The Big Room
Sunnybeam School’s curriculum is child-centered. Our classroom is center-based, literacy rich, and focuses on children learning through having fun.
Children, ages 3-5 are given a wide variety of experiences in all content areas to explore and expand their level of skills and knowledge. This is accomplished through center-based play and intentionally chosen instructional activities.
Teachers use direct modeling during circle and small group time so that concepts such as book use and writing are presented to the children in real and meaningful ways. The class library includes a wide variety of books representing different genres, interests, and skill levels.
Reading and writing materials are available to allow the children to practice the skills they are learning in a spontaneous and fun way. Having these materials present also allows the teachers to link various concepts and skills to something the children are doing in their play. Other centers include blocks, puzzles, playdough, dramatic play, and a sensory table.
Throughout the day, there is a high level of verbal exchanges and one-on-one interaction between the teachers and the students. The low teacher to child ratio allows teachers to engage all students in meaningful conversations and problem solving. Teachers ask a variety of questions to help the children expand their thinking and vocabulary around the topic being discussed. All students are urged to share ideas and thoughts with each other and encouraged to solve conflicts on their own.
The Themes in the Big Room develop through out the year based on the children's interests and teacher's inspiration. Last year's themes included: Books by Frank Asch, Autumn Leaves, the Farm and Barnyard Animals, Halloween, Nocturnal Animals, the History of Thanksgiving, books by Margaret Wise Brown, the Gingerbread Man, Space, Friends and Family, Colors, the Marketplace, and Construction.
The Science Room
Chances are if you’ve heard much about our school, you’ve heard about our room dedicated to Science. The philosophies and general curriculum that guide the Big Room, are the same principals at work in the Science Room.
Teacher David sets the room up in a way that leads the children to make their own discoveries. He refreshes the room often, creating new centers with new curiosities to explore so each day provides a new experience for the children.
Teacher David makes science hands-on and exciting. When the children study the ocean they might get to explore a real bull kelp plant, touch and paint a fish, or compare seashells of all shapes and sizes in a sensory-table "tide pool." When the children study the forest, they might explore bark, moss, worms, and mushrooms that are brought into the classroom before venturing out into our neighboring Pioneer Park to see first-hand the stages of like, death and rebirth of a forest.
Although science is also presented in the Big Room, the Science Room allows small groups to go deeper into specific scientific topics and interests. Visits to the Science Room are often the highlight of the week for the children. In the mornings, the hallway is frequently filled with children asking the same question; "Is it my Science Room day?"
Children may bring something to share with their classmates every day they attend the Science Room. Sharing offers students the opportunity to work at public speaking, to learn to be an active listener and provides a good opportunity to connect with their peers.