BFS

Preschool Blasts Off to Infinity and Beyond

This article appears in the summer 2022 issue of The Light, our Brooklyn Friends School magazine. 

Each year, the Preschool Fours classes embark upon a “Big Study.” During this milestone experience of the BFS Preschool, the students take a deep dive into a topic of interest over the course of many weeks. For the 2021-2022 Big Study, our Green and Orange Rooms rocketed into Outer Space!

When announcing this exciting curricular focus to their classroom families, Green Room teachers, Rachel Rowan and Jazelyn Montañez, wrote that their Outer Space study will harness a four year old’s “love of magic and mystery related to the natural world and beyond … We expect this subject to invite collaboration and to strengthen our classroom community through the shared experience of learning something together, and cultivating a learner’s disposition as the children delve deeply into one particular subject.” Harness their love of magic and mystery, it did!

The teachers opened the Outer Space study by inviting the students to ask questions. What exactly did they want to learn? Students raised their hands and enthusiastically asked questions and expressed curiosities such as:

“I’d like to learn about the planets and the universe!”

“Why is there no oxygen in outer space?”

“How do astronauts jump in their suits?”

“What holds the planets up?”

“How does the Earth stick together?”

“What are Saturn’s rings made of?”

“What is the Moon made of? (Is it cheese?)”

“What was the first space shuttle called? And when did it launch?”

“Why is Pluto no longer a planet?”

With their curiosity in hand, the Green and Orange Room students began their explorations. They read space-related books, watched videos of astronauts in space (Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield demonstrated how astronauts sleep and brush their teeth in space), viewed satellite photographs, and engaged in hands-on projects. Students created a myriad of celestial artwork and models. They performed various experiments, including creating the non-Newtonian material of “oobleck.”. They even acted out the orbiting of the Earth around the Sun and the Moon around the Earth.

Always a hub of activity in the Preschool classrooms, the Orange and Green Rooms transformed their dramatic play areas. The Orange Room’s area became a spaceship and mission control where the children took turns going on missions. The Green Room created a space station. Each was complete with astronaut gear, and the newly minted space experts created their own jet packs, levers, pulleys, and more!

As a culminating project to the Big Study, the Green Room students created books on the topic of Space. The books were complete with original stories and illustrations. The Orange Room collaborated on a large-scale solar system mural, representing all that they had learned.

The Preschool Fours Big Study invites learning beyond the topic at hand. For example, students learned the differences between fiction and nonfiction and the elements of a story while reading imaginative books about aliens and space travel. When the Study was complete, the teachers and students invited families to the classrooms to see first hand all that they had learned and created. Congratulations to the student-astronauts and their teachers, Niamh Dolan, Rachel Kleinman, Jazelyn Montanez, and Rachel Rowan, for their successful exploration of space and their safe return to the second floor.

Learn more about our Preschool.