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Preschool Through Kindergarten

Early Childhood

The early childhood years are a joyful time for all students because they are known, nurtured, and celebrated for who they are!

A strong educational foundation is laid in the Early Childhood, where child-directed learning, imagination, and play are fostered. In these Preschool, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten years, students access the intellectual tools to solve their own problems and develop a love for learning through sensory, hands-on experiences.

Preschool, Prekindergarten & Kindergarten

Early childhood education emphasizes the development of the whole child. It is based on the assumption that learning is meaningful and long-lasting when it focuses on a child’s social, emotional, physical, and intellectual experiences. The Early Childhood programs of St. Peter’s School subscribe to these assumptions and are centered on an understanding of the general growth patterns in the early years as well as on the individual development of children. A balance of child-selected activities, teacher-lead activities, and independent play characterizes the day in each grade. The Early Childhood students  form friendships, navigate daily social situations, and discover the joy and excitement of learning in a challenging, nurturing environment. While many measurable skills are learned, less tangible achievements of equal value are also acquired. The Early Childhood program goals are to inspire the children to love learning, to foster independence, and to build self-confidence.

Program Essentials 

  • Warm and nurturing environment guided by a community commitment to foster an early and a lifelong love of learning, cultivate inclusivity and compassion and instill honesty and respect for self and others.
  • Academics in small groups tailored to meet children where they are as learners.
  • Time for outdoor play in all seasons.
  • Generous amounts of time for exploration , inquiry, discovery and student-selected play 
  • Social-emotional learning is taught explicitly through the CharacterStrong program and infused into all aspects of daily life.

Core Curriculum 

MATHEMATICS

Mathematics is woven into everyday life in the classroom.  Counting the number of days on the calendar, using math language to describe geometric blocks of different shapes, exploring mathematical ideas to solve problems all provide daily opportunities for children to be immersed in the language and ideas of math. Teachers extend learning and challenge students to grow while fostering curiosity and an interest in numbers.  Math lessons in PK and Kindergarten are guided by the Math in Focus curriculum, based on the Singapore math approach.  The key goals of this approach are to use hands-on activities to allow students to tackle concepts that are normally delayed until later grades, and emphasize the application of math skills to real-world situations to help children become critical thinkers and problem-solvers.

Preschool mathematical concepts include counting, one-to-one correspondence, matching, recognizing and creating patterns, shapes, counting the calendar days, and ideas about time in their daily lives. Mathematical thinking and language are developed organically with our youngest students throughout daily activities from counting the number of friends in school, organizing toys in categories or by size, talking about yesterday and tomorrow, to matching colors to correctly put markers away. 

Prekindergarten mathematical concepts include counting and recognizing numerals on the daily calendar, patterns both linear and growing, flat and solid shapes, counting forward, backward and patterns of counting, sorting, and classification, time to the hour, introduction to addition, and subtraction.

Kindergarten mathematical concepts include measurement standard and non-standard units, length and height, solid and flat shapes, numbers to 100, counting strategies, comparing sets, calendar patterns, counting on and back, place value, patterns, number facts, classifying and sorting, addition and subtraction stories, money, and time.

LANGUAGE AND LITERACY

Students are immersed in a language and print-rich environment from the moment they enter the classroom areas.  Teachers are intentional about creating learning spaces that invite children to explore, connect and expand their language and literacy development. Daily schedules, morning messages, carefully chosen children’s literature, time spent in the school Library; all immerse and engage children with rich vocabulary, new ideas, and challenge them to think and grow. 

Language and literacy skills are taught in small groups, side by side, and with the whole class. Teachers thoughtfully create games, utilize hands-on materials and incorporate movement and explorations into daily reading, writing, listening, and speaking. 

Letter sounds and words are introduced more formally in Prekindergarten and Kindergarten with Heggerty which teachers use to help students develop an understanding of how sounds work in words and Wilson’s Fundations programs. Fundations is designed to support students’ emerging understanding of the alphabetic principles of letter-sound associations and alphabetical order, and the written language skill of manuscript letter formation. The Wilson’s Fundations program is used alongside the Great Minds’ Geodes book collections in Kindergarten. These collections follow the Fundations’ scope and sequence, providing students the opportunity to practice and enhance their phonics skills while also cultivating a deep reading experience and building knowledge in history, science, and the arts.

THEMATIC STUDIES

Thematic studies provide opportunities for children to learn through changing interdisciplinary units that are rich, immersive and help children to make connections in natural ways. Studies often begin with a query. What do you wonder? What do you know? What would you like to learn?

Teachers weave the theme of study into the curriculum using curated children’s literature, movement, art, science, math, music, and writing in ways that are developmentally appropriate for each grade.

Preschool units of study include All About Me, community, seasons, holidays around the world, harvest, hibernation and migration, New Year, New Beginnings, Black History Month, Earth Day, weather, and Down on the Farm.

Prekindergarten units of study include seasons/holidays, Being Thankful, Community Service, Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month, apples, pumpkins, MLK,  African American History Month, Women’s History Month, National Poetry Month, Asian American Heritage Month, and Friend of the Week.

Kindergarten units of study include All About Me, Classroom Community, harvest, seasons, holidays, family traditions, school community, diversity and traditions, Philadelphia: bridges, water, symbols, and landmarks, thankfulness, hibernation, life cycles, communities around the world, and Change Makers Project.

SCIENCE

The Preschool science curriculum falls into two, year-long investigations within the life sciences: the first is The Five Senses. They focus on the senses of sight and sound by listening to a diverse variety of media and engaging in imaginative play. These two senses will be highlighted throughout the year, in both science and in their homeroom, as not just innate actions, but observational skills that are indicative of everyday scientists. The second year-long investigation is Birds, and starts by discussing what it means to be living or nonliving. They learn that birds possess certain characteristics: they have feathers and beaks and lay eggs. We discuss these traits more specifically by studying turkeys. In addition to practicing observational skills, Preschool students begin to learn how to document their findings in science notebooks. They will explore their senses and learn about new birds throughout the school year. They begin their foray into the physical science concept of stability through structural engineering.

Prekindergarten starts the year in science by reviewing the five senses and science tools. They then begin their year-long investigation of trees by learning the names of different tree parts, comparing leaf edges and shapes, and searching for different types of trees outside. Engineering challenges ask them to think about how objects balance and what makes a structure stable. These challenges include building a gate for the Five Little Pumpkins and constructing an apple tree out of loose parts. Students use loose parts to create a cave, den, or hollow place as a home for a woodland animal. Throughout the year, Prekindergarten students will practice engaging in scientific discussions, making observations using all of their senses, and documenting their findings in their science notebooks.

Kindergarten students begin in science with the question “What is a scientist?” to gain a better understanding of the multitude of things that scientists do. They review how scientists use all of their senses and practice using various science tools to make observations. Afterward, they begin the first part of their year-long weather investigation, in which they will be gathering evidence to identify daily and seasonal weather patterns. They make daily observations of the local weather in their homeroom morning meetings, and record their observations on a bar graph in their science notebooks. In science class, they discuss the differences between the seasons and make preliminary predictions for the weather on their birthday. Throughout the year they will continue to gather weather data and will further explore severe weather and how sunlight warms the Earth’s surface. The Kindergarteners also delve into the life sciences by reviewing the characteristics of living things with specific investigations of squirrels and bats. They complete a physical sciences unit in which they are introduced to pushes and pulls and the effect these forces have on the motion of objects.

ART

At St. Peter’s students are exposed to a varied range of mediums. Projects are student-centered in skill, as well as expression and exploration. The program allows for cross-curricular projects that deepen a student’s understanding and view of their world.

Preschool 

  • Shows appreciation for various forms of visual art 
  • Shows appreciation for the artwork of peers 
  • Communicates what s/he sees and how it makes her/his feel 
  • Communicates about his/her artwork
  • Uses and cares for art materials 
  • Explores different materials, tools, and processes 
  • Shows increasing awareness of color, line, form, texture, space, and design in his/her artwork or the work of others

 

Prekindergarten

  • Develops imagination and express artistic creativity through free art opportunities
  • Develops hand-eye coordination (trace and draw shapes, complete a maze, tear paper, etc). 
  • Able to draw self-portrait 
  • Experiences various art materials  
  • Colors in circles, filling in the white spaces and staying in the lines
  • Makes balls, shapes, and cookies with playdough
  • Cuts play-dough with cookie cutters
  • Paints with a paintbrush
  • Identifies basic shapes and colors
  • Demonstrates creating a pattern using shapes and/or colors
  • Uses the other hand to hold the paper while drawing or writing
  • Develops proper grip technique and scissor grip 

 

Kindergarten

  • Explores, discovers, and expresses their ideas through art
  • Learns techniques in drawing, painting, sculpting, and printmaking
  • Uses sketchbooks to illustrate ideas
  • Completes projects that reinforce the understanding of primary, secondary, complimentary, and tertiary colors
  • Learn to tint colors with white and to differentiate between warm and cool colors
  • Develop a familiarity with geometric shapes, free shapes, different lines, textures, and patterns
  • Uses finger paints, watercolors and tempera paints to make different strokes, textures, and blended colors
  • Creates collages and develops sewing and weaving skills
  • Learns about artists from around the world and discusses their artworks
  • Continues the exploration of art inspired by that of other cultures

 

MUSIC

At St. Peter’s School, Music is a blend of developing the knowledge about the fundamentals of music, exploratory activity-based learning and strengthening student listening skills. Classes are divided into conceptual learning experiences and hands-on learning experiences with singing & instruments. 

When students reach the 6th-8th Grades they also learn in an ensemble scenario working on popular songs with drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and singing culminating with Battle of the Bands. The music recording studio is included in various areas of our learning opportunities.

Drawing from the Orff Model of music education that aims to engage the mind and body through experience first, then conceptualization, the Early Childhood years and the students in Grades 1-4 engage with percussion instruments, xylophone, ukulele, and of course, do lots of singing. Throughout their time in Grades 5-8, students continuously grow as young musicians and members of rock/pop bands and homogeneous ensembles, learning guitar, bass guitar, drum set, piano, and handbells. Additionally, students learn about essential musical concepts, the cultural and social impact of a wide variety of genres, and perform in several settings including Battle of the Bands, seasonal concerts, and graduation. And unique to St. Peter’s, many students learn how to operate our onsite professional-quality recording studio.

 

Preschool

  • Shows awareness and appreciation of different kinds of music
  • Expresses thoughts, feelings, and energy through music 
  • Shows increasing awareness of various components of music
  • Communicates feelings and ideas through dance and movement 
  • Experiments with a variety of percussion instruments and other sound sources 
  • Demonstrates spatial awareness
  • Demonstrates how the body moves
  • Demonstrates relational awareness
  • Prepares holiday and event songs and dances

 

Prekindergarten

  • Uses their voice expressively as they speak, chant, and sing 
  • Sings a variety of simple songs in various keys, meters, and genres, alone and with a group, becoming increasingly accurate in rhythm and pitch 
  • Experiments with a variety of instruments and other sound sources 
  • Plays simple melodies and accompaniments on instruments 
  • Creates short pieces of music, using voices, instruments, and other sound sources 
  • Responds through movement to music of various tempos, dynamics, styles, and genres  
  • Participates freely in music activities
  • Uses their own vocabulary to describe music
  • Prepares holiday and event songs and dances 

 

Kindergarten

  • Explores and experiments with sounds from body percussion, egg shakers, rhythm sticks, and small percussion instruments 
  • Basic Introduction to Music Fundamentals: Steady Beat, Tempo, Dynamics, four types of voices, and reading rhythms 
  • Discovers own singing voice and sing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of grade-appropriate music
  • Uses movement to explore music concepts, enhance music making, and express ideas 
  • Prepares holiday and event songs and dances 

 

WORLD LANGUAGE: FRENCH

Preschoolers  and Prekindergarteners enjoy their introduction to the French language. Each class begins with a warm-up, where we exchange greetings  and build vocabulary to ask and answer questions such as  “What’s your favorite food?” or “What animal is red?”  Students continue to use vocabulary for colors, body parts, numbers to five, animals, and food. We focus on repetition and fun, and also introduce simple songs such as “Salade, Salade” to practice counting, “Il Fait Froid” and  later “Frotte, Frotte” to review body parts, then “Chat, Chat, Chat” to review animals and “Frere Jacques” at the end of class. 

Kindergarteners develop listening and pronunciation skills to use greetings with ease, and to include colors, numbers to ten, and animal vocabulary. into conversation.  They have extended classroom vocabulary, with foods, body parts, and clothing words. The focus continues to be on the repetition of vocabulary through songs, games and skits. 

PHYSICAL EDUCATION (begins in Kindergarten) 

Early Childhood students participate in different dance, aerobics, movement of yoga classes, designed to develop gross motor skills. Physical Education class provides the opportunity to teach students about movement, strategies, cooperation and teamwork, problem solving, and health related wellness. Exposing students to a variety of sports and methods of fitness can teach the whole student an enjoyment for the physical activities as well as build social, psychomotor, and cognitive skills. Classes strive to provide the means for students to become more confident with their abilities, increase their knowledge of health-related fitness, and to remain physically active.