Abstract 13- Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 2008

Social Studies Research and Practice

Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 2008



Building a Sense of History: Folk Art for Early Childhood Learners

Lois McFadyen Christensen
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Ellen Stubblefield
Glenda Watson
Gwin Elementary School, Hoover, AL


This study is a result of working with a first-grade teacher, Ellen Stubblefield, who plans, implements, and evaluates a modified Reggio Emilia approach. She documents students’ learning through visual means. In tandem with a kindergarten teacher, Glenda Watson, early childhood learners question and reflect about their community history and that of Harlem primarily through folk art but also in music, poetry, literature, and architecture. Students inquire about historical events in the Harlem Renaissance and connected it to Hoover, Alabama. They deconstruct art works, replicate their favorites, learn the history of the Harlem Renaissance, map Harlem, write about artists, visit the local museum’s exhibit of folk art and make comparisons to their community. Ultimately, they educated peers and parents about the diversity of the people who made Harlem such a wonderful community. As educators, we learn the most. We see young children can begin historical understanding with an active learning/research approach.

Download article as PDF

About the Author(s)…

Lois McFadyen Christensen, Associate Professor of elementary social studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham she teaches and researches issues concerning learning elementary social studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She facilitates learning in critical pedagogy and qualitative research methods. Each summer, she team-teaches a civil rights movement course accompanied by the city schools and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. She served on the PBS Advisory Board for TeacherSource. Contact information: lmchrist@uab.edu and http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/>www.pbs.org/teachersourc

Ellen Stubblefield is a first-grade teacher at Gwin Elementary School in Hoover, AL, where she implements a modified Reggio Emilia approach into her curriculum. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, has an Ed.S., blogs with Grant Wiggins at http://www.authenticeducation.org/wordpress/, and is a master teacher housing UAB interns. Ellen is a member of UAB School of Education’s Advisory Committee for the P-6 program area and has a great wiki for her students and parents at http://estubblefield.wiki.hoover.k12.al.us/

Glenda Watson, M.Ed., is a kindergarten teacher at Gwin elementary School in Hoover, AL. Glenda studied the Reggio Emilia approach in a professional book group and visited Reggio Emilia, Italy, in 2006 for a conference. She applies what she learned by implementing elements of the method in her primary setting and curriculum. Her creativity in teaching and learning is evident in her Wiki at http://gwatson.wiki.hoover.k12.al.us/ with all that she does with her young learners