We have arranged our daily to schedule carefully to get the most out of every day and to keep the children active and engaged. We break up our scholastic subjects with ample opportunity for the children to be physically active and to learn from each other during playground time and free choice. The children are constantly active, undertaking new activities throughout the day, so that both their minds and their bodies are constantly engaged.
Each month has a theme that focuses on specific colors, shapes, letters and concepts.
Explore this year’s theme blurbs
Explore a typical day at WeeScholars:
Circle Time | Book Nook | Snack/Lunch | Free Choice | Arts and Crafts | Math Madness | Simply Science | Playground | Technology @ WeeScholars | Around the World | Music | Language Arts | Rest Time
Our days begin with Circle time, the perfect opportunity to gather as a group and to build community within the class. The day gets started by using the calendar to identify months, days of the week, counting, skip counting, identifying seasons, patterns, weather, and much more. Children share their personal experiences, and ask questions about what others have said; they discuss the schedule and activities for the day. We often introduce key concepts during Circle Time as we sit together.
Example: Everyone starts sitting in a circle singing the “Good Morning” song as the teacher welcomes the class and they share what they did the previous evening. The class then works with the calendar to identify the date and the children take turns touching the month on the calendar, pointing to the date, and counting together to that date. The class sings the “Count to 20” song. The teacher introduces the theme and talks about schedule of activities for the day and then reads from a theme related book. As circle time ends, the children stand up and dance to a familiar song before moving on to the next activity.
A love of books is something that should be developed early in life. Listening to someone read to them gives children an understanding of language, syntax, vocabulary, and a glimpse into the wide world and experiences of others. Children also benefit from the opportunity to experience the richness of literature on their own and to choose books that interest them. Children learn about the cover, title, author, illustrator, and how to move from the front to the back. At first, children find just looking at pictures and turning pages exciting, but later as they begin to read, they find that books help them develop self-confidence and a sense of satisfaction.
Example: Children sit in circle around the teacher as she gets ready to read. They look at the cover of the book together and the teacher asks what they think the book will be about. She has them listen to the title and look at the illustrations. She reads the book asking questions as she goes, letting the children to make comments. The teacher may ask the children to pay attention for rhyming words (a skill) or have them join in reading familiar parts together. In this way, the teacher guides the children’s experience.
Example: Children have a quiet time to go to the Book Nook and choose a book. They can sit on the floor, in a beanbag, or on a chair. While listening to calm music, the children can flip through books and speak with each other or their teachers about what they see while those who have begun to read can read with a friend.
Sitting and eating with friends: it seems so simple, but it helps children build many socialand academic skills. Through everyday tasks like setting the table and passing out plates, children learn one-to-one correspondence, counting, addition/subtraction, and problem solving skills. Children build interpersonal skills by simply interacting with others around the table. When an experienced teacher participates, there are almost endless opportunities to assist children’s growth.
Example: Children help count out how many students are sitting at their table as they pass things out. How many girls and boys? A teacher might ask, “What is your favorite food?” and allows children to interact with each other. Staff member might say, “An apple is a fruit. What other kinds of fruits do you eat? What letter does apple start with?” Children help each other open juice boxes, clean up, and help wash tables or use little vacuum for floor crumbs.
What may appear as play to adults is actually work for children. As they enter worlds of imagination, children build their understanding of the world around them. During Free Choice, children choose their own activities, and just as some adults prefer more active activities and others prefer more sedentary ones, so do children. Free choice allows children to follow their interests while the teachers participate from a distance.
Example: Children enter the free play area which the teachers have set up with props, activities, and books relating to this month’s theme. Some children choose dramatic play, acting out a restaurant scene with customers, cooks, and servers. Other children choose the block area and build a town where they can make deliveries of supplies to stores using trucks and trains. Another group of children choose art materials and draw pictures of a pet store, gluing on feathers for the birds. The last group of children find books about community helpers, leafing through the books and speaking to teachers about what each person does.
Arts and Crafts
Creativity comes in many forms and being creative helps children to develop a number of different areas of the brain. We focus on the child and his or her creating, not on the project or the materials; teachers take a back seat, stepping in only when a child struggles with something. Teachers reinforce the positive efforts taken by the child and encourage them to talk about their work. We introduce children to a variety of materials, artists, styles of art, color, sounds, and more.
Example: During a unit on dinosaurs, children discussed the fact that dinosaur skin is wrinkly like a reptile’s, as they looked at pictures of dinosaurs and reptiles. During the art period, we have rubbing plates, various papers, and crayons. The teachers encourage children to draw a dinosaur and then take rubbing plates and crayons to make the skin more realistic. Teachers suggest drawing plants and other things around the dinosaurs as the children speak about what their dinosaur is like, what he eats, and where he lives.
Counting, sorting, graphing, joining, separating, and learning shapes are only a few of the skills we touch upon in our math curriculum. Using our themes as a starting point, we children are immersed in activities that teach developmentally appropriate math skills both in specific and general settings. Children learn through hands-on experiences that allow them to be actively involved.Teachers allow children to figure out concepts on their own before stepping in with the answers. Math doesn’t just occur in a time slot, so all through the day our teachers look for teachable moments to help children build skills.
Example: In class our theme is “eggs”. Children go on an egg hunt in the school, coming back to the math center to count how many eggs they found, and total all the eggs found. The children sort the eggs into groups by colors, with each child taking a turn to count a group of eggs and match it to a numeral card. Children take turns counting out colored egg picture cards and placing them onto a chart to make a pictograph. A teacher might ask questions about the pictograph and the children use the graph to answer the questions.
Example: At snack time, during a “safari” theme, children are eating animal crackers. A teacher asks one of the children to give the names of each animal. Can she sort her animals so all the ones that are the same go together? Can she count how many she has in each animal group? Can she count how many she gets if she joins two groups together? What happens if the child, who starts with 5 elephants, eats 2? How many are left? Can she make a pattern using only elephants and zebras? If she lines up her elephants and lions in 2 lines, which one is longer? Which one is shorter? Which group has more?
Observe, question, predict, and test: the scientific method. In our Simply Science center, children will find a variety of materials relating to a current theme. We encourage them to touch, smell, look at, listen to, and sometimes even taste things. This helps the children to develop questions and make hypothesis about cause and effect. As they interact with these items (which could be seeds, tadpoles, fish, plants, or many other things from the world around them), teachers guide their natural curiosity.
Example: A “shadows” theme would find Simply Science stocked with various flashlights, a light table, and a group of objects including items that are opaque, translucent, and transparent. Teachers give the children time to experiment on their own before breaking them into small groups and helping them with some experiments: Can you make a long shadow? Can you make a short shadow? How did you do it? What objects block the light? Can you find an object that lets all the light through? What lets just a little light through? Can you find something in the room and make a shadow for your friends to look at? Can you guess what the object is by only seeing the shadow?
Running around the playground is one of the timeless joys of childhood. Outdoor play builds gross motor skills as children run, climb, slide, and jump. Children have opportunities to experiment with materials found outside: plants, bugs, sand, water, clouds, airplanes, wind, etc. They also often feel more free to talk and interact with others, which builds interpersonal skills. Children also learn to share and work together during unstructured activities.
Example: The children notice a bug crawling under the playground equipment. Gathering objects to put in front of the bug, the children say, “He can’t get over this.” They watch as he easily climbs over it, and then the children work together to gather other materials with which to corral the bug. They talk about how he crawls and flips over on his back. The children create a fort and put the bug inside, and then go to play on the larger equipment: climbing, sliding, and running. When the children check back later, the bug is gone. They discuss what they think might have happened to him.
Technology @ WeeScholars
Our world constantly changes and technology is a perfect example. We strive to give children the beginning skills for mastering and being comfortable with technology. Through hands-on, daily work on computers, iPads, and other forms of technology, children can build academic skills, learn how to communicate with others, conduct research, and produce finished projects. We focus on developmental level skills on an individual basis as children may have had differing experiences with technology at home.
Example: Children sit at touch screen computers with a pre-selected learning game. The objective is to match a colored tire to a similar colored truck and coordinate the release of the tire into the truck. This combines color matching and fine motor skills to manipulate the release of the tire.
Example: Children who are comfortable with technology use the camera feature on our iPads to create a project showing how their seedlings have grown into full plants over a few weeks, and share that project with theclass.
Around the World
Newborns and very young children can only understand the world immediately around them. Our social studies program helps children to expand their awareness as theylearn about emotions, families, pets, and people in their homes and neighborhoods . We take them beyond that as well into the community and to places, peoples, and customs different from their own. We encourage children to use dramatic play to learn about their world, as well as videos, books, computers, and other lessons. As teachers, we always try to lead and guide children’s curiosity about the world they live in.
Example: After a lesson on community helpers the children play a game of “Who Am I?” A teacher acts out the work that a helper does and says something that the helper would say. The children try to figure out who the helper is, and if they are correct, they get a chance to act out the next helper.
Research demonstrates that children exposed to music have a greater inclination and capacity for learning. We integrate music into our activities throughout the day by including songs and rhymes in almost any subject. Music “class” is a specific time for children to be physically interactive with beat, tempo, notes, rhymes, singing, and appreciation as we share different types of music with them.
Example: Children learn about tempo as they listen to various pieces of music and identify fast or slow. They go to the instrument center and choose an instrument; marching in a circle they match the tempo of their instrument to that on a CD.
Language arts is included in everything that we do at Wee Scholars Academy and our teachers take every opportunity to weave language skills into every activity. During specific language arts periods, we work with the children on developmentally appropriate lessons such as: recognition of letters, discrimination of letter sounds, blending sounds, joining letters to make simple consonant-vowel-consonant words, listening and comprehension skills, making predictions about story, writing and penmanship skills, and much, much more.
Example: The letter sound today is “b” like in “ball”. A teacher helps the children to make a list of as many words as they can starting with “b”. She writes the words down on chart paper under a large letter B and reads the words back to the group. The teacher then shows some familiar items and pictures, some of which start with b and some of which do not. Children take turns picking an item or pictures and placing it with the “b” group or the “not-b” group.
Young minds and bodies can only focus for so long before they need a break. Rest time allows children to regroup and re-energize. Full day children have a 40-minute quiet period to rest on their individual cots in a darkened room with soothing music.
Example: Some children take a stuffed animal with them to their cot, while others bring a book. They lie quietly and listen to the music as some fall asleep and others just slumber. When rest time is over, the children who are awake move to another part of the room and do a quiet activity while the children who take longer to awaken join them after a few minutes.