The family of each child at Overfield is asked to create a symbol that represents their child. It’s a fun and unique way to capture that child’s spirit, but it also has a profound educational component. In an early childhood setting like Overfield, the use of personal symbols supports children’s developing understanding that symbols have meanings. Why is symbolism important? It’s a first step to literacy. Children move from understanding and reading symbols to understanding letters, then words. Each time children see a symbol next to their name, it helps build an understanding between a symbol and its meaning.
Artists In Residence
Overfield is privileged to host three visiting artists each school year through our Artists in Residence program which introduces diverse viewpoints and perspectives to our students. Painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians, multimedia, textile artists, and more have all served as Overfield Artists in Residence. A legend at Overfield, Jim McCutcheon, has been bringing his love of music to our school for over two decades as part of this program. Affectionately known as The Guitar Man, Jim brings not only his guitar, but also an astonishing array of stringed instruments to introduce to the children. He also shares his wide-ranging wisdom about music, including a variety of songs that reflect the history of the instruments themselves. Time spent with Jim is truly an experience in rhythm, physics, vibration, mathematics, history, movement, literacy, and friendship. Most of all, we love that Jim’s passion embodies the mission and joy of our school and that he has even composed songs just for Overfield!
Our Night Tree event happens yearly after Thanksgiving Break. Based on the book by Eve Bunting, this annual winter tradition is a celebration that complements our nature-based curriculum. Children research our local animals and prepare food for them. Art made by our young students, as well as natural materials they have collected, transform our Gathering Place into a winter wonderland. On the night of the celebration, our families enter the space to sing and celebrate literature, nature, and the simple joy of being together. The evening concludes with a visit to trees on campus, where children and their families hang their treats for the animals to enjoy.
Grandparents/Special Friends Day
We recognize and value the bonds between children and their grandparents and other important adults in their lives, and want to foster those relationships. At Overfield, grandparents and other special adults are encouraged to join us any time, but we always set aside a day in the spring just for them. This offers them a chance to spend time experiencing Overfield with their grandchild or special friend – a day filled with drawing, painting, singing, reading, and exploration of the school and grounds.
One of our sweetest traditions takes place in late February or early March. As soon as daytime temperatures rise to forty degrees and nighttime temps go below freezing, and once we see the first red buds appear at the ends of maple twigs, we break out the drill, hammer, sprouts, and containers. Children take turns drilling and hammering to tap our trees, and we hang a collection bag on an installed spout to start gathering sap. We cook the collected sap over a fire till it turns brown, and we’ve made syrup! And what better way to celebrate than to host everyone for pancakes!
Some of our best ideas and learning experiences come from questions. By day, our school is ripe with the sounds of children, families, and teachers exploring and learning via the natural areas around our school. But what happens at night? At our annual Night Hike, we gather together to observe the environment that exists each night while we are away from school. Our school age children work with our Naturalist to prepare research about this nightly activity, and then serve as guides for the evening. Families visit stations that teach about the nocturnal animals that call our school grounds home. As a celebration of their work, our school age children camp out in tents after the hike!