Preschool

Black Capped Chickadee Curriculum Summary

At Mountain Road School we value children’s interests and encourage them to explore their curiosities through our emergent curriculum.  In the preschool-kindergarten classroom also know as the Black Capped Chickadees there is a well balanced mix of play based learning as well as formal learning.  Our education begins with routines and structure throughout the day.  The children are learning to socialize and build the life and community skills that we value as essential.  At an age appropriate level the children in this classroom are introduced to subjects such as Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Physical Development, Art, Spanish, and Music.  Through these subjects the children are gaining the knowledge needed to carry them to the next stage of their development.

Experiences:

The Mountain Road School Preschool program is a Reggio inspired program offering full day or half day sessions for children three to five years of age. The staff consists of a classroom teacher with support of an assistant teacher when classroom enrollment reaches ten children per session.  Art, Spanish, American Sign Language and Music specialists also support the varied curricula.

The Mountain Road School Early Childhood Program has three main goals:

  1. To nurture a child’s social, emotional, physical, and intellectual growth through developmentally appropriate practices.
  2. To nurture a child’s growth in a caring, peaceful and noncompetitive environment.
  3. To nurture a sense of self and a sense of belonging to a community.

The development of community within the Black Capped Chickadees classroom is the foundation of the curriculum. This begins on the first day of school when the children have opportunities to interact with new friends, reconnect with old friends, interact with the teacher, and explore the classroom environment.  As community develops through teacher facilitated projects and spontaneous interaction between children; the emergent curriculum begins to form.

Free Play
Free play consists of entry into the classroom, transition from parents to the classroom environment, exploration of a variety of open play centers, cleanup, and transition to circle time. Parents are encouraged to spend time in the classroom to explore the open centers with their child(ren) and engage in active play.

Throughout free play there are a variety of open centers. Open centers are areas of the classroom the children are able to access freely and explore at their own pace. Open centers consist of gross and fine motor activities including block play, imaginative play, cutting, gluing, and painting. They also include math, science, and language centers. The math and science centers provide the children with an opportunity to manipulate objects, to construct patterns, to count, to sort, and to explore their interests in nature. The language center provides children with opportunities to write their names and explore favorite authors.

Circle Time
Circle time is a structured opportunity to engage in the development of social skills including taking turns and listening to each other with respect. Circle time is used to regroup after free play with ritual and routine. Every circle time begins with a ritual to signal to the class community that a time of conversation, song and learning is ready to begin.

Snack/Lunch Time 
Snack and lunchtimes are a time for social and verbal interaction between peers and teachers. Children are encouraged to eat their food and be at the table to participate in the community interaction that occurs at this time. Parents are encouraged to provide healthy food snacks as Mountain Road School maintains a strong no “junk food” policy. Children are encouraged to compost, clear their space and “try” to use the bathroom before transitioning to outdoor play.

Outdoor Play 
During outdoor play children engage in free play and exercise their bodies and imaginations. All children are encouraged to be active while outdoors; sometimes this involves an organized activity or game initiated by the children and/ or the teacher.

At all times the policy of non-exclusion and “you can’t say you can’t play” is followed.
Violent or warlike play is not permitted and sticks are discouraged unless there is organized “construction” or other building activities being engaged in by the children.

Project Time 
Project time is a structured opportunity to explore the emergent curriculum of the classroom. Project time occurs daily and varies in length.

Quiet Time 
Quiet time is an opportunity for children to rest their bodies and recharge. This can involve falling asleep or just resting one’s eyes.

Curriculum
Throughout the day children have the opportunity to explore math and science concepts, language skills, and develop fine motor skills. For example, math concepts such as counting to 10, comparison of small, medium, and large and creating patterns are developed through the use of pattern blocks, unifix cubes, number puzzles, and nontraditional measurement tools. A science concept such as conservation is explored at the water table with measuring cups. Language skills are developed though access to books, writing implements and paper, letters and structured and unstructured social interactions. Fine motor skills such as tracing and cutting are modeled and practiced during free play time and project time. Each child also has opportunities to develop his/her gross motor skills such as running, swinging, and climbing during outside recess.

Art:

Printmaking: Finger paints:

Our latest printmaking murals were painted in blue with wood blocks, bottle corks, and cotton puffs and again some children could not resist printing with their fingers and hands. When children participate in finger painting experiences, they reawaken within themselves early tactile memories, strengthen their developing sensory motor skills amongst many other things.

Pattern and radial symmetry: These are expressed through our murals of snowflakes and snow painted in white with fingers and paintbrushes adorned by contour drawing to frame our murals.

Watercolor painting: Some of our wet on wet watercolor painting turns into beautiful projects connected to the seasons or festivals. One example is the pumpkin mask we made for Halloween and the other are the lanterns they brought home around the holidays. When painting we begin with one or two colors only so they get to experience the mood of each color. The movement and the trace of color is the most important aspect for the three and four year olds. Watercolor increases their sensitivity to color, color mixtures and combinations. The children internalize a quality of aesthetic appreciation as they respond to the beauty of the pure colors. In the spring we will paint birds and butterflies.

Tempera foot painting: Our reindeer project was done by printing their feet. We teachers carefully painted under one foot and the children stamped on the paper, and then with their fingers they finished the face and antlers with various colors. In this exercise the children increased their sensory awareness, enhance self awareness and body image.

We will experiment tempera painting with feather dusters, on broad surfaces this month.

Collage: We have done some transparency stars that are hanging in their classroom windows which were done by gluing colorful kite papers. These will be going home shortly. Our red and blue construction paper collages were interesting for their pattern designs and fine motor skills. We will be doing some tissue paper collage of pastel colors reflecting some spring colors observed in nature as we get closer to spring. All of these are great ways to learn basic techniques of pasting and gluing, cutting and tearing paper, experiment with the use of space, planning and organizing the pieces.

Sculpture 3D: We have done lots of  play dough modeling discovering shapes and reliefs. The children love the texture of this dough because of how soft it is. This activity is good for the development of their finger muscles, and it expands their awareness of the differences and sensitivity to touch.

Theatre Arts: Storytelling, puppetry, nursery rhymes. In the fall the children have watch me perform a fall puppet play of a mouse who had a pumpkin for a house which we did three or four times. They asked to see and hear the story over and over again. I also used nursery rhymes with other small standing puppets with characters from those rhymes and they would repeat the rhymes accompanied by gestures. I will have another little live show ready for them soon. In the book, “ The Art of Storytelling,” Nancy Mellon quotes, “ Stories can draw from past, present and future cultures; through them we can discover ourselves in each other: the world-wide human family.”

Music:

The Black-Capped Chickadees have been working on pitch and rhythm skills in music class.   They have been exploring high versus low and keeping a steady beat.  Our activities have included moving to the beat, moving to the pitch, singing simple folk songs, playing simple percussion instruments and identifying different aspects of pitch, rhythm & musical form.  We have also been learning some short folk style dances that help children identify sections of music.  Shortly we will begin more listening and moving to music of various and different styles along with learning to identify instruments from particular instrument families.  We will also be adding more in depth work on singing on pitch without leaning on an already pitched instrument or me and keeping a steady beat.

Life/Community Skills: Community and life skills are an essential part of the safe and caring environment at Mountain Road School.  We weave these essential skills into our daily routine through class discussion, writing, one-on-one interaction, sports, Flying Deer, art, and role playing activities.  We have been working on noticing the good in everyone and pointing out the special aspects each person brings to our community.

  • Controls impulses
  • Exhibits empathy
    • Manages emotions
    • Solves problems
    • Resolves conflicts peacefully
    • Cooperates
    • Collaborates
    • Compromises
    • Strong sense of self
    • Follows complex directions
    • Listens
    • Shares

Language Arts: The language arts program has many facets, including writing, reading, and verbal communication.  The Kindergarteners have been steadily studying phonics by becoming familiar with letters.  In doing so, sound to letter correspondence is emphasized while still keeping a story-like and fun manner.  We have been practicing our listening and comprehension skills as well through read-alouds, one-on-one reading sessions with the teacher, and role playinig

  • Identifies upper case letters out of order
  • Identifies lower case letters out of order
  • Identifies sound of letters out of order at
  • Predicts the main idea of a story using pictures as clues
  • Predicts what might happen during a critical episode in the story
  • Identifies main characters in a story
  • Remains on topic when asking/answering questions
  • Retells stories with accuracy and detail
  • Contributes pertinent knowledge to class discussion
  • Describe events using both general and specific language
  • Recognizes that print moves left to right and top to bottom
  • Recognizes that written words are separated by spaces
  • Recognizes that written words make up sentences
  • Identifies sequence of the book
  • Demonstrates an understanding of phonemes, is able to recognize initial consonants
  • Supports judgments made about presentation or classroom discussion
  • Recognizes rhyming words
  • Generates rhymes

Physical Development:  Fine and gross motor skills are important physical aspects in a child’s development.  These skills are practiced on a daily basis during learning activities in the classroom as well as during an extended outside time.

Fine Motor Skills:

  • Printing
  • Cutting/Gluing/Drawing
  • Illustrating
  • Holding a pencil
  • Building with blocks

Gross Motor Skills:

  • Jumping
  • Running
  • Hopping
  • Skipping
  • Throwing
  • Climbing trees/playground structure

Math:

The Math curriculum is designed to not only teach children basic skills, but to also teach to their interest and practicality.  As such, we have been working very closely with the calendar and the concept of time.  Additionally, sorting and categorizing has been a popular use of math in our classroom.  We have also studied graphing skills, number order, number recognition, and estimation.

Patterns/Sorting/Graphing

Name, describe, sort, build, and draw simple two and three-dimensional shapes

  • Describe attributes of two-dimensional shapes, e.g., number of sides, number of  corners
  • Creates many different categories based on distinguishing characteristics
  • Creates patterns using distinguishing characteristics

Calendar/ Sense of Time/ Measurement

  • Identifies date using day of week, month, date, and year
  • Describes activities done yesterday
  • Predicts activities that will happen     “tomorrow”
  • Names all the days of the week

Number Sense

  • Counts to 20 by ones
  • Identify written numbers up to 10
  • Understands the relationship between numbers and qualities
  • Sort and classify objects by attribute
  • Understands that numbers have order
  • Writes numbers up to ten consistent
  • Counts to 100 by 10’s
  • Interprets picture graphs
  • Estimates numbers reasonably

Social Studies: Students experience a lively curriculum integrating the study of societies, current events, beliefs, histories and values with our daily activities. We integrate different cultural traditions through studying holiday and beliefs of others in our community.  Through a “me” week students learn about each other and accept the similarities and differences in peers.

  • Participates in community-building
  • Is familiar with a variety of cultural and religious holidays
  • Identifies and exemplifies community beliefs and values
  • Participates in “me” week and recognizes similarities and differences of peers

Science: Our science curriculum includes the study of not only the environment around us and how we perceive it, but also the child’s individual interest.  During frequent outdoor time, the students have observed, recorded, discussed and questioned what exists around us.  Documentation and exploration have also been a large part of the science component. Through experiments surrounding air the students have been investigating topics that interest them and then recording their findings in their observation journals.

  • Documents (measures, illustrates, and describes) object for scientific study
  • Shares prior knowledge and formulates questions about science topics of study
  • Understands different points of view as they may relate to science and nature
  • Engages in hands-on exploration of objects, organisms, and science phenomena to be investigated and illustrates observations in journal
  • Uses multiple senses to make observations about the science unit of study
  • Exhibits curiosity and interest in science
  • Explores and clarifies ideas related to topics of discussion
  • Discusses and applies new ideas in new situations
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