The Little Barnyard Preschool offers children hands on learning experiences with nature on a hobby farm. These experiences will encourage cognitive, fine motor, gross motor, emotional, and social development.
The teaching philosophy is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. In this approach, the curriculum is emergent and based on the children's interests. The teacher will observe, listen, and ask open-ended questions to find what sparks the children's interests. The environment and next activity will then be prepared based on the children's inquiries. The children are viewed as constructivists in their own learning and are given opportunities to discover and learn new things on their own.
The classroom, farm, and woods will be used as a second educator allowing for open ended play, risk taking, collaboration with peers, creative thinking, problem solving and more. Children learn best through play and exploration in nature. The children will engage in actvities they are able to do individually, with peers, and in a group setting led by a teacher.
The Learning Environment
The licensed classroom is located in the house and will include a view of the farm, pond, and garden. The living room and dining room will be licensed as well, in case we need more room for our activities. The classroom will include age appropriate toys, books, pets, and art materials for the children to use. There will be a bathroom for the children to use next to the classroom.
The nature playscape is fenced in with stumps, logs, boulders, a water pump, sticks, rocks, trees, bushes, and a sand box boat. There are also vegetable, flower, and raspberry gardents to weed, water, plant, and harvest food. We will use the vegetables and berries to make snack each day they are available.
Hikes include going to the bog, root house, tree fort, swing area, cattail kingdom, sledding hill, teepees, fallen-down tree, and the shallow ponds on the property to observe the wildlife, collect samples of the water and bugs, and boot skate during the winter (pond will be checked before each class session to ensure safety).
The farm animals include goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and doves. During parts of the year, we will be raising baby animals such as baby rabbits, goats, chickens, ducks, and doves. The children get a chance to milk a goat, as long as a doe delivers a baby in the spring. The children get to feed and hold the animals each day.
Assessment of children’s growth
The teacher will monitor the children’s language, social emotional, cognitive, and physical development by using an objective assessment checklist. This assessment will guide the teacher in supporting your child to become ready for school. The teacher will communicate the child's progress through conversations at drop-off and pick-up time, phone calls, e-mail, and at conferences.
Families will be offered up to an hour long conference in August for the summer session, and in January and May for the school-year session. The teacher and parents will discuss developmental progress, what strides their child has made, and discuss any questions or concerns the parents or teacher may have. During this time, the parents will work with the teacher to develop a learning plan to better support their child’s learning.
In the community
The Duluth Nature Play Collaborative is a group of educators that advocate for children to engage in nature play in school settings. Check us out on Facebook!
Here are a few ideas if anyone is interested in making a donation to the school. Any donation is appreciated!
"Wooden pentomino puzzle brain teaser mind novelty trick kids learning toys"
Dress up clothes rack
Steel buckets with handles
Brainwave movement cd
Child sized hammers
Child sized snowshoes
Spinning book rack for children's books
Crystal color stacking blocks
Natural wooden balancing blocks
Translucent letter construction
Crystal bricks set
Color mixing blocks
Bone x-ray cards for light table
Lizards, frogs, and polliwogs by Douglas Florian
Tuesday by David Wiesner
Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
Wolf's coming! by Joe Kulka
Lost in the Woods by Carl R Sams II and Jean Stoick
There's a hole in my bucket (with singalong cd) sung by The Top Twins
Matthew and Tilly by Rebecca Jones
Bree finds a friend by Mike Huber
Leonardo, the terrible monster by Mo Willems
Let's Make Faces by Hanoch Piven
The Perfect Purple Feather by Hanoch Piven
Beautiful Stuff by Cathy Weisman Topal
Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Follers into Leader by L. David Marquet
The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz
The Block Book by Elisabeth S. Hirsch
The Hundred Languages of Children by Carolyn Edwards, Lella Gandini, and George Forman
First Steps Toward Teaching the Reggio Way by Joanne Hendrick