• A young girl looks across a fence into a field

    At Free Union, learning is...

  • Group of students wave butterfly nets excitedly on the outdoor classroom deck

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  • A boy watches a girl traverse the play structure

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  • Girl works in her nature study workbook under the trees

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  • Two students read a picture book together among colorful pencils

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  • Preschoolers in rain gear laugh and stomp in a mud puddle

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  • A student peers into a microscope

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  • Students and their teacher read together under a tree

    At Free Union, learning is...
    for all ages

2021-22 Annual Fund Progress

Our Free Union Way

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Map of the Free Union CampusKatie and I discovered we had pirates and explorers in preschool fairly soon after the school year began. One preschooler wore her pirate gear (headscarf, vest, and eye patch) to school regularly and others spent every morning building ships to sail through the skies, the seas, and space. 

Devoting a unit to the study of pirates seemed a natural fit for our varied interests. After all, there are so many facets we could explore: Ships! Treasure! Geography and Maps! Parrots! Trade routes and the state-sponsored disruption thereof!

We spent a great deal of time thinking about what would appeal to them, settling on a topic in which they had already shown interest, playground treasure maps. Mapping our campus and, in the process, learning about how they experience the topography and terrain of Free Union seemed a worthy goal.

My BedroomWe wanted to start small and then zoom out. First, we started making maps of our yards, pretending we had hidden treasure near our houses. Then, we mapped our bedrooms. I asked them to think about where their beds were, the door, their toys, other furniture.

Next, we created a treasure hunt on our playground. Katie and I gave them each a gem and asked them to draw a map of our playground and mark where they hid the gem. They traded maps with a partner and set off to find the gems using the map and minimal (probably) help from their buddy.

Map of My HouseFor our final project, we asked them to think about the places they loved on campus. We took walks around school and pretended to be intrepid cartographers charting an unknown land. Lastly, they painted the places they love on campus and arranged them on paper to make a map. The final step was to present their work at morning meeting. After some initial reluctance, the preschoolers excitedly pointed out which parts of the map they had made. Our finished map of Free Union Country School is hanging in the preschool hallway above the water fountain. We invite everyone to come and see our pirates’ map of campus. The treasure, I think, can be found all over.

Playground Treasure Map