Young children like to experiment with and create art, a necessary and vital part of their brain development. The preschoolers have easy access to watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, and markers. Construction paper, scissors, glue, and a basket of different collage items are available for the students to work with freely. Printing, rubbings, weaving, stenciling, and clay modeling are some of the many different art projects explored in the preschool classroom.
Cooking and preparing snack is an integral part of our preschool curriculum and provides opportunities for many teachable moments for young learners. This rich educational experience encourages critical thinking, teaches concepts essential for math and reading, allowing children to practice motor skills and explore their senses. The children work cooperatively to create and enjoy a healthy meal.
The Preschool curriculum follows, whenever possible, the main curriculum designed by the preschool teachers. The lesson keeps a lively pace to facilitate seamless transitions from activity to activity. It also relies on the innate power of imitation children have at that age. Tone, body language, movement, and rhythm are intrinsic to all we do: nursery rhymes, clapping, finger games, circle games, songs, and stories. By the end of the year, the children will have been exposed to greetings, saying one’s name, colors, parts of the body, the name of familiar animals, and numbers up to 12.
Children have a natural passion for planting seeds and watching them grow. Children prepare the garden for planting by weeding and adding compost. They learn about sustainability as they come to appreciate and care for the earth. Garden work is designed to give students hands-on, sensory experiences that connects them to the natural world and gives them a sense of wonder.
The goal of the preschool handcrafts and practical life skills curriculum is for the children to feel accomplished when they take care of themselves and their environment. Skills such as learning to fold a napkin, pour water from a pitcher, wash dishes, or sew a button, prepare children for practical life experiences. Classroom jobs encourage children to act as responsible community members and help students take ownership of keeping their space and classroom materials organized and neat.
In the preschool program, children are immersed in the language arts experience as they begin to learn the skills necessary to become life long readers, writers, listeners and thinkers. Students learn to communicate with others and to use words effectively to express their thoughts and desires. They learn to negotiate and compromise with a peer, listen and understand instructions from a teacher, follow multiple-step directions, tell a story, and ask thoughtful and meaningful questions.
Understanding that written words are connected to real life actions and objects motivates children to make meaning out of print. Letters, words, poetry and books are found throughout the preschool classroom, promoting letter recognition and print awareness. Children are aware of the written words around them and enjoy asking questions, such as “What does this say?” and “Can you read this to me?” The students’ printed names are used throughout the day so that they learn to recognize their names as well as the names of their classmates. Reading one’s own name and the names of friends, is one of the earliest motivators in learning to read words.
Phonemic awareness is an integral part of the preschool curriculum. During the day students play games, sing songs, recite poems, and learn nursery rhymes. Poetry baskets, books, and journals are used daily. Book baskets in the classroom library are labeled and organized so students can easily locate a favorite author or theme. Author studies and the reading of non-fiction are important components. Children practice reading favorite books or poems to their peers and teachers.
Writing skills develop naturally through dramatic play and through journaling and labeling activities. Letter formation is first taught through large body and arm movements, drawing letters in the sky, and using water on a chalkboard. As students become more comfortable holding a pencil and gain greater finger strength, they are ready for more direct handwriting instruction. So that students develop proper writing habits from the beginning, proper finger grip is taught; when children are ready, more formal handwriting instruction begins. The Handwriting Without Tears approach is introduced, providing developmentally appropriate, multisensory tools and strategies to help students to master handwriting with joy. Students practice copying printed words on paper as an introduction to sounding out words on their own. Students are encouraged to use inventive spelling in their journals and writing activities.
The focus of library instruction in preschool is the immersion in print literacy. Students learn the routine of a classroom community and have the opportunity to practice listening and responding to literature that is connected to their classroom units of study. Students gain an understanding of the library as a physical space as the behaviors that correspond with the atmosphere and purpose of a library are modeled. Students learn appropriate care of books and respect for other learners within the library. Students are given opportunities to develop essential early literacy skills, such as: learning the parts of a book; understanding basic print concepts, including that letters are symbols that represent sounds and sounds work together to make words; and that words and books are read from left to right. A love of reading is fostered through exposure to different authors and genres. A clearer understanding of the virtues is fostered by way of stories.
As children enter the preschool classroom each morning, they immediately begin to use mathematical thinking and reasoning. Students are introduced to math topics in small groups. Everyday, they count, use one-to-one correspondence, and begin to see parts of a whole, as they experiment with concrete and mental addition and subtraction. The preschoolers use a variety of math manipulative materials, games, and activities to practice numeral recognition and number sense, including: counting beads, number rods, texture numbers, and puzzles. Pattern blocks and shape templates are used in the classroom to study fractions, attributes, classification, and patterns. Some of the many ways math is explored in the preschool classroom are through sequencing, block building, tactile numbers, counting and sorting, estimating, measuring, mapping, baking, finger plays and counting rhymes, creating class charts and graphs, and exploring patterns.
The preschool science curriculum reflects the natural curiosity of young children. Using their five senses, students strengthen their skills of observation and understand how each sense provides a different piece of information. The students learn to interpret and record their findings in a scientific manner. Integrated with the social studies program, concepts in science focus on the use of resources, both renewable and finite, as we explore the school environment. Topics of study include native flowers, plants and trees; life cycles and parts of pumpkins, apples, bulbs, and other plants; life cycles and parts of insects, mammals, pond life, and marine life; and the four seasons.
The guiding question of the preschool social studies curriculum is, “I wonder why?’” The initial focus is on why it is important to care for one’s self and the preschool community. This understanding leads to the exploration of why it is important to be connected to and grateful for the school environment and all of the living creatures that occupy it. What follows is the exploration and discovery of other children and families around the world and how they live. Preschool students learn specific and interesting facts about the planet earth’s continents and main oceans using non-fiction books, puzzles, a tactile globe, and other manipulative materials. Each month, different continent studies focus on climate, common flora and fauna, regional food, and cultural characteristics.