BCD’s preschool program uses language arts and literacy as the framework for our curriculum. Preschool faculty members use books as a catalyst for teaching curriculum goals and objectives. This “storybook” method of promoting curriculum objectives is developmentally appropriate and uses best practices in education while supporting major objectives in language arts and literacy, number concepts, science, social studies, self-help skills, fine and gross motor skills, and character development. Books also provide meaningful learning experiences which teachers and children use as springboards for cross-curricular connections and exploration of interests and ideas.
Promoting language arts and literacy skills is an important part of BCD’s preschool program. We believe in the importance of exposing children to upper and lowercase letters, letter-sound relationships, and phonemic awareness. In addition, beginning reading and writing skills are highlighted as teachers model conventional skills and actively engage in building children’s conceptual understanding of the printed word in relation to spoken language. Teachers also facilitate discussions in which the children talk about featured books and share knowledge, while making comparisons, predictions, inferences, and characters.
In addition, BCD’s preschool program promotes children’s beginning understanding of numeric concepts such as number recognition, counting, patterning, one-to-one correspondence, part-whole relationships, sorting, and sequencing. Manipulatives (small objects that children can manipulate to represent number) are used throughout the program to support learning. Teachers strive to keep learning fun while promoting true understanding of number concepts. Science is taught using age appropriate reading materials and hands-on, experiential learning activities. Children use sensory tables, science kits, field trips and their surroundings to interact with the physical, natural and chemical world. Furthermore, preschool children attend a special science class in our science lab every week.
Social studies curriculum features literature and experiences that encourage children to discover the world, its cultures, geography, and history. Respect for people and the world are focal points and problem solving, character education, and conflict resolution skills are fostered on a daily basis.
In addition to our strong academics, Boulder Country Day’s preschool incorporates a “Specials” curriculum. This curriculum includes instruction in world language (French and Spanish), movement, music, and library skills, science lab, and computer lab (pre-K only) on a weekly basis. Our specials curriculum helps to ensure that every preschool child begins to discover his/her excellence.
small class sizes and low child/adult ratios
Our small class sizes provide individualized attention for each preschool student. There is truly a personal relationship that develops between the children and their teachers. Our knowledge of each child’s strengths and goals helps teachers to meet individual needs. Classrooms are organized by age and are class sizes are well below State of Colorado Division of Childcare ratio guidelines. Each preschool classroom has two dedicated faculty members.
providing structure and routines designed to with children in mind
Our classrooms and routines are structured and follow a general “flow” each day. However, our routines are flexible and maintain a balance in all that we do. We challenge our students to reach their highest potential by using research-based curriculum and differentiated teaching practices.
BCD’s motto, “Respect yourself. Respect others. Take responsibility for your actions,” is emphasized throughout the school, and supporting character development is an important part of each day. Problem solving, communication and respect for people and the world are focal points and BCD’s program helps students learn to navigate their social world. Conflict resolution skills are taught on a daily basis as teachers consistently model appropriate communication, behavior, words, and strategies for expressing emotion.
fostering a flourishing faculty
Our faculty is the “heart and soul” of BCD. All members of our teaching staff are committed to the school and many have served our community for extended years. Preschool lead teachers have either a Bachelor or Master’s Degree in early childhood education or elementary education. Preschool assistant teachers are all qualified early childhood teachers in the State of Colorado. BCD encourages professional growth by providing our faculty opportunities to engage in on-going professional development and continuing education.
supporting and including families
BCD promotes strong family/school connections. Parents are always welcome and encouraged to actively participate in classroom activities, field trips and school events. Furthermore, our program supports working parents by offering early arrival, extended day (After 3 at BCD), and summer programs.
maintaining an outstanding campus
BCD is safe and secure. We maintain beautiful campus buildings, facilities, and outdoor spaces that enhance learning and education. Our preschool program is housed in its own building and serves children ages three to five years and their families. The preschool building is set up for young children and our classrooms and outdoor spaces solicit children’s active participation in activities designed to enhance social, emotional, intellectual, and physical growth. The preschool classrooms contain numerous learning centers and materials which support curriculum and encourage exploration. Classrooms contain a variety of reading and writing materials that facilitate language awareness, phonetics, sound recognition, vocabulary development, and emergent reading and writing skills. The classrooms also feature hands-on materials such as blocks, dramatic play props, dress-up clothing, as well as art and craft materials which support social, emotional, and cognitive growth.
We believe that it is a privilege to educate your child and that your child will have the opportunity to discover his or her own excellence at Boulder Country Day.
This week we have been seeing spots and stripes in all sorts of patterns around our classroom. For one project we were adventurous and introduced the children to some simple ‘Circle Painting’ using a famous Kandinsky painting as our inspiration. Circle painting is a collborative painting where a group of people work on a piece of artwork together. Through collaboration the artwork develops as each person adds their own idea, line, shape or color. The children let go of it being their painting and work inclusively alongside each other at the same time, getting inspiration from others as they work and learning to be part of a team.
This proved to be a very calming activity for the children as they moved around the painting filling in spaces, adding to other friends marks. The children focused on making circles as this is a shape they are able to make. They painted one circle then moved onto another circle that a friend made, adding to their circle. This continued until the painting was finished. I was impressed with how everyone accepted each other’s contributions and shared the paints. It was also great to hear the children comment so positively on their piece of art as it began to take shape. Their finished artwork is now hanging like a colorful tent from our classroom lights.
This week in our Morning Meeting we have been sharing a book called Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee Maclean. This is a wonderful book for teaching children how to cope with the often busy world they live in and the many emotions they navigate during the day. We have been teaching the children how to take a break, using slow breathing to help calm their feelings, and enable their brains to make safe and thoughtful choices. We modelled to the children how busy their minds might feel sometimes by filling a jar of water with sand and shaking it. The children watched the sand settle to bottom of the jar until the water was clear again. We used this to demonstrate visually how breathing can quiet our mind and help us focus on our learning.
This week we have been busy rearranging the classroom to provide more areas of continuous provision. These areas allow children the opportunity to continue and extend their learning without adult direction. Between 7:50am and 9:00am each morning the children have a period of time we call 'Exploration.' During this time the children explore the unique areas of continuous provision in the classroom. All areas are carefully planned and materials thoughtfully chosen to engage, provoke thinking and challenge your child in his/her learning. While this may look like "play time," our morning Exploration is a valuable learning opportunity. I encourage you to ensure your child arrives at school early enough to have time to participate.
As part of our room rearrangement we added a water table. Young children can spend countless hours playing with water, pouring it back and forth, watching it spill over the edge of a container, blocking its stream, directing its flow and splashing gently. Water and a few tools can provide a sensory and learning experience of huge proportions, building the foundation for understanding of a multitude of scientific concepts, including the concepts listed below:
• physics - flow, motion
• chemistry - solutions, cohesion
• biology - plant and animal life
• mathematics - measurement, equivalence, volume
In addition to these scientific skills children are also developing their hand-eye coordination, strengthening gross motor skills, learning new vocabulary, engaging in talk about their discoveries and stretching their imaginations.
Whilst children may gravitate towards using simple, repetitive activities during water play, their experiences can be broadened with the use of ladles, straws, basters, and plastic droppers. These tools are challenging to manipulate correctly so that they draw in and expel water. Sifters and colanders add another layer of challenge and exploration. With experience, simple water play will give way to more precise and complex activities.
We have made our shelving more accessible for the children enabling them to obtain tools and materials easily whenever they need them. We have provided an array of tools allowing for an engaging learning experience, offering a range of challenge to the children.
Preschool is a time of exploration, experimentation, and creativity and we strive to provide the children in our class with an abundance of these experiences during each day. We offer a wide range of tools and brushes for creating paintings, prints and collages for experimentation and freedom of expression. However, we also see the value in teaching the children to "color inside the lines."
Around the age of 3-4 children become more interested in making representational drawings which usually begin with faces. They also become interested in writing letters in their names. At this time preschoolers begin to benefit from some coloring activities. They are already making big efforts to control the way they move their crayon or pencil over the page. Trying to stay within the lines of a coloring picture is an extension of the same learning impulse and helps children learn to transition from making large sweeping movements with their arms and to smaller and more intentional movements using just their wrists and fingers. Whilst coloring in this way may not be seen as creative, it is developing key hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills which are fundamental in supporting the development your child's handwriting skills.
The activity of coloring has other benefits. The practice generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related the senses and creativity. It can begin to develop mindfulness in children, as they focus on one repetitive action. For some children, coloring can initially be a challenging task as they build up stamina, whether this is physical stamina in their hand muscles or stamina in concentration and stillness. Each week in class as the children focus on the letter of the week, we always provide a coloring activity that connects to the letter.
This week Preschool is using drawing and labeling experiences to create individual dictionaries. Each day students have added at least three words (of their own choosing) to their dictionaries. In turn, they use the dictionaries alongside their journals to help build confidence as well as develop appropriate writing habits and strategies.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and preschool is a perfect time to introduce children to these concepts when they are naturally so inquisitive and curious about their world. There are no greater scientists and engineers than young children and preschool provides children with the structure in which to build upon their natural inclination to explore, to build, and to question.
Early exposure to STEM, whether it be in school, at a museum, a library, or just engaging in the natural trial and error of play, supports children’s overall academic growth, develops early critical thinking, hypothesizing, predicting and reasoning skills, and enhances later interest in STEM study and careers.
With this in mind, we began a unit of work on ‘Construction’ this week. We shared two books on bridges Bridges Are to Cross by Philomen Sturges and Cross A Bridge by Ryan Ann Hunter, discussing the different shapes, sizes, materials and uses for bridges. We then began exploring our own bridge constructions using various materials such as blocks, corks, straws, card, cups and popsicle sticks. We made some predictions of how many gems the bridge might hold and then discussed how we could make our bridge stronger. The children offered great suggestions such as adding more supports, using more layers of paper on top or using a different material. The children then experimented building their own bridges. Materials were available to the children all week for them to carry on their investigations into bridge building.
In our recent conferences we spoke to some of you about helping your children become more resilient. In preschool we measure that resiliency by many characteristics including the ability to be autonomous or independent, and only ask for help when it is really needed.
Many of the skills that we teach your children on a daily basis are hidden in the minutia of the routines that are a large part of the preschool curriculum. Some of these skills are taught implicitly, and some explicitly, like how to put your sheet on your nap mat, where to put your trash, composting, and recycling at lunchtime, where to put the papers that you want to take home, and how to dress yourself for rainy or snowy weather. This last task can be daunting for some children and we work through this with positive attitudes, but consistently high expectations. Our intention is to model what to do, but let the children be responsible for their own belongings and actions. We are constantly emphasizing an “I can do it!’ attitude.
This week we had our first rainy day and the children did a great job at taking care of their belongings.
The children have been busy counting and baking in our dramatic play kitchen too. This week the children are baking cookies and counting the sprinkles as they add them to the top. We are also highlighting shape recognition and talking about the different shapes of the cookie cutters. Some cookies have even been served with milk after reading If you give a mouse a cookie by Laura Numeroff.
Our dramatic play area changes on a monthly basis. The theme is most often chosen by the children in a democratic fashion. We brainstorm lots of ideas, and then vote for our favorite. Once we have the theme, we brainstorm what kind of props we need to put in it. We started the year with a sandwich shop and as of this week, we created a veterinarian’s clinic.
The children are invited to bring in small stuffed animals from home that are in need of medical attention over the coming weeks.
While I may be ultimately responsible for furnishing and initially arranging the area, the children themselves are responsible for the learning that follows.
Through dramatic play, the children are engaging in creative and imaginative scenarios that stem from experiences that may have had themselves, read about in books, heard about through listening to adult conversations, or seen on the television. They are role playing, mimicking and imitating behavior. At first they may limit themselves to things that they have experienced directly, but soon their thoughts become more independent and abstract, as they incorporate words and actions that either come naturally, or they observe their peers doing.
The children are continually developing their communication skills in dramatic play. They have to listen to what the other children are saying in order to respond in an appropriate manner. They have to take turns listening and speaking. They also have to choose specific language in order to be understood. For example, “Can you pass the stethoscope so I can listen to the bear’s heartbeat?” or “Quick… call 911 and ask for the ambulance! We don’t want to lose him!”
We are always sure to put just enough things in this area so that there are no conflicts, but also so that the children have to learn to wait in line and take turns. Dramatic play is a great place to see how the children are growing in terms of their social skills…no one plays alone in dramatic play.
The children loved reading and acting out the classic book, Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. The children love to act out the role of the peddler with his colored caps on his head, shaking his fists at the monkeys. It is amazing how these old classics are such favorites in our classroom! Other books they have enjoyed this week are, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Repetition and rhyming words make these books so much fun to read again and again! Retelling storys using pictures as prompts is one of the first stages in learning to read. Predictable books such as the books we are currently reading in class are designed to to make their texts memorable. Their structure specifically encourages children to chime in as the adult reads and helps them to recall chunks of text during independent retellings.
Boulder Country Day School 4820 Nautilus Court North • Boulder, Colorado 80301 • Phone - 303.527.4931 • firstname.lastname@example.org