INTRODUCTION:

The pre-kindergarten students are the youngest students at Cascadia.  At age 4, they are beginning their journey through Cascadia’s elementary school.  The program nurtures growth and prepares the students for future academic years.  The teachers carefully guide the pre-kindergarten students through the step-by-step learning processes of the “prek” curriculum.

The pre-kindergarten students’ morning is in the Studio, a special pre-kindergarten Montessori classroom, and their afternoon is in the main building’s combined pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classroom. In the studio, hands-on-manipulative Montessori materials and thoughtfully developed practices are used to present concepts and lessons in language and math development.  With Montessori materials and practices in the areas of practical life and sensorial development, students strengthen their fine motor control, eye-hand coordination, focus, concentration, and attention to detail.  All subject and learning areas in the Studio are designed to engage a child’s interests in learning. The students progress and feel satisfaction in being productively busy.  The afternoon time in the combined pre-kindergarten/kindergarten classroom extends the student’s practice using traditional resources.  What has been experienced hands-on is paralleled with pencil in hand.  In their pre-kindergarten year, the students extend their learning well into the traditional kindergarten level.

EXPRESSION AND SPEECH DEVELOPMENT:

Oral expression and speech development are encouraged through a variety of activities.  New words are introduced, discussed, and used in concepts across the curriculum.  Students are guided to speak clearly in sentences to explain thoughts, ideas, and information.  Learning poetry and songs adds another aspect of self-expression.

READING:

Learning to read is a small step, by small step process.  Learning the letters of the alphabet, sounds of letters, games associating sounds to letters and pictures lay a beginning foundation.  More practice relates letter sounds to the first letter of words, end letter of words, and middle letter.  Putting together all the sounds flows into reading whole words.  Add beginning sight words and soon students are reading primary phonetic sentences and little booklets.

WRITING AND SPELLING:

Little hands and fingers become stronger by engaging in manipulative Montessori activities in the Studio:  cutting, pouring, squeezing, tweezing, pinching, stringing, pin-poking, grinding, pounding, tracing, etc.  Stronger fingers can hold a pencil properly.  While learning letter sounds, students learn to write letters on paper:  first letters of words, last letters of words, and middle letters of words.  Using moveable alphabet tiles, students sound out and spell three-letter phonetic words.  Copying the tiles using pencil in hand soon flows into independently printing phonetic and beginning sight words.

MATHEMATICS:

There are also many steps to understanding number concepts.  Seeing, holding, and using Montessori math manipulatives brings both the quantity and symbol together for understanding.  Engaging in daily practice through the year, students grasp and internalize concepts:  Numbers through 10; Teen Numbers; Tens Numbers; Numbers to 100.  Concrete materials help understand the quantity and number of units, tens, and hundreds in place value.  There is the excitement of creating a number line, perhaps writing numbers in sequence to 500 or even to 1000.  Using various counters and picture resources, students gain experience in concepts of addition and subtraction, first to 5 and then to 10.  Working with pencil in hand parallels the growing understanding of numbers.

PRACTICAL LIFE EXPERIENCES:

Practical life exercises help students develop fine motor skills as well as eye-hand coordination, concentration, order, and attention to steps to complete a process.  Practical life exercises change and progress in difficulty throughout the year.  Some examples are pouring and spooning grains and water, transferring objects with tongs and tweezers, squeezing sponges, grating soap and whisking to make bubbles, polishing a mirror and shoes, pounding nails, lacing,…and the variety of experiences goes on.

SENSORIAL EXPERIENCES:

Sensorial experiences help students classify, organize, and refine their perceptions of the sensorial world.  By working with the activities, the students increase their sense of  order, concentration,  and attention to steps to complete a process. The wide variety of exercises change and progress in difficulty throughout the year.  Montessori manipulative material builds abilities to discriminate and find relationships in sizes and shapes, volumes, weights, colors, sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and patterns.

SPECIAL STUDIES:

Several different science and social studies topics are presented throughout the year.  Typically, one topic is a special study for a month.  The pre-kindergarten students’ work is appropriate to their age, making illustrations and art work to represent information learned.  When pre-kindergarten students are able to print, written words are included.    Some studies may be reintroduced in Kindergarten implementing a higher level of thinking, learning, and understanding.

In special studies, the children are introduced to concrete representations of information about the topics.  Students participate in discussions and games with the teachers and create projects to acquire knowledge and understanding.  Some examples are:  globe and continents; land and water forms; seasons and weather; solar system; plants; animal groups; and community helpers; types of rocks; butterflies; whales.…There are so many interesting things to learn about!

Science, from the Pacific Science Center, comes into the classroom to add another  exciting dimension to our students’ special studies.  Lessons include a variety of hands-on activities to reinforce concepts. For example, students extend their understanding of insects, human and animal teeth, and the five senses.

FRENCH:

Weekly French lessons introduce basic and common vocabulary of interest to the young student.  French lessons focus on numbers 1 to 10, family members, zoo animals, farm animals, and parts of the body.  Craft activities maintain interest and focus. Two additional special experiences engage the students in the fun of French!  Students create a poster about themselves and share it with the class.  The French instructor uses each student’s  poster to introduce and review common words, such as favorite colors and favorite animals.  Each child takes home “Fleur” our French stuffed animal.  Parents create a photo journal  of the student’s adventures with Fleur; then, the student shares the journal with the class.……And vocabulary is introduced and reviewed.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION LESSONS:

In the combined pre-kindergarten and kindergarten class, gym activities and games are provided by Mini-Mountain instructors.  The students are transported by Starline Bus to the Redmond Community Center for lessons in the gym.  Students practice the skills and techniques involved in dribbling, passing and shooting basketballs/soccer balls.  In addition, students are engaged in activities that practice following directions and using all parts of their bodies as warm-up exercises such as walking, running, skipping, hopping, and crawling.

ART LESSONS: MONART FOR CHILDREN: 

In the combined pre-kindergarten and kindergarten class, the Monart instructor, Sally Brucker, guides the students through a step by step construction of a picture.  The children enjoy creating a variety of drawings using different art mediums: a piglet with black pen and water colors, birds on a branch with pastels, a still life of fruit with brightly colored markers.

VOICE AND PERFROMING ARTS LESSONS:

In the combined pre-kindergarten and kindergarten class, students engage in singing lessons, taught by Mrs. Natalie Scollick, a professional voice instructor for children.  Students learn to follow a director and find that different songs have different singing personalities; for example: “Oompa-Loompa” from Willy Wonka; “We are a Rainbow;” “Jow’d Ja Do” from Woody Guthrie. The students perform in an All-School-Concert the end of March.  Presenting to an audience brings smiles to parents, but more importantly, helps students build self-confidence.