Bridges ProgramOur uniquely designed Bridges program is a class inspired, developed, and implemented by Project Learning Tree + Project Wild Certified Master teacher, Deann Stewart. The program, very literally, “bridges” concepts and themes taught in the classroom with real world application by exploring and investigating the world around us.
The Five Components
All students at The Orchard School have the opportunity to participate in Bridges each day and is comprised of 5 different components.
The young naturalist component develops a student’s observation skills by giving them the time and tools to investigate the natural areas of our school, including our garden. Students measure and chart plant growth, interact with various insects and wild life they encounter and gain a deeper understanding of their role in protecting these environments, and ultimately the Earth.
Our organic garden is planted, maintained and harvested completely by the students in the program. Learning about plants and gardening can help preschoolers develop empathy for the environment. Gardening is also a fun, healthy activity that most preschoolers are likely to enjoy. Students learn about different plants and what goes into making a garden, while gaining an understanding and appreciation for conservation. Students help compost organic food waste from lunch and snacks, as well as harvest rainwater from our water barrel. The soil and water are then used to feed, nourish and grow the garden. Students learn to care for and respect the very plants that eventually provide us with food.
Amazing me component encourages movement, physical education and healthy lifestyle choices. We practice large motor skills such as running, jumping, balance, throwing, catching, and hand-eye coordination. We incorporate nutrition & healthy food choices, practice movement & balance, as well as other self-esteem building activities that promote confidence and positive self-image.
Yoga (meaning union or yoke) is the practice of accessing and integrating all aspects of our true nature — body, mind and spirit — in the pursuit of inner harmony. Yoga’s success in schools can be attributed to its basic stretching advantages and improved body awareness, with the added component of a mind-body connection. By practicing yoga poses, children can learn how to exercise, develop confidence and can concentrate better.
Developmental Benefits of the Arts Include Motor Skills, Language Development, Decision-Making, Visual Learning, Inventiveness, Cultural Awareness & Improved Academic Performance.
Exploring 3 Types of Art
When studying the arts, students are encouraged to explore and experiment with a variety of materials in which to creatively express themselves visually, dramatically and musically.
Fine arts give students the opportunity to learn about different artists and styles of artwork. Students then practice creating their own unique works of art in similar style. Creative arts activities are some of the building blocks of child development. Learning to create and appreciate visual aesthetics is important to the development of children as they grow up.
The book-based drama activities invite students to find new ways to consider favorite stories and allow them the opportunity to interpret the story in their own way by acting as the characters in the story. When engaging in pretend, students are actively experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. Through cooperative play, children learn how to take turns, share responsibility and creatively problem-solve. Through maturation and cooperative play, students begin to understand the feelings of others, as well as build self-esteem, when discovering they can be anything just by pretending!
During music & movement activities, students are invited to imitate and experiment with rhythms and sounds using their voices, instruments and everyday objects. Research shows that half of the brain processes the words of a song while the other half processes the music. Listening to music and playing music games, therefore, helps children to use the various parts of their brains simultaneously. Music also stimulates a child’s frontal lobes, which are important to both language and motor development.
STEM is a way of thinking and encourages students to think in a more connected and holistic way.
During activities, students learn about concepts in a play-based exploration while building curiosity about the natural world and the way things work. At The Orchard School, we believe success in learning requires the learner to be at the center of the experience, making connections across disciplines, and also across contextual settings. Children are presented opportunities to learn the same material in different settings and through different lenses, supporting the ways that children learn best.