Posted October 27, 2016



By Sarah Kern

You may have heard it when you first visited All Seasons or read it in a daily list or newsletter. If there is one word that could possibly sum up our preschool, it’s community. Every day we work to build communities, large and small, all of which are connected to one another by shared people and shared experiences.

The smallest communities are our classrooms, united early by shared space and experience, and later by friendship and love. We extend these communities by adding the families, who share fellowship in brief moments at pick up and drop off, and deeper experiences at conferences, family parties, and playdates. Slowly but surely, we invite one another into our lives.

Similarly, the senior community exists first as its own entity, then expands to include the seniors’ families. Then, like magic, our upstairs and downstairs communities connect, and our circles grow ever wider. Beyond a shared space, it’s shared people that bring us together.

Consider Sue, Inver Glen’s Activities Director; early in the year, she is one of the most direct links between the preschoolers and the seniors. She is a familiar face in our school and upstairs, and her voice and songs connect both groups as they sing together in memory care and the community room.

Steve, Inver Glen’s maintenance man, is another link. He’s our community’s real-life superhero who rescues the seniors when a light is burnt out and the preschoolers when there is a pipe leak.

While much of our community is created without effort, there are elements of community we work diligently and intentionally to build and preserve. Much of this effort comes through rituals – shaking hands to greet and say goodbye, repeating activities on a weekly basis, having the same group of kids visit Memory Care East and Memory Care West every day. There are also the spontaneous moments that build community – visiting a grandma who is sick, delivering thank you cards to seniors who make donations to our school, and saying hello to seniors we pass in the hallways, often with a giant bear hug.

grandma marion
Over and over again, the worlds of the preschoolers and the seniors collide – intentionally and unintentionally. We see Grandma Marion out for a walk every day. We gather for an art project in the community room. We wave to the grandmas getting their hair done in the salon. It’s all part of the process; it’s all part of community.

Once Upon a Time

Posted October 13, 2016

by Sarah Sivright

Dictating and illustrating in a story journal

Dictating and illustrating in story journals

“Once upon a time…” those words capture the attention of both children and adults. We hold our breath and wait expectantly for the tale that will follow. Stories have been at the heart of human experience from the beginning.

Current and past All Seasons families know that story journal writing and acting are important features of our curriculum. But you may wonder why? Vivian Paley, a master teacher and author, created this classroom version of story telling as a vehicle for the expression of children’s ideas. This practice has spread to many schools in the U.S. and abroad. We have eager storytellers this year, as well as actors.

Each child has his/her own story journal in which the child’s words are written word for word by the teacher. At group time, when these stories are read out loud, correct grammar is modeled verbally, but the journal itself maintains a written record of the child’s language development. Illustrations by the children often accompany the story, usually done while the teacher writes—a cozy arrangement! During the child’s dictation, children are being exposed to the conventions of print, as well as having lovely one-on-one time with the teacher. Concepts about print that experienced readers don’t even think about are modeled by the teacher; print goes left to right, top to bottom, sentences and names of people start with a capital letter and end with a period (or maybe an exclamation mark, and what does that mean?), groups of letters make up words and each word is separated from the next by a space, etc. Then, wonder of wonders, those very words are read to the whole class and children come onto the stage to act out the child’s story! It’s a powerful experience for the author and a community-building experience for the entire group.

Last year, we collected stories from our Grandmas and Grandpas upstairs and acted them out for an audience in the Community Room. Acting out favorite folk tales is also a hit with both young and old, and draws a large and appreciative crowd.

Acting out our stories with the seniors

Acting out our stories with the seniors

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that storytelling engages more areas of the brain than even music or math. Their studies show that listening to stories activated sensations, emotions, and memories not just on one side of the brain, but across the entire brain. “Understanding a story requires access to all kinds of cognitive processes—social reasoning, spatial reasoning, emotional responses, visual imagery, and more,” says study author Alex Huth.

So, besides being an enthralling experience (or because of that power?) stories are good for brain development! As a teacher, I know that if I have five or ten minutes to fill before lunch with a squirmy group of preschoolers, I just need to pull out a good story, and everyone is happy.