Rocky Hill Cooperative Nursery School
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