The last few weeks of classes at The International Preschools are exciting for our students. Teachers and children begin play-based learning activities to celebrate the end of the school year: classroom parties with parents, end-of-the-year gifts, and memory books.
But after the festivities have concluded, what’s next? The “what’s next,” for some children, can be filled with uncertainty, sadness, or fear. Sometimes, these feelings can result in regressing behaviors, such as difficulty separating from parents or caregivers. This is an opportunity for children to develop life-strategies for transitioning between one set of routines towards another exciting phase in their lives.
The process actually begins in September when teachers spend time helping students acclimate to the routines and expectations of the classroom. This action is crucial in helping the children feel confident and comfortable in their surroundings; toddlers and preschool-age children crave stability in their day-to-day schedules, thriving most when they know “what comes next.” Providing consistency is key to helping children feel safe, secure, and confident.
Spring is an exciting season in play-based curriculum. Following thematic classroom units on the Earth, students at The International Preschools explore life cycles. Students of all ages are introduced to live caterpillars who are then placed in a “butterfly garden” and observed and recorded closely. Preschoolers excitedly experience firsthand as caterpillars enter their chrysalises and emerge as butterflies! For a few joyful days, the children enjoy spending time with their new “classmates.” But soon, the teachers will tell the class that it is time to release the butterflies to live in their natural habitats. There is a bittersweet “ceremony,” where the butterfly gardens are opened and its inhabitants are set free, to live in a local park.
Chicken eggs are introduced at each location in early May by Quiver Farms and are placed in an incubator until they hatch. All of the students (and teachers!) from the entire school spend time visiting and examining the eggs. Soon, the location is filled with delighted squeals of our preschoolers, as they have a front-row seat to the arrival of baby chicks! Under careful supervision, the students help to care for, and even pet, these tiny creatures for about a week. They are then transported back to Quiver Farms to live after a final goodbye and hug from the children.
Earth Day is every day at The International Preschools! Of course, during the month of April, celebrating Earth Day becomes a focused portion of our play-based learning curriculum. Every year the teachers and students at IPS commemorate this day with a rich, impressive, and varied curriculum.
Many classes embarked on their Earth Day-related units by planting. Lima beans and grass seeds were popular plants among the classrooms, and are great choices: both sprout quickly, allowing for the children to witness the growth process. Children learned about the parts of a plant (i.e. stems, leaves, roots) and what is needed for seeds to grow (sunlight, water, soil). Then, via hands-on activities (daily plant watering, placement of plants on the windowsill for adequate light), students assist the plants by giving them what they need!
At The International Preschools, every day is a day to take care of the Earth! During the month of April, the classroom themes center around Earth Day; sub-topics include ways to keep our Earth clean and safe for animals and people, including recycling and gardening. The goal is to teach the children small things that we can do to care for our Earth during April, that ultimately we can carry out year-round!
At The International Preschools, literacy and pre-reading skills are at the forefront of our interdisciplinary, play-based learning curriculum. During the months of January, February, and March, these skills are highlighted via our school-wide author and book studies.
The author study season is well underway at The International Preschools! Classrooms at all three locations are thoroughly immersed in learning about their chosen author, book, or character. This curriculum theme is an effective way to promote early literacy among young children. In keeping with our play-based learning approach, each classroom will create interdisciplinary activity centers about the books being read there. This method will assist in children retaining as many skills and as much information as possible about the books at hand, while having fun at the same time!
Each year, students at The International Preschools embark on an author study during the months of February and March. The curriculum is approached in different ways, based upon the children’s age level. In the Red Rooms (2s) and Green Rooms (3s), one author is chosen, and a variety of his/her books are read. In the Pre-K (4s) and Junior K (4s/5s), a chapter book is selected by the teachers, and a chapter is read every day in class by parent volunteers.
The topics of love, friendship, and being kind are underlying themes throughout every school year at The International Preschools. In February, the students at The International Preschools bring these concepts to the forefront of their learning by celebrating Valentine’s Day.
The teachers at all three locations approached this subject in ways that were both similar and unique. Colors commonly associated with Valentine’s Day (red, pink, purple) popped up in many classrooms. In fact, many of our Red Rooms (2s) used this opportunity to begin their color units. Children were invited to wear red, pink, and purple to school on Valentine’s Day, and some classes also held a show-and-share of red items. The “heart” shape was also used as a symbol of Valentine’s Day and love; in one classroom, students learned about the heart muscle and became versed in how to take their own pulses!
To further the concept of friendship and working together, many students participated in whole-group projects such as collaborative collages to promote the idea of functioning as a team. Many classroom writing centers provided older children with the tools to make their own valentines, including word boxes (with Valentine’s Day-related words and phrases for children to reproduce, such as “I Love You”), markers, crayons, pencils, paper, and scissors. This type of open-ended activity allows for students to work at their own ability level, the common goal being that the “process” is more important than the final “product, thereby reinforcing the school learning through play philosophy.
Small group and whole group discussions are important in our preschoolers’ learning. Many classrooms discussed ways that we can express our love and friendship to our families and peers. Children came up with a variety of answers as to how to do this, ranging from “giving hugs” to “playing with friends.”
Below is a list of love-and-friendship-themed books that various classes have read at school:
Clifford, I Love You by Norman Bridwell
The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond
Biscuit’s Valentine’s Day by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Heart Prints by P.K. Hallinan
Love is You and Me by Monica Sheehan
We Love Each Other by Yusuke Yonezu
Love by Eric Carle
Hugs From Pearl by Paul Schmid
The ‘I Love You’ Book by Todd Parr
Clifford’s First Valentine by Norman Bridwell
We at The International Preschools wish you and your family a very Happy Valentine’s Day!
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The Winter Solstice celebrations at The International Preschools have long been a tradition to welcome and honor the longest night of the year and the diverse holidays celebrated by our families. Each location hosts an all-school Sing-Along, followed by individual classroom potlucks. December holidays celebrated around the world are feasts and festivals of light; our students explore the concepts of “light” and “dark” to delve into these themes via play-based learning.
November is in full swing, and the oldest students at The International Preschools are learning about a wide variety of fall-related topics. This week, we will take a look at the fall themes inside the Pre-K (4 years old) and Junior K (4/5 years old) classes at The International Preschools.
The International Preschools Blog is an opportunity to journey into the school's classrooms. Here you will find information about play-based education, diversity, classroom themes; all the things that make learning joyful and fun at one of the best preschools in New York City.