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Little Acorn Day School

8805 SE 40th Street
Mercer Island, WA 98040

(206) 236-0480

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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Montessori, Reggio-Emilia

From the Director:

A balance of free play and teacher-led instruction using philosophies and materials from Reggio Emilia, Howard Gardner and Maria Montessori

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

More Information

  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
  • Traditional & Montessori learning materials
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
  • Math-Their-Way & Some Montessori materials
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Science exploration table and sensorial table
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
  • Dancing props, felt board songs, resonator bells for composing
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught The school includes Social Skills and Drama in the curriculum. Teachers at Little Acorn are trained to arrange the classroom environment and plan lessons to engage and nurture all aspects of the whole child's development. This includes professional art instruction, daily music and movement (teacher plays guitar), hands-on, multi-sensory academics, (including Math-Their-Way, Whole Language and Phonics), science, drama, social skills instruction, cooperative learning, special enrichment guests, evening family events with musical class performances and more! In this rich environment, teachers facilitate learning, in joyful relationship with individual and small groups of children as they move at their own pace through these activity choices. Above all, teachers are positive leaders and models and are very purposeful in their focus on empowering children to become life-long learners and responsible and loving citizens within a learning community.

From the Director:

Little Acorn's curriculum is planned based on the developmental needs and emergent interests of the individual children enrolled, and the special talents of the teachers. Activities are INDIVIDUALIZED so that each child is comfortably challenged and encouraged to move to the next level of development but is never pushed. The curriculum is thematic/literature based and INTEGRATED so that, for example, if children are studying insects, they may be finding them outdoors, reading and writing about them, representing them in art, singing and dancing about them in music, doing a play about them in drama, and building obstacle courses or homes for them in blocks or carpentry. The program is particularly strong in the Arts as a language for self- expression as children are given skills and encouragement to represent the world within and around them. Music, creative movement/dance, drawing/painting, and storytelling are daily activities.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Activities are individualized, so each child can be reached and encouraged at their own current developmental level.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Little Acorn's curriculum follows a rich
tradition of early childhood models and practices and believes in incorporating the very best aspects of those influences, which include but are not limited to: Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, The Hundred Languages of Children (world renowned Reggio Emilia early childhood model), Jean Piaget, Eric Erickson, and Lev Vygotsky's developmental psychology theories, some ideas and materials of Maria Montessori, and treasures the Director & teachers have discovered over years of teaching.

We at Little Acorn believe that each child is a unique and competent individual, with his/her own special strengths and qualities, and that all children come equipped with a natural and intense curiosity about life.

As your child enters our school, our first objectives are:

(1) To build a strong, supportive friendship with each child - a warm rapport that communicates a shared sense of joy in each effort and accomplishment, and

(2) To provide a reinforcing, physically and emotionally safe environment, in which children will be encouraged to actively explore, experiment, and express themselves, at their level, in a wide variety of ways.

Music, art, science experimentation, book making and story writing, multi-sensory academics (presented in a fun way), creative dramatics, games, special enrichment visitors, and family events are included in our presentation of curriculum and reflect our most basic belief that children learn most through a hands-on, self-discovery process. We believe that it is through the sharing of this process, with caring friends, that each child's natural zest for learning and self-esteem is nurtured and enriched.

We believe in positive reinforcement as the most powerful tool in teaching important central values in early childhood. Cooperation, self-initiative, and perseverance are the values that we strive to reinforce at every sighting. Communication, creativity and problem-solving strategies are developed as children practice these basic skills that will lay the foundation for life-long learning.

And finally, we believe strongly in the power of the parent-teacher partnership in offering the best care and education for your child. Each one of us has unique and important contributions to share with one another and with the children.

So, we would like to welcome you as a vital and cherished member of an important team! We invite and appreciate all of your help and expertise and hope that you will feel free to share with us any ideas, information, comments, and/or concerns you have throughout the year.

A Typical Day


7:00-9:00 Arrival, Breakfast (till 8:30)
Free Play, Individual attention
9:00-9:30 Outside
9:30-9:40 Snack
9:40-9:55 Greeting Circle (Song, Story, Intro-
duction to the preschool activities
9:55-10:50 Learning Centers
10:50-11:00 Clean-up
11:00-11:30 Music and Movement
11:30-12:00 Outside
12:00-12:50 Lunch and Free Play
12:50-1:00 Story
1:00-2:30 Naps and Focused, Quiet Activities
for Non-Nappers
2:30-3:30 Outside for Non-nappers, Nappers
wake up and outside
3:30-3:45 Story and Introduction of Afternoon
3:45-4:00 Snack
4:00-5:00 Projects/Games
5:00-6:00 Free Play, Individual Attention,

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Daily contact with parents is made at drop-off and pick-up times. Director is available at school or home office in person or by phone contact. Annual formal parent/teacher conferences are held in February each year as well as anytime by request from parents. Monthly curriculum calendar is distributed in order for parents to have a spring-board for discussion of school activities with their child.

Modes of Communication

  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school

Handling Separation: From the Director

Teacher's speak with parents about their children's separation needs and parents are given an opportunity to structure separation routines any way they would like. Teachers spend extra time with new children in order to form a close bond as quickly as possible to help the new child feel comfortable.
New children are introduced to current students and students are encouraged to welcome new children, ask them to play, and help them with their new school routine.
Teachers encourage parents to establish a morning routine so children learn very quickly what to expect at drop-off time.