There is a waiting list for parents who want to enroll their children in the Henny Penny Preschool, and there is a good reason for that: Amy Dolley has created one of the best preschool environments I’ve ever seen! Amy doesn’t even have to advertise… word of mouth is what sells the Henny Penny Preschool.
Amy wasn’t comfortable with the kind of preschool her own children had attended, so she decided to create a livelier, more “hands-on” environment when she quit her Kindergarten and 1st grade teaching job and started her own preschool right in her home.
She knew she could do it, too. After all, as the Story Lady, she had built her “clientele” from five children –three of which were her own – to over fifty kids! Obviously, Amy knew how to reach and teach small children, and with her own school, she knew she would get to do “what she wants, how she wants.” And what Amy wanted to do was create an environment that allowed small children to run and play, to get muddy and wet, and to learn about the world around them in ways that would be remembered and passed along to others! “Dogs, mud, and hands-on” are some of her secrets for getting young children interested in science.
Amy was worried about the science lessons, though. She had never felt comfortable teaching science because she didn’t know then what she knows now: “you don’t have to be good at science to love it, and when you love science, that attitude is passed along to your students!”
Amy’s husband, Craig, as “Mr. Wiz,” volunteers at the preschool and presents a science experiment each week, and when I say “presents,” what I really mean is “encourages the children to put their hands on things, get messy with it, laugh and chatter with excitement, and take the lesson home to the dinner table to share with siblings and parents.” To quote Amy, “We made our own curriculum because it’s important for kids to move, grow, explode, and fly.”
That’s the real deal, you see. When a child is so excited about what he has learned that day, that he can’t wait to get home and share it with family and friends, that’s genuine education. Craig and Amy Dolley’s students almost always go home to chatter excitedly about what Mr. Wiz helped them do that day.
The Dolleys credit our own SteveSpanglerScience.com website with providing a launching pad for many of their science lessons.
Amy says that “. . . Steve did the tough part – we just follow his lead!”
The Dolleys discovered Steve Spangler Science while surfing the internet for science ideas, and once they found us, they felt as though they’d struck gold. Amy says that she spent hours on our website that first day, watching video after video, clicking links and taking in all in.
Craig Dolley, as Mr. Wiz, was determined to have a science curriculum that excited the kids, not the typical demonstration/worksheet curriculum so many schools still have today. Craig wishes ALL public school teachers would learn how to teach the Steve Spangler way – with enthusiasm, joy, and obvious love of their subject areas. Craig understands that a teacher learns along with the kids, and that if there is too much explaining and not enough hands-on, not many lessons will be taken home to be demonstrated at the dinner table or in the back yard.
“Even the kids’ parents get excited when they see that Mr. Wiz is at the school today,” says Craig. “They know something wonderful is going to happen! And then the kids go home and gather their friends together to teach them what Mr. Wiz taught them that day. That’s what it’s all about!”
It’s not just the kids who take the experiments home to share, either. Amy employs several other teachers in her preschool, and they take the experiments home to THEIR kids, too!
Craig and Amy both say that “Steve made our jobs easy.” This hands-on approach is much more vital than a regular school textbook, and I’m sure many more students than just the Dolley’s daughter have a Harry Potter book under that boring science book.
Amy says that “The science is easy now; I used to dread the science lessons, and now I love them. It saddens me that so many kids don’t get this kind of lesson in their school, because no one is ever too old for hands-on! Teaching science the Spangler way isn’t even that hard; it’s mostly FUN! Our daughter is jealous because, as she puts it, ‘mine is so boring, and you get to have fun all the time.’”
Both Craig and Amy agree that the Spangler science activities “. . . relax the whole day! Everyone is more laid-back after participating in a fun and exciting science activity, because it’s so important to both body and mind to be allowed to just ‘let go’ sometimes.”
“Steve really does a service to parents and teachers; it’s been truly amazing at our preschool this year,” says Amy. “Our students are so young that it’s not really why or how that matters; it’s that they LOVED THE SCIENCE, and wanted to do more and more of it.”
Amy’s favorite experiment is the Mentos Geyser, and she saves that one for the last day of school. She has discovered that the cheaper the cola, the better the results. As for the childrens’ favorite experiment, “Each is a favorite to a different child.”
Amy and Craig “Mr. Wiz” Dolley, and even their dog, all work together at the Henny Penny Preschool to make sure their students go home every day with their heads full of new knowledge, their bodies exercised and rested, and their whole being full of the excitement of it all and the desire to share it with everyone they know.
Thank you, Craig and Amy, for allowing us to be a part of your world for a little while. Keep up the good work!