BCD’s preschool program uses language arts and literacy as our curriculum framework. Our method of teaching 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.
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. Beginning reading and writing skills are fostered as teachers actively engage in building children’s conceptual understanding of the printed word in relation to spoken language.
In addition, BCD’s preschool program promotes children’s beginning understanding of mathematics, numeric and science concepts. Children engage in math and science daily - using age appropriate and hands-on, experiential learning activities that connect to and support their everyday world and experiences. Furthermore, preschool children attend a special science class in our science lab every other week.
Social studies is highlighted as children discover the world in which we live in connection with their families, neighborhoods and communities. Respect for people and the world are daily focal points and problem solving, character education, and conflict resolution skills are intentionally fostered.
In addition to our strong academics, Boulder Country Day’s preschool program incorporates a “Specials” curriculum that includes instruction in world language (French and Spanish), movement, music, and library skills, science lab, and computer lab (pre-K only). Our specials curriculum helps to ensure that every preschool child begins to discover his/her excellence.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Each morning students and parents find an activity on our welcome board that helps them to engage with their child, as well as, creates an anticipated routine folllowing which many students can better acccept their parents' departure. Once a week we are now using our morning message to help your child show you their understanding of the letters and numbers that we have covered so far this year. Enjoy!
Reading with a pre-K class teaches us many things. For starters, it is a lesson in patience, for everyone. At this age, we are still learning the rules of listening and speaking, and listening to a story in a large group can look very different to listening to a story in the lap of your parents. We have to learn to “hold our thoughts in our head” until we reach the appropriate time to talk, and then we have to learn when that appropriate time to talk is. We are also learning the difference between a comment and a question, not an easy feat at this age.
I could tell you what we learn about the rules of print – how the letters and words flow from left to right, and how the pages all turn in the same direction. I could explain how we begin to comprehend the concepts of beginning, middle, end and understand the meaning of words like plot, characters, and setting. I could tell you that we are working on logical thinking, problem solving, picking up on visual cues, reading character’s expressions, understanding the nuances of conversation, and even listening for tone…but really, I just want to convey that we love books, and we love to read, and we get a great deal of our community spirit from this activity each day.
While we read we are building relationships, creating connections with each other, recognizing things we have in common, as well as things that we don’t. We learn about what different people have done, where they have been, what they have experienced, and what they would like to do in the future. During longer stories we use sign language for “me too” to show that we have a connection without disrupting the flow of the story. Sometimes I may ask the children directly if they identify with the character with a quick “put your finger on your nose if you have been to New York City too.” Sometimes we have to clarify the difference between fantasy and reality. :)
So, if you have a moment and would like to share a favorite story from your own childhood, come on in…any day…any time…and we will stop what we are doing and join together for a magical moment with you and your book!
Multisensory learning is learning that involves two or more of the senses within the same activity: auditory (through their ears), visual (through their eyes), tactile (through touch), kinesthetic (through body movements). Sensory experiences are sticky, slippery, gooey, heavy, bumpy etc. Children learn best by having hands on experiences with materials so sensory materials are vital to your children's learning. Through sensory tubs like those in our 'Witch's Kitchen' the children are manipulating materials and learning to understand concepts such as more/less, full/empty, cause and effect, liquids and solids. Sensory experiences are also exciting which leads to children utilizing their language skills to express themselves and because they are often open ended activities children are able to use their own creative thinking skills to decide how they wish to use the materials. Such activities set the children on a path of discovery, working with each others to investigate and observe.
Sorting is a beginning math skill. It helps children to organize their world and differentiate properties of objects. It is also a building block to numerical concepts, which later require children to group “sets” of objects in math computation such as multiplication and division. The more complicated the sorting is, the more high-level understanding is involved. As adults, it is important to keep in perspective that what we may see as a simple activity of sorting a pile of shapes into red circles and red squares is really the beginning of a child’s mathematical discovery.
Through guided discovery, we introduced the children to ‘Loose Parts’ this week and as a stimulus used the book ‘Let’s Make Faces’. What are loose parts and why do we use loose parts with young children? Loose parts are materials that can be moved, combined, lined up, redesigned, taken apart and put back together again in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set directions enabling the children to use their imagination and creativity through open ended learning. I have included some photos of the ‘Loose Parts’ faces that the children made this week.
The importance of enrolling young children in a high quality preschool is a no-brainer for many parents. However, choosing the perfect program often feels like a pivotal decision that will impact a family and child for years to come.
This month we have spent much of our free time sewing, gardening, bird-watching, bunny-watching, and walking/sightseeing/observing nature at Twin Lakes. We use these activities to teach everything from outdoor etiquette and safety rules…like passing on the right side of the path, and how to safely cross a road, to patience while we wait for our sewing needles to be re-threaded, or learning to wait for the kale to grow enough so that we can pull off a piece and eat it. We have had so much fun!
This week we have continued with our ocean theme, focusing on beach life and creatures that live along the rocky shores. The children have been fascinated to learn about the different animals and all the fun that can be had at the beach, sharing their own experiences of vacations. We're a long way from the ocean here in Colorado so it has been fun to bring this part of the world into our classroom and an interesting educational experience for the children. The children have enjoyed the 'oose parts creativity making sea sculptures with play dough, ocean pictures, and sand castles in the tuff tray. They have been sorting shells and pebbles and making mathematical patterns with shells in the sand. Engaging children with an interesting topic makes learning fun, keeps their attention and allows for many cross curricular learning opportunities.
“At the end of reasons comes persuasion” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
On Wednesday morning, one of the children asked if I would get out our apple peeling machine so that we could all peel, core, slice, and eat our own apples. First of all, I love that the children assume that I always just carry things such as an apple peeler and 14 apples with me - like perhaps I could just pull 14 apples out of my purse! Secondly, my response, as in all matters where I can’t think of a good reason to say no, was “Absolutely! However, in order to help me to remember, would you please write me a note that I can take home to help remind me to put it in my car?"
And so our first persuasive essays were born. The children were required to draw a picture and write a sentence about something that they would like to revisit in our classroom. The list includes themes that they would like to see again in the dramatic play area, specific activities that they would like to do again, books they would like to read, and places they would like to go.
Using the book 'Who Sank the Boat?' by Pamela Allen as a storytelling stimulus we investigated our own question 'What Sank the Boat?' The children made predictions of which materials would sink the boat and how much of each material the boat would hold. This was accompanied by whoops of excitement and surprise. The children continued this work in our water table during independent exploration time. Through these activities the children we learning to predict, cause and effect, counting and charting!
In science class this week, the students engaged in a project that emphasized engineering skills. In this project, they had to design a carrier/tote that had a handle and was strong enough to carry stuffed animals from one side of the classroom to the other. They had to think about the materials they could use to make their design strong. It was wonderful seeing them learn what worked well and what they needed to change to carry their design successfully.
The children have been enjoying our latest dramatic play area this week - a photo booth! They were particularly excited to see a real camera available for them to use and from all the giggles that have been coming from the photo booth, they are truly enjoying the stimulus. The children have worked together to dress up using the props and then taking photos of each other. The results have been impressive and given us many laughs. Here are some of this week's photos to enjoy!
I love to provide opportunities in the classroom that enable the children to use real tools. A camera is a perfect example for young children because whilst it provides a true experience for the children there are no safety risks. We were able to have a good discussion on how to use the camera carefully so as not to break it, understanding the true consequences of misusing it. The use of a real camera makes the play area far more interesting to the children and provides a real sense of accomplishment and joy on seeing the results. Young children are very capable and offering them the chance to use real tools acknowledges their abilities. The children are truly bonding with each other through this experience, they are learning to play cooperatively, taking turns and helping each other.
We plan on using some of these fun photos as writing stimulus.
The theory of loose parts has begun to influence educators in a big way. This wonderful term was first used by architect Simon Nicholson who believed we are all creative and that 'loose parts' in a learning environment will empower creativity.
What are Loose Parts?
In a preschool, loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, sorted, taken apart, and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials that are used in with no specific set of directions that can be utilized alone or combined with other materials. Natural 'loose part' examples include water, sand, dirt, sticks, grass, leaves, pine cones, pine needles, seeds, shells, feathers, etc. On a playground loose parts may include hoops, balls, rocks, straw, dirt, buckets, water, containers, tools, chalk, and fabric. In an indoor environment these may include blocks, pouring devices, buckets, play animals, pebbles, recycled containers, boxes, caps, foam, tubes, and cardboard, to name a few.
There are many reasons why play spaces should include a multitude of loose parts, including:
Loose parts can be used anyway children choose.
Loose parts can be adapted and manipulated in many ways.
Loose parts encourage creativity and imagination.
Loose parts develop more skill and competence than most modern plastic toys
Loose parts encourage open ended learning.
Research shows children choose loose parts over fancy toys.
Loose Parts in Action
Often, children would rather play with cheaply available materials that they can use and adapt as they please, rather than expensive pieces of play equipment. When we step back and give them the time and freedom to move things around, these pictures show you what happens.
Sometimes only the children know what they are creating and they don't always use the materials in they way an adult would expect. This structure in the photos began as an ice cream store, morphed into a banana launching machine and finally became an animal washing machine. As the children were building I heard them talking about "angle makers, slopes, slides, ramps, and barriers." Here is the beginnings of engineering in action!
In these photos the children have moved a variety of 'loose part' materials from different outside spaces to build themselves a campfire. The children worked cooperatively to move the heavier logs together. In their bowls they are mixing a dinner of rocks, sand and twigs. Delicious! And just in case you were concerned about them stepping in the fire, they have it covered with their lava protection shoes!
Giving meaning to loose parts requires us to think about how a child learns and to consider the materials and environments he/she uses. Open-ended loose part materials, environments, and experiences create endless possibilities, encourage problem solving and invite creativity.
Of all the skills we encourage our children to develop, social intelligence may be the most essential for predicting a fulfilling, successful life. Social intelligence is the ability to effectively negotiate interpersonal interactions and complex social environments. It involves effective communication skills, the ability to read non-verbal cues into how other people are feeling and virtues such as empathy and consideration.
Children learn appropriate behaviors by emulating adults. The easiest way to help your child learn qualities such as patience, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, and gentleness is to model these qualities in your day-to-day interactions with other people and with your children.
Preschoolers are social creatures, generally very interested in other and quick to notice and adopt social norms. They're becoming more able to control themselves, and more able to verbalize their feelings, opening up a host of options beyond for communicating and problem solving. The preschool years are a perfect opportunity to teach social habits and skills that will help them throughout their lifetime. If you would like to read a fascinating article that was receently in the New York Times about how work places are really just like preschool, click here.
It is completely natural for preschoolers to experience conflicts. Children this age usually want to have things go their way and yet have other children to play with. The ability to negotiate and compromise is honed through the conflicts that arise between toddlers. Be close by but do not intervene in a conflict until you feel that you absolutely need to. Even when you do intervene, make sure that instead of simply telling everyone what they should do, you help them empathize with each other and understand why they should behave in a particular way.
Some ways you can support the develop social intelligence in your child include:
Support their friendships. Honor and reinforce your child's developing friendships. Talk about them, remember them, create opportunities to play. Remember that children get aggravated with each other, just as adults do. It doesn't mean the end of a friendship, necessarily, just that they need help to work through the issues that come up.
Model respectful relating. Remember that your child will treat others as you treat her. Show your child respect, be tactful in the ways you talk to your child about how they are treating others, and help them work out difficulties when they play together.
Teach your child that people are important. Teach your child consideration for others. Model it for him early on, praise it, help him brainstorm to solve peer problems, and don't let your child intentionally or unintentionally disrespect another person.
Teach kids to express their needs and wants without attacking the other person. For instance:
"I don't like it when you push in front of me like that" instead of "You're mean!"
"I need a turn, too!" instead of "You're not letting me have the ball."
Help your child learn how to repair rifts in relationships. When we think about repairing relationships, we usually focus on apologizing. Giving children a chance to cool down first always works better and then ask them 'How can you fix it?'. Be sure to model apologies to your children and scaffold this process for them.
Remember, that teaching and modeling social skills is a process that takes time and patience. Stick to it - we promise you will see the results.
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.
Our Annual Preschool Olympics will be held on Friday, January 29th at 8:30am during assembly.
Seven years in, this event is hands-down a favorite assembly for many. Students and faculty from across campus look forward to cheering on our youngest students as they demonstrate their camaraderie, determination, stamina, and courage. Many BCD students fondly remember being in preschool and experiencing firsthand the thrill of our Olympic Games and the “I did it!” sense of accomplishment following the event. BCD’s annual Preschool Olympics represent happiness and joy in their truest forms.
The Preschool Olympics do more than entertain. They provide an opportunity for preschool students to gain a deeper understanding of the world in which we live. Still so close to their birth at three, four, and five years of age, young children experience the world anew each day. Be it at home, in the car, at school, at the supermarket, or on the playground, their understanding of life and the boundaries it presents redefine what it means to be a part of a community and the greater world around us. The Preschool Olympics remind us all that we are a part of something bigger.
The Olympics also offer opportunities for our preschool students to delve into international studies and learn about each other’s families, heritages, cultures, and traditions. In the time leading up to the Olympics, the preschool students engage in hands-on learning experiences that connect them to the greater world in which we/they live. These experiences include in-depth study of picture books (both fiction and non-fiction), cooking projects, art projects, and parent sharing of family history and stories.
Perhaps even more significant is how the Preschool Olympics connect our youngest students on campus with the rest of Boulder Country Day’s students and faculty. Our preschoolers truly are BCD Bulldogs and represent the school and an existential place where they develop their individual identity in relational experiences with others. For our youngest students, school - in combination with home – truly is their world.
We take pride in our youngest students. We believe in their potential and nurture them with care and compassion as valuable members of our school community. They are the creators of, and contributors to the world and the culture in which we live. They are our future and BCD’s Preschool Olympics helps them shine.
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.
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.
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.