We’ve just finished another wonderful summer experience at Learning Circle Preschool!
The Summer Science and Arts Program at Learning Circle Preschool is an integrated arts enrichment program with a focus on the natural sciences, storytelling and puppetry, art, music and creative movement.
Each day, the program includes time for children to participate in activities featuring science, the visual arts, construction and music/creative movement, along with time for snack, free play activities and outdoor play, in a highly individualized and nurturing setting. Teachers observe the children’s interests and, guided by an understanding of child development, organize the curriculum to extend the children’s thinking and knowledge about topics of importance to them.
Teachers are partners in learning with the children, and model the curiosity, research and documentation skills, ability to ask questions, and engagement over time that are hallmarks of deep learning. Diverse experiences, learning styles and interests are all valued as children and teachers cooperate together to create a “community of learners.”
The result is an experience that is both fun and serious – children actively involved in playing and learning at the same time.To see this in action, look at the pictures in the gallery.
On the last day in session, parents are invited to join the program for presentations and activities planned by teachers with the children.
It’s not surprising that, given the natural environment surrounding the school, the children were very interested in investigating woodland habitats, especially the wide variety of birds we heard and saw daily around our playground. Children also developed their observation skills as they examined the many types of insects, worms and spiders inhabiting the playground and other freer areas around the school. Butterflies capture everyone’s imagination!
Teachers offered some basic gardening experiences to the children early in the program so that we could all take care of our gardens over time. Our first task was to think together about what new plants would need, and to prepare some gardening spaces. We planted seeds and plants during the first week, including chard, beans, peas, tomatoes, pepper, and a variety of herbs. We planted flower container gardens as well, with a variety of sizes and colors of marigolds. Everyday jobs have included watering our gardens and checking to see if our other plants need water. The garden did well enough for children to enjoy a few harvests.
We found that the group of children attending this summer were all very interested in creating and constructing with a variety of recyclable materials, tape and glue. Children worked on individual projects over many days, and decided to work on one collaborative project (a fire truck) all together. This took a great deal of planning, coming to consensus, problem-solving, working together, listening, and researching in addition to the construction itself!
If we shared one “big theme” this summer, it was about forces in motion. What is wind? What makes a wave? Why do some objects roll and others slide? How can we design ramp systems for balls to roll faster or slower? How does a pump work? How can we move water from one container to another?
There are always many stories unfolding when children come together and begin to form a classroom community. Some of those stories attract the attention of the group as a whole, and these become central themes that teachers can support with conversation, materials and time. The examples above are only a small sample of the many experiences the children shared this summer.
Many of these summer “stories” and interests will inform our decisions on experiences to continue to offer children this fall, as a new classroom context begins to unfold. We look forward to continuing this learning dialog!
Enjoy these summer program photos: