Beginning School

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Woodshop K

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           Every Kindergartener starts the year by building a “no-measure” box.  Beginning with this project allows students time to develop and practice newly learned skills at their own pace.  The “no measure” title is slightly misleading in that students will use precut pieces of wood as measuring tools.  I refer to the precut pieces of wood as units.  Everyone starts with a 1 X 3½ X 34 inch board, which accommodates all five pieces when measured correctly.  This process allows the children to see how units link together, the basic concept of how a ruler works. Successfully building a 3-dimensional box reinforces how measurement determines accuracy, balance and success.
 
           The rest of the year focuses on individual and collaborative creations - except for our final boat project.  
 
       The goal for kindergarten woodshop is to try to build what ever is imagined. Sometimes I ask for a drawing of just the front view. The kindergartener typically thinks in 2-dimensions, so drawing the front view of their idea feels complete for them.  For instance, if their idea is a birdhouse, their drawing will help me visualize their thinking.  Do they envision a flat roof or a pitched roof?   Will there be a door? In order to decide the overall size of their idea, they hold their hands apart to indicate how wide and then how tall.  For each direction I use the tape measure to measure between their hands.  After they cut their first piece of wood I literally stand up that piece of wood up on the workbench to introduce and talk about a 3-dimensional perspective.  Understanding dimensions and perspective will continue to develop and strengthen as the students become comfortable working with the medium of wood.
 
            The kindergarten year in woodshop establishes a foundation for all kinds of creative thinking and empowers independence.  The finished work reveals a wide variety of understandings and creativity!  
 
            Some of the hand tools we use are: claw hammer, saw, coping saw, hand drill, brace drill, square, screw driver, sand paper, file, C-clamp, bar clamp and wood glue.

Writing Continuum

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Literacy Statement

An effective literacy program offers a balance of challenge and support while building children’s confidence in their emerging abilities as readers and writers. Our goal is to develop fluent, capable readers who enjoy the process and learn from it, drawing from a diverse array of literature. Helping students become writers who can express their ideas cogently, clearly, and creatively is another important goal. We view reading and writing as a developmental process and understand that a child’s progress is seldom even or linear. It is common, for example, that a student’s leap ahead in learning is followed by a consolidating phase or an apparent plateau. We also find that students cannot be easily placed in a single category along the learning continuum. As such, our instruction is guided by regular formal and informal writing assessments.

While no two developmental journeys are identical, students often exhibit a range of skills and understandings. The following reading/writing continuum describes the basic path to literacy in the Beginning and Lower Schools.

 

Reading Continuum

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Literacy Statement

An effective literacy program offers a balance of challenge and support while building children’s confidence in their emerging abilities as readers and writers.  Our goal is to develop fluent, capable readers who enjoy the process and learn from it, drawing from a diverse array of literature.  Helping students become writers who can express their ideas cogently, clearly, and creatively is another important goal.  We view reading and writing as a developmental process and understand that a child’s progress is seldom even or linear. It is common, for example, that a student’s leap ahead in learning is followed by a consolidating phase or an apparent plateau. We also find that students cannot be easily placed in a single category along the learning continuum. As such, our instruction is guided by regular formal and informal reading assessments.

While no two developmental journeys are identical, students often exhibit a range of skills and understandings. The following reading/writing continuum describes the basic path to literacy in the Beginning and Lower Schools.

 

K Storycraft

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The goal of Storycraft is to encourage inquisitive learners through the study of imaginative narrative, myths, legends, and oral traditions from many cultures. We learn how to build stories, the elements involved, where imagination comes in, and the fine art of telling and acting out our stories.  Storycraft builds community by helping us to get to know one another, what we share, and the differences we also share.

Visual Arts K

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Visual Arts in Kindergarten

Making art is fundamental to being human.  Visual arts have always been a means of learning, reaching understanding, and communicating, of voicing, making connections, speaking to one another, and sharing-- in fact, the experience of what it means to be human.  Because each material lends itself to a new interpretation of experience, the studio is a place where kindergarteners are introduced to a wide range of materials and then encouraged use them to bring experience to life, to understand their world in new ways.  Through an exploration of both 2D and 3D materials, students’ natural curiosity is ignited, as lessons are framed to support children’s creativity and discovery.  Through this engagement students begin to develop a broader range of skills and techniques, both for making art and “reading” art. Some projects are cross-curricular in content, while others are focused primarily on students’ expansion of material fluency.

Please note:  Because teaching and learning in the studio is responsive to students and their interests, it is continually evolving, and the specific projects may change from year to year.  The essential concepts and attainment of techniques through using materials, however, remains.

Science PS

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Young children are scientists by nature in that they are constantly thinking about the world around them and trying to understand and connect existing knowledge with new understandings. In preschool we observe, question and interpret what we see. We think critically about our observations and hypothesize about what we do not understand. We experiment with substances like sand, water, light, and color both formally and informally. Our invention center encourages three dimensional building and learning about what will make a strong connection based on the use of materials (glue, tape, string). We think about cause and effect and observe it by leaving water outside to freeze, or bringing a snowball inside and seeing it melt. Our campus allows for time in the woods, among the apple trees in the orchard, or seeing what rain does to a dirt path. Each class brings in new interests which we explore as a group; for instance: dinosaurs, sea animals, volcanoes, or chickens. We look to increase our knowledge of the physical and natural worlds throughout these types of explorations and investigations and encourage an investigative approach to the life of our preschooler children.

Homeroom PS

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The Preschool Classroom

Preschool is a time for children to learn how to take care of their needs with increasing independence, to help others, and to take care of their classroom and school. Our program is designed to support and extend young children's learning through direct experiences. Children learn best when actively engaged, so we provide a balance of teacher directed and child initiated activities. Throughout the year we will focus on each of the following areas using many different topics and interests as the vehicle for doing so.

Social Relations

Much of our work in preschool is to help children learn how to effectively relate to those around them: friends and classmates, family members, and teachers. We directly teach many strategies that help children deal with real life situations such as entering play, refraining from interrupting their grown-ups, or conflict with a friend. We focus on negotiation with peers, expressing and understanding one's own feelings as well as those of another, cooperation and team work, and being a kind and safe playmate. We seek to foster resilience, flexibility, gratitude, and a positive outlook.

School Readiness

In preschool we are lucky enough to be at the start of an academic and social journey that will continue for many of the class members for the next fourteen years and beyond. Therefore we strive to create a group that cares for itself as well as each person within. We teach skills that are crucial to being an independent thinker who is willing to take intellectual risk, as well as being a supportive social learner. We ask that people share their thoughts by waiting with a quiet hand and when the group is asked a question we often wait a moment before calling on someone so that "everyone has time to think." Through these types of words we model an understanding of individuals' unique qualities, as well as an expectation that the group as a whole will support each member within.

Language & Literacy

 Preschoolers are encouraged to verbally express their thoughts and feelings in order to communicate effectively with those around them. Using language as a tool to express, share, and further one's thinking is one of our goals for the preschoolers. We model the value of words, both written and spoken, throughout the day. We tell stories (both real and pretend), read many, many books, and take delight in the taste, sound, and meanings of certain words and phrases. We encourage the children to familiarize themselves with the world of print by looking at books on their own and figuring out the story through the pictures. The children go to Library every week for story time and a chance to choose books for the classroom. We ask the children to express their thoughts pictorially and give us the language that goes with these pictures.The preschoolers often send dictated notes home; these might be love letters or messages about what is best to send for lunch, either way they model the importance of the written word. We are vigilant about monitoring small motor skills which are an integral part of the mechanics and art of writing. We are always careful to nourish the children's confidence in themselves as pre-literate thinkers and doers. Our biggest goal for the preschoolers is that they learn the value of words and language; as a group they are not yet developmentally ready to be taught the fine art of reading.

Math & Logic

Preschoolers learn and practice a variety of math skills through both formal and informal opportunities. We count daily, classifying children as absent or present. We focus on patterns, both in nature and of our own creation. Understanding our daily and weekly schedule introduces an understanding of time and temporal relations. We create calendars in order to count down to important events, like the Circus, or our final day of school. We estimate and predict, for example: "How many apples did we pick?" It is the nature of preschool that the answers range from seven to twelve hundred; our intent is to model an interest in numbers and foster an appreciation and understanding of their importance. Block play, time on the playground, and art projects all have built into them the importance of spatial relations. We measure formally during cooking and science projects, and informally at the sand or water tables. The time the preschoolers spend in woodshop is another key fixture of our math curriculum. We have conversations at lunch and throughout the day that are based around the above mathematical concepts. We encourage mathematical thinking and model the use of math as a way to find answers, solve problems, or discover something new.

Science & Investigative Thinking

Young children are scientists by nature in that they are constantly thinking about the world around them and trying to understand and connect existing knowledge with new understandings. In preschool we observe, question and interpret what we see. We think critically about our observations and hypothesize about what we do not understand. We experiment with substances like sand, water, light, and color both formally and informally. Our invention center encourages three dimensional building and learning about what will make a strong connection based on the use of materials (glue, tape, string). We think about cause and effect and observe it by leaving water outside to freeze, or bringing a snowball inside and seeing it melt. Our campus allows for time in the woods, among the apple trees in the orchard, or seeing what rain does to a dirt path. Each class brings in new interests which we explore as a group; for instance: dinosaurs, sea animals, volcanoes, or chickens. We look to increase our knowledge of the physical and natural worlds throughout these types of explorations and investigations and encourage an investigative approach to the life of our preschooler children.

Physical Skllls

Preschoolers are given many opportunities to gain skill, control, and coordination with both large and small muscles. This includes fine-motor skills (cutting, holding a pencil, sewing) and gross motor skills (time in PE and Music, on the playground, walking through campus or taking bike hikes).

Self-Expression & Creative Representation

Young children learn to represent what they know and what they experience in many ways. In our playhouse the preschoolers use dramatic play to recreate familiar situations (dinnertime) as well as milestones in their lives (a new baby). We write and act out stories, both imaginative and taken from real life. Preschoolers paint, draw, and create sculpture. We sing and dance, practice yoga, and role play. The preschoolers form constructions both large (big blocks) and small (Invention Center), individually and in a small group. We make models and maps and graphs, such as when we vote for the face of our Halloween jack o'lantern. We dictate thoughts and stories and letters home; we talk and think and talk some more.

Woodshop PS

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     The preschool year in woodshop establishes a foundation for all kinds of creative thinking and empowers independence.  We will focus on individual and collaborative creations while being mindful of how finished work reveals a wide variety of understandings, processes and successes.  Working with wood can present many problems to solve just by the nature of the medium. The grain in the wood or where a knot is located can be factors for causing the wood to split, a nail to bend or saw cut to be off the line.  We take plenty of time to explore and discover as well as build amazing things! 

     The students begin most of their self-directed projects by selecting wood from the scrap woodbin. It’s similar to putting a puzzle together. I might ask, “Which two pieces would you like to connect first?”  This introduces the idea of making a plan. Taking a photograph or tracing the wood shapes onto a large piece of paper is a solid representation of a preschool plan.  My expectation is that the language of shop is practiced, practiced and then practiced some more. Successfully drilling 8 holes through a piece of wood is wonderfully thrilling and suitable for display!
 
The hand tools used are: claw hammer, saws, hand drill, brace drill, square, screw driver, sand paper, file, C-clamp, bar clamp, vise and wood glue.