Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery School

Welcome to Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery School!

Since 1959, Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery School has been a parent-cooperative nursery school where teachers, parents and children work together to provide a rich preschool experience.

RHCNS is a fully certified, non-profit and non-sectarian community for Rocky Hill, Belle Mead, Montgomery, Princeton, Hopewell, Kendall Park, Kingston, Franklin, South Brunswick and surrounding areas.  We are located in the heart of New Jersey’s historic Rocky Hill Borough, in Rocky Hill’s Municipal Building, and have open space and a wonderful playground.

RHCNS is so much more than just a little Nursery School!

We are also a licensed provider of the  Music Together Preschool program, and a member of Parent Cooperative Preschool International.

Our Playhouse

Our Playhouse

Why Choose a Cooperative Preschool?  

Taking part in a cooperative preschool allows you to be directly involved with your child’s early education. Being able to supervise your child, and the teacher, guarantees your child is safe and with the best teachers anywhere. Interacting with a community of other parents who share your commitment to childhood and receiving modeling by the teacher as you help, gives you opportunities to learn alongside your child. Most importantly, choosing a cooperative preschool gives you extra time to bond with your child and create memories together. Your child will always know that education is important in your family because you live it everyday.

– From Parent Cooperative Preschools International

CLICK HERE for our School Brochure


Latest Blog Entries

Mar 15

If you’ve read the previous post, you have an idea about my relationship with educational objectives. For 13 years, I taught children with special needs. In Virginia, I wrote IEPs (yearly Individualized Education Program) and conducted the meetings with parents and support staff.  In NJ, we had consultants who created the IEPs for us, but it was up to the classroom teacher to follow through and identify the goals addressed in lesson plans and whether or not they were met.   I think in terms of goals and objectives. I can’t help it.   In our class, I determine what skills we need to address, THEN I develop an activity to support those goals.

Last week on “small group” days, we went on hikes. The Thursday class (containing our Pre-K’s) have nature journals and backpacks they take on hikes.  The Friday class went to a different area, and found HUGE sheets of bark!



We went into the wooded area behind the school and explored the creek and shoreline of the river. When I thought about blogging  the experience, I immediately thought: “We discussed predator vs. prey, decomposition of trees, etc, etc.”  Then I stopped myself.  NO! This was about FUN!  This was an opportunity for children to be children. In a time when there is pressure to push academics down to preschool, it’s important to stand up for children’s rights. The right to explore. The right to be out in nature. Throw rocks in a stream. See how big of a splash you can make. See if a stick floats. I can’t begin to tell you how much the children learned that day, including pride in themselves and what they’d accomplished.  (Well, I could, but I won’t.)    I’m not going to examine joy. Fun.  A child’s right to have a childhood of exploration like their parents and grandparents had before them.








“I need help, I can’t do this.”



“I’ll help. Put your hands here and your feet there.”



“PLEASE can we write in our journals now?”  (Yes, they actually pleaded!)



Draw a picture of something special you saw or did.

“I climbed over a log!”




“It’s a half a snake!” “Where’s the head?” “Did a predator get it?” “What predator?”  Some children took out their magnifying  glasses to examine more closely.



Team work: making mud!



“That was a big one!”



“That’s looks like a fossil!”



Here’s the windup!



“Is this turning into soil?


HUGE sheets of bark!







The tree without its bark!



More teamwork!




RHCNS: defending  children’s right to learn through play and exploration.

Comments Off on Because It’s FUN!!!
Mar 15

I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s a saying in the Early Childhood world: Process vs Product.   This refers to methods with which art materials are used. With process art, the children are in control.  They experiment and explore with the materials.  It’s theirs.  A product, however, looks exactly the way the teacher decides.  Typically the teacher precuts the pieces and tells the children where to put them and what colors to use.  (Once my son, when he was 3, came out from his  camp program saying, “Look what my teacher made for me!”   Counselor:” No, you made it, remember when you painted the plates last week?”  He said, “No.”  He had spread brown paint on paper plates, and the  adults precut eyes, ears, arms, legs and a bow tie and stapled them on to make a bear.  What did my son learn?  The adults did a great job on their project!

Today, we made a product. Turtles, to be exact, in the style of Dr.Seuss’s Yertle the Turtle.  I actually drew shapes for the children to cut!  (In general, beware of any “art” project done because it’s “cute.” Everything a preschooler does in school should have meaning!)

Why on earth did I do something  which I  strongly despise?  This  was a “vehicle” to achieve the desired objectives.

The educational objectives for the children depended on the age of the child.  We have 3-5 year olds in class.

Some of the objectives were:

The child will use scissors correctly. (Thumb up, placed in smaller hole, other fingers in larger hole. Point scissors forward, perpendicular to the body, using the opposite hand to guide the paper.)

(Some) children will use correct hand placement to “snip” pieces from a 1 inch rectangle.

(Some) will cut along black lines.

(For me: assess the children’s hand grip, ability to follow lines.) Observe comfort level of cutting.  (Some could quickly cut all of the detailed pieces, others struggled with a simple curve.)   Some were given pre-cut pieces, depending on the difficulty level.

Younger ones, use glue to paste small pieces. (Yes, there were puddles of glue, but those hand muscles were used! Good pre-writing skills!)



Older ones:  review and create patterns. Create a pattern using squares previously cut from strips.   For me: Assess child’s ability to create (and continue) patterns independently.


(First we reviewed patterns using the children (sit, sit, stand, sit, sit, stand) then made patterns with larger pieces of paper.

The product was a way to address these objectives, and a prop to help them recall the story.

Some children were capable of cutting out all of the pieces. Some just the curves of the shell. Some just snips of paper.   Two children wanted to do their own thing and create their own turtles, including a “fancy rectangle turtle.”  Did it look like a turtle?  To her it did.  She snipped, cut independently, had proper scissor grip and was able to use the glue appropriately. Objectives achieved. The same with the boy who decided to create a “foot face.”  Yes, the face was on the turtle’s foot! Another cut his own head, and legs.  It doesn’t matter what the end result was, the skills I’d previously identified were accomplished.

This is a "Beautiful Rectangle Turtle."

This is a “Beautiful Rectangle Turtle.”

The majority of the time, we are process oriented.  Sometimes,(a couple of times a year!) a product can be used to address goals. As  you can see, the reason for the product was not “to make a turtle,” but to develop specific fine motor and math skills. Process and an occasional  product.   It’s all about balance, young padawans!

Comments Off on ME? Have the children make a PRODUCT?
Feb 24

Every teacher knows that sometimes you plan a lesson/activity that you think the children will love, and it falls flat.  Then there are the magical days.  The days where you THINK the children might like (and learn) from the activity, and then magic happens.  It goes beyond your expectations.

We’ll be walking to the Post Office (when the weather permits) to mail letters home. We’re tying in addresses, mail, the Post Office, and maps.

Children learn from the concrete to the symbolic.  (Which is why workbooks, worksheets, and sitting for long periods of time are not appropriate for preschoolers.)   Maps are symbolic.  They represent real things.  How do you explain that to a preschooler?   By starting with something they can see, explore and touch.

I started off with ribbons, creating “Red Street” and “Yellow Way” on the floor of our classroom. I put cards with the numerals 1-7 along the way. First, the children explored, walked on it,  tried to figure out what it was.  (A racetrack perhaps?)  Then in our “Mystery Box,” there was a piece of paper with a drawing of the streets.  A map!   Children were shown cards with different “addresses,” such as 4 Yellow Way, and 7 Red Street.  They walked to the corresponding “houses” on the streets.     Each child was assigned an address, and they walked to their houses.


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Then it was time to create mail for a friend.  Writing a friend’s name (or their first initial) and their own name on mail is far more interesting than on a “sign in” sheet! Folding paper and putting them into envelopes (fine motor) then writing their friends address (it could be 1 with a yellow scribble next to it) then DELIVERING it to their house was SO exciting!   (Numeral recognition!)



Walking down the street!



Opening the mail was even more exciting! Here, one child is thanking the other for the wonderful letter, and the other is explaining what she did.

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One of the most exciting things (for me!) is that EVERY SINGLE CHILD was able to look at the map and show me where they “lived” and where their friends lived!  (Which I was not expecting!)


Then they extended their learning on their own.



The girls are making a pool.  Here, they’re deciding whether or not they need a wall to keep the water from splashing out.  The cartographer is on the left.



There was a shallow end, and a deep end.



“Here’s the pool and here’s the rug.”


Another structure and map.


I have to say again that this was a VERY magical day!  There aren’t photos, but I was surprised when I heard them at a their “houses,” saying, “Can I come to your house to play?”  and my favorite: “Hey! You live across the street from me!”

Comments Off on Magical Days
Feb 23

Ah, that famous phrase. There are a lot of skills that just can’t be tested. All of the flashcards and workbooks can’t even begin to address them.  They are skills that need to be learned, and the only way to learn them is by trial and error, and lots of experience. What skills are those? Cooperation,  negotiation, planning, analyzing, communicating, and creativity to name a few. When children start preschool (usually around the age of three,) most have very little practice with larger groups of children and the fact that the toys are for EVERYONE, not just them.  Socialization is a learned skill, one that takes time and patience (on the adult’s part!)  to develop.


This structure was built by three three-year-old boys. Together they planned and constructed their building.  Can you see the rainbows on the floor? There was a lot of quiet talking, negotiating and compromise going on.


For this age, it was so exciting to see!



They topped off the structure with triangles all around the top.


But what about the little guy in the back?  He’s working alone!  Ah, but look!


It’s difficult to see, but there are different levels inside, similar to steps. He was so excited to create the triangle on the tower!


Look at the trapezoids surrounding the bottom of his building. He’s experimenting with fit and design.




If you look very closely, there are small triangles on many of the squares, creating a design. Planning, implementing, creating, thinking.  THESE are skills preschoolers need to learn. It’s not “just”  play!


Comments Off on Kindergarten Readiness: Part 2
Feb 07

Kindergarten readiness means different things to different people (and schools.) Just as you wouldn’t even think of drilling a newborn in how to walk (because they’ll be doing it next year,) preschoolers need to be respected for who they are, and where they are developmentally!  They are not Kindergarteners. Or first graders. They should NOT be exposed to “drill and kill.”  (Sound scary?  It is.  It means that skills like letter recognition and phonics are drilled into them so much that it kills their love of learning!)  At Rocky Hill Co-op, Kindergarten readiness is:

Developing gross motor skills by:

Navigating through deep snow






Hopping (everyday!)


Running up and down hills (in the back of your school!)





Developing fine motor skills and strengthening hand muscles by:

 Playing the piano


Serving yourself snack


Opening and applying bandaids to those in need


Painting in unusual ways


Examining nature


Recording your observations in your nature journal



More to come!

Comments Off on What is Kindergarten Readiness? Part 1