Varied Curriculum

We tell parents when they come to tour our school that we don't have a curriculum.  We pride ourselves on hiring amazing, experienced, highly educated teachers who have their own brilliant ideas to share, who enjoy designing their own curriculum.  They don't want to be told, "be on binder one, chapter two, page 8 on January 10th."  We have school wonderful high standards that are a guide, but the teachers decide how to implement them.  This leads to new ideas, spontaneous moments, and creative learning.  Two of our classrooms are exploring dinosaurs this week.  Below is one class on a dinosaur dig and another making art with dinosaur tracks.  Super fun!

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Toddlers painting with toy dinosaurs  

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Dinosaur dig with goggles and brushes  

Helping Kids to Help Themselves​

We strive to have kids help themselves before we do things for them at school.  Even our youngest students are encouraged to take on and off their own shoes, put on and take off their own coats, and pack and unpack their own lunch.  We have many classroom helper jobs because the children love to help each other and their teachers.  We have jobs such as weather helper, pet vet (animal care), and table washers.  Of course we teachers feed the animals and wash the tables, but we give the kids water bottles and cloths to "clean" the tables.  They love it!   

Baby washing

Baby washing

Table washers  

Table washers  

Fall

I can't believe we are almost to mid-October and I've been forgetting to post about what we have been doing here in Seattle at our preschool!  Madison Valley and Capitol Hill locations are both in full swing and the children are mostly settled in to their routines.  The two campuses both went for a fun filled day at the pumpkin patch today.  The toddlers opted to stay behind to paint pumpkins in school.  We are having a great school year so far and are happy to be in full fall swing! 

Playing in the mud!  

Playing in the mud!  

Painting pumpkins  

Painting pumpkins  

Making gak  

Making gak  

Summer goes too fast!

While some parents are excited to get back to the fall routine I'm sad to see summer camp coming to an end!  It's been fun and gone much too quickly!  Our favorite part was adopting new guinea pigs and having a petting zoo one recent morning.  We also can't wait for pony rides in the yard next week! 

Our permanent residents  

Our permanent residents  

Baby bunnies!  

Baby bunnies!  

A pig named Hamlet  

A pig named Hamlet  

First day drop off

A friend emailed me yesterday to ask my advice.  She was planning her first day to drop off her daughter who had never been away from family before and planned on the whole family coming to school for the first day (mom, dad, brother, grandma, nanny)  and wanted to know if I thought that was ok (and did we have room for all of those extra bodies!)?  Here is what we told her:

"I would say that in our experience, the more people that come the harder it is for children to separate; they might feel as if they are being left by everyone who the love, etc.  This happened today with a preschooler (3 people came to drop her off), she got upset and she is already used to school.  It's our experience that things go more smoothly if only one person comes.....But of course, we defer to parents as to what they want!"

She is going to take our advice; but the first day still might be tough.  

I have been coaching her to exhude confidence and show her daughter that she feels safe and happy leaving her there, as children can sense the anxiety in their parents and then of course they feel anxious, too. 

If a student is upset when their parents leave we comfort the the child and try to coax them into an activity.  If still upset after 20-30 minutes we send them home and try again the next time.  It usually works out after a couple of days at school that the children are happy to stay with us and give a happy goodbye hug.  First days are tough, but pretty soon you will find your child doesn't want to leave school! 

 

 

 

Playing happily!  

Playing happily!  

Science Fun Capitol Hill Preschool & Pre k

The Capitol Hill program has been going wild with science this past month.  Between the Manduca Sexta (aka Tobacco Horn Worms) that were given to us courtesy of the University of Washington Biology Department to study at various stages of development, monarch butterflies, and the pacific green tree frogs we have nursed to adulthood the kids are getting a big dose of metamorphosis and what it means to be a caretaker and world citizen of nature!  

Still life of butterfly

Still life of butterfly

A pacific green tree frog - showing gold with camouflage  

A pacific green tree frog - showing gold with camouflage  

A Tobacco Horn Worm or Manduca Sexta

A Tobacco Horn Worm or Manduca Sexta

Summer Fun Madison Valley Summer Camps

We are looking forward to summer camp this year and have a few spots left for anyone still looking for fun and engaging activities for their toddler/preschooler.  The pre-k programs are mostly full, with a few spots left in the earlier sessions of July.  Here are some photos from camps last year!  

Hanging around  

Hanging around  

Garden fresh veggies!  

Garden fresh veggies!  

Visiting animals  

Visiting animals  

Cooling off  

Cooling off  

Earth Day 2016

Our wonderful Seattle Madison Valley toddler teacher has been doing a great job teaching basic geography and topography to her students.  On Friday (4/22, earth day) the children were having some sensory fun with a tub of blue shaving cream.  When Ms. Jennie asked the kids, "what's the blue part of our globe?" The kids answered "the ocean!" And when Jennie asked, "what's the brown part?" they all answered in unison "the land!"

 

Later in the day Jennie brought the recycle bin in from the alley and the children had the opportunity to fill it up.  They loved being stewards of the earth!  

Earth collage    

Earth collage  

 

Doing our part to recycle!  

Doing our part to recycle!  

Balancing Act

The Madison Valley Preschool and Pre-K classes recently created an obstacle course in the yard.  Here you can see the engineering feet in its full glory!  The kids has a blast timing each other as the balanced and raced to the finish!   

Victory wave!  

Victory wave!  

Seattle Madison Valley Toddler

The toddler class recently planted grass in cups and have loved watching it grow!  Now that it is long enough they been loving the opportunity to trim it with scissors!  What a great way to sneak in scissor and fine motor skill practice!  

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Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are a very mportant skill.  These days children are expected to be able to hold and use a pencil on the first day of kindergarten (at most schools).  But fine motor practice doesn't have to be drudgery!  Here in Ms.Kelly's Capitol Hill  Preschool class she uses gems, buttons, google eyes and other fun materials for her students to make the letter of the week.

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Word Wall - Letter of the Week

Ms. Kelly's Capitol Hill Preschool class studies very unique and scientific words.  As Kelly does a letter of the week (such as W, below), she doesn't just have the children talk about a random W word.  Instead she delves into some complicated concepts such as the various types of whales and their attributes, and the water cycle and how exactly it works. The children love to learn words such as "precipitation" and "evaporation" and tell their parents and caregivers exactly what those words mean!  When talking about the letter E the class learned about Estonia, where is it, and what it is like for children who live there.  We bring vocabulary, art, and geography into the letter of the week whenever we can! 

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Botany

In our Madison Valley Pre-kindergarten class they are beginning a unit on Botany.  Today Ms. Delilah began discussing the anatomy of a flower.  The children are examining the roots here... 

Examining roots  

Examining roots  

Diagram of a flower

Diagram of a flower

Sprouting fava beans

Sprouting fava beans

Flowers, roots, sprouts  

Flowers, roots, sprouts  

Free Choice

During free choice time each morning the children can choose any of the materials from the shelf that they would like to do.  This morning one little fellow chose counting cards, putting them in order 1-10, while some other children chose to enjoy our new imaginative corner Animal Hospital.  We believe a combination of academic and imaginative free play is an ideal scenario! 

Counting tower!  

Counting tower!  

Animal hospital open for business!  

Animal hospital open for business!  

The Earth goes Around the Sun

Here is a photo of a preschoolers celebrating his birthday in Ms. Kelly's preschool class.  The children sing "the earth goes around the sun tra-la" for each year since birth, and between each year we talk about what happened at that stage in life. The kids love it - and we learn about the earth moving around the sun as much as we learn about our friends!  

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Seed Art

The Capitol Hill pre-k students did some art with fast drying clay and seeds today to make some mosaic art.  They learned the names of the seeds, the uses for them, and then created patterns.  It was a great cultural and fine motor (not to mention artistic!) activity. 

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Color mixing

The preschool students went the art room today to focus on the primary colors and color mixing. It turned into a great group project and a beautiful mural!  

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Making Gak

The toddler class did some messy art and science today!  Here is Ms. Jennie getting dirty with her students!   and note one student has a baby in her belly!  With lots of pregnant moms coming in some of the children have taken to play acting about babies in bellies.  It's very cute! 

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