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A Day in the Life of PreK
David Robinson and Claire Wasserman-Rogers, pre-kindergarten teachers

PreK teachers David Robinson and Claire Wasserman-Rogers share what a day in the life of pre-kindergarten students might look like. “While there is structure to our daily schedule,” they said, “no two days in preK are quite the same.” 

Themes in PreK
There are a number of themes in pre-kindergarten, all of which emphasize process and a holistic approach to curriculum development. Some of the topics we study during the year include discussions and activities related to identity, history, drafting a land acknowledgement, a study of skin, and working on self-help and self-advocacy skills.


Morning Gathering
Each day begins with a morning gathering. It’s a time to sit together and talk about our plans for the day, and we often introduce a new activity or concept at the beginning of each week.


After morning meeting, students move into choice time. There are different offerings that are set up in both indoor and outdoor classroom spaces. Students are able to choose what interests them, and we may encourage students to try new activities. There is always a balance of between teacher-directed and student-led options.

Choice activities may include an art activity, water table (which is a space for students to use different funnels and cups to pour water, create flowing streams, and make ‘potions’), construction in the Joey area using wood planks, and cooking on Tuesdays.


By 10 a.m. students are hungry, so after washing hands, the children eat their snack outside at tables.


Mid-morning Meeting
During mid-morning meeting, we regather as a group. Sometimes we have an SEL lesson, other times the children may have a Mandarin lesson. It’s also a time for students to share their treasure boxes, which provide them an opportunity to practice their public speaking skills and allow their classmates to learn more about them. 

A treasure box is a collection of mementos, items, souvenirs, photographs or anything else a student considers to be meaningful—maybe it’s a favorite toy, a sea shell to represent their love of the beach, a drawing they created, or a photo of family members. Treasure boxes generally stimulate conversation amongst the children and contribute to a growing sense of connection. Students recognize objects in other boxes, see what other children are interested in, and ask the presenter questions. It’s a positive way to start the process of building our preK community and the first of many pieces of research we will embark upon this year. Our first research question is always, "Who are we?"


Music, Dance, Hiking, Joey, Project Work
Our schedule after mid-morning varies. Sometimes we are in the classroom enjoying additional choice activities or we are outside in the Joey area. Other times, we might meet with our specialist teachers—music, science, dance. 


3D Sculpture Project
One project we recently completed was our 3D Sculpture Project. We began by introducing how paper can be used as one medium of expression. (Other mediums presented this year may include wire, clay, wood working, and theater.) In the Reggio Emilia approach to learning, it is believed that children have hundreds of “languages” (or ways to express their ideas.)  So, students are provided with numerous opportunities to develop competencies in, and knowledge of, the many languages of the materials presented in school.
Each new material offers students a chance to build another kind of understanding of themselves, their ideas, their world, and its infinite richness and complexity.  Materials have the power to engage children’s minds and bodies and evoke ideas, feelings, and perceptions about the world.
The students have started the year by learning the many ways paper can be used to form three dimensional shapes.  Important questions that arise include
“When do I use a glue stick versus white glue or tape?”
“How can I make my paper stick up?”
“In what ways can I make the paper fold, twist, coil?”
“How can I use the paper to make low, medium, or high levels?”
We are now discovering how paint can be used to communicate feelings, opinions, and ideas.


Students also spend time during the day exploring words. Right now they are learning about digraphs and how two letters can come together to form one sound or feeling. (Linguists suggest that it’s more accurate to consider how a letter feels in our mouths rather than how it sounds. For example, noticing the position of one’s tongue and lips when pronouncing /th/ versus /f/ or how the hard <g> [like in <girl>] is articulated in the throat. For now, teachers are interchangeably using the phrases “Sound it out” and ”Feel it out” when children try to spell out a word)


Students enjoy big body movements and gross motor activities. During P.E. one of the students’ favorite activities with Zubin is hiking the trails and climbing hills. 


Around noon, we gather for lunch outside. Students enjoy sharing current events in their lives, telling jokes, or playing games such as I-Spy.

After lunch we have a 30-minute rest time. Some children use this time to sleep, and those who do not sleep engage in activities such as meditation, reading a book, or listening to calming music. 


Tuesday Tea
Tuesday Tea has become a preK tradition over the past few years. On Tuesday mornings during choice time, students have the opportunity to cook. In the afternoon at 2 p.m. we enjoy the food we made while sipping rooibos tea. We sometimes invite Nueva guests into the classroom to read the students a book and enjoy tea time with us.


Closing Meeting and Dismissal
At the end of the day, we have a closing meeting where we reflect on our day. Sometimes we share a rose (highlight) or thorn (something that maybe didn’t sit so well that we can change next time). 

For dismissal, students pack up their belongings and spend some time playing in the sand area or on the play structure, and eating a snack before being picked up.

Read More

Building a Present Tense of the Ohlone People

Second graders spent weeks researching the Ramaytush Ohlone to understand their culture, history, and impact on the land before culminating their learning by writing their own land acknowledgements and turning them into posters to be displayed around the Hillsborough campus. 

Fourth Graders Perform La Bohème with San Francisco Opera Singers

On Thursday, Nov. 3, melodies from the opera La Bohème reverberated through the Hillsborough mansion ballroom, as fourth graders took the stage alongside SF Opera singers for an abridged performance of Puccini’s most famous work. This performance was a showcase of one of the central themes of the lower school music program: the voice and body as musical instruments.

A Day in the Life of PreK

PreK teachers David Robinson and Claire Wasserman-Rogers share what a day in the life of pre-kindergarten students might look like. “While there is structure to our daily schedule,” they said, “no two days in preK are quite the same.”

Sharing Identities Helps Second Graders Build Class Community

As part of creating a beloved community, students in lower school classes begin the year by creating sets of class agreements and sharing things about themselves with their peers. In the second grade, students participate in an identity project, reflecting on who they are and what is important to them before creating their own self-portraits. 

A Fairytale for Us: First Graders Reimagine Cinderella

How do our cultures shape the stories we tell? This was the starting question first graders in Emily Mitchell’s class explored when they read and dissected eighteen interpretations of the fairytale Cinderella from across the globe. 

Third Grade Religious Studies Unit Provides New Perspective into Culture

The study of culture is deeply embedded in the third grade curriculum. As part of this exploration, third graders learn about two distinct civilizations: the Mali Empire and ancient Egypt. It was through these two studies that Erin and Priscilla initially recognized the need to include a study of religion to help students better understand their cultures. The religious studies unit has blossomed into an exploration of the foundations of the five major world religions: Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

Catching Up with . . . David Robinson

PreK teacher David Robinson joined the Nueva community in 2019. In this Q&A, David shares the benefits of emergent curriculum, how he consulted on an Emmy-award winning show, and his approach to anti-bias education in the pre-kindergarten setting.

Third Graders Present Service Learning Fair

Last Friday, third graders hosted a service learning fair, where they presented their research and solution statements on topics of interest, including public health, environmental issues, and the criminal justice system.