At Unity, our classroom is divided into different areas, which are carefully organised and prepared to foster the children’s interests and stimulate the child’s natural curiosity.
The Practical Life Area
This area of the classroom uses familiar objects to support the child’s independence and growing concentration. In this area, children find out about pouring, cutting, using a variety of utensils and tools, and opening and closing different boxes and jars, which helps hone hand-eye co-ordination. Children are encouraged to wipe up any spillages and care for plants, and themselves, as they find out about the skills needed for dressing and removing clothes and ways to help others too. These activities also help develop a sense of community as children develop confidence through caring for their environment and their friends.
The Sensorial Area
Young children learn through their senses. This area of the classroom includes materials developed by Montessori to aid sensorial learning. These materials are simple and beautiful, and are specially organised so that children can use them independently, to make discoveries for themselves. These resources help develop all the senses, from visual and tactile to auditory and stereognostic.
This area of the classroom also supports children in matching, grouping and pairing, which all provide foundations for work in other curriculum areas, such as numeracy and literacy.
The KUW Area
The activities in this area introduce children to the world around them. Activities are divided into four areas -biology, geography, history and science- and support children’s sensorial exploration of the earth. In this area, activities are a mixture of child led discovery, and adult led story-telling, as children are introduced to wide-ranging topics, from dinosaurs to magnets, and the solar system to the life-cycle of a butterfly. Critical and creative thinking skills are developed and children are encouraged to investigate how and why things happen. In this area, children are supported to develop ideas and thoughts and grow understanding. This means that children are able to show tolerance and appreciation of varied points of view and different cultures. Big topics are discussed, such as climate change, recycling, ocean awareness and an introduction to different ecosystems. As children use globes and maps, cook and share food from different countries, and look into books they find out more about the planet, its animals, people and themselves.
Our extensive and comfortable book corner introduces children to songs and rhymes, and a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books. The classroom is full of language-rich activities, and the children are introduced to literacy through a wide variety of games and songs, both inside the classroom and in the outdoor environment too. The literacy area is carefully sequenced to introduce children to phonic sounds and letter names and shapes. Children can practice mark-making before writing, and reading short words before grammar. Children are introduced to these materials when they show interest and when they are ready. They are supported in this area on an individual basis, to help foster confidence and understanding.
Young children classify, sort and sequence their experiences. These skills are linked to order, as children make sense of their world. Montessori called this the child’s “mathematical mind”, and the shelves in this area introduce children to a wide range of mathematical skills. The activities are carefully chosen to build confidence and provide a hands-on experience of quantity before children are introduced to number symbols. Children are always encouraged to work at their own pace and the activities in this area scaffold learning, while enticing the children to find out more about numbers and their properties.
“Before a child talks they sing. Before they write they draw. As soon as they stand they dance. Art is fundamental to human expression.” Phylicia Rashad
Creativity runs through the core of everything we do at Unity. We know that children are essentially creative beings, and we see it to be our role as educators to provide as many opportunities as possible for them to exercise, express and expand themselves creatively.
Music is part of daily life at our school; be it singing well known nursery rhymes at circle time, listening to and recreating world music in-line with the children’s interests or our cultural curriculum focus, or developing our own instruments and experimenting with the sounds we can make with our bodies. Music is integrated into many areas of the classroom to help develop memory skills, hone listening and attention skills, and also to enable children to constructively express their emotions through sound.
Movement and dance is built into our curriculum in a multifaceted manner. Children are given opportunities to listen and move freely to music, both in the indoor and outdoor environment. Armed with scarves, ribbons and musical instruments, the children are offered time and space to use their bodies in new and interesting ways. We also offer more structured movement sessions, such as storytelling through physical movement, where children strengthen their ability to replicate movement and deepen their understanding of the capabilities of their amazing bodies.
Yoga sessions are delivered to children, wherein we introduce basic yogic poses in a fun and accessible way. Through songs and story-telling, children learn to focus attention on their breath, to practice balance and gross motor coordination, and begin to access the foundations of mindfulness, which is more and more important for children growing up in the busy world of today.
Our visual arts area is a huge favourite with the children. We believe that art should be intrinsically motivated and child led. We offer provocations and materials to the children, and work alongside them to share in their artistic discovery and creation. Working in this way ensures that every child may develop in line with their own interests, and their self esteem and confidence grows along with their experience. We offer many opportunities for art in the outdoors, allowing children to really marry the idea of space, fresh air and freedom with their abilities for self expression. Junk modelling, clay sculpting, painting, collage, woodwork, figurative drawing, arts and crafts, salt dough, messy mixtures and more are all readily available on a daily basis to all children.
Cooking / baking
Our practical life, sensorial, maths and science skills are extended during our cooking days, where the children are encouraged to participate in the community baking, in which we may be making bread for snack, a birthday cake / cupcakes for a friend, or a special meal to celebrate a festival. This is a very popular activity, and our children take part in it, enjoying the process step by step, from setting the cooking worktable, to cooking, tasting and also tidying and cleaning after baking.
Loose parts play
Children have daily access to play using loose parts. This kind of play incorporates a range of sensorial and natural materials, and supports children’s creative and critical thinking skills. These parts can be driftwood, acorns, leaves and buttons, bark and wood or lollipop sticks, and cotton reels. The children are free to re-use materials over and over again in their creations.
We believe that role play is an important part of the child development, as it is an important tool for the children to make sense of the world around them. Through role play, children develop different skills, such as communication and language, problem solving, social skills, imagination and creativity to mention a few. Parting from this premise, role play is fully encouraged at Unity, where you can see our little ones enjoying extended play in our indoor and outdoor classroom, where different props are provided for this purpose.