Language Arts/Writing Area: Here we connect spoken language, reading, and writing in a variety of ways. We begin with concrete materials to consider the relations between speech sounds and written language. A large range of readers is available, starting with books that have simple repetitive text. One strategy we use is to have a child practice reading a book, read it to a teacher or another child, then take the book home to read to family members. To foster a love of writing, we create dictated stories, use drawing and invented spelling to convey meaning, and sometimes compile our efforts into homemade books.
Listening Center: Children use headphones to listen to a recorded book on CD while looking at the book. This fosters an appreciation for books and lets the children hear a story at a time when a teacher may not be available.
Classroom Library Area: The library is stocked with a wide variety of children’s picture books. There are comfy places to read alone or to each other in a quiet, calm setting. Here we develop independence, become familiar with story structure, and learn that reading has a purpose and is fun.
Math, Science, and Technology↑
Manipulative, Math, and Science Areas: Materials and equipment are rotated in and out of these areas. Manipulatives include pattern blocks, base ten blocks, puzzles, games, counters, and objects for sorting, classifying, and ordering. Science items include rock and shell collections, magnets, lenses, simple machines, and measuring equipment such as rulers, scales, thermometers, and volume measures. Aquariums, animals, invertebrates, and plants also contribute to these areas. In these areas we explore, predict, record and organize, and learn about physical properties such as weights and balance. We also learn about numbers, pattern, sequence, design, and develop logical thinking skills.
Work Bench: The workbench is usually stocked with tools, goggles, nails and wood scraps for woodworking. Occasionally old appliances and equipment are provided along with a different set of tools such as screwdrivers and pliers for take-apart activities to explore what’s inside. These activities help kids develop eye-hand coordination, learn to work together, and learn about safe tool use.
The Sensory Table: A variety of materials including sand, water, ice and snow as well as mixtures such as corn starch and water are placed in this large container along with tools such as small shovels, sieves, and water wheels. These materials are irresistible to kids, and exploring them together builds social skills. In the course of their play, the children practice fine motor skills and discover physical properties of the materials first hand while they measure, mix, thaw, pour, siphon, etc.
Games and Arts↑
Art and Craft Area: The art shelves are stocked with paper and materials for drawing and painting as well as craft supplies like yarn, craft sticks, glue, tape, fabric, and collage materials. Tools such as scissors, staplers, an easel, and cookie cutters are available for open-ended creative projects. Here we develop creativity and individuality while exploring a variety of drawing and painting media. We learn about colors, explore textures, experiment with mixing, and reinterpret our experiences by depicting them visually.
Block and Dramatic Play Area: Here we build with blocks, wear dress-up clothes, and play with dolls, puppets, play food, kitchen equipment, and other props that rotate in and out of the center. Blocks provide hands-on learning about balance, symmetry, shape, size, and give opportunities to use problem-solving strategies and work with others. The built structures provide props for imaginative play and give a sense of accomplishment. Through dramatic play we explore different roles, practice everyday life skills, and learn about cooperation and compromise.
Cooking and Eating: At the Snack Table children may prepare food, serve, eat, and clean up at most any time of the day, learning self-reliance and responsibility. We also engage in frequent cooking projects that appeal to the senses and provide a wealth of learning opportunities. Language, math and science concepts are natural parts of reading recipes, measuring, mixing and cooking. When children help make food they will often taste and enjoy a variety of healthy foods that they might not otherwise try.
Games and Puzzles Table: Various games and puzzles are available, often tied in with an ongoing theme. This is a place where children may initiate their own games or learn a game with a teacher so that they can teach their classmates.
Outside the Classroom↑
At Harmony: We play outside almost every day, giving the children first hand experience with changes in the seasons and weather. When it is very cold, children are usually given the choice of playing outside or inside. We have two playgrounds and a field to choose from and sometimes we explore the “woods” that borders the field. We also use the dance room and gym for music, dance, movement games and free play. Through these, children develop their gross motor abilities, sense of balance, and learn to appreciate rhythm and music.
Field Trips: During the academic year we go on field trips about once a month. Some are yearly rituals including trips to a maple syrup shack, a hayride at Linda’s, the Wonderlab, and the public library story hour. Additional trips to the zoo or state museum, for example, are used to support a current theme or project. The summer program is very active with two field trips a week to a variety of locations as well swimming at the Bryan Park pool twice a week.