Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum: Best Practices in Early Childhood Education / Edition 3

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This comprehensive book brings together the best information currently available for developing an integrated approach to curriculum and instruction in the early years. The book creates a bridge between the worlds of child care and early education, as well as between preprimary and primary programs. The effective ideas presented are designed to give readers a cohesive view of the what, why, and how of developmentally appropriate practices. Each chapter addresses principles of age-appropriateness, individual appropriateness, and social and cultural appropriateness. It is designed for current and future early childhood professionals working in formal group settings with young children ranging in age from three to eight.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130496584
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 6/23/2003
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 507
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Marjorie J. Kostelnik is Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. A former child care, Head Start, and preschool teacher, as well as elementary school specialist, Dr. Kostelnik has been actively involved in helping educators in early childhood programs explore the implications of developmentally appropriate practices. Her work has taken her to many settings throughout the United States and abroad. Marjorie teaches classes in early childhood inclusive education and is currently on the Coordinating Commission for High Quality Early Childhood Education for the state of Nebraska.

Anne K. Soderman had 14 years of classroom experience working with children in both public and nonpublic educational settings prior to joining Michigan State University in 1979, where she is now Professor Emeritus. In addition to continuing to consult with schools in international settings, she is currently carrying out an administrative assignment and conducting research on second-language acquisition in Beijing, China. Soderman is also co-author of Guiding Children’s Social Development and Learning, 6th Ed. (2009), Creating Literacy-Rich Preschools and Kindergartens (2008) and Scaffolding Emergent Literacy (2005).

Alice Phipps Whiren is a professor emeritus of the Department of Family and Child Ecology, Michigan State University. She taught curriculum in early childhood and child development to undergraduate and graduate students and was supervisor of the Child Development Laboratories. Early in her career, she taught young children in an inner-city public school in Michigan. She also served as a Head Start assistant director and has provided a variety of training sessions for preprimary teachers nationally and internationally.

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Table of Contents

1 Developmentally appropriate practice : an evolving framework for teaching young children 13
2 Teaching and learning in developmentally appropriate programs 31
3 Planning and implementing effective small-group activities 61
4 Planning and implementing effective group-time activities 85
5 Organizing space, materials, and time 107
6 Child guidance in early childhood classrooms 141
7 Evaluating and guiding children's progress by using authentic assessment 165
8 Strengthening developmentally appropriate programs through family involvement 187
9 The aesthetic domain 221
10 The affective domain 249
11 The cognitive domain 269
12 The language domain 295
13 The physical domain 319
14 The social domain 349
15 Integrating curriculum through pretend and construction play 379
16 Integrating curriculum by using themes and projects 409
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Every adult needs a child to teach. It's the way adults learn.

  • What are developmentally appropriate practices, and how effective are they?
  • How can we create the best programs for young children?
  • As early childhood educators, what is our role in shaping children's educational experiences? What is the child's role? What is the role of the family and community?
  • How can we tell if children are actually learning?

Questions such as these are typically asked by early childhood professionals-in-training as well as by seasoned practitioners in the field. Our work with students and increasing numbers of educators probing for answers indicated the need for a comprehensive guide to support the exploration, planning, and implementation of developmentally appropriate programs. Thus, our goal in writing Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum: Best Practices in Early Childhood Education was to bring together the best information currently available for developing an integrated approach to curriculum and instruction in the early years. We also hoped to bridge the worlds of child care and early education, as well as those of preprimary and primary programs. The resulting volume addresses early childhood professionals-in-training and professionals working in formal group settings with young children from 3 to 8 years old. We realize that early childhood education spans birth to age 8 years; however, we see infancy and toddlerhood as unique ages within this period, requiring specialized knowledge beyond the scope of this text. For this reason, we did not focus on infants or toddlers in our discussions.

We believe the information in this book will be valuable to both novices and master practitioners. The o ideas in this text have been extensively field-tested and found to be effective. All are designed to give you a cohesive view of the "what," "why," and "how" of developmentally appropriate practices.

Finally, we have had many years of experience working directly with young children and their families and with educators in preprimary and primary settings. We have been in urban, suburban, and rural programs; large-medium and small classes; public, private, not-for-profit, and profit-seeking organizations; half- and full-day programs; preschool classes; and the elementary grades. Currently, all of us are actively engaged in educating young children and/or the professionals who work with them.


Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum: Best Practices in Early Childhood Education offers instructors and readers several unique features that increase reader understanding and skill development:

  • The text addresses the classroom as an ecosystem. This ecosystem includes contributions by children and adults, the physical and social environments, and contextual factors leading to learning.
  • The concept of developmentally appropriate practices is pervasive throughout the volume. Each chapter addresses principles of age appropriateness, individual appropriateness, and socio cultural appropriateness.
  • This book spans the early childhood years from 3 to 8. It provides a comprehensive, cohesive approach that results in greater continuity for children and practitioners.
  • Each chapter progresses clearly from theory and research to practice.
  • We use developmental domains to address the early childhood curriculum. Doing so helps practitioners better understand the link between child development and program implementation.
  • Every curriculum chapter includes sample activities.
  • The text addresses individual curricular domains as well as curriculum integration.
  • Detailed directions facilitate the application of developmentally appropriate practices.
  • We demonstrate the interaction of developmental goals, developmentally appropriate practices, and relevant curriculum content.
  • Readers learn a comprehensive approach to conceptualizing, planning, implementing, and evaluating curriculum.
  • Chapter-end activities provide readers the opportunity to extend their understanding of chapter content to their professional lives. Discussion questions focus on essential information in each chapter and give readers an opportunity to explore ideas with classmates and colleagues. Journal recommendations enhance readers' reflective thinking. Sample observations help readers recognize developmentally appropriate practices in operation. Classroom activities enable readers to apply chapter content and processes in interactions with children, families, or professionals in the field. Finally, if readers complete the portfolio entries in each chapter, they will create a comprehensive portfolio including artifacts (things generated in class and then used in a portfolio), reproductions (things reproduced by camera, video, or audio for use in the portfolio), productions (things specifically produced for placement in the portfolio), and testimonials (others attesting to their abilities), all centered around developmentally appropriate practices.


Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum: Best Practices in Early Childhood Education is divided into four parts. Part 1, Foundations of Early Childhood Education, consists of the Introduction as well as chapters 1 and 2 and addresses the philosophy of developmentally appropriate practice. Characteristics of the field, principles associated with developmentally appropriate practice, and critical issues in early childhood education are all outlined in part 1. "Setting the Stage for Learning" is the focus of part 2, chapters 3 through 8. In these chapters, we describe the overall understandings and skills necessary to create effective programs for young children. We begin with planning, implementing, and organizing small-group, then wholegroup, activities. Organizing the physical space and materials used in the classroom; creating a schedule for the day; and determining how to group children to achieve certain aims are discussed next. Child guidance, authentic assessment, and family involvement are treated as fundamental building blocks of effective teaching, with individual chapters devoted to each of these topics. In part 3, chapters 9 through 14, the curriculum is explained within the context of six developmental domains: aesthetic, affective, cognitive, language, physical, and social. Each of the domain chapters has a discussion of theory, research, and educational issues related to children's development and learning in that particular arena, a suggested outline of ultimate goals and intermediate objectives, teaching strategies that characterize the domain, and examples of classroom activities. The curriculum domains are presented in alphabetical order to underscore the idea that no one domain is more important than any of the others. However, you may find knowing that each domain refers to five kinds of knowledge useful. These kinds of knowledge are physical, logical-mathematical, representational, social-conventional, and metacognitive. If you are familiar with these terms, reading chapters 9 through 14 in order will make sense. However, if you are unfamiliar with them, first reading chapter 11, in which the terms are explained, will be useful. The last section of the book is part 4, Integrating Curriculum. This part includes chapters 15 and 16, both focused on creating a cohesive whole. First, we consider the integrative nature of pretend play and construction; second, we consider the integrative aspects of using projects and theme teaching.


Each chapter begins with a series of questions that pique readers' interest in the material and provide a framework for reflecting on the chapter's content following an initial reading. In addition, a series of culminating activities enables readers to review and apply the material in their professional lives. Thus, every chapter ends with discussion questions, potential observations to make in early childhood settings, application activities, guidelines for journal entries, and suggested items to add to a portfolio. These learning aids will hone readers' understanding and skill and serve as resource materials for the future.


Among the popular elements we transferred from the second edition are our focus on developmental domains, a strong research basis for the information provided, and an emphasis on practical applications. Because readers liked the clear link between theory and practice provided by the "Implications" sections in the early chapters, those remain. The curriculum chapters still include rationales and sample teaching strategies specific to each domain, objectives, issues practitioners face, and illustrative activities. Examples featuring children, families, and professionals from a variety of backgrounds continue to be a feature of the chapters that compose the book.


Content Changes. This edition has been extensively updated. On the basis of feedback from our readers, we have pruned some material from each chapter so that the book remains comprehensive but more reader friendly. In chapter 1, we added the Montessori model to demonstrate the variety of developmentally appropriate practices. Chapter 2 has been expanded to include the newest of Gardner's intelligences—the naturalist. The section on direct instruction in chapter 3 has been completely revised. In chapter 4, the emphasis is on two forms of wholegroup activity—group time and field trips. The organization of space, materials, and time, discussed in chapter 5, has been streamlined, but then material on how to structure the environment and diagrams and examples of various ways to do teaching schedules and arrange classrooms have been retained. Material on the uninvolved discipline style as well as a new diagram of the authoritative teaching continuum has been added to chapter 6. We embellished the section on creating whole-school discipline plans, but dropped the elaborate model we used in the past. The chapter on authentic assessment has been moved to become chapter 7. This was done to make the link among assessing, planning, and implementing clearer. "Strengthening Developmentally Appropriate Programs Through Family Involvement" is now chapter 8. Additional material on fathers has been added to this chapter as well as suggestions for how to involve fathers more fully in early childhood programs.

The domain chapters retain many of the features readers found useful in the last edition. However, new material has been added to each, including at least one example per chapter focused on adapting activities to support children with special needs. Chapter 9, the Aesthetic Domain, places greater emphasis on exploration in the arts, focusing on the aesthetic process more fully. Practices include providing time for meaningful aesthetic learning while avoiding wasting children's time with adult-designed product art. Readers will find new sections on children's development of emotional awareness and emotional intelligence in chapter 10, covering the affective domain. Chapter 11, on the cognitive domain, includes the latest neuroscience findings related to young children and the implications of such findings for classroom practices. In addition, the objectives in this chapter reflect the latest work by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, Prekindergarten through Second Grade. The language domain, covered in chapter 12, provides expanded material on literacy, written language, and phonological awareness. The Physical Domain, chapter 13, includes new material on fitness, health, safety, and perceptual awareness. Chapter 14, which addresses the social domain, has been amplified with additional examples, particularly in relation to the anti bias curriculum.

Pretend play and construction continue to be combined in chapter 15. Our aim is to highlight the integrative nature of play and its importance at all levels of early childhood education. We have striven to make the connection between the curriculum and play stronger and more evident. The chapter on themes, chapter 16, has been enlarged to include more information on the Project Approach. A guest segment by Sylvia Chard describes projects more fully and offers a case study focused on a project in action.

All these revisions address current issues in early childhood curriculum development and implementation. Their inclusion should better prepare readers to face the realities of teaching young children on a day-to-day basis.

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