Intergrated curriculum is adding another element to existing materials or activities. A child adds that element to their play or exploration. That stimulates more curiosity and exercises their thinking skills. This type of learning is more meaningful. Each one feels positive about their accomplishment in the scheme of the overall project. It is a more balanced learning approach.
It is a "Layered Learning." Take a song, for example. Your bottom layer is rhythm, which is math, then the melody, which is music, and the lyrics, which is language. Add some tambourine or maracas and you add another layer, physical development.
Research has shown this is one of the best ways to layer learning but it doesn't mean we do not take advantage of spontaneous teachable moments. There is no confusion for the children. The key is to keep it simple. As children develop their skills we can challenge them a little by adding another small element, like putting the grocery list in an envelope, which exercises fine motor skills.
The advantages to this approach of teaching is that we are encouraging children's thinking skills. Once we blend things together, it is easier to think of things to add to an activity. Through one experience we are helping to develop a variety of areas in children's development.
An integrated way of learning is fun. Children stay interested and focus. With thematic learning, the children feel knowledgeable enough about the subject to answer simple questions, which make them feel important and included. The curriculum keeps all the children of varying ages connected, engaged and stimulated. An integrated curriculum is easy. The children don't know they are learning math or science or reading skills. It's all about having fun, learning and discovering new things. The key is repetition. What they may not be interested in today, may hold their interest when revisited again in the future.