July 20, 2021
Have you ever wondered what goes on inside an AART classroom? I had the pleasure of following along with an AART summer class in Leesburg, where I joined students during a fun-filled day of learning and play. I talked with our dedicated teachers and volunteers about what they do during a typical day of teaching, how their lessons and activities benefit students, and why they teach with AART. It’s in the middle of a busy classroom where the magic of learning creates lasting bonds between teachers and students, and it was amazing to see those relationships being made through fun and easy classroom activities.
The day began with students lining up outside upon arriving at our Leesburg classroom location. They waved goodbye to mom and dad, ready for another day of learning with their friends. Our students then put away their backpacks once they entered the classroom and joined each other on the carpet for Circle time to go over the classroom rules and welcome a couple of new friends to their class.
They sang a song together to introduce each other and the teachers to the rest of the class and reviewed what they were going to do during class today. Circle time continued with a story- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Our teachers gave each student their own copy of the book, and the class settled in to read the story together, following along with the teacher as they turned the page. The book was read in both English and Spanish so that all of our students could enjoy the story in the language they were most familiar with. Color recognition skills were practiced while reading, as well, since the book focuses heavily on identifying different brightly-colored animals as the story progresses.
To close “Circle” time, each student placed their new books in their backpacks, to take home and read on their own.
Next on the agenda were Centers, where students were divided up between multiple different activities and rotated through each one in turn. Today’s centers helped build shape recognition skills, encouraged creative play, and had students practice writing their names.
The first Centers activity involved drawing a self-portrait and signing your name on it upon completion. Students were given drawing tools and were encouraged to let their artistic skills and imagination shine.
The second Centers activity instructed students to mold Play-Doh into different shapes. Students were encouraged to use tools to help them craft their shapes and to identify their shapes upon completion of the activity.
In the final Centers activity, students were provided worksheets that prompted them to practice drawing certain shapes. Given markers, crayons, and other drawing tools, the students diligently worked at perfecting their triangles, squares, semi-circles, and stars!
After the students finished their Centers activities, the class took a break to have a quick snack. Students lined up to wash their hands and grab their water bottles, then went to find a seat beside their friends. Our students sipped their water, munched on their pretzels, and chatted about the day’s activities during a much-needed moment of rest.
With the end of class insight, our students and teachers regrouped for Closing Circle. The teachers shared our students’ self-portraits that they had drawn earlier, stopping to discuss what each student included in their drawing. We were so impressed with their creativity, and everyone enjoyed getting to share their work with the class!
Lastly, it was time to wrap up another great day of preschool with stickers for a hard day’s work. After receiving their sticker, each student retrieved their backpacks and lined up to leave the classroom. With tired eyes and smiling faces, each student left the classroom to meet an eagerly waiting parent outside.
Our teachers for our AART summer class in Leesburg, Ms. Shelley and Ms. Giselle, are long-time teachers in the Northern Virginia area. Ms. Shelley has been a preschool teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools for many years, and Ms. Giselle has been a substitute teacher for both primary and secondary level classrooms in Loudoun County Public Schools for around 20 years. They love to teach and are dedicated to the well-being of their students. Teaching at AART has been a great experience for both Ms. Shelley and Ms. Giselle, who are teaching for the first time in our program this summer. They love seeing their students succeed in the classroom and enjoy the fulfillment that comes with a career in education!
Learning with the students in an AART summer class reaffirms the importance of easily accessible preschool programs. Experiencing the joy of learning in a fun, engaging, and age-appropriate environment- with dedicated teachers and diligent volunteers- is a great reminder of the lasting impact of quality early childhood education. AART students will take the lessons, relationships, and memories earned in their preschool class with them throughout their careers as students and into life beyond the classroom. AART thanks its teachers, volunteers, donors, and sponsors for making our summer programs possible!