Throughout the day, children can be found buttoning and zipping, building and climbing, conversing and problem solving, drawing and painting, writing and listening to stories, flipping through books, working on puzzles, cutting, gluing, riding tricycles, playing with baby dolls and engaging in process-oriented art projects. Our students love school and find great joy in spending their days at Old First.
In addition to having lots of opportunity for free play, students engage in a fun and creative interdisciplinary curriculum. Students experience a stimulating program that utilizes all of the senses, giving them the opportunity to see, hear, feel, taste and touch. Some examples of recent topics of study are: fairy tales, sea animals, simple machines and outer space. These units vary from year to year. For a more detailed look at the curriculum, please check out our blog where our Education Direction and Head Teacher, Therese Ragghianti, describes each week's activities at Old First Nursery School.
Old First Nursery School helps students to build skills in several different areas:
Skills for Daily Living: Children learn to get dressed, put on their coats, hats, gloves, socks and shoes, button, zip, snap and more. They learn to open their own food containers and to do many other things for themselves.
Emotional and Social Skills: Teachers offer listening ears, words of encouragement and hugs. Old First has a consistent schedule and clear guidelines in place in the classroom that foster healthy bonds and lasting friendships. We work on waiting turns, sharing, explaining our feelings, listening to others and resolving conflict. Children engage in experiences such as voting on which giant sea creature to create, working with a partner to create a painting together and helping each other to tie shoes or open containers. Our mixed-age classroom creates a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn from and help one another.
Physical Skills: We promote the growth of fine motor and gross motor skills by providing the chance for play in a safe environment. Students run, climb, peddle, swing, pinch clay, pick up beads and participate in many other activities that promote their physical development.
Cognitive Skills: Through everyday experiences, play-based units, and carefully selected materials, students are given the opportunity to gain knowledge and build thinking skills. Activities such as writing one's own name are integrated naturally into the school day. For example, children can attempt to write their names on a sign-up chart for a turn on the swings. Questions such as, "What is the difference between a cupcake and a muffin?" arise organically from the children's discussions about their daily experience and provide the opportunity to develop thinking skills.
Throughout the year, OFNS hosts specialist teachers whose areas of expertise complement the daily activities in our classroom. They typically visit once per week over the course of an eight week session. Over the past few years, we have had specialty instruction in:
- Music with Brooklyn Conservatory of Music
- Tumbling with LAVA acrobatic troupe
- Chick-hatching with Quiver Farms
Our students go on monthly field trips to explore our neighborhood and cultural institutions in our city. Examples of recent field trips are:
- Visiting our neighborhood fire station
- Seeing how bagels are made at La Bagel Delight
- Exploring the new Discovery Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Enjoying a puppet show at Puppetworks
- Learning about tidal ecosystems at Brooklyn Bridge Park
"Family Shares" provide an opportunity for parents or grandparents to come into the classroom and share a story or lesson with the children. The teachers are enthusiastic about helping families to implement their ideas. Recent family shares have included:
- Creating self-portraits with a parent who is a professional artist
- Reading stories
- Sharing family photos and discussing what the children like to do with their families
- Presenting a Mardi Gras party
- Craft projects
- Cooking vegetable soup
- Playing guitar
- Filming interviews of the each child answering questions about their ideas.
- Gardening projects with grandparents