Note: We are planning to return to the classroom in the fall of 2021. Some details are still being finalized. These descriptions are based on the way we operated pre-pandemic.
We provide an opportunity for parents and children to experience preschool together. They learn skills they need to be supportive parents and lifelong learners.
All our classes offer age-appropriate play, learning experiences and social activities. The play-and-learn centers in each class include arts and crafts, science, music, cooking, block building, a playhouse with dress-up costumes, a library, and activities tables for puzzles, manipulatives and play-dough. Outside play areas include swings, a large play structure, playhouses, children’s garden, painting easels, large sand areas, carpentry area, long tracks for bikes and wheel toys, areas for water play and a large lawn and grassy hill.
Each day, our teachers share stories and encourage children to participate in play, songs and fingerplays to develop literacy and pre-reading skills. Children also develop early math skills with counting and sorting activities. Music is learned through developmentally appropriate activities that support and respect the unique learning style of very young children. Our arts and craft area is always ready with fresh projects where children are encouraged to experiment through the process of creating. They explore sensory experiences and science through activities with a wide variety of materials and projects about plants, animals and natural phenomena. Field trips, holiday parties, and intercultural learning are also supported in the classroom to explore learning through experiential opportunities.
At the core of all our structured and unstructured activities, children are encouraged to explore, experiment and experience. Below you will find more information supporting each area of curriculum experienced at APPS:
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
Social-Emotional Learning is crucial to child development. At APPS, opportunities for whole child learning (cognitive, language, physical, social, emotional, creative) are given every day. SEL is supported with Positive Discipline training and language. Please visit the Positive Discipline page for more information about its importance and use at APPS.
Art is an expression of feelings, knowledge and ideas. These experiences are represented in visual form. At APPS, each child is an artist and the process of creating lends itself to many life skills and curriculum goals. Through process-focused art (focusing on the experience rather than the final product), teachers and parents encourage not only color, shape, number, letter recognition, but also wonder, curiosity, opinion, perspective taking, problem solving, critical thinking, design thinking, and more.
Science explores the world around us. These experiences are modified to support the age-appropriate understanding of preschoolers. At APPS, each child is a scientist and the process of wonder and inquiry lends itself to many life skills and curriculum goals. What does this look like? A study on Osmosis might consist of watching colored water move through a lettuce leaf. Teachers and parents might ask children, “What do you think will happen if we put this leaf in colored water?”
Math is incorporated into the APPS curriculum daily. Not only are counting and sorting activities made available, but everyday play experiences are used as opportunities to strengthen math skills. What does this look like? Treasure (items children enjoy digging up in the sandbox) is always found in our sandbox and a teacher or parent in the area might say, “Wow! Look how many pieces of treasure you found today! I wonder how many you have?”
Writing & Fine Motor
Writing is incorporated into the APPS curriculum daily. A writing table is set up with materials for children to explore pre-writing/writing skills. Daily markers, crayons, colored pencils, and pens are available for children to exercise their fine motor muscles (the small muscles used to support writing). Not only are actual writing tools used, but the opportunity to strengthen fine motor muscles through using scissors, stickers, play-dough, beading, small puzzles, etc. are used to support pre-writing.
Literacy is incorporated into the APPS curriculum daily. Teachers and parents read stories daily and ask questions to support comprehension development. A children’s library is available daily for children to freely explore on their own during the school day, and even check out books to take home. Letter and sound recognition are supported through everyday play by exploring names and print in our environment and in books.
Dramatic play is available daily at APPS. Materials are set out for children to explore dress-up, playhouses, pretend cooking, doctor play, tools and building. Dramatic play is a way for children to act out the world around them which supports their understanding of how the world works. Dramatic play is also an opportunity for children to collaborate on rules and ideas. Social interactions, conflict resolution, negotiations, sharing of materials and more occurs as children engage in imaginative play. Daily dramatic play supports the development of these skills.
Block building is available daily at APPS. In the block area, children will find wood blocks and other toys and manipulatives to construct ideas for building and imaginative play. As with dramatic play, the opportunity for children to engage collaboratively, to negotiate, to have conflict resolutions, they take turns and share available materials. The opportunity to exercise creativity through building a variety of ideas and sharing a story about it is also there.
Outdoor play is available daily at APPS. Rain or shine the children get a chance to climb, jump, slide, swing, run, dig, bike and hang. Engaging in nature connects children to the importance of taking care of our world and extends creativity in play. A children’s garden is available for planting and exploring, along with outdoor painting easels, swings, climbing structure, sandbox, playhouses, water play, wheeled toys, and more.
Cooking explores many areas such as math, following directions, sensory, communication, collaboration, and more. Opportunities for cooking are offered at least once a month and are often connected to classroom celebrations. Children develop their feelings of independence and being capable when given opportunities to prepare fruits and vegetables as well as engage in other cooking tasks that they often see done by adults. Opportunities to count how many scoops of flour a recipe calls for, or to help knead dough, helps build confidence and satisfaction as children are later able to enjoy the fruits of their collective labor.
Music at APPS is explored daily through singing, playing music, dancing, or instruments. Following along with hand claps and toe taps, exploring musical instruments as a group and individually, creatively exploring rhythm and movement, freely dancing with scarves, and singing together allow the music experience at APPS to meet the learning needs of individual children.
Gross motor experiences occur both outside the classroom and inside the classroom at APPS. Inside the classroom, an area with a mat and indoor slide might be set up, or a balancing course or jumping area is available for daily set up. The opportunity for children to explore gross motor (large muscles in the body used for big movements) is important to child development as they support strength and coordination in moving and sitting.
Sensory play is available daily at APPS. An activity table is always set up with playdough or other sensory materials to allow children to explore using their senses. Our senses connect us to the world around us and using them gives our bodies input that stimulates brain activity exciting and calming the body as needed. Sensory play also allows an opportunity for wonder, creative thinking, and communication as children explore the materials, find different ways to play with it, and share their experience with others. Sensory play is also explored outdoors through the sandbox, garden, and water play, to name a few.
Our children also enjoy regularly scheduled field trips throughout the school year. Some of the favorite excursions include trips to the Pumpkin Patch, Emma Prusch Farms, the Planetarium at DeAnza College, and the Caltrain trip to Palo Alto. Field trips provide opportunities to extend the learning outside the classroom. For example, to explore autumn and pumpkins in the classroom and then take a field trip to the Pumpkin Patch where children can see how they grow in nature helps make learning concrete. This hands-on, experiential style of learning extends the understanding of how our world works around us.
Intercultural Learning & Holiday Parties
APPS is proud to be an “intercultural” preschool. Our curriculum explores how music and art have been enriched by the contribution of each culture or ethnic group. At APPS, those cultural enrichments are explored we seek to emphasize that different cultures can successfully cooperate and grow together within one society. Regularly scheduled holiday parties also offer an opportunity to connect traditions across cultures. APPS also honors the “cultural experiences” of our members by encouraging families to share their own traditions. Every expression of what our families interpret as “their cultural heritage or identity” is welcome.