Twin Peaks Kindervillage provides a fun learning environment for young learners

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By Julie Slama | [email protected]

A few steps behind the Twin Peaks Elementary stage is Kindervillage, a dramatic town with a house, grocery store, pizza place, vet clinic, and place to build homes.

Sometimes it’s a quiet space, but for 20 minutes twice a week, Kindervillage buzzes as a class of preschoolers bustle about building a brick wall, serving pizza or picking up groceries. .

While it might seem like a good old-fashioned recreation to some, the village was thoughtfully designed by kindergarten teacher Stephanie Proud.

It started last fall when the State Board of Education helped her fill out her Donors Choose grant for plastic food items because she didn’t have a lot for her groceries in her class.

“I thought it was great and when I put it up I realized that only four or five kids could play at a time because my classroom area was small so they miss the opportunity to play. be with all their peers,” Proud said.

Armed with evidence that dramatic play helps students learn, she spoke to her principal, Rebecca Spence, who immediately agreed to help identify an expanded area. A month later, at the end of February, Kindervillage opened behind the stage curtain.

Proud had a second Donors Choose grant funded by more dramatic play stations as well as several other items purchased or donated for kindergartners.

“I love it, they love it and they’re having so much fun,” she said. “I have found that my English learners are much less inhibited and communicate more when they are playing and not sitting at desks. I see a lot of language development. Most English language learners associate objects and actions to words. For example, someone may hold a pineapple and say, “I like pineapple. It sinks in and they associate the words. It just means more. Or if they set the table, they will ask someone to get plates or whatever they want on their pizza. They’re able to make those connections and they help each other learn,” she said.

In Proud’s class, there are six native languages: German, Portuguese, Hindi, Spanish, Russian and English. This is not unusual as Spence estimates there are more than 10 languages ​​spoken among the 230 students who attend Twin Peaks.

Proud said that even when kindergarten children return to classrooms, their discussions return to Kindervillage.

“We have a lot of discussions and they say, ‘remember when we played at the vet station, and we measured them’ or ‘this is what a vet does’ or ‘we have this at the grocery store. ‘ There has been a lot of carryover,” she said, noting that students also understand these professions, which are tied to the kindergarten curriculum.

In addition to vocabulary, students also learn social skills.

“They’ll say, ‘How nice of you to heat up my food;’ they learn to treat others the way they want to be treated,” Proud said. “They also learn to work together while playing, whether it’s giving a pet a chance, baking pizza, or build a wall.They learn problem solving and conflict resolution skills when someone doesn’t share or learn to take turns.

Kindergarten Chloe McNamara said she learned that.

“Playing house and shop with my friends is so much fun, but sometimes I want to do something and someone else does it,” she said. “We have to be patient until it’s our turn and that’s when I usually go to the pizzeria because it’s fun too.”

Her classmate Abigail Gonzalez enjoys playing in the pizza place and with the animals at the vet.

“It’s fun with my friends,” she said. “I learn everything about everything.”

Kindergartner Ahad Khan inquires about a possible profession.

“I’m building a house,” he said, moving boxes covered in brick wrapping paper. “I want to build houses when I’m older.”

Proud plans to rotate future stations to perhaps include a post office, cookie shop, florist, and other community locations.

“I want to incorporate more writing skills where students can write notes to deliver to school, or a waiter can fill out the menu or a veterinarian can write medical records,” she said. “My favorite thing is just watching these students lose their inhibitions. I had a bunch of pretty shy kids in my class, and it takes a lot for them to raise their hand and ask a question or stand up in front of the class. But here, there is no one around; they are all actively engaged. “They’re not worried if they don’t know the word because often they’ll pick it up right away. There’s so much they’re supposed to learn in kindergarten, and it gives them mounds of growth as they move around instead of just sitting at a desk with a pencil. It was awesome.

Kindergarten student Maxi Garcia agrees: “Sometimes I like to build and sometimes I’m at the vet taking care of the animals. Dramatic play consists of pretending. I pretend to buy things at the market, or I pretend to eat pizza with my friends with a toy pizza. It’s fun and the best part of kindergarten.

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