At Discovery Tree, we believe in the power of play and in learning through doing. Your child won't be spending their day sitting at a desk or copying worksheets. Instead, they will be learning through open-ended and play-based activities that are developmentally appropriate for their age. We will explore traditional topics such as letters, colors, shapes, and numbers and also enjoy art, science and music activities. Our proprietary curriculum draws from a variety of educational philosophies including Montessori, Waldorf, and Regio Emilia.
Our curriculum is based on a unifying theme that changes each month. Frequently, the themes are related to the changing seasons of the year. Most curriculum elements are tied into this monthly theme - we even vary the manipulatives used in our math program!
Creative Play Centers
Our bright and inviting early childhood room includes a variety of play centers including kitchen center, block center, train table and pretend play area as well as books and puppets and silk scarves for imaginary play. We vary our play centers to reflect the month’s theme. For example, we may add a pretend “fishing area” if our month’s theme is the ocean and add additional ocean animals to the pretend play center.
Most experts agree that simply reading to children is the most important factor in their later reading success. The core of our curriculum is high quality children’s literature from the best in children’s authors and illustrators. Each day, your children will enjoy a variety of children’s books including Caldecott award winning picture books and books from favorite authors such as Lois Ehlert, Maurice Sendak, William Steig, Tommy DePaola and Eric Carle. These stories are the core around which we build our daily activities. Of course, we will also learn letters and sounds and use a variety of activities to develop phonetic awareness- a necessary ability before reading instruction can begin.
Children in the 2s and 3s class will focus on letter recognition and letter sounds while older students will use the Saxon phonics program to work on letter blends and beginning reading activities. We also use the wonderful Handwriting Without Tears handwriting readiness program, which introduces important handwriting skills in a developmentally appropriate manner. We’ll use wooden letter pieces, chalkboards, sand trays, and their own special workbook! Kindergarten students will do more in depth phonics study using the Saxon phonics program, and will receive a phonics workbook and beginning readers. They will continue with the Handwriting Without Tears program and will work on capitals and lowercase writing.
Young children need concrete examples to understand mathematical concepts. That’s why we explore math with hands-on manipulatives and learning activities. We’ll use a variety of counters, rods, unifix cubes, pattern blocks, geoboards, dominos and more to create an understanding of important concepts such as one-to-one correspondence. Older preschoolers will use various manipulatives to act out mathematical concepts in “add to” and “take away” stories to ensure a true understanding of mathematical concepts. Kindergarten students will combine the hands on activities with a more traditional Math workbook.
The heart of science exploration comes through observation of the world around us. Our students enjoy weekly science experiments and other activities which explore their environment and encourage scientific discoveries. Each month we add various science discovery centers related to our themes for children to explore, as well as teacher-directed activities.
In our art programs for toddlers and preschoolers, we focus on process- based art activities. This means that the child is free to explore and make observations about the art activity without direction towards a final finished product. As parents, we frequently want to “help”our child make the project “correctly.” Especially during holidays, we want to have cute crafty projects created by our children to pull out in later years. However, this can inhibit the child’s creativity. Prominent art educator and writer MaryAnn Kohl says the following:
“Art is a creative process, not a pre-planned product. Picture the difference. A child is given cotton balls, glue, scraps of paper, and a paper plate. These materials will become part of a creative experiment for a child, as they manipulate and explore the possibilities. There is no planned design or product. However, if someone were to require the child to make a bunny on the paper plate from a pre-designed bunny that is shown to the child as the example to follow, all creativity is lost and the project becomes a craft.”
Children will enjoy daily music and movement activities. Kindergarten students will also enjoy instruction on the recorder as part of their class curriculum. We also offer the award winning Kindermusik curriculum as an optional add-on to the program. Kindergarten students will enjoy a weekly musical theatre class and will perform in two short musicals over the course of the school year.