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Pre-K | 2021
Publisher: Benchmark Education
The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines Alignment
Social & Emotional
Language & Development
Emergent Literacy Reading
Emergent Literacy Writing
Section 2. Integration of Content and Skills
Section 3. Health and Wellness Associated Domains
Section 4. Language and Communication Domain
Section 5. Emergent Literacy: Reading Domain
Section 6. Emergent Literacy: Writing Domain
Section 7. Mathematics Domain
Section 8. Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts, and Technology Domains
Section 9. Progress Monitoring
Section 10. Supports for All Learners
Section 11. Implementation
Section 12. Additional Information: Technology, Cost, Professional Learning, and Additional Language Supports
|Grade||Student TPG %||Teacher TPG %|
The materials are cross-curricular and integrated in an authentic way to support students’ unified experience throughout the day. Materials provide lessons that integrate multiple developmental domains and name which domains are purposefully developed or reinforced in each learning activity aligned with Texas Prekindergarten guidelines.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Instructional materials include specific, intentional, and purposeful cross-curricular connections to create an integrated experience. For example, all units in the program are organized thematically, and each overarching theme encompasses all subjects and Prekindergarten learning domains. Each teacher unit guide includes an overview table for instruction across the learning domains that delineates learning by domain per week. The learning domains all have theme-related activities in social and emotional skill development, language and communication, emergency literacy and writing, mathematics, science and health, social studies, fine arts, physical development, and technology aligned with Texas Prekindergarten guidelines.
In Unit 1, the theme “All About Me” includes intentional and purposeful theme-related activities such as role-playing appropriate ways to express feelings, discussing things that make children feel happy, discussing how children have the same body parts but they may look different, and discussing foods children like and dislike. The materials contain content-building information for teachers about the domains being taught or reinforced and how multiple domains are integrated/connected. The small and whole group lessons include explicit connections to Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. In a whole group activity, “Introduce the Sense of Hearing,” the teacher displays the Unit 1 Poster, points to the ears on the poster, and discusses how humans use our ears to hear sounds. The materials cite the PreK Guidelines VI.B.3 Child observes, investigates, describes, and discusses the relationship of organisms to their environments aligned to this activity.
In Unit 4, the theme is “Community Jobs and Fall.” Activities included throughout the unit integrate multiple domains. For example, related to social skills and social studies, the children learn about ways to serve others by completing jobs at school and at home. In a cross-curricular activity focused on the science domain, the teacher discusses changes in weather during the seasons and integrates written expression as students record their ideas on a chart. In another lesson, the children focus on social studies and language and communication as they tell how community helpers make the community a safe place to live. For each activity, the materials provide a reference to Texas Prekindergarten guidelines.
In Unit 5, lessons integrate multiple domains to develop math, science, and social studies concepts. Students learn about the winter season by reading the book “Winter Season and Weather” by J. R Wilson and discuss cold weather. During the small group lesson, students identify parts of the body and how to protect them from the weather. During the next day’s Science lesson, the teacher shows them different clothing used in the winter, and students identify what part of the body each article of clothing belongs to and how it helps protect their body. Later in the week, during the writing activity, students draw a penguin and discuss the details of their drawing, continually making connections to and exploring the idea of winter. Each lesson also provides a reference to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines, and a preface at the beginning of each lesson explains how to make the connection between domains and names best practices for each activity connected to Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
Unit 7 activities support children's ability to build background knowledge, make connections, and explore concepts in a variety of ways. In the “Transportation” theme, the lessons integrate fine motor development and social studies as the students discuss places to go with family and friends, share how families use technology to locate places or access directions or a map, and tear paper to create a dump truck. In another lesson related to the theme of transportation, the children explore integrated science and mathematics skills as they explore how wheels roll, experiment with speed and motion using cars/ramps, and compare and contrast different road surfaces. These activities are referenced to the aligned Prekindergarten guidelines.
Unit 10 lessons integrate subjects in both whole or small group content delivery. In a small group review lesson for science and health, the teacher expands on the theme related to the literacy lesson of ecology and the relationships between people, insects, and the environment. Previously, the teacher explained to students the concept of bee pollination, and the science activity demonstrates how pollination occurs. The students mimic pollination with cheese curls and their fingers. Later in the unit, another activity integrates mathematics and the fine arts domains by having children make ladybug headbands with individual drawings of ladybugs and following directions using ordinal terms, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth.
The materials utilize high-quality texts as a core component of content and skill integration. The materials include multiple genres of text, including, but not limited to, nonfiction and fiction books, poems, songs, and nursery rhymes to support content and skill development in multiple domains.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a library of 126 titles with a variety of genres (e.g., fantasy, poems, nonfiction) and culturally diverse topics. There are nonfiction informational texts, like Community Helpers, as well as fictional fantasy like Filomena the Flip-Flop Fairy by J. R. Wilson. The materials include 19 Informational Big Books, 9 Literary Big Books, 9 Mathematical Lap Books, 10 High-Frequency Word Lap Books, 11 Social-Emotional Lap Books, 19 Informational Small Books, 9 Literary Small Books, 10 High-Frequency Word Small Books, 10 Trade Books, 10 Student Books, and 10 Take-Home Books in addition to Literacy and Math Posters that support the continuance of thematic learning with clear connections to other domains. The materials contain culturally relevant texts for students, such as Chuy’s Pinata Party and Growing Like a Bean Sprout.
In Unit 1, during a read-aloud, the teacher reads a book called A Pouch for Pocket by Ran Yi, illustrated by Yongheng Wei. In the lesson, students learn how a kangaroo thinks her pouch will make a perfect honey jar; when bees disagree, the kangaroo learns what a pouch is really for. In the Emergent Literacy Reading lesson, students learn how to make simple inference using the cover illustrations by responding to teachers' questions like “I see a kangaroo with flowers in its pouch, What do you think the story is about?” and “Why do you think Pocket has a pouch?” During the second read, students learn to identify the colors Blue and Red when the teacher points out the flowers and asks, “What color are flowers?” The children also learn to identify “Big” and “Little” when they compare fish, bees, and flowers. These read-alouds give students opportunities to practice math, science, and language skills.
In Unit 7, students understand and retell the sequence of events while reading Little Bunny’s Balloon by Wook Jin Jung. The teacher points out the details in the text during the read aloud and stops to let students ask questions. The children identify the sequence of events by responding to the questions like, “Who are some of the characters little bunny meets?” and “Who helps little bunny next?” The teacher uses the book to model how to describe the position of an object using position location words like next to, on top of, and in. The teacher also uses this book to help children identify shapes in the illustration, such as round/circular shapes for windows and rectangular shapes for chimneys. The book covers several domains, like math, science, language, and literacy.
In Unit 10, students engage with the book Abracadabra by Shanshan Li. The teacher reads aloud and models how to use text and illustrations to find answers. The children learn the vocabulary word abracadabra as commonly used with magic tricks. According to a book read later in the unit, the teacher reviews the body parts of caterpillars and butterflies, and children share the personal stories of insects they have seen. The read-alouds provides an opportunity for children to practice science, language, and literacy.
The materials support developmentally appropriate practice across all content domains as well as a variety of opportunities for purposeful play that promotes student choice.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Classroom Management Resource Guide gives guidance on establishing routines related to student choice. Chapter 3 of the guide discusses implementing routines with management tools as well as displaying activity changes and choice opportunities. The materials provide guidance for creating a rotation chart that helps the teacher establish flexible groups with student choice to form mixed-skill, heterogeneous groups. The resource provides guidance for the teacher on initially supporting students in learning centers until they learn to consider options and choices and follow established routines and procedures; for example, the materials note that establishing a Choice Board helps children see and make a choice regarding which learning center to engage with. The teacher models appropriate choice-making by using a sentence stem like “I want to play in the...center.” or “ I choose the....center.”
The Unit Teacher’s Guide includes research-based information to support the teacher’s understanding of the importance of play as a foundation for learning across all domain areas. The research-based resource guide includes a section with research-based practices regarding fostering social learning interactions to support student learning. The materials note that the program was created with a focus on social learning interactions, both for the children’s interactions with the teachers and with peers. The materials describe classroom activities as opportunities for students to work with partners and in small groups in which students lead and make choices to experience and develop their leadership skills. The guides include information on setting up and facilitating activities, including guidance on providing instruction for whole and small group lessons, a “Unit Materials to Collect List” that defines the unit classroom materials needed, and a daily suggested schedule with specific time frames offered: approximately 15 minutes of direct instruction in the whole group with an average of 20 minutes in small groups as well as transition times. The guides recommend beginning each day with a whole group language and communication lesson and usually two to three activities during the lesson. Each whole group lesson is followed by a small group lesson to directly teach concepts and skills. These small group lessons provide activities which can then be completed and practiced in designated center areas, following best practices in early childhood to support student engagement and learning through play.
In the Unit 1 small group activity “Sort Circles,” students review the concept of big or little by sorting big and little red circles. In the math learning center for the same week, students use different objects to sort by size (big and little) to practice the same skill in a different setting. Providing an opportunity for a playful and purposeful learning experience, in a small group language activity, “Introduce Sense of Taste,” the teacher discusses the sense of smell and taste. Then, students experience smelling and tasting foods such as cereal apples, raisins, and lemon drops with their eyes closed. Following this activity, they classify the foods as sweet, sour, or salty by responding to the teacher’s questions, “Does the food taste sweet? Does the food taste sour? Does the food taste salty?” This activity shows a balance of direct instruction and playful, experiential learning.
In a Unit 4 small group language activity, the students read “Fall Season and Weather” by J. R. Wilson and discuss the changes in the weather in the fall. Students take turns selecting fall clothing items. Further in the unit, in a Dramatic play learning center activity, “Dressed for the Weather,” students practice this learning by matching clothing for different weather.
In Unit 5, the materials include a teacher-led activity focused on measurement. The teacher facilitates learning as the students follow a recipe to make modeling clay. During this lesson, the teacher introduces concepts related to measurement and measuring tools. Then, later in the unit, students practice this concept in the dramatic play center as they use measuring cups and other props to pretend to be bakers.
Unit 10 has at least six learning center activities per week related to the theme of insects. At the beginning of this unit, the teacher sets up and connects learning through purposeful play in centers: in the math center, students sort and classify insects; in blocks, they build insect habitats; in the art center, they create caterpillars; and in literacy, they read and explore a variety of books about insects. Each of these activities extends learning from small and large group lessons focused on this theme.
The materials fit within a developmentally appropriate programmatic structure and provide a variety of options for scaffolding, noting when materials are for three or four-year old children. The materials provide clearly differentiated instruction based upon children development. Materials provide some guidance on implementation for a half-day program and/or a full-day program.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide an executive summary of the research-based practices and guidance of the program for children ages 3–5 years, forming the Ready to Advance Research Base. The BUILD lesson addresses the students working on prerequisite skills, and materials note that it is scaffolded for younger children (3’s) or children who need more support. The REACH lesson is for those students who are working on a level in that skill. The EXTEND lesson is for students working above level and who need extension activities, and materials note that it is for older children (4s-5s) who are ready to expand knowledge.
The materials provide sample daily schedules: the half-day schedule outlines four small group time periods providing three hours of instruction with suggested instruction lasting from 7:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and the full-day schedule lasts from 8:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. The materials note that if implementing a half-day program, a teaching assistant would need to provide the Math and Science instruction at the worktable while the language and literacy instruction is occurring. The differing full-day schedule allows for four Language and Communication and three Math and Science small group activities.
Unit 1 provides a variety of options for teachers to differentiate instruction during whole and small groups to support students who are at different levels and/or are English Learners (EL). The materials recommend instruction be no more than 15 minutes per activity. For the first whole group lesson, the Daily Focus occurs for 5 minutes, and during this time, the teacher reviews the first day of school rituals such as putting on a nametag, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Texas Pledge, and students review books as they arrive. During this time, the teacher also reviews the vocabulary words during the Language Focus activity. The materials provide teachers suggestions on scaffolding instruction during a 10–20 minute whole group language activity by reading aloud, Fishing with Pops by J. R. Wilson. The teacher introduces the book and scaffolds for students by asking questions like “Look at the boy’s face. How does the boy feel? Look at Pop's face. How does he feel? Tell me about their clothing.”
Unit 3 is aligned with the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines teaching strategies to provide direct instruction in an appropriate time frame with hands-on materials and physical movement. A whole-group read-aloud on “Where People Live” lasts for 10–20 minutes: the teacher displays the book; reviews the print concepts; reads the first nine pages, pausing to point out details that distinguish neighborhoods in different locations; and conducts a picture walk to identify similarities and differences in homes and neighborhoods. The teacher asks questions throughout the read aloud and closes the lesson by explaining that neighborhoods are a part of a community where people live, work, and play. The lesson shifts to the next activity, “Sound-Symbol Relationships,” which is slotted for no longer than 10–15 minutes to support the short attention span of young children.
The Unit 7 lesson and activity support students’ comprehension by scaffolding the 10–20 minute whole group language activity on geography. The teacher Introduces the earth by displaying a globe and asking children what they think it is for. The teacher asks questions such as: “What shape is this object? (round, ball) What do you think it is used for?” The teacher then points out the different colors on the globe and asks, “Why do you think it has different colors?”
Unit 9 includes support for scaffolding in the material to align with children’s attention span. The whole group, Language and Communication lesson lasts for 10–20 minutes. The teacher displays the book, reads the title and author’s name, and children identify objects in the cover photographs. The teacher then explains milk comes from cows that live on farms and is used to make many foods people eat, and ask students to raise their hands if they eat yogurt, cheese, etc. The teacher reads pages 2–9, pausing for children to examine details in the photographs and make connections with familiar foods they eat. The teacher defines words and uses them in a sentence.
The materials include detailed guidance that supports the teacher's delivery of instruction. The guidance is evident and provides adequate strategies for teaching prekindergarten skills. They also include guidance for students’ actions and the development of content and skills. Materials guide the teacher to make connections to student’s prior content knowledge and experiences to new learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include resources such as the “Program Guide” that lists the components “Program Overview,” “Efficient Routines and Procedures,” “Effective Instructional Design,” and “Excellent Program Resources and Instructional Components.” The Excellent Program Resources and Instructional Components contains teacher guidance on Mathematics Lap Books that include the concepts and skills students will learn and what the teachers can use the lap book for: “Teachers can use text and illustrations from the books to: Introduce new concepts and develop understanding and number sense; Talk about key details involving sizes, shapes, quantities and counting, sorting, and making comparisons; Demonstrate how to set up problems before/after using real objects; Reasoning using examples and numerals and data.” Teachers can find guidance on the 10 Learning Domains as well as content and skills from the ten learning domains that follow developmental learning progressions in the Effective Instructional Design resource. In Efficient Routines and Procedures, there is a Classroom Management Guide that includes the essential tools needed to create organized environments for learning and development.
In Unit 1, the material provides learning progressions that scaffold the content and follows the gradual release model. During a whole group language activity, “Paint with Paintbrushes,” the teacher models how to hold the paintbrush and how to use the correct grip and pressure to grasp the paintbrush. The teacher also models how to dip the tip of the paintbrush into the paint and move the brush on the art paper. The children then copy the model and paint designs that make them happy. In the same unit, the materials provide guidance for teachers to connect the students’ prior knowledge to the new learning in a small group Life Science activity, “Review the Sense of Touch,” in which students use their prior knowledge about the sense of touch to describe how different textured objects such as washrag, paper towels, rocks, cotton ball, and tape feels.
In Unit 5, the materials include a balance of teaching strategies to meet the needs of the students. During the science lesson, students use color cards as visual support as they discuss primary colors and how to make other colors when mixing two colors. The same activity is taught in small groups, and students engage in a hands-on color mixing experience as they finger paint. The material includes suggestions to use open-ended questions to spark students’ memories and connect background knowledge to their learning when children answer the opening question, “What games have you played at a party?”
In the Unit 7 whole group math activity “Spatial Sense: Follow Directions,” students engage in kinesthetic learning using a bean bag to follow directions with position words. Further in the unit, during a whole group read-aloud of “Introduce Land, Water, and Air” by J. R. Wilson, the students use prior knowledge to name and describe the different types of vehicles that have traveled by land, water, and air.
In Unit 10, the materials provide instructional strategy suggestions within the lessons. In a small group language and communication lesson, the materials suggest that teachers give children a dry erase board and marker to practice printing all letters except q, which has not been introduced and includes a chant: Slant right, slant left, and make lines cross. Additionally, in this unit, children use manipulatives to support concrete understanding within a math lesson focused on the concept of cardinality and combining groups such as two insects plus two insects equals four insects.
Materials are supported by child development research and include a description of how the research supports the program. Research-based guidance for instruction reinforces educator understanding of early childhood development. The research used is current, relevant to early childhood development, and applicable to Texas-specific context. The materials contain a bibliography.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials are supported by current, relevant child development research and include a description of how the research supports the program. The document “Research Foundation” by Vicki Gibson and Janet Macpherson notes that early childhood instruction research supported the creation of the program’s design and components, classroom management practices, and classroom infrastructure to support both children and teachers.
The “Program Guide” provides teachers with a program overview and includes information for teachers in the research base tab that describes the instructional components and practices that have a direct influence on children’s growth in PreK classrooms. The included research supports the design of the materials to include repeated exposure to the content and intentional integration of spiral review. The research lays the foundational understanding of modeling, feedback, and interactive practice to support the development of conceptual and procedural knowledge of the concept or skill that is being taught. In another example, as cited from Farran et al. (2017), supporting the creation of a positive emotional climate, the classroom routines and procedures embedded in daily lessons ensure that all children have equal access to high-quality learning experiences. Additional recommendations are supported by research related to reducing transition time (routines and wait time for children). The materials’ sources state, “To reduce the stress, frequency, and time associated with transitions (Burts et al., 1990; Hemmeter et al., 2008), the classroom management tools and recommendations embedded within Ready to Advance instill the development of efficient behavioral habits in children.”
Unit 1 includes research-based instructional teaching strategies designed for whole and small groups to support and target specific skills in early childhood. For instance, in Unit 1’s small group math activity, “Math Concepts: Introduce the Concept More,” the teacher models making a row of five blocks. The teacher then makes a second row of three blocks under the top row. Students compare the rows and copy the teacher’s model to make two rows and compare them. The teacher is using modeling as an instructional strategy for informal representation of math concepts and then moving the children into a more concrete representation.
Unit 4 contains early childhood teaching strategies and instructional approaches supported by research that guide the teacher in planning and implementing the lessons. The teacher uses the Hear-Say-Do LL Routine #1 instructional strategy as a learning progression to scaffold the content and skills during a whole group language activity “Read-Aloud: Introduce Filomena the Flip-Flop Fairy.” This helps teachers explain to the children the concepts of fairy and forest.
In Unit 7’s whole group Daily Focus, the teacher reviews the day's objectives. The students learn new vocabulary words like real life, make-believe, possible, and impossible and apply them during text work to increase their language development. The materials include best practices for this activity by stating, “Encourage children’s language development by asking them to provide explanations or examples” to support teachers.
Unit 8 includes research-based strategies for individualized child learning and adequate development. During the read-aloud, using the big book “Keeping Earth Clean,” students discuss ways to keep the earth clean. During small groups, the teacher extends the activity by using cups with water, food coloring, and pieces of paper to show the students the changes in the planet when trash piles up in the ocean. These approaches are appropriate and supported by research for prekindergarten students.
The materials reviewed partially meet the criteria for social skill instruction and explicit teaching of skills. Materials include teacher guidance on self-concepts skills, self-regulation skills, relationships with others, and social awareness skills. Materials include appropriate text to support the development of social competencies but lack evidence to support the development of competencies to understand and respond to emotions.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the teacher models building relationships between teachers and peers when reading the lap book Time for School. The teacher uses the provided text to focus on the characters’ feelings. Children practice identifying feelings in the story; they are also provided with supporting activities like acting out feelings and using provided sentence frames, such as “I feel afraid because…” to develop feeling vocabulary. The included texts, such as the books A Family and Your Body Works, are culturally relevant and developmentally appropriate; they include Asian, Hispanic, White, and African American characters.
In Unit 3, the teacher provides explicit teaching of social skills through a text called Akio Helps; children describe how they feel when they help someone. The instructional materials include a list of additional developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant texts, such as the informational big book Special Celebrations, to reinforce learning.
In Unit 5, the text Don’t Push, Penny! provides a foundation to support the development of social competencies like controlling impulses and sharing with others. The teacher uses the provided text to focus on the character’s feelings; “Children discuss Penny’s actions and share how they feel when someone does not wait their turn, does not listen, or interrupts.” Children practice identifying feelings in the story and are provided with supporting activities. For example, the teacher is instructed to have children pretend to be one of the characters and ask, “What would you say to Penny about her behavior?” If needed, the teacher provides a sentence frame: “Taking turns is important because….”
In Unit 9, for the text Playing Grocery Store, the materials recommend using developmentally appropriate story props to have children act out parts of the story. The story props include a wheelchair, promoting respect for children with special needs. The teacher invites students to elaborate: “What might happen if Rico does not listen to the teacher and share the apples? How would Marla feel? What might happen to Rico?” Additionally, a guide in the “Program Components” section provides teachers with a list of song titles, such as “You can see my feelings” and “I Need Help,” to support skill development through playful learning.
The materials include repeated opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply social skills throughout the day, as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. The materials also provide opportunities to integrate learning and practicing social skills throughout all other content domains.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, students learn, practice, and apply skills like working with teachers and classmates. The teacher models where children should put their things, how to put on a nametag, and where to sit and stand and say the Texas pledge. Practice opportunities are also authentically integrated throughout all other content areas. For example, in the “Social Emotional Learning Guide” for Unit 1, teacher instructions include an activity that uses story props to authentically elaborate on a character’s feelings and experiences in the story Time for School. The story addresses a child’s first day at school and is presented in the whole group language and literacy lesson for Week 2, Day 2.
In Unit 6, after each read-aloud, the class has a whole group discussion about the text. The materials also provide opportunities to practice skills via small groups, songs, collaborative conversation, and movement. In one example, children are exposed to learning across content domains when they draw unique features of people and animals to show how these features make them special. The class also discusses the concept of feeling lonely, shares personal experiences, and has a collaborative conversation about feelings.
In Unit 7, the material provides content domain lessons that include embedded practice for social skills. Each unit has a practice activity that is embedded within content lessons. For example, in Week 2, Riding in an Airplane combines both the unit theme of transportation and the skill of coping with feeling fear and anxiety. In a whole group language and literacy lesson, students share stories about being afraid.
In a Unit 8 earth science lesson, the teacher invites children to share personal stories and experiences with heat, such as sunburns, being tired, or being very hot or thirsty. The text Blooming Butterflies integrates literacy concepts while supporting social skills development: It provides an activity in which the student and teacher retell the story using sequence and sentence stems for language support. The story relates feelings a character experiences while constructing a butterfly house. The teacher guide also connects the lesson to a song called “I Grow, I Grow” to practice new learning throughout the day.
The materials reviewed include some classroom arrangements that support daily opportunities for the practice of social skills. The materials give some guidance on classroom arrangements to support teacher-student and student-student interactions. However, the materials do not consider a variety of factors and components of the physical space and their impact on the students’ social development. The materials can be implemented easily and effectively within a classroom arrangement that supports positive social interactions. However, the materials provide limited suggestions for how to engage students in classroom arrangement in order to promote student ownership of the space.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Classroom arrangement supports daily opportunities for the practice of social skills, including in daily learning centers.
The materials provide a “Classroom Management Guide,” found in the “Program Support” tab, to support teachers in setting up the classroom. The guide consists of four chapters that cover topics such as “Organizing the Classroom Environment,” “Establishing Behavioral Routines,” “Implementing Routines and Management Tools,” and “Preparing for Teaching and Practice.” The materials provide guidance for setting up work areas in the classroom, such as large areas to meet with the whole group, a teaching table to meet with a small group, a work table for small groups, and centers for children to apply learned skills. The guide also provides ways to arrange furniture and designate work areas that allow for clear visibility to monitor children at all times; safe access; easy access to facilities for personal hygiene and handwashing; and storage space for instructional materials.
“Planning Center Activities for Creative Play” provides teachers with guidance, for example: “When introducing a new center, explain expectations and review cleanup routines” and “Use fewer items in each center to support efficient cleanup and promote order until children learn routines and procedures….” The “Classroom Management Guide” has a section on “Organizing Materials and Varying Activity Choices” for students to practice social skills in learning centers. The “Classroom Management Guide” specifically lets teachers know how and what to put in the learning centers for students to practice social skills.
The materials include several examples for small group schedules. There is also a section on collaborative work in learning stations. The “Classroom Management Guide” provides guidance on topics such as how many students can go to each learning center and work collaboratively and which activities can be implemented in each learning center.
The instructional materials give some teacher guidance on classroom arrangement to support teacher-student and student-student interactions. Chapter 4 of the “Classroom Management Guide,” “Preparing for Teaching and Practice,” addresses the difference between whole group and small group activities, grouping children for instruction, using job charts, and using mailboxes and do/done folders to teach organization. This chapter also provides teachers with tips on assigning children to small groups. The materials include suggestions; for example: “[F]our factors to consider when assigning small-group memberships: children’s capabilities and needs, compatibility for behavioral compliance, lesson purpose and intended outcomes, and availability of materials and type of activity.” A “Research Guide” details best practices; for example, small group instruction should be with 3–6 students and last no more than 15–20 minutes. However, the materials do not provide examples with options to support a variety of classroom designs and sizes.
The materials consider a variety of factors and components of the physical space and their impact on students’ social development. In the “Classroom Management Guide,” the materials consider factors in the physical space by providing examples of how to arrange the classroom learning centers, worktable, and whole-group area. The guide also provides the teacher with tips on the number of adults in the classroom and the amount of instructional time available each day to consider when arranging each area. For example, teachers are encouraged to collect materials for a center, store them in plastic tubs with lids, and include a card that lists the items in the container as a way to help in shared arrangements. As an additional point, these learning centers vary in content and help create a balance between academic activities and creative play, which is important in promoting physical, social, and emotional development.
The materials support the teacher in understanding the importance of the physical arrangement of the space in supporting social development; they provide guidance and steps to take to create centers. For example, the materials guide teachers to make sure to determine the instructional purpose of each learning center to encourage social development. The materials also suggest teachers choose fewer items for each center in the beginning to support efficient cleanup and then add more options as children demonstrate the maturity to manage more materials and choices. Additionally, teachers determine ways to teach, model, and practice routines for using each center so that expectations are clearly communicated, and children know how to participate and clean up. Teachers designate an area in the classroom for each center and post a sign that names the center and includes a numeral to indicate how many children may participate at one time.
The materials provide teachers with guidance on role-playing and modeling empathy and compassion; however, they do not specify how this will help students learn concepts or develop skills. While there are some suggestions for small group and whole group classroom arrangement, the materials do not describe how these arrangements would support interaction or promote student ownership. Teachers are told to set up important components of the classroom before children arrive or when children are not present, but there are no opportunities to involve children in the classroom arrangement at other times of the year.
The instructional materials reviewed include activities to develop physical skills and refine motor development through movement. Throughout the units, there are materials to provide numerous daily opportunities for students to develop their gross motor skills through movement. Materials also include daily opportunities for students to develop their fine motor skills through tasks that do not require writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The teacher guide for “Emergent Writing” includes activities to develop physical skills and refine motor development through movement. For example, the teacher is directed: “Use a flashlight beam on the ceiling to trace the movement for the alphabet stroke. Turn the flashlight on in the exact spot where you will begin the stroke, ‘Up and around’ (always moving in a counterclockwise direction), and have children copy the movement using their arms or legs as they repeat the chant.” Further examples include: “March in a circle, moving counterclockwise and reciting the chant;” “Trace over shapes of round objects using fingers and have children repeat the chant each time they complete the movement. Use finger paint or shaving cream to draw round shapes (i.e., circles and ovals) using the stroke.”
In Unit 1, the materials provide activities to develop gross motor skills through movement. For example, in the lesson “All About Me,” students follow directions to bend, stretch, exercise, maintain balance, and move safely.
The materials do not limit fine motor skill development to writing tasks but suggest that children have access to a variety of tools, paper, and other materials that can be used in the learning centers. For example, the materials suggest the use of shaving cream and tearing paper and glue to practice strokes/lines.
In Unit 3, materials include authentic movement opportunities embedded throughout instructional time. For example, the teacher uses clapping syllables for syllable segmentation during phonological awareness activities. During a listening comprehension activity, students direct each other where to stand, hop, and walk around a partner. Further examples include a transition activity where the teacher plays “Simon Says” (“Put your right hand on top of your right knee”) while reviewing location/position words along with body parts.
Additionally, under the “Unit Resources,” the “Instruction Across Domains” page provides the teacher with a weekly overview of the activities and the learning domain that will be addressed; the physical domain describes reviewing pre-writing strokes using arms and legs and playing “Near and Far” with bean bags. In another activity, “Children jump and count orally with different movements, climb, crawl, walk sideways and backward through an obstacle course and perform stretches that help practice balance and coordination.”
In Unit 6, the materials provide games and group play ideas that help children develop gross motor skills. For example, children learn how people use their body parts to move by throwing and catching bean bags.
The materials also provide tasks that help develop fine motor skills so that the small muscles of hands are prepared for writing. For example, during whole and small groups for math, students use linking cubes to engage in the instructional activity. After reading aloud the story Mattie’s Impossible Mane, the teacher models how to draw vertical lines, hold scissors, and cut paper using correct hand positions and grip. To continue to develop fine motor skills, during “Extended Learning,” “Students cut various shapes such as circles and triangles to make different features of the lion’s face.”
The materials provide teacher guidance on modeling safe and healthy habits for students. The materials also provide a variety of opportunities and activities for students to practice safe and reflect on safe and healthy habits. However, the materials do not communicate the explicit connection for both students and teachers between physical and mental health.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, materials present the theme of personal hygiene; the teacher models routines such as washing hands, brushing teeth, and using tissues to cover coughs. The materials also include books, songs, posters, and lessons that directly support the teacher with modeling safe and healthy habits. For example, there are posters and charts that show the steps for coughing and sneezing into the elbow and the steps for washing hands. Additionally, the materials provide specific lessons with scripts for teachers to use to model safe and healthy habits. For example, on Week 1, Day 1, the teacher introduces the handwashing routine through explanation, use of picture charts, and role-play and practice. The materials guide the teacher to display the chart, point to, and model each step, and have the children role-play as the teacher says the steps and models the behavior. The books and songs included are child-friendly and playful. For example, familiar songs such as “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” are taught to children; however, no connection is made to show how movement is good for our bodies.
In Unit 3, the materials explore safe and healthy habits through lessons and activities. Teachers present, model, and teach about health and wellness; for instance, teachers discuss healthy foods and habits. Week 3 focuses on healthy food choices, the importance of exercise and rest, and washing the body and brushing teeth. There are also school-to-home materials and/or resources to support building healthy habits at home. For example, the “Take Home Activity Calendar” for Unit 3 includes the take-home book Staying Healthy; it discusses ways to stay healthy, including getting enough sleep. Healthy Choices describes making healthy choices regarding foods that “taste good but are not so good to eat all the time.” The materials also include recommendations for teachers to address unsafe or unhealthy child habits in a positive and supportive way. For example, as a whole group, the class discusses dental safety rules for protecting the mouth and teeth: “We use our mouth and teeth to eat and smile. We can follow two rules to keep our mouth and teeth safe: First, we do not put sharp objects, like pencils or knives, in our mouths. Sharp objects can cut us. Next, we do not put hot food or drinks in our mouths. Hot food and drinks can burn our mouth and tongue. Tell children to ask an adult if they are unsure of how hot a food or drink is. If you think a food or drink is too hot, ask an adult for help.”
In Unit 5, the materials include lessons and activities for teachers to model and teach safe and healthy habits. With support from the teacher, students identify healthy food choices for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. The teacher reviews the importance of washing hands before touching food or eating, and children describe how to prepare their favorite healthy snack. In the same unit, students also discuss emotions shown by characters in the unit theme books, discuss characteristics of a friend, role-play how to be a friend, and explain how friends help us solve problems. The materials include small e-books and take-home books focused on staying healthy, and informational big books address staying healthy and making healthy choices. However, the materials do not communicate the connection between physical and mental health to children or provide guidance to teachers on how to do so.
The materials include guidance on developing students’ listening skills through modeling active listening for understanding and supported and scaffolded daily opportunities for students to listen for understanding. Materials also include opportunities for students to hear sounds, appropriate sentence structure, and grammar in a variety of contexts. Students have multiple opportunities to hear conversations that follow conversation norms.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a “Classroom Management Guide” that provides teachers with guidance on teaching children to listen attentively. For example, the materials note that teachers should have children repeat the following sequence with them while practicing the motions and emphasizing key words: STOP, TURN, LOOK, LISTEN, ASK, THINK. The guide also provides information for the teacher to expand listening skills by pausing personal activity and moving one’s body to focus on the speaker, waiting patiently until the speaker is finished speaking, listening for details, repeating words or asking questions to clarify understandings, reflecting on what the speaker said before responding, and selecting appropriate words, voice tone, and voice level for response.
Additionally, the “Program Resource Guide” includes guidance for establishing collaborative conversations in each unit to facilitate student practice of listening development and language in a related context. The “Concept Cards” included in unit resources also include grammatically correct prompting questions and expected answers in complete sentences.
In Unit 1, a small group lesson provides guidance on teaching hand signals that will help the children cue for skills modeled. In the Language and Communication Section, daily routines are explained with American Sign Language signs and posters establishing the sign for look and listen that provides visual support for the understanding of the modeling for active listening. The materials also guide teachers to use puppets to demonstrate how to listen and wait for a turn to talk.
In Unit 4, the materials include guidance for teachers on modeling conversation that follows communication and listening norms. For example, the teacher reads aloud the book “Finding Oliver,” and students role-play to learn how to say thank you in the appropriate context. During extended learning sessions, the materials guide the teacher to repeat sentences again and instruct students to listen while the teacher says each word and claps between each word of the sentence. After modeling this, the teacher repeats the sentence, and students say the words and clap with the teacher.
In Unit 7, during small group instruction, the teacher reads the book “How People Travel,” and students actively listen for comprehension when the teacher pauses for children to conduct a picture walk and name and describe land vehicles such as bicycle, car, train, trucks, bus, motorcycle. During whole group instruction, the teacher uses the same text, “Compound Word Cards,” and technology to show pictures of people riding horses to travel as visual supports to promote modeling of active listening behaviors. In the same unit, during whole group instruction, the teacher reads the book Come with Me and points out the words in bold print that are repeated often: go, come, me, look. The teacher encourages children to signal with a thumbs-up when they hear these words in the text and pause for children to identify words repeated often to practice listening for understanding. The materials provide guidance for teachers in recognizing that children can demonstrate receptive listening skills in various ways. The teacher uses the graphic organizer “Parts of a Story” for the book My Red Balloon to help children describe where the story takes place, add words and pictures to support recall, and discuss where the story begins. The teacher points to the oval labeled “Characters” and asks children to identify the main characters, then add character names and simple pictures. During a small group language instruction, the teacher models conversation by reading the book My Balloon Adventure and encourages children to repeat familiar words and finish each sentence with the teacher by identifying objects in the photographs. Later during extended learning, children make oral sentences using the sentence frame and objects in the classroom.
In a Unit 10 review lesson, students engage in a small group activity with the use of retelling cards. Students listen to the teacher read and take turns using the retelling cards to explain the events in the story that solved the characters’ problem(s). During the transition activity, students learn the song “Insects on the Move,” in which the teacher calls out directions that describe how an insect moves. Children follow directions as they move from one activity to another. Additionally, the teacher reads aloud “My Pet Cricket” by J. R. Wilson and provides direct instruction of a grammar lesson by using sentence frames to help children respond to comprehension questions with complete sentences and correct grammar. In the same unit, teachers hold collaborative conversations on addressing students that are off-task by using puppets to illustrate an appropriate conversation: listening while others speak, waiting for a turn to talk, using kind words, sharing talking time. The teacher summarizes the conversation and the skills demonstrated by prompting, “Why is it important to listen when a friend is talking? Why is it important to take turns listening and talking?”
The materials include opportunities for students to practice producing sounds and use appropriate sentence structure and grammar in a variety of contexts and provide support and guidance for students to work collaboratively to engage in discussion using conversation norms. However, materials provide little teacher guidance on corrective feedback of students’ speech production, sentence structure, and grammar. The materials do not include guidance on setting up independent learning areas to allow students to practice production of a variety of sounds, appropriate sentence structure, and grammar.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Teacher guidance for corrective feedback is provided in Ready to Advance materials within the Retelling Cards. The corrective feedback is limited within spontaneous speaking and conversation. The materials do provide sentence stems to assist students in producing a full sentence.
In a Unit 3 activity, “Tell About It,” students choose books to read/review and take turns choosing cards to tell what happened in the story or describe the pictures. Students practice producing sounds and using correct sentence structure and grammar when the teacher uses picture cards to encourage students to identify objects in the classroom that are “more than one,” adding ‘s’ to make the plural form. The materials encourage teachers to establish learning centers through the process of “Determine purpose, Gather items, Determine ways to teach, Model and practice, and Designate an area for each center.” However, the materials do not include directions on specifically setting up certain centers with intentional practices of fostering language opportunities.
In Unit 4, the materials give teachers scripts and open-ended questions to engage in authentic conversations with students. One of the questions for the review lesson is, “What do you see in the fall?” Then, the students use the sentence stem “I see a...” to answer and start a conversation with their partner. The materials include information for teachers to model correct sentence structure and grammar by using sentence stems and open-ended questions. For example, in the Community Helper topic, students use sentence stems like, “This is a...(name job) who uses or wears...(describe uniform or tools) to...(describe activity)” to converse with their peers. The materials did not include suggestions on ways to set up independent learning areas to support child practice of sound production and use of sentence structure and grammar other than the learning areas activities suggested per week. The units have extended activities, but the materials do not specify if they are for independent learning.
In Unit 7, the materials utilize both small and large group settings to facilitate oral language activities. For example, during small group language instruction, the students read How People Travel and discuss ways people travel using their body parts. Children name and role-play different ways they move using their body parts (e.g., walk, run, jump, hop, crawl, skip, roll). During whole group language instruction, students make connections by sharing personal experiences about learning to walk, run, or jump. The materials and lessons include open-ended questions for students to respond to and read alouds or activities to support child practice of critical thinking and expressive language.
The materials also include clear guidance for teachers on appropriate ways to support developmentally appropriate speech production, sentence structure, and grammar. For example, in small group language instruction, the material includes guidance on how to use letters that represent sounds, blend sounds (phonemes), and sound out a word. “Listen: /d/ /a/ /d/. I hear three sounds, /d/ (hold up one finger), /a/ (hold up a second finger), /d/ (hold up a third finger), dad. Use a picture for support.” However, the materials do not provide guidance on ways to scaffold child responses for differing verbal speaking abilities. The activities usually advise teachers to encourage children to use complete sentences, but the materials do not provide guidance on scaffolding different verbal speaking abilities.
In Unit 10, the materials provide opportunities for students in small group lessons to practice oral language with appropriate sentence structure and grammar. For example, during the read-aloud, the teacher prompts children to share what they think the story is about. The read-aloud prompts also ask children to complete the sentence stem like, “An insect helps...in an insect colony.” In another small group lesson, students read the book Insects All around, then ask to taste honey and use describing words to tell about the taste and texture of honey. The instructional material provides guidance for teachers to set up purposeful play learning centers such as in math, setting up a water table with water toys such as funnels, floating and sinking toys, and plastic boats with the purpose of having children explore with measuring tools and cups to move water through toys and determining which objects float or sink. Similarly, in an art activity, children make paper plate insects representing the head, thorax, and abdomen for each insect along with other creative tools such as paint, pipe cleaners, and other craft tools. However, the instructional materials do not provide language prompts for authentic language support and development while completing these activities
The materials support expanding student vocabulary using a progression of vocabulary development that is age and sequentially appropriate. The materials include a variety of strategies to support vocabulary development that are integrated and authentically embedded in content-based learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a variety of vocabulary words introduced during the whole group lesson that are later reviewed in small groups and review lessons. These vocabulary words correspond to the theme or reading, and each unit has a list of vocabulary words related to each lesson that guide teachers on how to use vocabulary words throughout the lesson, including examples of child-friendly definitions of new words.
In a whole group literacy lesson from Unit 1, the teacher leads the children in a discussion of homes. Guidance is provided for the teacher to expand the students’ vocabulary through a collaborative conversation focused on similarities and differences in homes. This vocabulary lesson includes age-appropriate and relevant vocabulary acquisition focused on the social studies domain and includes questions embedded within the unit read-aloud that guide the teacher to inquire about student's experience with homes and provide students the opportunity to use relevant vocabulary such as doors, windows, roofs, and stairs.
In Unit 4, the teacher clarifies the name of community workers as needed, discussing vocabulary words like helper, worker, and job, and asks students to make connections by sharing any personal experiences they have with mentioned community workers. Later on, students play a game in which one student acts out the community worker’s role, and their peers guess the name. The materials include a list of words used in the lessons in the “Unit Resources” and suggested “Trade Books” tab.
In Unit 8, the materials include meaningful ways for children to interact with and use new vocabulary words in context. During whole group language instruction, the teacher reads the book Foods From Plants and tells children to listen for words they know and repeat the words with the teacher. During small group instruction, students use “Retelling Cards” to discuss the big ideas and events in the story Growing Like a Bean Sprout, and the teacher encourages them to use vocabulary words they learned during whole group language instruction (plant, bean, seed, sprout, grow) in their discussion.
In a Unit 10 small group read-aloud activity for the big book “Insects All Around,” the teacher uses the photographs in the book to identify new vocabulary such as head, thorax, and abdomen. The teacher provides a sentence stem for children to say, “Insects have a(n) ...” and use vocabulary words as they point to pictures in the book. The materials provide a transition song to support vocabulary acquisition in which the teacher sings and moves to touch with the students using the song, “Head, Thorax, Abdomen.”
The materials include some strategies for supporting English Learners (ELs) in their development of English language skills and developmentally appropriate content knowledge. However, the curriculum provides limited strategies on how to use the child’s first language as a foundation for learning English. Materials do not provide support to teachers to develop students’ vocabulary in both English and the home language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The guidance for incorporating strategies for supporting ELs is primarily found in the “Resource Guide” for general use by the teacher. The materials provide strategies for introducing new vocabulary words through repeated “Instructional Routines,” which include modifications to learn the new words such as “act it out,” “use in primary language,” “provide examples and non-examples,” and “use sentence starters.”
In Unit 2, the materials include some strategies for supporting ELs in making connections to new words: Using quality photographs and images or using picture word cards. For example, during the “Collaborative Conversation,” in order to help children associate typical activities with rooms inside the home, the teacher shows children the picture word cards for kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and living room and says, “Raise your hand if you have a kitchen in your home. What do you do in your kitchen?” The materials include instructional strategies to provide visual support in making connections and developing understanding; however, they do not guide teachers to support children in developing their vocabulary in both English and their home language.
In Unit 7, the materials provide thematic learning to support ELs in making connections to new words. This small group language instruction activity is labeled as “English Learners.” The teacher reads the book How People Travel by J. R. Wilson, clarifies the new vocabulary word past, and explains its meaning as something that already happened. The teacher then models how to use words and phrases — such as yesterday, last week, a long time ago, and when I was a baby — in oral sentences to indicate the past. The materials include strategies for ELs but do not include support for teachers to intentionally use a child’s understanding of his/her first language as the foundation for learning new English vocabulary.
In a Unit 10 small group lesson, the teacher reads the book My Pet Cricket by J. R. Wilson and focuses on sentences in the story that include the pronoun they. The teacher explains that the word they refers to the crickets, plural, or more than one. The lesson continues, with the teacher guiding students in identifying personal and possessive pronouns such as I, he, my, him, his, and you. However, the materials do not provide support for teachers to identify the importance of developing children’s vocabulary in their first language as well as in English.
The materials include opportunities for students to develop oral language skills through authentic text conversations. Materials provide opportunities for students to listen actively, ask questions, and engage in discussion to understand information in texts. Materials also provide consistent opportunities for students to engage in discussions that require students to share information and ideas about the texts. Materials provide support for students to work collaboratively to engage in discussion.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 4, the materials provide opportunities for students to listen actively, ask questions, and engage in discussion. The teacher reads aloud Billion of Blocks by Kurt Cyrus. Students stop and answer questions relevant to the reading, such as “What equipment the workers are using?” Students are encouraged to name and describe actions in the book. The teacher asks, “What is the man carrying?” and “What is the woman using?” These types of questions encourage engagement in open-ended discussions. Students are asked to identify clothing related to the community workers; later, a whole group lesson prompts students to discuss community helpers. At the end of the lesson, students share what they want to be when they grow up. The teacher is provided with planned questions, such as “What job would you like to do when you grow up?” and space to stop and clarify student questions or details.
In Unit 6, materials provide support and guidance for students to work collaboratively to engage in discussion. The teacher goes through small group instruction, guiding students to tell each other riddles about animals, following the teacher model. The teacher starts by giving details of an animal, like “I have two eyes, I have two ears, I have a tail, and I live on a farm”( a horse). After observing the example, students get into partners and take turns telling and answering riddles. There are additional supports like retelling cards and manipulatives for teachers to expand student conversation as they collaborate with others.
In Unit 7, materials include think-alouds that support the teacher in encouraging children to engage in open-ended discussions related to information in texts. The teacher reads a trade book about types of vehicles and modes of transportation, Land, Water, and Air by J. R. Wilson, pausing to respond to children’s comments or questions. The teacher then conducts a picture walk to locate where to place self-stick notes and uses a think-aloud to demonstrate decision-making. The materials provide think-aloud guidance: “I think this is an important event. This event tells ... (explain). I will put a pink note here to mark the important event.” After completing the picture walk, the teacher discusses why certain notes were placed and how that information helps us understand what is happening in the story. Students have the opportunity to practice listening and speaking skills through authentic peer conversations. Students work collaboratively to discuss what they learned from the text. Later in the unit, students discuss how travel may be different in the future. As they participate in a whole group read-aloud of How People Travel by J. R. Wilson, students also express their preferences for vehicle types or modes of transportation. In small group settings, the teacher expands upon these text-dependent conversations. The teacher uses children’s comments to model combining more than one idea in a sentence: “... (child’s name) said he learned people use ships with big engines to travel on water. … (child’s name) said she learned airplanes have big engines. So we learned from reading this book that some ships have big engines and some airplanes have big engines.” Throughout this unit, students are developing oral language skills.
In the Unit 9 small group language read-aloud of Playing Grocery Store by J. R. Wilson, students discuss the problem in the story, ways to help friends, and ways to cooperate with others. Materials provide the teacher with guidance to develop students’ oral language skills. Teachers ask questions to promote active listening and engaging discussion to understand information in texts. When reading the text, the teacher stops to ask, “How did Marla feel when Rico did not want to share the apples?” and “How would you feel if you were Marla?” These two questions allow students to discuss the text and share their own feelings about the text. After the read-aloud, the teacher furthers the discussion by asking, “What are ways you can help a friend who is sad?” and “What should you do when a friend does not cooperate?” These questions extend student thinking and promote collaborative discussion.
In Unit 10, the materials provide opportunities for students to listen actively, ask questions, and engage in discussion to understand information in texts. When reading Little Alvin by J. R. Wilson, the teacher uses illustration to promote discussion. Students take turns paging through the book and using the illustrations to answer open-ended questions such as “Can you tell me one thing you notice about Alvin?” Students are encouraged to use complete sentences and explain their answers. This helps students have an informed discussion about the story’s ending and the problem the main character encountered. The follow-up activity has children discussing a part of the story. Pairs take turns sharing their answers with support from the text. Students use a story web to present their findings and lead a discussion about their assigned story part. This supports students in listening actively, asking questions, and engaging in text-related discussion to understand the presented information.
There is little evidence that materials follow the research-based developmental continuum of how children acquire phonological awareness. Materials include a variety of types of activities that engage students in identifying, synthesizing, and analyzing sounds. Materials allow for student practice of phonological awareness skills both in isolation and connected to alphabetic knowledge skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a scope and sequence document describing the instruction and student practice of phonological awareness skills. In addition, the materials teach phonological awareness skills connected to alphabetical knowledge skills with the use of print, but not in isolation. The teacher uses Elkonin boxes and letter cards to sound out common CVC words and picture word cards to identify beginning sounds and plural nouns with a /s/ on the end.
Materials include a variety of types of activities that engage students in identifying, synthesizing, and analyzing sounds. During whole group instruction in Unit 5, the teacher asks students to listen for parts of words without the use of visuals. Then, in small groups, the teacher reviews the sounds /k/ and /c/ with the use of a picture card. While these activities focus on oral and auditory hearing of sounds, the teacher displays the letter sound card and plastic letters before children have alphabet knowledge. Teachers also embed movements during their instruction, including asking students to show “thumbs up” when they recognize a rhyming word during read-alouds or playing Bingo to review previously learned sounds. However, there is no evidence that students use concrete objects in rhyming games other than picture cards or the book used for the read-alouds.
Materials provide ongoing support and activities that engage students in learning that becomes more complex as students’ knowledge increases. For example, in a Unit 7 small group lesson, students blend onset and rime; in Unit 8, students learn to identify differences in similar-sounding words; and in Unit 9, students review medial sounds. Materials also include a developmental continuum that progresses from larger to smaller units of sound and increasing task difficulty. For example, in Unit 1, high-frequency words include the two monosyllabic words I and the; meanwhile, Unit 10 includes the two multisyllabic words help and down.
In Unit 7, the materials provide balanced instruction in all phonological awareness skills following a research-based scope and sequence; there is a daily small or whole group activity. During a “Sound-Symbol Relationship” activity, the teacher introduces letter sounds by displaying “Sound-Symbol Letter Cards” and asking students to say them together. The teacher also shows the American Sign Language sign: “/d/ Say it with me, /d/. The /d/ sound goes with the letter d. Sign and say it with me, /d/, d.” Students listen for the /d/ sound at the beginning of the words dog, duck, door, dot, desk, dirt. Later in the unit, the teacher reviews how to use letters that represent sounds, blend sounds (phonemes), and sound out a word. She says, “listen: /d/ /a/ /d/. I hear three sounds, /d/ (hold up one finger), /a/ (hold up a second finger), /d/ (hold up a third finger), dad.” The materials also include concepts embedded in purposeful learning experiences across a variety of instructional settings, including large group, small group, and individual learning areas. For example, in the Unit 7 movement learning area, students play “Sound Hopscotch;” a hopscotch board is made using squares outlined on the floor with tape, with a lowercase letter for each square, and beanbags.
In Unit 10, the materials provide direct instruction for newly acquired phonological awareness skills. During whole group lessons, the material explicitly provides guidance for segmenting vocabulary words, such as ab-do-men, en-vi-ron-ment, and an-tan-nae. Similarly, materials guide the teacher through making words by switching beginning sounds and word endings for different onsets and rimes. The teacher gives each student a work mat and three blocks; the teacher says each sound, and students repeat as they place one block in each box, left to right. After saying the sounds /m/ /o/ /p/, the teacher asks, “How many sounds do you hear?” Later in the unit, there are a variety of playful opportunities to interact with sounds. One example is the “Ready to Advance” unit song “The Ants Go Marching.” Students act out the rhyming words like One-by-one, suck his thumb; Two by two, tie his shoe; Three-by-three, climb a tree; and Four-by-four, shut the door.
Materials provide direct and explicit instruction and opportunities for student practice in alphabetic knowledge skills. Also, materials follow a research-based strategic sequence for introduction of alphabetic knowledge. Teachers receive guidance on directly introducing, modeling, and using letter names and sounds.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a comprehensive scope and sequence document listed under the “Program Components.” The “Quick Skills Checklists” order alphabet knowledge skills by unit for the entire year; the introduction of each letter and its corresponding sound is listed by unit, week, and day. The sequence for introducing sounds and letters is m, a, s, t, i, f, n, o, p, k, l for Units 1–5 and u, b, h, e, r, d, g, v, j, z, y, w, x for Units 6–10. This sequence prioritizes foundational phonics at the beginning of the year; more advanced phonics are covered toward the end of the year; this sequence of skills is directly aligned with the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. The materials also include the instructional routine for practicing alphabetic knowledge skills: Each letter is introduced by using the letter sound, displaying the sound-symbol card, and teaching the American Sign Language sign for the letter.
The materials provide teacher guidance on directly introducing, modeling, and using letter names and sounds. In Unit 4, the teacher reads aloud the text Filomena the Flip Flop Fairy by J. R. Wilson and prompts the students to emphasize the /f/ sounds in the words Filomena and fairy. The teacher models using alphabet letter cards before practicing letter names and sounds using American Sign Language. The materials provide playful activities so students can interact with letters. As a review, students play an uppercase/lowercase matching game. The game consists of students finding their matching uppercase or lowercase letter partner; after they find their partner, they sit together and present the name of the letter, the sound, and the sign to the rest of the class.
In Unit 5, the teacher introduces the letter p by displaying the sound-symbol card, introducing the sound /p/, and asking students to say /p/. The teacher then displays the letter card for p and explains that the sound /p/ belongs with the letter p: “The /p/ sound goes with the letter p. This is the letter p. This is the hand sign for p. Sign and say it with me, /p/, p.” The teacher then shows students the keyword picture on the sound-symbol card for p and asks students to say the word, emphasizing the /p/ sound at the beginning. These words include park, pear, pink, pat, and pet.
In Unit 8, embedded movement-based activities support children’s letter understanding and sound awareness. In the transition activity “Going on a Picnic,” the teacher tells children, “You are pretending to go on a picnic, but you can bring only foods that begin with a certain letter sound such as /m/.” The teacher says the target sound and gives children time to collaborate and think. The children repeat the chant with the teacher, “We’re going on a picnic! I will bring …” and then name a food, drink, or object that begins with the target sound. The teacher points to a child or several children to name words, then changes the target sound and repeats the chant process.
In Unit 9, the materials embed concepts in purposeful learning experiences across a variety of instructional activities. One of these instructional activities includes a small group language activity where students use dry-erase boards and markers to print letters and use slant right, slant left to print the letters v and y. Later in the unit, teachers provide students with playful opportunities to experience, manipulate, and interact with letters. In a small group wrap-up activity, the teacher says a letter sound and has children whose first name begins with the sound stand up; then, all the children sign and say the letter name.
Materials provide explicit instruction in print knowledge and concepts along with opportunities for student practice. Materials connect print awareness to texts and provide some opportunities for students to develop an understanding of the everyday functions of print at school. Materials include a research-based sequence of foundational skills instruction and follow a developmentally appropriate continuum for the development of print awareness.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 4, the teacher uses the read-aloud text The Community Helper by J. R. Wilson to teach print awareness. The teacher points out different print concepts, including the title, the pictures, and the author’s name. Children examine photographs on the cover and title page and then use them to make inferences about the book’s topic. The teacher asks, “As you look at the photographs, what do you think the book will be about?” The direct and planned read-alouds include questions and prompts that help children develop knowledge about print. Materials also instruct teachers to include “big books with large print, magazines, and letter cards” in their classroom libraries so that students can practice with print concepts and recognize the everyday functions of print at school.
In Unit 7, the teacher uses the whole group read-aloud How People Travel by J. R. Wilson to provide regular, systematic modeling of print awareness. The teacher introduces the book by talking about the title, author, and illustrator; the teacher then discusses vocabulary words and uses photographs to explain the concept of the past. Later in the unit, the teacher helps students identify plural naming words in the text by recalling that many naming words have an s at the end to indicate there is more than one person, place, or thing. Students identify plural naming words in the text (e.g., babies, hands, knees, cars, trucks, horses). Teachers use read-alouds to connect print awareness to text and explicitly teach the differences between pictures and words and letters and words. In the “Learning Area” activity “Away We Go,” children choose books to read, describe pictures, and identify pages they like best. The students use pre-writing strokes to draw pictures of going places and then make up stories about going on adventures. This embedded small and large group language and literacy instruction, Learning Area time, and transition activity provide students the opportunity to observe, engage with, and experience authentic print throughout the day.
In Unit 8, the teacher uses the read-aloud Growing Like a Bean Sprout by J. R. Wilson to help students practice print awareness concepts and skills. Students review the similarities and differences between a sentence and a question. The teacher explains: “Sentences and questions both begin with an uppercase letter. What do you see that is different?” The expected response is, “Sentences tell about something and end with a period. Questions ask about something and end with a question mark.” In this unit, students also experience authentic print during various other activities within the school day: reviewing compound words and pronouns, practicing onsets/rimes, reciting ABC’s, retelling and creating an illustrated sequence chart, and using print letters to match uppercase and lowercase letters during “Emergent Writing.” The materials include a variety of charts, diagrams, lists, and other print-rich artifacts that help children see and use print in various everyday functions and support engagement as they interact with the text.
In Unit 10, the teacher uses the read-aloud text My Pet Cricket by J. R. Wilson to ask print knowledge questions throughout the lesson. Before the read-aloud, students use illustrations to predict what will happen in the story. The teacher directs students’ attention to a thought bubble and explains how a thought bubble shows a character is thinking and not talking. The teacher also points out quotation marks and explains that they indicate someone is talking in a conversation. Later in the unit, students receive multiple opportunities to meaningfully practice print awareness skills. After a full year of instruction, students are able to retell and illustrate a memory from a story. In small groups, with some teacher support, students write about a favorite memory using marks, letters, and symbols. They’re able to integrate pictures, illustrations, and words to best convey their story. Then, students verbally share the meaning of their writing. The materials follow a research-based, strategic sequence for teaching foundational print awareness skills to students.
The materials’ text selection is at an appropriate level and includes a variety of both fiction and nonfiction titles. While the materials include some songs and poems, they provide limited nursery rhymes, classic children’s literature, early childhood favorites, and popular current titles. Texts include content that is engaging and provides opportunities for students to make connections to text. Read-aloud text covers a range of students’ interests; however, materials do not include the use of purposeful environmental print throughout the classroom.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Unit 1 contains the nonfiction text Your Body Works by Vicki Gibson, which has an appropriate developmental level of complexity. The text explains the many ways people are special and the same; people have body parts that move in similar ways. The book is interactive and interesting for children; students are able to name the body parts and their functions. The book has a limited amount of text, and students utilize the pictures in the book to discuss what they see. These pictures are engaging to the students, and the teacher leverages them to ask questions and build connections with the text. The students are able to share, interact, and copy the teacher’s model on how to handle the book. The text also provides an opportunity for students to interact with the text as they complete a graphic organizer, discuss, and role-play events.
Unit 5 contains the text Your Special Day by Oliver Kumar — an informational book on the theme of celebrations. It has clear pictures of children engaging in different celebration activities; the book communicates that any day can be a day to celebrate. The text includes short sentences and repetition; it consists of questions, and students can share their answers during whole group or small group instruction. The text is at an appropriate level of complexity, containing predictable text and high-frequency words like what, do, and with.
Examples of fiction texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of nonfiction texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of variety text types include but are not limited to:
Unit 4 includes limited guidance describing environmental print usage. Students use sentence frames to practice complete sentences, photographs/pictures to tell a personal story, text features and punctuation posters to aid discussion, environmental print colors as a reference, and “Retelling Cards” to discuss the sequence of events. This use of environmental print is evident in early print awareness lessons in the materials; however, the materials do not recommend placing environmental print related to the theme in the learning centers. Centers remain static, and environmental print does not evolve throughout the school year.
In Unit 7, students describe objects in illustrations using synonyms and shades of meaning, clarify vocabulary using photographs, identify traffic signs, compare construction vehicles to other vehicles, and compare past and present vehicles. The materials include a variety of environmental print types, including traffic signs, letter cards, Retelling Cards, photographs, posters, and letter cards. However, teachers lack guidance on the use of important purposeful environmental print, like having a letter or word wall.
The materials reviewed use a variety of approaches to develop students’ comprehension of text read aloud. Materials include guidance for the teacher to connect texts to children’s experiences at home and school. There is also useful guidance for the teacher on basic text structures and their impact on understanding of text.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the materials use a variety of approaches to develop students’ comprehension of text read aloud. The materials include suggestions for classroom experiences that will help children make connections. For example, the teacher reads aloud Time for School by J. R. Wilson and relates routines used in the story to students’ classroom routines. The teacher also reads aloud Fishing with Pops by J. R. Wilson and conducts a picture walk, “using details in illustrations to discuss what happens in the story.” The teacher also “models how to use position words first, next, next, and last when describing events in the story” and “guides students by modeling how to notice details and make inferences.” To help students notice the details and make inferences, the teacher asks questions like “How do you know the boy is hungry?” and “What things in this picture tell you what the boy and Pops are eating?” These modeling practices and teacher guidance help students make sense of basic structures and their impact on the events of the text.
In Unit 2, the materials include book extensions for whole and small group read-alouds to support children as they make personal connections. The students share experiences about their families after they read the book People Grow and Change by Vicki Gibson. During the read-aloud, the teacher pauses at different points to answer questions and have students make connections about family members. The teacher asks the students to describe and name their family members. Later in the unit, the teacher models making inferences: “I see a little girl playing with a toy airplane. She looks happy. I think she likes playing with planes. I think the book is about things children like. What do you think?”
In Unit 4, the teacher again helps students build connections between the text and their experiences at home. In a small group, students read the text Community Helpers by J. R. Wilson and share personal stories of experiences with community helpers. The teacher asks, “How do some community helpers protect the community” and “What other jobs do community helpers do?” In a whole group read-aloud of the same text, the teacher reads the book and has students discuss main ideas and the author’s purpose. In later texts like My Town by Vicki Gibson and Akio Helps by J. R. Wilson, the teacher extends the concept of community helpers so that students consider how these texts connect to their school experience. The teacher displays “the classroom job chart,” invites children to “describe ways children and teachers work together to perform jobs and help each other at school,” and emphasizes that “children are community helpers.”
In Unit 7, students return to the concept of community helpers through a small group extended activity. They read a trade book or book about construction vehicles and write thank-you letters: “Children will write and illustrate a letter for a community helper. Invite someone from a local construction company to visit the class and receive children’s letters.” This experiential learning can be tied back to the initial read-aloud text Community Helpers in Unit 4; it provides well-rounded instruction of the topic. During the whole group read-aloud of How People Travel by J. R. Wilson, the teacher asks children to examine photographs on the cover page and make inferences about the book’s topic: “As you look at the photographs, what do you think the book will be about?” In later texts, the materials include similar guidance for the teacher to utilize basic text features, like pictures and illustrations, to support student comprehension.
In Unit 10, the whole group lesson read-aloud of My Pet Cricket by J. R. Wilson includes guidance integrating more complicated text structure into discussion. The teacher asks questions like “How does the story make us feel in the beginning, middle, and end of the story?” and “What does this story teach us about keeping insects as pets?” These questions encourage students to think deeply about the early concepts of plot and theme. In the same unit, the whole group literacy lesson provides guidance to use words from the text and details in the photographs to respond to questions. The read-aloud activity has embedded support for the teacher to identify details and describe what is happening in the photograph. The teacher asks questions like, “Where do the children like to play? What do they see at the park? What are the children using to look at the insects? What do the magnifying glasses do?”
The materials include some appropriate strategies for supporting English Learners (ELs) in their development of emergent reading skills. The materials do indicate that the child’s first language should be used but do not include strategies of how to integrate this into the learning experience. They do not ensure that knowledge is used to help them transfer to English language and literacy skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Strategies for Supporting English learners include English-Spanish Connection and Cross-Linguistic methods and existing program visuals and manipulatives to link concepts and vocabulary to develop a common underlying proficiency in both English and Spanish. Strategies for Supporting English Learners include English-Spanish Connection and Cross-Linguistic methods that provide teaching methods for using primary language as a foundation for learning English. The materials provide these resources for Spanish speakers only.
In Unit 1, the materials suggest EL lessons to support the emergence of reading skills. In a small group EL lesson, the teacher models how to use American Sign Language (ASL) hand signs to communicate by “Practicing ASL Signs.” The teacher also reviews how people use hand signs to talk to one another. Then, students practice using the ASL sign for look. The students sign and look at the teacher; the teacher also does the sign and says, look. ASL helps children develop areas of emergent reading skills, but materials do not mention that children can share their knowledge of literacy in their primary language.
In Unit 2, the materials include some oral language development strategies, but they are not directed toward ELs. In “ELA Instructional Routine #1” (“Building Language”), the teacher introduces the concept of family using the gradual release model of “Hear, See, Say, and Do” to make a sentence. The teacher says the word family and encourages students to start a conversation about families. Then, the teacher shows pictures of different families and asks students to identify family members. All students are able to answer successfully, using the sentence stems “Here is my family …” and “In this family, here is my sister ….” While this routine fosters oral language development, it is not necessarily intended for ELs.
In Unit 4, the teacher again integrates sentence stems into instruction when students learn the vocabulary words flip-flops, footwear, and boots. Students fill out the stem “We wear ... (type of shoe) to ... (name activity),” share their preference of footwear, and discuss how to make healthy choices that protect our feet. This strategy is again useful but does not vary from what is offered in Unit 2. Teachers have guidance when modeling vocabulary usage, but instruction does not incorporate ELs’ primary language to support vocabulary development. This would be a good opportunity to integrate cognates and related cultural text, but no evidence of these practices was found.
By Unit 7, the materials provide a larger variety of strategies for supporting ELs. These strategies include teacher modeling, sentence structure, picture cards, technology, and props. For example, in an EL whole group math lesson, the teacher uses technology to show images of vehicles with wheels: bicycles, skates/skateboards, motorcycles, cars, trucks, and some trains. Then, the teacher explains how wheels allow vehicles to move forward and backward, quickly or slowly. Similarly, the teacher integrates additional strategies during an EL small group language activity about transportation. The teacher reads How People Travel by J. R. Wilson and models how to use words and phrases in oral sentences to indicate the past (e.g., yesterday, last week, a long time ago, when I was a baby). Later in the unit, the teacher reads “a trade book about vehicles used to construct buildings and roads, pausing to point out features that are similar to or different than those of other vehicles.” The teacher also explains that construction vehicles, like other cars and trucks, use gasoline or fuel. Then, the teacher discusses the special features of construction vehicles that enable them to perform tasks (e.g., the scoop on an excavator for digging and hauling dirt, the hook on a crane that lifts heavy objects, the tilting bed of a dump truck to unload gravel, the forklift that slides under and lifts heavy pallets of bricks). These supports provide better variety, but they still do not include strategies that use children’s knowledge of literacy in their primary language.
In a Unit 8 whole group language activity, the students learn the new vocabulary words roots, absorb, observe, and change through concrete examples that bridge the gap between their background knowledge and this new vocabulary. The teacher introduces the word absorb by using a paper towel to soak up, or absorb, water. The teacher explains that “absorb means to soak up.” Using synonyms together and frequently asking, “What is another way to say ...?” helps children integrate new concepts and words. However, the materials do not give any supplemental resources like a bilingual word reference sheet for instructors to use when helping ELs maximize their primary language knowledge.
The materials include a variety of experiences through which students can engage with writing, including direct instruction of writing skills that provide examples of what writers do, opportunities for children to imitate adult writing in authentic ways, and group-write on shared experiences. Materials also provide suggestions for developmentally and age-appropriate independent writing opportunities for prekindergarten children, including writing opportunities that encourage and support drawing and for responding to texts read aloud to make explicit the connection between reading and writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the materials provide direct instruction as well as opportunities for students to imitate adult writing during a small group language and communication lesson. In this activity, the teacher models prewriting skills by practicing “Up and Around.” Children sit facing the same direction as the teacher models the chant Up and Around while drawing a round shape in the air. The children imitate this movement. To support further learning, children use red finger paint to practice the chant and make this prewriting stroke on paper. In subsequent lessons, this is used as a foundation to support illustrating and drawing as the children use this foundational pre-taught stroke to then make a round shape to draw a face.
In Unit 2, the teacher reads aloud People and their Home by Vicki Gibson. After the read-aloud, the teacher shows a chart with the names of family members and asks students to write family member roles and responsibilities to make explicit the connection between reading and writing. Also in Unit 2, the teacher reviews and models the Up and Around prewriting stroke for students to practice with paper and crayons as well as with sponges and finger paint to make ovals. Materials guide teachers to encourage and support drawing as students start drawing happy faces and babies using circles and ovals later in Unit 2 when students imitate adult writing. They draw a happy face following the teacher model and then take turns sharing their drawings and complimenting each other’s work.
In Unit 4, during the week one art learning center activity “Free Drawing,” students use paper and crayons to draw freely for creative expression; later in the week three art learning center activity “Sponge Painting or Free Coloring,” students use the material’s “Emergent Writing Flip Book, Volume 1,” aprons, washable paint in fall colors, pumpkin-shaped sponges or cut pieces of potatoes, art and drawing paper, and crayons to make designs for previously cut sponges or cut pieces of potatoes. Students then dip the sponges or pieces of potatoes in paint and lightly press them onto art paper to make designs. The materials guide teachers to conference with children to support the writing process in a small group activity “Prewriting: Complete a Directed Drawing: House” by displaying pages 18–19 of the Emergent Writing Flip Book, Volume 1 and guiding children to complete each step of the drawing. The teacher encourages children to add details to and describe their finished drawings. The materials also provide ideas for encouraging children to respond to text read aloud in a small group extended language activity “Print Concepts: Illustrate Your Own Book Cover” in which students read the book Filomena the Flip-Flop Fairy by J. R. Wilson and pretend to be illustrators drawing their own illustration. Children dictate a sentence about their illustration, and the pictures are combined to make a class book.
In Unit 7, during a whole group language activity read-aloud of My Red Balloon by J. R. Wilson, students create a “Graphic Organizer of Parts of a Story.” The teacher fills in the oval labeled “Problem” on the graphic organizer with simple words and pictures to support children’s recall. After discussing the ending and solution to the story, the teacher fills in the oval labeled “Solution” or “Ending” to model writing skills for students. In the small group language extended learning activity “Letter Printing: Match and Print Letters,” students match lowercase and uppercase letter cards on dry-erase boards saying letter chants and using strokes to print lower and uppercase letters. In a later whole group language activity, “Prewriting: Model a Directed Drawing: Truck,” the teacher displays pages of the Emergent Writing Flip Book, invites children to identify shapes and strokes in the finished drawing, reviews how to fold paper, and discusses details children may add to personalize their trucks like color choices, stripes, or patterns. The teacher encourages children to add details to their drawings and make up a story about where they will travel in their truck to incorporate drawing as a way to convey a message. Later in the unit, the materials guide teachers to conference with children to support the writing process through a small group extended learning activity, “Shared Writing: Make Thank-You Letters,” in which the teacher helps children write and illustrate their letters to community workers in conferences.
The materials instruct students along the developmental stages of writing by providing guidance for teachers that includes best practices for moving children along the continuum for writing development and appropriate modeling of the writing process as specified by the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include writing lessons that follow the sequence of developmental stages of writing aligned to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Materials provide guidance for writing development in young children that supports conceptual, procedural, and generative knowledge as stages of writing development as detailed in the scope and sequence of the program materials that also describes the program’s strategic approach of developing student skill by unit. In initial units, children fold and tear paper, finger-paint and sponge-paint to develop coordination, and teachers correct student grip and body posture for drawing and printing. From there, drawing, printing, and cutting with scissors are introduced as children increase dexterity and fine motor skills.
In Unit 1, in a small group language activity, “Prewriting: Color Freely,” students draw and color with crayons a picture of something that makes them feel happy. To support children along the continuum of conceptual, procedural, and generative knowledge in writing development, the teacher introduces pre-writing strokes in a whole group language activity, “Prewriting: Review the Prewriting Stroke Up and Around.” The teacher reviews how to say the chant “Up and Around” and how to use the stroke Up and Around to draw round shapes. The teacher then has children lie on the ground and use a flashlight to make the stroke on the wall while repeating the chant Up and Around. The materials follow the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines to include appropriate modeling of the writing process and use a variety of art materials and activities for sensory experience and exploration.
In Unit 7, in a small group extended language activity “Letter Printing: Match and Print Letters,” students use dry erase boards and markers to say letter chants and use strokes to print lowercase and uppercase letters without a teacher model. Later in the unit, students blend CVC words using word families: /an/, /it/, /un/, /ot/, /op/, and /at/ by practicing sounding out CVC words and using pre-writing strokes to print letters for each sound on dry erase boards. Further in the unit, in a small group language activity, “Prewriting: Directed Drawing: Airplane,” the teacher displays pages of the “Emergent Writing Flip Book” while children take turns explaining how to fold paper and make four boxes. The teacher helps children number their boxes and identify shapes in the finished drawing. The teacher models and discusses each step of the directed drawing. While children work at their own pace, the teacher provides details children can add to their drawings to show where a plane flies (e.g., clouds, sun, birds). Finally, children dictate a sentence describing where they would like to fly in an airplane, and teachers record children’s stories on their drawings. If available, children may use technology to research images that support their sentences and create a digital poster with sentences and images.
In Unit 10, the materials provide lessons that follow a developmental continuum for how children learn writing in context. In a small group, the teacher read aloud emphasizes story elements, adding details, and illustrating a story path. After reviewing the story read-aloud, the children provide suggestions of events or detail that were important in the story for comprehension. The teacher adds sentences or labels to revise the text on the story path. Children then work with a partner to an assigned sentence or section of the story and illustrate it. After illustrating, children take turns walking beside the story path and retelling the story. In a whole shared writing lesson, students work in teams to make a poster of the environment, cut out shapes, draw pictures, or dictate sentences. The instructional materials include information for the teacher in the “Emergent Writing Guide” that ensures teachers understand instructional activities to facilitate lessons that follow the developmental stages of writing.
The materials support fine motor development alongside and through writing by providing a variety of opportunities for children to develop their fine motor skills and opportunities for differentiation in developing children’s fine motor skills, particularly toward writing. Materials also provide a variety of tools and surfaces for student writing experiences.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Emergent Writer Resource Guide” provides teacher guidance on instructional activities that can help support the development of fine motor skills. The materials prescribe a variety of tools and surfaces for student writing experiences as practicing the foundational skills through nine activities: coloring freely, finger painting, sponge painting, paper tear and create a mosaic, fold to create boxes and trace fold lines, fold and tear paper, trace and cut fold lines, assess listening comprehension, and draw and color in a defined space.
In Unit 1, the materials provide multiple and varied opportunities for children to develop fine motor skills during learning centers, small and whole groups, and finger song transitions. In the Art learning center activity “Tearing Paper,” students use four-inch squares of colored construction paper to tear into small pieces, then use a glue stick to affix pieces to art paper inside a pre-drawn circle. In a small group lesson for math and science, children are provided with art paper and red and blue chalk. Teachers review how to say the chant and use the pre-writing stroke to draw round shapes. Children practice making round shapes on art paper using chalk to increase muscle strength and coordination of the small muscles in the hands.
In Unit 2, during the small group language activity “Fine Motor Skill: Work with Clay,” the students use modeling clay and a rolling pin to strengthen their fine motor skills. Students pinch off balls of clay and use cookie cutters to cut big and little circles to develop fine motor skills.
In the Unit 4 block learning center activity “Communities,” students use wooden blocks of various shapes and sizes, plastic interlocking blocks, log-shaped blocks, vehicles, road signs, and small toy people to build a community with homes, stores, schools, and parks. Students use fine motor skills to manipulate the wooden and plastic blocks while building. During a whole group language activity, “Review Strokes: Slant Left and Slant Right,” the teacher uses a flashlight on the wall to review pre-writing strokes, asking students to say each chant as they make the stroke. Teachers have children use their arms in the air to copy the teacher model while repeating the chant. In a whole group language activity, “Draw Pictures with Chalk,” students use sheets of black construction paper and a piece of white chalk to review the color white using the chalk. “This is white. Sign and say white with me. White.”
In Unit 7, during a small group language activity “Letter Printing: Print Lowercase Letters,” students use fine motor skills to review letter chants and strokes in the air for all previously taught letters and use dry-erase boards to print the lowercase letters o and a. In the Math learning center activity “Cookie Center,” students use modeling clay, rolling pins, and cookie cutters and roll the modeling clay out to make a flat surface. Then, students use the cookie cutters to cut out real and imagined vehicle shapes.
In Unit 10, students illustrate a book while the teacher prints children’s sentences on their artwork; the materials provide differentiation guidance for teachers to give students a model to copy and print their names on their paper. Later, in a review lesson, the teacher demonstrates how to use a crayon to make vertical lines across paper using the prewriting stroke “Touch, pull down.” The teacher provides guidance and differentiation as needed by asking, “Why do we need our third finger under the crayon? (to hold the crayon, but not tightly), Why do we need to relax our shoulders? (to avoid having sore muscles) Why do we keep our head upright, not tilted like this?” and provide feedback to students encouraging correct body posture and grip.
Within the materials, math instruction follows a logical continuum, progressing from concrete, to pictorial, to abstract. There is a wide variety of and emphasis on concrete manipulatives and pictorial representations. Students receive enough practice to build a strong conceptual understanding of all topics required by the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Units 1 and 2, math lessons prioritize concrete manipulative use and include a variety of manipulative types. During the Unit 1 small group activity “Sort Objects,” students use objects to explore shape. Students feel a shoebox to understand the concept of a corner and a ball to understand the word round. Children touch and count the corners of the shoebox before recognizing the ball is smooth all the way around. From there, they sort objects using a bag filled with round and not round objects (objects with corners). The teacher empties all of the objects from the bag and places them on the table. She models sorting the objects into groups based on their shape: “I will put round things here. I will put things with corners here.” Students then have the opportunity to practice classification with these smaller manipulatives. During the beginning of Unit 2, students are introduced to the numbers two and three. The teacher places one block on the table, adds a second, and says, “One. And one more is two. I have two blocks. Say it with me. One. And one more is two. I have two blocks.” After this, she displays the number card and does the same for the number three. For pattern skills, students read the book Patterns. As an extension activity, the teacher models making an ABAB pattern by stringing red and yellow beads. Then, in groups, students make their own beaded strings to repeat the ABAB pattern. Towards the end of the unit, students practice measurement using a shoebox again; this time, the lesson integrates hand-shaped cutouts as an informal measurement tool. The students use the hand-shaped cutouts to measure the box; they put the cutouts next to the box and say, “This shoebox is … hands long.”
In Unit 5, both counting and shape recognition lessons progress from concrete, to pictorial, to abstract representations. During a whole group lesson on number sense, the teacher first makes a row of six blocks; she places them on a table one at a time and models how to count to six. She then makes the shift to pictorial representation by displaying the “Word Card” for six, saying, “The numeral 6 shows that there are six blocks.” The lesson continues with students playing a dice-based number game. Each child is given a number strip; one by one, they roll the dice and say the number that they’ve rolled. They match the dots on the die with the number on the strip and mark it off with a crayon. The object of the game is to mark off as many numbers as possible. Later in the unit, students participate in a math-and-science whole group lesson that requires them to think about shape abstractly. First, the teacher uses a ball to review that the word round means there are no corners, straight sides, or points. Then, students observe and compare different attribute shapes: they discuss whether hexagons and squares have sides of the same length. After this review, the teacher sets up an addition word problem: “This set has two shapes. That set has two shapes. I can add the sets together and count to find how many they have together.” The numerals are matched to each set, and the teacher uses a numeral to represent the sum. The teacher models making and reading the number sentence: “The numeral 2 shows that there are two diamonds in the first set. The numeral 2 shows there are two diamonds in the second set. The numeral 4 shows that there are found diamonds in all. I can make a number sentence to show the problem 2 + 2 = 4. Two diamonds plus two diamonds makes four diamonds in all.” The teacher returns to this concept later in the week when she uses toilet paper rolls to teach students the abstract concept of “adding to.” After randomly assigning students a number between one and seven, the teacher provides each student with empty toilet paper rolls matching their numeral. For example, one roll with the number 1, two rolls with the number 2, etc. As quantities get larger, it will be more difficult for children to hold all the paper rolls at the same time. This reinforces the abstract concept that a higher numeral indicates a larger quantity of objects. When the number line is complete, the teacher reviews how different numerals indicate more objects than other numerals: “Five paper rolls are more than two paper rolls.” In all three cases, students use manipulatives to review concrete representations and then progress to pictorial and/or abstract representations.
Unit 10 activities also cover a variety of concepts and move through an appropriate mathematics continuum of representation. During an early whole group review lesson, students use honeycomb-shaped cereal to practice number sense. The teacher starts by creating a number line, numerals one through ten, on a piece of construction paper. Students then complete the number line by adding honeycomb pieces in horizontal lines to match the numeral value — 1 for one piece, 2 for two pieces, etc. Together, they explore adding to and subtracting from by manipulating the honeycombs on the chart paper. Later, students move from concrete to abstract during an interactive number set activity. Eight children stand in front of the classroom and form two lines. The teacher goes to each child and says, “One goes here, one goes there,” until children are divided equally into two sets. Together, the classroom confirms that each set is equal; students sit down, and the routine is repeated with a new group. After the second practice, students use this method to solve a word problem requiring they make equal sets with “one less.”
Teachers inquire about students’ mathematical knowledge and then build on that knowledge. Cross-curricular instruction authentically integrates math throughout the day and utilizes the classroom environment as a vehicle for mathematics exploration.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the “Progress-Monitoring Tool” from the “Ready to Advance Assessment Guide” is one resource teachers have available so they can inquire about students’ mathematical knowledge. Throughout the year, teachers revisit this document to monitor progress and provide additional support for students. Teachers evaluate students along many metrics, one being “math and science.” Teachers also receive suggestions for classroom setup, ensuring math concepts are integrated throughout daily activities. Specifically, materials suggest how to integrate math into small and whole group lessons, learning centers, and for each transition activity. Throughout this unit, students practice introductory numeral skills, beginning with the book Your Body Works by Vicki Gibson. In a cross-curricular activity, students count and name different body parts: People have two eyes, two hands, one nose, and so forth. Later in the unit, students review and count body parts using a classroom poster: “Have children name the body part and identify the related sense. What body part is this? (nose) How do we use our noses to learn about things? Repeat for eyes, ears, mouth/tongue, and fingers/skin. Practice counting body parts. Touch your nose. One. Say, I have one nose. Point to your eyes. One, and one more is two. Say, I have two eyes. Point to your mouth. One. Say, I have one mouth. Touch your ears. One, and one more is two. Say, I have two ears.” This intentional use of the classroom environment makes math instruction authentic and low stress.
Prompts and questions help teachers build upon students’ informal mathematical understanding in Unit 4. Students create and compare sets using the lap book Which Set Has More? by Vicki Gibson. The teacher also integrates heart-shaped cutouts and “Number Cards” 1–6 to help students recall information. As the teacher reads the book, she pauses for students to count and compare sets (six or less) and asks them to identify common attributes between grouped items: “Place heart cutouts and Number Cards (AR-1, AR-2) on the table. Recall a set means a group of objects. Hold up the Number Card for 6. Have children select six hearts to make a set.” In the book, students answer questions like “Which set has more things than the other?” and “How are the two sets different?” The use of prompts and questions continues during the transition activity “Leaf Prepositions.” Using leaf cutouts, students follow the teacher’s direction, placing their leaves in different locations. Students place the leaf “behind their back, above/on top of their head, on their left/right side, before their face, near their ear, and under their chin.” This activity ensures students learn prepositions, but it also integrates their understanding of spatial awareness.
Unit 5 represents a high-quality example of integrated cross-curricular math instruction related to the unit theme. At the beginning of the unit, students explore seasonal foods and snacks. Students discuss nutrition and then group food images into two categories: healthy and unhealthy. After voting on their favorite snack, students work together to chart their findings on a classroom graph. Later, when students return to the subject of snack preference, they review this chart before moving on to a lesson on ordinal steps. Teachers reference “Additional Resource 8,” “How to Make a Healthy Snack,” which is a rebus poster that provides directions for spreading butter or honey on bread: “1. first wash your hands 2. demonstrate how to use a spoon and spread on bread 3. pass out materials and ingredients 4. spread butter or honey on bread 5. pour a drink and enjoy the snack.” After this lesson, the resource remains on the wall, and students reference it when they read Little Red Hen for whole group review. This text includes ordinal review questions, like “Who did the Little Red Hen ask for help first, second, third?”
In Unit 7, the teacher integrates different classroom materials and manipulatives throughout instruction. During the first week of the unit, students learn the concept of measurement during the small group math activity “Experiment with Capacity.” Using toy vehicles from the classroom materials list, the teacher places up to eight toy vehicles and plastic numerals 1–8 on the table. Students then identify different sets of vehicles (ranging from one to five) and compare their amount without counting. These same vehicles are used later in the unit when students experiment with speed and distance. Setting up lined butcher paper on the ground, students observe how far each vehicle travels across the marks on the paper and describe their observations. They redo the experiment using different vehicles to see which travels fastest and furthest. Additional classroom materials are integrated into the “Math” learning center for activities meant to reinforce the initial measurement lesson. Materials include a container of rocks, pinto beans, macaroni, drawing paper, crayons, clipboards, different-size containers with lids, measuring cups, scoops, and a bucket scale for weighing. In this cross-curricular activity, students practice fine motor coordination as they scoop and measure ingredients; math skills as they weigh and compare objects; and vocabulary as they label amounts as light, lighter, heavy, and heavier.
While students have some meaningful opportunities to problem solve, they do not have enough practice developing questioning skills or recognizing problems in their environment. Also, students only sometimes utilize familiar classroom materials to extend their math exposure and reasoning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Math Lap Books provide guidance for teachers for modeling, talking and setting up problems, using language to teach and practice that is clear and consistent; opportunities to model problem-solving with common classroom objects, so experiences are interactive. All books contain guidance on the inside front cover for children to explore mathematical concepts on their own.
Some activities in Unit 1 ask students to practice reasoning skills with familiar materials; often, these materials are relevant to students’ lives outside the classroom more so than to their lives inside the classroom. During the whole group math activity “Review Concept of Same,” the teacher holds up two objects that are the same: two small red balls. She says, “These balls are the same. The balls are the same color, size, and shape.” The teacher repeats this procedure with other objects that are identical and then asks students to identify other objects that are the same: “Are these … (objects) the same? Yes, these … (objects) are the same.” Without direct instruction communicating the meaning of same or identical, students have to infer the meaning through question, trial, and error. However, there is no provided teacher guidance to respond with feedback or extend student curiosity. Later in the unit, students apply this skill to geometric shapes during the small group activity “Sort Circle and Oval Shapes.” Once students have a basic grasp of the skill, the teacher displays a tennis ball and football, thus connecting this activity to the world outside the classroom. Students do not have the opportunity to apply this skill to materials familiar to them in the classroom. During other activities in this unit, students apply mathematical reasoning skills to wallpaper books, counting objects, clothing articles, and blocks.
Similar activities continue in Unit 2; during a small group math lesson, the teacher uses pretzel sticks for students to compare row size. She asks questions like, “Which row has more? Which row has less? Are the rows the same?” Sometimes the teacher models how to think aloud while completing the activity, but students do not apply the concept to materials in the classroom. In a geometry lesson, students use round-shaped pizzas to review whole/part concepts. It is not until a later transition activity that students apply their problem-solving skills to familiar materials in the classroom. Teachers create an obstacle course in the classroom and use phrases like over the chair and under the table to guide students to the finish line. While the activity helps promote spatial awareness and increases students’ understanding of prepositional phrases, it does not particularly address their problem-solving skills. However, this is one of the few activities where students recognize problems in their environment.
In Unit 5, the teacher sometimes models thoughtful questions for students to replicate. During an early activity, students are introduced to the number six and apply the concept to shapes with related attributes. After reviewing geometry vocabulary like triangle, heart, and star, students make a snowflake collage out of white doilies. Throughout the activity, students identify the different shapes within the art; the teacher prompts discussion with thoughtful questions: “What shape is this? Is a circle round? How do you know a circle is round? What shape is this? How many sides does this shape have?” Most of these questions are closed, while one open-ended question could promote thoughtful reflection.
In Unit 8, students continue geometric exploration, using wooden sticks and modeling clay to make shapes and name their attributes. During this activity, the teacher models by posing questions to herself: “What shape do you want me to make? How many sides does it have? First, I have to think about how many sides a triangle has.” In this case, students get to see thoughtful reflection, but it is more related to planning instead of problem-solving. Students do not themselves have the opportunity to practice making thoughtful questions.
In Unit 10, students play with different plastic insects to practice counting, comparison, and set making. After purposeful play, students extend their understanding by creating simple addition word problems for each group using five or fewer insects. This activity promotes problem-solving skills, but the teacher does not receive direct guidance meant to direct this question-making. In a related review lesson, students essentially complete this activity again using other rubber toys and plastic numerals. This time, they extend into abstract operations; the teacher explains problem-solving reasoning: “Sometimes when we add two sets together, we use numbers to show the problem. 4 + 3 = 7 or four plus three equals seven.” However, students do not have the opportunity to explore and problem solve on their own.
Within the materials, students receive frequent, spiraled, and varied opportunities to participate in activities that build number sense. Activities cover all necessary topics as outlined in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines, and teachers receive adequate guidance on developing students’ mathematical understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit, 1 students begin learning number sense by counting 1 and 2. The teacher introduces the numbers using “Picture Word Cards” and toy cars; these specific cards have the numerals 1 and 2 paired with the corresponding words One and Two. Teacher guidance states: “Follow the steps of the counting on routine, placing one car, then another. One, and one more is two. There are two cars in all. Remove the cars. Place one car on the table and the Picture Word Card one. The numeral 1 shows there is one car. The word, one, tells there is one car. Repeat with two cars and the Picture Word Card two.” This general procedure is repeated throughout the school year, the teacher increasing the numbers accordingly each time. In Unit 4, students identify numeral 6, number word Six, and create sets of 1–6 shapes. In this activity, students count and practice one-to-one correspondence. By Unit 7, students orally count 1–15 or higher, depending on their level of proficiency.
During the early Unit 4 small group activity “String Beads and Match Numerals,” students review numbers 1 through 5. The teacher first models how to string one to five wooden beads onto a string and then matches the corresponding numeral to indicate quantity. Students spend the remainder of the activity improving their number sense with 1–5. The next day, students move on to the number 6 with the activity “Make Sets and Match Numerals.” Teacher guidance states: “Put three blocks in Box 1. Put two blocks in Box 2. Ask the students, If you put the sets together in Box 3, how many blocks do you have in all?” Later in the activity, students also practice separating the items. This type of activity aligns well with the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines for combining and separating concrete manipulatives.
In Unit 5, students build number sense and practice oral word problems with the Number and Number Words lap book by Vicki Gibson. Utilizing the pictorial representations in the book, the teacher pauses to point out numerals and counts objects aloud to determine quantities. After completing the book, the teacher starts a new number activity with blocks. She lines the blocks into rows and demonstrates how to match each block-row with a numeral or number word. This section of the lesson helps develop the understanding that numerals and number words are used to tell how many. Next, the teacher models combining sets: “I can add the two sets of blocks together. This set has three blocks. This set has two blocks. If I add the blocks together, the new set has five blocks in all.” This lesson leads into the next day when students practice the skill by playing a cube game. Each student receives a number strip, number cube, and crayon. Together, they roll the number cube, quickly estimate the dots on the cube without counting, and mark the number off on their number strip. They continue playing the game until all numbers are marked off. The following week, number sense concepts are revisited during a transition activity called “Five Little Snowmen.” Students count off five snowmen, recite a rhyme, and motion counting down until zero using their fingers. These three activities build upon one another, include spiraled skills, and integrate both formal and informal practice.
Subitizing was touched upon in Unit 6, but the concept is returned to in Unit 7. During the small group math activity “Experiment with Capacity,” the teacher places up to eight toy vehicles on the table with plastic numerals 1 through 8. Teacher guidance states: “Make sets of 1–5 vehicles. Have children identify quantities without counting and match a numeral to show the number. Have children predict how many vehicles the box will hold. Have children fill the box to capacity (full), then remove and count the vehicles. Have children match a numeral to indicate the quantity and compare results to their predictions. Discuss how the size of each toy affects how many toys will fit in the box.” Along with subitizing, this activity also aligns to the Texas Prekindergarten Guideline requiring students to recognize how much can be placed within an object.
Unit 10 number sense activities cover a wide variety of structures and methods. For example, transitioning between activities, students participate in “Walk the Number Line.” Prior to the activity, the teacher places a tape number line on the floor, listing numbers 1 through 10. Students line up and sing along with the song “The Ants Go Marching.” Students review before and after numbers; teachers ask them to stand on a number and identify numbers on either side. Another way number sense is used throughout the day is during snack time. An “Additional Resource” rebus poster directs students through the healthy snack recipe for “Ants on a Log.” This snack consists of raisins, celery, and cream cheese. Teachers ensure students can count to five and place corresponding raisins on their snack; if students need additional intervention, the teacher provides support when appropriate.
The materials develop students’ academic math vocabulary through repeated opportunities for students to hear and practice math vocabulary. The materials guide teachers to scaffold and support students’ development and use of academic math vocabulary.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the materials include recommendations for purposefully talking about mathematics using math vocabulary in the whole group, small group, books, and learning centers. In the whole group Language Focus activity, the children learn the math vocabulary, “round.” The materials note to teachers that children may be able to identify that a circle is round, but “Help children understand that for something to be round, it must not have corners.” In the small group math activity for the same day, “Geometry-Identify Round Shapes,” the teacher models how to reach into the bag with one hand, select and remove an object showing it to the group, and look for corners and determine if the object is round because it has no corners or not round because there is a corner. The unit also includes texts like Same and Different by Vicki Gibson that are math-related and age-appropriate and read during the whole group read aloud; students identify and name shapes along with discriminating between sizes big/little and small/large. The teacher scaffolds children’s development of academic math vocabulary by asking open-ended questions like “What is the same or different about the objects on the cover. How are the socks the same? How are the socks different?”
In Unit 2, the materials provide guidance for identifying math vocabulary in stories read aloud and songs during transition activities. Some of the math-related books included with the materials are “Patterns,” “Numerals and Number Words,” and “Learning About Time” by Vicki Gibson. The children also sing five little ducks after the whole group literacy lesson to reinforce literacy as well as math concepts. Additionally, Number Word Cards and Posters are included within the materials to provide ongoing and repeated opportunities for children to practice math vocabulary in different settings.
In Unit 5, there are multiple books related to math instruction that offer an opportunity to hear math vocabulary, like the Math Lap book Numerals and Number Words by Vicki Gibson. This text describes vocabulary words like set, numerals, numbers, and how many. Daily lessons include vocabulary development that reviews vocabulary related to shapes: star, point, corner, side, round, and patterns. The teacher later revisits the terms in whole group instruction. Further extension is provided in the math purposeful play plan for that same week; children use modeling clay and shaped cookie cutters to form shapes. Additionally, in the Block Learning Center for children to experiment by placing blocks end-to-end by stacking boxes to make towers and use charts to color in blocks to record their data with cardboard boxes of varying shapes and sizes along with simple charts.
In the Unit 7 math learning center activity “Measurement,” students review math vocabulary as they scoop and measure ingredients into containers with lids, then weigh and compare objects, identifying materials and amounts as light/lighter or heavy/heavier. In a whole group Language Focus, vocabulary words like money, work, consumer, buy, coins, dollar bills, and worth are used to encourage children to use new vocabulary words in oral conversation as they share personal stories of shopping with their families or caregivers. In the small group math activity “Discuss Monetary Values,” the teacher displays pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollar bills. The materials state for the teacher to “Review the name and attributes (e.g., value, shape, color) of each coin and the dollar bill. Penny. Say it with me, penny. What shape is the penny? (a circle) What color is the penny? (brown or copper) Give children magnifying glasses. Have children work with a partner using magnifying glasses to examine and discuss the coins. Encourage children to identify pictures, letters, and numbers on coins and dollar bills. Invite children to make inferences about what the pictures mean. Recall people earn money from working at jobs. Discuss how people use money to buy things they need and want. Reviewing a consumer is someone who buys something. Display a credit card, a debit card, and a personal check on the table next to the money. Allow children to examine and describe differences in coins, dollar bills, credit cards, debit cards, and personal checks used to buy things.” In the same unit, students read Positions in Space by Vicki Gibson, where they learn math vocabulary by describing the relative positions of objects in space and understand opposites like above, apart, back, backward, below, and beside. In a math small group activity, “Review Numerals and Number Words,” the teacher places sets of toy trucks on a table, and the materials guide teachers to “Have children take turns identifying the number of trucks without counting. Then, have children match a numeral to the set to show how many. Place an index card with the printed number word next to the numeral. Shuffle the index cards and place them face down on the table along with piles of plastic numerals and trucks. With support, have each child draw a card, identify the number word, match a plastic numeral, and make a set of trucks to indicate the quantity. Once you confirm the quantity, have the child replace the card, numeral, and trucks. Then draw again.” The teacher scaffolds and supports the students to review numbers and number words.
Unit 10 includes repeated and ongoing opportunities for children to hear and practice math vocabulary in whole and small groups, read-aloud books, and learning centers. The Lap book for math covers vocabulary words like problem, solved, more, same number, set, adding together, addition, subtraction, and take away. These same vocabulary words appear in the Instruction Routines #6, “Counting On” for Math and Science. The materials guide the teacher to form a horizontal row of ten blocks from left to right. The teacher demonstrates how to remove or take away blocks and count backward. Children count backward orally, removing one block at a time from 10 to 1. When teaching the concept of counting on and the concept of zero, the materials note that the teacher should ask children to make a fist, showing no fingers to be counted. The lesson is also extended into the solving subtraction problems lesson using blocks to solve subtraction word problems using the math vocabulary words of in all, take away, difference, and how many. The materials provide support for scaffolding the concept for number sense and problem-solving using the academic vocabulary of nothing to count, equals zero, and take away along with the instructor guidance for modeling the concept that helps scaffold and support student development of academic math vocabulary. Additionally, to provide repeated practice and to reinforce the math vocabulary in a variety of settings, children count off singing “Ten Little Butterflies” to count to 10 in a transition activity.
The materials build science knowledge through inquiry-based instruction and exploration of the natural world while developing children’s ability to observe and question aspects of their environment and communicate ideas about the world around them in a variety of ways. The materials contain opportunities for children to explore physical science, life science, and earth and space science through hands-on experiences and scientific tools.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, during the Science learning center activity “Rough or Smooth,” the teacher provides the materials of rough (sandpaper, rocks, carpet squares) and smooth items (pencils, blocks, plastic cups, puzzle pieces) for children to touch and hold each item, describing how each feels. Then, children sort items into two groups (rough and smooth). In a small group science activity, “Investigation: Review Sense of Smell,” the teacher displays containers with different items to smell, opening one container at a time while children take turns smelling to identify what is inside as the teacher directs children not to look at the items. After all the children have had a turn, the teacher discusses the contents, using a sentence frame, “What do you smell? I smell a …[object].” To extend the activity, children describe their favorite smells and discuss smells they do not like. Later in the unit, students participate in a Science learning activity, “What's That Smell?” in which they take turns smelling each bottle and describing what they smell. Children find a matching bottle for each smell and record their observations through discussion.
In Unit 4, children record their observations through discussion and using technology. In a small group science activity, “Discuss How Weather Affects Exercise Choices,” the materials guide teachers to display pictures of people engaging in different forms of exercise like playing sports, running or biking outdoors, working out in a gym, stretching, or attending fitness classes. Then, the class discusses how regular exercise strengthens bones and muscles, and children share personal stories of trying different forms of exercise, expressing their preferences. The teacher also wonders how changes in fall weather may affect the choices people make about exercising and participating in outdoor activities. The materials guide teachers to ask, “What changes do people need to make in colder fall weather?” and to, “Help children understand that in colder weather people need to wear warmer clothing, possibly work out indoors (e.g., if it is raining), or exercise in the afternoons, when the weather is warmest.” Students observe how the environment changes to discuss how weather affects exercise choices. Later, in the Science learning center activity “Discovery Center,” students examine acorns, vines, twigs, small branches, and leaves with magnifying glasses, drawing paper, and crayons, describing and discussing materials with friends and use crayons and drawing paper to make leaf rubbings or draw. The materials also provide suggestions for activities that encourage children to examine, compare, and explore with tools in the Science learning center activity “Hammering Pumpkins,” in which students use hammers to hammer tees into the pumpkins, then use the claw-end of the hammer to pull the tees from the pumpkin. Children engage in hands-on exploration consistently to learn about science concepts as they describe and discuss the texture and smell of the pumpkin before hammering the tees and after.
In a Unit 7 Science learning center activity, “Round Things Roll,” students engage in hands-on exploration activities to observe their natural environment while learning science concepts. The materials suggest to make ramps from baking sheets left smooth or covered with sandpaper or rubber shelf liner; round objects like lids, toilet paper rolls, dowels, PVC pipes; or clipboards, paper, and crayons to experiment to see what objects roll faster down an incline or how much push is needed to roll an object up an incline. Children experiment with different surfaces to see how surface conditions affect speed and distance. Later in the unit, students investigate and make predictions on the speed of the vehicles. The teacher displays the ramp from the previous activity and toy vehicles of various sizes to have children make predictions by asking and discussing, “Do you think a big car or a small car will roll faster down this ramp?” The children work in pairs to roll two vehicles at a time down the ramp and compare which vehicle rolls slower or faster, then take turns holding a big car in one hand and a small car in the other hand to compare their weight. The teacher helps facilitate the inquiry by asking questions like, “Which car is heavier?” and explaining “how weight affects speed and motion: the heavier an object is, the faster it travels when going down a ramp (slope).” Materials notes, “If children are ready, demonstrate and explain how a heavier vehicle goes slower when traveling up a ramp or hill.” Through these activities, the materials guide teachers to use children’s interests and topics about which they have questions as a basis for further exploration. The materials allow teachers to discuss and observe the children’s learning through investigation and reinforcing concepts.
In Unit 10’s Purposeful Play learning center for Science Discovery area in Dramatic Play, teachers have white shirts to mimic lab coats, goggles or frames without lenses, magnifying glasses, plastic insects, and gardening tools for students to conduct experiments about what materials are attracted to magnets, chemical reactions between baking soda and vinegar, and explore pollination in bees using cheese curls. Through these experiments, children observe how chemicals make changes over time and discuss the relationships between people, insects, and the environment.
The materials build social studies knowledge through the study of culture and community through instruction that follows a logical sequence of social studies skills and concepts, moving from self to family to community, city, state, and country. Materials provide opportunities for children to explore and identify how people and families are alike and different and to learn about routines and events, both past, present, and future. Additionally, the materials provide opportunities for children to explore the roles of consumers in the community.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, the materials provide instruction that follows a logical sequence of social studies skills and concepts, moving from self to family to community, city, state, and country. The unit focuses on learning about self and family; students discuss the roles and responsibilities of family members and how their families are alike and different. Specifically, Week 1 discusses the roles and responsibilities of family members and similarities and differences in places families choose to live in and how they travel to and from their homes. Week 2 discusses places families go to and activities families do together. Week 3 discusses life cycles and how people’s body parts and activities change as they grow from baby to child to adult. Teachers introduce the idea of past, present, and future to children in a way that is age and developmentally appropriate through a read-aloud of “People Grow and Change” by Vicki Gibson in which teachers and students discuss the way babies change into children and later into adults so that students learn about different ages and life events.
In Unit 4, the materials include opportunities for children to explore their community, including where they live and places they visit in the community by building it. During the Block learning center activity “Communities,” students use materials like wooden blocks, interlocking blocks, log-shaped blocks, vehicles, road signs, and small people to “work together to build a community of homes, stores, schools. Children role-play being community helpers and neighbors.” The guidance is provided to have children verbally identify and describe the buildings. Students explain who the consumer is, identify places to buy things or receive services, and discuss how people pay for things. In the unit, the materials also provide opportunities for children to learn about events that have happened in the past, the present, and will potentially happen in the future through a whole group read-aloud of Fall Season and Weather by J. R. Wilson. The teacher explains that this book is about the fall season and the changes that people, animals, and plants undergo in the fall. A discussion on how weather changes affect the world helps children connect their daily life to events, time, and routines. The materials provide suggestions for dramatic play experiences that replicate community experiences by the role-playing activity of being consumers. In a whole group activity, “Identify and Describe Community Helpers,” students discuss ways people work to earn money and buy things they need and want as consumers. In the Dramatic learning center activity “Restaurant,” the children use materials like a tablecloth, serving ware, plates, bowls, a small tray for serving, a pad of paper and crayons for taking orders, takeout menus, and pretend money to role-play being service workers as waitstaff, host/hostess, chef, or customers at a restaurant.
In Unit 7, students compare the globe to a map, find the state they live in, identify land types and ways people travel on land, and vote on favorite places to visit or ways to travel. In a whole group activity read-aloud, How People Travel by J. R. Wilson, the teacher explains babies cannot travel by themselves when they are first born; babies have to be carried from one place to another until they learn to crawl. The teacher also discusses the order in which people learn to use their body parts to travel like crawl, stand, walk, run, and jump. The materials provide suggestions for teachers to use photographs in the book to introduce the concept of the past by explaining it means “something that already happened, maybe a long time ago and explain that in the past there were no cars, trucks, buses, or airplanes. People walked or rode horses to go from one place to another.”
In Unit 10, the materials provide suggestions for dramatic play experiences that replicate community experiences, incorporating money and the exchange of goods and services. During a whole group language and literacy lesson, the collaborative conversation activity discusses travel and vacations. The teacher “review[s] that people [consumers] work to earn money to buy things their families need and want...” mentioning adults earning money from work so their families can go on vacations to different places. The class discusses how families may enjoy going on summer vacations because the weather is warmer; children are invited to make connections by sharing personal stories of different family trips they have taken while the teacher guides the discussion to involve how different families like going to different places or doing different activities such as the beach, hiking, or visiting family members who live far away. The materials also present lessons and activities that avoid negative connotations and instead teach about acceptance of any contribution as valid when sharing personal stories. The class reads the story “Summer Days” by J. R. Wilson that addresses holidays and traditions, and students take turns sharing and role-playing their favorite summer activities such as hiking, swimming, and riding bicycles. The teacher ensures each child has a turn to share by letting the sharer hold a bean bag so that students share talking and listening time. After the discussion, the teacher helps children self-reflect on how they managed their collaborative conversation by prompting, "Did you use kind words to ask questions and offer compliments?" and affirms their responses.
The materials include a variety of daily experiences that expose children to fine arts through the exploration of multiple mediums like dance, music, dramatic play, painting, drawing, and other movements. Materials also emphasize children’s engagement in the artistic process of creating rather than a focus on the product.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Unit 2 includes daily opportunities for children to explore multiple mediums of art concepts and skills, including dance, music, dramatic play, painting, sculpture, drawing, and others integrated across the instructional materials. Transition activities found at the beginning of each week include rhymes and songs with movements to expose children to music, dancing, and singing. In the same unit, children act out the rhyme “My Friends at School.” The materials also include several opportunities for open-ended art where students can create at their own pace. In dramatic play, students use crayons and four-inch construction papers to create a mosaic and draw freely for creative expression.
In Unit 4’s Transition activity song “In the Fall,” the teacher teaches the song to the tune of "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain," invites children to sing along and includes opportunities for movement and dance with a rich selection of music and songs in different parts of the day. In the same unit, the materials provide suggestions for including painting as an art activity for different purposes. At the Art learning center activity “Sponge Painting or Free Coloring,” students use sponges or cut pieces of potatoes to dip in paint and lightly press onto art paper to make designs. Children may also color freely or complete a previously taught directed drawing.
In Unit 5, during a lesson on letter knowledge, students use modeling clay to make letters. While learning about the weather, children use pre-cut shapes, cotton balls, glue sticks, and pictures to create artworks showing the weather in the art center, and students are encouraged to share their artwork with no specific finish product requirement. Teachers help students develop thinking skills and participate in open-ended art experiences rather than focus on the end product.
In Unit 7, multiple mediums are integrated across the instructional materials during transition, small and whole group, learning centers, and wrap-up activities. In a small group activity, “Make Blot Art Design,” the teacher gives each child an apron, a paintbrush, and a piece of art paper and then provides paint on paper plates and reviews how to fold paper in half. The children copy the teacher model, then unfold the paper. The teacher explains to children that they are going to make blot art designs by painting a picture on one side of the paper and then pressing the paper together to make a design on the other side. The materials include suggestions for the teacher to connect the art across instructional materials by “discussing how the design looks like on the other side of the paper, only opposite (like a mirror).” In the Art Learning Activity “Creative Center,” the children “choose a previously introduced directed drawing to complete, or combine strokes and shapes to create their own drawings. Children add details with crayons or markers. Children fold and tear paper and glue pieces to make designs” to express their personal experiences, thoughts, and ideas.
In Unit 10, the dramatic play includes purposeful play centers for insect summer Olympics, painting using plastic bugs, using modeling clay to sculpt insects, and acting out during transition activities for “The Butterfly” theme. Later in a small group activity in which students make ladybugs, teachers explain the process by describing first how to trace and cut a large semi-circle. Then, the teacher models a five-step process to draw a ladybug and attach it to a headband to support and encourage exploration.
The materials contain opportunities to link technology into the classroom instruction and for students to explore and use various digital tools to support and enhance their learning as appropriate. The materials contain appropriate guidance for teachers to ensure that technology enhances child learning rather than distracts from it.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, during a whole group math activity “Review Loud and Soft Sounds,” the materials note the teacher should use technology to play loud and soft sounds from Benchmark Universe or the Internet and to “Have children stand up when they hear a loud sound and sit down when the sound is soft” to support new learning. During the transition activity in “Marching to Musical Rhythms,” the teacher uses technology to play music with different tempos and rhythms, such as the Samba Action Clip and the Waltz Action Clip from Benchmark Universe to help students learn new musical concepts. Children explore and use various age-appropriate digital tools in a small group math activity “Identify Common Sounds” when, after reviewing the names of digitals tools in the classroom, students take turns using technology to access the sounds library on Benchmark Universe, playing and identifying environmental sounds for sirens, birds chirping, dogs barking, and car horns.
In a Unit 4 small group math activity, “Identify Colors in Environmental Print,” the teacher uses technology to show other examples of environmental print and colors used to warn people of danger like emergency signs and product warning labels. In the whole group math/science activity “Teach Safe Habits,” the teacher uses technology to show smoke coming out from a fire. The teacher explains to children what to do if they encounter smoke in a building by saying, “If you see or smell a lot of smoke, get down low and crawl out of the building. Smoke moves up (use arms to demonstrate), so if you get down low and crawl, you can exit safely.” Children act out this scenario by replicating the movements the teacher explains.
In a Unit 7 whole group language activity “Discuss the Concept of the Past,” the teacher uses technology to show pictures of the Old West before vehicles were invented to emphasize how many people rode horses if they needed to travel a long way and note that some horses pulled wagons or carriages. Students role-play riding a horse. In a small group language activity, “Complete a Directed Drawing: Truck,” the students “use technology to research images that support their stories and create a digital poster with stories and images. The children take turns sharing their work and make positive comments about their friends’ work.”
In unit 8, the students use age-appropriate technology by making a video about the water cycle. Each student represents the different states of the water cycle, and they act it out in a video.
In a Unit 10 whole group lesson discussion about colony insects, students use technology to conduct research and gather evidence on their topic-based interests, such as, “What types of jobs are included in an ant colony?” The materials provide guidance on choosing age-appropriate links and images to find information as well as information on how to approach internet safety when conducting online research. Additionally, teachers use technology to show videos of insects helping the environment through pollinating plants, eating other harmful insects, and eating debris and decaying material in a whole group Life Science lesson.
The materials include a variety of diagnostic tools for formative and summative progress monitoring that are developmentally appropriate. Materials include tips or recommendations to support consistent and accurate administration of the tools, including informal, observational, and anecdotal notes as appropriate throughout the school year. Materials include opportunities for students to track their own progress and growth and diagnostic tools to measure all content and process skills as outlined in each of the Texas Prekindergarten Guideline domains.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The program components include a resource for an assessment called “Assessment Guide” that is organized into five sections to guide teachers in how to collect and analyze data, how and when to assess, the use of observational assessments like running records, portfolios, mailboxes, and developmental charts for unit assessments. Each section focuses on the types of assessments provided, all of which are developmentally appropriate for Prekindergarten students. The materials include guidance on how to collect data while in small and whole groups and include suggestions on how to assess students in a variety of settings throughout the day. While guidance is provided for literacy, writing, and math in the form of small group or review lessons in these domains, other domains remain unsupported in this guidance, such as physical development, fine arts/technology, and social and emotional development. The Assessment Guide includes the following assessment tools:
An Observational Assessment is composed of anecdotal teacher notes and student work samples. The Entry Level Screener is designed to gather children’s entry-level baseline competencies at the beginning of the year and provides the teacher with information to group children accordingly and plan instruction. The materials include a specific Progress Monitoring Tool for each unit to assess student progress at the end of each unit and include a rating scale that estimates, ranks, and reports the child's progress once the unit ends. The Benchmark Comprehensive Assessment may be administered either two or three times per year as a summative assessment that collects comprehensive information about the progress and learning of the outcomes for each child according to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. This assessment aggregates data on the child’s knowledge and skills they have acquired over longer periods of time. The last section of the guide includes a Likert scale for key skills and concepts that provides suggestions on how to measure skills and concepts so that teachers can differentiate and provide intervention as needed. Each assessment has a section included in the Assessment Guide where teachers can find step-by-step guidance on administration and collection of data, ensuring consistent administration of the assessments.
The materials suggest teachers create work packets at the end of the week, organize them by content area, and send them home to inform families and caregivers about the progress of their child; the materials provide a student contract for students to record activity choices and their progress to be stored in “Do/Done Folders.” These contracts are placed in a mailbox at school so that the completed contract can be sent home attached to the child’s work samples. These student contracts are an example of developmentally appropriate practice in self-monitoring progress for Prekindergarten students.
The Assessment Guide includes one comprehensive entry-level assessment that focuses on domains for social and emotional, physical development, speaking and listening, language, reading, phonological awareness, writing, and math and science. Guidance does not include fine arts and technology in the pre-assessment.
Materials include unit assessments for both three- and four-year-olds for each unit of the program that contain scales for all domains.
The Benchmark Comprehensive Assessment includes assessing skill progression for all domains. The recording forms for the Benchmark Comprehensive Assessment list a section for alphabet recognition for uppercase letters and a phonemic awareness sound/symbol relationship to mark which sounds the child pronounces correctly with boxes shaded for the letters b, d, e, g, and j (listed as more difficult sounds). The ending sound recognition lists the letters m, s, n, f, t, p, l, d, b, g.
The materials include guidance for teachers to respond to individual student’s needs in all domains based on measures of student progress appropriate to the developmental level, but they lack guidance for administrators to support teachers in analyzing and responding to data. The diagnostic tools yield some information for teachers to use when planning instruction and differentiation; however, materials do not provide a variety of resources and teacher guidance on how to leverage different activities to respond to student data.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
“Unit Guides” in the materials give teacher guidance on providing instruction in each unit across whole group, small group, and review lessons. Each Unit Guide also includes progress monitoring tools and is designed to provide small group support in building foundational literacy and math skills and to extend student learning for students mastering content. Some of these small group lessons include progress monitoring and reteaching of skills. For example, in Unit 5, teachers collect anecdotal records of student responses while re-teaching a lesson on letter identification and sounds titled “Review Letters and Sounds.” More re-teach lessons can be found in the “Teach Concepts and Skills” section. While the materials provide teacher guidance on the whole group, small group, and review lessons, guidance is not provided on how to leverage a variety of activities to respond to the child’s data results.
The “Assessment Guide” provides guidance on administering, scoring, and reporting progress and explains how teachers should use data to group and regroup children for instruction and collaborative practice. Additional guidance is provided on how to plan and differentiate from pre-emerging skills to mastery and to identify children who may need additional support or special services, and teachers can use information gathered from the monitoring tools to identify additional interventions needed for individual students. These assessments can also be used to make informed decisions about grade-level placements at the end of the academic year. The Assessment Guide provides “Quick Check” forms that can be printed to record individual student’s responses and progress from the online portal. The Assessment Guide does include guidance for teachers on selecting informal assessments and interpreting the data accurately and carefully as well as how to consider the impact of the external factors that may influence a student’s performance; however, it does not specify a range of factors. The Assessment Guide focuses on the individual child and their progress. There is no evidence to support class or school performances related to skill progression or development. Analysis and responses to data are limited to the individual student, and guidance is not extended for classes or varying levels of class and teacher performance. Materials provide administrators an overview of the program and assessment options made available for teachers in administering data. However, they do not provide guidance for administrators to support teachers in analyzing and responding to data.
The materials provide easily interpretable results since quick scoring sheets contain scoring ranges with descriptions and alternate language choices. Additionally, the scale key for key skills and concepts allows for distinction ranging from three to four mastery levels such as pre-emerging, emerging, developing, and confident/appropriate use.
The materials include frequent and systematic progress monitoring opportunities that accurately measure and track student progress. Materials provide options for progress monitoring that are appropriate for the children’s age, as well as the content and skill being covered.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide routine and systematic progress monitoring for each thematic unit that accurately measures and tracks students’ progress. The materials include the “Likert Scale for Key Skills and Concepts” that suggests how to measure skills and concepts for children 48–60 months for each progress monitoring opportunity. The materials provide a “Progress Monitoring Checklist” for each unit that measures the content areas in each domain and the process skills in the PreK Guidelines. The teacher utilizes observations of interactions and conversations as part of each unit’s progress monitoring.
The materials recommend teachers conduct informal observations such as the use of portfolios, mailboxes, running records, or anecdotal notes in activities and collect work samples to be combined at the end of each week to inform progress and serve as evidence of learning over time. Running records are another tool used to informally observe and document children’s learning progressions over time. The materials recommend that teachers document positive notes in the form of running records to be added to the student portfolios and instruct the teacher on how to use these running records as data points to drive instruction.
Entry-level screeners are included to pre-assess and gather baseline data about basic skills, not entire competencies. The materials recommend teachers administer the “Benchmark Comprehensive Assessment” at the beginning, middle, and end of the year to gather data about student knowledge and skills developed over longer periods of time and recommend that teachers use results to identify opportunities for differentiated instruction and practice or intervention.
Materials provide teachers with suggestions for frequency of monitoring student performance that are age-appropriate. The “Assessment Guide” includes an entry-level screener to be done at the beginning of the year. Materials recommend that ongoing observational assessments be conducted frequently, but not too frequently, to give time for students to gain and practice skills between monitoring. The progress monitoring tools take place at the end of each unit and are related to the unit concepts and material.
The Assessment Guide also provides teachers with tools differentiated by the age of the students. The materials provide progress monitoring tools in the unit guides, which are differentiated by age; one set of units for 48–60 months and one set of units for 36–48 months, ensuring that the teacher is observing and monitoring skills that are age-appropriate for prekindergarten.
The instructional materials reviewed include guidance, scaffolds, support, and extended activities for students who are struggling to master the content. The materials provide some recommended targeted instruction and extended learning activities for students who have mastered the content.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide scaffolded lessons and activities through their use of the BUILD, REACH, and EXTEND model. The BUILD lessons are utilized for learners who are struggling to master content. While the REACH and EXTEND lessons are provided for those who have mastered or are close to mastery. The EXTEND lessons can also be used as extension activities.
The instructional materials provide targeted instruction and activities for students who struggle to master content. In Unit 1, the teacher guides a small group activity by asking scaffolding questions after reading aloud the book What I Like About the Book. For example, the teacher asks students to demonstrate how to hold a book and to point to different features and parts of the book such as the title and the back page. Teacher prompts include comprehension questions, such as “What did you see in the picture that helps you know what the story is about?” This lesson is provided in addition to the whole group lesson that covered the parts of the book that same day during a whole group read-aloud session. In Unit 4, before reading the book Community Helpers, the teacher explains the concept of the community and community helpers. As the teacher reads, she clarifies the meaning of each word (e.g., noun) listed on the inside front cover. She also uses illustrations to support and help children make connections by sharing personal stories: “Have you ever seen someone dressed like this? Have you ever gone with your family to buy medicine?” In Unit 9, the teacher displays the book and reads the title. Children identify the objects on the cover page, prompted by the teacher: “What do you see in the pictures? What do you think we may learn from reading this book?”
The materials provide targeted instruction and activities for students who have mastered the content. In Unit 1, for an extended activity, the teacher uses the same lesson with more parts of a book (e.g., eight instead of the basic four presented in small groups). In Unit 4, within the “Review” lessons, there are small group lessons to review, extend, and monitor student understanding. A language and literacy lesson (Lesson 3) in Unit 4 focuses on the fall season and weather. For the shared writing lesson, the teacher is prompted to ask students, “Tell me one thing that you learned happens in the fall.” For the differentiated instruction lesson, the prompt changes to “What activities do you do in summer? Fall? Which activities can you do in both seasons?” For an extension activity, students draw and sort pictures using a Venn diagram to show how human and animal behavior changes with the seasons. Within the Unit 10 Review lessons, a science lesson (Lesson 3) contains a differentiated instruction activity in which children make a chart showing the life cycle of a butterfly; they use information from a T-chart the class made as a whole group. The extended learning activity has the students add labels: first, later, in a few days/weeks, and final.
The materials provide additional enrichment activities for all levels of learners. In Unit 4, the teacher guides students to role-play in the “Purposeful Play” learning center. By pretending to be community helpers and neighbors, students have the opportunity to explore responsibilities and relationships as they play; they act out tasks a community helper would do, ways to respond in an emergency, and how to ask for help. During an extended learning activity, while reading Community Helpers, children discuss the roles and responsibilities of each community worker and share personal stories of experiences with community helpers. The “Transition” activity suggests an “Act It Out” game, where one student acts out a community helper and the other students guess. However, materials lack activities that allow all children to explore and apply new learning in a variety of ways and promote project-based exploration, such as taking a virtual or actual field trip to talk to a specific community helper. In Unit 9, children learn about growing food on the farm through the read-aloud Food From Farm and Factories. The teacher uses technology to show and talk about different types of supermarkets. However, materials lack a variety of ways children can apply their new learning.
The materials reviewed include a variety of instructional methods to engage students. Throughout the units, materials support the use of whole, small, and independent grouping to appeal to a variety of learning interests and needs of the students. The materials do support the teacher in understanding how and when to use developmentally appropriate teaching strategies. Materials also follow the gradual release model and provide guidance and structures to achieve effective implementation.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the materials provide opportunities for hands-on learning, concrete learning, and learning through teacher modeling. The teacher models how to put things away, and the materials instruct teachers to have children copy her. For example, the teacher introduces the routine for lining up, makes the American Sign Language (ASL) sign for line up, and says to students, “I will say and sign, ‘line up.’” The teacher models this using two children; then, all children practice until all children are in two lines. Additionally, in “Transition” activities, the teacher reinforces the skills taught, and students practice them for 10–15 minutes. The teacher uses the additional resources provided to repeat and role-play each step; the teacher reviews the ASL signs for look, listen, line up, wait, and bathroom, and students copy the teacher’s modeling. The materials support developmentally appropriate instructional strategies by including songs and movements like “Clean Up” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” with the line-up routine. The materials also provide small group lessons to engage students in the mastery of content. Lap books like What I Like About School appeal to a variety of interests and needs.
In Unit 4, the teacher introduces and models skills during whole group instruction; then, students engage in the skills being introduced. The daily lesson starts with a “Focus” section, which introduces the lesson’s main questions and purpose. For example, the teacher poses the essential question, “How do community workers keep us safe and healthy?” Then, children engage with the read-aloud, and the materials guide the teacher through various skills concerning the essential question. For example, students explore that people have jobs in the community. The daily lesson includes whole group instruction, small group instruction, purposeful play in centers, and transition activities that provide opportunities for exploration and play. In one example of a “Purposeful Play” center, students role-play, pretending to be a community helper and acting out tasks the community helper would do.
In Unit 7, the materials include a variety of instructional approaches to engage students. For example, a read-aloud for the whole group centers on the theme of travel; students are invited to make connections by sharing personal experiences about learning to walk, run, or jump. Role-play activities are embedded in whole group instruction as well as in the Purposeful Play center. For small group instruction, materials provide the teacher with the read-aloud big book How People Travel; the teacher reads 2–9 pages and pauses for children’s comments and questions.
The materials provide some support for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level expectations. There are some accommodations for linguistics, but the support is not commensurate with the various levels of English language proficiency. While some embedded scaffolds meet the diverse needs of EL students, there is not a systematic, year-long plan to ensure students reach the end-of-year achievement levels. Additionally, materials do not provide support to strategically use students’ first language to develop linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic skills in English.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Each unit has a “Daily Focus” activity during whole group instruction that is marked as “EL” for English Learner. In Unit 1, the EL whole group activity includes a read-aloud, Fishing with Pops by J. R. Wilson. The teacher displays the book and reviews its various parts, pointing to a word and explaining how words are used to talk and write. The teacher then points to a space between words and says words are separated by spaces. The materials also guide the teacher to use details in the illustrations to explain the concept of setting: “The setting of a story is where the events happen. I see water on this page. I see grass and trees. This story happens outdoors.” Further in the activity, the teacher conducts a picture walk, and students discuss and answer questions like “Where do you think they are going?” To identify the details that describe the setting, the teacher says, “The story begins at Pop's home. Pops and the boy are getting ready to go somewhere. They get in the car. Where do you think they are going?” This interactive activity provides support for ELs by combining modeled think-alouds and opportunities to engage in discussion. This modeling is continued in the math small group lesson; the teacher tells children to count using their fingers and also suggests for children to count in their native language. In the daily small group instruction for Fishing with Pops, the focus is primarily on language development. Students notice details and make inferences using complete sentences. The students are developing language when they give responses to questions like “How do you know the boy is hungry?” and “What things in the picture tell you that the boy and Pops are eating?” While scaffolding is intentional and natural in the lessons, materials do not support various linguistic accommodations. Accommodations are general and do not mirror the students’ level of English language proficiency.
In Unit 2, some linguistic accommodations include increasingly complex questions. At the beginning of the unit, the students respond to yes-or-no questions, like “Do you like the beach?” Later in the week, students respond to more complex questions, like “How did my voice change?” This practice is repeated in other units and is a great approach to expanding language in small children. However, nowhere in the guidance is this practice directly related to or intended for ELs.
In the Unit 4 EL whole group activity “Discuss Roles and Responsibilities,” the teacher provides linguistic accommodations and scaffolds by incorporating discussions, sentence frames, and a review of the community helper roles. The teacher uses self-stick notes to cover several pictures of the community helpers. Then, she gives children clues about each helper. Students do not say the name of the helper aloud; instead, students signal thumbs-up when they know which helper the teacher is describing. This practice allows both English speakers and ELs to participate equally in the activity. The teacher sometimes gives “clues about the helper’s uniform, tools, or vehicle.” Materials guide: “After allowing enough wait time, so most children are signaling thumbs-up, have children whisper their idea to a friend.” The teacher reveals the picture, and children talk about the helper using complete sentences. The materials provide sentence frames for support, such as “This is a … (name helper). A … (name helper) helps others by … (describe job). A … (name helper) wears/uses/drives … (describe uniform, tools, or vehicle).” This activity is interactive and provides scaffolds. However, the materials do not clearly accommodate for linguistics commensurate with various (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) levels of English language proficiency.
In Unit 7, the materials include activities throughout the day that lend themselves to intentional scaffolding. Students participate in read-alouds, small and whole group activities, math and language lessons, and transition activities. When students read Going Places by Cindy Peattie, the teacher conducts a picture walk and invites children to talk about places they have traveled or express preferences for places they would like to travel. Students respond to the questions “What did you or will you do when you travel to the … (location)? How would you like to travel there?” The teacher scaffolds student expressions by “having children use Retelling Cards to practice retelling.” The teacher also has the option to lead students through story writing, saying, “We begin by describing the setting, or where the story takes place. Where did this story begin?” The students express their feelings about visiting family and friends and share personal stories of traveling in different vehicles. The teacher encourages children to use complete sentences like, “I feel … (name emotion) when I visit (my) … (name a family member or friend) because … (explain).” This activity and its scaffolds help ELs practice language, but there are no scaffolds that strategically use the students’ first language as a base to develop English language knowledge.
The materials include year-long plans with practice and some review opportunities that support instruction. Materials include concept development guidance through the resource materials such as the scope and sequence for the program along with thematic units; however, the materials do not include guidance on how to vertically align instruction that builds year to year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Program Guide” provides an overview of the components to be taught for the year divided into two sections: Units 1–5 and Units 6–10 and states that the program provides sequential activities scaffolded from simple to complex and from a short period of time to longer timed activities, yet the materials state that the children will gain expertise over the course of the year. It does not state the children will use these acquired skills on another grade level, and the materials do not include guidance that supports the teacher in understanding the vertical alignment for all content domains as they connect to the Kindergarten – Grade 2 Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.
Each “Unit Guide” includes year-long plans and content delivery for providing instruction in whole group, small group, and review lessons, as well as a fold-out chart listing instructions across the learning domains for each unit; however, each unit does not include review lessons that support instruction across all domains. The thematic units begin with child-focused themes (for example, all about me and family and friends), evolve to address a child’s environment (community jobs and celebrations), and finally take a more global view of the world surrounding the child (growing things and insects). In Unit 1, during a math activity, the students read aloud Same and Different by Vicki Gibson to describe objects by shape, color, and size. In Unit 5, the materials include lessons that incorporate literacy and social studies embedded in the read-aloud time. During a whole group, the teacher reads Special Celebrations by Vicki Gibson, and the students engage in cultural activities of different celebrations at the same time they are engaging with literacy content and skills. The materials also provide an opportunity for students to integrate physical development into the dramatic learning area where students play charades, acting out roles and responsibilities of community helpers. Similarly, in a Unit 7 activity, “Introduce Earth,” the materials incorporate geography into the language domain to introduce Earth as a place where people, animals, plants live and grow. Additionally, the materials offer a variety of independent centers in which students have the opportunity to practice vocabulary, math skills, reading skills, and others simultaneously. For example, in Unit 8, the dramatic play is a weather station in which students practice science and literacy skills. In Unit 9, materials include review and practice opportunities embedded in activities like purposeful play centers to allow children to extend and practice what they learned in the math center (what weighs more?). The students fill containers by pouring beans or corn from one container to another using a funnel and weigh and compare the weights of each container to develop math vocabulary and hand/eye coordination.
The materials include implementation support for teachers with a Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines-aligned scope and sequence outlining the essential knowledge and skills that are taught in the program. The materials include support to help teachers implement the materials as intended but do not include resources and guidance to help administrators support teachers in implementing materials as intended. Materials include a school year’s worth of prekindergarten instruction, including realistic pacing guides and routines.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials provide a “Scope and Sequence Guide” for each unit that includes what is to be taught weekly across all learning domains according to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. The materials also include a “Quick Skills Checklist” that notes essential knowledge and skills to be taught such as alphabetic knowledge and phonological/phonemic awareness, prewriting instruction for drawing, printing letters/numerals, shapes/colors, and numerals/number words, and vocabulary development and oral language. The materials contain “Unit Opener,” “Components at a Glance,” “Instruction Across the Learning Domains,” “Monitor Progress,” “Vocabulary and Suggested Trade Books,” and “Unit Materials to Collect” in the “Unit Resources” for support in the implementation of materials across all units.
The materials are provided in both digital and print form for easy accessing and storing; the online portal separates each component according to function. For example, videos are distinct from Unit Guides, which are separate from read-aloud books, small group lap books, emergent reader books, trade books and lesson guidance, literacy and mathematics posters, take-home student books, family engagement guides, props, and guide and foundational skill toolkit items such as letter cards and retelling cards. The materials do not clearly indicate that the resources can be used by administrators to support the teacher in implementing the materials to appropriate learning environments or structures. The materials include a booklet with instructional strategies to use during lessons that aid the teacher in introducing new math and literacy skills but do not list any tools to support administrators in recognizing best instructional practices and arrangements in the prekindergarten classroom.
The materials include a “Program Guide” that includes the components “Program Overview,” “Efficient Routines and Procedures,” “Effective Instructional Design,” and “Excellent Program Resources and Instructional Components” to support teachers in understanding how to use the materials. For example, the developmental stages for emergent literacy in writing are included in the Program Guide to provide teacher guidance on recognizing the progression from scribbling to drawing, copying, printing, and writing. The guide describes how to use program materials across all domains of content, including manipulatives such as bean bags and colorful cones. Program materials list an e-planner, but it was not found on the portal at the time of review.
The materials provide lessons and activities to support a full year of instruction in a prekindergarten classroom. There are ten thematic units that each include a unit overview and a weekly overview and are divided into three weeks each allowing for adequate amounts of instruction for the school year. The materials provide enough timing to teach skills and review them within each unit. The lessons are reasonably timed throughout the day; for instance, the “Daily Focus” is labeled as 5 minutes, the “Daily Routines” 10–20 minutes, “Read Aloud” 10–15 minutes, wrap-up activity 5 minutes, and transition activities are timed for 10–15 minutes.
The materials provide limited implementation guidance to meet variability in programmatic design and scheduling considerations. Materials do not provide strategic guidance on implementation that ensures sequential content is taught consistent with the developmental progression of skill acquisition. Minimal guidance is provided to allow LEAs the ability to incorporate the curriculum into district design and scheduling considerations.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Scope and Sequence Program Guide” describes the progression of instruction of specific skills in the “Quick Skills Checklists” that include: alphabetic knowledge and phonological/phonemic awareness with the sequence for instruction of sounds and letters throughout the Units 1–10 as well as more advanced phonics in Units 6–10, prewriting instruction, directed drawings, shapes, colors, numerals/number words, vocabulary development, and oral language including ASL hand signs. One example of learning progressions is the activities for teaching writing skills in sequential order. In Unit 1, teachers introduce the pre-writing stroke “Up and Around.” In Unit 4, students use pre-writing strokes, repeat chants, and combine small shapes to make a larger shape. By Unit 7, students complete a directed drawing of a truck. While the materials follow a developmentally appropriate progression of skills, there is no opportunity for the teacher to strategically implement intervention activities based upon the needs of the classroom or individual students.
The materials support programs that are full- and half-day. The materials include full- and half-day daily schedule sample instructions in the “Classroom Management Guide” under “Implementing Routines with Management Tools.” The materials include activities designed for each component of the daily schedule, whether it is a full or half-day, and recommend to include 3–4 time periods of small group instruction, two periods of whole group instruction, and transition activities when changing from small group rotations. The materials provide a Scope and Sequence and a Week at a Glance schedule, but they do not provide a lesson plan or lesson planning support for teachers to follow. The “Unit Guide” mentions an e-planner component as an online program resource, but the resource was not included in the printed materials nor the digital portal provided for the lesson plan template at the time of review.
Materials provide guidance on fostering connections between home and school. Materials support the development of strong relationships between teachers and families and provide appropriate suggestions and activities for use at home to support students’ learning and development.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials’ Family Engagement component provides recommendations to encourage strong relationships between teachers and parents. Under the Home-School Connections, teachers can find resources titled Building the Home‑School Connection, Suggestions for Interactive Parent Meetings, Parent Letters, Unit Take‑Home Activity Calendars, and Unit Take‑Home Books. The materials include suggestions for interactive parent meetings, such as scheduling monthly 45-minute interactive meetings to promote communication and build relationships with parents or caregivers. Topics suggested to discuss are Getting Acquainted, Home and School Working Together, Teaching the Whole Child, Respectful Communication and Responsible Decision-Making, Developing Emergent Language and Literacy, and Developing Early Reading Skills. The Home-School Connections also include guidance on welcoming families via a welcome letter, having a communication board, obtaining contact information, implementing safety routines and procedures, sharing children’s work and progress, and communicating expectations in school at home. The take-home activity calendars available in both English and Spanish include weekly activities for letters and sounds, math, and talk time and provide the unit’s “Essential Question” to guide discussion and activities related to the theme of study.
The take-home books are available in a printed color version and reproducible template to allow for engaging conversation and building vocabulary. The take-home reproducible books can be read by caretakers in the home environment and are modified versions, which may include editing for a shortened version as the reproducibles are limited to eight pages or two full-page printouts.
The materials contain blank copies of any progress-monitoring forms that will be used to document student progress and are recommended to be included in parent activity sessions. The materials also provide guidance on how to discuss end-of-year outcomes with parents.
The dashboard that can be accessed through the online portal includes a tab on remote teaching and learning digital resources, but it is unclear if these resources are included in the program design or supplemental.
Materials include appropriate use of white space and design that supports and does not distract from student learning. The visual design of student and teacher materials is neither distracting nor chaotic. Pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Printed and digital instructional materials are designed with bright, colorful images that are informative and not visually distracting. The images include a variety of illustrations along with photographs to ensure student learning is enhanced with real-world images and appropriate use of white space. The digital software is designed to ensure that the graphic elements of the digital materials are similar to the graphics on the printed materials. The icons are both the same in digital and printed material.
Student instructional materials provide engaging imagery that is not distracting but theme-related and supporting to student learning. For example, Program Letter Cards include letters and pictures that present content for student-friendly use. Sound symbol cards also include letters and images related to the letter. Student high-frequency cards are printed on durable card stock. The retelling and concept development cards feature both illustrations according to the text and engaging images related to the instructional theme and concept. For example, in the Unit 4 Poster, Fall is Here, the graphics are red and black in color, and the pictures are visually appealing and tied to the theme.
The instructional materials include authentic pictures in color, clear design, and vivid. The pictures are of real people and associate with small children’s interests. Images include a variety of realistic drawings and images that depict small children. Big books, content books, and small books include images integrated to support themes in the program. The images are simple and to the point with no diversions from the main topic. Programs cards include big images of items related to themes, and they provide sufficient guiding information on the back to generate a suitable conversation between teacher and student. For example, in Unit 7, the graphics in the Big Book How People Travel by J. R. Wilson support the unit theme, and the text is simple for students to understand. The Big Books pictures are large enough for viewing with limited words for comprehension that comprise short, simple sentences. The publisher also provides an option for teachers to customize the sizing of the books for viewing.
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