Lemon Tree Handbook


A quick guide to our policies and ways to 

get the most of your playgroup experience. 






In this guide you will find more information and explanation on our policies, including ways to better utilize the classroom and answers to frequently asked questions. We are so proud of this space, and want you, as our members, to feel that same sense of pride in our play space. We invite you to think outside of the box and join our community of amazing caregivers and purposeful play! We hope this handbook can clear up some questions and help our playgroup run more smoothly on the day to day. 


+ How to Make the Most out of your Time at Lemon Tree

+ Circle Time

+ Cell Phones

+ Communication

+ Snack

+ Illness and Injury 

+ Siblings


+ Contact Info 



Making the Most Out of Your Time at Lemon Tree 


Our concept at Lemon Tree is to grow through purposeful play. Children are encouraged to learn how to play with their peers, but also to play in a new setting with their grown-up. We sometimes think of play as just entertainment, but it is such an important vehicle for children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. Our goal is to provide you with the resources to guide your little one on how to expand their imaginative and innovative skills, as well as their knowledge on topics of interest.  


If a child is playing with a toy or material, an adult can always add to and improve their play! To keep children engaged, adults can observe and ask questions, narrate, make suggestions, and ask questions! See the section below for more suggestions! 


In addition to free play in the classrooms, each day we have a regular circle time that requires both child and grown-up engagement. The more the grown-up is fully participating, the more likely it is that the child will sing or move along! Each circle time guest appreciates the respect caregivers and adults give by joining in, as well as paying attention to their routine and encouraging children to participate. 


We encourage adults to use the digital cameras in each classroom as often as they’d like! We will upload the photos to our photo sharing site each afternoon. 


What is the daily schedule for the playgroup?

Little Lemons (6 months - 22 months)
9:00am - 10:00am Free Play

10:00am - 10:30am Snack

10:30am - 11:00am Circle Time 

11:00am - 12:00pm Free Play

Little Limes (22 months - 4 years)
9:00am - 10:00am Free Play 

10:00am - 10:30am Circle Time

10:30am - 11:00am Snack

11:00am - 12:00pm Free Play


What is free play? 

Free play is unstructured play, where children can choose the toys and materials they’d like to work with. Free play encourages spontaneous play, which comes naturally from children’s natural curiosity and allows them to explore topics that are of interest to them! 


Can you tell me more about how the classrooms are arranged? What are the different centers all about?
Together with experts at grOH!, we have designed our classrooms to be based around seven main areas of play.  While these areas may differ between classrooms and throughout the changing of themes, you will always find a piece of them in the room. Each area is labeled in the classroom with posters; we encourage you to utilize the descriptions and tips on the posters to help build on your child’s play each day.  


Play Areas:

Skill Development/Fine Motor 

Imaginary/Small World Play



Gross Motor


Dramatic Play 

*For more information on the play areas and their targeted developmental areas, please see the classroom signs! 


Why isn’t there a designated time for art?
Art supplies and instructions for the themed crafts remain out and accessible throughout the day! Little artists and their grown ups can utilize these materials at any point during the morning. Each week, the classroom will have two suggested projects, or a variety of materials for our friends to use to create their own masterpiece. We hope the flexibility of art time can allow little ones to be more creative and continue to work on their art pieces throughout the week; if they paint a picture on Monday or Tuesday, they could add to it with additional paint or materials throughout the week.  


Why does the classroom change theme every 3-weeks?

We use thematic, or Topic Based Play, to help children dive deep into one topic at a time.  During the three week “study” we are able to build on activities and give children the space to explore each topic at their pace. Every three weeks, we begin a new theme, which also gives us an opportunity to rotate out materials and toys to make sure things stay fresh and new in the classrooms! 


What is the caregiver’s role and responsibility while at Lemon Tree?

We hope that while at Lemon Tree, caregivers are not only keeping an eye on their child, but they are engaging with, encouraging, and modeling how to play with each toy and material. 


To keep children engaged in play, adults can: 

  • Observe and ask questions.

“I see you are building something, is it a house?”

  • Narrate. 

“You put the block into the truck!”

  • Make suggestions, model, or demonstrate other ways to utilize a material.

“When you hit the blocks together, it made a sound!  Can you make stack the blocks? 

  • Participate!  The more involved we are, the more likely the little ones are to be engaged. 


Do we need to clean up as we are playing?
It can be tricky to know when to clean up if other friends are still playing with that toy!  We have found, however, that not only is it helpful to clean up as you go along, it teaches little ones responsibility and keeps their play more engaged.  


When there are many toys and materials out, children can become overwhelmed and have trouble focusing on playing in a purposeful way; the game can just become dumping or throwing materials.  We find it is best when we play with one to three items at a time to keep a little one focused and getting the most out of their play!


All materials are labeled with photographs to ensure you can find their home.  We ask that you put things away as you go and make sure to help clean up at least one material before you leave for the day.  


Circle Time 


Fall Weekly Schedule:

Monday: Tippi Toes Dance
Tuesday: Music & Stories with Sarah
Wednesday: Music & Movement with Karissa
Thursday: Yoga with Siobhan
Friday: Music & Stories with Mr. John 


What is Circle Time etiquette at Lemon Tree? 

Children model our behavior, so when adults actively participate, our children will too!  To be respectful of our circle time guests and to keep our little ones engaged, we ask that you reserve adult conversations for after this special time.  


While we don’t encourage pulling out toys or other materials during this time, it’s perfectly fine for little ones to roam around the classroom, or even take breaks by leaving the classroom and coming back when they are ready to dance/sing/move with the group! 


Can I use my cell phone to capture moments from circle time? 

We’ve noticed that when caregivers take photos and videos, it actually takes away from the experience and their interaction with the children. We encourage the use of the classroom cameras for capturing the fun; photos/videos will be shared at the end of the day on our Homeroom photo sharing site! 


Cell Phones


At Lemon Tree, each child is under the responsibility of the caregiver or parent that accompanies them that day. If that grown-up is focusing on something other than their little one, accidents are more likely to happen. 


In the event that an adult needs to make phone calls, send text messages or emails, or utilize their device in any way, they may use the hallway. 


We appreciate you informing your caregivers, family, and guests about our policy and their cooperation when in our space. By being at Lemon Tree, you are agreeing to participate in a cell-phone free space.


So, cell phones aren’t allowed in the classrooms?

We are proud to be a cell-phone free space, to keep the focus on the children and to maintain:


Participation, in order to promote purposeful play, Consideration to be respectful of circle time guests, and Safety, which is always our number one priority. 


How do I see photos of my child throughout the day? 

We upload photos daily to our photo sharing site - Shutterfly. When you click on our direct link, you can sign up for as many or few notifications as you’d like.  




How will I find out details for special events and field trips?

We will always send out an email 1-2 days before the event/trip with details, meeting locations, etc. If you have any additional questions, always feel free to email us at directors@lemontreeplaygroup.com 


Weekly reminders of upcoming events and outings are going to be briefly detailed in our newsletter sent out every Friday!


What will I find in the weekly newsletter? 

Each Friday, we send out a newsletter with a recap of the activities that were available in the classroom the previous week, details on upcoming events, important dates, enrollment information, and photos from the week!  We ask that you read over the newsletter each week to stay up to date on all Lemon Tree happenings!




How will I know when my snack day is?

You can click HERE to view our Snack & Events Calendar and find your last name listed on your assigned snack day. We will also send a reminder the Friday before your snack week.  You will be asked to send us a quick email back to confirm your snack day in the reminder email!  If you are unable to bring snack on the day you are scheduled, please let us know and we can help you swap dates with another family.


What should I do when it’s my snack day?

In the reminder email you will receive the Friday before your week, it will include the details below:


Please arrive with snack by 9:30am on the day you are scheduled to provide snack, and provide enough for 35 children.


Most families bring fruit, a carb (mini bagels, crackers, etc), and a dairy item (yogurt, cheese). 

- Please wash and cut fruit ahead of time.

- Please bring enough plates for that day. 

- Due to allergies, please avoid products with nuts & sesame. 


What if I forget to bring snack on my assigned snack day?

Since our team relies on the snack parent to deliver snack that day, a $50 charge will be applied to your account if you forget or miss your snack day. 


What is the snack procedure? 

Each classroom is called to snack at their respective times. The little ones are encouraged to clean up their toys and wash their hands before sitting down at the green tables for their snack. You are welcome to bring your own snack, we just ask that your child enjoys it when their classroom begins snack time and to limit it to the green tables designated for snack.   


Can I bring my own snack or eat breakfast/lunch at Lemon Tree? 

Yes! You are more than welcome to bring your own food. Please make sure you eat only at the green tables and remember that we are a nut-free space. 


Illness and Injury 


What if my child is not feeling well?

If your little one is not feeling well, we ask you keep them home from Lemon Tree. We want your child to get better as quickly as possible and that involves lots of rest and less interaction with other little friends!


What happens if I see other people in the classroom that are sick? 

If another child is visibly sick, you are welcome to come in to the office and speak privately with the directors about it. We appreciate your vigilance and if the child is too sick to be at Lemon Tree, they will be asked to head home for a day of recovery so they can join us again soon!


What if my child falls down or gets a bump at Lemon Tree? 

Any accident can be a very scary moment for a little one (and their grown-up!). We have first aid kits in the office, ice packs in the freezer, and an emergency protocol listed in case something serious should happen. 


First-aid at Lemon Tree includes an ear thermometer and anything you can find in a basic first-aid kit. If you know your child may need something else in a crisis please keep said medicine or equipment (i.e. an epi pen, benadryl) on you while you are at Lemon Tree.


How can my friend visit Lemon Tree? Can they come with me for the morning? 

We love to make new friends, but per our policy, we cannot have little friends visit without health and consent forms on record. If a friend is interested in joining the playgroup, please direct them to our Open House sign-ups on our website: www.lemontreeplaygroup.com/openhouse




Can my older child come to Lemon Tree?

All siblings are welcome to join on off-days and enjoy our space as well! Our policy for older siblings of any age is a 3-time visitor’s pass per session. These passes our free to members, just contact us via email to give the heads up and request a pass! 


Can our new baby come to Lemon Tree? 

Newborns and infants under 6 months are more than welcome to join in the fun at Lemon Tree! To cater to all the new siblings we have join our Lemon Tree family, we have bottle warmers, swaddles, and bouncy chairs available for their visits. New babies attend for free and are welcome to come as many times as needed until they are 6 months old! After their 6 month birthday, we can begin the process of officially adding them to your membership


Frequently Asked Questions


What if I need to use the restroom or make a phone call?

This is a community and there are plenty of people to help out!  If you need to step out of the classroom, be sure to designate an adult to watch your child while you are out. And, be sure to let them know exactly where you are, so they can reach you if needed!


What if I need to contact my caregiver but their cellphone is not on them?

You are welcome to call the office anytime: 202 319 2618.  We do our very best to be available and answer the phone.  

Can my child play in the other classroom?  

To keep our little ones safe and around toys and play areas designed for their own age group, we ask that all friends stay in their assigned classrooms for the first part of the morning.  After 11:00am you may visit the other classroom.  


Is there anything I should know about changing diapers? 

There are changing tables located in both bathrooms.  You may want to use a changing pad if you prefer and we ask that you properly dispose of all diapers and wipes in our diaper pail. This ensures the most sanitary and safe way of getting rid of our waste and keeping our space smelling and looking clean.  The bigger bins in the restrooms are specifically for paper products.  We also encourage you to use the cleaning products available in each restroom to disinfect the changing table after use.


My child is potty training, can I do this at Lemon Tree?
Of course!  We have small potties in each of the restrooms and a training seat that goes over a regular potty in the restroom on the left.  We ask that you clean out the potty after each use so that it is clean for the next person.  


How can we celebrate my child’s birthday at Lemon Tree?

We love celebrating our little friends together. Typically, a nut-free school-safe treat, such as muffins, is the best option if you are thinking of bringing something to share for the room. We are happy to light a candle if you bring one! During circle time, we give your child the Birthday Hat and the circle time guest will sing Happy Birthday To You!  


Aside from this, please do not bring adult treats or goodie bags of any sort for the classrooms. We want our friends to feel special and we have lots of birthdays throughout the year, it is best to keep celebrations about the little one on their day!


How does Lemon Tree keep the classrooms and toys safe and clean? 

We really appreciate our members contributing to the overall cleanliness of the space by doing the following: 

  • utilizing the “Clean Me” buckets: after using a toy, we appreciate if you or your caregiver would place the toy in the “Clean Me” bucket. 

  • notifying a Lemon Tree staff member if a toy should be removed: if a toy was used and looks as though it shouldn’t continue to be played with, just grab a staff member and let us know!

  • sanitizing: we encourage everyone to sanitize their hands every time they enter and exit the classroom. Washing hands and sanitizing is the best way to prevent germs in the room.


Lemon Tree has a routine cleaning every week for every toy, every surface, and every communal space such as the ball pit and the kitchens. We disinfect, sanitize, and steam everything in our space on a daily or rotating basis to ensure your child is in a clean and safe environment! We also have professional cleaners provide a detailed service twice a week + additional visits, as needed. 


Parking is tricky, do you know where I can find a spot?

Street parking in DC can be a difficult task!  We recommend to try parking on New Hampshire or W Street, where you can usually find a spot.  You can also check out V Street near the police station, but note that seasonal street cleaning is on Mondays and Tuesdays.  

Reminder: check the signs before exiting your vehicle to make sure you are not parked on a street that will have Street Cleaning that day!  You will also find a parking garage directly behind Lemon Tree in an alley you can access from V St or W St. There is a phone number directly above the garage door that you can call to have them open it. The valet will open the door for you and park your vehicle! It is usually between $5-$15, depending on the length of your stay. 


Will my child receive a Lemon Tree t-shirt?

Yes, every child receives a shirt on their first day! If you or your caregiver would like a shirt, we offer adult-sized Lemon Tree t-shirts in heather gray and green for $20 each

What if my child still naps? Is there a place for my child to nap at Lemon Tree?

We are unable to provide a nap time room specifically for children who still nap.  We have several bouncy chairs that families are welcome to utilize in the classrooms.  If you have a child that can nap in a car seat, you are able to bring them in to the office.  We only ask that you put your little one to sleep before coming in the office, as it is a workspace and it is often being utilized to prepare snack or craft. Due to limited space and our “no stroller” policy, strollers cannot be parked in the office for naptime. 


Can I bring my stroller inside?
As it turns out, we simply do not have the space for a large number of strollers inside our space at once.  When strollers are blocking the hallway, it becomes a fire and safety hazard. We are also unable to leave strollers in the stairwell or inside the church. If a Lemon Tree stroller is found inside, it will be placed outside. We recommend you bring a stroller lock and securing it to the railing or bike rack in front of the building.  


What if it’s raining, can I bring my stroller inside then?

Due to fire and safety hazards, strollers cannot be left inside at any time. If the weather is bad, we encourage you to bring a stroller cover! You are welcome to bring everything else in your stroller such as bags, umbrellas, and jackets, inside to keep in our cubbies.  If you forgot your stroller cover, we have a limited number of tarps or trash bags for your use, just ask the Lemon Tree staff! 


What if I notice a spill or what if i see something messy?
We show our pride by having an orderly and clean space! Please help us maintain the space by cleaning up after yourself and letting us know if you see any spills or areas of concern. 

Please let us know when something is not working properly.  We understand accidents happen and are happy to help. 


Lemon Tree Contact Info


General Questions: directors@lemontreeplaygroup.com

Sarah Rudolph: sarah@lemontreeplaygroup.com

Whitney Marsh: whitney@lemontreeplaygroup.com

Karissa Clodfelder: karissa@lemontreeplaygroup.com

Parent Board: parentboard@lemontreeplaygroup.com