Program Information


Russell Cooperative Preschool is dedicated to fostering learning and community among children and caregivers through play, nature, and imagination.


Russell Cooperative Preschool was founded in 1975 by a group of parents who wanted to provide quality preschool education within a warm, supportive, and open environment. Recognizing that play is essential for young children, they created a program that is rich in variety of experiences to allow and encourage social, emotional, and creative growth. We continue to develop the Russell program upon this core foundation.

Three children stand on a line of tree stumps in a mulch filled play area

Children in the program range in age from 2.9 to 5 years old and attend school three, four, or five days per week, depending on a combination of child readiness and individual family needs. Our experience has shown that beginning the preschool experience with attendance of three days a week makes for an easier transition from home and a richer experience, both socially and educationally. Students can then easily add days and build upon their routine.


Children play outdoors in almost any weather on our spacious playground, allowing for physical movement and exploration of the natural world together.


Inside, the classrooms at Russell are large, sunny, and simply decorated, providing a serene background for deep imaginative play. We encourage children to discover their own special abilities and interests, to learn the pleasures and responsibilities of being a group member, and to build new friendships.


Russell's curriculum offers children a range of wholesome activities in a homelike environment, emphasizing natural materials and simple playthings that leave scope for children's imaginations and creativity. The children bake bread, make applesauce, paint and draw, or play with blocks, dolls, play-dough, sand and water. Older children are introduced to projects such as needlework and finger knitting.


The daily routine encourages independence and self-sufficiency. Children help to prepare a cooked snack, dress themselves in appropriate attire for outdoor play, and help to clean up after each activity.


Songs and storytelling are an integral part of Russell's curriculum. The children sing every day, learning many seasonal songs including ones from generations ago. Many children come home singing traditional English harvest songs or melodies that their great-grandparents knew as a child. Stories from long ago, told from memory, engage children's imaginations and help to stretch their attention spans.


The classroom atmosphere reflects a peaceful, inclusive philosophy. As children play, teachers remain in the background but work to preserve a gentle, cooperative tone within an "open classroom" format. Teachers proactively discourage weapons play and teasing. Children participate in forming rules and discuss ways to make everyone feel welcome at school.

A child seated at table paints an abstract blue shape on a long rectangular paper sheet


One of the many things that makes Russell unique and special are our beautiful seasonal traditions that bring together the whole Russell community. These traditions provide a way to celebrate together and are also incredibly memorable - many Russell alumni still attend these events yearly!

A hand-made lit paper lantern at sunset sitting on the railing of a bridge over Charles River.

The Annual Lantern Walk 

These days, we humans - with central heat in our homes, our cars blasting heat at us while driving - have little direct exposure to the subtle seasonal changes. Long before central heat and electric lights arrived to comfort us in the winter, people had to make sure they were prepared for the coming darkness and cold. Was there enough food to put away? Enough wood?  If not, there was no easy solution to surviving the harsh winter.

Our lantern walk is an event recognizing the coming darkness and cold of the winter months ahead and the need for people to gather together for warmth and light.

Families meet and walk quietly through an unlit path, guided by our school-made candle lanterns. We then end by singing together, and return to our homes ready for a colder and darker world.

May Day Celebration

Friends and family gather to watch the children sing and circle our birch May Pole. Children arrive at the May pole adorned in their self decorated May Day crowns and capes. At the conclusion of the dance we enjoy a snack of strawberries and whipped cream on our playground.

Things we talk about as we prepare for our May Day Celebration:

"In the old days ..." stores didn't have fresh flowers and fruit for sale during the winter. It is hard to imagine, now we can get food from around the world at most any time of year. But not so long ago, fruit and vegetables were for sale only during the season they could grow near your home. So when winter finally gave way to budding flowers, people rejoiced. They took the day off from their work, and danced and sang into the night celebrating May Day.

"In the old days ..." fairies were brave on May Day, and if people were quiet and went deep into the woods - especially near running water - they might see the fairies.

"In the old days…" as the month of April rolled to an end, people would begin gathering flowers to put in handmade May baskets. At dusk on the first of May, they would secretly hang the baskets on the doors of friends, neighbors, loved ones and old folks. Just for the kindness of it…

Children wearing hand-made capes with bright spring colors and woven straw headbands with flowers participate in the May Day Celebration

Handmade Birthday Gifts from "Room Mouse"

Around birthdays and Valentine’s Day, Room Mouse will often leave handmade gifts and little treasures for the children.

End of Year Picnic

Our last day of school is celebrated with an afternoon picnic and play. Families and teachers share food and stories and say goodbye for the summer.