Nursery students are Gordon's youngest student-citizens. Their classrooms and playground spaces are learning laboratories filled with their first experiments as members of a kind, inclusive, and curious school community.

Gordon is a big world, and Nursery is very much in the center of that world. Every visitor to Gordon passes by the Nursery windows, and the classroom is a regular stop on school tours. Nursery students are fully vested members of the school community, and they are seen in the halls, in the Joukowsky Family Library, and the Nelson Field House, serving as a living reminder of the school's child-centric mission. Their presence brings out the best in older students, who will welcome a hug from their former teachers and are ready to high-five the three-year-olds.

This sense of a nurturing community is present within the Nursery classroom as well. Simple responsibilities like keeping a cubby organized, managing a backpack and lunch, and connecting with friends on the playground are approached with thoughtful intentionality. They're each crucial lessons, and the larger aim is to connect each child's daily decisions with the larger project of taking care of themselves, each other, and the world around them.

The play-based approach in Nursery and Preschool includes the foundations of many principles used at every grade level. In open-ended play spaces, in their gardens and their playgrounds, and during teacher-initiated lessons on transportation, picture book authors, ropes and pulleys, and more, classroom life is continually connected with the world beyond Gordon. Students learn through direct, hands-on, experiential work. Teachers listen carefully, and make sure the conversation is led by the students' own curiosity and questions. And students are continually discovering that they can be active participants in their own learning, and that their individual choices impact their communities and help shape their world.

Nursery students form a close relationship with their two classroom teachers. They also have an opportunity to connect with other faculty members as part of their music, science, visual art, library and PE curriculum. 

Over the course of the day, Nursery students interact in a variety of groups: sitting as a class in morning circle, collaborating in pairs or working alone during choice time, venturing to music, art and PE as half a classroom group, or coming together with their peers from Preschool on the playground twice a day. Students are also paired with third grade students who serve as "buddies" for thoughtfully designed adventures over the course of the school year.

Gordon's multicultural curriculum begins in Nursery with the All About Me week. Every student is assigned a week to bring in photos and mementos to share with the class, and family members are invited to stop in and share a favorite readaloud book, a family recipe, or group activity. It is a low-key way to showcase and celebrate every student's background and family structure, and to give each student the experience of being in the spotlight.

Language arts

Early Childhood classrooms are print-rich environments where teachers foster a love of books. Cozy comfortable reading areas with a variety of age-appropriate printed materials are available for children who want to explore books and materials that reflect their identity, home, language, culture and interests. 

Nursery teachers provide students with other written media—menus, recipe cards, phone directories, place books, and order pads—to build a sense of print awareness. They use a variety of integrated methods to help children learn to recognize letters, like helping a child locate their cubby by finding the first letter of their name, reading alphabet and other books, or using charts that connect pictures and words. 

Teachers invite children's participation during storybook reading by having them analyze visual cues, make predictions, and make personal connections, and they read to children daily, using age-appropriate, highly diverse literature including picture books, fantasy books, books that are predictable and repetitive, informational books, and culturally diverse books. Teachers read to children individually, as well as in small and large groups, and parents and other adults in the Gordon community are always welcome to read to the class as well.

Teachers encourage children's interest in writing using enjoyable and engaging methods like having children dictate stories, helping them make books, encouraging them to attempt to write their names on their own work, or helping them make a list of ingredients for a cooking project. Students are encouraged to attempt to make their own names using a variety of materials like magnetic letters, play dough, rubber stamps, alphabet books, straight and curved wooden pieces.
Teachers model writing by making lists, messages, dictated stories, and charts, and explain the connection between spoken and written words.
A variety of writing tools—pencils, crayons, chalk, markers, and rubberstamps—and surfaces including paper, chalkboard, wood, and the concrete outside the classroom, are available to students throughout the day.


In Nursery and Preschool, teachers give students opportunities to explore math in a variety of ways to encourage an understanding of the language of math and instill a curiosity about numbers and arithmetic. 

By providing children with collections of small objects, cash registers with money, number puzzles, counting books and games, and sorting materials, teachers expose students to ways math is integrated into everyday life. 

When students generate their own games and projects, teachers will introduce concepts like comparison, counting, estimation, addition, subtraction, one to one correspondence, patterns relationships and classification, encouraging them to use their developing mathematical knowledge to represent, communicate, and solve problems in their environment. 


The main objective of science in Early Childhood is to nurture a young person’s innate sense of curiosity and wonder about the world around them. The Early Childhood IDEA Lab provides an opportunity for all children in Early Childhood to use materials and engage in activities which build foundational skills of the scientific process and method like observing, exploring, using the senses, and asking questions. 

Over the course of the year, Nursery and Preschool students are exposed to a wide variety of science and engineering experiences. Children explore earth science topics using sand, funnels, and sifters. They work with Beebots as they engage in the beginning steps of programming and robotics, and they use Rigmajig materials to construct structures. Children engage in the engineering process to explore the steps in design and problem solving, like making noise makers and constructing toys that move using Duplo simple machine kits. Exposure to the life sciences includes investigations with feathers, worms, flowers, nests, eggs, and insects.

Social studies

Social studies in Early Childhood focuses on interpersonal relationships through the themes of family and the community. From morning circle and read-alouds to individual choice time and collaborative play, children develop a deeper awareness of themselves and their relationship to others in their families, their classrooms and broader community outside of Gordon’s walls. 

The curriculum aligns with the national social studies standards and addresses questions such as What makes a family? What makes a friend? What is a community of care? What does fairness mean? Embedded in the daily life of Gordon's youngest students, these questions ensure that social studies work is a part of every day in Early Childhood, sparking relevant conversations in a variety of classroom and playground contexts.

As early as Nursery, teachers and students work together to identify and explain expectations for classroom behavior. Playing in the classroom and exploring outdoors, students actively work on learning how to cooperate and collaborate with others, how to share about themselves, and how to listen to their classmates. 

Teachers engage students in one-on-one and small-group conversations about individual similarities and differences and guide students in thinking about how to build a classroom community where everyone belongs. Teachers use books and other resources that illustrate diverse races, ethnicities, cultures, ages, abilities, genders, family structures, and non-stereotypical gender roles so that every student can feel valued and represented. 

Morning circle is an important routine where students gain practice speaking, listening and asking questions and children have an opportunity to learn more about each other as an important aspect of empathy and building community. 

Heritage Language

Gordon's Heritage Language program is for children in Nursery to fourth grade who come from Spanish-speaking households. Students meet with their Spanish teacher to share stories and play games in Spanish. The active and experiential learning environment hopes to develop a sense of affinity and community by having children share their stories and cultural traditions of Gordon's Spanish-speaking community. Heritage Language meets during the school day for Nursery to first grade, and after school in second, third and fourth grade.

Physical education

Nursery physical education classes focus on body and spatial awareness, developing and refining simple locomotor skills, listening skills and following directions. Children are  introduced to basic nutrition concepts and body part identification is reinforced. Most importantly, the children continue to develop social skills such as cooperation, sharing and turn taking.   Elements of student choice, individual differentiation and problem solving  provide a balance of opportunities to learn through movement exploration and locomotor and manipulative skills.


Children in Early Childhood are introduced to the library beginning in Nursery, with once a week trips to meet with the school librarian for read-alouds and book selection. The Joukowsky Family Library houses a vast collection of multicultural and bilingual books; all children can reach for a library book which reflects their background and experience and also find books that expose them to the experiences and perspectives of others. Gordon's youngest students learn to appreciate what access to a library means for their growing curiosity and awareness of themselves as learners and library patrons. Working closely with classroom teachers, Gordon's librarian supports children’s inquiry and discovery of the world of books. 


The Nursery music classroom is full of exploration and discovery, finding joy in all aspects of music. Classes always begin with "Hello" and "Greeting" songs from around the world. Lessons then progress from songs with small movements to dances or large movement activities, to playing various percussion instruments in imitative or improvisational songs. Each lesson contains five or six songs in various languages, meters, styles and tempos. Concepts like fast-slow, high-low, and loud-soft are woven throughout the curriculum. Pitch matching and steady beat work are continually emphasized and reinforced throughout the year. 

Through experimentation, repetition and play, children explore music and began to find their singing voices. They learn to work together, take turns, and share instruments. Instrument play develops from purely exploratory and experimental to more purposeful group activities. During dances and musical games, Nursery students learn how to safely move their bodies in small and large motions.

Visual arts

The Nursery visual arts program is designed to instill a love of materials and guide young children through the process of creating a piece of art. The program is multisensory with a goal of beginning to foster an artistic sensibility: the ability to notice and explore a variety of art concepts like line, shape, color and texture and even feelings.