URBAN NATURELIFE SKILLS
We use a variety of developmentally appropriate practices to plan, implement, assess, and reflect upon the learning progression of the children in our programs. Relationship-based responsive interactions and standards-based practices create meaningful learning experiences that can be translated from the classroom to the home.
The Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards are organized into nine domains or broad areas of learning: Physical Health & Motor Development, Social & Emotional Development, Language Development, Literacy, Cognitive Development, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Creative Arts. All of these domains are seamlessly woven into Mariposa’s curriculum and our approach to teaching, learning, and family engagement.
RI DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION:
Rhode Island Early Learning & Development Standards
Developing empathy between the child and the natural world is a central Mariposa curriculum objective. Experiences in nature deepen each child’s sense of awe and wonder and develop critical capacities required for future scientific and inquiry-based learning. Learning with gratitude, love, and respect in early childhood transforms into social responsibility and stewardship in the later years. When allowed to imagine, explore, and create within natural play spaces, the young child benefits physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. Mariposa’s approach features a deep and purposeful engagement with nature, both in the classroom and outdoors. Mariposa’s seasonal curriculum starts by stirring children’s fascination, imagination, and curiosity—through storytelling, singing, and movement activities. Stories form the core of the classroom curriculum guide us in connecting our outdoor classroom—the natural world—with the indoors.
Our classrooms convey a respect for living things and their habitats. We highlight the beauty of the natural world, using natural materials as props in our stories, choosing to fill our classroom with toys and materials made from wood, stone, cloth, and other natural materials that easily connect the child back to the world outside. Outdoor seasonal activities engage us, too. We rake leaves and harvest pumpkins in the fall, feed birds and make snowmen in the winter, and explore puddles and plant seeds in the spring.
Our teachers plan family field trips to local farms and gardens, shape the indoor and outdoor learning environments, develop activities, and choose natural, simple materials based on themes within the seasonal story, intentionally designing the learning environments and activities to support children’s discoveries. These learning opportunities provide real life experiences that extend and enrich children’s existing knowledge. We engage families in the same curriculum content through weekly newsletters, documentation panels, and in our family events.
In eating together, telling and listening to stories, engaging in make-believe play, and creating art, we are actively connecting the worlds of home and school. During classroom food preparation, teachers seek opportunities to address many developmental learning goals. “Snack helpers” describe shapes, colors, textures, smells, and tastes. They problem-solve and count: how many children are present today and how many portions are needed? They group, sort, and observe patterns as they match cups, bowls, spoons, and napkins. They measure flour for bread baking and engage in scientific inquiry as they watch yeast and sugar interact. They develop fine motor skills when they slice, peel, and stir. They embrace differences in preference and experience. In the spring, the children grow peas, carrots, and lettuce to experience the seed-to-table progression.
When children observe their teachers engaged in meaningful, productive work, they imitate this in their play and develop a sense of themselves and others as important members of a community. They care for their environment when they sweep, dust, rake, plant, feed the birds, and water the plants and gardens, and they care for each other when they mirror the care, nurturing, and mutual respect they see in their teachers and peers.
Children at Mariposa learn to love words because of the natural, playful ways they are introduced through stories, rhymes, poems, songs, finger plays, and traditional action games. Listening builds important receptive language capacities, leading to strong story comprehension. Children develop their expressive language skills as they retell stories in their creative play or with props.
Storytelling is at the heart of Mariposa’s approach to the development of language. Stories are brought to life in imaginative ways. A seasonal story—typically a fairy tale, traditional folk tale, or nature tale—is presented as a puppet story using handmade props and told each day for a week. Just before rest time, the children quietly gather together on the rug and sing a story-time song. A silk cloth is gently lifted to uncover the story table, and so the story begins. When the story is finished—snip, snap, snout, this tale is all told out—it is tucked away until the next day. Over the course of the week, the props from the story appear during free play to encourage the children to reenact the story and become storytellers themselves.
Children have the opportunity each day to choose books from our inviting library to share with others or listen to their teachers read aloud. Mariposa considers children’s individual needs, so to support any students with early language needs, Mariposa provides an early intervention model that builds phonological awareness skills, rich vocabulary, and print awareness.