April 2016 SFF Newsletter

Director’s Report

EXPANSION/CONSTRUCTION UPDATE – See my separate email about construction updates.



  • I visited and observed at The Blue School in New York City.  It is a two-year-old through middle school private school in Lower Manhatten near South St Seaport.  As you might guess it was started for the children of the Blue Man Group.  Like School for Friends it is inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and infused with the pedagogy of Bank Street College.  I shared photos with teachers at a staff meeting.
  • Makai Kelloggattended the New York Collective of Radical Educators conference March 19 & 20.  She gave a report to the staff.
  • During our annual spring staff development day on 3/28 teachers focused on 1) Creating a Summer Program Based on Changes:  Looking at the Environment and Planning and 2) Teamwork and Community.



  • To the parents who organized and their helpers at the Simple Meal at the Friends Meeting of Washington –Tiffany Rowe, Mary Hilari, & Lauren Sun.


Quaker House Newsletter

Making math fun and relevant to young children can be as easy as making time for play.  As young children explore their environment and interact through play, they are beginning to notice relationships that are the foundations for mathematics.  From counting, to making spatial connections, to understanding sequences, we can build upon the children’s natural ability to play while introducing them to the basics of mathematics.

As teachers, we see math being used as part of play every day. While in playhouse, children use the pretend pancakes to feed their friends. In order to distribute a handful of pancakes evenly among three friends the “pancake maker” has to use one to one correspondence (pointing to actual objects and counting aloud one by one).  This is not just an example of one to one correspondence but also rote counting (counting aloud without pen and paper). These techniques are learned naturally through everyday play as well as familiarity with their environment.  Young children also explore patterns and shapes, and compare sizes.

While sorting and matching things that are the same or different; children can also arrange things in simple patterns, based on their characteristics; they are beginning to understand the meaning of words and phrases like “more,” “less,” “a lot,” and “the same as.”  Everyday at choice time QH kids have the opportunity to use the various manipulatives in the classroom.  Manipulatives are a great tool to make simple and complex patterns from colors, shapes, purpose, size, etc.  The primary colored bears are a popular manipulative that the QH-kids like to sort with. We have seen several patterns such as “blue, blue, red, yellow, green, blue, blue”, “small, large, small, large, small, small”, and “three, three, three, two”.

Children use measurement to describe, compare, and order things, using unconventional tools (like pieces of blocks, sticks, and even their footsteps).  No rulers required.  You can find our QH poster, which shows “How Many Blocks Am I High?” In this activity blocks, teamwork, and rote counting were all that was needed to introduce basic understanding of measurement.  

During outdoor play the children can find lots of exploration of spatial relationships.  For example outdoor play furniture gets moved around a lot.  As friends play with each other one can hear phrases such as, “we should move the couch closer, the table is too far, move your chair next to mine”.  

Free play offers a rich foundation on which to build interesting mathematics. These everyday experiences form the foundation for later mathematics. Later, children elaborate on these ideas, and we recognize that children need both these foundational experiences, as well as specific math activities.  Preschool isn’t just about 1, 2, 3’s and A, B, C’s. It’s about teaching your child to take joy in learning, and to recognize that the world is full of fun lessons waiting to happen!


Rainbow Room Newsletter

This year, each classroom was asked to create a goal related to anti-bias education. The Rainbow Room team decided to focus on family structure. “Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves” by Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen Edwards, explains children’s experiences and understandings of family structure as:

-Young children have their own definitions of who is in their family.

-Young children perceive their family as an extension of themselves.

-Children discover and are curious about other people’s families

-Children need information as they seek to understand variations in family structure.

-Children begin to absorb attitudes and biases toward various kinds of family structures.

We have many examples of family diversity in the classroom and wanted to be more cognizant of the ways our curriculum, language, communication, and representations were sensitive to our students and their families.  “Family is central to the life of every child. It is through this earliest relationship that children come to view themselves and others and find their place in the world.” (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, p.112) Because of this the Rainbow Room team works actively to:

-be mindful of and inclusive of all family structures

-represent families in the classroom through photos, books, and curriculum

-use language that is understanding and celebratory of family diversity

-When interacting with families, use culturally sensitive communication as opposed to assumptions, stereotypes, etc. 

Some examples of how we do this are:

-by using the term “family” as opposed to gender definitive terms such as “mother” or “father,”

-welcome and encourage families to spend time in the classroom to expose the children to different cultures, languages, traditions, and family structures, and we began Family of the Week last month

-During dramatic play scenarios, we step in if necessary to help children problem solve if stuck in heteronormative family roles or stereotypical gender roles. For example, when children say “all moms do….” the teachers help rephrase the statement to “some” might

-find opportunities during conversations at meal time or circle for the children and teachers to share about different family structures such as those with siblings, two moms, single parent, only children, adoption, etc.

“Our professional ethics as early childhood educators requires us to equitably nurture and support children from every kind of family.” (p.112) 



-Please make sure there are two sets of LABELED seasonal clothing

-Please sign up for fruits and veggies on the door

-Rainbow Room Cultural Heritage Dinner is on Thursday April 21 in the Bird Room


Rainbow Room Team


Green Room Newsletter

Since we’re going to be involved in a renovation soon and we’re going to move to the fellowship hall, we’ve decided to focus on how this change and or move will affect the children and how to deal or cope with it. Young children often react to changes in their lives or in their daily routines by acting out or becoming clingier and more fearful. You can help your little one cope with changes — whatever they may be — by creating a stable framework of things she can always rely on.


Most children do not like change, regardless of whether the change is big or small. A cross-country move, a new child care schedule or even something as simple as a different haircut can provoke a toddler’s fear of change. The world is a huge and confusing place to a young child, filled with things that are difficult to understand. Children rely on the things they recognize to make sense of all the things they don’t. To help your child manage change, you can make use of daily rituals and warnings.


Daily rituals can help your children deal with change by giving him something consistent he can count on, no matter what happens. According to Child Care Aware, simple rituals like sharing a song after mealtime or picking out clothes together in the morning can create a calming influence to help your child process changes.


Change can be much more upsetting when it is unexpected, for both adults and children. The same child who screams when you leave her at school may scream just as loudly when you come to pick her up, because she doesn’t want to stop playing with friends or a favorite toy. By giving your child some warning that a change is coming, you can help her mentally adapt to it. Give a child more time to process a major change like a move, but don’t tell him so far in advance that the information becomes meaningless.

Here’s how we at the school and in the Green Room are going to try to prepare the little ones for this big change.

  • Provide the children with information about the “move”. Speak to the kids daily (closer to the move date) about the things that are going to be the same and what’s going to be different and who’s going to be there with them.
  • Show the children pictures of what the new environment is going to be like. Although we’re not going to have the new environment set up in the picture, we can still show them our temporary classroom. The can also give their input as to where they would like for us to put the classroom furniture in the temporary “living” space.
  • We’re going to keep things as normal as possible i.e trying to keep the schedule the same. Also keep in mind whenever there is a change people tend to slide back; meaning that kids who are potty trained may have accidents. There is good news, once the child is comfortable in their new environment, they will move back to where they were (no more accidents).
  • Have the children choose things that they think are important to them from the classroom. Each child will have their own box (shoe box). Each child picks something or things and place it in the box. Their names will be written on the box. When we move to our temporary classroom, the children will unpack their boxes and place their items on the shelves.
  • Be constant in saying “though our classroom is different, I’m still here” to make the child feel safe and comfortable.

For the next two weeks, we’re going to do a theme on construction. Although we have not begun construction as of yet, this will help the children be aware of what is to come in the near future. They will have an understanding for instance why the construction worker is wearing a hat on his head or why he has on a yellow vest.

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Important dates:

April 30th – Jackie’s Birthday


Blue Room Newsletter

Seasons are changing and Spring is here! Aside from annoying pollen allergies, this time of year brings lots of fun changes like budding trees, bugs, rainy days, and gardening. With Mother Nature transforming right before our very eyes, why not go out and take full advantage? “Explore the Great Outdoors with Your Child” is an archived article on the NAEYC website that has some tips and ideas to for outdoor play which can be useful no matter the season. Here are the highlights:

Explore safely.  Be sure to dress appropriately, particularly in these rainy months and set boundaries. Don’t be afraid to join in the fun if they want you too, it helps you keep a watchful eye on their safety but also all the discovering they are doing. Discovering that will come, especially as they use their sense to explore: looking and listening to their surroundings, touching, smelling and even tasting when given permission.

Let the children choose what to explore.  No suggestions, just see what they do on their own. What excites them the most? Do they jump in puddles to see what will happen? Dig in the dirt to find treasure or creatures? Search the trees for bird nests or insects? They are investigating their surroundings in their own way, so follow their lead.

Ask open-ended questions. As they begin to explore on their own and make discoveries, ask them about it.  Questions that prompt an answer based on their observation: “what”, “why” and “how” are great ways to start of a question.  For example, “What did you find?” “Oh, a worm?” “What does it look like?” “How does it move around?” “How does it feel?” The more your child observes, the more the world around will make sense.

Touch, lift, and look under. By touching the natural world around them, a child is able to more fully understand it. Gently touching a ladybug, or grasshopper can lead to an understanding of how animals move.  Looking under a log may show that creatures live all around us and we need to be careful not to disturb their habitat.

Guide children to draw conclusions from their observations they’ve made. The best learning can happen with children come to conclusions on their own.  By asking questions or describing what you see, feel, hear or smell can guide them to a new idea.  “Do you remember when we went on a walk and there was snow on the trees? What do you see now?” “I wonder why it is all gone?”

So if you are ever in need of a fun afternoon, just venture outside and let nature do the work!