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Office of Early Learning

Prekindergarten to Grade 3 Newsletter

Summer 2023

  • 2023 P-3 Summer Institute
  • Summer Learning Resources
  • Classroom Spotlight
  • Summer Reading Program
  • Helpful Resources/Professional Development

Our office would love to hear from you! What would you like to see here in the future? Please click here to complete a quick survey and let us know how we can help.

P-3 Summer Institute

The New York State Education Department is pleased to announce the 2023 P-3 Summer Institute on August 17 at the NYS Cultural Education Center in Albany. The Institute is planned in partnership with the NYS Council on Children and Families. Session topics will support educators in creating a learning environment that reflects developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate practices and instruction. 

Keynote sessions will be viewable via livestream on the day of the conference.

Keynote Speakers Include:

Dr. Nonie Lesaux

Photo of Dr. Nonie Lesaux

Dr. Nonie Lesaux is a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on promoting the language and literacy skills of today's children from diverse backgrounds.

Dr. Ronald Ferguson

Photo of Dr. Ronald Ferguson

Dr. Ronald Ferguson provides active thought leadership for the Basics Learning Network. His research, writing and consulting focus on issues of education and economic development.

Additional breakout sessions will include:

  • Supporting Multilingual Learners
  • Student Behavior and Social Emotional Learning
  • P-3 Continuum Overview
  • Office of Cultural Education Resources

Space will be limited at this free event. Organizations may register up to two participants.

Register Here!

Summer Learning Resources

School districts are in a unique position to provide helpful information to families as they transition from school to summer. Some things to consider sharing with families before the end of the school year are:

  • Information on where they can access free summer meals in the local community.

  • Summer camps, child care, and tutoring available in the community over the summer.

  • Ways to continue learning at home throughout the summer.
Photo of children running outside

Learning Resources:

Summer Meal Resources:

Classroom Spotlight

Photos of various second grade children at Ellicottville CSD engaging in STEM activities

STEM in 2nd Grade at Ellicottville CSD

Mrs. Farnum is a 2nd grade teacher in Ellicottville CSD. She has worked diligently this year to build a classroom community of students that are confident in their independent and group problem solving skills.


Each week, her 2nd grade students are introduced to a read aloud book that relates to a real-life engineering task. Students are asked to complete a design or task as a team, where they plan, build, and reflect. Each unique lesson encourages students to work together using problem solving strategies and critical thinking skills. Tasks often involve robotics, coding, designing, and engineering. Materials for these projects have been made available through a series of grants.


While the academic benefits of these lessons have been noted as significantly increasing students’ knowledge of STEM, perhaps the most notable achievement has been creating a respectful learning environment. This group of 2nd graders works as a team to solve problems, not only in a STEM environment, but also when social situations arise. This classroom collaboration has increased students’ mental health by allowing all members of the class to participate and see themselves as a leader and a forever growing learner. The future is bright for this young group of computer scientists and engineers! They are going to enter our community and make it a better place. 

Want to be featured in the Classroom Spotlight?

The Office of Early Learning is looking for best practices from districts or classrooms to spotlight throughout the year. If you are interested in sharing a success story in any of the following areas, please submit your story via email to the Office of Early Learning at [email protected].

  • Building classroom community
  • Differentiated instruction
  • P-3 curriculum continuum
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the early elementary classroom
  • Anything you are excited to share as a district!

You will need to include the following information in your submission:

  • Subject: Classroom Spotlight Submission
  • District Name
  • Teacher Name/Grade Level
  • Photo of the best practice in action
  • 1-2 paragraphs discussing the best practice

We look forward to hearing from you!

Image says All Together Now with the letters A B C

Summer Reading Program

Public libraries all over New York state are planning exciting programs and activities for young children and their families as part of Summer Reading in 2023! This year’s theme revolves around kindness, friendship, and inclusion, and the official slogan is “All Together Now!” Most libraries have begun to promote their Summer Reading programs and are encouraging young students and their families to sign up now to participate. They are also encouraging frequent library visits to explore books and other early literacy activities, programs, and events during the summer months. 

Many schools and school libraries work directly with public libraries in their districts to partner on Summer Reading and actively promote the program to young students and their families. There are many different resources available to help promote Summer Reading including a variety of flyers, Summer Reading logos, short PSA videos in English and Spanish, and a toolkit for Schools and School Libraries with tips and ideas to encourage coordination and partnership between schools and public libraries.

We all share the same goals for young students during the summer months: encouraging reading and learning by providing fun and educational enrichment activities to keep them engaged and prevent “summer slide” and loss of skills before the start of a new school year. 

Questions about Summer Reading at New York Libraries? Reach out to Sharon Phillips, Youth Services Program Manager for the New York State Library at [email protected].

PBS Kids logo with the text Self-Paced Learning for PreK - 2nd Grade Teachers

Self-Paced Professional Learning from PBS Kids

PBS KIDS offers this FREE special collection of flexible self-paced learning to help inspire PreK-2 teachers and provide support for the classroom. Choose from a variety of learning topics designed to spark new ideas and expand your skill set for engaging children and families with educational media. You may also be able to earn between one to three credit hours.

Explore our Learning Paths, a series of short microlearning modules (15-minute, skill-based experiences in a range of interactive formats) that can lead to a certificate.

Click here to access professional learning from PBS Kids!

PBS Kids Logo with the text: Family Creative Learning

PBS Learning Media:

Family Resources

Find resources, including hands-on activities, apps, and videos, that families can use with their children to support literacy development and explore science in their everyday lives. These resources will help families nurture children's natural curiosity by encouraging them to explore, notice, investigate, make predictions, and ask questions to help them learn about their world. Some of the resources are designed for use in the home and some can be used in a community-based setting where families gather to explore together.

Click Here for Family Resources
Image of Elinor Wonders Why with worksheets
Image of a lesson guide titled Is it an Insect

Did you know? PBS Learning Media has lessons and videos available in multiple languages! Teachers and families can filter by grade level, language, resource type.

Image of a play based learning fact sheet
Get the Fact Sheet Here

What Is Play-based Learning in Kindergarten? A Resource for Parents and Caregivers

New Hampshire has developed a guided-play approach for learning in kindergarten that encourages children to direct and lead their own play with facilitation and guidance from teachers. This resource highlights the components of this approach and provides illustrated examples of students learning academic and social-emotional skills through play.  This fact sheet was developed by the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands (REL).

Office of Early Learning Featured Resource:

The P-3 Continuum

The P-3 Tools are planning and reflection tools for use by states, districts, schools, early childhood programs, and classrooms working to align more coherent policies and practices to support improved outcomes for students in prekindergarten through third grade.

image of diverse children wearing backpacks sitting on the steps
Access the P-3 Continuum Here

News and Updates

  • SAVE THE DATE! Navigating PreK Day - September 20th, 2023 in Albany, NY. Registration will begin July 1st at 9:30am.

Resources from the Office of Early Learning:


The Office of Early Learning provides technical assistance to districts regarding Prekindergarten - Grade 3 instruction and best practices. Our office also answers questions regarding UPK funding and program implementation. You can contact us at [email protected] or (518) 474-5807.

New York State Education Department Office of Early Learning logo

Erik Sweet

Executive Director, Office of Early Learning

Lori Smart, Supervisor

Tanya Amodio-Kovacs, Supervisor

Samantha Chobot, Lauren Cosamano,

Paulette Coppin, Carly Feldman,

Noelle Lake, Eric Feml-Nelsen,

Jason Gish, Christine Lyons, Terry Onofrio,

Brandon Orszulak, Christina Ryan,

Tina Rose-Turriglio, Rachel Schlude,

Michelle Sidoti, Zachary Snyder, Vicky Woods