The Village Acorns

A PreKindergarten Program for 4 and 5-year-olds

An Outdoor Play-Based Program

Our youngest children will be introduced to the Village Charter School Philosophy – to educate the whole child physically, emotionally, socially, and academically at the child’s developmental and age-appropriate level within an outdoor classroom designed specifically for 4 and 5-year-olds. 

Why Outdoors?

For children to connect to nature, to the Earth, they must experience it firsthand.

Passage of Time

Before children can understand a calendar, they must observe seasonal change.

Early Literacy

Before children can learn to read and write, they must develop language skills and strengthen hand muscles.

Why Play-Based?

Brain Research

Play is not frivolous; it is brain building. (AAP, 2018)


Children are deeply engaged in learning built around their needs and interests.

Lifelong Learners

Children with positive and authentic school experiences will maintain a love for learning.

Play is Learning in Action

“A growing body of behavioral research establishes relationships between children’s play and development in several areas, including language (Toub et al. 2016), executive functions (Tominey & McClelland 2011), mathematics and spatial skills (Fisher et al. 2013), scientific thinking (Schulz & Bonawitz 2007), and social and emotional development (Dore, Smith, & Lillard 2015). One reason that play might be such a valuable pedagogical tool is that it features the precise contexts that facilitate learning. An amalgamated research field called the science of learning has identified four key ingredients of successful learning: learning occurs best when children are mentally active (not passive), engaged (not distracted), socially interactive (with peers or adults), and building meaningful connections to their lives (Hirsh-Pasek et al. 2015).”

Teacher as a Play Guide

In a play-based program, the teacher becomes the guide. The role of the teacher is to plan curriculum around the interests and needs of the specific children; to set the environment; to scaffold play, to ask open-ended questions. to support problem solving, and to observe and document learning.

In our program, children will be encouraged and supported to build community; to build emotional literacy, to build a deeper understanding of their world, and to take healthy risks. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics Promotes Play

Focusing on cultivating executive functioning and other skills through playful learning in these early years is an alternative and innovative way of thinking about early childhood education. Instead of focusing solely on academic skills, such as reciting the alphabet, early literacy, using flash cards, engaging with computer toys, and teaching to tests (which has been overemphasized to promote improved test results), cultivating the joy of learning through play is likely to better encourage long-term academic success. Collaboration, negotiation, conflict resolution, self-advocacy, decision-making, a sense of agency, creativity, leadership, and increased physical activity are just some of the skills and benefits children gain through play.”

Thursday, May 9, 2024

What a busy couple of weeks we have had! Thank you to the families that donated goods! We have a new book shelf (that inspired LOTS of storytimes), a new sensory table that has brought a missing element to our space, and we welcomed caterpillars AND ladybug larva just as we said goodbye to the froggies we had raised!

I’ll get the video of the student performances/readings soon!

THIS MONTH: Miss Ashley’s class has invited families to sell at this month’s Farmers Market- see the bulletin for more information. The Acorn children love buying, now that they’ve got the hang of it!

Enjoy this peek into our week!

Thursday, April 25, 2024

A very BIG thank you to the families who came out to help on Sunday, we got so much work done! 

This Sunday we will have our 2nd Family Work day beginning at 9:30am (I’ll be there at 9 if you’d like to show up early). We have two main tasks to finish up- Finish building the shed, AND finish building out some planting spaces/moving soil. Does anyone have a SOCKET WRENCH SET? We need this tool to finish and tighten the shed.

STORYTELLING performances- I made a choice for the Acorn children that we will have our plays/readings on Friday, May 3rd at 12:45pm and invite our families AND a few middle schoolers to document/record the performances to share and for yearbook. We will send out paper invites next week, but mark your calendar (I was hoping this time would be easy since the whole school is out at 1:15 for May Day). We will video tape and share for those who are unable to attend.

Have a great long weekend!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

I have lots of little reminders of events/happenings, so read all the way through! Our Acorn Weekly is back and attached at the end as a treat for reading ALL of this πŸ™‚

1) Our field trip (back) to North Sonoma Mountain is next Tuesday 4/16. We had LOTS of drivers (meaning more than we need, if we want to consider carpooling??) and the children are very excited! Pack backpacks with LUNCH, WATER, and a SMALL SNACK that can be separated out for the hike. Have them dressed in good shoes for hiking and layers for the variety of little eco climates on the hike. PLEASE SIGN THE SHEET BY THE DOOR, even if you’re driving.

2) We have a change jar for collecting change and have lightly talked about the school “challenges” if your student is interested in participating. (See the bulletin for details)

3) Next week is also SPIRIT WEEK for the whole school… participate as you choose. I told the children that we will likely pass on Tuesday so we can dress appropriately for our field trip. (See the bulletin for details)

4) Coming up soon… Creek Clean Up on Saturday, April 20th AND Family Work Days on Sunday April 21st and Sunday April 28th.

5) MAY DAY PREPARATIONS: Students are practicing a song to sing and a Maypole dance for the event. Here are the clothing options that your student has chosen- SKIRTS ARE PROVIDED, ALL OTHER CLOTHING NEEDS TO BE PURCHASED. IF you need something purchased for you, please let me know ASAP so I can get them for your child. Please know that all outfits are offered to boys and girls and are NOT gendered, we support children in choosing for themselves and respecting the choices of others in all the classes.

Black Pants and Tiedyed Tshirt (bring a white T-shirt next week): JUDAH

Black Pants and Fancy button up white tshirt (bow tie is welcome)– GRIFFIN, SOLOMON, KYDEN, LANE, OSCAR

Skirt (provided) and White T-shirt (blouse or tee, just something plain white)– JO, ESME, EVIE, SANTIAGO, LYDIA, AMEIRA, OLIVIA

Thursday, February 22, 2024

This week’s newsletter is short and sweet… but the pictures are so worth a look!

Field Trips… 
I’d like to aim for one more Library Trip in March with Mr. Robbins’ class on the bus and 
One more nature adventure in April, either the week of April 15 OR the week of April 22. If there is a date that works for drivers (hint hint) I’m happy to work around when people are available. Please let me know if there’s a preferred date, otherwise I’ll just pick.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Here’s a little peek into our week!

Keep the fairy garden supplies coming! We would love to add some more flowers and treasures of some kind. I love how the space changes daily πŸ™‚

Thursday, February 8, 2024

My computer is not cooperating at the moment so I’m missing some important pictures from the week…

1) The children really enjoyed being a part of the Lunar New Year celebration with the whole school yesterday. Their favorite part was the drums and the dragon, and eating dumplings.
2) We collected tadpoles today and we are looking forward to watching them grow!

The photo collage includes a picture of EVERY SINGLE wire sculpture the children made this week, they insisted I share them ALL πŸ™‚

This weekend…. COLLECT SOME FAIRY GARDEN MATERIALS. There is a budding interest in building a fairy garden and we would love some help collecting supplies. Be on the look out for nice mossy logs, moveable stumps, loose flowers (especially camellias), pretty rocks, and any other ideas your child may come up with. We will be dedicating a space to keep on building so bring them in as you find them!.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

What a wet week! The Acorns are rolling with it and sometimes heading in a bit early, we even made a fresh batch of “chocolate” playdough to use- what a yummy smelling treat!
Our field trip on Tuesday was a beautiful adventure, I wish we had a little redwood grove that we could play in every day.
A note about conferences… Rebecca (and more senior staff) are looking at the structure of next year and I’d like to have a clearer picture before we have parent/teacher conferences. Since we have short days all the days, it’s easy enough for me to add them in where they make the most sense. I’ll let you know, but expect that they will be in March. If you need anything sooner, let me know and I can make time.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Another “Thank You” to our drivers last week! What a wonderful trip! It was the perfect little hike and adventure, I can’t wait to go on an other one! **Drivers, if you still have your EMERGENCY FORM ENVELOPE, please return it to me.** I’m looking at December 7th as our next adventure date. Look for more information coming soon!

Di de los Muertos information: Acorns will participate in the all school songs, then head back to their families for the rest of the show, so we will aim to make sure they see where you are to rejoin you. Clothing options: skeleton/bone shirt (not scary) or dark clothing, traditional skeleton face paint is welcome.

Have a great week!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

This week we visited our neighbors, the Rincon Valley Special Ed students. They were kind enough to let us visit and play on their indoor gross motor space with them when we got stuck inside due to smokey skies. We are their inclusion buddies, meaning we will visit with them often throughout the school year. Their teacher, Ms. Nancy (also a Village parent) would like to know if it’s ok to include pictures of us in their classroom yearbook. She has let us borrow a sample if you’d like to see (on top of the cubbies). Please let me know only if this is NOT ok with you and I will let her know.

1) Please remember to sign the sheet by the door to approve our Library outing for your child.
2) Please let me know if you are available to drive on October 26 for a Hiking Field Trip. I only have one response so far. If this date doesn’t work for enough people, we can try another date!

I managed to pull together a quick little collage of our short week πŸ™‚
Enjoy the long weekend… I think the children needed it after our smoke days!

Friday, September 15, 2023

What a wonderful couple of weeks! Hopefully I haven’t over done it on the photos, I just can’t help myself πŸ™‚

We have new art hung up in our classroom, come in and take a look!

BIG NEWS… Our first field trip will be to the Library on September 28th with Mr. Robbins and the middle schoolers! We invited the middle schoolers to our Morning Meeting today to meet them. They will be assigned hand holding buddies to get us to the bus stop and into the Library. We won’t need any parent helpers on this adventure since we have plenty of helping hands! I’ll send out a permission slip and a how to pack for the day information page next week.

The next field trip date I’m looking at is October 26th for a hiking day. If you think you could drive/attend this date, please let me know by replying to this email.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Happy September!

Reminder… we are closed Monday for Labor Day.

And, DON’T FORGET our Family Meeting is NEXT Wednesday, September 6 at 5:30. I plan on bringing a few snacks and if anyone else  would like to bring snacks that would be lovely (I know I’m always hungry and it’s kind of dinner time).
Also, I never heard of anyone needing child care, so NONE has been arranged. I’m really looking forward to having time to connect with you all!

Have a great long weekend!

Monday, August 28, 2023

So maybe the newsletter will come out on Mondays πŸ˜„ Still trying to find my flow!
I have started the art file. This is the place where art can be found to take home. It’s by the door, above the cubbies and already getting full!

We are already one day into another wonderful week! This group of children really is incredible!

Monday, August 21, 2023

Hello families… my goal will be to share a newsletter at the end of each week. When life derails that plan, I’ll aim for bi-weekly πŸ™‚ Along with the newsletter, I will also share classroom happenings and requests. So look for this email (usually on Fridays).

>> IF your child will stay for aftercare, I have put a sign up sheet by the door/cubbies. This will help us keep track of who and for how long. Thank you!

Coming up soon…
Acorn Family Meeting
 on Wednesday, September 6 at 5:30-6:30pm.
This is an opportunity for us grown ups to come together and discuss the year ahead. If you think you might like to have childcare here on campus, let me know and I will see how to arrange it.

Please bring in…
– A family photo (4×6)… consider making a collage to include everyone in your nuclear family if you need, but keep it to 4×6

Attached is a little collage of pictures to give you a peek into our wonderful first week. This group is rather incredible and I’m looking forward to all they’ll do!

If any other parent would like to be added to this email list, please let me know!

Meet the Teacher

Jess has been working with young children for over 20 years. For the past thirteen years, Jess has been teaching at the Children’s School, a lab school at Sonoma State. She has built and maintained beautiful outdoor classroom environments for children, learning about gardening for and with children year after year. It was in this time that Jess became passionate and dedicated to connecting children with nature. She developed innovative curriculum, pulling from various philosophies such as Nature-Based, Montessori, Project-Based, Reggio Emilia-Inspired, and Play-Based Education. As a Master Teacher, Jess has also trained and mentored adults and has proudly played a role in the growing of many educators.

With the state’s new vision of Universal PreKindergarten, Jess has been inspired to embark on a new journey at Village Charter School. Pulling from her depth of experience, Jess will be building a new PreKindergarten program, the Village Acorns. Jess will guide the youngest Village students through playful, adventurous, and collaborative learning while connecting to the state standards, California Preschool Learning Foundations and Curriculum Framework which encourages play-based learning and a whole child approach. 

Jesslyn Truttman will be employed on the basis of a Provisional Internship Permit while enrolled at USF. The VCS Board of Directors and Administrator confirm there are no objections to the issuance of the permit.