At Busy Bunnies Daycare, we strive to create a well balanced curriculum for the children in our program. We find fun, creative, age-appropriate ways to teach the basics like math, science, and language arts, but there is much more to our curriculum. Here are just a few of the features our program has to offer:
- Language Arts
- Physical Development
- Practical Life Skills
- Cultural and Social Studies
- Social Skills
In addition to our basic curriculum, regular assessments will made in order to make sure that developmental milestones are being met, that progress is being made, and that we can be aware of each child’s strengths and weaknesses. It is our goal that each child will be able to pass our kindergarten readiness assessment before starting school.
We have two goals in our language arts curriculum. The first is related to listening and speaking. It is important for children to learn to use their words to communicate. We also work on expanding each child’s vocabulary. Children will also work on understanding others and implementing effective listening skills. As these skills develop, children learn to participate in conversations and using their words to assist in problem solving. This gives children confidence and help them feel in control of themselves and their world.
The second goal is related to reading and writing. The first step to this goal is to gain awareness of the alphabet and the sounds of each letter. Each day there are books available for the children to use during their free time. Reading is also an important part of our circle time each day. This allows the children to become aware of the importance of written language. We also have pre-writing exercises as one of their daily free time activities. As children develop their writing skills, their understanding of their language also expands.
Examples of Language Arts Activities:
- Reading a book as a group
- Pre-writing activities
- Labeling items to increase word recognition
For young children, math skills include learning numbers, patterns, relationships, and spatial awareness. Counting is a part of our every day activities. There are always opportunities to count. We can count food during our meals or count how many crayons need to be picked up after craft time. Children will learn to express their ages using their words and their fingers. As counting improves, children will be encouraged to begin to match numbers with a group of items that match that number. This also evolves to learning concepts like less than and more than.
Math skills also involve learning shapes and sizes. We begin to work on grouping items in groups based on color, shape, size… any number of relationships. Children also begin to learn pattern recognition. These concepts are incorporated into our daily curriculum. Children are also offered activities that work on these skills during their free time.
Working on their math skills also help children gain spatial sense. Every day we work on spatial concepts such as inside and outside, over and under, below and above, and other words that will help them gain a sense of space. We also learn concepts related to measurements (like big/medium/little, heavy/light, fast/slow); as children gain mastery of these concepts, we move on to learning more specific ways of measuring items (like using a scale or ruler).
Each day during circle time, we also work on using a calendar to identify the day of the week and the month and date. We use a clock to learn to read time and use words like 5 more minutes or tomorrow to help children gain a sense of time.
Examples of Math Activities:
- Counting items
- Reading a clock
- Reading a calendar
- Measuring items with scales and rulers
- Sorting items by shape or size
- Measuring ingredients to make meals
Science draws on skills that the children are learning in language arts and math. For our science time, we have lessons that draw on physical science, life science, and the environment. For physical science, children work on developing their sense and understanding of materials and objects. This helps the children start to see a relationship between cause and effect (like if we mix red and blue, we get purple). They also work on using their five senses. We have activities that encourage the children to explore their world through smell, taste, sound, sight, and touch. This means mastering concepts such as soft and hard, loud and quiet, and sweet and salty.
Life science develops the children’s knowledge of living things. Our curriculum covers learning about what kinds of foods animals eat, learning the names of baby animals (like a lamb is a baby sheep), and learning important characteristics of animals. We learn to group animals based on common characteristics (like mammal or reptile and flying or swimming). Children also learn about plant life. Both animal and plant life concepts are covered in activities and worksheets, but we also use the real world to gain an understanding of our world. This may include work in our garden, observing and caring for wildlife and pets, and listening to our heart beats using a stethoscope.
The last branch of science covered in our curriculum is earth and environmental science. We learn about different environments on earth (like deserts, mountains, and oceans). Each day we review the calendar and the weather to help the children develop concepts of seasons and time. Children are taught important concepts related to caring for our community (like recycling and composting and picking up litter).
Examples of Science Activities:
- Nature hikes and observation
- Reviewing weather and seasons
- Recycling and composting
- Animal care
- Listening to our heart beat and taking our blood pressure
- Examining rocks and minerals
- Working with magnets
Art is a great way to let children express themselves and exercise creativity. Activities like using scissors, holding a paint brush, or stringing beads can help children with their fine motor skills. Art also gives children a fun and creative way to learn about colors and shapes. It has been shown to improve their visual-spatial skills and language skills. Through art, children are able to learn how to express themselves, improving their social and emotional skills.
Children that participate in the arts on a regular basis (defined as at least 3 hours a day and 3 days a week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math/science fair, or to win an award for writing (The Importance of Art in Child Development). Children that were highly involved in art programs also performed better on tests than the children that were less involved, even in low socioeconomic groups (Turn to the Arts to Boost Self Esteem). Participating in art boosts a child’s self-esteem, giving the child a sense of accomplishment and pride by allowing him/her to create something. And the feedback that children give each other when participating in arts has been shown to build self-respect, helping children accept criticism and praise from others.
At Busy Bunnies Daycare, art is a part of our daily routine. Children have regular access to art supplies and are allowed to explore and create according to their own interests. Even when presented with more structured art projects, children are allowed the freedom to complete the project however they like. Making children color in the lines or forcing them to use a certain color can reduce creativity and flexibility in thinking.
Examples of Art Activities:
- Using paints, crayons, markers, and other materials to create pictures
- Using scissors to cut
- Learning about different types of art and famous artists
- Letting the children use a large variety of art supplies to allow children to create their own projects
- Using art to explore colors and shapes
Have you ever taken time to think of just how many different concepts we teach our children using music? It is not an accident that our alphabet is taught using a song. Setting a difficult lesson to music can make memorizing a breeze. Music has been shown to strengthen neural pathways in the brain. It has also been shown to improve memory. (Boost Memory and Learning With Music)
Music is present in all cultures and is often referred to as the “universal language. It is also a great way to get children moving. Children can use their bodies to learn and explore through the rhythms and beats. This movement can help them to express feelings and ideas that they may not yet be able to describe with words. Like other forms of art, music provides children with positive coping skills, improving their social, emotional, and mental health.
Like art, music is a regular part of our routine at Busy Bunnies Daycare. Children have regular access to musical instruments and are encouraged to incorporate song and dance throughout their day. Special music lessons will also include the piano, the violin, and viola.
Examples of Music Activities:
- Learning about different instruments and their sounds
- Singing songs during circle time
- Incorporating dancing with music
- Clapping or stomping in order to learn about rhythms and beats
- Playing music together with our classroom instruments
Physical movement is important for a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity helps children work on their coordination and gross motor skills. Taking time to move, also helps children concentrate for longer periods of time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in the past three decades, the childhood obesity rates have more than doubled for preschool children (2-5 year olds). Childhood obesity has been linked to an increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular/heart disease, asthma, and sleep apnea (CDC). In addition to a long list of the harmful physical effects that can accompany obesity, obesity has also been linked with psychological problems, including poor self-esteem, depression, and difficulty concentrating.
On the other hand, children that are regularly engaged in physical activity are less likely to develop health problems. Those that spend more time being active at school tend to perform better in school and on standardized tests. They tend to sleep better at night, due to their being more active during the day. Regular physical activity as a child, also tends to carry over into healthy living habits as adults (Raising Fit Kids).
At Busy Bunnies Daycare, we spend time outdoors every day. Chilly temperatures or rainy days do not necessarily discourage children from enjoying the outdoors. During times of extreme weather, we follow the safety guidelines laid out by the National Weather Service (cold weather or hot weather).
While our goal is to spend time outside as often as possible, there are some days when the weather makes that impossible. On those days that we are stuck indoors (or our time outside is limited), we have plenty of alternative activities to keep our children moving, including our indoor rock climbing wall, swings, indoor basketball hoop, and our indoor hopscotch. We also provide activities like dancing and yoga to make being stuck indoors more fun.
Examples of Physical Development Activities:
- Activities that require fine motor skills, like stringing beads, lacing games, practicing with buttons, shoe laces, zippers
- Activities that require gross motor skills, dancing, yoga, walking a balance beam, hopping, skipping
Practical life skills are at the foundation of Montessori curriculum, but are often neglected in today’s education system. A Montessori program, however, values exercises in daily living like pouring, scrubbing, sewing, and gardening. Practicing these skills helps children gain confidence as they master their environment. Refining these individual skills results in the children applying these skills to purposeful work like serving juice, polishing, cooking, or washing dishes. And participating in these activities contribute to control and coordination of movement and the development of concentration and self-esteem that comes from making a real contribution.
Young children are always willing and eager to help with the tasks that adults see as chores or work.
Examples of Practical Life Activities:
- Cooking and preparing snacks and meals
- Washing and cleaning up after meals
- Woodworking activities – Using real tools that are child size, children are able to start with small activities like working with screws or bolts and move on to creating simple projects.
- Sweeping and dusting
- Caring for animals – Children learn how to properly care for animals, including how to properly pet and handle dogs and cats, how to feed birds and other wildlife, and how to brush and bathe our pets.
From ages zero to six, children primarily interact with their world through their senses. Maria Montessori designed exercises to isolate individual senses, working one sense at a time. A well organized classroom and carefully planned lessons, allow children to use their senses to explore their environment. By refining and developing the 5 senses, we are building a foundation for speech, writing, and math skills.
Examples of Sensorial Activities:
- Making observations about our environment using all senses (sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste)
- Sorting objects based on shapes, colors, textures
A balanced lifestyle is important to Montessori curriculum. In addition to language arts, math, and science, it is important to help children gain awareness of healthy habits that promote both physical and mental health. Included in the health curriculum are lessons of self-care.
At Busy Bunnies Daycare, we work on proper bathroom habits like wiping, flushing the toilet, and washing hands with soap. We learn the proper way to cover a cough. We learn the importance of bath time and proper hygiene. Every day the children brush their teeth after breakfast and after lunch.
Nutrition is another important of our health curriculum. We encourage children to make healthy choices in the food they eat. Children will be encouraged to try new food and will be taught how to prepare healthy meals and snacks.
Examples of Health Activities:
- Learning about food groups and how to create balanced, healthy meals and snacks
- Practicing proper hygiene skills, like hand washing, brushing our teeth, how to keep germs from spreading
- Learning to regulate our feelings and proper ways to express them, like proper ways to express our anger
Maria Montessori believed that by nurturing a child in body, mind, and spirit, we will make our world a more peaceful place. Teaching our children to be caring, responsible members of their community is an important part of our children’s education.
Examples of Community Activities:
- Helping those in our community that need help
- Visiting shut-ins
- Helping the elderly or disabled with chores
- Picking up litter
- Lessons on grace, courtesy, and respect
Geography is broken down into two categories in Montessori programs. Physical geography looks at the outward appearance of the environment. Maria Montessori referred to cultural geography as humanity’s ability to “continue the work of creation.” The Montessori Method celebrates other traditions through food, music, and stories as a way to help children learn and understand different cultures.
Examples of Cultural and Social Studies Activities:
- Reviewing different cultures
- Including items that represent other cultures and ethnicities
- Preparing a meal from another culture
- Listening to music from another culture
- Playing instruments that are traditional to other cultures
Technology is an important part of our everyday lives. An understanding of technology is essential both for everyday life and in today’s competitive job market. The improvements in technology have resulted in some amazing new tools available to today’s teachers.
Busy Bunnies Daycare is able to take full advantage of all the benefits that today’s latest technologies can provide. Since my husband is a computer programmer and I have worked the last few years in web design and programming, we are familiar with the latest technology.
So, how do we use technology in our curriculum at Busy Bunnies? While our use of technology will vary from day to day, we might use the Wii Fit or the Xbox Kinect to get us moving and dancing during those days when the weather keeps us indoors. Or we might use the TV to watch videos clips that are relevant to that day’s lesson; a lesson about an elephant’s trunk seems more memorable after actually seeing an elephant spraying water with his trunk.
Or we might use the laptop, Ipad, or Kindle to read a book. From time to time the children might use an Ipod, Ipad/tablet, or smart phone to play one of the many educational apps to practice a wide vary of skills from reading and math to potty training, proper hygiene, or social skills. Not only do these apps develop important skills, but using these types of technology can also improve children’s fine motor skills and their visual-spatial skills.
And along with making these tools available to the children, the children are also taught how to use these technologies responsibly. Children will be taught how to handle each device (from a phone to a computer) with care and how to correctly operate these devices. They will learn appropriate rules (like “always ask an adult before using the computer”) and will learn how to share these resources with the other children. Busy Bunnies Daycare also strives to teach children how to use technology as an enhancement to their lives without letting it consume it. That is why we carefully monitor our use of technology at Busy Bunnies Daycare. To read more about why we limit our use of technology click here.
Examples of Technology Activities:
- Using videos that correspond with the weeks themes
- Learning how to properly handle technology
- Learning to use technology responsibly
- Using educational apps
Proper social skills, like practical life skills, are an essential part of being a healthy, well-balanced person. Proper social skills prepare children for success in school and at their jobs in the future.
Manners are an important part of our day at Busy Bunnies Daycare. Children learn proper greetings and how to use polite language. Through daily practice, children find a way to express themselves with grace and courtesy.
After some time at daycare, proper social skills will become a habit with the children. They will greet the teacher and children in the morning. They will learn to cooperate and how to share their resources. They will even pick up the importance of waiting their turn.
Examples of Social Skills Activities:
- Learning how to share or take turns
- Practicing greetings and farewells each day
- Practicing manners
- Cooperative games