Dr. Christine Chaillé, Curriculum and Instruction (CI), has published her third book on early childhood curriculum, entitled Integrating Math and Science in Early Childhood Classrooms through Big Ideas: A Constructivist Approach.
Chaillé, and co-author Sara McCormick Davis from the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith (UAFS), wanted to provide a unique approach to math and science instruction by combining both subjects in each lesson. Most books cover both topics but treat them in separate chapters. Chaillé and Davis, who is a former GSE faculty member, wanted to show preservice teachers that a successful way to approach student learning is to think the way children do—with large concepts.
The book introduces broad topics, or “big ideas”: patterns, transformation, balance, symmetry, movement, and relationships. It carefully illustrates for teachers how to set up lessons and classrooms to accommodate big ideas. A section on assessment helps teachers to think ahead about how to integrate assessment tools into the lessons. All of the chapters in the book address Common Core State Standards for Math, Next Generation Science Standards, and Head Start Standards.
“Children love to do math and science,” said Chaillé, who doesn’t think math and science have to be boring. “All my work focuses on trying to see the world the way children do so they become good thinkers, and to help teachers think this way as well.”
Introducing math and science in early childhood could lead to stronger student interest in STEM classes in K–12 as schools across the country work to improve student outcomes in those areas.
“We’ve been working on creating supplemental materials for the book,” said Davis, who enjoyed returning to the PSU campus for writing sessions with Chaillé. Davis, whose husband, Kenneth, provided illustrations for the book, is hoping to use the book in UAFS classes in the future.
Chaillé, who has been the CI chair since 2006, has published dozens of chapters and articles and is a popular keynote speaker on early childhood topics. In addition to her work at PSU, she has created child development curriculum for caregivers in orphanages throughout southern India and, subsequently, for worldwide distribution through Hands to Hearts International. In 2013, she was named Outstanding Teacher Educator by the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators. Her first book, The Young Child as Scientist: A Constructivist Approach to Early Childhood Science Education, is in its third printing.