2 ½ to 3 ½ year olds

Children this age love using their senses and motor skills to explore the world and are highly curious about unfamiliar objects, events, and phenomena. New discoveries are facilitated by their blossoming language skills that prompt many "why," "what" and "how" questions. They enjoy having books read to them and may pretend to "read" as they independently look through familiar books. They also make a variety of scribble marks anywhere and everywhere and can solve simple problems with the "trial and error" method. Physically, they explore all the ways to travel from here to there, including rolling, crawling, creeping, walking, running, jumping and climbing. While they enjoy playing alongside other children, they are just beginning to notice and interact with their peers. This knowledge about their development forms the foundation for the program offered for them at Lily Pad.

Goals and objectives for the Ducklings focus on:

  • Fostering their social and emotional development:
  • Developing their communication, language and literacy skills:
  • Supporting their cognitive development;
  • Providing opportunities for physical development

 Language Arts

Lily Pad strongly believes language skills should be built to last and enrich for a lifetime. The program at all ages focuses on the foundation that children learn language best by continual exposure to a language rich environment and frequent opportunities to express themselves in a variety of forms including:

  • Talking with others about their experiences
  • Describing events, activities, and thoughts
  • Listening to and making up stories, rhymes, and poems
  • Writing including drawing, scribbling, forming letters, and invented spelling
  • Dictating stories and accompanying them with illustrations.

The Ducklings' language arts program focuses on:

  • Oral expression
  • Dramatization and re-creation of stories
  • Rhyming
  • Development of receptive language skills
  • Listening to poetry
  • Exposure to letters and letter sounds
  • Dictation of sentences and stories
  • Speaking in group situations


The development of mathematical thinking begins at an early age as children explore their environment and begin to sort, classify, seriate, create patterns, and eventually understand the concept of number.  From the very beginning children at Lily Pad are provided with constant opportunities to explore, describe similarities and differences, and make comparisons.

The Ducklings' program emphasizes:

  • Counting items to 5
  • Distinguishing and describing shapes
  • Sorting and matching
  • Classifying by one attribute
  • Measuring
  • Comparing
  • Simple patterns
  • Estimating and one-to-one correspondence


Lily Pad incorporates science into its daily programs as it builds on the natural curiosity of children and their impulses to act upon and learn from the world around them. Teachers provide opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom, for participation in hands-on science activities, teaching Concepts such as:

  • Mapping and Measurement-an introduction to the science cycle and various forms of measurement by children begining to make predictions and observations concerning their enviroment.
  • Colors and Light- focuses on learning the primary and secondary colors.
  • Properties of Matter- involves exploration of the properties of solids, liquids, and gases in chidlren’s everyday lives. They investigate sinking and floating, and how air can make things move and fill things up. Children also explore changes in temperature and their effects.
  • Living Concepts- focuses on helping children learn that all living things need food, water, air, and space.

Social Development

Through relationships with others, young children develop their understanding of the social world and construct their moral development. When they are able to positively experience the building blocks of these relationships, trust, autonomy, initiative, empathy, and self-esteem, in a supportive climate, children develop social competence and the capacity to take initiative.

At Lily Pad, the social/emotional development of children is modeled after "Conscious Discipline" by Becky Bailey. Conscious Discipline is an evidence based, trauma informed approach. Using an array of behavior management strategies and classroom structures, our teachers turn everyday situations into learning opportunities. Using a foundation of safety, connection and problem solving, we teach vital life skills by equiping the children with the tools to self regulate. 

Keeping children’s developmental characteristics in mind at all times, the teachers at Lily Pad establish a consistent and supportive environment, respond to children’s feelings and needs, and calmly guide the children toward developing the social competence that not only helps them develop friendships but also provides them with the confidence to pursue new interests.

Creative Representation

As children move from the toddler to preschool stage of development, they become able to form mental images and convey those images through both language and artistic representation. They begin exploring the use of materials to convey thoughts, ideas, and feelings and begin to intentionally choose to express themselves through different mediums. This allows them to become actors, writers, artists, singers, dancers, and much more. The program at Lily Pad captures this natural development as the children participate in a wide variety of activities that let them express themselves as they gain experience using different artistic mediums, learn songs and rhymes, experiment with simple musical instruments, participate in many role playing scenarios, and create models and structures through clay, blocks, and other materials.

In the Ducklings the children have many opportunities to experiment with:

  • Creating using a wide variety of art materials
  • Building with blocks and other construction materials
  • Singing and using musical instruments
  • Role playing in dramatic paly areas that change on a regular basis
  • Moving thier bodies to steady beats and melodic rhythms