a day at stepping stones

the daily rhythm of an urban outdoor preschool

At Stepping Stones there is a rhythm to each day. Our infants follow a needs-based care routine that mimics the flow of their home care and is informed by their natural cues. Our preschool students follow a developmentally appropriate preschool schedule with built in flexibility to honor extended outdoor activities as needed. All ages engage in patterns of high energy heavy work, peaceful restful periods, and a combination of indoor and outdoor preschool experiences.

Below is what a day looks like at Stepping Stones, and we’re always happy to offer you a virtual tour.

welcoming and connecting

“A child, parent, or anyone who works at the school must feel the sense of well-being that comes from being awaited and welcomed with pleasure.” – Making Learning Visible, Project Zero

Mornings are a time of reconnecting to your school community. Children are greeted by familiar faces & calm spaces, and their presence & arrival is celebrated by teachers and peers. Each classroom has its own unique way of designing a welcoming space and presenting materials as invitations into play.

Older classroom communities gather formally to say good morning, check in on feelings, and set intentions for the day. Younger classroom communities connect to their caregivers through individual care routines. All members gather together for a morning snack to fuel the adventures ahead.


exploration and adventure

Late morning is a time for classroom play and outdoor preschool adventures. Teachers curate their materials to reflect the interests and play urges of the children, and invite them to engage in free exploration of the classroom environment. If you were to peek into the classroom during this time, you’d see children engaged in exploration of art and sensory materials, investigation of natural materials and their properties, dramatic representations of their favorite stories & characters, building and tinkering with blocks and loose parts, and quiet cozy moments with books.

Our classroom communities take outdoor preschool adventures every day! From scheduled time in our outdoor classroom spaces to walking tours ending in neighborhood green spaces, we know that unstructured outdoor play is essential for children’s early development. If you were to observe us on one of our outdoor preschool adventures, you’d see children taking risks while balancing on logs and planks, gathering natural treasures, splashing in the biggest puddles, and running as fast as they can.

nourishment and rest

Children are welcomed back from their adventures with a hot lunch served family style in their classroom. Meal time is a time of community building, and a celebration of autonomy. Children help serve food, feed themselves, and clean up alongside their teachers and friends. At this time all classrooms settle into a rest period with dimmed lights, quiet music, and cozy cots to rejuvenate for afternoon fun.

Our youngest classroom communities follow individualized feeding and rest schedules that shift and change as the babies develop.

investigate and play

Children wake to an afternoon snack to fuel a full and playful afternoon. Classrooms balance their afternoon playtime between our shared outdoor classrooms and their indoor play spaces. During this time, children can be found revisiting interest-studies that developed over the course of the morning, and rediscovering the materials offered to them as they expand on their own ideas in play. Many classrooms engage in large motor outdoor activities with their children in the afternoon celebrating the risk and heavy work that is so necessary for a child’s self regulation and development.

reunion and reflection

Children are picked up by their families throughout the course of the afternoon. Reunions bring joy, excitement, and reflection on the events of the day. Art work is shown proudly, messy gear is celebrated, and parents are equipped with photos of the day’s activities to inquire and learn about a day in the life of Stepping Stones School.