Families, Colors, Birds, and the Orchestra
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 Families, Colors, Birds, and the Orchestra entice children to learn about themselves and the world around them. 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 the Nursery year.
In the Nursery at Far Brook, we endeavor to foster the love of reading and the written word by creating an environment rich in literacy. As play is the school work of every young child, literacy is embraced and developed through this essential daily activity. We hope to encourage the life-long love of reading by immersing children in story with daily exposure to books of all types and to the written word throughout the classroom. The opportunity for informal writing by our students is encouraged and developed as it presents itself through our theme studies and the day to day activities in our classroom.
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.
Nursery provides opportunities to explore and develop math concepts in a variety of informal and formal ways throughout our student’s days. We encourage and challenge children to recognize shapes, numerals, and patterns through the use of materials, personal discovery, and discussion. We provide opportunities for children to develop number counting and number sense as well as encourage them to see math as an exciting, natural, and essential part of our students’ world. We want children to develop their mathematical thinking through meaningful learning experiences in both oral and written forms in the classroom and outdoor environment as a natural outgrowth of their engagement with the world around them. In the Nursery, mathematics is an integral ongoing part of every child’s daily experience as they make connections between real-life situations and their own mathematical discoveries.
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 Nursery, the children are introduced to French through hands-on experiential instruction. The students acquire the language while participating in interactive age-appropriate activities. 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.
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 school-wide Traditions, such as singing in Morning Meeting, allow Nursery students to gain a sense of themselves as being a part of a larger community that values singing together.
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 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 various 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 a primary, yearlong focus in the Nursery. Children are led to an understanding of their behavior through stories, discussions, and ongoing interactions among students as well as between children and teachers. 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.
Nursery students have sports twice a week for 30 minutes. 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.