Although a class’s schedule will vary according to the needs of the particular day and group, a typical morning session in our Discovery/Pre-K room (3-5 year-olds) generally follows the routine detailed below.
Sign In – Children check into class and ‘sign in’ on their own by using the materials the teacher has set out for that day to convey their name. For example, a teacher may have the children write their names (or first initials) in a plate filled with sand, or have children match first initials to a picture of an animal whose name begins with the same letter (e.g. Zachary – Zebra).
Morning Meeting – The entire class sits together on the carpet and the children practice greeting each other. The teacher then guides a conversation that generally begins with a discussion of the day ahead: they identify the day of the week, the month of the year, and the season; describe the day’s weather; talk about which friends are present and which are absent. The children also get a chance to practice sharing stories and taking turns asking each other questions. Finally, the teacher may describe the available activities for the day and give each child the chance to select which one he or she would like to try first.
Work Time – Children are free to play as they wish at any of the variety of classroom centers or with any of the activities available in the classroom. The centers, which include our book nook, family center, art center and building block center, are constants in our classroom. Other equipment, such as our sand table, light table, and water table are available on some days and are swapped out on others. Similarly, teachers rotate daily activities for the children, taking care to make selections to encourage the development of age-appropriate skills, such as fine motor skills, pattern recognition or letter and number awareness. On one day, a special art project and homemade play dough might be available. On another day, beads for stringing and mosaic tiles might be the activities to choose from.
Clean Up – Children are all expected to share in the clean up following their work time. Clean up is often accompanied by song and is designed to teach children a sense of responsibility for their space. Clean-up is followed by a quick trip to the bathroom for a potty break and handwashing.
Snack Time – Children share a communal snack served family style. Snack time is an opportunity to practice self-sufficiency as children are encouraged to serve their own food, pour their own drinks and then clean up their places. Since the Co-op emphasizes healthy snacks, and fruits or veggies are a regular offering, snack time is often the time when a child will take his or her first taste of a new kind of produce. Snack time is also a time to practice conversation skills with friends.
Journal and Story Time - Once done with snacks, children spend time recording in their journals—typically completing a drawing which a teacher will often help caption. Once journals are complete, the class hears a story read aloud and the teacher may lead a short discussion about it, encouraging children to share their reactions, remark on the illustrations or make predictions about what will happen next.
Group Activity Time – Group time is the opportunity for the class to participate in more collaborative endeavors. Activities may include investigating an aspect of nature or science, acting out a story together or making a seasonally-appropriate recipe, such as apple sauce in the fall.
Outdoor Play Time – The Co-op is committed to giving children outdoor play time every day. Outdoor time provides critically important opportunities for children to get exercise, fresh air, and to practice all of those gross motor skills that are developing (jumping, climbing, pushing, pulling, running, throwing, catching, etc.). Because we value outdoor play time so much, we’re not easily deterred by a little bad weather. We don’t stay in if it is lightly raining or if there is snow on the ground. Instead, we make sure Co-op kids are dressed appropriately for the weather and then out we go!
Like our indoor classrooms, our outdoor play area is filled with toys and equipment that encourage unstructured, imaginative play. We strive to make our play area stand out from the average park playground, where the equipment tends to dictate the activity to the child. Instead, our outdoor play equipment gives children the flexibility to explore many different ways for using each item.
Lunch – The morning ends with lunch. The children sit together and eat their own lunches brought from home. It is another important time for practicing social skills and learning about mealtime manners.
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