Shelter Island Preschool

Our School…

to create…
with reverence and gratitude,
a space that is
worthy of a miracle.

-Anita Rui Olds

At the Shelter Island Early Learning Center we guide the children through an emergent, inquiry-based curriculum, which enables for the children to become the
center of their own learning. The curriculum is, therefore, driven by posing meaningful questions that the children are able to problem solve by experiment and evaluation guided by the teachers. The newly constructed knowledge is then the basis for broadening the children’s understanding and therefore their learning base.

Early learners will be challenged to explore hands-on investigation in science through the use of natural materials in art and the environment that surrounds them. The goal is to respond to the children’s interests therefore creating within the child, a sense of wonder and passion for their own learning.

The emergent curriculum will be addressed through the following initiatives:


Atelier {art studio}

The atelier provides the environment for the teacher (atelierista) and the children to express their knowledge through the materials and techniques of many genres in art.

Children will be encouraged to understand and use the materials available, mix paints to create necessary colors and to demonstrate a natural desire to express themselves through varied mediums.

A portfolio of artworks will be kept.



The provocations that develop into classroom themes will be explored through stories told to the children, by the children and the natural wonderings and curiosities will be developed into individual or cooperatively created diverse books throughout the year. Letters and prewriting skills will be threaded through the themes explored throughout the year.


Children will be introduced to song through the many music genres. The children will be encouraged to explore song by listening to and creating music with their voices and natural environment.

Instruments & Rhythm

Through both the experience of visiting artists and diversity of instruments, children will explore rhythm & tone. Children will record cooperative works created with beats from their voices, movement and manipulation of diverse instruments. Sound maps will also be explored in the natural environment.


The concrete idea of numeracy and value will be encouraged through varied materials and learning theories and manipulatives.


“About a Tree” initiative is place-based, inquiry-based and will be comprised of elements which are threaded through a Reggio Emeilia model incorporating provocations as the basis for the emergent curriculum.

The learning environment is “place-based” therefore connecting learning to what is local to the learner. Children will, within this philosophy, develop an understanding of where they are and what their environment is like. The tree initiative enables for a hands on discovery and exploration of the habitats in and around the ecosystem of the tree

By learning and coming to an understanding of their own environment, the children will, as they grow, have the power and commitment to become an active participant in their own community.

Garden. {inside & out}

Using inquiry to inform the process, early learners will be led through the gardening experience through observations, investigations and drawings in nature journals. Both the indoor and outdoor gardening practice will provide for a multi-sensory learning experience aimed at developing a better understanding of the environment and the notion that we can grow what we need to live.

Worm composting

The children will be encouraged and led through an understanding of how worms benefit and are essential to the soil. Through worm composting the children will explore the connections between the life work underneath the soil and the necessity of worms for the use in growing plants and food.

Children will go outside every day.