The Classroom Experience

CocoonsCaterpillar

EARLY PRESCHOOL DAILY SCHEDULE
All young children do best with predictable routines, and so we work hard to follow this schedule consistently every day. At times, due to special events, rain, etc., we make modifications. In the Early Preschool, the times may vary, as the little ones need more time and flexibility between transitions.

Caterpillars MWFCocoons T/TH
8:30-8:45
Greeting & Story
8:30-8:45
Greeting & Story (Fall /Begin on Playground)
8:45-10:00
Work Time (w/ Toileting)
8:45-10:00
Work Time
10:00-10:15
Clean-up/Small Group
10:00-10:15
Clean-up/Small Group (usually added in Jan.)
10:15-10:30
Quiet Story Rest Time
10:15-10:30
Quiet Story Rest Time
10:30-10:50
Hand Washing & Snack Time
10:30-10:50
Hand Washing & Snack Time
10:50-11:15
Music & Movement
10:50-11:15
Music & Movement
11:15-11:45
Playground Time
11:15-11:45
Playground Time


LEARN MORE ABOUT THE EARLY PRESCHOOL CLASSROOM ROUTINE


Greeting and Story Time
The children begin their day by joining the large circle and sitting with the teachers for a quiet story or two. This calming activity helps them with separation. The story engages them, and their focus shifts away from Mommy (or Daddy, or Caregiver) towards an interest in school and the other children. Parents are free to stay until their child is comfortable and settled or until Story Time ends. We know that adjustment is an individualized process. The teachers customize arrangements for parents whose children need more time to settle in comfortably.

NOTE: Because they are younger, in the fall the Cocoon Class begins their day on the Playground. It helps them to have this enjoyable physical activity to entertain them and makes it easier to for them to separate from their parents. When ready, they move to the classroom, and the day proceeds with Work Time.


Work Time– — A Time of “Individual Choice”                
After Story Time is over, the children are free to work in the classroom or in the outdoor covered patio area, moving from one area to another. The teachers use this time as an opportunity to engage in floor time play and make connections with children. Children may choose any job or activity they wish, and they may work alone, with a teacher, or with other children.

Inside Activities for the Early Preschoolers include a variety of Montessori jobs and other sensory learning materials, including peg boards, blocks, shape sorting, texture matching, color sorting and matching, sorting by size, etc. Children also have an opportunity to play in the dramatic play area, look at books in the cozy corner, or participate in art activities (gluing, coloring, etc.). Every day there is a different multi-sensory art activity spread out on the art room table for children to freely experience. Every week, the children also have the opportunity to participate in a cooking project that is simple and age-appropriate.

Outside Activities in the Patio Area include painting at the easel, playing in the sand box, building with blocks, sliding down the slide, climbing on the play structure, and playing in the playhouse. There is also a separate, fenced-in area with riding toys for large motor activity.

Large Motor Classroom activities are a special treat. The teachers periodically take the children over to our sensory classroom when they need some large movement activities, such as rolling on the mats, climbing the stairs, jumping in the ball pit, riding the scooter boards, and playing under the parachute.

Throughout Work Time, the teachers intentionally focus on encouraging the children’s language development and assisting them in their social and emotional development. Some of the focus is on building skills that lead to greater independence. They teach all children to wash their hands, to put away their jobs, to clean up spills, and to put on their jackets. The teachers help those children who are ready to practice using the toilet.


Small Group
After Work Time and clean-up, the children transition to Small Group. This is a quiet time where one teacher and six children meet each day and share special moments together. It is a focused time for teaching social-emotional skills. The Early Preschoolers are just learning how to be together in a group. They are working on the social skills of sitting, listening, and sharing. Their Small Group activities are very simple and experiential. The teachers use books and puppets to focus on issues that are important to all children at this age, such as separation, missing their parent, building trust with other caregivers, and learning about their world. As the year unfolds, the children are able sit for a longer period of time and they develop more oral language and interactive skills.

NOTE: We have found that the Cocoons do best with fewer changes at first, so they do not start out the year going to Small Group. The teachers follow the developmental lead of the children. If and when they are ready, this new transition is added, usually by January.
 


Snack Time
Children wash their own hands and come to the snack table. The Cocoons eat at the large inside table and the Caterpillars eat outside at the picnic tables. We honor the importance of meal-time rituals. Much learning happens here, especially learning to share and socialize with each another.


Rest and Story Time
The children slow down and rest for a very short period by relaxing on the carpet with a story and soft music, before their next high energy dance and movement time.


Music and Movement
This period is a favorite time of the day for most Cocoons and Caterpillars. The teachers teach a variety of songs, finger plays, and movement activities during Music Time. They love doing the finger plays and dancing to music and they quickly learn all the words to the songs.


Playground
At the end of the morning, the children go out to the big playground. We close off the top part of the play structure to the Cocoons and Caterpillars. They use the lower part of the structure with the small slides. The rest of the playground, with the sandbox, cars, fire engine, climbing tubes, and swings, are open to their use, as well.


 

BeeGrasshopperLadybugPRESCHOOL DAILY SCHEDULE
If your child comes to Mandala, his or her day will look something like this. We work hard to follow this schedule consistently every day. Although the routine is predictable, we will make modifications to accommodate special activities or events, rain, etc., but the order of the day never changes. 

Ladybugs
MWF AM
Ladybugs
T/TH AM
Dragonflies
MWF
Dragonflies
T/TH
8:45-8:55
Story Time
8:45-8:55
Story Time
8:45-8:55
Story Time
8:45-8:55
Story Time
8:55-9:10
Table Time
8:55-9:10
Table Time
8:55-9:10
Table Time
8:55-9:10
Table Time
9:00-9:50
Work Time
9:00-9:50
Work Time
9:00-9:50
Work Time
9:10-9:50
Work Time
9:50-10:00
Calendar & Hands
9:50-10:10
Calendar & Hands
9:50-10:25
Calendar/Hands/Music
9:50-10:25
Calendar/Hands/Music
10:00-10:15
Snack Time
10:00-10:15
Snack Time
10:25-10:40
Snack Time
10:25-10:40
Snack Time
10:15-10:40
Playground
10:15 -10:40
Playground
10:40-11:00
Playground
10:40 -11:00
Playground
10:40-11:00
Music/Movement
10:40-11:00
Small Group
11:00-11:25
Small Group
11:00-11:25
Small Group
11:00-11:25
Small Group
11:00-11:25
Small Group
11:25-11:45
Story /Dismissal
11:25-11:45
Story /Dismissal
11:25-11:45
Story/Hand Washing
11:25-11:45
Story/Hand Washing
11:45-12:30
LUNCH BUNCH
11:45-12:30
LUNCH BUNCH
11:45 -12:30
Lunch
11:45 -12:30
Lunch
12:00-12:30
Patio & Art
12:00-12:30
Patio & Art
12:30-12:50
Quiet Reading
12:30-12:50
Quiet Reading
12:50-1:10
Language & Literature
12:50-1:10
Language & Literature
1:10-1:40
Science & Geography
1:10-1:40
Science & Geography
1:40-2:10
Fine Motor/Math
1:40-2:10
Fine Motor/Math
2:10-2:20
Playground Time
2:10-2:20
Playground Time
2:20-2:30
Story/Dismissal
2:20-2:30
Story/Dismissal

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PRESCHOOL CLASSROOM ROUTINE

Story Time
When the children first arrive in the preschool classroom, a teacher greets them and they say goodbye to their parent at the story room door. They then go right into the story room where another teacher welcomes them and reads a short story to the group. This is a quiet time that helps children transition from their parents to school. By the time the story is finished, all the children have arrived for the day, and the children move to their small groups for Table Time.


Table Time
Table Time is a focused learning time where each teacher meets with her own small group for about 15 minutes. This period sets the tone for the day and serves as a bonding time for the group. The teacher begins by greeting each child and the children say “good morning” to each other. From there, the teacher demonstrates one of the Montessori jobs or one of the activities that is available in the classroom. Each child has an opportunity to try the job or a part of it. After this, each child is asked what they want to work on that day. This ritual helps the children focus their energy and find a specific activity to start their day. They are then dismissed to individual Work Time.


Work Time– A Time of “Individual Choice”         

During this time, the children are self-directed and are able to choose freely from activities in the prepared environment.  They may move back and forth between the classrooms and the outside patio area. Although they have free choice about what they want to do, no child may choose not to work. Children pick from activities in a variety of areas. These are some examples, although activities in the areas change monthly:

In the Practical Life area, children choose activities from everyday living: polishing shoes, using tools (hammer, screw driver, socket wrench, etc.) sanding wood, wet and dry pouring, flower arranging, silver polishing, tying laces, zippering, etc. These activities teach children skills that help them to be more independent, to care for the environment and each other, and to develop small muscle coordination.

In the Sensorial Area, children choose from activities that use their five senses, such as color sorting, matching sounds/smells/textures/weight, grading objects by size, using peg boards, etc. These sensorial exercises also provide a foundation for speech, writing, and arithmetic.

In the Language Area, children work in areas that enhance oral language and set the foundation for reading. All of the activities are important building blocks that prepare the child to become a successful reader. Some of the activities included in this area are puzzles, metal insets, object/picture matching, picture/picture matching, lotto games, story dictation, classification of objects (i.e. put all the flying things in one pile, all the crawling things in another), 3-5 part story sequencing, rhyming words, opposites, letter recognition, and letter sound recognition.

In the Math Area, the Montessori activities allow children to explore the concepts of quantity and symbol. We use the child’s senses to first introduce these concepts. We introduce quantity using the number rods. There are 10 rods in graduated segments. Each segment represents a unit. We introduce number symbols (i.e. “7”) with sandpaper numbers. The child traces the rough numbers with his finger. We then put quantity and symbol together in a variety of exercises. We begin introducing the first three numbers and then add a number at a time, up to 10. We then introduce such concepts as: teens, tens, hundreds, thousands, counting by two’s, and the Hundred Board.

In the Art Area, children have an opportunity to work creatively using a variety of materials and mediums to create an expressive piece of art, including gluing, painting, water colors, markers, scissors, tape, stamps, stencils, and color crayons.

In the Patio Area, children paint on the easel, play with the doll house, use a sand/bird seed/or water tray, and engage in other special seasonal outdoor activities.

In the Block Area, we have a variety of blocks and building materials, including unit blocks, trains, and Legos that children may use for construction.

In the Cooking Area, children are able to participate in food preparation, and they practice spreading, cutting, stirring, pouring, and learning how to follow a recipe.

In Dramatic Play, children have an opportunity to work cooperatively, to try on and practice adult roles and gain skills in socialization, as well as learning skills in independent living.


Playground Time
Playground is an extremely important time in your child’s day. Children work on the development of their large muscles, building coordination and strength. This is also a time when they can practice social skills. The children may choose from a variety of activities including: swinging, sliding, playing basketball, running, climbing, playing in the sandbox, crawling over and under the tubes, and participating in imaginary play. We also have a special fenced bike area where children can take turns using a variety of riding toys around a track.


Music and Movement
Children gather in a large circle time for music and movement. Sometimes we meet break into two smaller circles. We introduce songs, finger plays, and movement activities. Periodically, we bring out simple instruments (tambourines, sand blocks, triangles, drums, etc.) to accompany the songs. Music is a wonderful way for children to be exposed to and practice using language. Music teaches rhythm and cooperation. We also go over to our Sensory-Motor Classroom and use the tumbling mats, climbing stairs, ball pit, scooter boards, and the parachute for extra fun and whole-body activity.


Small Group Time –— Nurturing the Spirit
Small Group is a focused time for teaching social-emotional skills and mindfulness. This is a quiet time of day where each teacher meets with her eight children (divided into groups by age for the year). The children form trusted relationships with the teacher and with each other. Each day, the teacher leads her group in one of many structured activities in the theme of the month from our Nurturing the Spirit Coping Curriculum. These activities are designed to teach young children communication skills, problem-solving, and stress relief. Using a combination of relaxation exercises, puppets, symbolic play, role-play, and creative art, the children are given an opportunity to express their feelings and develop personal powerfulness. They learn empathy and a respect for their world. They also learn coping skills as they master difficulties and work together to solve problems. Monthly themes include topics such as: Trust and Belonging, Self-Acceptance, Feelings, Making Friends, Kindness and Care for Others, Cooperation, Respect for Differences, Conflict Resolution, and Growth & Change.


LUNCH

Lunch Bunch
Children may sign up to stay for lunch after the morning preschool class or before the afternoon preschool class. Lunch Bunch is an optional add-on for an extra fee. It is not included in the tuition.

Dragonflies
Lunch is included as part of the extended day class and is included in the tuition.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE EXPANDED DAY PRESCHOOL DAILY SCHEDULE

Children in the Dragonflies class work with the Ladybugs in the morning, as shown in the daily schedule above. Although they have their own small groups, they follow the same order of the day in the morning until dismissal time.

The Dragonflies break for lunch and a play period before returning to their class. The rest of their day follows this schedule:


Patio & Art
The children have a second period of creative expression using various art media on the patio in the Dragonflies class. With a smaller number of students, there is the opportunity for closer social interaction and more cooperative play at this time.


Quiet Reading & Relaxation
The children come inside for a 15-20 minute period of rest and relaxation after their busy morning. This is a time for them to learn how to unwind their bodies and “calm their motors.” Sometimes they lie on the floor and listen to or read stories. Sometimes they listen to soft music and do relaxation exercises.  In our quiet time, we teach self-regulation, which is an important kindergarten readiness skill.


Language and Literature
A key feature of the Dragonflies class is an emphasis on expanding literacy and self-expression. The teachers are able to present many of the more advanced Montessori materials which teach pre-reading and early reading skills and phonics at this time. They use the moveable alphabet, matching games, etc. In addition, the children explore literature in more depth, with plenty of time for sharing and discussion. They even do their own story-writing and create portfolios of their own work.


Science and Geography
Children love science. This extended period gives the teachers a chance to involve the children in exciting hands-on science projects and experiments. The children learn more about their world, too. Montessori has many lovely advanced materials in the science and geography area which the children may work with at this time. 


Music & Movement
The final part of the day includes a variety of music and movement activities in the Sensory-Motor Classroom. We are able to make use of the wonderful large-body equipment we have in this classroom, such as the tumbling mats, climbing stairs, ball pit, scooter boards, and the parachute. 


Fine Motor
One of the best ways to prepare children for kindergarten is to give them lots of practice with fine motor activities so that they are ready to write in school. This focused time period includes more skill-building and practice in this area using a variety of materials that teach in a sensory way. 


Math
The Dragonflies are given more time and more practice with the Montessori math materials. Montessori teaches math in a very sensory way using counters, number cards, the golden beads, the hundred board, and math games. As children master numbers and simple counting, they go on to learn the decimal system, teens, hundreds, and thousands. After they learn about the composition of numbers, they learn about the operation of numbers, such as addition and subtraction. In the math area, as in all other areas, these materials are introduced and practiced, but every child progresses at his or her own rate.


Playground
The children end their day on the playground and are dismissed from there.