Pre-K Airlines Takes Flight
How a child learns is as important as what they learn... process and content go hand in hand. To fully engage the imagination of the students, EC classrooms are transformed to match the thematic unit of study. For instance, when you enter a classroom during the Rainforest unit, you will encounter vines hanging from the ceiling, a loft transformed into a lush Kapok tree and students dressed as rainforest animals having wonderful adventures while they learn language arts, math, science and social studies as well as cooperation, empathy, responsibility and self control. Learning is a magnificent journey and it is our belief that immersing a child in a classroom environment as vivid as their imagination cultivates a life-long enthusiasm for discovery.
The Prekindergarten teachers have created a world class curriculum entitled, Pre-K Airlines, which immerses students in the culture of various countries around the world. Take a minute and read what they have shared with us about their curriculum...
What kind of curriculum is PreK Airlines?
We use a project approach, which means that all subjects areas are integrated. The classroom is transformed into the places we visit, so that the children feel connected to the curriculum at all times. We spend around a month in each country, and a week in France might look like this:
Monday: Take a trip to the Louvre to study how Monet uses different colored paints for daytime and nighttime
Tuesday: Make butter for our French baguettes and learn about how molecules work
Wednesday: Watch the "Les Poissons" (fish) song from The Little Mermaid to learn some new French words, and then construct a bar graph from a fish that has different colored scales on the Smartboard
Thursday: Build an Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks to celebrate Bastille Day
Friday: Put a stamp in our passport and use inventive spelling to write our favorite thing about France
The students see us having fun, cooking, and creating, but what they don't realize is that we are developing their fine motor skills, teaching them how to compare and contrast, learning how to construct a bar graph, learning how to hypothesize, and connecting letter sounds to letters in print.
How do you decide where to travel?
It's been trial and error! PreK Airlines visits around 8 places a year, and it's not always the same. For example, the first year we stopped in Mexico, because it's a country very familiar to our students and their families. We added India just last year and found that it was so popular, PreK Airlines will be traveling there again for a longer stay! We pick both familiar and unfamiliar places so that we can learn along with the students. We want to explore with them and teach them how to ask questions and how to find answers. We pick places that have things in common with Houston, like museums and sports teams, but also places that have vastly different foods, languages, and clothing. We want the children to learn how to appreciate and love other cultures.
What inspired you two to write the PreK Airlines curriculum?
PreK Airlines came from our love of traveling, and we wanted to find interesting things to teach that would not only inspire the children, but would also inspire us! We wanted to pass along our love of learning and adventure. We feel that children are capable of learning whatever you teach them, especially at this age, and that they can appreciate different cultures just as adults do. Houston is such an international city, and our school is right in the middle of it. We were inspired by our city and the diversity surrounding us.
What impact has PreK Airlines had on the PS community?
First of all, the children are simply excited ALL THE TIME. It's contagious and dynamic. They love learning new languages and sharing what they're learning with their families. They want everyone to be on this adventure with them! They bring pictures of family members at the top of the Eiffel Tower, they bring instruments from India for everyone to play, they spot Greek columns at their own houses, and they force their parents to DVR a special on King Tut. It never gets old. We continue to be just as excited and inspired as they are. We can't wait to see where this next year takes us!