Preschoolers use a variety of artistic mediums to explore and display their knowledge of the world. Ample opportunity is given to paint, draw, create three-dimensional constructions, and collage. The Honeybees work on journal page drawings which capture certain experiences (birthdays, the Circus, having a friend) or demonstrate their understanding of books we have read or discussions we have had as a class. As is developmentally appropriate, the focus on our artistic work is on the individual creative process. Over the course of the year we work on several projects that require prolonged thought and several sessions to create a finished product. These include: embroidering and sewing buttons, drawing a skeleton by looking at a small model, making a life-size circus performer using paint, collage, and hot glue, molding a gift out of clay, and making a model honeybee. We spend time mixing colors, making prints, using tree branches as a paintbrush, painting natural objects like sticks and stones and creating adornments such as masks, crowns, necklaces, and wands.
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.
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.