Trees and Maple Sugaring

     Early this spring, students studied all about trees at SMART START. Maple trees and the seasonal staple of maple sugaring were highlighted during this unit of study.

Read below to view our lessons on trees.

    Learning in and about nature is an essential component of our core curriculum. All ventured into our outdoor classroom to read books under the trees and explore related features such as leaves, pine cones, bark and sticks. Environmental education provides endless benefits for children some being but not limited to: 
  • Develop a respect for wildlife
  • Enhance curiosity and discovery 
  • Instill a sense of responsibility to care for our planet
  • Encourage an active and healthy lifestyle
  • Promote social and emotional well-being 

     Pupils participated in a language arts leaf matching game. All practiced upper and lower case letter identification, connecting letters to corresponding sounds and spelling the words “tree”, “stick” and “trunk”.

     The class circled outside for a storytime. Here are some facts we acquired about trees:

  • Trees are plants that grow from seeds
  • Some common species in New England are: oak, birch, beech, cedar, pine, apple and maple
  • The rings inside a trunk can help determine the age of a tree
  • Fruits, nuts, flowers and sap come from certain trees
  • Trees produce oxygen-fresh air for us to breathe

     Creative classmates designed a tree masterpiece using paper, paint, stickers and their handprints. With a brush and paint, all made a brown trunk and green treetop. Next, hands were painted and prints were placed to make colorful leaves. Themed stickers were used for finishing touches. 

     Miss Maura from the MA Audubon Ipswich River Sanctuary visited our school for an on-site field trip. Types of trees and the wildlife they attract were discussed through an informative presentation and interactive activities. Young learners were most fascinated by the maple sugaring process. Miss Maura lead the group outdoors to demonstrate how to use a tap, bucket and other tools. All had the opportunity to taste sap straight from a maple tree. After the field trip, friends enjoyed some pancakes and maple syrup.



Social Studies

     History is an essential component of SMART START'S curriculum. These lessons educate children on the greater contexts of their community, diversity within cultures, geographical concepts, learning through past errors and so much more. Through the introduction of historical figures and their legacies, we hope to instill in our students that they are all capable of impacting the world in even the smallest of ways.
     Presidents Day is an American holiday observed each year on the third Monday of February. SMART START historians were fascinated to learn facts about our country's founding fathers and  subsequent leaders of the United States at a themed display and during outdoor storytime. 
Here are some of what we learned:
  • George Washington was the 1st president
  • Abraham Lincoln is on the penny and George Washington is on the $1 bill
  • There have been 45 presidents 
  • The president lives in the White House in Washington D.C. 

     Cognitive and cooperative skills were challenged while completing a large floor puzzle of the presidents. In addition, a game of memory match was played to reinforce the images and names of each U.S. leader. 

     Black history is honored throughout the month of February. Classmates contemplated over a display of literature detailing the courageous lives of notable individuals such as Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. In addition, all listened intently to a story in our outdoor classroom which discussed kindness, compassion, fighting for what is right and equality for all. To honor Martin Luther King Junior and his famous "I Have A Dream" Speech, pupils colored crowns with their dream for the world written in the center. We were most impressed with the thought the children put into their dreams which included, "Everyone can go to school", "Being kind to everyone" and "Everybody loves each other."

     Women's history is recognized during March. Each one of our girl students had the opportunity to play the part of an influential woman in history. Whether they were winning Nobel Prizes like Marie Curie, studying primates like Jane Goodall, Flying to space like Sally Ride or transforming educational practices like Maria Montessori, all embraced their remarkable roles. We have bright, strong, brave and determined future female icons at SMART START and they are all capable of achieving great things!



SMART START Superheroes

      SMART START students are fascinated by the role of a "superhero." We incorporated this theme into our studies at school through hands-on activities that highlight the true meaning of being a hero. Our goal is to instill in our young learners important values to make great choices each day.
Follow along below to see a blast from the past "Superhero Week" and our most recent "Superhero Day."
    Classmates circled together to listen to a favorite, "Character Kids Save The Day!" This story details five students who come to the rescue of their peers at school using cooperative, kind, responsible, honest and brave superpowers. All took turns holding up Character Kids figurines in correspondence with the reading. Afterwards, we discussed how everyone can act like the heroes through sharing, telling the truth, taking care of ours and others belongings, being inclusive and so much more!

     Our classroom walls and whiteboard transformed into a "Heroic Students" backdrop. The scene was filled with positive and encouraging statements such as:  
  • We do our best!
  • Keep working toward your goals!
  • We share!
  • Never give up!
  • Make smart choices!
  • We are kind!
  • Always be truthful!
  • We work together!
     These mottoes reflect our central core values at SMART START: Service, Mindfulness, Achievement, Respect and Trust. 

     The themed language arts lesson consisted of spelling the words: super, power, kind, brave and share. Prekindergartners used their knowledge of phonics to sound out certain words and comprehended the concept of a silent "E." Preschoolers practiced letter identification and matching letter to sound. All achieved a "Super Speller" award.

     Previously, super students used their teamwork abilities to play the classic game Connect 4. Problem solving, pattern detection and counting skills were challenged and enhanced during this activity.

     This year, all assembled a picture frame to commence their superhero ensemble project. Each used stickers and chose a super power they thought best described themselves: I am kind, I am responsible, I am brave, I am cooperative or I am honest.

     Future heroes were ecstatic to decorate their very own cape. Supplies used included glue, stickers, jewels and glitter. All were eager to showcase their capes and practiced saying, "SMART START Superheros save the day!"

         Once capes were complete, all gathered to design masks to finish their costume. Peers used their capes, masks and imaginations as they demonstrated their interpretation of a superhero. Phrases such as, "Hurry someone needs help!", "Don't be scared, we can do it!", "We have to take turns!" and "Be a good friend!" were used. Pretend play activities provide multiple benefits for children. Some being but not limited to:
  • improves communicative skills
  • promotes social and emotional intelligence
  • fosters creativity 
  • synthesize and attain knowledge 


     Peers received superhero hole punch cards during our past "Superhero Week". Each time a pupil exhibited a heroic quality, they were able to hole punch their card. Once the card was filled, all were rewarded with a prize. This system reinforced the positive characteristics and behaviors discussed throughout this unit, as well as teaching how to set and achieve goals.

    On "Superhero Day", friends focused their attention to a display which featured an assortment of books relaying the important heroic messages. This time allowed for a discussion regarding the everyday heros without capes and powers. Each participated by naming a heroic individual in their lives. Mommy, daddy, firefighter, doctor, police officer, best friend, brother and sister were thoughtfully mentioned.

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All About Maeve!

     Miss Maeve was exceptionally eager and enthusiastic to showcase her "All About Me" poster. She presented her project and answered classmates' questions with ease. Everyone appreciated the thought and effort Maeve put into this assignment. We loved learning more about you, Maeve!

Here are some details from Maeve's Poster:

  • Favorite colors are purple and pink💜💗
  • Wishes for ice cream🍦
  • Wants to be a ballerina when she grows up🩰
  • Enjoys going to her Vermont house 🏡
  • Favorite foods are cake and bread 🎂🍞

     All had a wonderful time celebrating their friend Maeve's 3rd birthday at school! Maeve brought in an ice cream cake and goody bags to share with friends. Classmates sang, "Happy Birthday" to Maeve in English and Spanish and gifted her with a book.

     Maeve has been a SMART START student for over a year. She loves coming to school with her big brother, Gus. A few words to describe Maeve are Inquisitive, intelligent and courageous. You shine as a preschooler and are capable of achieving great things, Maeve!



All About Max!

     Max was one of our star students for February! He excitedly displayed and presented his "All About Me" poster at school. All were most impressed by Max's creativity and confidence. It was evident that Max's communicative abilities have grown tremendously. Nice job, Max!

Here are some details from Max's poster:
  • Favorite color is blue 💙
  • Wants to be a firefighter🚒
  • Enjoys doing puzzles🧩
  • Favorite food is pasta 🍝
  • Wishes for a police car🚓

      Everybody enjoyed Max's 3rd birthday party at school! Max brought in delicious muffins and favors to share with peers. All gifted Max with a book and sang, "Happy Birthday" to him in English and Spanish.

     Max has been at SMART START for over a year now! He loves coming to class with his big sister, Erica. Caring, funny and bright are just a few words to describe our friend Max. We look forward to continuing helping  you shine as a preschooler, Max!