As the Nursery 3s year is the beginning of a child’s Far Brook experience, we use this school year as the bridge between life at home and life as a student. Learning to separate from a parent/guardian and become fully immersed at Far Brook requires time, care, and discovery in order to learn about our schedule and traditions. As time progresses, topics are presented that entice children to learn about themselves and the world around them. A yearlong theme about seasons, including seasonal weather, plants, animals and rituals, allows students to understand home and school traditions in greater depth. All themes are presented in a hands-on manner that allow children to approach and embrace each subject at their level of ability and interest. Broadening the students’ base of skill and knowledge and, more importantly, increasing their desire to explore and investigate the world around them is an essential overarching goal of both Nursery years.
In the Nursery 3s class at Far Brook we expose students to acoustically and visually attractive books, games, music, art, play and theme activities to engage and inspire interest in both spoken and nonverbal language which is the scaffolding for future literacy skills. We hope to encourage the life-long love of reading and storytelling through reading, retelling and analyzing books, through dramatic play and through art projects that allow for self-expression. We work on broadening vocabulary through thematic studies, descriptive and rich class discussions, and varied play opportunities. We support language for communication through social interactions and play with peers, older students and teachers.
Library: In Nursery, students build up their pre-literacy skills in their weekly library class by using a book’s illustrations as clues to understand the meaning of a story. They practice “reading” and mimicking the non-verbal expressions and emotions of characters in books as a key stepping-stone in the development of empathy. They begin to explore the difference between fiction and non-fiction and to learn how the spine label on a library book can help them to determine whether a book is an expression of the author’s imagination or a source of factual information.
The Nursery 3s class provides opportunities to explore and develop math concepts in a variety of informal ways both inside the classroom and in the outdoor environment. We present books, games, songs, art and play activities that introduce shapes, numerals, counting and quantities. We provide opportunities that encourage mathematical curiosity and allow students to see math as an exciting, natural, and essential part of their world.
In Nursery we explore the themes of seasonal change, leaves and seeds, the five senses, animals, and movement. The students make and share observations through hands-on experiences. Sometimes we make models of what we have observed, other times we categorize, discuss, or sketch to consolidate our thinking. Often a story (fiction and/or non-fiction) or an outdoor experience at the beginning of class gives us a jumpstart into connecting our observations and ideas to real life experiences.
In Second Grade French class, the underlying teaching philosophy continues to be based on comprehensible input. The emphasis is on actively listening, understanding, and responding, as the children engage in simple conversations within the familiar contexts of their immediate environment. Through careful scaffolding of new and recycled words, as well as ample repetition, the children acquire a foundation of basic vocabulary, and simple useful phrases. A typical lesson may include a variety of story-based and hands-on activities, music, and movement.
Music: Our music goals in Nursery are to inspire appropriate and imaginative responses to music using the voice and the body, and to lay groundwork for music literacy through guided critical listening. We achieve these goals via singing and movement, using folk songs, games, chants, finger plays, gross motor movement activities, and listening exercises. Materials include American folk songs and games, Far Brook songs, songs and games from around the world in their original foreign language (such as Spanish, French, Japanese, Maori and Chinese), and formal repertoire of the classical canon, with a focus on Saint-Säens’ Carnival of the Animals. The overarching theme to our repertoire selection in Nursery is “Animals and Food.” Students learn to respond to music individually (hopping, skipping, finger plays), in groups (circles, partners), and with vocal sounds (animal sounds, head voice, and melodic singing). Specialized activities encourage students to listen critically (matching pitch, recognizing individual instruments, high sounds and low sounds, loud and soft). Participation in and observation of the school-wide Traditions allow Nursery students to gain a sense of themselves as being a part of a larger community that values singing together, for example singing during Morning Meeting.
Dance: Dance for Nursery students is an introduction to movement and creativity, with an emphasis on game-playing and active learning with our bodies. Students learn the importance of listening to others, both verbally and visually, and assuming the roles of both leader and follower in weekly dance activities. Creative dances are made with direction from the dance teaching artists and incorporating movement invention from the students, building towards the performance of dance work the following year in Kindergarten and beyond.
Art: In the Nursery program students are encouraged to enjoy the process of producing art. They develop confidence in the use of tools, techniques, and methods which support that process. Experimentation permits students to develop critical thinking and an independent approach to problem solving. Students are encouraged to participate in direct observation. Frequently, the core curriculum is referenced and a study of birds and family can create an opportunity to present a project that includes a painting of bird families.
Woodshop: In the Nursery woodshop classroom, students are slowly and methodically introduced to the woodshop tools. Teacher-designed projects introduce a new tool or skill into the students’ hands. Nursery students begin working with rasps and sandpaper, then hammers and nails, and eventually, light cutting with a coping saw.
Social and Emotional
The social and emotional development of our students is an essential, yearlong focus in the Nursery 3s class. A primary goal for this school year is to provide the support needed to students and families to foster a smooth separation from home to school. We strive each day to provide a caring and nurturing environment for our students to help build strong and trusting relationships with teachers. Providing opportunities for individual, exciting, hands-on activities encourages our students’ independence. Play in small and large group settings encourages opportunities to develop friendships. Modeling language for communication and guiding students through social negotiations and conflict resolutions is an important part of each Nursery 3s day and a building block to future social emotional success.
The Nursery 3s students have sports once a week. They develop their locomotor and visual motor skills and spatial awareness as they move about the gym. They explore different equipment and manipulatives. Students engage in activities that enhance their social as well as their physical well-being. They are encouraged to participate, explore, and have fun in a safe environment.