Experience & Explore is the first stage of the EPIC learning cycle and a fantastic way to start a new topic or theme.
This is such a neglected part of learning! Children at school might be given some time for exploring while at kindergarten but very soon learning becomes compartmentalized and formal. What a tragedy! Over formalizing denies a child’s inbuilt learning mechanism that is such a delight to witness in toddlers and the very young. Home schoolers have the opportunity to give time back as a gift to their children. I like what John Taylor Gatto says in his book “Dumbing Us Down – The hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling”… He’s discussing children in schools… “students…are always watched… There is are no private spaces for children; no private time.” (If you ever want to understand in depth the urgency to educate your children at home then this is a great read)
Giving children the opportunity to go out and experience first-hand things in the world and then have time to just explore ideas and thoughts about those experiences will motivate them to learn. That’s because the motivation to learn is already inbuilt as children naturally want to explore their world! So really, starting your theme this way is not only natural but logical!
When introducing a theme, choose first-hand or direct experiences if at all possible. These are the most effective. First hand or direct experiences are those where your child touches, smells, tastes, feels, hears and sees something in the real world – that is, engage the five senses.
Because direct experiences stimulate the senses, arouse children’s interest and impact emotions they are easily remembered. The child is personally involved and this brings relevance to the theme topic. Children are now focused and motivated and new learning is meaningful.