Summer Science and Arts
Each year, the summer program begins the Monday after the academic year ends and continues for siz weeks. The program runs Monday-Thursday each week, with options to attend either two or four days. Hours are 8:30-12:30, allowing time for relaxed exploration and a lunch brought from home. Typically, Katrina and Barbara teach in the summer and an additional teacher from our regular staff joins when there are a sufficient number of children attending. With two teachers, we maintain a group with a maximum of 15 children (between 2.9 and 7) at any one time, and if more children attend maintain a 7 to 1 ratio.
The program features an integrated arts curriculum with a focus on the natural sciences, art, music, and creative movement. Each day includes time for children to participate in both visual arts and music/creative movement classes along with time for snack, free play activities, and outdoor play and exploration. Small groups are organized with each child’s experience, development, and individual styles and preferences in mind.
When we plan curriculum, we focus on our natural environment and incorporate many opportunities to use natural materials in on-going arts experiences. With the children, we think about our impact on the environment, think about how we can take care of the environment and recycle and reuse found materials in our projects and creations. We encourage children to take the time to develop their observation and investigation skills, as they develop the ability to ask questions, use books and conversation with others to collect information (research), and to document details that are of personal importance. Our specific focus and projects emerge over time as we and the children get to know each other better and share time and ideas.
The first few days of the summer program are spent getting to know each other as a new class, introducing our routines, and beginning some basic processes that we expect to develop over the course of the program.
One of our first jobs each summer is to plan new gardening experiences with the children, so that we can watch growth and development over the six weeks we share together. We prepare specialized areas on the school grounds for gardening with the children, and brainstorm ways to keep young plants safe from any hungry animals that may visit our yard. With some luck, we’ll have a small harvest ready by the end of the program.
We also establish areas outdoors for constructive play, painting and printing, drawing observations, etc. Our goal is to include natural materials from the environment to work with whenever possible. Once the children are accustomed to working outdoors, we expect projects and themes to emerge and give shape to our explorations.
We try to plan opportunities to walk down the street to Brookwood Farm so that we can observe the progress of plantings at the organic farm, and explore the meadows, trees and ponds on the property as well.
From the start, we offer musical experiences that focus on rhythm, a steady beat and using found materials to create musical instruments. Using music outdoors (of our own creation as well as recorded music) may lead us toward a focus on air in motion, as scarves and other props are made available for both guided and spontaneous creative movement. Our outdoor stage and musical instruments offer a wonderful setting for musical and dramatic expression.
In summer sessions, as in the academic school year, teachers and children take the time to document our shared experiences together, and look forward to sharing them with parents, too. Through photos, written text, samples of work, interviews of children, etc., we will be busy documenting the many themes that become important over our days together. Towards the end of the program, this work will be displayed, so that parents will be able to share some of the experiences that become important to each child.