Concrete and Abstract Thinking

Early each year I set out the dragon tears (flat glass rocks) and some simple line drawings. They are wonderful for fine-motor practice, but more importantly they are lovely, special things to play with. I added them to the art studio last week after observing many of the children placing a variety of toys in rows and lines.

On purpose, I didn’t explain how they might be used. I wanted to see the ideas that the children bring with them.

This year, a few children decided to use them to line the simple drawings. One child used the lines as boundaries and created their own design within the marks. As I walked around the room observing others, some of children took their exploration further.

Moving from concrete materials to abstract representations of those materials is a perfect example of the developmental growth we see in Pre-k. For younger children, it wouldn’t occur to them to re-make the activity on paper. Their learning focus is on the tangible, the feel of the rocks, the swoops and straight lines, the act of moving the stones. While the older children also found this enjoyable, they were driven to represent their experience in another medium.

We will see this in all areas of development throughout the year. Children will move from activities that involve direct manipulation to those that can represent their experiences. We hope to capture as much of this growth as we can to share with you.

Friendship and being little

Friendship can be messy. As grown-ups, we can easily forget how murky the “friendship” lines can be when we are little. Here are a few of the comments I overheard recently and a break-down of what was actually happening:

“I don’t want to play with you. You always play with me.”

Four and five-year-olds are naturally egocentric. They are designed this way on purpose. It helps them adapt to a strange world as they encounter new things every moment of their young life. One must learn to have their own perspective before they can understand that of another. When two children find that they have similar interests at the beginning of the year, they often gravitate to either each other or at least the same sets of spaces and materials. At first, it feels like a comfortable connection. As time goes on, one might decide that they would like to try something new with a different friend. This can cause confusion. The child left behind follows the new pair trying to join in, just like every other day. The child who wanted to play with someone else can’t see the perspective of the other and thinks they are just “copying” or “following them everywhere.” As grown-ups, it’s our job to recognize the feelings of both children. Children have a right to play with a variety of classmates AND they have a right to want to continue to play with the one friend they’ve made a connection with so far.

So, how do we solve this dilemma? Today I spoke to this pair to help them communicate more meaning than just, “I don’t want to play with you.” We found out that the follower simply likes the other child, that’s why they were following them. We also found out that the child who didn’t want to play would be happy to play with the other later. He just wanted to play with someone else right now. Once we had more information and language that explained our feelings better, both parties agreed to move off to other groups.

Fast-forward to later in the afternoon: The “I don’t want to play with you” child was holding the hand of the other, gently tugging and saying, “You are on my team!”

“I want to play alone right now.”

Sometimes, people just want to be alone. This is very hard to understand when you are in Pre-K. If you want to play with someone, it is obvious that they would want to play with you. If someone says they want to be alone, you often jump to the conclusion that they don’t like you anymore. We guide the children through these experiences by having both children talk together about what they want at the moment. Realizing that your classmate wants to be alone for a little while instead of forever helps both parties gain understanding.

“No one wants to play with me.”

We hear this comment very often in the beginning of the year. Digging a bit deeper, we find that the child who is alone is either unsure of how to join another group already in play or they want to play a different story or game. In the case of the latter, usually they have not actually asked anyone to play their game, instead just asking, “Will you play with me?” We teach the children two different strategies in the instances above.

If you see a group you’d like to join, we suggest asking, “How can I play?” This will give the group and the child a way to blend a new person into the game. It is also a question that cannot be answered with a single affirmative or negative response.

When you have an idea of what you’d like to play, we suggest telling others your idea. “Mandy, I want to play cats. Do you want to be a cat?” This opens up the dialogue if your classmate has a different idea or is fully interested in your idea.


Relationships in early childhood can be fraught with ups and downs. The good news is vacillating friendships help build the skills we need as adults to both empathize with others and speak up for our own needs. Everything that happens in childhood is learning. Our job as adults is to create a safe space for mistakes and growth to occur.

A New Year of Wonder

We are almost two weeks into our latest adventure at WT North Pre-K. This class of small scientists has been flowing right into the new routines. We’ve been slowly introducing materials and tools, allowing the children to become comfortable with the use and care of each before adding something new. As they play in this novel setting, we’ve had many opportunities to observe and wonder along with them.

A wandering spider

Open exploration of loose parts

Chalk on the outside

Ramps and cars

Water table science

The Pre-K Movie Premiere

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Last night, we held our seventh annual Movie Premiere where we debuted the masterpiece: The Pre-K Movie. Our stars arrived in their fancy garb, walked the red carpet, had their picture taken by the paparazzi, ate pizza and popcorn, and even received their very own 3D printed Oscars. We could not be more proud of all of the creativity and hard work this class put into this movie!

If you’d like to see the script for this four month long project, you can check it out here.

Thank you to all who were able to join us last night and to all those that made this fabulous evening possible!

The Pre-K Movie Script (2019)

Below is a copy of the script written over four months by our Pre-Kindergarten class. This project began in small groups with each making a shared story. Once all of the stories had been written, we read them as a class to find any common themes. Coincidentally, all of the stories spoke of the characters trying to find a home. This became the central problem in our story. Through discussion, we decided how this problem might be solved. Each group then went back and edited their stories to support both the problem and the solution. Eventually, all of the short stories were edited together near the beginning of March. Final touches were added as we took note of how many lines each child had written for themselves and how many scenes they appeared in. Each child decided when and if they wanted to speak during a scene.

Scene 1: Old House, interior

——–

Narrator: Shark, Donut, and R. Princess are sitting in their old house.  

R. Princess: I don’t really like any of the activities in our house.”

Donut: I don’t like the fish at our house because it’s rotten!”

R Princess: I don’t wanna watch the movies at our house.”

Shark: We should look for a new house!”  

R Princess and Donut:“That’s fine with me!”

Narrator: Together, they decided to go far away to the woods to look for a new house.

Scene 2: Train Station, exterior

Narrator: Meanwhile, Falcon and Mouse are at a train station.   They want to go to the store.

Train Engine pulls up.

Falcon: Train, will you please take us to the store?

Mouse: I want some cheese.

Train: Absolutely, I’ll take you there!.

Narrator:  They are looking for a house and decided to go to the store to buy new things for the new house that they will find.  They get the store and the Train Engine goes away.  

Scene 3: Store, interior

Narrator:  While at the store, they see their friend Bunny, who is shopping for bunny food.

Bunny: I’m looking for bunny food.

Falcon; Do you want to come with us to get some supplies for our house?

Mouse: I want cheese.

Bunny: I’ll come with you! I need a house, too!

Narrator: Falcon and Mouse invite Bunny to go with them to find a new house.  They pay for their things and leave. They get on the train, who takes them to the forest to look for a house.  

Scene 4:  Pool in a Magic Garden

Narrator:  Meanwhile, Volcano and Pony are cooling down in a pool in a magic garden, drinking yummy drinks.  

Pony: Oh I love this pool!

Volcano: It’s so warm! I just want to stay here forever.

Pony: It’s so nice!

Narrator:  Suddenly, an Alien crash-lands in the water with them!

Alien splashes into the pool.

Alien: AHhhhh!  Cannonball!

Volcano: Are you ok?

Pony: Do you want something to drink?

Alien: Yes please!  I’m ok. Have you seen a space home?

Volcano and Pony: We haven’t seen one.  

Alien: I have an idea!  Let’s build a city.

Pony: I want a rainbow city

Volcano: We can build a rainbow city

Alien: I want a space city!

Volcano: We can build an alien home!

Alien: How about half the city is rainbow and half is space.

Volcano and Pony: Yes!

Alien and Volcano and Pony: Let’s get building!

Scene 5: The Forest

Alien, Volcano, and Pony walking around, searching the forest.  Pantomime picking up items.

Narrator:  Together, they begin looking around in the forest of supplies to build their new homes with.  They find lots of metal and pink cheese and bricks and start building a space station for the alien, a castle for the Pony and Volcano, and a whole giant town!  They are very hard workers.

Scene 6: The Forest

Narrator:  Meanwhile, Snowflake Princess, Tiger, and Baby Shark are walking in the forest, all looking for a home.

Snowflake Princess: “Let’s find a pink house with sparkle cheese!”

Tiger: Yeah!

Snowflake Princess gets distracted and chases a squirrel, getting lost.  

Scene 7: Squirrel Chasing (Forest)

Snowflake is running around in the woods.

Scene 8: The Forest

Shark Robot Alien meets up with Baby Shark and Tiger.

Shark Robot Alien: Where’s Snowflake Princess?

Baby Shark: She got distracted chasing a squirrel.  We don’t know where she is.

Shark Robot Alien: Let’s leave a trail of acorns to lure the squirrel here!  

Narrator:  While Shark Robot Alien, Tiger, and Baby Shark are searching for the Snowflake Princess, they see Shark, Donut, and R. Princess who are looking for a new, fancy house.  

Shark: Hey! We’re looking for a new house.

Tiger: We have to go find a different house, too.

Baby Shark: Let’s go together!

Scene 9: The Forest

Cut scene to Snowflake Princess alone in different part of the woods?

Narrator: While Snowflake Princess is chasing a squirrel, she realizes she is lost and is very sad.

Snowflake Princess: I’m scared!

Narrator: Suddenly, the Train with the Bunny, Mouse, and Falcon on it pulls up.  

Bunny: “Do you need a ride?”

Snowflake Princess: I’ve never been on a train before!  I’m too scared to go anywhere.

Falcon: Bunny will sit next to you on the train!

Train: There’s nothing scary!  I’ll take you to your home.

Scene 10: Magical Town

Narrator: Shark, Donut, and R. Princess stumble upon a magical garden.  They see the beautiful town that Pony, Volcano, and Alien had just built!  Everyone finds an awesome house that is perfect for them.

Characters walk into set and look around amazed.

R. Princess “Wow!  That house is amazing.”

Donut “That shiny pink house is incredible!”

Shark “And a golden roof!”

Donut “We should live here!”

Shark “That’s a good idea.”

R. Princess “Do you think we should add a grill and table so we can cook and eat outside?”

Shark and Donut “Yeah!”

They talk more about how they’re going to decorate their new house.

Scene 11: View of Magical Town

No one else is in shot.

Narrator: The Train pulls up to the brand new town.  There are amazing homes for everyone!  

Mouse, Bunny, Falcon, and Snowflake Princess get off the Train and look around.  

Mouse: I want cheese!

Falcon: We should find a falcon house!

Bunny: I see a house I love it!

Falcon: My house has cheese too!

Mouse: We can be next door neighbors!

Train: Bye-Bye!  I’m going back to my house!  I’m turning into a subway and going underground!

And the train leaves.

Other characters wave goodbye and look around for a cool house.  

Scene 12: View of Magical Town

Baby Shark and Tiger are standing with the town in the background.  Snowflake Princess enters the scene.

Narrator: Snowflake Princess finds Tiger and Baby Shark.  They are so happy they found her!

Baby Shark and Tiger:  We found you!

Narrator:  Everyone is finding a house that is perfect for them

Scene 13: Montage Scenes of Individual Houses

(Orange Peel House) Shark Robot Alien: I see a paper house made out of orange peels!

(Pink Cheese House)Snowflake Princess: Look, Baby Shark!  Look at the pink cheese house.  Let’s go look.

Baby Shark: Sure!

Tiger enters scene.

Tiger: Can I please come in too?

Shark Robot Alien enters scene.

Shark Robot Alien: I’m going to put my house next to yours! Let’s have a giant party!

(Rest of individuals with their houses.)

Scene 14: Magical Town

All characters present and having pretend (quiet) conversations.

Narrator:  After everyone gets settled in their homes in the magical garden, they all have a party with their favorite foods and activities to celebrate!

Party Ensues

THE END.

Campus Pride Day

Today’s all-school Morning Meeting was all about taking care of our campus. We love playing and learning here and sometimes we can help by taking some time to care for the grounds ourselves. Grade levels each had their own tasks to accomplish this morning. Some were in charge of removing any large rocks that had migrated to the grass and placing them back in their landscaping homes. Other grades donned safety gloves, scouring the woods and playgrounds for trash.

Pre-K’s job was to begin weeding the much overgrown Pumpkin Patch. Though we only uncovered a small swath of dirt, we worked hard pulling weeds until it was time to go inside for snack.