The curriculum at Little Acorn is planned based on the developmental needs and emergent interests of the individual children enrolled, and the special talents of the teachers. Activities are individualized so that each child is comfortably challenged and encouraged to move to the next level of development but is never pushed. The curriculum is thematic/literature based and integrated so that, for example, if children are studying insects, they may be finding them outdoors, reading and writing about them, representing them in art, singing and dancing about them in music, doing a play about them in drama, and building obstacle courses or homes for them in blocks or carpentry. The following components are included in the curriculum:
Social Skills: The goal is for children to form deep and meaningful friendships with their peers, to be
able to work cooperatively within a learning community, and to be able to get their needs met in a way that respects the rights of others. Through puppetry, storytelling and ongoing direct guidance and instruction, children are taught the following concepts:
School rules of “Be kind and be safe.”
Use of courtesies and empathy
Social justice concepts such as fairness and inclusion of those with differences
The process of negotiation which includes: identifying the problem in terms of the needs of both parties, brainstorming possible solutions, agreeing on a plan of action, and following through with that plan.
Language, Literacy, and Drama: Children are introduced to current quality literature as well as traditional fairy tales and folk tales. Children are encouraged to dictate their own stories and books which are recorded by the teacher and read to the class. Children are given many opportunities to enact both familiar stories and stories of their own creation. They are encouraged to illustrate these stories and to create scenery and dialogue for dramatic play production. As this process occurs, children gain a deep understanding of the connection between the written and spoken word. And, as they show an interest, children are taught the alphabet and beginning phonics so they can begin to read & write on their own.
Math Skills: Children are introduced to counting and other beginning math concepts such as sorting and classifying, measuring, adding and subtracting. The hands-on “Math Their Way” curriculum is utilized. This curriculum involves experiences using manipulatives to concretely explore and represent numerical and spatial concepts.
Art: Children are introduced to a wide variety of art experiences designed to help them gain mastery over the materials. With repeated experiences using the tools of art, children become more and more able to creatively self-express by using art as a language to represent the world within and around them. The art program includes the following elements:
Drawing – Through visual aids and movement, children are introduced to the five basic elements of drawing. As they study various aspects of the world around them, children are encouraged to find and observe these elements so that they can learn to represent what they see. Children are offered experiences using wide and fine tip markers, oil pastels, colored pencils, chalk, and clay etching. They are also offered experiences drawing in shaving cream, salt, finger paint, and wipe-off markers.
Painting – Through puppetry, children are introduced to painting processes as they use a variety of brush sizes, textures and painting materials. Children use liquid tempera paint, tempera cakes, liquid water color, glitter paint, luminescent paint, finger paint, and fabric paint. They are encouraged to paint at the table, the easel, and outdoors, and to cooperatively paint scenery for dramatic play.
Forming – Children work with porcelain clay, Model Magic, and Play dough, as always, moving developmentally from exploration to expression and from simple to more complex forms.
Collage – Children work with a wide variety of papers, even making their own at times, while learning to incorporate tools and techniques such as hand-tearing, crimping, folding, cutting, pasting, stapling, taping, hole-punching and paper fastening. In collage, children will also be using 3-D materials such as wood and wire, sticks, shells, dried flowers, etc.
Music: Children participate daily in rich music experiences that include singing, rhyming, rhythm instrument play, creative movement with props, song writing, and beginning folk dance. Teachers lead children in music using guitar, voice, recorded music, and visual aids. Children are encouraged to contribute their own ideas during the music and movement circle. In this way, they use music as another language for self-expression.
Science: Children are offered many experiences with the natural world around them both indoors and out. As they learn to be close observers of detail and begin to try and represent what they see, children gain a deeper understanding of their surroundings. The science program includes the following:
Study of insects, spiders, birds, reptiles, rocks, plants, light and shadows, magnetism, various liquids and solids, etc. Observation, predication, and classification skills are modeled and encouraged.
Outdoor Play: Children are offered a wide variety of experiences designed to enhance large muscle development, balance, and coordination, including: running, jumping, hopping, pulling, climbing, pedaling, ball skills, and hopscotch.