children are deep thinkers trying to figure life out and that great children’s books can help them do so. As he makes clear, “philosophy” is just a fancy grown-up word for an activity kids do naturally, and this teacher-friendly, easy-to-read book with its invaluable guided questions for individual titles will help all of us improve the quality, depth, and liveliness of discussions in the classroom reading corner.
April 2010 CHOICE
Those unfamiliar with philosophy will love the brief introduction to the disciplines of philosophy; philosophers will find the use of children's literature a refreshing starting point. While intended for educators new to pre-college philosophy, this book nicely encapsulates for philosophers one method of doing such work. Far preferable to Marietta McCarty's Little Big Minds (2006). Highly recommended.
Andrea Ross and Mark Blevis
Unleash the power of picture books! Using clear guidelines and concrete examples, Big Ideas for Little Kids shows us how to transform a few carefully crafted questions, an attentive ear and the natural curiosity of young minds into impressive instruments for nurturing the creative, autonomous, respectful, engaged, critically thinking citizens of tomorrow.

This book helps teachers and parents understand how to identify philosophical ideas within picture books and young reader novels, and demonstrates how to facilitate inspired discussions with children.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781607093343
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 8/28/2009
  • Pages: 166
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas E. Wartenberg is professor of philosophy at Mount Holyoke College and has been working with teachers on teaching philosophy for children for over a decade. He is a member of the American Philosophical Association Committee on Precollege Instruction in Philosophy. Among his other books are Existentialism and Thinking on Screen.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Preface Part 2 Teaching Philosophy in Elementary Schools Chapter 3 Natural-Born Philosophers Chapter 4 How I Became a Children's Philosophy Teacher Chapter 5 Learner-Centered Teaching Chapter 6 The "Game" of Philosophy Part 7 Preparing to Teach Chapter 8 The Elementary-School Introduction to Philosophy Course Chapter 9 Preparing a Lesson Plan Chapter 10 Leading a Philosophy Discussion Part 11 The Stories Chapter 12 "Dragons and Giants": Teaching Ethics Chapter 13 Frederick: Teaching Social and Political Philosophy Chapter 14 The Important Book: Teaching Metaphysics Chapter 15 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Teaching the Philosophy of Mind Chapter 16 The Giving Tree: Teaching Environmental Philosophy Chapter 17 Morris the Moose: Teaching Epistemology Chapter 18 Knuffle Bunny: Teaching the Philosophy of Language Chapter 19 Emily's Art: Teaching Aesthetics Part 20 Implications Chapter 21 Suggested Follow-Up Activities after Philosophy Discussions Chapter 22 Conclusion

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