How Does Imagination And Color Shape My World? How Does Our Community And Garden Grow?
Nursery is the beginning of a child’s Far Brook journey where friendship, community, understanding and love of school are fostered through a broad range of intentional and open-ended learning and play experiences.
The focus of the work for our learners in Nursery 4s is to nurture the natural curiosity, wonder and joy that exists within each child. There is a focus on choice making, role playing, affecting change and stewardship of our world. Over the course of the year we center our work on concrete and wonder-filled aspects of growth and change, grounded by our two essential questions. We begin with an in-depth study of color, establishing and nurturing a classroom garden and noticing the seasonal world around us. As we move into winter, we begin to understand the process that the world goes through to adapt to this new season and we turn our focus inward to each other. We focus on our families and our community, learning about sharing a common purpose and interdependence. This is exemplified by learning about our classmates and our families, as well as the sustainment of our garden. As we move towards the spring there is a culminating gardening project, as we see the efforts of tending to our garden come to fruition. Through this connection between the concrete and the imaginative, the students grow and expand their understanding of the world around them and their ability to express this beauty in words, original art, cooperative action and stewardship. We progress from wonder to action!
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. Each child is given an opportunity to answer questions, listen empathetically and reflect on another’s perspective. 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. Helping children to understand the symbolic relationship between letters, letter formation and letter sounds provide the bedrock for learning to read.
Math is naturally woven into the fabric of the entire Nursery curriculum. Each day students use meaningful numbers to make mathematical connections. The child’s daily math experiences begin at arrival when they answer the “question of the day” making mathematical meaning based on real-life situations. Our goal is to have children develop a broad understanding of a variety of ways to think and talk about math facilitated by hands-on experiences. Hands-on math experiences allow students to fully understand mathematical concepts, such as sorting, rote and meaningful counting 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 through intentional recording and dynamic class discussions with teachers and peers.
In Nursery 4s, students explore the themes of seasonal change, plants and seeds, and the connection between garbage, recycling, composting, and gardening, all using their five senses. The students explore through hands-on activities and time outdoors, making careful observations and sharing their thinking through 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. We spend time planting, observing, and nurturing our greenhouse garden throughout the year, ultimately tasting and experiencing what we have grown in the spring.
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 and Spanish classes are 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. Their 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 nurturing a powerful sense of self and positive social skills is at the core of our Nursery year.
View Curriculum Guide in ISSUU