Tools Preschool visit: Ms. Wingard’s PreK opens a fancy restaurant

Curious to see what’s happening in real Tools classrooms? Meet our December Tools Preschool Teacher of the Month, Grace Wingard, and see how she and her Denver preschoolers are bringing the Tools curriculum to life.

The challenge


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

Tools Preschool visit: Ms. Wingard’s PreK opens a fancy restaurant


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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’ve never stepped foot in 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. Each week, they share photos and updates about what they’re up to. Meet December’s Tools Preschool Teacher of the Month,  Lowry Elementary’s Grace Wingard!

“Grace has developed her passion for early education through 15 years of teaching experience and is so excited to be teaching the Tools of the Mind Curriculum. Grace’s teaching philosophy is rooted in the belief that children learn most effectively when empowered by their learning, and the joy that comes with both embracing and encouraging a child’s innate sense of wonder, enthusiasm for discovery, and creativity. She strives, first and foremost, to create a positive and nurturing classroom environment, strong parent-teacher partnerships, and a canvas to create through play, inquiry, and artistic exploration.” 

Take a peek at what Ms. Wingard and her preschoolers were up to as they spent December immersed first in all aspects of the grocery store experience and then working (and dining!) in fancy restaurants.

Developing confident writers through Play Planning

As always, they begin with Play Planning, learning the pre-writing skills they need to communicate their plans through words and pictures. This is one of Ms. Wingard’s favorite activities because she loves to see how motivated her students are as they move through the developmental skills needed to become confident writers ready for Kindergarten. 

Here we see lightbulb moments as students connect the sounds in their plans to their alphabet anchor charts and confidently add letters and words to their play planning sheets. Over the year, Ms. Wingard’s children, like all Tools preschool children, will grow from mark-making to drawing to writing lines to represent words and then to writing letters to represent word sounds. Each child progresses at their own pace. 1:1 teacher scaffolding ensures children are working at their unique levels.

Bringing plans to life through Make-Believe Play

After creating their plans, the children are off to whip up treats in the bakery and prepare flower arrangements in the floral department! At the beginning of the school year, many students are “low-level players,” mostly exploring materials, but their play changes as the year goes on and they begin to fulfill specific roles and act out detailed scenarios.

Toward the end of the month, Ms. Wingard’s class transitioned to their Restaurant theme, where they learned how much work there is to do when preparing ingredients, making menu recommendations, waiting on tables and cooking meals. Customers had the chance to place orders, eat delicious meals and pay their bills when they were done.

Playing to learn in engaging ways

When they weren’t busy with their themes, Ms. Wingard’s class took time for other Tools activities they love, like practicing self-regulation during a partner version of the freeze game, taking turns retelling stories to their reading buddies, getting creative with watercolors and making scientific discoveries using their Science Eyes.

Thank you to Ms. Wingard and all of the children in her preschool class for giving us a window into their December fun and learning. We can't wait to see what they’ll be up to next!

To see the most recent posts by our Tools Preschool Teacher of the Month, head over to X, formerly known as Twitter.