Social and Cultural Learning

With student-teacher ratios lower than the majority of preschool centers, we are able to dedicate more time one-on-one with children and to help guide them through social interactions with their peers.

Additionally, we have both child-directed and structured programs focused specifically on social development: Special Learning Days, Art Explorer Gallery, Video-Pen Pals, Monthly Learning Themes, Circle Time and free play.

Special Learning Days

The Special Learning Days calendar lists the national and cultural celebrations that we observe outside of the normal curriculum that help create awareness of the multiple cultures, ethnicities, and diversity of our community.  Lessons are developmentally-appropriate, interactive, and fun.  If there is a cultural, ethnic, or national celebration you would like to co-create with us, listed or not listed below, we would be ecstatic to and honored if you would share it with us and the children.

Observed Dates 2019 Special Learning Days Activities
Jan 21, Mon. MLK Day Art project and story
Feb 5, Tue. Chinese New Year Story, art projects, celebration food
Feb 14, Thur. Valentine’s Day Valentines cards, Friendship Poems, Cupcakes
Feb 18, Mon. President’s Day Art project and story
Mar 1, Fri. Dr. Seuss Day (and Read Across America Day) Read Wacky Wed (+wacky hair/dress day), read Green Eggs & Ham and make it for lunch, read Horton Hears a Who (+art project), read Red Fish, Blue Fish (math game with fish crackers) for snack.
Mar 15, Fri. St. Patricks Day Irish folklore stories, make fairy houses and leprechaun trap (group project)
Apr 19, Fri. Easter Egg decoration and hunt, garden: spring plantings
Apr 22, Mon. Earth Day Terrarium art project, stories, gardening
May 10, Fri. Mother’s (or Sister’s, Grandmother’s, Aunt’s) Day  Performance, art, and gift 
Jun 14, Fri. Father’s (or Brother’s, Grandfather’s, Uncle’s) Day  Performance, art, and gift 

Jun 28, Fri.

Pre-school/TK Graduation and class talent show (Graduation) Extended Family welcome.  Reception follows.
Aug 9, Fri. Summer Party All day play in backyard with water

September

Community Visitors Firetruck and firefighter visit (pending availability)
Oct 25, Fri. Diwali Story, art projects, celebration food
Oct 31, Thur. Halloween Costume party and pumpkin decorating
Nov 1, Fri. Dia de los Muertos (11/2) Movie (Coco), art projects, celebration food
Nov 27, Wed. Thanksgiving (11/28) Story, art projects, potluck
Dec 20, Fri. Christmas (12/25) Gift exchange, gingerbread house, holiday recital
Dec 23, Mon. Hanukkah (12/23) Story, art projects, celebration food
Dec 26, Wed. – Dec 31, Tue. Last Week of ever December Free play all week and PJ Party with hot cocoa and movie

Art Explorers Gallery

Each month children explore new art forms and mediums to learn how to express emotions, ideas, and their cultural traditions.  Throughout the month, both the medium (materials used) and the art form (style of art) are practiced so they can have a variety of ways and opportunities to practice.  We then have discussions with the children about their own original ideas and encourage family at home to participate in their child’s design of his/her “gallery piece”.  Family participation could be helping your child pick out traditional fabrics to bring for March’s Textile and Weaving project, spending time with them looking at photos of landscapes from your own ethnic, cultural, or national heritage for November’s watercolor landscape painting, or creating your own version of the art alongside them on that day!

Month Monthly Learning Theme Art Form/Medium Art Project
January

Jobs and Money

Collage Cut and paste “vision board”
February

Time and Travel

Photography Styles (B&W, etc.)
March

World Cultures

Textiles Fabric textile/weaving designs
April

Life on the Farm

Decoupage Faberge-style Easter Egg
May

Maker’s Fair

3-D design Shadowbox
June

Performing & Fine Arts

Felt & Velcro Moveable Felt Family
July

Imagination Camps (Harry Potter / Hogwarts)

Free-style with multiple mediums Made-up magical creature
August

About Me!

Portraits Oil pastel self-portraits
September

Community

Finger painting Community Murals
October

Plants & Animals

Nature stamping Leaves & Flowers as stamps
November

About Earth!

Watercolor Landscape
December

Space Exploration

Black Scratch Paper (abstract) Spaceship window

 

Video-Pen Pals

Children here can develop friendships all around the world through our Video-Pen Pals program!  Participating childcare/pre-school through Kindergarten teachers around the world coordinate with our teachers to provide live and recorded video correspondence that is directed by the children.  Teachers help translate languages and provide guidance with intercultural communication as needed.

Social and cultural development for children between the ages of three and six rely on  experience-based learning that is developmentally-appropriate, fun, and relative to their own understanding of life.   To create a meaningful experience, we have found that reciprocal learning, between our students here and their peers around the world, help show children the value of cultural exchange as listen to the experiences and perspectives of others and share their own.

March (World Cultures) and September (Communities) have these activities emphasized with video correspondence and we have monthly exchanges with our pen pals.  Our families here can participate by sharing their own cultural heritage areas so we can seek out new partners from those areas to enhance the experience for our children–having that personal connection.

Monthly Learning Themes

Social and cultural awareness are large, abstract concepts for little ones; however, these are important skills for your child to learn before they start kindergarten because once they are in elementary school, especially here in the Bay Area, children will be interacting with hundreds of other children and adults from a variety of backgrounds and styles of communication.

To make it easier for children to develop in these areas, monthly learning themes provide a consistent framework for social experiences. The connection between these experiences and the concept provide the mind-language neural building for their cognitive development.  This “framing” of language and societal concepts helps them make social connections more effectively as they engage with their peers and environment.  The science is complex, but the way we incorporate this process is not.  As mentioned in the Academics page, we use the F.I.V.E.S approach: Fun, Interactive, Varied, Engaging, and Simplified.  For example, in January, for the Jobs and Money theme, children play “restaurant” as they exchange play money and coins for play menu items.

Families are also engaged during many of these activities by sharing their own traditions, experiences, and perspectives through Circle Time sharing or collaborating with us for lesson or activity ideas.

2019

Theme

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
January

Jobs and Money

Coins and Paper Money Jobs Farm to Table Work Places Dream Jobs
February

Time and Travel

Maps and Measuring Distance Clocks and Measuring Time Transporta-tion (Cars, Planes, and Boats) Past, Present, and Future (no fifth week)
March

World Cultures

Class Heritage North, Central, and South America Europe & Africa Central, East, and South Asia (plus Pacific Islands) (no fifth week)
April

Life on the Farm

Eggs and Animal Homes In the Garden Baby Farm Animals Backyard Farming (no fifth week)
May

Science and Maker’s Fair

Inventors and Inventions Group Projects Science Fair Makers Fair Free Crafting Time
June

Performing and Fine Arts

Puppetry Lego Moviemaking Fine Art for Dad Class Talent Show (no fifth week)
July

Imagination Camp: Harry Potter

None (Closed for Summer vacation) Hogwarts Camp: Potions, Care of Magical Creatures, Alchemy and Herbology, Quidditch, and Wizard’s Chess
August

About Me!

Family Friends Health Feelings (no fifth week)
September

Community

Buildings (schools, libraries, museums) Neighborhood Diversity Schools Around the World Diversity of People (no fifth week)
October

Plants & Animals

Jungle Ocean Forest California (no fifth week)
November

About Earth!

Seasons Mountains and Land Water: Oceans, Rivers, & Lakes Sky: Weather and Climate (no fifth week)
December

Space Exploration

Earth, Sun, and Moon Planets Asteroids, Comets, and Galaxies Free Play Week (no fifth week)

March and September are dedicated to social and cultural lessons that we emphasize personal connections to.  The first week of March, Class Heritage, is based on student interest and learner-directed lessons (Reggio Emilia and Montessori pedagogies).  For example, a child with Italian heritage might want to learn how to make homemade pasta or how to sculpt with clay.  Perhaps they are only curious about where the country is on our globe, so a teacher would take that opportunity to ask the child questions to draw out the child’s curiosity further.

Circle Time and Free Time

Experience is necessary for true development.  Giving the child both structured and free time to learn-as-they-go will prepare them for elementary school and beyond.  Studies have shown that peer interaction and early childhood education affect academic achievement for years.

Over half of your child’s day here is time for them to freely explore their environment and interact with a small group of peers.  It is a healthy introduction to socializing and learning without the overwhelming environment of enormous groups of children or adult teachers that are spread thin in their ratios.

If you would like to learn more, you can visit the Circle Time and Free Time pages.