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Curriculum Overview

Open Circle embraces a play-based curriculum. Preschool children learn many social skills, such as sharing, taking turns, and conflict resolution, through play. These skills are critical to their educational success: Children who master these skills before kindergarten entry are able to focus on the increasingly academic nature of the early elementary school curriculum.

Emotion coaching teaches children to identify their emotions and become comfortable with them, leading to greater ease of self-regulating, communicating their feelings, and finding empathy for the feelings of others.

Our play-based curriculum is balanced with more structured activities, giving children a good balance of educational approaches.

Students interests are captured and built upon throughout the year, using an emergent curriculum focus. This enables interests to be capitalized and expanded to provide connective learning experiences.

Open Circle’s goal is to give children a positive first experience with school, fostering a love of learning. Our activities help them to develop independence and self-esteem, social skills, and cognitive, large and fine motor skills, all while fostering a commitment to the environment and social justice.

Environmentalism and Green Mission


We live in a city that is wonderfully aware of nature’s bounty around us. We are all active in conserving and replenishing our environment. These actions are driven, at the core, by a love for our planet.

At Open Circle, we aim to introduce our kids to this love and respect for the world around us. The teachers and families plan activities to help the children notice the world around them, as they walk to school or play in the garden or read the innumerable books in our library. We want to watch the seasons change and along with it the habitat for animals and birds around us.

Our mission is to awaken, in our children, a sense of wonder and love of our changing world and a need to embrace and protect it.


“‘Being green’ for a child is essentially learning about, connecting with, and caring for the world. There are the fundamental conservation practices we model, and the conservation language we expose them to that encourage green values. And at the center of it all is caring for something enough to want to protect it, in the way parents and children care for each other.

In order to want to protect the earth, children need to connect with and form a caring relationship with the earth. When we show them that the earth takes care of them by providing air, water, food, and shelter, we help nurture a desire to care in return. When you can help a child see that they are beautiful, in the way that each plant is beautiful, this builds a sense of self-love and a love for nature simultaneously.” – Teacher Sarah

Examples of Green Mission at Work:

  • Annual school auction focused on experiences only (ex: concerts, kayaking trips, etc) – eliminating material items
  • Picking and eating from garden daily
  • Caring for indoor plants
  • Creation of pine cone bird feeders
  • Collecting plants/objects from outside to examine or use inside (ex: sensory projects, art)
  • Movement activities to act out growth from seed to plant
  • Learning about where our food comes from
  • Discussions about waste, composting, and recycling

Social Justice Mission


Open Circle provides all families with an introduction to anti-bias education. This helps us see the world through each others eyes, helping our friends’ priorities make sense in the context of our and their needs.

Open Circle believes that children of a very young age have an inherent sense of what is fair and what is not. Open Circle’s curriculum is intended to nurture that nascent ability and teach children how to apply it to the world around them. We seek to instill in our kids the understanding that they are capable of making a difference. In time, such awareness enables action and that action enables justice.

Social justice in preschool starts with very basic ideas: noticing similarities and differences, practicing sharing, development of the concepts of fair and unfair, use of kind and connective words, taking action by helping others (checking on a hurt or sad friend to see if they are ok), and learning to feel positively about their own identities and the identities of their friends.

“My goal in teaching social justice values begins with cultivating a sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment (both inside the building and outside in the garden), taking care of each-other, and building relationships. We want to celebrate our differences as much as our similarities and learn how we can support Seattle families through service and celebration of the many cultures and communities that make up our city. From meeting our neighbors in the MLK Fame Center, walking through our neighborhood as the seasons change, to our anti-bias classroom materials and lessons on equality, fairness for all, and love of one another.” – Teacher Nur

Examples of Social Justice Mission at Work:

  • Family culture weeks – each family has a turn to share their culture, whatever that means to them, from broader cultural traditions of food and holidays to personal family rituals and favorite activities
  • Visiting GrandFriends (elderly, memory care patients)
  • Field trips to other groups within the MLK FAME Community Center
  • Art projects to help children identify and connect positive feelings with skin tones, other features
  • Field trips to villages for the homeless paired with clothing drives
  • Partnering with MAPS to send letters of love to Muslim families
  • Sponsoring Families of Color Seattle
  • Using broad range of books and images of people in non-stereotypical roles in the classroom
Open Circle Co-op Preschool