Centers help students develop independence, resilience, and problem solving skills while synthesizing each academic concept. Working in small groups, students investigate learning options throughout the classroom while cooperating, learning from one another, taking risks, and building community. Examples of centers include: a listening center where students hear a story; a building center where students create block structures; an art center where students use fine motor skills to cut, color, and create; a math center where students investigate games to solve problems; a writing center where students construct stories.
Most school days end with Choice Time. With a majority of the day focusing on academics and/or structured time, Choice Time allows for more self-expression and independence. It gives children the opportunity to try new things and explore an area of personal interest. During Choice Time, children develop social skills such as waiting your turn, sharing, and problem solving. Some choices include: gardening, cooking, sewing, Legos, sandbox, dress-up, art projects, and building. We continue to see growth in students’ independent work, problem-solving skills, fine and gross motor skills, and community participation during Choice Time. It is a special time in the day, which is developmentally valuable for this age group.
Each month, students will explore a new theme that aims to tie together core curriculum. Below are examples of theme studies, as well as likely explorations within those themes:
· Wonderful Books: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: classroom exploration that focuses on number sense, math/nature hunt while exploring Crane’s campus, cooking “coconut trees”
· Gardens: vegetable graphs created through sight and taste—carrot (root), celery (stem), spinach (leaves), broccoli (flower), tomato (fruit), seed (hummus made from chickpeas); pumpkin investigation emphasizing scientific measurement, comparison, prediction, and counting; cooking (hummus and applesauce)
· Day and Night: geometry hunt through campus; orbiting planet simulation; cooking muffins
Listening and Speaking
Students practice oral language throughout the year in a multitude of projects and presentations. Students develop skills that include: recognizing and using complete coherent sentences when speaking; recitation of short stories, poems, and rhymes; verbally describing people, places, things, locations, and actions.
Small group instruction is utilized throughout the year to support all stages of reading—beginner to fluent. Skills include identifying uppercase and lowercase letters; recognizing and producing letter sounds; blending and segmenting consonant, vowel, consonant patterns; recognizing concepts of print; implementing a variety of reading strategies; demonstrating instant recognition of a list of 25 sight words; identifying rhyming words; demonstrating comprehension of texts.
To set the curriculum in motion, writing workshop routines are introduced early in the year and then built on. Skills include recording a story with pictures, letters and/or words; implementing the use of phonetic spelling; writing uppercase and lowercase letters independently; rereading and editing writing to make sure it’s readable; creating phrases and building to more complex sentences; handwriting developments; using a conventional pencil grip.
Mathematic topics include whole numbers, measurement, time, money, and geometry. Skills for whole numbers include identifying and writing numbers 0-100; demonstrating quantities to 100 with a number and manipulatives; decomposing numbers greater than 10 into parts; demonstrating automaticity with facts through 10; exploring and using efficient strategies for adding two or more numbers; developing and using strategies for solving subtraction problems; using pictures, equations, and mathematical language to represent word problems. Students will also learn to tell time to the hour on an analog clock. Geometry skills emphasize identifying and describing patterns, as well as two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes.
Kindergarten science is inquiry-based. Students conduct tests, gather evidence, and develop explanations for the phenomena they are investigating. Kindergarten students discover answers to questions such as: “What happens if you push or pull an object harder? Where do animals live and why do they live there? What is the weather like today and how is it different from yesterday?” Students observe patterns and variations in local weather and understand the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather. They experience the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object to analyze a design solution. Crane kindergartners learn what plants and animals need to survive and the relationship between their needs and where they live.
Within the classroom, students have experiences with sharing, taking turns, and working collaboratively which supports the foundation for a classroom community. Using purposefully selected literature, games, and activities, students see themselves reflected back and represented in the curriculum. This allows students to develop respect for their own individual experiences as well as those of their classmates, both similar and different. Students are also supported in self-determination and character development through daily interactions and selected social stories.
Meeting for one hour every cycle, Spanish aims to incorporate the five C’s—communication, cultures, connections, comparison, and communities. The curriculum is activity-based, with technology, music, dancing, singing, and playing games as essential. The content of the curriculum is designed to allow students to explore learning the language and culture, with the goal of developing listening skills and speaking proficiency—the students will recognize and comprehend basic vocabulary and expressions for simple communication and be able to respond to simple questions, statements, and commands using words and simple sentences.
As new members of the Crane community, students are introduced to the library on campus and library manners. Students are held responsible for the care and return of books, instilling in them a sense of care for their community. The library curriculum also fosters and promotes a lifelong love of reading.
Led by the Head of Lower School, Peaceful Partners instruction emphasizes a multitude of social awareness themes at the kindergarten level. Students will work to identify emotions, acknowledge unique qualities of individuals, and celebrate the diversity of all types of families. Students will also be introduced to the concept of community. Emotional development is sharpened through identifiers such as put-ups and put-downs.
Performing Arts/Public Speaking
Students take an active role in performing arts through singing, creative movement, participation in xylophone and ensemble percussion, and the Orff Schulwerk approach. The introduction of theater focuses on physical and vocal expression to create characters, exploring emotions, and inventing stories and dialogue. The music curriculum focuses on pattern recognition, dance and song. A culmination of what is learned in performing arts is showcased in the Kindergarten play, which features speaking parts for every student and group singing, as well as a full-scale production including costumes and sets.
An important component of performing arts curriculum is building a foundation for public speaking. To culminate their first year of public speaking, students present short autobiographies to the all-school assembly, and recite poems by memory at Kindergarten Graduation. Kindergarten students also participate in Lower School Winter Sing and have the option to participate in Music Hour and Friday Assembly Spotlights.
Kindergarten students are active and physical education and recess are important parts to a student’s school day. These students learn best through repetition and active exploration in a safe and consistent environment. The class is designed to instruct students on a variety of skills including developmental movement, bodily and spatial awareness through cooperative games, and behavioral and social skills linked to team building. Students are supported to encourage active, consistent participation, and a willingness to try new movements and skills. Foundations for healthy lifestyle and good sportsmanship are fostered through curriculum.
Kindergarten artists will be encouraged to explore their great ideas through various media and creative processes. Artists will learn to work together to create and support a safe, cooperative, and engaging community space where all can thrive. Projects will build fine motor skills, keen observation skills, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking skills. Artists will be introduced to the elements of art and basic color theory. Students will be challenged to work with great craftsmanship, to consider the entire piece of art while creating, and to add detail to bring their visions to life. Students will study and be inspired by famous artists and illustrators, as well as various world cultures, and will learn to use art vocabulary to share ideas about their work.
First Friday & Parent Volunteering
Parents are invited to join the morning classroom activities on the first Friday of most months. Students will showcase projects they’ve been working on, tell stories, recite poetry, sing songs, ask parents to participate with them in Choice Time activities, and provide parents with an insider’s look at what they learn on a daily basis. First Fridays often include a component of the current theme study or tie an upcoming holiday into curriculum.
The kindergarten welcomes parent volunteers to help within the classroom. The classroom teachers coordinate volunteering during class time.
Helper of the Day
There are many “jobs” in the kindergarten classroom, but Helper of the Day is a special position. The Helper of the Day acts as line leader and “go-to” person for any additional responsibilities including the Surprise Box. The helper will choose a small object from home that fits inside the box and create clues to share with the class the following day. The student will then share information about their special object. Sharing allows students an opportunity to become comfortable speaking in front of peers, to develop oral language skills for the speaker, and critical thinking skills for classmates who are guessing.
To celebrate the completion of the first year at Crane, kindergarten students participate in a special graduation ceremony for family and friends. In preparation for graduation, students memorize a chosen or original poem and recite it at the ceremony.