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Where I Work

Some photos of my classroom. Preschoolers learn through play, and here's some of the things we do at school.

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Kids at the sand table. As kids play here they form ideas about how materials behave, explore their ideas, and work hard to learn to get along with each other. They've been adding to the "World" mural in the background all year long.

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I'm leading Circle here, telling a story, Afterward, kids can use the flannelboard pieces on their own to tell their version of the story, or retell what I've said.
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Lots of things happen during this simple cutting and pasting activity--children use scissors to strengthen their hands for future writing, they sort and classify by color, they plan and follow through with their ideas, use sophisticated language, figure out how to share materials, create a community art project, taste and observe a real pomegranate as they create a representation, learn the Hebrew word for pomegranate (rimon)

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Kids need art, to mess around with color and texture and materials. No right or wrong, just exploration and the joy of creation.

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Dramatic play gives preschoolers rich opportunities to explore their ideas, symbols, language, social awareness, factual knowledge, pre-reading and pre-math skills. Here kids are pretending to buy and sell Hanukkah doughnuts, sufganiyot.

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And here, some more dramatic play. Learning to negotiate, to speak up for oneself in an appropriate manner, to listen to others, and in the words of my current student Z, "make our ideas mix" is the most important piece of a preschool experience.

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We do a lot of science activities. Preschoolers are curious about everything, and as they explore they form ideas, learn to make a prediction, follow instructions, experiment, learn about the natural world, and hopefully constantly ask "why?"

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Many preschoolers need to engage their bodies in order to learn, and all children need gross motor play every day. I try to incorporate a gross motor component as often as I can, especially to give the more active kids a motor break so they won't need to use their bodies in less productive ways. Here we're pretending to be apples, jumping off a riser onto a contact paper-covered "sticky honey" mat to give sensory feedback. (At Rosh Hashanah, we dip apples into honey to wish each other a sweet New Year)

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Kids need quiet time and spaces in a busy classroom, and here's our "Cozy Tent" where kids can go to rest or look at books.

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We play a lot of games, both for fun and for learning. Even though Hanukkah is over, the kids still ask to play dreidel.
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Don't you love the face on the left? Kids don't have nearly enough opportunities to explore music in an unstructured way, I fear. Our grape vine is in the background. It grew several nice bunches of grapes last year, hopefully we'll get more this year.

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I often get asked about pre-literacy. If you treat print as just another material to play with and explore, most kids will begin using it in a very natural manner when they're ready.

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If I were designing the perfect preschool classroom, the block area would be enormous. It's such an important center for preschoolers. Physics and Politics in action. My poor sad fig tree is in the background. It wants more sun!

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In nine years, the only one who has gotten hurt at the woodworking bench is me. *grin* Kids take using real tools very seriously.

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Sensory play, especially with water, is fantastic for preschoolers. It's soothing, interesting, a great medium for exploring ideas, and endlessly fun. Here J is making a "water moving machine."
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We bake challah every Friday so each child can take home their little challah for Shabbat. Notice the playdough in the background? It's out every single day, and gets used differently all the time.

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And each week, a child has the turn to have his family come for Shabbat.

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On Friday afternoons, we have a staff meeting and then team lesson planning. And then I go home and collapse.


{{edited to add--all parents have signed photo releases, as photos of my classroom appear in many venues in print and on the web}}


Comments (14)

What a nice work environment,Amy. Thanks for the lovely photos.

What wonderful pictures! It was great to read about the variety of activities in your (and the kids' ;) ) school day. Thanks!

Marcia:

Your pictures have brought back so many wonderful memories of my years with my children in a co-op preschool. Need to get back into that mindset now.

Amy, you should write a book. I would definitely buy it. I just started reading "Baby Days" but you sould like you have alot more activities. There is a big market waiting for your experience.

Palma:

How cute, Amy. Your classroom looks so much fun. I bet the kids love you so much!

Better you than me! I'll take the gang kid teens!

sandrac:

Amy, that is an amazing classroom. "Your" kids are off to such a great start in life.

Remarkably resources.

I love all these happy, colorful photos! And I love that pomegranate you are making (funny that we both posted about the same fruit today). I'd love to see more of the pomegranate artwork you have.

Your preschool is the ideal preschool set up I have always wanted to have. I love the photos, the descriptions, and especially the explanations for each area. Your kids are very cute also! I had to laugh about the woodworking area.

Kim:

I'm exhausted but man, those kids are adorable and I don't like kids.

jgk:

That all looks so familiar! I love the pomegranate project.

What a great post! Your school and your classroom sound wonderful, and I love your philosophy that learning is everywhere and that print is just another medium. I was a kindergarten assistant for one year and it was tough, especially because I didn't feel that play was valued at all.

I love that you bake every week! We did that in my preschool/day care every Wednesday and it was so great! I still remember being so proud and how I thought my little bread was so much tastier than any other bread.

Amy-I'm amazed at all of the things you do with the kids. They are very lucky to have you as their teacher. They all look so happy too.

Barb Cabot:

Amy, your pictures brought back many fond memories of my own classroom for a Pre-K special ed program that I was involved with several years ago. Your program looks really exciting.
Such varied activities and a place where those young children can blossom. Bravo to you! Thank you for posting such lovely photos of HOPE.

Hi Amy: I generally 'peek' into your blog. It's always interesting. This entry especially - love the photos. Aren't kids that age just full of wonder? I taught a first grade class for 6 months (part of a degree program) and was asleep by 8 pm every night!! Kudos to you. PS: I am a Boston girl.

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