Bee went to a traditional preschool last year and loved it, but when I heard some friends were organizing a preschool co-op, I decided to try it. We've been having a Monday morning playgroup with these same kids for two years now, so all the children are buddies, all the moms are well acquainted with each child's personality, and the kids feel really comfortable at each home. (And I should mention that all of the moms in this co-op are pretty amazing, so I knew Bee was in good hands.)
A few details, in case you're interested:
-There are five children in our co-op, and all are 4 to 5 years old and starting kindergarten next Fall. (I think 5 kids is the perfect size for a class).
-We teach in two week rotations, two days a week for three hours, rotating houses. (It makes for a busy two weeks, but once you're in the preschool mode it's nice to stay in it for a while and then you have a little break before you teach again a few months later.)
-We follow a pretty detailed schedule so that the structure of the day stays the same no matter who is teaching. The kids are really into the order of things, and can usually tell you what we're going to do next.
-We're basing our curriculum on children's books. A new book each week which helps you figure out your art or science projects. For example, I just taught Where the Wild Things Are, so during the week we made Wild Thing masks, talked about manners and how we are not Wild Things, learned all about seeds and how things grow (like the jungle growing in Max's room), and for music had a wild rumpus dance party.
Last week we focused on Thanksgiving, and I chose the book The Story of the Pilgrims. It's not a complete history lesson, but it was perfect for this age group. During the week we learned about the pilgrims and the indians (aka Native Americans), focused on being thankful, baked pumpkin muffins, made Thankful trees with paper leaves, and dressed up as pilgrims and indians for a feast.
I remembered these paper bag vests from an old Halloween costume we did at Martha Stewart Kids, and the kids had fun fringing the bottoms and decorating their vests. We strung indian necklaces (cheerios on some yarn) and made feather headbands (grosgrain ribbon with a slit cut in it for a feather).
We also made these super easy pilgrim bonnets and hats, so the children could decide whether they wanted to be a pilgrim or an indian for our feast.
The kids and I are in charge of the decorations for the kids table at Grandma and Grandpa's this year, and I'm thinking these would be awfully cute at each place setting. Bee and C will have way too much fun chasing their cousins around while we finish dinner.
Family nearby, good food, happy kids.. all things I am truly thankful for.