Art plays an important part in Valley Drive’s preschool program and is integrated into most Valley Drive activities. It contributes to our children’s creative development and supports skills in many other areas. Making art can be a science activity, language activity, or math activity. It can help children develop social skills, engage in sensory exploration, practice fine muscle control, and strengthen eye-hand-motor control. Art activities give children a chance to make choices and solve problems in an atmosphere where freedom of expression is encouraged.
At Valley Drive Cooperative Preschool, we recognize the important role music plays in our children’s lives and development. The foundation of our music program is that children must be active participants in the music-making process. Only by actually creating sounds with a variety of instruments, or materials, and through active involvement with music, will children come to a real understanding of what makes sound and music.
Through the music program at Valley Drive, our students:
- Explore music through singing, playing instruments, and creating body movements
- Participate in group in music making
- Expand listening skills
- Develop increased enjoyment and appreciation of music
- Hear and explore the music of other cultures
- Explore his or her own creativity in music
- Have experiences that reflect developmental needs
Science and Exploration
Science education is part of every class at Valley Drive. Teachers use hands-on materials to introduce children to science concepts. Through discussion, children reveal their thinking allowing teachers to plan further activities to build on what children understand. The Exploration Room gives them an opportunity for hands-on experience and discovery.
The large outdoor area for both playground fun and teacher-led exploration of the garden areas at the Immanuel Church on the Hill location make an ideal outdoor classroom. Children can be outdoors for much of the day when they wear appropriate clothing. Explorations include art and science activities, integrated with math and literacy skill-building.
Resources such as the National Science Teachers Association’s position statement on early childhood science education and Peggy Ashbrook’s book of science activities, Science is Simple: Over 250 Activities for Preschoolers (Gryphon House 2003) support teachers as they embrace children’s curiosity and channel it towards learning.
Yoga classes at Valley Drive incorporate movement, breath, relaxation, games, and/or stories. Each age group begins with a bell listening exercise where children learn to settle their bodies and minds. The session may follow such themes as nature, holiday, or topics related to the classroom curriculum. Breathing and warm-ups help children to focus, to connect, and to release energy. After their age group’s version of Sun Salutations, the class explores the theme through standing poses, balances, and their own playful creative movement. Other activities may include partner or group poses and non-competitive games like Yogi Says, which help establish community, cooperation, and patience. Class ends in the relaxation pose called savasana.Through breath, movement, and relaxation, the children develop mind-body awareness; learn how to act compassionately; self-regulate; connect with a positive self and community; and have fun!
Classes meet once a month for each group. The Yellow Ducks hold class in the Exploration Room where they can move around in a smaller area. The Green Frogs and the Busy Bees have class in the Large Room upstairs with mats. If weather permits, the Bees may also hold class outside on the deck.
5 Day Floating Teacher
Wendy has been a part of Valley Drive for 5 years, with both her children starting as Yellow Ducks. As a parent, she enjoyed supporting the school as a classroom parent, co-op scheduler, and Procurement chair for the annual Silent Auction. Wendy began teaching full time at Valley Drive in 2016. Wendy holds a BA in Cultural Studies and Media Criticism from New York University and a MSEd in Elementary Education from CUNY Hunter College. Prior to moving to the Washington region Wendy taught 3rd grade in Brooklyn, New York. She volunteers often as a math and reading tutor at her children’s elementary school, and during her free time she enjoys knitting, reading, and baking.
Wendy Owens joined the Valley Drive community as a parent in 2012 and her two children are both Valley Drive alumni. In addition to being active within the school while her kids were students, Wendy served on the Board of Directors leading fundraising activities and serving as Board President for the 2015-2016 academic year. Wendy joined our teaching team in 2016 – working in the classroom and helping with science and exploration activities. She loves nurturing our kid’s curiosity and exploration of the environment around them. Her passion for encouraging children to use their individual strengths to grow fits perfectly with our exploration program. Wendy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has an undergraduate degree in psychology from University of Virginia as well as a Masters degree in social work from New York University. Prior to her time at Valley Drive, Wendy was a school social worker with children ages 3-15 in special education settings. When not at work she loves a nice bike ride, a fun run and spending time with her family.