Integrating Math and Science in Early Childhood Classrooms Through Big Ideas A Constructivist Approach

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1/8/2015
  • Publisher: Pearson
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Integrating Math and Science in Early Childhood Classrooms Through Big Ideas offers teachers a way to think about the future classroom and to meet the needs of children who come to into it with diverse experience, knowledge, and abilities. “Change how we think about math and science for young children,” the authors say in their Preface. “Instead of separating the disciplines, planning lessons and topics and projects aimed at math OR science content, let’s look at the world the way the child does. Children think in terms of big ideas.”


In this unique book, the authors focus on big ideas—like patterns, transformation, movement, balance, and relationships—as a way to think about content, and they integrate science and mathematics through these big ideas, rather than linking them topically. The book looks at why it is important to think about thinking, introduces assessment early to help the teacher plan for assessment before teaching even begins, and sets up an environment that will support the construction of the big ideas that integrate math and science. Real-life scenarios provide invaluable insights into the teacher’s thinking and planning, and each chapter includes two modules to be used for in-depth exploration of different aspects of the big ideas. It’s a unique exploration of thinking and learning.

Author Biography

Christine Chaille is Professor and chair of the department of Curriculum and Instruction at Portland State University, focusing on early childhood education, where she has taught since 1991. Her doctorate is from U.C.L.A., and she also studied with Jean Piaget at the University of Geneva. She is the author of Constructivism Across the Early Childhood Curriculum: Big Ideas as Inspiration, and co-author, with Lory Britain, of The Young Child as Scientist: A Constructivist Approach to Early Childhood Science Education, has written many publications primarily on the importance of children’s play. She has also developed a child development curriculum for Hands to Hearts International that is used with caregivers in orphanages in Southern India, as well as in other countries and with other vulnerable populations. She was a panel member responsible for developing the NSTA Position statement on Early Childhood Science Education (2014). She has served as President of the Oregon Association for the education of Young Children, President of the National association of Early Childhood Teacher educators, and Chair of the early education/Child Development Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association, and is the recipient of the Outstanding Early Childhood Teacher Educator award for 2013 from the National Association of early Childhood Teacher Education.


Sara McCormick Davis has degrees in Family Relations/Child Development and Early Childhood Education. Her doctorate is in Curriculum and Instruction from Oklahoma State University. She taught preschool through fifth grade for many years before working with teachers, both pre service and in service. As a preschool/elementary classroom teacher, one of her goals was to always have a project going in her classroom that helped children construct new ideas. Her interests and work have revolved around how teachers can integrate curriculum so that children are engaged and learning. She has published about the integration of the arts in teacher education and researched practices of classroom teachers as they work to create environments where everyone can flourish.

Table of Contents

Brief Table Of Contents


Chapter 1:         Constructivist Curriculum Framework for the Integration of Math and Science in Early Childhood Classrooms

Chapter 2:         Assessment

Chapter 3:         Creating an Environment for Math and Science Integration

Chapter 4:         Patterns

Chapter 5:         Transformation

Chapter 6:         Movement

Chapter 7:         Balance and Symmetry

Chapter 8:         Relationships

Chapter 9:         Developing Your Own Curriculum: Big Ideas and Planning





Detailed Table Of Contents


PART I: Introduction

Chapter 1: Constructivist Curriculum Framework for the Integration of Math and Science in Early Childhood Classrooms

    Children as Theory-Builders

        What Is Constructivism?

    Big Ideas as Tools for Integration

        What Is a Big Idea?

        Characteristics of Big Ideas

    Views of Teaching and Learning

        The Child at the Center

        Celebration of the Diversity of Children

        What About Content?

        Child-Centered Versus Teacher-Directed Curriculum: A False Dichotomy

    Background on the Model of Curriculum Integration Used in This Book

        Historical Context

        Models of Curriculum Integration

        The Project Approach

        Big Ideas, Projects, Concepts, Topics, and Facts: What Are the Differences?

        The Work of Reggio Emilia

    Review Questions




Chapter 2: Assessment

    Why Begin with Assessment?

        Understanding Children’s Development

    Principles of Development

        Responding to Children’s Needs

        Culture and Context 24

    Principles of Assessment

        Assessment Should Be Valid

        Assessment Should Guide Teaching Decisions

        Assessment Should Be Part of a System That Is Designed to Support the Whole Child

    Vocabulary Development and Assessment

        Teacher Language

        Documentation of Children’s Learning as Assessment

        Documentation Strategies for Integrated Math and Science

        Capturing the Documentation

        More Formalized Assessment Tools

        Science and Math Journals

    Interviewing for Assessment

        Questions That Help with Assessment

        Interviewing Activities

    Standards and Assessment

        Standardized Testing


    Review Questions




Chapter 3: Creating an Environment for Math and Science Integration

    How Our Beliefs About Children, Teaching, and Learning Shape Our Environments

        Academic Environment

        Physical Environment

    Classroom Organization

        Differentiation Built into the Environment

        Animals in the Classroom

        Communicating with Families and Others Through the Environment

    Review Questions




PART II: Integration Through Big Ideas

Chapter 4: Patterns


        What Is Important About Patterns? Why Do We Talk About Patterns with Young Children?

    Elements of the Big Idea of Patterns

        Repeating Patterns

        Spatial Structure Patterns

        Growing Patterns


        Seriation and Sequencing

    Patterns Surround Us

        Patterns Help Us Predict

        Patterns Help Us Make Connections

        Patterns Help Us Organize Information

    Review Questions



Chapter 5: Transformation

    What Is Transformation?

        Relationship Building as a Part of Transformation

        Equivalence as Part of Transformation

    Exploration of Transformation





    Review Questions



Chapter 6: Movement

    Introduction to the Big Idea of Movement

    Elements of the Big Idea of Movement

        Direction of Movement

        Representation of Movement

    Types of Movement

        Movement of the Surface

        Sources of Movement

        Mysterious Movement


        The Movement of Time

    Review Questions



Chapter 7: Balance and Symmetry

    Elements of the Big Idea of Balance



        The Establishment of Equality

    Exploration of Balance

        The Study of Symmetry

        Comparisons and Tools of Measurement

        The Use of Representations

        Games That Incorporate Balance: Physical Knowledge

    Review Questions



Chapter 8: Relationships

    Introduction to the Big Idea of Relationships

    Elements of the Big Idea of Relationships

        Cause and Effect

        Part/Whole Relationships


        Perspective-Taking and Interdependence

    Review Questions



Chapter 9: Developing Your Own Curriculum: Big Ideas and Planning

    Determining the Big Idea

        Coming up with New Big Ideas

        Re-thinking an Activity, Project, or Unit

        Starting with Children’s Interests

        Starting with an Event

        Starting with Where You Are

        Start with an Interest of Yours

        Starting with the Standards

    The Planning Process: Strategies for Thinking About Planning

    The Planning Process: What Does It Look Like?

        Planning for Integration and Inquiry

        The Project Approach

        Planning with the End in Sight

        The Five E Learning Cycle

    Using Other Areas of the Curriculum to Strengthen Math and Science

        Connecting Language Arts, Math, and Science

        Connecting Children’s Literature, Math, and Science

        Cognitively Guided Instruction

        Starting with a Standard

        Connecting the Arts, Math and Science

        Connecting Social Studies, Math and Science

    Review Questions





Name Index

Subject Index

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