As the children approach three, the teachers begin to plan a transition to our preschool group. The children visit down the hall for a short morning, and then extend their time in their new classroom. The faces are all familiar from the time that the two groups spend outdoors together and it is a special moment to join the older children’s classroom. Now it is possible to play in the ‘big woods’ and to spend even more daily time outdoors. Longer stories, puppet stories, arts and crafts are part of the week.
At this age, the children take advantage of our woods, fields, and gardens for their play and work. A natural science curriculum is all around them, as the children are born observers! Mud, clay, soil, flowers, vegetables growing in the garden; trees, air, clouds, rain and snow are their teachers. Seasonal activities – cider making in the fall, maple sugaring over the outdoor wood fire in late winter, planting in spring – each season has its curriculum.
They learn to use the tools that assist with these activities: shovels, wheelbarrows, rakes, garden hand tools, grain grinders, a butter churn, wool carders. Teachers model and guide all these activities through practical use. The children feel the success of making a difference through real, meaningful work. They gain strength and skill as they play and work.
Music, puppetry, story, painting, crayoning, and handcrafts build appreciation for beauty through the arts as well as capacities for making music, using ever more skillful fingers.
Songs, verses, singing games, and a story told by the teacher arise out of our daily rhythm. Puppetry adds to the arts of story and song. Listening skills, literacy skills come every day. Watercolor painting and crayoning, craft activities celebrate each season: lanterns, special baking projects, felting, egg dyeing, simple weaving all enrich the children’s year. Each season, the children work with natural materials.