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Building Blocks of Learning

Art Studio

One of the thrills of working with bright children is supporting their need to express themselves in their own way, through a variety of two- and three-dimensional media.  Highly capable preschoolers need an arts program that supports their individuality. 

  • Our teachers may introduce materials and techniques in the Art Studio during Discovery Time, and children are free to adapt those ideas as their creativity leads them

  • Art is integrated into many of our weekly problem-solving projects, which may involve clay, painting, sculpture, drawing, and a variety of art media

  • Children often work on representational drawing as part of a multi-step craft or during Science Lab to record their observations

Drama Club

We believe in the value of sustained role plays to foster the growth of executive functioning. We call these role plays   “Drama Club.” Each week’s role play at Bellevue Discovery supports our project-based learning. For example, during the Cities Project the children planned and acted out running a restaurant, bakery, train station, clothing store and fire station.

Math Games

During morning Sing-Along we talk about and model the number of the day.  This simple visual counting practice, which takes a few minutes each day, builds over the year so that by the spring the kids aren't just counting by rote, they are growing in number awareness.  The children also write (or, for those with developing fine motor skills, scribble) one number a day on individual whiteboards, which is all it takes for most preschoolers to be able to write their numbers by the end of the school year.

During Math Games we explore the math strands (number, geometry, measurement, data analysis, patterns) through playing games.  We talk.  We laugh.  The children ask questions.  They answer each other’s questions.  They use their hands to move objects around.  They debate ideas. We know that if the children are engaged, reasoning, creating patterns, using numbers for a reason, and asking questions about the game, their level of learning will be high.


Our children come to us with varying levels of math awareness so we keep Math Games open-ended. For example, while all of the children may be playing “Kissing Cubes” (grabbing a handful of wooden cubes and lining them up two by two), some children will be exploring one-to-one correspondence as they count the cubes, while others will be learning about even and odd numbers (when there’s one odd cube left over with no one to kiss).


Our kids like variety and challenge. They love learning new things. They are at different places in their mathematical thinking and if they are actively engaged we can trust that they are learning at their individual level. We use card games, puzzles, and old favorites like Set, Mastermind, Mousetrap and Chutes & Ladders. Sometimes we create a game based on the children’s literature we are reading that week. We use math tools like rulers, abaci, dice, spinners and tally sheets. Our Math Specialist chooses games and tools based on the relationship with the children:  What will thrill them? 

School Skills

The majority of our curriculum focuses on where our children are with their learning right now, but we also need to prepare our children with the skills they will need to thrive in school. Knowing that many of our children will enter kindergarten programs in which they will be expected to complete highly teacher-directed activities (such as worksheets and craft projects), the children visit School Skills as one of their Building Block activities.

School Skills activities focus on fine motor skills and include: cutting, gluing, and completing teacher-directed craft projects. When they are developmentally ready, they practice tracing and copying words, shapes, and numbers. Through these activities, the children develop kindergarten readiness skills such as following multi-step directions, managing time, and craftsmanship.

Science Lab

Preschool is a fascinating time when children equally enjoy fantasy play and learning about the natural world. We support young children’s imaginations at Bellevue Discovery and we also promote scientific discovery. Teachers expand on child-initiated explorations, creating multi-sensory experiences to explore life and physical sciences.


During Science Lab, children make hypotheses, conduct simple experiments, observe, dictate and illustrate their observations, and share their findings with their classmates.

The children engage in hands-on exploration and discovery.  We also introduce the first four steps of the Scientific Method with our preschoolers:

  • Question

  • Hypothesis

  • Experiment

  • Observation

Dragonflies Skills Classes




Phonics activities include:

  • sensory letter writing:  sand trays, white boards, shaving cream, play dough, making letters with our bodies

  • writing letters on paper:  tracing, copying, using invented spelling, thinking about spacing, upper and lower case letters, exploring punctuation

  • phonics games and movement activities

  • letter-picture matching and alphabet dot-to-dots

  • reading ABC books together


Journal writing allows young children to use language to communicate.  It shows children that their ideas and feelings can be transferred from their imagination onto paper, where others can read their ideas.  It shows children that their own writing is valuable.  It gives them real-life opportunities to experiment with writing and learn the conventions of print:

  • Pictures can illuminate the words

  • Print goes from left to right and from the top to the bottom of a page

  • Letters have sounds (phonemes)

  • Letters make up words and words have spaces between them

  • Capitalization and punctuation help us understand the ideas

  • Printing gets easier the more you do it (fine motor development)


Directed Drawing:   Over the last decade at Bellevue Discovery we have found that older preschoolers can build their representational drawing skills over the school year. Through weekly lessons, each child builds their observation skills, fine motor skills and ability to communicate. We have quite a few perfectionists among our highly capable preschoolers, and Directed Drawing is a safe place to build resiliency and risk taking.  High ability children are rarely asked to revise their work, or nudged to put in a bit more effort; Directed Drawing is a natural time for building those life skills.


We are guided by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics math strands for pre-Kindergarten through first grade:

  • Number Awareness:  Counting, comparing, ordering, sets, simple computation, place value

  • Geometry:  Shapes, locations, directions, spatial-visual awareness, symmetry

  • Measurement:  Attributes, units, techniques, tools

  • Data Analysis:  Graphing

  • Algebra:  Sorting, classifying, patterns


Our Math Specialist tracks the math topics the children experience during Math Games, Number-of-the-Day activities, and Math Skills Class.  If a math strand hasn’t had much exposure, the teacher looks for games and activities to fill in the gap.


We conduct informal assessments to ensure our children are gaining the math skills and knowledge they will need for advanced kindergarten classes. In the spring, when we know where our children will move on to kindergarten, we move our pre-K kids into school-readiness math, such as using symbols, learning how to complete a worksheet, and copying a simple math problem from the whiteboard.

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