The Experiential School (Ages 3-5) The Experiential School (Ages 3-5) The Experiential School (Ages 3-5) The Experiential School (Ages 3-5) The Experiential School (Ages 3-5) The Experiential School (Ages 3-5) The Experiential School (Ages 3-5)

The Experiential School (Ages 3-5) Home Academics The Experiential School (Ages 3-5)

From the fleeting tickle of a butterfly’s wings, to the ripe smell of the native vegetation on our sprawling and secure campus, your child will live learning every day while at Shorecrest, forever awakening a yearning to experience this great world of ours firsthand.

Welcome to The Experiential School of Tampa Bay, where each child’s interests and ideas are valued. In our child-centered learning community, students act and interact as individual and collaborative thinkers, doers, and problem solvers, and teachers provide experiences to engage and stretch them.

In a safe, nurturing environment, through hands-on learning and connections with nature and community, The Experiential School develops the character, skills, well-being, and values needed to seamlessly grow as lifelong learners throughout Shorecrest.

Our private school teachers are specialists in Early Childhood Education and are familiar with the latest research on how children develop and learn. They recognize that each child is unique, and purposefully differentiate activities according to the needs of each child. Through a balance of guided discovery and play, the teachers support our students to ensure that they develop the interpersonal and cognitive skills and conceptual understandings that will help position them as the leading students and citizens of the future.

Students are engaged in curriculum that cultivates children's natural creativity and curiosity to promote growth through play, inquiry, exploration, observation and project-based learning.

Inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, children become active protagonists in their learning. Students are supported through relationship building, expression, and meaning making - understanding that the world around them has meaning and finding their sense of self within their environments.

Teachers digitally document and archive students’ work and projects into an e-portfolio. The portfolio follows the student through the course of Lower School and serves as a tool to draw connections and illustrate student progress through fourth grade.

Involving children in whole-child experiences that relate to their lives makes learning meaningful and fun. Come and see!

Adriana Hollenbeck
Head of The Experiential School of Tampa Bay

The Experiential School Curriculum

Involving children in experiences that relate to their lives makes learning fun and exciting. Our Reggio-inspired approach to teaching and learning is designed to help preschool-aged students feel capable and find enjoyment in their pursuit of knowledge through hands-on learning with a balance of play and discovery, and self-initiated and teacher-initiated activities. These goals remain consistent while the curriculum evolves in response to student and teacher interests and ongoing research in early childhood education.

Curriculum Guide

Playful Learning

Students learn to ask the right questions, and the utility and reward of actively participating in finding solutions, leading to people who think both independently and creatively.

  • Cultivate a joy and wonder of learning
  • Discover and express interests
  • Strengthen fine motor skills through hands-on and sensory experiences
  • Communicate understanding through representations (i.e. drawing, painting, projects, etc...)
  • Develop emergent technology skills
  • Develop language, literacy, math and science concepts through investigations and interactions with materials, ideas, people and environments

Examples of Past Investigations

  • Living off the Land Food Study
  • Transportation & Car Washes
  • Identity: Study of Self
  • Community Study
  • Tape as a Medium
  • Houses and Hotels: A Field Study
  • Color Exploration
  • Frogs and Toads Research
  • Weather Study
  • Ocean Life

Benefits of Playful Learning

Why do we choose to teach and learn this way? Why do we engage in play, inquiry, imagination, and exploration? Some of the benefits seen in students include:

  • Fosters connection, engagement, and interaction
  • Develops speech, language and listening skills
  • Expands vocabulary
  • Offers multiple entry points and ways to express feelings, ideas, and understandings
  • Social play requires negotiating and reaching compromises
  • Builds community, relationships, and citizenship
  • Encourages noticing of social cues, listening and development of empathy
  • Learning self-regulation as they pay attention to feelings
  • Provides opportunities for:
    • Wonder and theory-making
    • Creativity and exploration
    • Investigation and discovery
    • Testing of ideas and problem-solving
    • Consideration of multi-perspectives
    • Co-construction of knowledge
    • Building of executive function skills
Self & Social
  • Foster respect for self, others and the environment
  • Develop executive function, self-regulation, social emotional and self-help skills
  • Engage in social interactions, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making
  • Participate as citizens of a classroom community
  • Communicate needs, feelings and ideas
  • Interact with people (teachers, older students, guest experts, volunteers) to develop awareness and appreciate differences and similarities
  • Consider multiple points of view and perspectives
  • Express creativity through engagement in storytelling, writing, visual arts, socio-dramatic play, outdoor play, music and movement
  • Exposure to Spanish language
  • Exploring the natural world through gardening, use of the outdoor classroom, observational field experiences, and play
  • Gaining strength and developing coordination, body awareness and sportsmanship through gross motor activities during physical education and outdoor play
  • Our campus environments include: Classrooms, project rooms, outdoor classrooms, gardens, a pond, a student kitchen, libraries, the exploratorium, art studios, playgrounds, the Athletic Center, Dining Rooms and the Janet Root Theatre


The Mike Murphy Experiential School building opened in March 2019. When designing new indoor and outdoor spaces, every decision made had student learning and growth at its core. The building houses classrooms, a teaching kitchen, a library and media center, dining rooms, and much more! 


Experiential School Traditions

Fall Festival & Costume Parade

Younger students debut costumes for families and older students as they parade through the 28-acre campus. The parade is typically followed by an outdoor festival with games, rides, treats and surprises.

Chargers Pep Rally

A few days before the all-school Homecoming pep rally, our youngest Chargers enjoy a smaller pep rally to prepare them for the upcoming fanfare. They talk to high school athletes, meet Sparky - our mascot, and cheerleaders lead them through their first Chargers cheer.

Celebrate the Arts

A weeklong teach-in featuring local artists, a gallery walk highlighting student artwork, class performances and more. The final feature of the week is a Shorecrest Upper School Performing Arts musical production.

Alpha on the Go!

As a culminating activity for Alpha's investigation of transportation and as an end of the year celebration, our youngest Chargers show off their skills on wheels. Students bring tricycles, bicycles, balance bikes, scooters and Hot Wheels to demonstrate their independence while bonding with the school community.

    The Experiential School Schedule

    Flexible schedules help families that may have different needs based on their children and family work schedules. 


    Alpha Class (3-4 year olds)

    Junior Kindergarten (4-5 year olds)

    After Care

    Our Extended Day program is designed to provide a safe, nurturing and enjoyable environment for families that need childcare beyond school hours. Activities include snack, outdoor play, games and crafts. A full day Vacation Camp is offered on most days when school is closed. Learn more on our After School page.

    Clubs: After School Enrichment

    The Experiential School students are invited to enroll in clubs (after school enrichment programs) such as soccer, karate, art, cooking and/or creative movement. Each activity meets once / week, with 4 six-week sessions during the year. Learn more on our After School page.

    A Typical Day/Week
    • Check-in and morning responsibilities
    • Morning Meeting
    • Classroom Centers
    • Physical Education
    • Library
    • Studio: Art, Music & Technology
    • Snack
    • Exploring (Classroom or Grade-level)
    • Playground
    • Lunch (Dismissal before or after lunch for some students)
    • Rest
    • Play
    • Dismissal or Extended Care (offered until 6pm on regular school days)

      "Our kids are loved and nurtured here. I feel so secure knowing that our kids come to school every day and are in a safe and loving environment."
      Andrea Silverman, Shorecrest Parent of Three

      Experiential School Administrative Team


      How to Apply

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