In the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras break, you might have seen our PreK-4 students outside Atkinson Hall in pig masks, throwing straw and sticks around, laughing and playing. While this might seem more like a scene from Lord of the Flies, we will assure you that these young students were engaged in purposeful learning. In recent weeks, the PreK-4 classes had read different versions of The Three Little Pigs as part of a study of homes and houses. After reading, they ventured out to the lawn to build replicas of each house in the story and to reenact the scenes together.
Back inside their classrooms, students explored home construction by building log cabins, apartments, parking garages, and other structures out of blocks. Children also put on hard hats to practice hammering and sawing (with toys), and they created peg board designs with (pretend) nails and screws. All of these activities helped students gain self-awareness and a strong sense of place in addition to early literacy and numeracy skills.
As the study continued, the focus shifted to spreading love within their homes and communities. The children learned to write their addresses and added drawings of their homes to an illustrated class book. Next, they wrote letters to their parents, sealed them inside hand-addressed envelopes, and took a walking field trip to mail them at the downtown US Post Office. On Valentine’s Day, they passed out valentines to each other and created Love Grows art and writing to hang in the classroom.
“Powerful connections are made and great fun is had when children engage in a curriculum that is creative, meaningful, and integrated,” PreK-4 teacher Rachel Daigre explained. “At St. James, we combine our knowledge of developmental standards with the specific interests and abilities of students in our classes to create learning opportunities that are enriching and challenging.”
With caring teachers, an expertly designed curriculum, and nurturing class communities, at St. James we aspire to give our students the strongest of foundations for learning – not fragile ones made of straw or sticks. We want our students to create long lasting, joyful memories of school that will make them want to return day after day and year after year. We also want them to know that they are loved — by God and by the St. James community — and that even as young children, they are capable of sharing that love and joy with others.