Tools Preschool visit: Ms. Gilbert’s class gets healthy!

Wondering what’s happening in real Tools classrooms? Meet our February (and March!) Teacher of the Month Michelle Gilbert, whose New Jersey preschoolers became medical professionals (and patients!) as they played their way through the medical theme.

The challenge


What we heard from teachers and administration at after implementing Tools at

Tools Preschool visit: Ms. Gilbert’s class gets healthy!


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The process

Committee search to choose the right curriculum

Selection of Tools of the Mind curriculum & professional development

Tools training and implementation for all relevant staff

Teaching and learning review and outcomes

If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit a Tools classroom, here’s your chance to get a closer look at what’s happening behind the classroom door. Each month a different preschool teacher posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, sharing photos and updates about what they’re up to. Meet Cliffwood Elementary’s Michelle Gilbert, who held the special honor of Tools PreK Teacher of the Month for two months, in both February and March.

Ms. Gilbert teaches in Matawan-Aberdeen, New, Jersey, and has been teaching PreK for 21 years. “Teaching PreK makes me feel like Peter Pan...I never have to grow up. Every day is filled with fun, creativity, silliness & adventure,” says Gilbert. “I've been teaching PreK for many years and I am always impressed by how much the students learn with this [Tools] curriculum, from capitalization and punctuation to measuring and counting.”

More than the doctor’s office

Ms. Gilbert’s class spent February digging into their medical theme and thinking about ways to be healthy. Learning about the importance of preventative care, their medical theme includes a gym, where a treadmill prop is the perfect place to go for a jog.

And the treadmill isn’t the only nearly-life-sized prop the class created. They also had a blast making their very own ambulance. So, if there are any accidents at the gym, a friendly ambulance driver can swing by to take you to the hospital in style. 

Of course, once there, you’ll need to check in with the receptionist, who will enter all of your information into her computer.

And after taking some pictures of your injury, X-ray technicians will carefully review your X-rays to determine next steps. 

What role will we play today?

There are so many roles to play in Tools medical theme. And children have the opportunity to try out new roles each day, making their plans in play planning before setting off to join their peers and negotiating the play scenarios they build together. 

New skills are a big deal

Play planning is one of Ms. Gilbert’s favorite Tools activity because she can meet children where they are developmentally and scaffold their learning accordingly. When a child is able to do something she has been working toward for weeks, Gilbert says, not only is the child filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment; the teachers are, too.

Watch this 5-second video to see the progress one child made in her play planning over the six months she’s been in Ms. Gilbert’s class.

Thank you to Ms. Gilbert and her class for sharing their learning with us!