Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

What does it mean to be an explorer?

"What does it mean to be an explorer?"  To walk into the Early Kindergarten is to be met by a community of explorers!  The images below are what you can expect to see on any given morning.  They are showing us already how much the children know about what it means to be an explorer through their own investigations!  Here are just a few sneak peeks of what they have shown us they are interested in exploring…


What happens when I join in?  What does it mean to work together? 

What happens when all the colors meet together on paper? What does it look like when they are all playing together?  How is it like our own community?


"Look! I made a letter!  What letter is it?  Ok! Who wants to make a shark?"

Early K 1265

 How many seeds did I collect?  How might this chart help me find out?

Early K September 25 2013 035

How might we play together?

Early K 1175

How might we figure this out?     

Early K October 7 2013 122

What can we find out about volume, measurement, teamwork?

 Early K October 7 2013 142

How tall can we make it?  What happens when we all work together?

Early K 1288

 An investigation of ramp building leads to others…   

Early K October 7 2013 237


Early K October 7 2013 328Early K October 7 2013 183


Early K October 7 2013 029

What stories might we find here?  What does partner work look like, sound like, feel like?

Early K October 7 2013 034

What can I learn from others?

Early K October 7 2013 116

"Do you want me to show you the steps for building it?"Early K October 7 2013 160

September 023

"What else do you see?  I'm writing it down!"

September 089

What can magnatiles do?  How can I connect my idea with yours?  How can I get the materials I need and still make sure there are enough for my friends? 

 To Be an Explorer….

When the children first arrive at school, we have a block of time we refer to as "Explore Time."  Together we have been constructing what it means to be an explorer: What is possible during this time block? What are shared expectations for this time?   One child explained, "Explore means to try new things you've never tried before." "When you're an explorer," D.M. explained, "You learn more and more things."  To find out more, we asked the children what their thoughts were on this idea:

"It's important to find out more things because you could forget the things you already learned."  ~D.M.

"The more you learn, the more you grow smarter."  ~T.M.

"It would get old if you did the same thing every day."  ~D.M.

"You might get bored if you only did the same thing."  ~Z.B.

"If you try new things, you will learn more things." ~M.F.

"It's important to learn new things every day because then we can do anything!" ~J.W.

"Because then you can build anything you want if you keep trying new things and then there is cooler stuff to do!"  ~Q.A.

How does it feel to be an explorer?



"Sometimes you're surprised!" 

As we continue our work of building a learning community, we will continue to create shared meaning around key words that are foundational to our work with one another. As language is so strongly attached to images and experiences unique to each individual, "cracking open" words is essential for creating shared understanding and a sense of belonging.  We point out words we are cracking open as we see it in action and reflect these stories back to the whole group as reference points. What did it feel like? Sound like? Look like?

It’s been an amazing few weeks of seeing them scaffold each other’s interpretations of this work of becoming a learning community, where they are learning from one another!

For your own reflection:
Hopefully these stories are helping you build your own interpretations around our goals and expectations as well as the guiding principles for the school.  How does this post help put legs on the guiding principle listed below or the goals and expectations for Opal School students listed in the handbook?  We'd love to hear your comments and the meaning you are making around what we are sharing! 

Children & Adults as Researchers & Co-Creators:
Our school is a learning community where children and adults
collaborate as researchers to co-create and document experiences that
have originated from their relationships, challenges and choices. 
Teachers are engaged in continuous discussion and dialogue.  They
collect raw data and use this information to plan, prepare, provoke,
assess and inform the community of the school’s practices, learning, and