A typical day at Sunnymont-Westside starts with indoor play at any number of places inside the classroom - at playdough, manipulative toys, art, wooden blocks, dramatic play, library, “writing” center, science and a parent-brought special project; followed by a group circle time of singing, movement and stories.
After circle time, the classroom doors are opened by one of the working parents allowing the children to explore outdoor activities, or to continue playing inside. Outdoor activities include playing in the sand, water or mud play, riding toys, climbing structures, balance and gross motor activities, outdoor art, gardening, woodworking, or building toy play. We close our day inside the classroom with another teacher-led circle, and end the class together.
Snack is either eaten at tables family-style, or prepared and eaten by the children as a learning center. In the 4 Day Class, children bring their own snack in and Ongoing projects are complemented by daily projects.
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This is where the kids rush off to start their day at Sunnymont-Westside! Everyone washes their hands to clean off the germs and allergens, and we start the day together in the indoor classroom.
After the kids wash their hands, the first activity they’ll usually see will be the playdough table. The colors, smells and sometimes even the texture of the playdough may change, but it’s still a familiar activity, especially for the kids who are quieter and more cautious. Here, the children can sit and observe the rest of the classroom until they feel comfortable to venture out. After all, observation is a form of participation, and practicing skills for dealing with stressful situations will benefit them for their whole lives.
Tactile activities provide children with a chance to develop their sensory processing and increase their dexterity. This is also a great place for some children to ease into the classroom by looking around and observing what is going on.
The playdough is very tactile to punch, pull, poke, twist, and squeeze. It can be calming after a hurried morning getting to school. Playdough is also great for strengthening the muscles in the kids’ hands and arms, which is a step towards holding a pencil when they are ready to write!
As young children explore art, they learn about color, shape, form, technique while building coordination and creative expression and practicing fine motor skills. Our goal is to have children explore a variety of techniques and media for both two and three dimensional art at a weekly indoor art activity.
Art may also be offered outside, in the form of easel painting, dancing, collage art, painting tree stumps or our playhouse, chalk drawing, or other outdoor arts activities.
Art won’t always be with a paintbrush! There’s Q-tips for the toddler aged children, their hands, stretchy stockings full of beans, and even the plastic cars from other areas of the classroom will join the art table.
At the science center children get to explore life science. We might be growing plants, studying ants, sand and rocks, checking out birds’ nests, or hatching silkworm caterpillars.
Science curriculum is abundant in our outdoor classroom as well. For example, plants provide smells and textures to explore. Turning over a rock or a stump offers a chance to study the little animals living underneath.
At the science center every spring, the teachers bring in silkworms to watch their life cycle, starting from hatching from an egg, to feeding them mulberry leaves as they continue to grow, and cocoon, and become moths! We also explore hatching chicks with an incubator, planting seeds and seedlings into our outdoor garden, and watching ladybugs and butterflies go through their life cycles too. It’s always an exciting time in the science area!
The children help care for and feed our guinea-pigs, and make sure they're supplied with plenty of treats and cuddling. Caring for an animal helps children learn to nurture, be gentle, and take responsibility.
They’ll squeak loudly when they know there are snacks and no one offering it to them! They also do come out to visit with the children, with a working parent supervising and reminding the children to use gentle hands.
Here the children find paper and tools (pencils, crayons, chalk, scissors, hole punches, tape, and staplers) so they can create, explore, and practice drawing and writing as they become interested in these skills.
This is a wonderful play area that we change through out the year. It starts out as a kitchen, someplace all kids are familiar with. As the kids get more comfortable playing at school, the teachers transform it to a bookstore, veterinarian’s office, post office, and camping grounds! By playing out the adult roles they see around them, children build identity and self-esteem, as well as enhancing cognitive development.
The blocks and wooden vehicles stick around all year…and this room is what will transform into different dramatic play areas like the post office, veterinarian’s office, camping site, and a bookstore!
While manipulative activities happen all over the school, at least one table inside or outside is set aside for a manipulative activity each day. This table offers activities such as patterning blocks, pegs, puzzles, beads, and building sets, offering many different ways for kids to work on their fine motor skills and consider cognitive concepts such as patterning and matching and grouping different objects.
There is a bookshelf behind the manipulatives activities table that has a rotating selection of puzzles and activities that the kids can bring out to try something different.
This is our outdoor kitchen and play house, where there is always a sand cupcakes baking away! There are hoses nearby in case the kitchen needs to be hosed down, or a sudden kitchen “fire”. And those hoses also have potable water, so in case you catch your child tasting the water, they’ll be just fine.
The sandbox is a great place for learning about sharing space and cooperation. As children explore the sand, they are building motor skills, coordination, scientific understanding, problem solving, and teamwork.
Children learn self confidence, balance, spatial awareness, motor planning and proximity as they explore our our climbing house. And when the teachers have carefully arranged red tissue paper “fires” throughout the playground, and set out the firefighters’ jackets, boots and hats, the kids spring into action to save our school!
Children learn self confidence, balance, spatial awareness, motor planning and proximity as they explore different gross motor activities planned every week. This one is the children exploring the “pond” and finding a way to cross it!
There is a path where the children can ride on trikes, cozy coupes, tractors, three wheeled scooters, flying turtles, and more.
Our tire swing also offers many other learning opportunities. How many kids do we have swinging? How can we share the space? Who will help push? Can we still swing even on a rainy day? (Yes!)
Yes, a toddler can handle hammers and nails! They may be little, but doesn’t mean that they’re not very capable and amazing!
We encourage children to learn the joy of singing, and some of the foundations of understanding of pitch, tempo, and music as artistic expression. Musical instruments are always available to the children, usually outdoors so others who are sensitive to noises can be comfortable, too.
Children learn self confidence, balance, spatial awareness, motor planning and proximity as they explore our monkey bars, tire swing, and climbing house.
We have a children's garden areas where our kids can dig in the dirt, plant and pick flowers and learn about life cycles.
The kids are getting ready for spring! They’re planting different types of seeds, and in the spring, we’ll get to harvest the fruits and vegetables and sample them at the cooking table! We talk about the different parts of the plant as it grows, and we bring in different parts of the plant to eat in class - roots (potatoes, carrots, beets), leaves (arugula, basil, lettuce), and everyone’s favorite FRUITS!