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Trains Spark Imagination

March 15, 2023 | Emily Ford Sytsma

Our City Study is in full swing and the Trees Class has been enjoying playing with wooden trains in drama. In the Studio, first grade and kindergarten students have been building incredible train tracks and have been generously leaving them built to allow the Trees students to explore and ride the rails during our morning activity times. 

This shared work gives Trees Class students the opportunity to flex and develop some problem-solving, spatial, and turn-taking skills, like when a train is too tall to fit under a bridge, some tracks come apart and need to be put back together, or a friend is using the train or bit of track you were hoping to use.

The teachers have observed how the children have continued to develop from independent and parallel players into collaborative players as the children progress from playing alone, then next to one another, and eventually to playing cooperatively with shared plans and imaginative narratives about where the trains are heading and whom or what they are carrying – ferrying passengers or freight to and from Pennsylvania, into Manhattan from Queens, or over the Hudson River.

This post was written by Ryan Dominguez.

Emily Ford Sytsma

Early Childhood Director

Ms. Sytsma began her career as an educator working in inclusive classrooms in the state of Hawaii but found her roots began to grow here at Mustard Seed School when she came to teach in 1996. She joined the preschool team in 2007, after teaching for many years in the Middle School. She finds delight in the preschool’s approach to teaching and learning, inspired by the preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. As Early Childhood Director, she seeks to support teachers in their work helping children learn about thinking and creative expression.

Ms. Sytsma’s the mother of a MSS alum and a current student. When not at school, Ms. Sytsma enjoys traveling with her husband and two children. She tends a very simple rooftop garden in Jersey City Heights and on long Saturday mornings, she may be seen taking long walks along the Hudson River and listening to audiobooks or podcasts while organizing her thoughts and getting her heart rate up.

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