Sunfish Press


What a delight to see a thematic program “Story Play” grounded in literacy and based on a focal children’s book with connections and extensions to art, math, and science instead of dull, deadening worksheets.  Harlow, building on years of experience in early childhood education, has produced a true gift for parents and teachers of little ones.  This program ensures kids will learn, be engaged, and have fun.

Substantive, “Story Play” also builds on the latest research, especially in the field of neuroscience.  Eric Knudsen of the Stanford University School of Medicine says, “It’s all about playing with your child.”  Learning theorists know that play, challenge, engagement, activity when integrated and meaningful activate new “neural nets,” those wonderfully receptive dendrites in the growing brain of a child.

I fully endorse “Story Play” and fervently wish all parents and teachers would replace worksheets and dull, mindless work with this sound literature-based integrated program.

Joyce Armstrong Carroll, Ed.D., H.L.D.

I have used Story Play in my preschool classroom for twelve years and it is by far the most developmentally appropriate curriculum I have seen. From a teacher and parent point of view Story Play builds the foundation for young children that supports their educational journey. The thematic units provide a creative atmosphere that is conducive to learning. The lesson plans are easy to follow and full of hands on activities. My students are always eager to hear what we will be learning about next! Story Play keeps the element of fun in learning!

Christine Cook, Kindergarten Teacher and Parent

Having been both a student and a teacher at Summerfield Academy I have experienced the best of both worlds. Looking back as a student at Summerfield, I was able to interact with a variety of age appropriate learning environments that supported me emotionally, intellectually, socially, and physically. Each morning I was so excited to go to Summerfield and couldn’t wait for my mom to get there in the afternoons, so I could show her all the neat stuff we did. I will never forget reading The Missing Tarts, by B. G. Hennessy, in Mrs. Clark’s class in which the Queen of Hearts searches for her missing tarts. I remember the learning environment that was created around this book. We reenacted the story through dramatic play, explored and played in learning centers, and of course my favorite, cooking cherry tarts!

Being both a student and a teacher at Summerfield, I see the tremendous benefits of the program. Having students participate in the literature based curriculum allows them to be immersed in the literature and learn by becoming a part of the story through opportunities to explore and discover. At Summerfield the students feel safe and nurtured. Providing this sense of security to the students allows them to develop confidence that gives them the initiative to explore and discover through the opportunities provided to learn. 

Summerfield provides its students with the foundation for success throughout their journey in education and allows them to have so much fun in the process.

Devon Dommel

The era of Summerfield Academy began in 1985. I, being an experienced preschool teacher having recently moved to this area seeking employment, responded to an advertisement and soon found myself being interviewed by the founder of Summerfield Academy, Joyce Harlow. I was soon to learn that this was not to be a typical preschool agenda. This was to be a learning experience for teachers and students alike. The learning experience, of course involved the integration of literature with dramatic play, reading, writing, art, cooking, math, science, music and cooperative group experiences. The significance, if not sheer genius, aspect of this concept would not be immediately realized. Literature is continually evolving with new ideas and concepts. New versions of the old stories are being written and incorporated into the Summerfield curriculum. By attaching this concept to the Summerfield agenda and encouraging students to relate their own versions to the various themes, Ms. Harlow has assured that Summerfield will remain modern for future generations to come. Clearly, it was the intent that the learning experience be fun. It has been fun for students and teachers alike. Has it worked? I am now being visited by former students that are now enrolling their own children into Summerfield. The obvious conclusion is that it has worked and will continue to work for so long as commitment to excellence and the literary writing learning experience is maintained.

I am so glad that Joyce wrote and published "Story Play". The agenda and themes are there for parents and all persons of interest to see in a clear and concise presentation of the learning experience. I know that I have evolved as a better person from my experience at Summerfield and, as I grow ever older in years, Summerfield has kept me young in mind and spirit.

Barbara Clark, Preschool Teacher

As the parent of an inquisitive 3 year old boy, I try to do everything I can to encourage his natural curiosity. The Story Play curriculum at Summerfield Academy supports a child's innate curiosity through art, play, and exploration. It is truly the most developmentally appropriate program I have found. My son comes home excited to tell us about what he has learned. He talks about his daily activities with genuine excitement and looks forward to the next day's adventures; whether it is cooking in class or letting ladybugs go, he loves it!

One of the most unique features to Summerfield's curriculum is the author/illustrator books the children create for each new theme. I have saved every one of them. The opportunity to witness his imagination and ability grow is extraordinary! Recently while learning about fears by reading Franklin in the Dark, my son was drawing his picture for his book. He looked at his teacher and asked "Ms Clark, what color is the dark? How do I draw it?" He had already drawn Franklin and wanted to draw something as abstract as "the dark" and with his teacher's help, he did. I love the fact that he is already transferring the concepts from his books into his drawings. We get compliments all the time about what an active imagination he has and I give Summerfield the credit for letting his imagination flourish.

Joy Kelley, parent

Using literature to introduce concepts is a wonderful, inviting way to turn children on to learning. By reading age-appropriate stories, children are exposed to different literary concepts such as story elements and connecting to character's feelings. It is my belief that children who are immersed in a literature rich environment at an early age develop a love of books, and ultimately a love for learning. When learning is made fun, as it is in Mrs Harlow's Story Play curriculum, children are engaged in meaningful activities which tap into their imagination and curiosity, driving them to want to learn more, thus creating a strong foundation for their educational future.

Tiffany Geminden, Primary teacher and Summerfield Academy parent


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