108-10 72d Avenue, Forest Hills, NY 11375 - TEL. 718.261,2237 E-mail:Directors@belleartiny.com

1.9 to 3.0 years old

Leaping Larks™ is a pre-nursery program for children ages 1.9 to 3.0 years old and their caregivers. The class fosters and celebrates free play, creativity and imaginative thinking. Leaping Larks™ will enable children to develop skills that promote their emotional/social growth as well as their cognitive, physical and language development. Classes are small, with no more than 8 children and their caregivers. So each child receives valuable individual attention. At the same time the children are developing their socialization skills in a setting that is more intimate than overwhelming. The children are also being prepared for advancement to the next level of learning, which is nursery school. The instructor is a former nursery school teacher with a theater background as both an actor and an educator. She is also a local mom with a 13-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter.

The children will play with toys, books and puzzles that are geared toward developing specific concepts and skills such as pre-literacy skills, fine and gross motor development, problem-solving, color and shape recognition. Children also develop social skills such as sharing and taking turns.

The children will listen to stories, sing songs, dance, and play games. Circle time activities are not only fun and interactive. They also help to increase attention span, concentration, self-discipline and self-control. Participating in group singing, music and creative movement also fosters language development and early proficiency. For instance, circle time strengthens the children’s speaking ability, rhythmic sense and phonetic awareness; furthers their appreciation and understanding of stories and songs; promotes letter sound recognition; and improves memory.

The children will do projects that will reinforce such skills as color and shape recognition as well as fine and gross motor development (i.e. learning to cut, trace and glue, and manipulating small objects).

Interactive storytelling is an integral part of the class. The children will be encouraged to do more than just passively listen to stories. Through the use of props, costumes and creative expression, they will be able to explore their own imaginations and actively build upon the theme of the day’s lesson. The children will learn to cooperate, negotiate and plan with each other as they create characters and stories together.



Each class will end with the children playing with a colorful parachute held by the instructor and their caregivers. This activity will reinforce their understanding of positioning (on and off, in and out, over and under) and color recognition while songs are sung by all. The parachute also reinforces the children’s sense of class structure and their ability to transition from one activity to the next, ultimately leading to the class’ formal conclusion.

9:30-11:00 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays


Andrea Schaefer has always had a passion for books and theater as well as a genuine love of working with young children. Andrea’s overflowing bookshelves attest to her having worked in the publishing industry for several years. In addition, she taught English and Theatre as a Visiting Instructor at Middlebury College for two years, where she also performed the role of Blanche DuBois in the college’s Bicentennial production of A Streetcar Named Desire. She has professional acting experience that includes three seasons with the Potomac Theater Project (now PTP/NYC). Her work in New York includes productions in the Fringe Festival and American Living Room Series at HERE. She has also coached individual students in all speech categories of forensics. More recently, Andrea was an Assistant Teacher at The Church-in-the-Gardens Nursery School for three years (2008-2011). The school’s Director invited her to teach there, having observed Andrea reading stories and doing other Circle Time activities with toddlers. Andrea has two children of her own: a 13-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter. Andrea’s participation in her own children's classes cemented her desire to work with toddlers, doing what she does best: entertaining and educating them through storytelling, creative work and imaginative play.


Andrea was born and raised in Queens, New York. She first honed her acting skills at Stuyvesant High School, where she competed in Dramatic Interpretation, winning numerous awards as part of the nationally recognized Forensics (Speech and Debate) Team. As an undergraduate at Middlebury College, Andrea appeared in more than a dozen student and faculty-directed plays. A double major in English and Theatre, Andrea received a Bachelor’s Degree in both subjects from Middlebury, graduating summa cum laude. She was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was the recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Award, among other academic honors. She also received a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Virginia. Andrea is the author of “Julia Alvarez” in American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies, Supplement VII, edited by Jay Parini (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2000). As an Assistant Nursery School Teacher, Andrea attended various professional development workshops including Interactive Storytelling and Emergent Literacy for the Early Childhood Classroom by the CUNY/Creative Arts Team.


I have seen with my own children how much joy they get from hearing a story or acting out one of their own. Yet the time for play in our schools is increasingly limited. The demands placed upon children from the moment they enter Pre-Kindergarten are more exacting than ever. Having taught nursery school, I know what skills will be expected of children in that setting. My goal with Leaping Larks™ is to offer an enriching, enjoyable mix of activities that will stimulate, inspire and educate a child – preparing them for nursery school and beyond.