Emergent Curriculum and Project Work
Children are provided with a supportive learning environment in which they have access to a wide variety of resources that actively builds language development. The classroom exposes children to fundamental concepts in reading and writing. Literacy is fostered to meet individual needs and interests. The morning message, sign-in sheet, message center, and read-aloud are examples of ways in which all children experience spoken and written language throughout the day. Play presents continuous opportunities for writing. Children express and use writing in meaningful ways with materials that are dispersed around the classroom. Signs in the block area, letters to friends, restaurant menus and orders, traffic tickets, personal stories and illustrations are ways in which writing may occur during play.
Children are exposed to math and numbers in meaningful ways through our environment and play. Numbers, counting, gathering data and highlighting part-to-whole are incorporated during morning meeting discussions, block building, cooking and various play schemes. Block building provides opportunities for discovering measurement, order, patterns and symmetry. Cooking projects and preparing snack allow for measuring and counting. Materials at the sensory table are available for experimenting with volume. Opportunities for learning mathematical concepts are encouraged frequently and naturally throughout play.
Children have opportunities to listen to and share stories, ideas, feelings and thoughts with their peers on a daily basis. By exploring social relationships, manipulating objects, and interacting with people, children are able to formulate and try their ideas. Through group play children encounter natural conflict with their peers. Problem solving is the foundation of a young child’s learning and is valued in our early childhood classroom. Children develop socially and emotionally through learning to communicate how they feel, think of solutions, and follow through with a plan. Children are guided by peers and teachers to learn problem-solving techniques that foster successful social interactions.
“The studio is not an isolated place where artistic things happen. It is a laboratory for thinking.” –Loris Malaguzzi
In our program and the Reggio Emilia philosophy the studio is central to support children’s learning, development and creativity. “In Reggio they believe that the child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking…” In our classroom, the studio is a place where children are able to express themselves through many different “languages”: clay, watercolor, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, wire, collage, pastels, weaving and more. It is a place where children are invited to think deeply about their ideas and make them come to life.
"Since the beginning of time, children have not liked to study. They would much rather play, and if you have their interests at heart, you will let them learn while they play; they will find that what they have mastered is child's play." –Carl Orff, of Carl Orff Schluwerk Music and Dance Education
Music is ritually integrated throughout the day in the Pre-Kindergarten. Songs begin each meeting and supplement our festivities throughout the year. Focus is on exposure to various percussion instruments and exercises to help students develop hand-eye coordination and right/left brain coordination. Children are encouraged to use their voice, move their bodies, keep a beat and play with music in an exploratory manner.
Students are introduced to Spanish with immersion experiences in the classroom and age-appropriate activities such as songs and daily rituals. The earlier children begin learning language the more natural and fluid the process becomes. Learning a second language leaves the students with more flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language, and a better ear for listening. It also improves a child’s understanding of his/her native language. Students explore Spanish language and culture through art, crafts, games, songs and stories that connect to other areas of studies. Lessons stem from students’ natural curiosity and playfulness with language. While a Spanish teacher introduces new materials, classroom teachers reinforce vocabulary throughout the day, removing the “foreign” label from the new language.
Through play, children are exposed to foundational scientific concepts. Experimentation, the scientific method, and cause-andeffect relationships are at work every day in the classroom. Children are encouraged to try out their ideas and make new hypotheses based on results. In addition, natural science is at the heart of our Outdoor Exploration time.
Outdoor Exploration and Physical Education
Outdoor Exploration is an important part of our day and our philosophy. Based on Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, Outdoor Exploration is a time for “free-range play” in the natural world. For one hour each day, children are supervised outdoors on the hills of our campus. Boundaries are set and teachers support play and facilitate conflicts. Major goals of this time spent outdoors are to allow children to feel comfortable in the natural world, to become familiar with their local surroundings, and to encourage creative play. Our Jackson campus allows this amazing opportunity for natural play outdoors. In addition to Outdoor Exploration, students participate once per week in Physical Education (P.E.), taught by a specialist. The Pre-Kindergarten P.E. program utilizes the early childhood SPARK curriculum (Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids). SPARK is the most highly researched P.E. curriculum in the world and has been praised by the Center for Disease Control, the Surgeon General, and the National Academy of Sciences. Key components of the curriculum include 1) providing enough equipment for every student, 2) inclusive activities that never eliminate students, and 3) moderate to vigorous physical activity throughout each lesson. Students practice locomotor skills (skipping, galloping, running, etc.) and non-locomotor skills (bending, twisting, squatting, etc.). Students also work with manipulatives such as beanbags, scarves, hula hoops, and streamers. Emphasis is on creativity and individual mastery of basic movement patterns. Competitive activities are not used in Pre-Kindergarten. Dance and gymnastics with local organizations augment the SPARK curriculum.
Journeys School is strongly committed to students learning outside of the classroom. A journey is a direct experience in the ecological or cultural environment that serves as an essential part of learning. Whether it lasts a few hours or a few days, a journey includes thoughtful faculty planning and meaningful student inquiry and reflection. A Journey integrates curricula, creates community, and deepens one's sense of place. Journeys in the Pre-Kindergarten are focused on the children’s interests and projects that are happening in the classroom. They incorporate travel to surrounding areas such as Grand Teton National Park, Teton Science Schools' Conservation Research Center, Center for the Arts, Teton County Library and more.