When Allesandra DiOrio joined the St. Rocco School faculty this year as the new all-day Pre-K teacher, she brought with her the enthusiasm and knowledge of a recent graduate, and she was eager to share it with her new students.
"She came to us this year with lots of great ideas," said Principal Lorraine Moschella.
Teaching assistant Elizabeth Rocchio agrees, and as the classroom assistant, she is witness to the academic rigor being imparted on the students throughout the day, even though they might not realize it.
"Everything looks fun but it all has a lesson behind it," Rocchio said.
With winter in full swing, DiOrio has her students doing many hands-on seasonal activities that incorporate the various curriculum areas.
"We are using many manipulatives and visuals to help differentiate learning, and I've been connecting different subjects from the curriculum," she said.
The most recent project, a look-alike winter tree project, is a perfect example of how DiOrio works her magic in the classroom.
"We started this winter tree project by taking a nature walk outside and using our observation skills, observing the winter trees. We went outside during the fall on a nature walk and now we went outside during the winter, so the students are noticing the changes from season to season," DiOrio said.
Using a collection of sticks and twigs found on their walk, the students returned to the classroom to create their own look-alike trees.
Along with their winter tree project, the students created a mini booklet entitled "Winter Trees," which helped to tie it all together, connecting the subjects of science, reading and math all in one project.
"This allows them to be creative and explore, but they're having lots of fun, too," DiOrio said.
Some of the other projects that the students have created during their winter-themed activities include using their fine motor skills to cut out and glue puzzle pieces, and using their counting skills to count the marshmallows they wanted to glue on their paper mugs of hot chocolate.
Snowflakes adorn the room, no two alike, hanging from the ceilings while the students finish gluing their branches on their trees, and letters to the president of the United States are on the wall, just in time for the recent inauguration.
"These activities allow the students to explore and to use their creative minds," DiOrio said.