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Children learn by doing

Poughkeepsie Day School uses the community as its classroom

Girl with chicken

How do kids learn best? We know that parents always look to create experiences that last a lifetime. At Poughkeepsie Day School, we believe that learning happens best when it occurs within a meaningful context.  

Kindergarten students learn at a community farm

Every year you will see our students at local farms like Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie, a center for education, farming and community building. Our intensive year-long program called Farm Life within Our Community contrasts life in the family and classroom with life on the farm.

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Through monthly visits, our Kindergarten students gain firsthand experience at this local working farm. The farm's experienced teacher-farmers introduce our children to both animal and vegetable farming. The class follows the seasonal growing cycle and they learn how the seasons affect land use, food production and harvesting. Children become familiar with all the animals that make Sprout Creek Farm their home: ducks, chickens, goats, sheep, cows, pigs, turkeys, bees and cats. You can imagine how much they love this program. 

Farm experiences include:

  • Touring the farm’s creamery
  • Making farm bread and fresh butter
  • Working with sheep’s wool
  • Doing early morning chores
  • Exploring seasonal changes along the creek
  • Starting seedlings in the greenhouse and plant them in Poughkeepsie Day School gardens

This study on local farms captures the essence of social studies: relationships among people and their interactions with the environment. 

We believe that venturing into the broader community is an important way for children not only to experience things firsthand, but to understand how they are connected to other people and places. At Poughkeepsie Day School teachers and children work together to pose important questions about the world, while students use their new skills, across disciplines. 

Our visits to local farms are one of several examples of how our students learn as they participate in community projects.

1st graders get firsthand knowledge of how their community works

poughkeepsie day school You might be surprised to watch first graders interview staff at the local bank or post office. This is part of our Market Street and Beyond program. Children visit various businesses including the library, post office, banks, the Bardavon Opera House, farms, restaurants, the train station and civic center, shops, parks and playgrounds. They observe and interview people at their jobs and write about their experiences. Their presentations include graphs, art and blocks. 

They learn about the services that enable their community to function: transportation, communications, utilities, import and export of food, and goods and services. As the year unfolds, study expands to include commercial hubs—Market Streets—around the world. 

Our 6-year-old students find it exciting to explore the city’s geography and social networks.  They learn what communities need and how organizations interact.

The Hudson River becomes the focus for 2nd grade study

Our second graders do an in-depth study of the Hudson River and its surrounding geology, geography, people and ecological systems. Learning adventures include:

  • Observing rock formations and evidence of glaciers at Mohonk Preserve
  • Sketching the river at Quiet Cove
  • Investigating paleo times (including the discovery of mastodon parts in nearby Hyde Park)
  • Conducting PH experiments on river water
  • Traveling to Bowdoin Park with a naturalist to study hunting and fire making techniques
  • Identifying soil types and dating artifacts 
  • Constructing a 3D model of the river and engineering Popsicle stick replicas of different types of river bridges
  • Writing research reports on Hudson River fish, birds, pollution and  ice boats.
  • Interviewing a fisherman and tug boat captain

Through a collaboration with Arm-of-the-Sea Theater, their study culminated in a puppet show depicting the history of the Hudson River and the importance of keeping its waters clean.

Learning-by-doing doesn’t stop here. With an exciting curriculum, dedicated teachers and hard work, young students develop their skills, knowledge and strategies for learning and questioning that serve them as they move forward.

Find-out firsthand how these community projects work. Take a tour of Poughkeepsie Day School and see learning in action.  Contact the admissions office at 845-462-7600, ext. 201 or 
email your request. Visit our website. It contains information about the school as well as fun-to-read blogs.

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