Intentional Processes

Topic Progress:

course11-lesson3-photo1After careful examination, early learning teachers approach planning intentionally as they consider the emerging interests, ideas, diversity and strengths of the children. With that information, the process of moving through the programming cycle first introduced in the curiosity module begins. It begins with intention, deliberate, purposeful decisions and actions that fuel the programming process as it evolves. Click on the words below to see the sequence of planning for an outdoor play experience featuring driftwood.



A pile of driftwood was intentionally placed outdoors just prior to the time when the children were going outside following afternoon nap. The intention was to provide the children more choice in their construction experiences and to encourage their ideas about driftwood when compared to the other sticks, logs and wood in the space. The driftwood pieces were intended to support the children’s emerging interests in counting and creating shapes. It is also the intention of the driftwood provocation to encourage collaboration, discovery, answers to what ifs and communication.

Investigational Triggers

Children will learn from exploration and discovery – investigational triggers provide the impetus for their thoughts, ideas and emerging interests. These triggers can be released as “trial balloons” to test out an educator’s theories on what the children will respond to in their environment. The driftwood as placed on the grass will be something the children may be surprised to find and they may be enticed to begin an investigation.

Exploration and Discovery

The children stop when they see the driftwood and immediately investigate the smoothness of the surface. They begin to line up the pieces of the wood and comments are made about the pieces being the same size. After lining up the wood the children create a square with four pieces and collect rocks to place within the square.

Pedagogical Documentation

The early learning teacher records the children’s conversations during the driftwood experience and takes photos of the process that began with children lining up the wood and then led to creating shapes to enclose rocks. She also recorded some of her ideas about what the children are thinking during the process. The early learning teacher dates the notes and comes back to them the next day during the children’s naptime. She reviews her notes, the transcripts of the children’s words and the photos.


During this phase of the programming cycle, the educator thinks deeply about what they children were trying to figure out? She wonders what theories they were testing? She wonders if they were engaged in schema play? She finds examples of how the children were building on each other’s ideas and perspectives that lead them to move from lining up to creating enclosures. She thinks about further challenges that she could provide the children to encourage them to build a structure with the driftwood. She wonders how they would respond if she added more loose parts to the driftwood invitation? The educator decides to plan another experience, moving through the cycle once again and then she will put together a learning story or narrative complete with her reflections, the photos and the transcripts. She intends to share this with families and other educators to see how they interpret the experience.

As you think about the processes described, what new ideas surface for you related to the roles of early learning teachers? What happens if there are conflicting roles and philosophies among early learning professionals?