Nature and Ourselves, Shapes, Winter Birds, Simple Machines
Nursery is the beginning of a child’s Far Brook journey where friendship, community, and love of learning are fostered through a broad range of play experiences.
As the year progresses, Nursery themes such as Nature and Ourselves, Shapes, Winter Birds and Simple Machines entice children to learn about themselves and the world around them. All themes are presented in a hands-on manner to allow children to approach and embrace each subject at their level of ability and interest. Themes are explored in depth, and provide a way for young children to make sense of themselves and the world around them. They also serve as a catalyst for a broad range of learning experiences, and help promote further learning and discovery. For example, a study of insects, some of which are brought into the classroom, allow the children to observe first-hand the process of change, development and metamorphosis as we watch a monarch caterpillar change from caterpillar into a chrysalis, and finally a beautiful monarch butterfly. We release the butterflies to fly to their warmer winter homes down south, only to return again the following fall to our milkweed plants, that are growing outside of our classrooms. These experiences build skill, knowledge, and increase the child’s desire to explore and investigate the world around them – this is an essential overarching goal of the Nursery year.
Through daily exposure to class discussions, conversation, storytime, and singing, children are encouraged to express themselves while immersed in a variety of linguistic settings. Group discussions based on daily activities are guided by the teachers and serve to foster listening skills as well as to develop expressive language as each child is given an opportunity to answer questions or to reflect on activities. In Nursery, the focus is on developing phonemic awareness, pre-reading, pre-writing skills, and an appreciation of literature. Our philosophy is that each child will develop reading and writing skills at his or her own pace. Planned activities related to letters and their sounds occur regularly throughout the year. Helping children to understand symbolic relationships of all kinds (for instance, that pictures stand for objects and that the squiggled lines on a page stand for written words) provides the bedrock for learning to read.
Math is naturally woven into the fabric of the entire Nursery curriculum, connecting the child’s daily experience between real-life situations and their own mathematical discoveries. Following a hierarchy of developmentally-appropriate skills, our goal is to have children develop a broad understanding of a variety of ways to think and talk about math. Hands-on experiences allow students to manipulate tools and objects to fully understand mathematical processes, such as sorting, counting in rote fashion as well as with one to one correspondence, making comparisons, estimating, patterning, measuring, and deriving logical conclusions. In addition to these hands-on experiences, Nursery 4s students begin to routinely document their knowledge of these topics in their math journals by the end of the year.
In Nursery 4s, we explore the themes of colors in nature, leaves, birds, insects, and the five senses. students make careful observations by drawing, making, and finding creative ways to express their understanding of the world. Often a story (fiction and/or non-fiction) at the beginning of class gives us a jumpstart into connecting our observations and ideas to real-life experiences.
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.
French class is designed to follow as closely as possible the process by which children acquire their first language. The children are immersed in a language-rich environment made comprehensible through the use of body language, visual aids and abundant repetition in a variety of contexts. The teacher uses mainly story-based activities to bring the language to life. Through careful scaffolding of new and recycled words the children acquire a foundation of basic vocabulary, and simple useful phrases. A typical lesson will include some of the following: puppets, movement, imaginative play, games, music, and drawing. The focus is mainly on listening, and understanding what is said as the students acquire the language while participating in interactive age- appropriate activities.
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, fingerplays, 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 (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, they sing 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, while looking at masterworks of artists across many genres in art history. Hands-on experimentation with media such as markers, paint, chalk and oil pastels, invites students to develop critical thinking and critical feeling skills through their own original masterworks. Students are encouraged to participate in direct observation as well as imaginative thinking while making art. Frequently, the core curriculum is referenced with a visual study of nature around them; particularly the colors and patterns found in leaves, feathers, and insects.
Design Thinking and Woodshop: In the Nursery woodshop classroom, the students are slowly and methodically introduced to the woodshop tools. Each of the 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.
The Sports program for Nursery 4s is designed to develop the students’ locomotor and visual motor skills and spatial awareness as they move about in the gym and on the field. They exploration of different equipment and manipulatives help the students continue to develop their core strength, balance, muscle tone, and dexterity. 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.
Social and Emotional
Daily interaction among the Nursery students provides ongoing awareness and conversations centered on a wide range of social and emotional topics. Exploration of these routine experiences through small and large group discussions and related literature further enhances students’ recognition and appreciation for individuality and diversity. The topic of each child’s uniqueness and differing style and approach to life is explored and celebrated throughout the school year. These casual yet focused explorations into thoughts, feelings, and opinions help the students develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of their roles as an individual, student, classmate and friend in our classroom setting and as a growing member of society. The importance of developing positive social skills is at the core of our Nursery year.
View Curriculum Guide in ISSUU