Nursery Curriculum

St. Patrick's Nursery School curriculum meets each child where s/he is, fitting the curriculum to the child, rather than the child to the curriculum.

Read the full Nursery Program curriculum (PDF).


Throughout the day in the Nursery School, children develop thinking skills by exploring, experimenting, and questioning. Both planned and spontaneous activities serve as stimuli for learning. Integrated within these activities are opportunities to expand logical thinking, acquire factual information, process increasingly complex directions, and build foundational skills in important disciplines.


Language and Literacy

Whole- and small-group meeting times, including morning meeting, story time, and sharing time, provide practice in listening and speaking as well as opportunities to lengthen and strengthen a child’s attention span. Games, rhymes, and other activities help children expand phonemic awareness. As they progress through Nursery and PK, children develop their verbal communication skills and, in time, move toward written communication skills through drawing, dictating stories, and beginning writing. Teachers document classroom investigations and record dictation, creating class books and blogs for children and parents to read. In PK classrooms, literacy development occurs through morning meetings, the regular inclusion of classroom writing centers, and a systematic study of the alphabet, with concentration on consonant sounds. Regular story times with teachers and school librarians, coupled with ready access to classroom libraries and the Nursery School Library, support and promote each child’s interest in books and stories.



Nursery and PK children actively construct a mathematical understanding of the world. As they use materials and participate in classroom activities, they encounter intentional and natural opportunities to build and shape this understanding. Intentional activities, such as counting and patterning exercises included in morning meetings, and natural opportunities made possible by the care with which teachers structure and observe the classroom environment provide children with regular opportunities to classify, work with data, and enhance their understanding of numbers, sets, and basic geometric and temporal concepts. Teachers ask questions and attend carefully to answers as play and inquiry lead children to measure, compare, and identify patterns as well as combine and separate quantities. The primary goals for these early mathematical experiences are to encourage reasoning and problem-solving, to instill interest and confidence, and to help children understand the many settings in which mathematical skills are applicable.


Through exploration in classrooms, on the Primary Grades Playground, and in weekly science classes conducted by a dedicated science teacher, Nursery and PK children participate in hands-on, authentic activities that promote observing, questioning, predicting, and explaining what they have seen and experienced. Children learn about plants, animals, simple physics, and ecology in ways that allow them to better understand phenomena they observe in other settings. Regular highlights of the science curriculum include investigation of the natural environment surrounding the school, a study of water, the metamorphosis of caterpillars to butterflies, and an ecosystem study that dovetails with the annual PK music program.


Music classes scheduled twice in a six-day rotation help students develop musical enjoyment and competence through songs, chants, poetry, rhythm instruments, movement, and dance. In the context of a creative environment, children learn to match pitch within an appropriate developmental range, keep a steady beat, sing short solos, and listen with discrimination. Musical highlights include the Halloween Parade, the Nursery School-Kindergarten Christmas Pageant, and grade-level spring music programs that reflect the year’s learning. These highlights also help students build confidence and begin to develop public-speaking skills.



Recognizing that art is an essential vehicle for children to express their understanding of the world around them and their experiences in it, Nursery and PK classes integrate art materials and activities into daily life. Using a wide variety of materials and media, children have opportunities to create open-ended art and to complete specific projects, both individually and in groups. The Nursery School hallway and classrooms are brightened by displays of individual and group work.


Meeting twice during the six-day rotation in PK, students are introduced to Spanish language and culture through stories, songs, poetry, dance, and movement. Students acquire new words and expressions naturally as they learn authentic songs and rhymes that help them internalize the language and develop accurate pronunciation skills. One of the main goals of PK Spanish is for students to become accustomed to listening to classes taught in Spanish. From the very first day, students listen to requests and commands in Spanish and are encouraged to use the language in meaningful ways. Students learn how to respond to simple questions about their names, emotions, days of the week, colors, and shapes.

Nursery school tire swing

As children explore the outdoor and indoor learning environments at St. Patrick's, they try new physical skills. Nursery and PK students spend an hour playing outdoors each day. The skipping, running, jumping, hopping, pedaling, climbing, lifting, and balancing provide natural opportunities to refine gross-motor skills. Meanwhile, in small-group physical education classes and twice-weekly music classes children develop locomotor skills, body-control, rhythm, and ball-handling skills. Finally, classroom activities help students practice fine-motor skills through sand and water play, painting, drawing, usings scissors, clay and other manipulative and modeling materials.



Nursery School students learn to express their emotions and resolve conflict appropriately. Morning meetings provide experience in turn-taking and sharing and opportunities to express opinions and feelings. Teachers encourage students to take risks, make mistakes, and persist.