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Pre-KPre-K | 2021
Publisher: Teaching Strategies
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.
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. They also include specific, intentional, and purposeful cross-curricular connections to provide a unified experience. Materials name the domains that are developed or reinforced purposefully in each learning activity.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
“Teaching Guides” are organized around common themes; one of the themes presented is gardening. Gardening is explored through learning opportunities and cross-curricular activities, giving students the opportunity to explore multiple learning domains. During “Exploring the Topic,” Day 1, students are asked, “What do we know about gardening? What do we want to find out?” In the lesson, students discuss and do a shared writing about seeds. Next, students perform a finger play with the teacher with gardening-specific movements such as digging, dropping seeds, patting, and sprinkling. To further their experience, during “Choice Time,” the students investigate and work with garden tools and pretend to plant seeds. During this time, teachers pull a small group for activities like predicting the number of seeds in a guessing jar, which incorporates domains like science, technology, literacy, and math. During Day 3 of Exploring the Topic, students have the opportunity to discuss what a garden is, types of gardens, what grows in a garden, shapes of gardens, and how many plants can be seen in the garden.
In Teaching Guide, Volume 2, students explore boxes. During Exploring the Topic, Day 3, students are asked, “What do we know about boxes, and what do we want to find out?” The exploration begins with a shared writing topic: “Where do we see boxes at school?” As students respond to this question, the teacher records their responses on a chart and uses this opportunity to discuss the meaning of the word “storage” and how boxes can be used as such. Then, students walk around the school looking for boxes and recording what they see. Afterward, the students share their experiences and work together to sort boxes in a variety of ways. This theme includes math, literacy, language and communication, and writing.
In the “Music Making” Teaching Guide, the materials provide cross-curricular opportunities for students to explore the theme of music as well as instruments. On Day 3, in the Exploring the Topic section, students participate in a large group activity that targets development concerning phonological awareness skills, classification and patterns skills, physical science skills, music skills, and fine-motor development skills. The large group activity is linked to the following Pre-Kindergarten Guidelines: III.B.3, V.E.1, VI.A.1, VIII.B.1, and IX.B.1. The activity begins with a discussion and shared writing activity where students explore sound-producing objects that can include, but are not limited to, a collection of keys, cellophane, a washboard, blocks, spoons, etc. After exploring the materials, students think of words that describe the sounds that the instruments are producing. The teacher records descriptive words provided by the students as they explore the instruments. After the students have explored and described the instruments, they participate in a guided activity where they label, classify, and group the objects by the sounds produced.
The materials support teacher understanding by explicitly listing the domains, skills, and outcomes in the margins for each learning experience. In all teaching guides, during Choice Time, students have the opportunity to make connections to multiple domains. For example, the “Gardening” Teaching Guide lists Prekindergarten Guidelines III.A.1, “Child engages in pre-reading and reading-related activities,” as well as VI.B.1, “Child observes, investigates, describes, and discusses the characteristics of organisms.” The skills for III.A.1 and VI.B.1 are developed and reinforced as a result of the choice time activities available to students. In the “Intentional Teaching Experiences Language and Literacy,” LL15, “Textured Letters,” the materials list the Prekindergarten Guideline as well as the domains connected to the activity: III.C.1, I.B.1.b, II.A.1, II.D.1, VI.A.1, VIII.A.1.
The materials include high-quality texts as a core component of content and skill. Texts are strategically incorporated throughout the curriculum and across domains to support skill development.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The texts connected to “Teaching Guides” and learning activities support students’ understanding of the content and development of skills. In the back of the Teaching Guides, teachers are given a book list that is organized by learning domains that the teacher can select a text from. The book list is divided into sections that are based on content areas, themes, and genres. The teaching guide materials guide the teacher to select books connected to a specific section in the book list.
In the “First Six Weeks” Teaching Guide, within the “Children’s Books Resources,” examples of high-quality texts include children’s books like Cleversticks by Bernard Ashley, Elizabeti’s School by Stephanie Steve-Bodeen, and Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney. All three of these texts address problems and situations that children experience in their first six weeks of school. Experiences include being excited, at first, to go to school and then becoming anxious and homesick while there. These issues are opportunities for the teacher to initiate discussion to help students learn to cope with separation from their families.
In the “Simple Machines” Teaching Guide, Day 1, Investigation 2, the materials guide the teacher to select a text from the children's books list that features counting. The books target cross-curricular skill development related to Prekindergarten Guidelines III.A.1 and V.A.1, which are the domains targeting emergent literacy and mathematics. One book from the “Children’s Books List” is Dig! The text explores complex machines, simple machines, and counting through a child-friendly story.
The “Music Making” Teaching Guide includes texts aligned with the fine arts domain, such as the bilingual texts Olivia Forma Una Banda by Ian Falconer and My Family Plays Music by Judy Cox. The “Getting Ready for Kindergarten” Teaching Guide includes preparatory texts to prepare students for entering kindergarten: Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Hyewon Yum and Countdown to Kindergarten by Alison McGhee.
In the “Intentional Teaching Experiences Pocket Storytelling, Language and Literacy Card 09,” students work with the relevant text The Mitten by Jan Brett. The lesson guides the teacher to introduce the story by explaining that it is a folktale and explaining the feeling of being told something repeatedly. Next, the teacher reads the story using a created mitten-shaped pocket and retelling toy props. The teacher asks, “What happened each time an animal entered the mitten?” and “Why do you suppose the mitten broke when the mouse tried to get in?” This provides a text foundation for lesson design and skill integration.
The materials support developmentally appropriate practice across all content domains. The materials provide direct guidance on how teachers can facilitate and support learning with child-led play-based experiences and have an intentional balance of explicit instruction and student choice. The materials provide guidance on how to connect all domains to play and on setting up and facilitating activities to meet, reinforce, or practice learning objectives.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include opportunities for students to engage in direct learning activities and independent learning activities throughout the day. Teachers have direction and facilitation guidance on how to facilitate learning using a full-day schedule that includes blocks of time for whole group activities, small group activities, read-alouds, and student-led choice time. The materials include guidance on how to passively extend learning during student-led choice time as well as sentence stems and sample phrases to support students’ learning through play-based activities.
In the “Water” Teaching Guide, Day 1, “Exploring the Topic,” the teacher presents the question of the day, “What is Water?” during a large group shared writing activity. After the activity, the teacher further promotes student exploration of water through play-based activities where students use water, cups, and funnels to explore the liquid. In the Water Teaching Guide, Day 2, Exploring the Topic, the teacher presents students with a watercolor painting activity where they can play through painting and make cross-curricular connections. The teacher further explores the idea by asking students, “What happens when you try to paint without water?” and asks students to explore the idea and explain their findings. During “Choice Time Investigating the Topic,” the teacher explains to the children that they will conduct a test to see how water evaporates into a gas. In a large group, the teacher takes the class outside to write with water on the sidewalk and teaches about evaporation as the water disappears right after they write. The teacher is also provided with direct guidance on facilitating the learning objectives in the “Dramatic Play Area.” The teacher provides washcloths, empty soap containers, spray bottles, and sponges in the Dramatic Play Area to reinforce and connect students’ learning to water. For example, the teacher may say, “Gabriel, you washed the dishes with the washcloth and rinsed it with water in the sink.” This activity allows students to make connections across the Social and Emotional Development Domain, Language and Communication Domain, Science Domain, and Fine Arts Domain.
The “Simple Machines” Teaching Guide, Volume 5, “Planning for the Study” includes activities that incorporate types of simple machines and materials students can choose in different interest areas throughout the day. For example, in the “Block Area,” students use blocks to create ramps or pulleys. At the “Sand and Water Table,” students use water wheels, tongs, or bottles with twist-top caps to move water or sand. In the “Art Area,” students are given examples of simple machines. Using paper, students can choose from safety scissors, plastic pizza cutters, or hole punches to create a picture or cut and paste with glue.
The “Gardening” Teaching Guide, Volume 3, “Planning for the Study” includes materials to help deepen and extend learning about Gardening. The “Discovery Area” includes planters, pots, and seed packets for students to explore planting seeds in pots. The “Library Area” includes books on cooking, recipes, and gardening for students to research cooking or gardening.
In the “Music Making” Teaching Guide, Volume 4, Investigating the Topic, the teacher asks, “What instruments can we play by hitting, tapping, or shaking them?” The lesson includes guidance to prepare the investigation by gathering a collection of percussion instruments such as a floor drum, rhythm sticks, maracas, or a cowbell. The teacher facilitates the activity by describing each instrument and wonders aloud about how to play it with questions like “How can I make a sound with this?” or “What do you think will happen if I shake this?” The teacher records the children’s responses on a chart and invites them to test their ideas by taking turns making sounds with the instruments.
The “Intentional Teaching Experiences, Language and Literacy Card LL03” “Alphabet Cards” provides students with the opportunities to practice new skills in different settings. In the lesson, the students use alphabet cards to talk about the characteristics of the letters and their sounds in various words. The teacher invites the students to trace the letters with their fingers and asks them to find the letters in their name. For example, “Martin, I see you found all the letters in your name. Can you find the uppercase M so we can spell your name the way we would write it?” The teacher invites the students to outline letters using small manipulatives, recommended for organized large and small group activities to promote effective learning.
The materials fit within a developmentally appropriate programmatic structure, specifying whether they are for three or four-year-old children. If intended for both, materials include a variety of options that clearly differentiate instruction for level of development. The materials provide differentiated user recommendations of activities for full-day programs.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “What’s Inside” section of the “Getting Started” guide, materials specify that the curriculum is designed for children in Preschool-3 and Preschool-4 classes. They also support responsive teaching practices by presenting teachers with specialized directions on how to differentiate instruction while presenting the lesson to accommodate a variety of learning within varying developmental levels.
The “Foundation,” Volume 1, Chapter 2, “The Daily Schedule,” includes guidance for how the teacher can conduct an all-day schedule from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., a full-day schedule from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a part-day schedule. The schedules presented include an overview that details the lessons and activities that can be conducted during each period of the all-day and full-day schedule. The instruction for the full-day schedule can be adapted to a half-day schedule as well. Materials provide explicit details on how to use the schedules.
In “The Foundation,” Volume 6, “Objectives for Development & Learning, Birth Through Third Grade,” the teacher is provided the resources to accommodate both three- and four-year-old children. Objectives are included for Social and Emotional Development, Physical, and Language domains by age groups from birth to second grade. The materials provide differences in children’s understanding and use of language and include theory and research strategies for how children develop, the learning environment, what children learn, caring and teaching, and partnering with families. The materials provide vertical scaffolds and instruction in the “Intentional Teaching Experiences” cards to assist teachers in delivering and framing questions based on the child’s age and developmental level.
The Intentional Teaching Experiences for three-year-olds are different from that of four-year-olds in all subjects. The experience cards include color-coded guidance for teaching sequence and age specificity. For example, the instructions in “How to Use Intentional Teaching Experiences” explain that yellow cards are appropriate for two to three years of age, green cards for three years of age, blue cards for four years of age, and purple cards are appropriate for the kindergarten level.
For example, the “Mathematics Intentional Teaching Card M02,” “Counting and Comparing,” includes directions for four-year-olds that state, “Invite the child to compare and order three groups of items, from smallest to largest, fewest to most.” The “Language and Literacy Intentional Teaching Experience Card LL02,” “My Digital Storybook,” includes guidance to differentiate teaching strategies by age. The green card for three-year-olds indicates that children can find the first letter of their name on a keyboard and type it. The teacher points out each letter on the screen as they are being typed and shows the children how the letters appear left to right on the screen as they type them. The blue card indicates that four-year-olds should already understand left to right when typing on a screen and when writing their name. And finally, the “Social Emotional Intentional Teaching Card SE06,” “Talk About Feelings,” includes differentiation guidance for the teacher, indicated in color-coded boxes, where three-year-olds are prompted to describe what they do when they feel happy, sad, or angry while four-year-olds discuss feelings of people in photos and the causes of those feelings.
The materials include detailed guidance that supports the teacher’s delivery of instruction. They provide guidance on explicit instructional strategies for teaching prekindergarten skills and help students connect prior knowledge to new learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials in the “Foundation” volumes, “Mighty Minutes Cards,” “Intentional Teaching Experiences Cards,” and “Teaching Guides” provide clear directions for educators on how to employ explicit instructional strategies to teach content aligned to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
Foundation, Volume 1, Chapter 1, “How Children Develop and Learn,” includes guidance for the teacher in understanding the development of skills. The “Areas of Development” section states “You encourage both physical and language development when children write their name or make a mark on a sign-in sheet.” The materials in Foundation, Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning,” detail look-fors as well as behaviors that children will exhibit throughout the development and acquisition of skills. They also present instructional strategies the educator can employ to nurture and develop students’ skills related to the 37 objectives addressed in the curriculum. For example, the materials present the developmental continuum through which students will progress as they develop skills related to Objective 13, which targets students’ development of classification skills.
The “Boxes” Teaching Guide includes a small group section under Day 1 that guides the teacher with strategies for teaching skills: “As you continue to build the class collection of boxes be sure to include boxes with print, such as product containers or boxes with labels in the language(s) spoken in the classroom,” as environmental print helps students understand the meaning of text.
The “Simple Machines” Teaching Guide includes teacher strategies in the “Choice Time” section of Day 1: “As children explore simple machines, supervise closely and show them how to use the machines properly to avoid injuring themselves or others.” Foundation, Volume 2, gives an example of how to direct questions to determine a student’s level of prior knowledge: “It looks like you are fitting the smaller boxes inside of the large box. What are you going to do with the boxes?”
Student prior knowledge is connected to new learning in “Intentional Teaching Experience Mathematics Card 07,” “Ice Cubes” when the teacher asks, “What can you tell me about this ice cube? Do we know what it feels like without touching it?” The Intentional Teaching Experience M78, “Math Collage,” provides strategies for using numeral/quantity cards 1-3, 1-5, 1-10 to count with students and support their understanding. Strategies include showing the children numeral cards and explaining that a numeral tells or shows how many: “How many eyes do you have? How many knees do you have? I have one nose. Can you think of a body part that you have only one of?” This provides direct and guided instruction for the children. Students use art materials to make a collage using the number cards. They choose a numeral card and select the correct number of manipulatives to represent the number. The materials provide a balance of strategies and use of the same materials for exploration and practice skills; the collage materials and numeral cards are moved to the “Art Area” during Choice Time. With the Intentional Teaching Experience cards, the teacher can further develop students’ classification skills (Objective 13) through targeted lessons. The card/lesson identifies the teacher’s actions as well as potential student actions. For example, Intentional Teaching Experience Card M95, “Color Collections,” details the actions the teacher can employ during explicit instruction and subsequent responses by the students: “Maddox, what color are you looking for on our chart? Yes, your block is green. Can you find a green section to put it in? That’s great! This is a green section. Which item would you like to sort next?”
Intentional Teaching Experience Language and Literacy Card LL01 provides the teacher with guidance in a shared writing lesson to connect prior knowledge to new learning using chart paper and markers. The materials provide steps to guide children’s level of understanding; the teacher asks open-ended questions and uses prompts to stimulate discussion: “What do you notice about …? What are your favorite kinds of …? How did you decide …?” These questions determine what children already know about the topic and guide teachers to connect children’s prior knowledge to new learning. The small group “Teaching Strategies” activity provides guidance to engage three-year-olds. The materials guide the teacher to talk about individual words and letters and ask the children where to begin reading to develop background knowledge in unfamiliar areas.
The curriculum is connected and supported by child development research on children’s development within and across all domains. A clear description is included on how the curriculum is supported by research; there is guidance for instruction that enriches educator understanding of early childhood development and the validity of the recommended approach. The materials include cited research that is current, academic, relevant to early childhood development, and specific to Texas content and demographics. A bibliography is also present.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The curriculum targets five research-based fundamental principles. The principles are grounded in research related to adult-child interactions, social and emotional competence, constructive and purposeful play, physical environment, and teacher-family partnerships and relationships. The research provides guidance on how the learning environment is connected to high-quality learning and instruction, referencing a study from 2008, “Quality of Social and Physical Environments in Preschool and Children’s Development of Academic, Language, and Literacy Skills.” The research covers the following: 1. How Children Develop; 2. The Learning Environment; 3. What Children Learn; 4. Caring and Teaching; and 5. Partnering with Families.
The materials include research from the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Early Literacy Panel, which are also cited in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. The “Foundation” volumes include cited research and strategies from experts such as Lev Vygotsky, an acclaimed theorist in the field of education. The materials contain cited research in the body of the materials; research is also cited in bibliographies at the end of every chapter within each Foundation Volume (1–6).
The Foundation volumes “explain the ‘what’ and ‘why’ behind high-quality early childhood education and support your ongoing, comprehensive understanding of best practices.” In Foundation, Volume 1, the teacher is presented with the “research foundation of the curriculum.” This research explores “teacher-child relationships, social and emotional competence, constructive and purposeful play, the environment, and partnering with families.”
Foundation, Volume 1, “Theory and Research,” includes research that supports developmental objectives throughout the curriculum. For example, according to research, the “curriculum for Texas builds upon the understanding that early education lays the foundation for lifelong learning” (Dodge, 1995). This volume also provides research and theory explaining how the materials are aligned to the child development research within four universities. This volume also includes Jean Piaget’s research-based theory of the importance of play: “Play serves many purposes and provides an excellent vehicle for learning. Their knowledge grows as they experiment, make discoveries, and modify their thinking to incorporate new insights.”
The Literacy Foundation, Volume 3, Chapter 1, “The Components of Literacy,” includes research that guides and supports the teacher in providing a developmentally appropriate literacy program. For example, it includes the following statement: “Reading with young children develops literacy skills and a love of books long before a child has the ability to read on their own” (Suskind, 2015).
The Mathematics Foundation, Volume 4, “Plan Your Mathematics Program,” guides the teacher through the lesson using research-based topics, such as objectives for mathematics, creating a rich mathematics environment, integrating mathematics throughout the day, and planning learning experiences that focus on child-initiated learning, teacher-guided instruction, large groups, and small groups, all of which are best practices in early childhood.
Materials provide the teacher with a research-based understanding of the importance of constructive, purposeful play. Materials state, “Children learn about themselves, other people, and the world around them by playing” (O’Conner, 2018). The materials also cite research from Getting it RIGHT for Young Children from Diverse Backgrounds: Applying Research to Improve Practice with a Focus on Dual Language Learners, written by experts in the field of Spanish language and emergent reading skills. Materials include reputable sources in early childhood development, such as Copple, C., Bredekamp, S., Koralek & Charner, C. (2013), Developmentally Appropriate Practice: Focus on Preschoolers, published within the past ten years.
The “Teacher’s Resource” section of the “Building Your Classroom Community Teaching Guide, Volume 1,” outlines developmentally appropriate practices for early childhood education programs and for the benchmarks of the four distinct periods of a child’s life (i.e., from infant to toddler to primary grade years).
The materials include direct social skill instruction and explicit teaching of skills. The materials include full lessons on “Self-Concept Skills,” “Self-Regulation Skills,” “Relationships with Others,” and “Social Awareness Skills,” as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. The teacher is guided on modeling social skills; materials provide numerous texts that support the development of social competencies. The materials include appropriate texts used to support the development of competencies to understand and respond to emotions.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Teachers are provided with “Intentional Teaching Experiences: Social and Emotional Cards” with full lessons on Self-Concept Skills, Self-Regulation Skills, Relationships with Others, and Social Awareness Skills, as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Materials include “Teaching Guides” that instruct the teacher on modeling social skills. In the Teaching Guide “The First Six Weeks,” the teacher is presented with teaching approaches, such as modeling, to facilitate students’ social and emotional development. Teachers model expected classroom behaviors by pushing in their chairs when they get up from the table. The section states, “Model behaviors that you expect for all members of the classroom community.”
In Social and Emotional Card 03, “The Calm Down Place,” the teacher models and creates an environment to facilitate students’ emotional and self-regulation skills. The teacher is provided guidance: “Encourage the children to talk about their feelings throughout the day in order to make them aware of what they are feeling when they are happy, anxious, frustrated, etc.” The teacher can say, “I can see you’re having a hard time waiting for your turn. It’s hard to wait. It makes you feel frustrated. Let’s take a few minutes to calm down together.”
In Social and Emotional Card 24, teachers address conflict resolution and assertiveness by helping students use their words to solve conflicts and stand up for themselves. The teacher coaches or models in close proximity to a child who needs to learn how to use assertive language. The teacher models using a gesture that the child can use with assertive language, such as putting a hand up and saying, “Stop!”
In Social and Emotional Card 25, “What Can We Build Together?” the teacher addresses working cooperatively together. The teacher pairs two children to build a block structure and explains how they are to take turns deciding how to build the structure. The teacher coaches the children as needed while they build and comments on their cooperative efforts.
Materials include appropriate texts as well as subsequent “Book Cards” to support the development of social competencies. In the book A World of Families, students develop an understanding of families and how cultures are developed. The book provides examples of various families around the world, explores family structures of diverse cultural backgrounds, and points out the many ways that families around the world are similar and different.
Additionally, the materials include appropriate texts used to support the development of competencies to understand and respond to emotions. For example, in the “Gardening” Teaching Guide, the resource section includes Spanish-language or bilingual books to promote social and emotional skills. With Quiet in the Garden by Aliki, students use the skill of sitting quietly and listening as they explore a garden. The story encourages this social skill: Each small animal character visits the garden and has something to eat while the garden grows. As students sit near their own garden or outdoor space, they look and listen for natural activity that takes place. With Florian, el dragon vegetariano by Jules Bass and Debbie Harter, students analyze the characters’ differing abilities and the social situations they encounter. Florian doesn’t want to live like a traditional dragon. He tends his garden and enjoys his vegetables, and encourages other dragons to do the same. In the independent activity, students make their own stories and illustrations about Florian and other dragons.
In Book Discussion Card 5 for Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto and Ed Martinez, the teacher focuses on the main characters’ thoughts and actions in a whole group activity and guides children’s emotional understanding through questioning. A callout box gives the teacher examples of prompts for questioning, such as “How do you know when someone you care about is sad?” and “What do you do to help them?”
Book Discussion Card 23 is for The Upside Down Boy by Juan Felipe Herrera, a book about a boy who just moved to a new town and is starting in a new school. The teacher supports emotional literacy and the development of competencies to understand and respond to emotions by commenting on the main characters’ thoughts and actions. The teacher pushes students to resonate with the main character, Juanito, by asking, “Juanito doesn’t really have friends at school. I wonder how Juanito feels when Mrs. Sampson asks him to sing in front of the class,” allowing students to understand and respond to emotions.
The materials include repeated opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply social skills throughout the day. The materials contain full lessons on “Self-Concept Skills,” “Self-Regulation Skills,” “Relationships with Others,” and “Social Awareness Skills,” as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Practice opportunities in the materials are authentically integrated throughout all other content domains.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide daily opportunities for students to practice working together in large groups, small groups, collaborative centers, and through outdoor play experiences. The materials in the “Teacher Guides” present educators with lessons and activities that build on multiple concepts simultaneously.
The first Teaching Guide, “The First Six Weeks: Building Your Classroom Community,” provides guidance and support on how to develop responsive, interpersonal relationships and social skills. The section “Social and Emotional Development: The Foundation for all Learning” provides the educator with strategies that can be utilized daily to support students’ opportunities to learn, practice, and apply social skills throughout the day. The teacher models self-talk to identify and explain the emotions she is feeling. The student models the teacher’s behavior by picking up materials during transitions in an effort to care for the classroom community. Throughout each day, the teacher models appropriate behaviors expected by all in the classroom community. The guide includes questions that guide the teacher’s observations of students’ social skills. For example, “How well do children recognize their names?” During “Choice Time,” where students choose their own interest area, the material guides teachers in asking probing questions as they interact with each child; for example, “Observe children for signs of distress when talking about new experiences.” The materials also provide guidance on how the teacher can comfort and calm students when they are upset due to separating from a caregiver. The examples provide the educator with explicit language to utilize in order to validate and identify the student’s feelings, reassure them, and soothe them. For example, “Travis, I know it’s hard to say good-bye to mom and you’re feeling upset. May I hold your hand?”
The materials provide 39 opportunities and activities for students to develop, learn, and practice social skills using the “Intentional Teaching Experience Cards” (“Social and Emotional”). These cards provide materials and guidance on how to authentically facilitate students’ social and emotional development throughout the instructional day.
Social and Emotional Card 03, “The Calm Down Place,” provides the educator with direction and guidance on how to create a calm-down center as well as strategies for de-escalating a student’s behavior when they are upset.
Social and Emotional Card 26, “Making a Mural,” gives the opportunity for children to work side by side, in pairs or small groups, and build confidence in social situations by making a mural with a specific focus. As the mural is created, the teacher asks each child to point out his classmates’ creations.
Social and Emotional Card 10, “My Turn at the Microphone,” is a “Circle Time” activity where students sit facing a microphone. The teacher explains that each student will get a chance to speak into the microphone. The teacher asks open-ended questions, such as “What do you like to do after school each day?” The students practice taking turns and listening skills in a group setting.
Mathematics Intentional Teaching Experience Card 88 is “Shape Bingo.” Students take turns reaching into a bag for a shape and placing their shape on the appropriate spot on the card. Social and emotional skill development is embedded when a child is guided to count the number of students in a play area and say, for example, “There are already five students playing there, so I will wait.”
In the “Wheels” unit, the lesson incorporates math concepts, shared writing experiences, and opportunities to develop and learn social skills. The teacher references the question of the day, “What kind of wheel can you draw?” Students create and draw their interpretations of wheels through a shared writing experience. The teacher introduces and defines the vocabulary words same, different, and round. The students take turns sharing and describing the elements of their drawings of wheels. The teacher creates a T-chart and labels one side same and one side different. The students identify the similarities and differences between the wheels drawn and between images of wheels (e.g., colors, sizes, holes in the middle).
Mathematics Card 81 is “Sink or Float.” Students work together to determine if objects sink or float and place them in the correct tray after testing them.
The “Music Making” Teaching Guide, Day 2, has an example of the teacher introducing a visitor and describing the instrument the visitor plays. The visitor demonstrates how to play the instrument and how it produces sound. Children ask questions. In an activity, students are introduced to rhythm sticks as well as rhythm and tempo. They are taught how to hold sticks in a resting position, practicing self-regulation by controlling the impulse to hit the sticks together.
The materials do not present any information or guidance on posters to assist students’ practice and acquisition of social skills and routines. The materials do not present information on utilizing puppets or concrete items and materials to develop students’ understanding of emotions.
The instructional materials include information on ideal classroom arrangements that support positive social interactions. A variety of factors and components are considered when suggesting classroom arrangement in order to maximize social development and practice. Suggested materials and classroom arrangements are easily implementable and allow students ownership of the space.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Most of the evidence relevant to classroom arrangement is located in Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the “Foundation” resource. The “Learning Environment” chapter summarizes how the teacher should set up the learning environment. Sections in this document include the following: “establish traffic patterns, clearly define areas that need protection, locate interest areas that are relatively quiet, decide which areas need tables and chairs, think about activities that are affected by floor coverings, place interest areas near needed resources, reserve areas that need a lot of light, organize the room so you can see as much as possible, guidelines for setting up interest areas.” This document ensures students have defined areas while simultaneously facilitating opportunities for students to explore their interests, work independently, work collaboratively, and congregate for large group activities. Visual examples of a set-up classroom help support the teacher’s implementation, ensuring an effective classroom arrangement. Suggestions in this document consider a variety of factors and components of the physical space and their impact on students’ social development. For example, the teacher should clearly define areas that need protection by using walls or shelves. Another simple but good rule to follow in the beginning is “Less is better.” Too many materials can overwhelm children. Finally, locating a library or writing center near windows incorporates the use of natural lighting.
Foundation also presents information on the 10 “Interest Areas” that should be included in a classroom: “blocks, dramatic play, toys and games, art, library, discovery, sand and water, music and movement, cooking, and technology.” First, the document explains the importance of each interest area as it relates to social skill development. For example, in the “Block Area,” children “negotiate using materials, determine how many can play comfortably, care for materials, and follow rules for building safely.” In “Dramatic Play,” children do things like replay “scenes of a mother leaving her child to go to work.” This provides opportunities for children to regulate and manage their own emotions, behaviors, and feelings. Each interest area has its own “Interest Areas Guide” that provides detailed, research-based guidance for setting up the area in a preschool classroom. Photos help the teacher understand what materials to include and how to arrange them. These guides provide very specific information for setting up each area and ensuring materials are age and developmentally appropriate. For example, the “Block Interest Area Guide” contains a blueprint of the types of blocks that should be included, and the “Toys and Games Area Guide” states that “puzzles should include 4-10 knobbed piece puzzles, scaffolding up to 10-20 piece puzzles without knobs.” These detailed directions ensure students have the opportunity to practice social skills through daily learning centers.
The teacher is provided information on organizing materials, using labels, and integrating personal pictures to show children that everything has a place. Each center should be labeled with an image of the material as well as lowercase text to support language development and placement of items. This also directs students toward storage areas (child accessible) and away from secure areas (not child accessible). By labeling materials and their locations, students can use the provided consistency to develop social skills. This gives them the opportunity to care for classroom materials, organize materials, and navigate student-student interaction. During the beginning of the year, students also bring in personal pictures to differentiate between student areas and teacher areas. This practice also promotes student ownership of space by integrating the students’ identity into the classroom.
Utilizing the section “Building Your Classroom Community,” the teacher introduces learning centers to students. Teachers lead a tour through the classroom and label each interest area with the students. As they tour, the teacher describes the types of activities completed within each area and allows students to put up labels. After the classroom tour, the teacher discusses classroom rules with students. Student-generated rules are recorded on a piece of paper; the teacher writes, re-states, and provides an example of each rule before leading a discussion. These practices support student ownership of the classroom because students “create their own” rules for the classroom and have a say in the classroom environment.
The instructional materials include activities to develop physical skills and refine motor development through movement. There are numerous daily opportunities for students to develop these skills, including through tasks that do not require writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The document “Intentional Teaching Experiences: Physical Cards” is the main resource where teachers can choose physical activities and movement-based activities. There are numerous activities that allow students to target gross motor skills through large groups, small groups, choice time, and outdoor activities. A selection of “Mighty Minutes Cards” related to movement skills is also included in each theme. Between these two resources, there are over 100 activities that promote the development of gross and fine motor skills.
The document titled “Foundation” also has a section relevant to this indicator: Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning, Birth Through Third Grade.” This resource provides information and guidance on the “Physical Learning Targets” and “Physical Curriculum Objectives” 4 through 7; these objectives include traveling skills, balancing skills, gross motor manipulative skills, and fine motor strength and coordination skills. This document also includes the rationale behind the implementation of physical movement: “Regular physical activity is linked not only to improvement in children’s overall physical health, but also in the social, cognitive, emotional, and physiological development.” In all, there are 46 strategies that can be utilized to support students’ development of gross motor skills.
“Catching with a Scoop” is a game found in the Physical Cards. In this game, the teacher begins by modeling how to hold a scoop with one hand and a beanbag with the other. The teacher says, “Watch how I toss the beanbag straight into the air,” and demonstrates how to safely toss the bean bag using an underhand grip. As the beanbag comes back down, the teacher demonstrates how to catch the beanbag. Students take turns throwing their bean bag up in the air and catching it with their scoop. Another example of gross motor development is the “Up and Away” activity. In the “Outdoor Area,” students spread out with plenty of space in between each other. The teacher then demonstrates how to throw underhand: “I’m going to show you how to throw the ball underhand. First, I’ll check to make sure no one is standing nearby.” Rules for safety are clarified, and then the teacher demonstrates how to keep the throwing arm straight by one’s side. The teacher then asks the children to step forward using the foot opposite to their throwing hand and release the ball towards the basket that has been placed in front of them. The teacher demonstrates this repeatedly throughout the whole process while explaining the step-by-step directions.
While most fine motor activities are located in the Mighty Minutes Cards, a number of them are covered in the Physical Cards. For example, “Let’s Sew” targets Objective 7: “Demonstrates fine-motor strength and coordination.” In this activity, students learn to sew using various materials. First, the teacher demonstrates how to use a toothpick with yarn taped to it to “sew” a piece of hole-punched construction paper. Students use the small muscles of their hand to navigate their toothpick through the holes in the paper, “sewing” with the yarn. Other fine motor activities include using scissors, tongs, and puzzle pieces.
In Mighty Minutes activity 12, students also develop gross physical skills through movement. “Let’s Do a Hand Dance” integrates movement through dance and music. In this example, the teacher plays upbeat music and demonstrates a pattern of hand movements. Students try to remember and repeat the pattern. “Flexing Fingers” is a Mighty Minutes finger-play song in which students develop fine motor skills. In this activity, the children warm up their fingers to prepare to use them during the song. As the teacher leads the children through the song, the teacher demonstrates how to flex each finger when the part of the song calls for it. The teacher then models additional movements, such as moving fingers back and forth as each finger is named. Mighty Minutes and Physical Cards are two resources that provide daily opportunities for both gross and fine motor skill development.
The instructional materials include activities that develop safe and healthy habits in students. The materials provide guidance on modeling safe and healthy habits for students and communicate the connection between physical and mental health. There are also a variety of opportunities and activities for students to both practice and reflect on safe and healthy habits.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The teacher can access guidance as well as information concerning how to model safe and healthy habits for students via the “Physical” and “Social and Emotional” “Intentional Teaching Experiences Cards,” “Mighty Minutes,” and select sections and lessons in the “Teaching Guides.” A strategy page located in “Foundation,” Volume 6, has specific strategies to guide the teacher in addressing both physical and mental health. The Intentional Teaching Experience activity “Take a Breath” allows the children to practice deep breathing. The teacher should “model taking deep breaths counting to 5, or doing relaxation exercises when situations are stressful.” Afterward, the teacher explains how this action helps students manage their feelings and relax when angry or upset. In Intentional Teaching Experience “Up and Away,” the teacher models throwing a ball underhand as well as using safety while throwing balls near others. The students respond by throwing the ball while keeping the safety rules in mind. Another example of modeling physical safety habits is the activity “Cutting with Scissors.” Students use scissors while the teacher describes safe practice, saying, “When I cut, I go slowly so that I can make sure all my fingers are out of the way.” The students respond by cutting the lines drawn on their paper very slowly.
Foundation, Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning,” states, “The ability to be physically active influences social well-being and mental health. The more children can do physically the more willing they are to interact with other children and try new and challenging physical tasks (Kim, 2005). This establishes a positive cycle that affects overall learning and health.” This is very clear and direct information for the teacher to understand the connection between physical and mental health.
Additionally, the “Intentional Teaching Experiences Social and Emotional Guide” combines research with developmentally appropriate strategies for creating a sound mental-health-and-physical-development connection. In the activity “Big Rule, Little Rule,” the teacher leads the children in a discussion of classroom rules that include maintaining physical safety. The teacher leads a discussion on being kind by using a quiet voice indoors and touching people gently. More evidence pertaining to physical skills and mental health can be found in the resource section of Foundation, Volume 1. For example, the publication “A Good Beginning: Sending America’s Children to School With the Social and Emotional Confidence They Need to Succeed” states that “regular physical activity is linked to not only children’s overall physical health, but also in their social, cognitive, emotional and physiological development.”
In the “Teaching Guide,” “Building Your Classroom Community,” the teacher has access to activities that create opportunities for students to learn safety habits that can be practiced in both indoor and outdoor learning environments. The teacher takes students to the outdoor playground and introduces areas within the playground. Throughout this tour, the teacher explains and engages students in a discussion about the safety rules for each area. The students practice following the safety rules on the playground, in one case, by keeping the tricycles on the bike path. Physical and fine motor activities contain safety guidance for handling the necessary tools and resources for each activity. In the activity “Let’s Sew,” the teacher discusses the potential danger of a “needle” (in this case, a toothpick) and models how to handle one without injuring oneself. The lesson includes various guidance steps to help children, depending on their varied abilities. Children sew by taping a toothpick to the end of a piece of yarn; if the child is unable to hold the toothpick correctly, then the teacher may substitute shoelaces in its place.
With the Mighty Minutes Card “Yes, I Can!” students have the opportunity to reflect upon and discuss how they helped care for the classroom throughout the day. The card provides the teacher with dialogue support to help facilitate conversation and reflection. Additionally, the Social and Emotional Card SE09 provides teacher guidance on how to lead a lesson allowing students to take part in developing the classroom community and safety rules. The educator leads a discussion with students about potential challenges in the classroom. Then, students brainstorm and discuss safety and classroom rules that could be used or implemented to prevent harm in the classroom. This resource allows for the successful practice of and reflection on safe habits in the classroom.
Other health and safety considerations are located in the “Interest Areas,” Volume 2. Safety considerations discussed for cooking activities include making sure that the outlets are not overloaded; those not in use should have safety caps. Sharp knives, blenders, and graters should be properly stored and out of children’s reach. The teacher is required to abide by health safety rules, making sure all food is properly prepared to avoid foodborne illnesses. Additionally, playground activity safety guidance is offered: “Be vigilant about the type of clothing children may be wearing before getting on playground equipment. Loose clothing easily gets caught on playground equipment.” Guidance for inspecting playground equipment before allowing children to use it is also highlighted in the manual.
The materials provide guidance supporting the development of listening skills for understanding and conversation norms. Multiple modeling strategies, along with numerous examples of support and scaffolding, provide the students with opportunities to hear appropriate language and practice listening skills they have learned.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In “Teaching Guide 1,” “Building Your Classroom Community,” teachers have guidance describing how to model and initiate conversations with students while concurrently supporting them as they engage in sand and water play. The materials state, “As you interact with the children in each interest area, make time to do the following in the Sand and Water area: observe children as they use the cooking tools. Ask questions to encourage children to explore the materials and explain their process, e.g., ‘What happened when you mixed the sand with the whisk? How many cups do you think it will take to fill that container?’” This allows the teacher to engage in conversation related to the content and recommend language to support student exploration. In the “Including All Learners” section, the teacher has access to scaffolds and suggestions that promote student communication and understanding. Students have access to yes-and-no visual cards so they can respond appropriately to questions. When the teacher asks questions like “Did you like the book?” students can raise the “yes” card to indicate they like the reading material. This scaffold allows students to practice listening skills even if they do not have the appropriate communication skills to respond verbally.
Through “Foundation,” Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning,” the teacher has access to guidance describing how to utilize think-alouds to target students’ abilities to “listen to and understand increasingly complex language.” “Intentional Teaching Practice Language and Literacy Card” LL01 gives guidance to the teacher: “Address common questions that children are trying to express, model your own curiosity by wondering aloud. ‘I wonder how…..?’” The guidance also describes how to model and explain non-verbal conversation rules that support active listening and conversation. For example, the teacher is guided to maintain eye contact on the child’s level; this makes each child feel special by making time for them to share special interests with you. Another example describes how students should be expected to sit quietly and actively listen. The teacher is guided to say, “When we come together in the circle, we are all part of the same group. It is important that we respect each other. That means we sit quietly when others are talking so we can hear them.” Students discuss other ways that they can respect their classmates, such as by keeping their hands to themselves. These examples balance effective modeling with daily scaffolded opportunities to better develop students’ listening skills.
The materials provide the teacher with grammatically correct scripts as they deliver directions and lesson content. For example, Intentional Teaching Experiences Language and Literacy Card LL73 provides the educator with directions as well as phrases that can be said in a sequential order to guide students through the activity. The teacher invites students to “watch the birds in the outdoor area” and then describe what they see. The teacher then continues with the next phrase prompt in the learning sequence: “Look at that bird, Rochelle. What do you see? Yes, it’s black with a yellow beak. Do you see any other birds with different colors?” Through the provided script, the teacher models appropriate conversation to build on the students’ understanding of grammatically correct and appropriate sentence structures.
“Mighty Minutes Card” 99 summarizes an activity that can be used in whole groups or small groups. The activity targets Learning Objective 8: “Listens to and understands increasingly complex language.” The teacher says, “I wonder how many things we can remember to do?” The teacher asks students to perform two actions: rub your head and then pat their knees. The teacher scaffolds and supports the students’ learning by asking them to repeat the directions. To help students remember the order, she also adds ordinal numbers by saying, “First, rub your head; second, pat your knees.” The students can also introduce and add actions to the sequence.
The materials provide appropriate guidance on developing students’ speaking skills. There are numerous recommendations on how the teacher can set up and facilitate opportunities for students to practice producing sounds, utilizing appropriate sentence structure, and employing correct grammar. Teachers have the support to provide corrective feedback of students’ speech, and students work collaboratively to converse in a variety of contexts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teaching Guides” present opportunities for students to develop oral language skills through activities in small group and large group settings. For example, in the “Music Making” guide, the teacher facilitates oral language activities in the large group via shared writing experiences. The teacher reviews and restates the question of the day, “Do you like to sing?” and then encourages students to “talk about the music they enjoy singing.” Teachers facilitate the conversation by sharing the music that they like to sing; for example, “I like to sing holiday songs. Singing songs is my favorite part of my family’s celebrations.” Through the shared writing discussion, the teacher asks supporting questions to guide the conversation: “When do you like to sing? Who do you enjoy singing with? Do you enjoy dancing to music?” The shared writing component is introduced as the teacher asks students to listen and dance to the music. After students listen and dance, the teacher asks, “What did you notice about that music? How would you describe it?” The students describe the music, and the teacher records the descriptions on chart paper. In the “Boxes” guide, large and small group instruction encourages students to speak correctly. The teacher gathers and displays a collection of cardboard boxes and then encourages the children to explore and talk about the boxes. The “Question of the Day” is introduced: “Did you use a box today?” Students share their responses with the whole group. The teacher then models how she may have used a box that day, citing the use of a cereal box as an example. Asking questions and modeling a response allows students to both practice speech production and sentence structure as well as receive in-the-moment corrective feedback of speaking skills.
In “Foundation,” Volume 3, “The Components of Literacy,” teachers receive guidance to better understand language development. The section specifies the difference between receptive and expressive language and its importance in child language development. Teachers are instructed: “Serve as a good language model when speaking to children by using complete sentences. Give children interesting firsthand experiences to talk about. Repeat and reinforce new words, etc.” This resource also explains to teachers how interest centers help engage children in developing literacy skills. Discussion and speaking skills can be developed through the books they read, the language they use, the activities and experiences teachers provide, and the way teachers set up the classroom.
In Foundation, Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning,” the materials provide developmentally appropriate strategies to support students’ speech production, sentence structure, and grammar. For example, the materials guide the educator: “Respect children’s communication style while encouraging them to achieve higher levels of communication. Instead of correcting the child’s incorrect pronunciation and grammar, respond by modeling the correct language. Repeat their words with more complete, grammatically accurate, or expanded talk. For example, when the child says, ‘He goed,’ say, ‘Yes, Marcus went to the museum with his aunt and uncle.’”
Using “Literacy Card” LL09, teachers engage students in a read-aloud and discussion about the folktale The Mitten. Students listen to the story and then respond to open-ended questions. Throughout the lesson, the teacher supports students’ understanding by presenting a visual sequence of events using characters and a mitten. After the lesson, the teacher sets up the character props and mitten props in the “Dramatic Play” or “Literacy” center for students to role-play, take turns acting out the events, and engage in discussion about the story. This new speaking opportunity is developmentally appropriate and extends speaking skills to a new context.
Teachers receive scaffolded supports to more effectively facilitate reading activities through the “Intentional Teaching Experience Cards.” These cards include suggestions and prompts that vary depending on the varying speaking abilities of students in the classroom. Covered developmental levels range from one-year-olds all the way to kindergarten. One specific example is the Literacy Card LL27 for the activity “Writing Poems.” This activity helps students develop expressive language skills through poetry. Through discussion, students use “descriptive words to describe everyday events and objects” while the teacher records responses on chart paper. For students between two and three years old, there are prompting questions that are meant to elicit descriptive word usage. If this is unsuccessful, the teacher can support understanding by presenting objects that help students think of descriptive words. The teacher then progresses to the next section of the sequence, targeting developmental ages of “Preschool 3”: Students should “think about his or her five senses when describing an object.” Clarifying questions help students better respond to the task: “What would you like the poem to be about? Strawberry ice cream? What does strawberry ice cream taste like? How does it feel on your tongue? What color is it?” This scaffolding process and teaching sequence continue to support students’ expressive language skills as they create their poems.
The materials successfully expand student vocabulary. There is evidence of progressive vocabulary development that is both age-appropriate and integrated into content-based learning. A variety of strategies supporting vocabulary development address student needs.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials support students’ progression of vocabulary development by presenting developmentally appropriate activities to support students’ acquisition of language. “Foundation,” Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning,” provides the teacher with a sequentially appropriate continuum to follow that supports students’ stages of vocabulary development. Foundation, Volume 3, “Teaching Strategies,” provides strategies to support teachers in modeling a variety of vocabulary words. For example, the teacher facilitates children’s conversations in “Dramatic Play” by introducing more complex language and new vocabulary over time.
The materials present the educator with vocabulary related to thematic units presented in “Teaching Guides.” For example, in the “Water” guide, day one vocabulary words are liquid, water, and clear. The students begin their day by hearing and exploring one of the vocabulary words through the question of the day, “What does water feel like?” This question is accompanied by an image of water in a bowl to ensure all students understand the term. The teacher then uses hands-on resources to help children understand the concept of liquid. The teacher brings out a shallow bowl with water for students to see and touch. To increase understanding, the teacher offers additional examples to teach the concept of liquid by talking about milk, syrup, and liquid soap. Finally, students interact with different materials for getting their hands dirty: dirt, fingerpaint, or glue. After trying to clean their hands with paper towels, wet wipes, and hand soap, students learn that water is useful for cleaning. In the “Wheels” guide, students explore the topic by watching the teacher roll a ball across the “Circle Time” rug. The teacher then hands blocks to the children, asking, “Can you roll these to each other?” After demonstrating the word slide with the blocks and roll with the ball, the teacher uses toy cars, trains, and other wheeled objects to further develop the two concepts. She asks children, “Will these roll or will they slide? Why?” These vocabulary opportunities are well-integrated in the content and utilize age-appropriate methods of instruction.
For a less practical lesson, the teacher explores the words sprouting and gardening using the “Gardening” guide. Students first discuss and consider the question of the day, “What is something that grows out of the ground?” Then the teacher “explains that plants grow from seeds” and introduces the two vocabulary terms. Both terms are challenging to introduce through hands-on methods; instead, the teacher explains the steps of planting and caring for a plant. These gardening steps are written out on chart paper, and then students act out the corresponding steps using a finger-play. Even with terms that are more challenging, students successfully interact with the concepts through multisensory and age-appropriate strategies.
All “Book Discussion Cards” include vocabulary sections with easy definitions that support child understanding. Using the Book Discussion Cards, the teacher can introduce new and rare words using child-friendly definitions. Each card includes a script describing how to introduce using related illustrations defining the word. These introductions demonstrate meaning using expressions, movements, and body language and provide a brief sentence using the word in a line of text. For example, the teacher reads the word shrink and then says, “Shrink. That means to get smaller and smaller.” Another example paired with the text Charlie Anderson includes the word disappeared; the child-friendly definition is “couldn’t be seen anymore.” During the first read-aloud of The Lonely Mailman, the teacher uses the Book Discussion Card to introduce vocabulary words in context. She points to pictures, uses gestures to dramatize, and describes the words pricked and flickering. These words are contingent on story comprehension, and vocabulary instruction is integrated into the lesson. During the second read, as a review, the teacher reinforces some previously introduced words by pointing to the words and dramatizing them.
The materials present the educator with strategies for supporting English Learners (ELs) in their acquisition and development of English language skills. The materials include a variety of strategies for supporting ELs and utilize their first language as a foundation for learning English. Students receive a strong vocabulary foundation in both English and their home language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include EL support throughout the curriculum guides, providing strategies for teachers to use when they are introducing important new concepts. For example, in the “Teaching Guide” for “Water,” the section titled “Including All Children” has guidance on how to provide targeted support for ELs. The teacher uses small group time to reinforce new concepts by connecting vocabulary words to the child’s first language. The teacher says the word agua when introducing the English word water. Additionally, throughout this guide, the teacher is provided with guidance via sections titled “English Language Learners.” Teachers are instructed: “Make an effort to explain, define, or show children the multiple meanings of a word and other vocabulary introduced to the student. This technique helps all children understand a word’s meaning.” Vocabulary related to the topic of the day is taught and reviewed daily; the teacher models and shows the meaning of each word and reinforces the meaning throughout the day. The words are repeated during classroom routines and activities, both in English and in other languages. In the “Gardening” guide, the teacher uses small group instruction to repeat words and concepts discussed previously during whole group instruction. This scaffolding serves as a bridge to help children understand new concepts for learning the English language; it is listed under “Small Group Instruction” in the English Language Learners section. Also in this section, teachers are encouraged to include books in the ELs’ first language. Throughout these guides, teachers receive EL support in the form of callouts that appear as boxes in blue print; for example: “When giving verbal instructions, provide English Language Learners verbal instruction in the child’s first language.”
In the “Foundation” resource, there are numerous sections dedicated to EL supports; “The Learning Environment” presents strategies for incorporating the students’ first language throughout the classroom using labels. In the “Block” center, a picture of blocks is accompanied by the word blocks written in English and in the child’s native language. This practice is consistent throughout the different centers and provides a consistent foundation supporting children’s understanding and development of new English words. Under the “Objectives for Development and Learning” section, the materials emphasize supporting students by validating their language attempts in either language. Materials instruct: “If English-Language learners use their first language, acknowledge their effort, and if you can guess what they are talking about, respond in English.” The materials also emphasize using books that are written in both the child’s first language and English. This way, students can understand the storyline prior to hearing it in English and have the opportunity to make connections between the known vocabulary words in their first language and the vocabulary words in English. Throughout the curriculum, it’s a common practice to read each book in the child’s first language, followed by another reading in English later in the day or week. Also in this section, teachers are provided with two continuums that illustrate the progression of ELs’ development related to listening, speaking, and understanding English. These continuums provide targeted strategies that support the development and acquisition of the English language. In conjunction with the continuums, there are 34 additional suggested strategies that can be utilized in the classroom to support ELs. Some of the strategies provided include parallel talk, finger-play, running commentary, gestures, visual aids, eye gaze, repetition, consistent visual schedule, and pairing students with native English speakers.
Also, each “Intentional Teaching Experience” includes guidance that the teacher uses to explicitly teach new vocabulary words and concepts to ELs. One such example is the “What Can We Build Together?” activity; the teacher provides various scaffolding techniques, including slowly speaking to the child, asking, “Fadua, do you want to place the next block on top of Regina’s or next to it?” While asking this question, the teacher models the meaning for on top and next to. Further gestures are suggested during the math activity “Story Problems.” The teacher counts to ten in the child’s first language and holds up the corresponding number of fingers. This process is repeated in English to make counting more concrete for ELs. During later math lessons, the teacher shows pictures, uses word cards, and points to objects, all the while integrating the child’s first language to teach vocabulary.
The materials provide opportunities for students to develop oral language skills and participate in authentic text conversations. There are opportunities to listen actively and ask questions, engage in interactive discussions about texts, and work collaboratively with others.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teaching Guides” offer substantial questioning strategies that promote conversation as they link the topic to students’ experience. In the “Wheels” guide, the teacher provides opportunities for students to develop their oral language by connecting the text to the question of the day, “Which one has the most wheels?” Students review the three images of wheels, practice counting the number of wheels in the images, and discuss how to count. They engage in authentic conversation, share information with one another, and discuss different parts of the text. Later, in the “Simple Machines” guide, students participate in a discussion and a picture walk and then complete a shared writing activity. The children collaboratively discuss what they may know or have experienced regarding simple machines. To aid discussion, the teacher utilizes prompting questions that require students to consider the text and connect to their personal experience: “Where have you seen something like this?” and “What do you think this is used for?” After the discussion and shared writing experience, the teacher informs the students that a simple machines text will be added to the “Library” area so students can further explore and discuss.
The “Read Aloud Discussion Cards” offer an array of opportunities for developing oral language skills. Each card offers teachers guidance on how to begin the story, read the story aloud, and conclude the story. Under the “First Read Aloud” section, anticipatory clues alert the children about the story’s topic. This entices them to listen to the story and try to answer some of the clues during the reading. During reading, prompting questions help entice discussion, leading to a better understanding of the text. There are substantial questioning strategies that not only require knowledge of the text but also elicit discussion about the child’s own experiences. In the “After Reading” section, the teacher gives students a chance to participate in the explanations, wonder-alouds, and follow-up questions. Students are taught to respond to these questions by using the phrase, “I think.” In “Book Discussion Card” 02 for The Gingerbread Man, child-friendly definitions and descriptions help the teacher introduce the characters and problems in the story. While reading the story, the teacher has access to comments and think-aloud phrases promoting discussion. Students explore the motives of the gingerbread man and answer bold-print I wonder questions about the text. For Book Discussion Card 06, Those Shoes, these questions are continued, again encouraging open-ended discussion about the text: “How does Jeremy feel after having to wear shoes he doesn’t like?” and “Why is it hard for Jeremy to give away those shoes, even if they don’t fit?” In order for the teacher to effectively create a collaborative classroom, the curriculum offers additional strategies that invoke participation in discussions that are meaningful to the students. Additional support is given to help teachers teach the social and emotional skills within the story. The teacher helps students connect to the character by asking, “The other kids in class laugh at Jeremy’s shoes from Mr. Alfrey. When he gets home, he tells himself he’s not going to cry over the shoes, but he grips his pencil really tight while he does his homework. How does Jeremy feel about his shoes from Mr. Alfrey? How does he feel when the other kids laugh?” Through collaborative discussion, students explore these important concepts while sharing information from the text.
Within the materials, there are lessons and activities that use explicit instruction as the primary mode of phonological awareness instruction. The materials follow a research-based continuum and include a variety of activities engaging students in identifying, synthesizing, and analyzing sounds. Once initially exposed to these skills, students have the opportunity to practice them both in isolation and connected to alphabetic knowledge skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide balanced instruction in all phonological awareness skills by providing educators with a research-based developmental continuum that depicts the stages and actions students will go through as they develop phonological awareness. These stages and actions help to scaffold the children’s learning trajectory with the ultimate goal of having them understand that letters or groups of letters can represent sounds. This continuum can be found in “Foundation,” Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning.” It states that between the ages of two and three, the student will begin to “join in to rhyming songs and games.” The research-based continuum is paired with the “Intentional Teaching Experience Language and Literacy Cards” to support educators as they deliver phonological awareness activities to students performing at various stages along the developmental continuum. Chapter 1, “Components of Literacy,” includes research explaining the developmental steps of phonological awareness and shows that instructional activities become increasingly more complex from the beginning of the year to the end of the year: “Phonological awareness begins with listening to sounds in the environment. Rhyme and alliteration are next in development, and then finally syllables, onset and rhyme, and phonemes.”
The materials present students with various activities to practice identifying, synthesizing, and analyzing sounds. “Teaching Guides,” “Mighty Minutes Cards,” and Intentional Teaching Experience Language and Literacy Cards present opportunities for students to engage in activities where they can discriminate rhyme, identify onset sounds, identify ending sounds, and practice syllabication independently, in large groups, and in small groups. For example, the Language and Literacy Card “Tap It, Clap It, Stomp It, Jump It” develops students’ skills related to noticing and discriminating discrete units of sounds. Students take turns “saying each child’s name and clapping syllables to demonstrate how to separate the word into parts.” The students clap to represent the number of syllables and separate the name Tyler. The teacher facilitates and supports students as they clap and say /Ty/ and clap again as they say /ler/, to indicate Tyler can be separated into two parts.
The materials also provide movement-based activities and playful opportunities to develop students’ understanding of phonological awareness skills. The Language and Literacy Card 99 provides an activity that engages students in rich and varied opportunities for interaction with sound. In whole groups, students tap one knee to identify a beginning sound and the other knee for final sounds, and then clap together and say the word. Another example of this is found in the activity “Word Play.” In this word game, the teacher shows the children a series of pictures of one-syllable words (e.g., cat, bat, frog). Each student chooses a card, says the name of the picture on the card, breaks down the word by naming the sound at the beginning of the word and then listens for the ending sound of the word. All the while, the teacher scaffolds for the children by teaching them what to listen for. These activities include additional support through the “Teaching Sequence” for the development of phonological awareness. Teachers can leverage the resource to provide intentional intervention and scaffolding for priority students.
The materials include various opportunities for students to practice phonological awareness skills in isolation as well as through the inclusion of letters. For example, the Language and Literacy Card “Same Sound Sort” presents opportunities for students to notice and discriminate alliteration. The teacher says, “Can you tell me what this is? Yes, it’s a basket. What else can you find in the box that starts with the same sound? That’s right, the bear and basket start with the /b/ sound.” The activity focuses on oral and auditory components to support the connection of phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge skills. Mighty Minutes Cards are another resource where students can practice these skills. In Mighty Minutes Card 52, “Letter Quest,” the teacher sings the chant, “I’m looking for a letter….” Stating both letter sounds and letter names, students then have to look around the room and find the corresponding letter in print. This activity has students connect their phonological awareness to letter knowledge and achieves this goal through interactive play.
The materials provide direct and explicit instruction supporting the practice of alphabet knowledge skills. There is a research-based, strategic sequence for introducing alphabetic knowledge, and teachers receive clear guidance on modeling and using letter names and sounds.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Literacy Foundation,” Volume 3, educators have access to research-based strategies and supports. “Mighty Minutes,” “Intentional Teaching Experience Language and Literacy Cards,” and daily shared writing activities support students’ development of alphabet knowledge. The materials begin with having students recognize letters in their own name before following a research-based sequence for introducing alphabetic knowledge. Materials state “The most effective alphabet knowledge instruction is multi-componential, meaning that lessons should include learning activities that require letter recognition, naming, associating the symbol with a sound, writing, discriminating the letter from other letters, and categorizing letters into upper and lowercase.” For the most part, the teacher introduces letters during “Shared Writing.” The teacher displays each letter and different words at the students’ eye level. When introducing the letter of the week, the teacher displays each student’s name that begins with the letter. Prior to the in-depth weekly instruction of letters, students explore the 52 letter cards included in the program with the Mighty Minutes activity “Alphabet Cards.” The teacher introduces one letter at a time; the teacher talks about the characteristics of each letter and asks the children to identify the letters in their name. The activity offers additional suggestions for exploration, such as sorting the letters by case and outlining the letters with small manipulatives. The teacher has added support in the “Teaching Sequence” resource, which provides guidance based on the children’s level of alphabet understanding. For example, the teacher is guided to say, “Brittany, this is the letter R. Let’s use our finger to trace it.” This strategy is an example used for scaffolding at an early stage of development. A more advanced stage of alphabetic scaffolding is when the teacher says, “Here is the uppercase T. It makes a /t/ sound. Can you make a /t/ sound? What words can you think of that start with that sound?”
The Mighty Minutes cards are useful for practice as well. In Mighty Minutes Card 04, “Alphabet Stew,” the activity targets Objective 16: students demonstrating knowledge of the alphabet. The teacher pretends that students are in a large pot of alphabet stew. She chooses one letter of the alphabet; students have to name the letter and its sound. If the letter is the first letter of a student’s name, the student freezes in the pot of alphabet stew. The teacher continues until all students are frozen. This playful practice is both engaging and effective for teaching letter names and sounds.
Additional practice can be found in the Intentional Teaching Experiences Language and Literacy Cards. In Card 05, “Jumping Beans,” students again trace different letters. They draw out an alphabet card, name the letter on the card, and trace its outline. In Card 28, “Stick Letters,” the teacher sings the alphabet song, and students join in repeating the letter names and sounds of the alphabet. The teacher directly models how to use sticks to form alphabet letters; students have to follow using the random letter they’ve chosen. After each student makes their letter out of sticks, the class has a conversation about uppercase and lowercase letter characteristics. With the activity “D is for Door,” students connect their alphabet knowledge to phonetic knowledge. The teacher places two sets of alphabet cards on the table. One set is used to pair with various objects around the room that begin with the same letter that is on the card. Children then match the card to the object found in the classroom. There is direct prompting for the teacher when facilitating the lesson: “Yes, this is a C for couch. It makes the /c/ sound. /c/, /c/, couch begins with the /c/ sound. That’s the letter C.”
The materials provide a variety of activities with instruction and opportunities for student practice. Lessons include direct instruction in print awareness that is connected to the books students read in class. A developmentally appropriate and research-based sequence of instruction provides students sufficient practice in print awareness. This instruction ensures students develop an understanding of the everyday functions of print in a variety of contexts, including their experience at school.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Literacy Foundation,” Volume 3, Chapter 1, “Components of Literacy,” includes research-based suggestions for teaching the progression of print awareness skills. It states, “Print concepts are learned gradually over an extended period of time, so by drawing children’s attention to the features of print while sharing books, and encouraging efforts to use print in functional ways during everyday activities, teachers help children become readers and writers.” The teacher should think about how writing and print experiences fit into everyday literacy lesson planning as well as implement a variety of methods for students to practice print awareness skills. This section also describes how print awareness instruction should become increasingly more complex as the students’ knowledge base increases: “To make sense of written language, children need to understand how sounds, words, and sentences are represented in writing. Children’s understanding follows the following sequence: function of print, forms of print, and print conventions.”
In the Literacy Foundation, Volume 6, “Objective for Development and Learning,” educators have access to a continuum of stages and actions that the students will follow as they develop print awareness skills. Beginning at birth and proceeding through 3rd grade, the continuum focuses on teaching some core print concept ideas: “Print carries a message, each spoken word can be written down and read, every written word can be spoken, print follows conventions such as left to right, upper and lower case letters, books have common characteristics such a front and back covers, author, and title.” “Intentional Teaching Experiences Cards” for “Language and Literacy” serve as the main tool to implement these teaching strategies. With direct instruction and pointed intervention, teachers can ensure that students are able to advance through increasingly more complex print awareness skills.
Language and Literacy Card 1, “Shared Writing,” has the teacher use questioning to stimulate discussion about a chosen topic and then integrate everyday print functions into instruction. Open-ended questions include “What are your favorite kinds of ...?” and “What did you notice about the weather today?” Together, the class discusses each question, and the teacher points out each word while she writes the answers on chart paper. This card also provides interventions spanning the continuum of developmentally appropriate practices, strategies, and student actions. For example, the teacher will model, identify, and sound out each letter of a student’s name if they are operating within the developmental age of three years old. For a student operating within a developmental age of five to six years old, the educator will point out and discuss the purpose of spaces between words. Direct teacher guidance includes “Notice the space between what and do. That tells us where one word stops and another starts. Can you show me another space between two words on the chart?” Suggestions vary based on student needs and follow a developmentally appropriate continuum of instruction.
With Language and Literacy Card 29, “Making My Name,” students can apply these print concepts by first practicing word formation with their name. Children use letter tiles to spell their name; throughout the process, the teacher has access to various scaffolding strategies. Direct instruction includes statements like, “These letters spell your name, Paige. Let’s name the letters together. We’ll start with the first letter in your name; it’s a P.” Scaffolds vary by developmental range and include strategies for children who are further into their print understanding: “I see that you have spelled your name with the letter tiles. Would you like to try to spell one of your friends’ names? Which envelope are you going to do next?” This sequence, starting with familiar word formation and progressing through print convention, is both developmentally appropriate and research based.
An example of more advanced print knowledge instruction can be found in Language and Literacy Card 20, “Baggie Books.” Students demonstrate their knowledge of print by creating a book that includes environmental print and logos for household items. Once students have completed their book, they read it to the teacher. The teacher models for the students where to start when reading each page and thinks aloud about how to sequence their finger moving from left to right and top to bottom. Students then read their books aloud to the class and incorporate the elements of reading. Each student begins with an introduction to their book before reading to the class, following all the print norms developed throughout the curriculum so far. After students are done, the teacher places their books into the “Library” so that all students can review the environmental print and practice the print concepts. In this example, students connect print awareness to books they have created. Additionally, each read-aloud text includes a paired “Book Discussion Card” that also provides print awareness instruction. Book Discussion Card 5 for Too Many Tamales incorporates questions, strategies, and scaffolds for the teacher to integrate before, during, and after reading. During reading, the teacher points to pictures and words, talking through the difference and purpose of each. Gestures and comparisons help ensure students understand the meaning of printed words and other print concepts.
The materials include a variety of high-quality texts at a developmentally appropriate level of complexity. The text selection includes both fiction and nonfiction texts, and there are additional variety types, including poems, songs, and nursery rhymes. Materials cover a wide range of student interests and include engaging content. Purposeful environmental print is used throughout the classroom.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teaching Guides” include 23 “Book Discussion Cards” that provide reading lesson direction and scaffolding. These cards are useful for shared, interactive, guided, and independent reading. Texts cover a developmentally appropriate complexity range and include engaging genres, characters, and storylines. For example, Book Discussion Card 2 covers the traditional fairy tale The Gingerbread Man. During the first read, the teacher facilitates a think-aloud where students learn about characters, problems, and different vocabulary. During the second read, the teacher points to pictures and dramatizes events. This strategy helps children recall the storyline and reinforces vocabulary understanding. During the third read, the teacher “reads” the story through the illustrations, and children have to “predict” what is happening in the story. By participating in a repetitive read, all students are able to successfully interact with the story and engage with its content.
“Language and Literacy Intentional Teaching Experience Cards” are another resource for the teacher to integrate engaging text-based lessons and activities into the curriculum. For Language and Literacy Card 33, “Clothesline Storytelling,” the teacher reads a story and clips parts of the story to a clothesline in the “Library” area. The teacher says, “As I tell the story, I will hang the pictures on the clothesline. When it’s your turn, please come up and clip your picture on the clothesline and tell us what happened next.” After modeling, the teacher distributes the parts of the story; children have to predict what happens next and, one by one, place their part of the story in the appropriate place. This interactive activity is engaging for prekindergarten students and at an appropriate level of complexity for their developmental level. For Language and Literacy card 9, students read The Mitten, a folktale about a little boy who loses one of his mittens. In this Ukrainian classic, a mole finds the mitten and uses it for shelter, sharing it throughout the story with a host of other animals. With a text complexity most appropriate for second- and third-grade students, this story is appropriate for prekindergarten students when used as a read-aloud. The engaging images and repetitive storyline make it simple for students to interact with the text.
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:
The “Foundation,” Volume 2, “Interest Areas,” has suggestions to integrate environmental print throughout the classroom. The “Creating an Environment for Play” section suggests items to include in the “Dramatic Play Area” so that students have daily interaction with environmental play (e.g., signs, food boxes, canned food, menus). Throughout the different dramatic play lessons, teachers receive scripted directions to include this environmental print into classroom discussion: “Can you tell me about the picture on the box?” Children describe what they see on the box, and the teacher facilitates discussion about the images and labels.
Students apply this knowledge of environmental print through Language and Literacy Card 20 by creating an “environmental print and logos” book using household items. The teacher says, “This label came from a juice carton. Let’s see if we can look at the label and figure out what kind of juice it is. You see grapes on the label. You’re right, it says Grape Juice. I see a letter J, just like the J in your name, Justin. Can you point to the letter J?” Students collect their images of environmental print from magazines at home, organize the images into a unique book, and read them aloud to the class. Once finished, the teacher places each book in the “Library” so that all students can review the different examples of environmental print.
The materials use a variety of approaches to support students’ comprehension of texts read aloud. The materials include guidance to connect text to children’s experiences at home and at school. Materials describe basic text structures and their impact on student understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
There are 23 “Book Discussion Cards” that provide the majority of “Read Aloud” instruction. Using these cards, teachers develop students’ understanding of basic text structures through repetitive reads, text recall, and intentional questioning strategies. Each card includes a combination of lessons, activities, questions, and integrated classroom experiences to achieve this goal.
One immediate example of strong questioning strategies can be found in Book Discussion Card 1 for The Adventures of Gary and Harry. The text follows two turtles as they explore their ocean home together. The teacher reads this book on three separate occasions to ensure students have a strong foundation of understanding. During the “Wonder Aloud” follow-up section afterward, the teacher poses the question, “What kinds of adventures do you have with your friends?” This question provides the students with an opportunity to connect the text to their own personal experiences at home. This practice is continued throughout the Book Discussion Cards. In Card 8, students read about thankfulness; the teacher makes the following statement: “When the animals discover the mailman writes their letters, they want to thank him and make him happy. How do they do that? What can you do to thank someone who has done something kind for you?” These types of questions in the “After Reading” section of each Book Discussion Card help teachers better develop students’ understanding of the text.
Most Discussion Cards also integrate teaching strategies that utilize text structure to increase student understanding of text. In Book Discussion Card 03, the teacher reads Charlie Anderson, a story about a fuzzy gray cat that lives in two houses, has two beds, and is loved by two families. To increase understanding, the teacher introduces the character and problems before the first read. After reading for enjoyment, the teacher re-reads the text, this time “expanding vocabulary by pointing to pictures, using gestures to dramatize, and describing” important story points. This reading also includes “Wonder Alouds” that invite student explanations and support via follow-up questions. For Book Discussion Card 12, for The Book Tree, students participate in similar activities that help them recall the problem and solution, understand vocabulary, and connect to the story. In the “After Reading” section, students begin by connecting their experiences to the text: “What stories would you share with the book tree?” This time, students must recall the storyline and make new inferences and predictions: “How would the story be different if Arlo shared his stories with the book tree?” These questions allow students to connect their experiences to the text but also require students to utilize the text’s structure to further their understanding.
Book Discussion Card 13 shows how teacher guidance aids student understanding. During the second and third readings of Harold and the Purple Crayon, students have the opportunity to chronologically recall the characters, events, and main problem in the story. The teacher supports the students by intervening and asking questions: “Where do Harold’s imagination and the Purple Crayon take him? What does Harold do with the Purple Crayon? What happens to Harold? What happens at the end of the story?” These questions ensure students understand the events of the story. Additional questions integrate basic print knowledge to provide further inference practice. Pointing to different illustrations in the text, the teacher says, “When he gets hungry on his picnic, Harold draws nine pies. Why do you think he drew so many? What flavors do you think they were?” Combining storyline questions with inference questions that utilize text structure, the teacher provides a substantial opportunity for students to display their understanding of the text.
The materials include appropriate strategies to support English Learners (ELs) in developing emergent literacy skills. This is achieved through a variety of supporting instructional strategies that often use the child’s knowledge of literacy in their primary language to ensure language knowledge is transferred to English literacy skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Reading with English Language Learners” section of each “Book Discussion Card,” there are educator suggestions, scripts, and scaffolds. Each card comes in both an English and a Spanish version. For students who speak Spanish, materials instruct teachers to introduce vocabulary words in Spanish and read them in Spanish during the read-aloud. Additionally, “when reading with English Language Learners, it is ideal to read the book in the child’s first language prior to reading it in English.” To provide general support for ELs, educators should “use gestures, visual cues, pictures, and real objects to demonstrate the meaning of the words.” Some classroom texts are specifically chosen to celebrate diversity. The text I love Saturdays y Domingos tells the story of a little girl who spends Saturdays with her grandma and grandpa and Sundays with her abuelito and abuelita. Culturally relevant texts and a variety of instructional strategies provide appropriate support for ELs throughout the materials.
An example that highlights these supports can be seen in Book Discussion Card 22 for Get Set! Swim. The teacher uses both English and Spanish vocabulary words for ELs and should “introduce the book and important concepts in the first language of the English Language Learner before presenting and reading the book aloud in English.” Strategies go beyond this to better support ELs; prior to actually reading the text, recommendations dictate the teacher should “take a few minutes to do a ‘book walk’ to introduce the story. Look at some of the key pages in the book, point out key words and phrases central to the meaning of the book, and connect the words to children’s prior learning.” This unique strategy presents ELs an opportunity to actively engage with the text prior to reading and in their own language so that they can successfully understand the meaning of the text.
“Intentional Teaching Experience Language and Literacy Cards” also provide recommendations to support ELs. Some supports include acknowledging and validating a child’s attempt at communication by repeating what the child said, showing pictures or pointing to objects that illustrate or explain unfamiliar words, and scaffolding words in English by using words with similar letter sounds in the child’s first language.
In Language and Literacy Card 4, “Bookmaking,” students create a book about things they like to do together at school. In this lesson, the students actually perform book walks instead of the teacher. Each student has a few minutes prior to reading their book to introduce its topic and preview the story. ELs get a preview of the text and have the opportunity to ask any clarifying questions beforehand. For a helpful strategy during reading, Card 5 directs the teacher to incorporate gestures and large actions into the read-aloud. This practice helps ELs identify character emotion: The teacher points to the faces of the characters and says, “Jack has lost his hat, his face looks worried and sad, let’s keep reading and find out whether he finds his hat again.” In Card 6, “Dramatic Storytelling,” students have the opportunity to take their knowledge of storytelling and apply it to stories they have created on their own. ELs are encouraged to share their story using their first language if necessary. This inclusive strategy not only scaffolds the learning of English but also provides assistance in retelling in English. Further use of ELs’ home language in instruction can be found in Card 11. During the lesson, the teacher offers examples of rhyming words in the children’s first language prior to sharing rhyming words in English. The Intentional Teaching Experience Language and Literacy Cards provide access to a large variety of EL instructional strategies that successfully leverage students’ knowledge of literacy in their home language.
The materials provide a variety of experiences for students to engage in direct instruction where the educator models and guides students through the writing process. Students participate in independent and group drawing and writing activities, especially to make explicit connections between reading and writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Literacy Foundation,” Volume 2, the materials include suggestions for the teacher to encourage individual writing in various interest areas. Chapter 1, “Blocks,” says, “Teach children about print, letters, and words by placing writing tools and paper in the block area and encourage children to make signs for their buildings.” Writing tools and paper can be placed in the “Dramatic Play Area” to encourage writing in different scenarios. Chapter 5, “Library,” includes the following teacher guidance: “When you include writing materials in the library area, children can explore the world of print. A place for writing offers children opportunities to write for various purposes, such as creating greeting cards, messages to classmates, and writing stories.” The materials provide activities where the educator can provide direct instruction as well as model and provide examples of the writing process.
In Literacy Foundation, Volume 3, the teacher is provided with guidance to engage students in writing for authentic purposes. For modeled writing, a teacher writes in his or her own words (e.g., during “Morning Message”) or using words from other written material (e.g., poem, song, rhyme, or recipe) without input from the children. For a “Shared Writing” experience, the teacher writes down what children share. The teacher holds the pen, but the words are the children’s own ideas, experiences, and questions. Teachers thus model direct writing skills and provide examples of what writers do.
In Literacy Foundation, Volume 4, Chapter 3, “Writing, Making Lists,” the teacher involves children in making lists (e.g., supplies needed for making snacks, favorite things, things to do to prepare for a special event). The materials offer multiple opportunities for students to imitate adult writing. In “Writing Names,” the teacher writes the child’s name on an index card, and the student imitates the teacher’s written example of their name.
In “Intentional Teaching Experiences Language and Literacy Card 89,” “My Perfect Day,” children discuss their favorite things to do and why they like them. The teacher models: “I like to wear fuzzy slippers when I wake up in the morning so that my feet are nice and warm when I eat my breakfast.” The teacher gives each student a sheet of paper to write about their perfect day. Students discuss their writing during group time and share what they wrote.
In Language and Literacy Card 39, “My Daily Journal,” students have the opportunity to participate in daily writing. Students can “write or draw in their journals when they arrive at school or during some other time of day.” Each student has his or her own journal. The teacher says, “Here is the journal that you will use. Each blank page is yours to fill with pictures and words that show what you’re feeling and thinking.” The children are allowed to “scribble, draw, or write to record their ideas.” The children also have the opportunity to write in their journal during “Choice Time” throughout the day.
In Language and Literacy Card 42, “Daily Sign-In,” children sign in when they arrive at school each morning. The teacher explains the procedure and shows the daily sign-in sheet to the children and their family members. Any attempt the child makes to sign in is accepted. The card states, “This should be a relaxed, routine experience. Encourage children to refer to their name cards, if needed. Place a date stamp at the sign-in table, and encourage children to use the date stamp as well.”
For Language and Literacy Card 60, “Writing With Wordless Books,” students record narrations to describe the illustrations in wordless books, which provides a variety of opportunities to make connections between reading and writing as well as to write responses to reading materials. The teacher supports the students as they examine illustrations and consider how words can be used to tell the story: “What do you see on this page? What does this picture tell us about the story? How would you describe what happens next?” The teacher explains that “different words can have similar meanings.” At the end, students share the story they have created.
In Language and Literacy Card 92, “Details, Details, Details,” the teacher writes about an object related to the current topic of study (this card can be used for any “Teaching Guide”). Students look at and talk about the object. The teacher asks, “Does anyone know what this is? What do you notice about it?” On chart paper, the teacher records the students’ descriptions of the object, which can include “a physical description, how it is used, where they might typically see it, what it is similar to.” Every student can dictate their description; the teacher models writing and also allows students to independently write their descriptions. The teacher then reads each description, and students identify similarities amongst them. After the activity, students can revise and add to the descriptions throughout the day as they “think of new ways to describe the object.”
“Mighty Minutes Card 22” “What Could This Be?” is a shared writing experience. The teacher begins the lesson by drawing and showing the students an abstract drawing; the teacher asks, “What could this be?” Students add more to the picture to turn it into what they see and then create their own abstract drawings. In Mighty Minutes Card 101, “Clouds Out Loud,” students draw with attention to detail. They look up at the sky while outside and notice different clouds. Then, they draw pictures of the different clouds they see.
The materials provide developmental continuums that teachers can follow as they provide instruction related to the writing process. The materials include guidance for teachers on how to help students along the stages of writing and how to include students’ contributions to writing as specified by the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Literacy Foundation,” Volume 4, Chapter 3, “Teaching Strategies: Planning Writing Experiences,” gives examples of how to engage students in writing through opportunities such as attendance charts, drawings, stories, greeting cards, letters, sign-up sheets, and “Question of the Day” charts. Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning,” Objective 19, “Demonstrates Writing Skills,” provides educators with the developmental continuums students go through as they learn how to write. The continuum depicts the seven developmental stages of writing and related students’ actions from birth to grade 3. Students learn how to write their name, use writing to convey thoughts and ideas, and employ writing conventions. Strategies to encourage students through the stages of development include offering unlined paper of different sizes and shapes, pencils of various sizes, crayons, markers, whiteboards, and other materials, together with activities that give children reasons to write their names, such as on drawings, letters, and greeting cards. Teachers are to model writing with children and talk about what they write. For example, the teacher can say, “I’m making a sign to let people know the fountain is out of order,” and then say each word as it is written.
The “Teaching Guides” and “Intentional Teaching Experience Language and Literacy Cards” provide a variety of writing activities for students to participate in as they learn how to write. In the Language and Literacy Card 01, “Shared Writing,” the materials teach writing following the developmental continuum. Students participate in discussions and answer questions posed by the teacher. The teacher records the students’ responses on chart paper, noting letters and words while recording. The teacher practices positive narration (e.g., “James said he liked the octopus best at the aquarium. James, can you find your name on the chart?”)
Language and Literacy Card 4, “Bookmaking,” gives students opportunities to contribute to the writing process by creating a book about a subject discussed in a lesson. The teacher asks, “What would you like to include in your book about...?” This encourages brainstorming. Then, the teacher assists the student in editing, illustrating, and binding the book for publishing.
Language and Literacy Card 28, “Stick Letters,” is a prewriting activity that helps children develop fine motor skills that later strengthen writing development. The teacher shows a collection of sticks and says, “I’m going to make an M. Let me see how many sticks I need.” The students use alphabet cards and sticks to make alphabet letters.
Language and Literacy Card 76, “The ‘Me’ Book,” is appropriate for students in various stages of the developmental continuum for writing. Students operating within the developmental range of two to three years of age on the continuum write on each page of their book; the teacher describes the marks the student made. The teacher says phrases like, “This is the cover of your book, can you write your name on the cover? You made a big line on the cover!” Students operating within the developmental range of three to four years of age explain what their scribbles or marks mean; the teacher writes the student’s words and reads them back. For example, “What did you write next to this picture of you with your cat? Oh, you wrote your cat’s name, Milly.” The cards provide the teacher with supports that follow the developmental continuum ranging from two years old through kindergarten.
Language and Literacy Card 81, “Revising Drafts,” supports and guides educators as they develop students’ understanding of writing and the writing process. The teacher collects a written or dictated work sample from each child. They choose samples in which the child is telling a story or presenting an idea. Then, the teacher explains that students will be revising a writing sample they already wrote and that revise means “to make changes to something you wrote before.” Example statements from the teacher are, “I would like each of you to read the story you wrote last week. We are going to work on adding more details.” The teacher supports student understanding by displaying a short narrative on chart paper and demonstrating how to make revisions: “Who can tell me a way I can make this short story more interesting? What else can I say about when the dog went to school?” “This sentence needs a capital letter at the beginning of the word. Let’s write a capital A here.”
The materials present students with a variety of opportunities to develop fine motor skills that correlate to the development and acquisition of writing skills. The materials provide differentiation as well as guidance on how to develop students’ fine motor skills with respect to writing and prescribe a variety of tools and surfaces that students can utilize to engage in writing experiences.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Foundation,” Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning” on “Fine Motor Strength and Coordination” provides guidance on the types of activities that students can complete during the stages of fine motor development. For example, within the developmental range of two to three years old, the student can complete lacing activities to strengthen and develop coordination in their hands and fingers; in the developmental range of three to five years old, students can work with scissors and place pegs in a pegboard. Children have multiple and varied opportunities to develop fine motor skills. Activities engage children in moving their fingers individually to strengthen the hand grasp and release using various bottles and items and in using two hands at the same time.
The “Gardening Teaching Guide” provides appropriate materials for the day’s activities, such as chart paper and writing utensils (e.g., pencils, colored pencils, markers, crayons). The “Wheels” Teaching Guide suggests materials to prepare before an investigation of wheels and to provide multiple opportunities for writing (e.g., chart paper, magazines, tables, clipboards, paper, pencils, paint). All of the materials are available to the students throughout the day for the investigation.
“Intentional Teaching Experiences Language and Literacy Cards” and Intentional Teaching Experiences “Physical Cards” present activities that prescribe a variety of tools for students to use to develop fine motor skills and to assist students through writing experiences. For example, Physical Card 1, “Let’s Sew,” provides fine motor skill practice finger-and-hand coordination practice: students learn to sew using hole-punched paper and a toothpick with yarn taped to the end. Students push the toothpick through the hole to sew. The card includes a developmental continuum on the bottom to assist teachers as they support students in various stages of fine motor development.
Physical Card 3, “Twisted Pretzels,” contains differentiated activities to help students develop fine motor skills. In the “Cooking Area,” students and teachers make pretzel dough. Students complete recipe steps, guided by the teacher. The teacher says, “Watch what happens when I roll the dough on the table with my hands.” Students respond by attempting to roll their dough on the table.
For Physical Card 34, “Clay Engraving,” the teacher shows how to roll out a clump of clay until it is flat and how to hold engraving tools to make fine lines in the clay. Students imitate the teacher’s actions.
Language and Literacy Card 13, “Foam Paint Letters,” provides opportunities for students to use their fingers to develop tactile strength. The materials explain that the extra tactile stimulation of foam paint can help a child understand the idea of the shape of a letter. In the “Art Area,” the teacher puts a large amount of foam paint on the table for the children to write or draw in. Children experiment and draw freely, and the teacher demonstrates how they can use a finger to write letters.
Language and Literacy Card 39, “My Daily Journal,” develops students’ fine motor skills towards writing. When they arrive at school or during the day, students can illustrate pages in their journal, scribbling, or drawing on the page. The teacher encourages students to write familiar letters. The teacher asks open-ended questions, like “What did you do yesterday after you left school?” “What adventure did you have recently that you would like to put in your journal?”
The materials’ various math lessons and activities follow a logical continuum. Instruction moves from concrete to pictorial to abstract and utilizes numerous manipulatives and representations. Students build a strong conceptual understanding of numerous mathematical skills, as indicated by the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Foundation,” Volume 4, includes research highlighting the importance of teaching mathematical concepts in a logical progression: “Children do not understand mathematical words in a problem situation and require modeling with concrete objects and words to develop operation sense” (Copley and Hawkins, 2005). Along with research, the “Teacher’s Role in Promoting Understanding of Number and Operations” section provides numerous teaching strategies to achieve this goal. Some general strategies include providing a variety of materials to help children develop, modeling counting strategies, identifying everyday situations to use ordinal numbers, acting out operation stories, using books to encourage numerical reasoning, and encouraging children to tell stories about how many. Manipulatives play an important role throughout the materials, and this resource recommends various types, including counters, interlocking cubes, connecting links, dominos, attribute blocks, pattern blocks, and tangrams. The document also lists different ways to integrate these manipulatives into everyday use. For example, the teacher should “place a book such as The Button Box next to a collection of buttons and a muffin tin to encourage children to sort.” Also, the teacher should “display a shape poster and book about shapes close to the geoboards to encourage exploration of shapes.” Teachers primarily conduct math instruction through the use of the “Intentional Teaching Experience Cards.”
Using the “Mathematics” Intentional Teaching Experience Card 4, “Number Cards,” students learn counting skills in a small group using concrete manipulatives and then move to pictorial representations. The teacher lays out different number cards ranging from 1 to 5 with the numeral side facing up. The teacher has the option to use pebbles, students’ fingers, buttons, or other manipulatives to count each quantity. The teacher says, “Let’s start by counting to 5. Here are the numerals 1–5 to look at as you count. Can you point to the number one? Which card will you put the pebbles on first?” The teacher models using the manipulatives to count the correct number and leads students through a description of each number card. Students build a conceptual understanding of counting, progressing from concrete to pictorial.
Students build a conceptual understanding of measurement through Mathematics Card 7, “Ice Cubes.” In this interactive activity, students use nonstandard units to measure the different sizes of water spots produced by ice. The teacher says, “These water spots are all different sizes because we put each ice cube down at different times. How can we measure the circle of water underneath the melting ice? Yes, we could use our hands. This water spot is about the size of your hand. That water spot is the size of my hand. What else could we use to measure the spots?” The teacher prompts provide valuable context for students, and using nonstandard units of measurement allows the teacher to integrate various manipulatives or tools.
Mathematics Card 11, “Graphing,” helps students build a conceptual understanding of classification as they work together to create a graph. As an introduction, the teacher leads a discussion about different categories: “children who walk to school, children who ride in a car, and children who take a bus.” The teacher explains that graphs can have “objects, names, pictures, tally-marks, or collared-in marks.” Teachers are to use “simple categories that make the graph easy to understand and support the development of pictorial representation.” After designing the graph and applying it to different categories, the teacher makes the graph available in the “Toys and Games Area” for children to interact with during “Choice Time.” Teachers also have the option to make this graph using objects so that students can have daily practice with concrete representation.
In Mathematics Card 13, students progress through the mathematical continuum and receive practice with abstract representations (mental math). The card uses the classic nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Teachers use cotton balls to represent the lambs, green construction paper to represent the field, and number cards to bridge the gap between concrete and abstract. The teacher says, “Let’s sing together, and we’ll count how many lambs we need to put in the field.” After singing the song and counting, students are ready to begin adding to and taking away. The teacher says, “We had two lambs in our field, and we added one more, now how many lambs do we have? Can you count them all? That’s right, we have three.” Teachers work through adding and subtracting up to five lambs, still using the concrete and pictorial resources as a scaffold. Finally, the activity progresses to mental math: “Using small quantities (up to five), encourage the child to mentally add and subtract lambs.” The teacher says, “There are two lambs in the field and two more join, can you tell me how many there are altogether by looking quickly at them?” At this point in the lesson, students should be able to access the abstract thinking necessary to complete the mental math.
Students explore patterns in Mathematics Card 14 using different manipulatives or interactive representations. In this activity, students have the opportunity to copy or create their own patterns using a host of different objects (e.g., cars and trucks, crayons and pencils, forks and spoons). The teacher introduces the task by showing children a few examples of common patterns and saying, “Can you think of other patterns you see at school or at home? Martin is pointing to the stripes on our flag — red, white, red, white, red, white. That’s a pattern!” There are additional examples of everyday patterns the teacher can reference (stripes on a shirt, repeated wall tiles, a checkerboard). Students discuss additional patterns they see every day. Before students form patterns on their own, the teacher demonstrates how to represent a pattern on paper using writing tools. Students then use the manipulatives or writing to build their own patterns.
The materials provide a variety of opportunities to deliver instruction that will build upon students’ informal knowledge about mathematics. Teachers think about their students’ developmental status and provide cross-curricular opportunities that integrate math throughout the day. They also receive necessary guidance describing how to utilize the classroom environment and its materials as vehicles for mathematics exploration.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Foundation” volumes, Volume 6 includes a section on development and learning that provides the teacher valuable information summarizing the developmental progression of students’ conceptual understanding from birth to third grade. This development continuum covers topics like number concepts and operations, spatial relationships and shapes, comparing and measurement skills, and knowledge of patterns. For example, under the “uses number concepts and operations” section of the continuum, it states that students between two and three years old will not always count in order when answering verbally. At this stage, students might say something like, “one, two, ten,” as they pretend to count.
Foundation, Volume 4, offers additional resources meant to help teachers identify children’s’ current developmental status and mathematical knowledge. In the “Observing Children’s Understanding” section, teachers should observe how a child counts sets of objects, solves number problems, compares the number of items in two sets, and writes symbols for quantities. In the “Mathematical Learning in the Interest Areas and Outdoors” section, teachers observe students playing with toys and games and look for indications of mathematical understanding. For example, teachers should look to see if a child uses one-to-one correspondence, uses terms like some and less, or uses positional words like over and between. This resource also describes ways in which the teacher can integrate mathematics exploration into everyday instruction. General teaching strategies can be found in the “Teaching and Promoting Problem Solving” section: identify problem-solving routines, use daily activities to teach problem-solving, use open-end questions and comments, and model problem-solving behavior that integrates math concepts and skills.
The “Mathematically Rich Physical Environment” section provides guidance describing how teachers should utilize the classroom environment and its materials for math exploration. A mathematically rich environment is full of interesting and novel materials. Materials state, “It stimulates children’s thinking and entices them to solve problems, reason, communicate, make connections to what they already know, and represent their learning.” The materials emphasize “adding mathematics materials to all interest areas.” For example, teachers can incorporate objects like blocks, collectibles, dice, dominos, timers, and scales into cross-curricular activities and include appropriate math-related environmental print into each area design. Teachers should not only have these materials available but teach students how to use them and incorporate them into daily instruction. For example, “posting and referring to the daily schedule throughout the day teaches the students about time and sequence.”
The “Intentional Teaching Experience Mathematics Cards” also help teachers recognize their students’ mathematical knowledge. Each card describes the content-specific developmental continuum through which students progress as they reach mastery. Differentiation and scaffolding vary based on the students’ developmental level, and the teacher has “Questions to Guide Your Observations” to help inquiry. This section is located in the bottom-right corner of each card and helps teachers evaluate how well each student is learning throughout the activity.
In Mathematics Card 1, “Dinnertime,” students host a pretend dinner party and set the table with dishes, utensils, napkins, and cups. To guide math skills, the teacher has students set the table one item at a time. As they go, students should “add or subtract one item and tell how many remain by counting the items.” In the end, the teacher reflects on the activity. Materials provide different questions to help teachers understand each student’s developmental status, such as “How did the child solve the story problems?” and “How did the child communicate ideas and feelings?” Questions are color-coded so that the teacher can identify how much math knowledge a student already has and can learn how to promote further math development.
This guidance can also be found in Mathematics Card 9, “Bigger Than, Smaller Than, Equal To.” In this activity, the students explore different-size blocks. Prompting teacher questions include “Which block is longer?” “Is Kenny’s tower the tallest?” “Let’s see if you can find the shortest building and the tallest or highest building.” At the end, the teacher reflects on each student’s developmental status, asking questions like “Did the child understand and use measurement words: tall, taller, tallest, wide, wider, long?” and “How did the child grasp and use the tools to measure the blocks?”
These Intentional Teaching Experience Mathematics Cards also promote math exploration through cross-curricular activity. In Mathematics Card 7, “Ice Cubes,” students conduct a science experiment to observe how ice cubes melt. They apply the scientific method and also utilize tools of measurement and comparison. In Mathematics Card 51, “Can You Find It?” students practice their listening skills. The teacher asks questions that require students to recall and use their knowledge of shapes and spatial relationships. The teacher asks, “Can you find a pair of scissors? Start by looking beside the art table. Now look next to the tape dispenser, what do you see?” In Mathematics Card 96, “Language Graph,” students discuss the different languages spoken in the classroom. One by one, students share whether they can speak a different language; students then record who speaks what, tracking the languages on a classroom graph.
The materials develop young children’s ability to problem solve. The materials intentionally develop young children’s capacity to ask thoughtful questions, recognize problems in their environment, and use mathematical reasoning with familiar materials both inside and outside the classroom.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
“Foundation,” Volume 2, provides educators different prompts, questions, and feedback techniques that help students recognize and solve problems. Materials provide an overview of the different classroom activities students participate in throughout the day. When participating in “Block Play,” the teacher asks students questions like “Can you make a road outside of the fence you built?” Students must recognize the spatial limitations between their blocks and problem solve a creative solution for this issue. During “Discovery,” students use a balance to compare blocks and shells. With teacher assistance, they place different objects or amounts on either side of the balance, and the teacher asks them to describe how the scale reacts. The manipulatives in this activity are familiar to students, but they have to reason through amount and weight through trial and error. During “Outdoors,” students explore the outdoors for butterflies. Students have to access the field guide themselves to compare butterflies for similarities and differences. The teacher asks questions like “How are they different from one another?” and “How do they move?” For the most part, students are exploring and classifying on their own.
In Foundation, Volume 4, the materials explain that the teacher’s role in the prekindergarten classroom is to “expand upon children’s natural disposition to solve problems and ask new questions” and “promote positive approaches to learning as they model an attitude of wonder and investigation.” Materials provide a large assortment of open-ended questions and comments to improve children’s capacity to problem solve. For instance, questions like “Do we have enough?” and “What if there were 10 more apples?” prompt numerical solutions. “What comes next in the pattern?” and “What shapes do you see in the block tower?” require word or pictorial solutions. Teachers are encouraged to identify routine problem-solving opportunities and to embed these opportunities naturally throughout the day. For example, “finding a place to store additional blocks in the Block area can be a geometric problem, determining whether there are enough snacks for the site visit is a number problem, deciding which of two rugs fits best in large-group area is a measurement problem, and taking attendance and counting the children who are absent is a routine number activity that requires children to problem solve.”
Beyond just listing possible activities, this document also offers detailed routine examples that can be added to and integrated with any lesson. “How Many Are Missing?” is a routine example of problem-solving using math skills on the playground. When students fail to respond to the teacher’s signal that outdoor play is over, the teacher can use this opportunity to integrate a math word problem. Students act out the problem and determine how many are missing. The teacher then models how to represent the word problem numerically. Another example, “Inside the Circle,” is a routine example of reasoning skills practice. If there is free time available within a lesson, the teacher can have students form a circle on the ground. The teacher places several items inside the circle, all of which share a secret attribute. Together, students must identify the secret attribute using only the objects as clues. They can investigate the items, ask questions, and discuss with one another before coming up with their answer. As a scaffold, the teacher can place some items that do not share the secret attribute outside of the circle. These activities promote problem-solving, are low stakes, and integrate familiar materials.
“Teaching Guides” also provide teachers strategies to promote problem-solving skills. In the “Music Making” Teaching Guide, the teacher wonders aloud about “the difference between the sounds children made with various objects during large-group time and the music they are hearing now.” The teacherthen models thinking through and problem-solving what makes music different from noise. For this model, the teacher has different phrases, prompts, and questions meant to display problem-solving: “I can hear a pattern in this music, but when we were jangling keys and crinkling paper, it just sounded like noise. I wonder what makes music different from noise.” In the “Wheels” Teaching Guide, students practice problem solving as they explore how items with wheels roll down ramps. During the activity, students “notice and compare the speed of objects.” The teacher says, “I wonder how we can make the wheels move faster or slower.” Children experiment with different ramp modifications to test speed, “adding felt to the ramp, changing the angle, or pushing the items up the ramp.” These activities develop from a teacher model to student-led exploration, encouraging students to ask questions and to address problems in their environment.
“Intentional Teaching Experience Mathematics Cards” are another resource that can promote problem-solving skills. In Mathematics Card 31, “Lining Up,” the teacher helps students understand important vocabulary related to size. The teacher arranges a collection of objects on the floor by size; students explore. The teacher says the objects should be arranged a different way (e.g., smallest to largest), and children place the objects in order. Starting with two objects at a time, students answer questions: “Which object is larger or smaller?” “Which object is taller or shorter?” They explain their rationale and then move on to additional objects. The teacher increases the number of objects one at a time and puts objects in random order; students have to rearrange the items into the correct series. To promote problem-solving, the teacher asks, “Can you explain the reasoning for moving the objects?” “Joe, these towers are all mixed up, how can you arrange them so they are in the right order?” Upon completion of the activity, the objects are made available in the “Toys and Games Area” so that students can continue their exploration during “Choice Time.”
The materials provide students with adequate opportunity to build number sense. Teachers receive direct guidance, helping them build children’s conceptual understanding in math. Instruction is frequent, spiraled, and varied, covering all activities outlined in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines, including subitizing, counting one-to-one, comparing set size and numbers, counting on, and finding one or more than a number.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teaching Guides” recommend multiple opportunities throughout the week for educators to use “Mighty Minutes Cards” as well as “Intentional Teaching Experience Cards” to teach and reinforce math concepts. Several Mighty Minutes Cards support and reinforce mathematical concepts and can be utilized throughout the day and during transitions; they focus on reinforcing students’ understanding in the areas of number concepts and operations, knowledge of patterns, spatial relationships and shapes, and measurement. The materials use varied experiences to develop students’ number sense and conceptual understanding of mathematics.
In the “Water” Teaching Guide, on Day 3, “Exploring the Topic,” the teacher uses Mighty Minutes Card 21, “Shape Shenanigans,” to reinforce students’ understanding of spatial relationships and shapes. Students build shapes on the floor using masking tape. They identify the shapes, discuss their attributes (e.g., the number of sides), and count the number of sides. The teacher or student can say, “This shape has three sides, it is a triangle.” The next day builds upon some of the skills practiced on Day 3, but with a deeper focus on number concepts.
Mathematics Intentional Teaching Cards provide opportunities for students to build their conceptual mathematical knowledge. Mathematics Card 2, “Counting and Comparing,” has students count groups of objects. The teacher asks, “Which group has more?” to help students practice comparison skills.
Mathematics Card 6, “Tallying,” teaches one-to-one correspondence. Students record tally marks in response to a question, such as “How many students walked to school?” Students record a tally mark for each child who walked to school.
Mathematics Card 13, “Nursery Rhyme Count,” has the teacher recite “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” using a different number of lambs each time. The students respond by putting cotton balls on a piece of construction paper for each lamb they hear. This concept-building activity begins with small numbers and gradually uses larger numbers.
Mathematics Card 37, “Secret Numbers,” explicitly reinforces the link between counting and subitizing, allowing the children to connect numerals with quantity. The teacher uses quantity cards (dots only), numeral/quantity cards (dots and numbers), or numeral cards (numbers). Children sit in a circle. They receive one set of cards; the teacher keeps the other set. Children choose a card from the set, reveal their secret number, and match the secret number (numeral). Teachers observe, “Did he or she count and point out the dots or recognize the quantity without counting (subitizing)?”
Mathematics Card 39, “Let’s Go Fishing,” uses the “Teaching Sequence,” which teaches “quantities of objects one, two,” “quantities of objects up to 5,” “quantities of objects up to 10,” as well as “counting, numeral identification.” Students sequentially work with larger quantities and numbers to count up to 20 as they build their conceptual understanding of math. The lesson supports children’s understanding that the order of counting in sequence is always the same, developing their numeral recognition and naming. The teacher invites the children to gather around the “fishing pond.” Children pretend they are on a fishing trip, singing “Who Wants to Go Fishing, Who Wants to Go Fishing.” The teacher catches a fish card and counts aloud the number of worms on the card, pointing to each one to show one-to-one correspondence. Children sing the fishing song as each child has a turn to fish out a card. Children work as a group to sort the cards by the number of worms, using one-to-one correspondence.
In Mathematics Card 63, “Fishing Trip,” students count on as they catch fish from an imaginary pond. The teacher says, “You caught four fish, how many would you have if you caught one more?” Mathematics Card 77, “Board Games,” is a subitizing activity where the students roll a pair of dice, count the combined dots, and move their game piece the corresponding number of spaces.
The materials present repeated opportunities for students to hear, learn, and utilize academic math vocabulary related to number concepts and operations, knowledge of patterns, spatial relationships and shapes, and measurement. They provide teacher guidance on how to scaffold and support children’s development and use of academic math vocabulary.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teaching Guides” list vocabulary to review each day, some of which is related to mathematics. Using the “First Six Weeks” Teaching Guide, on Day 2, Focus Question 4, “When do things happen at school?” provides the teacher scaffolding support: “Remind the children the clock is a tool people use to tell time. Revisit the class schedule and say, ‘Looking at our schedule is another way to tell time and find out what will happen next in our day.’” Materials guide the teacher to purposefully talk about mathematics, using math vocabulary such as first, second, and third to help children understand ordinal numbers. Teachers also use mathematical vocabulary in authentic daily activities, such as when reading stories.
Students practice using math vocabulary in the read-aloud Papi, How Many Stars Are in the Sky? Before reading, the teacher asks, “Have you ever looked at the stars in the sky?” and “Let’s read the story and see how many stars they count?” During the reading, the teacher introduces new vocabulary. After the reading, the teacher asks, “How does hearing stories make you feel?” This allows students to interact with books that encourage and support using math in a whole group setting.
The materials include 100 “Intentional Teaching Experience Mathematics Cards,” which provide phrases teachers can say to introduce and expose students to math vocabulary related to the learning objective and activity. They also provide a continuum of how to scaffold student learning and explain how to simplify as well as increase rigor for the math vocabulary used.
In Mathematics Card 2, the teacher introduces and defines vocabulary related to measurement. The materials provide sentence stems, such as “Which group has the most …? Which group has the fewest …? Which groups have about the same number of items?” The developmental continuum at the bottom of the card ranges from age two to kindergarten. For a student at a developmental level of two to three years old, the card suggests: “Choose two categories with widely contrasting quantities, e.g., one item, five items. Ask the child which pile has more. Count the objects together. Which pile has more books? Yes, this pile is tall, so it might have more. Let’s count together and find out.” For a “Pre-4” student, the card suggests: “Invite the child to compare two groups of items and describe the differences between the groups.” The teacher says, “You picked up each group of shoes. What is different about them? You’re right, the group of adult shoes is heavier than the baby shoes. Let’s count how many shoes are in each pile. The pile with baby shoes has more in it, but the adult shoes are heavier.”
In Mathematics Card 7, “Ice Cubes,” students hear and practice math vocabulary. The teacher says, “Can you tell me which ice cube is bigger and which is smaller?” The student responds using the vocabulary modeled by the teacher.
Mathematics Card 50, “The Farmer Builds a Fence,” is a story that uses mathematical vocabulary. Children pretend to be farmer helpers and act out the story. The teacher asks, “What is the shape I’m holding?” In Mathematics Card 60, “Morning, Noon, and Night,” students analyze events in a story and place them in order, using ordinal math vocabulary like first, next, and last. These are math-related, age-appropriate text choices that allow students to identify and use math vocabulary.
The materials also include 17 “Mighty Minutes Cards,” which can be used during transitions to reinforce conceptual understanding of math as well as reinforce hearing and using math vocabulary. In Mighty Minutes Card 24, “Number Dice,” students develop their understanding of number concepts and operations and practice hearing and using math vocabulary. Students hear and say the number rolled on the dice and review numbers cards. They hear, learn, and say math vocabulary such as more than, fewer than, and the same as. In Mighty Minutes Card 17, “Where’s the Pair?” students classify objects that are in pairs. For instance, the teacher has a sock or mitten and asks, “Where’s the pair?” Students respond by identifying the pair.
“Foundation,” Volume 4, “Mathematics,” emphasizes the importance of facilitating opportunities for students to hear the teacher using math vocabulary through authentic and explicit learning activities. The material discusses the role the teacher plays in facilitating students’ exposure to mathematics activities and vocabulary in the classroom. In Chapter 1, “The Teacher’s Role in Promoting Understanding of Number and Operations,” the materials describe how the teacher “designs the learning environment by purposefully placing mathematics materials in interest areas for child-initiated exploration and by intentionally introducing activities with a mathematics focus.” Materials further state, “You observe and listen as children interact with materials and their peers, and then you use mathematical vocabulary to describe their actions and thinking. You ask questions as children investigate. You play logic games, create mathematical problem-solving stories, and include numerical and algebraic activities as part of the daily routine.” As such, the teacher creates various and frequent opportunities to introduce and teach math vocabulary. The chapter also states, “Use books to encourage numerical reasoning by reading a book several times and adding numbers to some of the sentences.” Chapter 1 also suggests “creating and publishing a class number book by having the children create a book and write, illustrate, and publish it.” In Chapter 4, the materials guide the teacher to provide opportunities to practice math vocabulary by placing books in the “Toy and Games Interest Area,” such as All About Where by Tana Hoban and Beep, Beep, Vroom, Vroom! by Stuart J. Murphy.
The curriculum builds science knowledge through the exploration of physical science, life science, and earth and space science. Learning opportunities promote the use of scientific tools and require students to communicate ideas. In all, this inquiry-based instruction ensures students can observe and question their environment.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
“Foundation,” Volume 5, “Science and Technology, Social Studies & the Arts,” explains how students explore scientific concepts through conversation, exploration, and play-based activity. Some general scientific tool recommendations include magnets, magnifying glasses, balance scales, pulleys, and mirrors. Chapter 1, “Components of Science and Technology,” describes the importance of exploration through scientific tools: “understanding is strengthened when children are given opportunities to also explore toys, tolls, and books related to Science and Technology concepts.” To create interesting science areas around the classroom, the teacher displays artifacts, outdoor items, weekly weather forecasts, and measuring tools for temperature and precipitation. Often scientific exploration takes students outside for activities like observing the sky, looking for wildlife, and creating an outdoor display. Inquiry-based instruction is facilitated through “Intentional Teaching Experiences,” “Teaching Guides,” and “Mighty Minute Cards.”
Teachers can introduce life science skills through the Intentional Teaching Experiences “Mathematics Card” M100. While one of the major focuses of this activity is having students sort and count, they also explore living and nonliving. Titled “Living or Non-Living,” students sort collections of pictures based on categories and characteristics. The teacher begins offering some categories, and after a while, the students offer their own characteristics as well. The teacher lays out all of the cards and facilitates a discussion about living and non-living. Together the class sorts the cards with teacher guidance, and at the end, they compare observations of each characteristic. Students must explain how they know if something is living or non-living.
During “Investigation Choice Time” found in the “Gardening” Teaching Guide, students apply their knowledge of living organisms and explore their relationship with the environment. The teacher displays photo cards 24 & 25: one image has a picture of insects pollinating plants, while the other image shows toy replicas of those insects. After discussing the difference between the two images, they explore the concept of pollination. Students use felt and a bowl of cornstarch to model pollination. They notice how this experience is similar to insects’ pollination. Teacher questions include, “how are your fingers like the bees visiting different flowers?” “What happened to the pollen when you move the insects from flower to flower?” “How do insects help move pollen from one plant to another?” With hands-on experimentation, they use background knowledge and observation to communicate their answers.
Students explore physical science through different activities as well. In the Mathematics activity, “Ice Cubes,” students discuss the properties of materials found on earth, namely ice. In this activity, students observe how ice melts and measure the change. The teacher integrates different suggested measurement methods: measuring melt-size using a sheet of paper, measuring the ice size, measuring the ice weight, and using a cup to measure melted water. Then, on chart paper, the teacher records student observations, comments, measurements, and collected data. They discuss and review throughout the day.
While the Ice Cubes activity utilizes non-standard measurement tools, other activities integrate more traditional age-appropriate tools like balancing scales, a ruler, and measuring tape. Mathematics Card M26, “Huff and Puff,” is a measurement activity where students measure the distance a ball travels when someone blows on it. The teacher introduces the vocabulary terms force, energy, and effect. Students make and test predictions and evaluate the results using tools. In this case, they use a ruler or measuring tape to determine the distance the ball traveled during each test.
Students use a balance scale in the Mathematics Card M49, “Balancing Act.” Exploring the vocabulary terms heavier and lighter, the children compare two bags based on observation. The teacher asks what they think will happen when the bags are placed on both ends of the scale. The students test their predictions and share their observations.
Finally, in Mighty Minutes Card MM101, “Clouds Out,” students look up at the sky and record what they see. Primarily focused on the different clouds, they record what they notice and make predictions based on evidence. The teacher asks questions like “Do you think those are storm clouds?” or “How are all the clouds the same?” While not exactly space science, this lesson does help students explore the earth and the environment. The book Papi, How Many Stars are There in the Sky? has to do with a similar activity. In this text, the young characters are making space observations with their grandfather. They model asking questions about space, and the grandfather responds appropriately. In the story, they discuss constellations, the Milky Way galaxy, and the concept of infinity. Additionally, the teacher can very easily integrate counting skills into this lesson as the family counts to ten and beyond.
The materials build social studies knowledge through the study of culture and community. There is a logical sequence of social studies instruction intentionally targeting self before moving to family and beyond. Students have the opportunity to explore commonalities and differences between individuals, learn about routines and events, and explore the roles of consumers in their community.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
“Foundation,” Volume 6, has a chapter, “What Does Research Say?” dedicated to social studies where the materials describe the research and sequence of instruction. This chapter explains how prekindergarten students will begin to understand events that took place in the past, present, and future through activities and questions that guide understanding. It recognizes that “young children begin with an egocentric perspective” and then “during the preschool years, [they] become interested in other people and their community.” This introduction is founded in research, citing academia between 1995 and 2019. There is a subsection describing how the curriculum connects to each objective: showing knowledge of self, understanding how people live, exploring change, and demonstrating simple geographic knowledge.
The “Planning Your Social Studies Program” section provides guidance for classroom preparation, including a schedule or calendar of daily, weekly, and monthly events. There is a student-facing calendar as well, and every day the class has an opportunity to discuss the passage of time. This routine allows for recurring discussions about things that happen in the past or upcoming events. These daily routines are introduced and described in the “Building Your Classroom Community” section of the “Teaching Guide.” Other morning routines include singing a morning song like “Hello, How are You?” reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and observing a moment of silence.
While students are briefly introduced to the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the year, they explore in depth with the “Language and Literacy Intentional Teaching Card” LL103, “Our Class Flag.” Teachers introduce the concept of country and state, students recite each pledge, and the class holds a discussion about the importance of flags. To finish, the students work together, creating a new flag that represents their class.
In “Social and Emotional Card” SE07, “Good-Byes,” students learn how to connect conversation to life events and how to give proper goodbyes. The teacher initiates a discussion about people or events at home. She uses a student as an example, saying something like, “Penny, you have a sticker from the dentist. Did you go to the dentist after school yesterday? Your brother had a checkup, and he gave you his sticker? That was nice of him to share it with you.” Then, the teacher initiates a discussion about goodbyes, and the students practice through conversation. They apply this skill routinely at the end of each day.
Teachers reinforce concepts related to self through the Language and Literacy Card LL76, “The ‘Me’ Book.” In this activity, students write to convey ideas and information; however, the activity is grounded in concepts of self. Each student makes a “Me” book celebrating their uniqueness. They bring in photographs of themselves, family, pets, and home to use in their story. On the front cover of the book, they draw a self-portrait. In this activity, the teacher also asks questions about letter recognition, phonology, handwriting, and print awareness.
Then in Language and Literacy Card LL87, “It’s a Celebration,” students identify differences between themselves and others, celebrating the class’s individual and cultural influences. During the activity, students discuss celebration experiences they have participated in with their families. After the students share and discuss each celebration, they compare them, and the teacher records notes on a sheet of chart paper. Children examine these celebrations to build their awareness of different people and cultures. Throughout, the teacher reviews past, present, and future as well as summarizing an event. She asks questions like, “Your birthday was on…. What did you do to celebrate with your family?”
Using Social and Emotional Card SE12, “Classroom Jobs,” the teacher explains what it means to be a part of a classroom community and describes how they can contribute through classroom jobs. It is an introductory lesson for a structure that will repeat throughout the year. The teacher talks about and assigns different jobs to each child. Through some quick practice, children learn how to take care of the classroom by performing their assigned job. This structure mirrors consumer jobs and community helpers.
Foundation, Volume 3, provides general information about how students can explore the roles of consumers in their community during “Dramatic Play.” The section “Environment for Dramatic Play” offers suggestions for different playful settings like the doctor’s office, grocery store, and post office. Further instruction is given on what items and resources to include in the area. One of the main learning objectives of dramatic play is that students “explore concepts related to people and how they live by providing props that encourage children to role play family life and different kinds of jobs.” Teachers have access to guidance for each activity responsibility: observer, facilitator, player, and leader. These conversation cues, questions, and suggestions help teachers facilitate the exploration of consumer roles.
The materials expose students to fine arts through process-focused exploration and creation. Students interact with art daily and through multiple mediums, including music, movement, and painting, among others.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teaching Guides” host most of the activities within the program. Many activities within this resource offer opportunities for students to use a variety of art materials and participate in art activities. For instance, in the Teaching Guide “Making Music,” students investigate music and its effect on us. The teacher starts the lesson by asking, “What music styles are there?” and “How do they make us feel?” The teacher then plays calm music for the class and asks, “Have you ever listened to music that makes you feel happy or sad?” and “Do you like to listen to a certain kind of music depending on how you feel?” After discussion, students complete the song, and the teacher plays a new song; this time, she plays music that makes her excited. She says, “When I hear it, I feel like dancing, swaying my hips and tapping my toes,” and asks questions related to the music. Students have an opportunity to dance to the music before the lesson ends.
Later, the “Discussion and Share Writing” activity, “Music-Making Traditions,” utilizes students’ background music knowledge for discussion and drawing. The teacher starts by explaining that people who play instruments often do so because the instruments have roots in the traditions of their families, communities, and culture. She shows an instrument, introduces it as a cajon, and explains that it comes from Peru. The teacher says, “tradition is like a celebration or something that you do with your family.” To complete the lesson, students make observational drawings of various instruments. When finished, they share their creations with their classmates, who ask for details found on the instruments.
Teachers have access to additional activities in the various “Intentional Teacher Experiences” cards. The many card-types range from language cards to physical education cards, and often they integrate fine arts into instruction. Using “Physical Card” 31, “Tie-Dye Towels,” students participate in an open-ended art project. They have a chance to dye paper towels to create the colors seen in the book they just completed. They use eye droppers to do this, and the teacher models how it is done before students get an opportunity to do it on their own. After some exploration time, the teacher brings students back together to show them how they can make their own colors in an ice tray. This activity allows students to explore new color combinations to create new colors. Students record their color combinations, and in the end, they discuss which colors they found. This activity is placed into the “Art Area” when they are done, and students can return to it during choice time. Throughout the activity, students are focused more on the process of creation rather than creating the “correct” tie-dye product.
“Language and Literacy Card” 55, “Dance and Remember,” integrates dance and song in a lesson meant to improve students’ ability to listen and understand increasingly complex language. In this activity, students join in playing a musical game. Students are introduced to the song, “Let’s Do a Little Dance,” and they sing the song a few times to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.” Once students are familiar with the words and tune, the teacher asks them to perform a movement as they sing. Each time they complete a rendition, the teacher adds an additional movement to the song. Students must remember how many times they repeat the song and which movement they complete for each verse. For example, the teacher might say, “This time there will be more to remember! Can you wiggle your fingers, then pat your head, stomp your feet, clap your hands, and jump up and down?” The activity gets students up and singing but also addresses a very important objective in the process.
In the “Social and Emotional Card” 26, “Making a Mural,” students learn how to cooperate together through a painting activity. The teacher provides students a large piece of paper and painting supplies like brushes, paint, and smocks. After deciding on the mural’s focus, the teacher explains that they will work side by side on the same big sheet of paper to create a large painting called a mural. The students then work side by side on the same sheet of paper, creating a portion of their choice, but they make sure to stay out of other people’s areas at the same time.
The materials include various technology applications and provide opportunities to link technology into the classroom. These opportunities support and enhance student learning, and they include appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include the “Creative Curriculum Cloud” that builds consistency across all learning environments: traditional, remote, and hybrid. This tool provides teacher resources to help integrate technology opportunities naturally into the classroom experience. “Mighty Minute Cards” are a resource teachers use to facilitate different whole group, small group, and independent activities. Many of these activities integrate a technology aspect into instruction or practice. Teachers have access to most Mighty Minute activities online under “Digital Tools” in the “Mighty Minutes App.” Many of the activities overlap; however, some activities are unique to distance learning.
Using Mighty Minute Card 112, “Strike a Pose,” students learn how to use a camera. The teacher explains to the class that they will take pictures of each other using a camera: “I am going to pose for the camera, when I’m ready take a picture using the camera.” After a quick model, students work in pairs, taking turns posing and taking pictures. The lesson also includes instructional variations if the teacher chooses to use a tablet or another media device instead. Regardless, this activity provides students a playful opportunity to explore technology. Later, in the activity “Photo Slides,” students return to picture-taking. This time, in addition to using a photo, they also use a computer and a slideshow app to design their own personal slideshow presentation.
In Mighty Minutes 114, “Pause and Play,” students practice using the pause and play functions when watching a video online. The teacher says, “We are going to watch a video about bees. can you please press play on the device to start the video?” As the class watches the video, the teacher pauses at strategic times so they can discuss the content. While students are engaging in productive discussion, they are also exploring the touch-screen device. When complete, students determine how to turn off the device. To complete the lesson, the students describe technology tools that have a touch-screen, explain how to use them, and draw their own touch-screen device on a sheet of paper.
In “Foundation,” Volume 3, the materials provide the educator with suggestions about how to incorporate word processing programs and applications into literacy-based learning activities. This section states, “technology tools and mobile devices, such as tablets and computers, can help children learn new words and gain background knowledge.” It describes “examples of what a child might do,” “examples of related objectives,” and “examples of how this relates to literacy.” Additionally, parts of this section include materials, suggested thematic books, questions for facilitation, and a “how-to” about observing understanding. Most of these activities are summarized and described in “Language and Literacy Intentional Teaching Experiences Cards,” or LL Cards.
For example, Card LL02, “My Digital Storybook, What You Do,” is an activity that links a word processing program and a digital camera to print concepts. During the activity, children use the computer to create a book. To begin, the class discusses the different book topics, and students take turns using the digital camera to take photos. For the text, students dictate their story into the word processing program, or teachers assist with the keyboard. In the end, the pages are printed off and bound into a storybook. To conclude the activity, students discuss the relationship between pictures and text in a story.
Language and Literacy Card 14, “Did You Ever See…?” introduces a new technology medium for exploration. Students create a new verse to the song “Down By the Bay” by introducing words that follow the rhyming sequence. Then, they use an audio recorder to record the newly created verse to the song. The class takes turns playing their recording, and they discuss the different rhymes in the student-created verses.
Finally, Language and Literacy Card 98, “Searching Safely,” teaches students proper search engine etiquette and safety tips. The teacher says, “Let’s talk about computer rules. Before we go online, we have to make sure an adult is with us.” Children think about a topic and questions they have concerning their topic. Then, the teacher demonstrates how to open the browser before allowing the children the opportunity to open the browser and type on the keyboard. Students have independent time to search the internet while the teacher circulates and provides appropriate intervention.
The materials include a diagnostic assessment tool in the form of a checklist that assesses students in 23 objectives for development and learning. The diagnostic assessment tool assesses students in the areas “Social and Emotional,” “Physical,” “Cognitive,” “Language,” “Literacy,” and “Mathematics.” Professional development (PD) outlines how to use the diagnostic assessment tool. The materials do not provide guidance or tools for students to track their own progress.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide a formative assessment tool in the form of a checklist. The checklist is designed to be an ongoing assessment measure that is administered in the fall, winter, spring, and summer (optional). The checklist can be used to assess students during instruction, small group activities, and independent activities in the following areas: Social and Emotional, Physical, Cognitive, Language, Literacy, and Mathematics. “Science,” “Social Studies,” “Fine Arts,” and “Technology” are not assessed. The assessment encompasses four out of the five domains of focus: “Emergent Literacy: Reading,” “Emergent Literacy: Writing,” “Language and Communication,” and “Mathematics.” The areas in the checklist measure the students’ performance with respect to Objectives 1 to 23 for learning and development.
In the “Foundation,” Volume 1, Chapter 5, “Partnering with Families,” the materials outline how the teacher can create a portfolio to present to families using information collected from the ongoing “Gold” assessment system. The portfolios, which hold children’s work samples, can be stored online. The Gold system is grounded in research-based objectives for development and learning. The program automatically links teaching and assessment; the teacher can use data to drive instruction. The materials provide guidance on how to facilitate conferences with families as well as how to select information to present to families from the portfolio. The digital platform includes “Why Use It” and “How to Use It” sections to guide the teacher in administering the assessment tools and explains the importance and relevance of the tools.
The materials include a “Develop” tab on the publisher’s online portal. It presents a variety of PD courses, including the two-hour “Gold Introduction” training, which provides guidance and outlines how teachers can use the Gold ongoing assessment. As a result of the training, the educator will understand how assessment data informs planning and helps individualize instruction. The PD course “addresses the objectives for development and learning, conducting objective observations of children, determining what children know and can do, and using assessment information to plan developmentally appropriate experiences.” A “Help” section on the “Support Portal” addresses questions concerning the implementation of the assessment tool.
The materials present guidance on how the teacher can engage families in tracking their child’s progress, but they do not include guidance on tools for students to track their progress. The child’s family can view their child’s growth via the “Family” section of the online portal and via parent conferences. There is no evidence of student self-tracking tools. The curriculum includes an online portfolio system that is utilized by the teacher only. In Volume 6 of the “Foundation” resource, “Objectives for Development and Learning,” the materials provide the teacher with examples of goals for young children so they may be able to persist with appropriately challenging tasks. Teachers are to provide learning experiences that explicitly support the child and meet the needs of each child in the classroom. The assessment tool shows each child’s level of ability along a developmental progression, but it does not include the students in tracking their own progress.
Materials guide teachers and administrators on how to review and respond to data from diagnostic tools. The materials support teachers with guidance and direction to respond to students’ individual needs. They provide a variety of resources and different levels of activities to respond to the students’ needs based on student data. The data provided by the diagnostic tools has meaningful information for planning instruction and differentiation. The materials provide guidance for administrators to support teachers in analyzing student data.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The teacher can use the diagnostic tools to assess the developmental level of the child. The information can then be used and applied when planning instruction and differentiating activities.
On the digital platform, the “Reports” menu button includes diagnostic data that can be used by the teacher to determine the child’s current knowledge level, skills, and abilities in the tested area of development. The “Individual Child Report,” for example, allows the teacher to see how individual children are performing during one or more “checkpoint” periods. The teacher can track and adjust the strategy for each individual child. The “Assess” menu button includes color-coded checklists under the “On the Spot” tab. Each checklist includes instructions on how to utilize the tool to determine each child’s progress as well as the next level of development to plan the next strategies and objectives. The “Class Profile,” located under Reports, includes data and information for teachers to use to determine small group activities appropriate for the students’ knowledge level. This data is used by the teacher to plan future learning opportunities.
Teachers can participate in a two-hour “Gold Introduction” training that provides guidance and outlines how the educator can use the “Gold” ongoing assessment. As a result of the training, the educator will understand “how assessment data informs planning and helps...individualize instruction.” The training addresses “the objectives for development and learning, conducting objective observations of children, determining what children know and can do, and using assessment information to plan developmentally appropriate experiences.”
The materials provide 10 hours of professional development for administrators (“Gold for Administrators”). It covers formative assessment using Gold, “Early Childhood Education through Developmentally Appropriate Practices,” “System Administration,” “Gathering and Interpreting Data,” and “Leading Improvement.” The online portal includes a Reports menu button where administrators can access an alignment report generator; this can be used to determine the children’s knowledge, skill levels, and program results as they compare to state or national standards. Administrators can also access the “Snapshot” report generator in the same area to get an “At a Glance” overview of classes and program progress.
The materials color-code developmental levels from birth through third grade. The teacher can apply the information from the diagnostic tools when using the “Intentional Teaching Experiences Cards.” The cards use the color-coding system to support the teacher in differentiating activities to meet each student's developmental level with upward and downward scaffolds. The cards support and guide teachers on working with students whose developmental levels range between two years and kindergarten. The domains represented in the cards include “Social and Emotional Development,” “Language and Literacy,” “Mathematics,” and “Physical.”
The materials include frequent, integrated opportunities for progress monitoring. They include routine and systematic progress monitoring that accurately measures and tracks student progress. Materials track progress in all domains, and the assessment tools are appropriate for the age and skill development.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Foundation” resource, Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning, Birth Through Third Grade,” “Planning for Children’s Learning,” provides the teacher with the progression of student development and supports tracking progress in all domains. The progress monitoring included is the “Gold Checkpoint Checklist” and the “On the Spot Checklist.” The formative assessment tool (the Gold Checkpoint Checklist) is to be used in the fall, winter, spring, and summer; there are “start” and “due” dates for each administration. On the online portal, the “Assess” menu button includes progress monitoring in two formats: “Checkpoint by Child” and “Checkpoint by Class.” These checkpoints provide an indication of student progress to guide instruction as well as class progress for comparison to state or national scores. Assessment materials also include strategies for all learners, online portfolios, and comprehensive reports to track children’s progress in all domains. The materials support 38 objectives for development and learning from birth to third grade.
The materials provide an assessment cycle that is developmentally appropriate and provides opportunities for students to demonstrate growth in between assessment windows. The materials allow for flexible assessment in the form of checklists, so the educator can observe the student in a variety of settings and learning situations. The “On the Spot” assessment tool is developmentally appropriate. It begins with observing traveling skills and then observes story retelling skills, emergent reading skills, and reading fluency, finishing with analyzing and representing data at the end of the year.
Program lessons include recommended targeted instruction and activities that maximize student learning potential. Scaffolds, supports, and extensions provide intervention for students who struggle with content and students who master content. Additionally, included enrichment activities are applicable for all levels and types of learners.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
There are eight different “Teaching Guides” that serve as the structure for instruction. These are organized by theme and include age-appropriate topics like “Gardening,” “Wheels,” and “Boxes.” An onboarding Teaching Guide focuses on the first six weeks, while the final Teaching Guide prepares students for kindergarten. This resource does not cover most of the instruction; however, instead, the guides provide general background, preparation suggestions, and one week of guidance leading teachers through “exploration” and “investigation” of the Teaching Guide topic. They include sections for suggested questions, small group facilitation, and lesson scaffolding, but this guidance remains general. Additionally, there are six “Foundation Volumes” that provide additional research, rationale, and general teaching strategies specific to prekindergarten domains. These volumes include titles like “Interest Areas,” “Literacy,” and “Objectives for Development & Learning.” Most targeted instructional lessons and suggestions exist in the different choice activities within the program. These activities are usually called “Cards,” and they are divided between “Intentional Teaching Experiences,” “Book Discussion Cards,” and “Mighty Minutes.”
Intentional Teaching Experiences are organized by card, and they are broken up into four types: “Language and Literacy” (LL), “Mathematics” (M), “Physical” (P), and “Social-Emotional” (SE). There are 289 cards in all. Often they are referred to in shorthand. For example, Language and Literacy Intentional Teaching Experiences Card 22 would be labeled Card LL22. These activity cards include scaffolding opportunities and extension opportunities to ensure all learners have access to grade-level content. There are specific sections for “English-Language Learners” and “Including All Children” that offer five to ten differentiation suggestions per lesson. The “Teaching Sequence” is color-coded based on the student’s ability level and provides teachers specific guidance on how to facilitate and deliver instruction.
For example, the Mathematics Card M01, “Dinnertime,” provides differentiated instruction for one-to-one matching. In the general activity, students set a table for dinner guests; each set needs a plate, napkin, and fork. Students practice correspondence. When children show above-average cognitive growth, teachers are provided the following extension: “Two friends are coming to dinner, and three more ask if they may come. How many will be at dinner if they all come?” This prompt builds upon correspondence and transitions to simple addition. The lesson includes four suggestions for English Learners and three suggestions on how to include all children. For instance, teachers can count in children’s first languages or touch objects and say their names as they are counted. To reach all students, the teacher can laminate placemats that show where to place objects or pair children with different skill levels to work together.
Next, there are 23 Book Discussion Cards that correlate with some of the read-aloud texts found in the “Children’s Book Collection.” They “offer suggestions for introducing each book, emphasizing vocabulary as you read, commenting on questions, and asking probing questions.” The structure of each card is divided between three rounds of read-aloud. Additionally, there is a vocabulary section that “offers child-friendly definitions of words that are central to understanding” each story. “Supporting Social and Emotional Development” callouts help teachers make connections between the text and different social and emotional development skills.
Book Discussion Card 19 covers a lesson on the text, “Owen.” In the story, Owen loves Fuzzy, his favorite yellow blanket that he’s had since he was a baby. Owen’s mother and father have to figure out how to get Owen to say goodbye to Fuzzy. Each of the three read-alouds is broken down into “Before Reading,” “While Reading,” and “After Reading” directions. After following the teacher script introducing the book, the teacher spends the first read-aloud primarily focused on Owen and his thoughts. After reading, the teacher asks the students follow-up questions about their feelings and preferences. In the second read-aloud, the teacher reinforces vocabulary words like sniffed and snipped by pointing to pictures and dramatizing. This strategy helps struggling students access the content. A callout extends learning and asks students to make a connection with Owen’s feelings. In the third read-aloud, students recall information about the book and then focus on explaining what the characters are thinking and feeling. Wonder-alouds and follow-up questions help nudge all students toward understanding.
Lastly, teachers have access to 135 Mighty Minute Cards that also support enrichment, guide facilitation, and offer multisensory opportunities. They are “quick, playful, and engaging activities designed to inspire learning.” Teachers integrate them throughout instruction and connect them to the Teacher Guide themes. They are used as scaffolding and extension to deepen grade-appropriate learning.
Mighty Minutes Card 97, “Zookeeper, Zookeeper,” focuses on supporting phonological awareness, phonics, and word recognition skills. First, teachers review these concepts by asking students to “describe a special zoo where the animals eat only foods that start with the same sound as their names.” The card provides examples like alligator/apple and camel/corn. They take turns naming animals and generating food that starts with the same sound. The activity can be altered to include movement or drawing. This activity can be used individually, in small group, or whole group.
The materials provide a variety of instructional methods that appeal to a variety of learning interests and needs. The materials engage students in mastery of the content, support developmentally appropriate instructional strategies, support flexible grouping and multiple types of practices, and provide guidance and structures to achieve effective implementation.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Mighty Minutes Activity Card 122,” students sing the following words to “The Farmer in the Dell”: “We welcome everyone into our school today. We’re glad to see everyone who’s here to work and play. I wonder who is here. Can you tell us your name? When the ball is passed to you, stand up and say your name.” The teacher begins each large group instructional activity by leading students through the “Welcome Song” as the opening routine. The students sing the song and reproduce movements. After this, students take part in a whole group rhyming activity, discussion, and shared writing lesson. The teacher facilitates and sets the stage for the theme, “Boxes,” by presenting students with a collection of boxes. The teacher encourages students to discuss and explore the boxes. Students tell personal stories about boxes they use in their own lives (e.g., a cereal box when eating breakfast).
The “Gardening Day Teaching Guide” provides support for a variety of instructional approaches. For instance, students participate in a hands-on small group activity to compare collections of objects in ice trays. In “Planting Seeds,” a large group discussion and shared writing activity, students tell about their seed planting experiences, and the teacher documents their response on chart paper. Students have an opportunity to participate in independent practice in the unit’s “Choice Time,” where they develop their understanding of tools used to care for plants. Also during Choice Time, to extend their knowledge, students use recycled items, such as milk cartons and plastic containers, to create watering cans. Students prepare to participate in the collaborative project of building a garden by participating in whole group and small group activities that develop their understanding of how to care for and grow plants in a garden. For example, they use picture cards to illustrate and describe the steps involved in caring for plants.
The “Wheels” Teaching Guide provides flexible grouping during a hands-on whole group shared writing activity. The teacher alternates between direct instruction and indirect instruction. The teacher models, demonstrates, and provides directions on how students can determine if objects can roll. Students explore and test to see if the objects are capable of rolling. Then, students discuss their findings with each other and the teacher. The teacher supports and guides the conversation, challenging students’ thinking by asking clarifying questions. An example question is, “Why does a ball roll but the blocks slide?” The Wheels unit also provides guidance on incorporating concrete materials that represent wheels in centers; this supports students’ independent and individual practice and provides repeated exposure to concepts.
In the “Simple Machines” Teaching Guide, students participate in whole group collaborative activities to explore the concept of simple machines. Students place their hands inside a box and describe what the simple machine feels like. As students explore the simple machine outside of the box, the teacher asks questions, such as “How could this help someone?” The materials include some opportunities for students to engage in collaborative and project-based learning experiences.
The “Objectives for Development and Learning, Birth Through Third Grade” resource provides guidance on developmentally appropriate practices and on using specific developmentally appropriate teaching strategies to teach individual objectives and implement elements of the curriculum. “Intentional Teaching Experiences Cards” support teachers’ understanding of how and when to use developmentally appropriate strategies. Some strategies are “Ask open-ended questions and use prompts to stimulate discussion about the chosen topic,” “Ask children to share with a partner first before responding in a large group,” “Introduce a topic with objects or pictures relating to the topic.” The “Mathematics Foundation” resource provides a guide for selecting appropriate teaching strategies in response to learning goals and understanding. For example, “Provide a variety of materials to help children develop an understanding of quantity.” On modeling: “Model comparing the objects in two sets.” On acting out: “Act out operation stories, or word problems.”
The materials include supports, strategies, and recommendations to support English Learners (ELs) in meeting grade-level outcomes. Linguistic accommodations are commensurate with various levels of English language proficiency and successfully provide ELs the necessary scaffolds to access instruction. Some strategies encourage ELs to use their first language as a means to develop academic skills in English.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Foundation” resource, Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning,” educators have access to a continuum that illustrates the different stages through which ELs will progress. This continuum is broken down into how students develop in their English language listening, understanding, and speaking. There are 41 accommodations and research-based linguistics strategies that are targeted at these various stages of English language acquisition. Example guidance includes “Help children move from nonverbal responses to productive responses by prompting them with questions. For example, when a child points to her untied shoe, the teacher asks, ‘What do you need?’ If the child does not respond, then ask, ‘Do you need me to tie your shoe?’ When the child responds, ‘Tie...shoe,’ recognize her effort and say, ‘Okay! I will tie your shoe.’” Some of this guidance varies based on students’ English proficiency level. During a small group lesson about gardening, materials state: “For children in the beginning stages of English Language development, ask questions that include answer options: Are the gardens in the sunshine or are they in the shade?”
The “Intentional Teaching Experiences Language and Literacy Cards” provide recommendations to support English language and literacy skills development. Each card includes guidance for delivering instructional activities and small group lessons. There is a section specific to ELs with reminders and ways to scaffold. On Language and Literacy Card 11, “Rhyming Riddles,” the teacher is to offer examples of rhyming words in the child’s first language. For ELs at early proficiency stages, teachers give students time to express themselves before providing targeted follow-up support. In Language and Literacy Card 12, “Sound Sort,” the teacher uses “objects with names that begin with the same sound in both English and a child’s first language.” This is one example where the student’s first language is used as a means to develop English. An intentional scaffold has the teacher point out children’s names that also start with the same sound (e.g., “Beto’s name also starts with the /b/ sound, like button, bottle, and baby”).
Each section of the “Teaching Guides” includes strategies and recommendations for how to develop and support English language skills. For example, in the “Water” Teaching Guide, the materials recommend that teachers support ELs by learning “to count to 10 in the children’s first languages.” Also, teachers can “teach all children how to count to 10 in languages represented in [the] classroom.” Materials state, “This communicates your willingness to respect every child and models ongoing learning. As you say the number, hold up the corresponding number of fingers to make counting more concrete for English Language Learners.” This is another example where the materials strategically use the child’s first language to develop linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic skills in English.
In the “Reading with English Language Learners” section of the “Book Discussion Cards,” the materials suggest that educators “use gestures, visual cues, pictures, and real objects to demonstrate the meaning of the words” to support students’ emergent reading skills. The Book Discussion Cards come in English and Spanish. For students who speak Spanish, the teacher is to introduce vocabulary words in Spanish. When conducting the numerous read-alouds, materials guide the teacher to say vocabulary words in Spanish to “help bridge English and Spanish vocabulary for children.” To aid reading comprehension, teachers should read each book to ELs prior to the group read-aloud. Materials state “If a teacher speaks the language, plan to read the book in the child’s first language beforehand. The pre-reading will introduce the children to the characters, plot, and vocabulary. If the teacher doesn’t speak the language, then it is suggested to find a staff member or other volunteer to read the story in the native language beforehand.” If implemented with fidelity, this practice will provide ELs access to comprehension in the English language, using their home language as a foundation and vehicle for knowledge.
The materials include a scope and sequence that outlines the implementation of content domains throughout the school year. The materials outline 38 learning objectives targeted by the curriculum as well as the vertical alignment of skills for each objective from birth through second grade. The materials also facilitate multiple opportunities for students to develop skills across the entire school year through a variety of lessons, activities, and touchpoints.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials outline the opportunities for practice as well as lessons that touch on developing knowledge and skills across all domains in “Proclamation 2021: Breakouts to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines (TPG): Student/Teacher Materials.” The resource demonstrates how the instructional materials facilitate multiple opportunities and touchpoints for students to develop skills within each domain. For example, there are 56 opportunities throughout the year for students to develop “Relationships with Others,” a target area within the “Social and Emotional Development” domain.
The “2020 Scope and Sequence” for three- and four-year-olds includes an outline of how each content domain is implemented throughout the beginning of the year, middle of the year, and end of the year. The resource shows how areas of development and learning follow the scope of concepts and skills in a sequence that builds upon the child’s prior knowledge. The materials are vertically aligned, helping the teacher provide lessons that are connected to each unit to support children’s developmental learning.
The materials in “Foundation,” Volume 6, “Objectives for Learning and Development,” present the developmental progression of skills in each content domain from prekindergarten through second grade. The materials in the “Intentional Teaching Experiences Cards” provide a color-coded scaffolding chart that shows how the teacher can enrich and support skill development for each activity through kindergarten.
The “Literacy” Teaching Guide, Chapter 3, “Teaching Strategies,” includes suggestions for the teacher to review behavioral expectations with the child before a read-aloud. The “Intentional Teaching Experiences Mathematics Card 9,” “Bigger Than, Smaller Than, and Equal To” suggests teachers provide building blocks for children to explore in the “Block Area” during “Choice Time.” The “Teaching Sequence” recommends color-coded strategies and materials to review and practice skills with children at a three- to five-year-old developmental level. Mathematics Card 47 has the teacher review shapes using construction paper shapes; then, students use their bodies to create a similar shape. “Language and Literacy Intentional Teaching Experience Card 98,” “Searching Safely,” includes a “Computer Rules” chart that the teacher reviews with the students before beginning research of a topic on a computer.
The online platform includes a vertical alignment PDF document called “Alignment With Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines of The Creative Curriculum for Preschool,” which is a compilation of charts that show how the curriculum content aligns with learning goals established by the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
The materials have implementation support for teachers and for administrators to support teachers in implementation. The scope and sequence integrates the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and details the skills and essential knowledge being taught. The materials also include a year’s worth of prekindergarten instruction with a pacing guide and routines.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a scope and sequence with content domains as they are outlined in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines (e.g., “Social and Emotional Development,” “Physical,” “Language,” “Literacy,” “Mathematics,” “Science and Technology,” “Social Studies,” and the “Arts”). The materials include activities and lessons that encompass a year’s worth of instruction. The materials begin the year with the “The First Six Weeks Teaching Guide” and end the academic year with the “Getting Ready For Kindergarten” Teaching Guide. The “2020 Scope and Sequence” directly references the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and outlines the sequence of development for the beginning, middle, and end of the year with respect to the 36 objectives for learning and development found in “Foundation,” Volume 6.
The Scope and Sequence outline essential knowledge and skills that are taught to provide support for children at different stages of learning. It highlights the skills and objectives students will develop throughout the entire academic year. The formative assessment tool is used in the fall, winter, spring, and summer, indicating that the materials and plans are implemented across the school year.
The Teaching Guides explain how to plan for a unit of study, provide an overview of the unit of study, and contain a “Week at a Glance” for each week. They explicitly outline lessons for each day of the unit and for each block of the day, such as “Large Group,” “Small Group,” “Choice Time,” and “Read Aloud.” Each Teaching Guide volume includes a “Planning for the Study” section with guidance on preparing for each themed unit. This includes a list of materials needed for investigations and an explanation of how to prepare interest areas by incorporating resources related to the topic. The Teaching Guides also include an “Exploring the Topic” overview, which includes teacher guidance in implementing resources throughout the week. Each overview includes a scheduling block with suggestions on how to implement resources such as books, teaching guides, and activities. “Theme Studies” that incorporate each themed unit can be added manually to account for breaks in the school year. “Mighty Minutes,” “Intentional Teaching Experiences,” “Book Discussions,” and activities can also be planned and entered manually into the calendar. Activities can be searched to include specific Prekindergarten Guidelines and objectives to be taught. The “Getting Ready for Kindergarten” Teaching Guide provides the teacher with an understanding of how to use the intended materials for the lessons and activities. The materials provide detailed strategies for implementing lessons at the beginning of each week. “At a Glance” outlines the materials, the topic of each lesson, and classroom resources such as vocabulary cards, science tools, table-top charts, and manipulatives to support children in development in content learning and skills.
The materials provide the teacher with guidance on which Intentional Teaching Experiences Cards, Mighty Minutes Cards, and Book Discussion Cards to use based on the lesson and content area covered throughout the day. Teaching Guides explain how to enrich interest areas and centers based on the topic of study for the unit. For example, the Intentional Teaching Experiences Social and Emotional Card 28, “Our Feelings Song,” lists the materials, background information, objectives, and strategies to teach the song. This activity is part of a full day of school readiness skills experiences; it focuses on establishing and sustaining positive relationships and supports making connections within the unit. The “Teaching Sequence” provides color-coded age-appropriate activities. In the “yellow” tier, the teacher talks to students about different emotions: “This boy is feeling excited. What would you say to him?” For the “purple” tier, the teacher says, “What does it look like this child might be feeling?” while holding up a photo. Materials thus support scaffolding and include realistic pacing guidance at the lesson level. The Books Discussion Cards, Intentional Teaching Experiences Cards, and Mighty Minutes Cards are reusable and can be spiraled throughout the year.
Volume 2 of the Foundation resource outlines what the educator can place in interest areas to support daily instruction and students’ development of skills over time. Volume 6, “Objectives for Development and Learning, Birth through Third Grade,” provides guidance to help administrators support teachers in understanding appropriate learning environments and best instructional practices in the classroom.
The materials provide 10 hours of professional development for administrators: “Gold for Administrators.” It explores formative assessment, “Early Childhood Education through Developmentally Appropriate Practices,” “System Administration,” “Gathering and Interpreting Data,” and “Leading Improvement.” The digital platform notes that the publisher provides two different scope and sequences. The 2017 document, “The Creative Curriculum for Preschool, Scope and Sequence for 3- and 4-Year-Olds” states, “This chart can be used as a starting point for children and can be adjusted according to the child’s individual strengths and needs identified by assessment findings.” There is another Scope and Sequence from 2016. These documents address the sequence of implementation to include all domains. The online portal includes a “Teach” menu button, which includes a yearly planning calendar that can be utilized by the teacher.
The pace of the materials is realistic and includes opportunities for students to develop skills by day, throughout the week, and across the unit.
The materials include a variety of resources to support the programmatic design and scheduling for implementation by teachers and LEAs. The materials include schedule recommendations for both full-day and half-day programs. The materials provide guidance that supports the planning and implementation of lessons.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The curriculum provides daily routines, meaningful learning experiences, and lesson support designed for a full day of instruction. The materials also support half-day programs. There are lessons and activities for each component of the daily schedule for two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, and kindergarten-age children.
The “Introduction” to Volume 6 of the “Foundation” resource shows the progression of skill development that is utilized by the teacher for informing instruction. The materials support both full-day and half-day programs and provide recommendations for implementation and scheduling in Foundation, Volume 1, Chapters 2–4. The materials support lesson planning through the “Teach” tab on the online portal, where educators can find a customizable planning template. The “Teaching Guides” support the daily schedule presented in the Foundation, Volume 1. For example, in the “First Six Weeks” Teaching Guide, the materials outline “Circle Time,” “Large Group,” “Small Group,” “Choice Time,” and “Read Aloud.” The “Getting Started” Guide includes a “Planning Your Daily Schedule” section to support LEAs in implementing the curriculum into a district’s prekindergarten program. Materials state, “This guide, along with other resources and materials that together comprise the Creative Curriculum for Texas, was created for the express purpose of supporting you in your critically important work with children.”
The materials begin with an initial Teaching Guide, “The First Six Weeks,” and end the year with the Teaching Guide “Getting Ready for Kindergarten.” The remaining Teaching Guides do not follow a progression of implementation because they are selected and implemented under the direction of the educator and the burgeoning interests of students. The materials within each Teaching Guide build on the developmental progression of skills and provide opportunities for scaffolded instruction via “Intentional Teaching Experiences Cards” to meet the needs of individual students. Each of the Teaching Guides includes a “Preparing for Wow! Experiences” section with a list of each day’s activities and investigations to be implemented during a week’s study.
The “Scope and Sequence” is a visual guide that supports teaching students, starting with the child’s current skill level. For example, the “Area of Development for 3-year-olds for Writing” is a document with a sequence of writing development for the teacher to follow throughout the year. The skill is developed along developmental stages: at the beginning, the child attempts to write his or her name using controlled linear scribbles; in the middle of the year, the child attempts to write using linear scribbles and mock letters or letter-like form; at the end of the year, the child attempts to write to convey meaning using string-like form.
The Teach component on the online portal provides the teacher with a lesson plan template to adjust to individual classroom needs, supporting lesson planning. The following template components can be adjusted: Choice Time, Question of the Day, Read Aloud, Small Groups, Mighty Minutes, Large Group, Outdoor Experiences, and Family Partnerships. This supports LEAs in using the curriculum within different programs.
Each “Teaching Guide” facilitates opportunities for schools and educators to partner with families in order to bridge learning between the classroom and the home. Materials support building strong relationships between teachers and families and provide activities for use at home to promote students’ learning and development.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide a variety of resources that cultivate relationships between the school and families as well as between teachers and families. “Foundation,” Volume 1, Chapter 5, “Partnering with Families” includes support for the teacher in developing family connections. For example, it includes the sections “Getting to Know Families,” “Making Families Feel Welcome,” “Communicating with Families,” and “Family Engagement in the Classroom.”
Within each “Teaching Guide,” the materials include a letter to families that introduces the topic of study and facilitates opportunities for families to get involved. The letter is available in both English and Spanish. The “What You Can Do At Home” section of the letter supports students’ learning throughout the unit. For example, in the “Boxes” Teaching Guide, one of these recommendations is “Explore a variety of boxes with your child and talk about each box’s characteristics. How big is it? What is it made of? Are there pictures of words on it?” The letter also includes a list of vocabulary words related to the topic of study.
Within each Teaching Guide, the “Week at a Glance” has a “Family Partnerships” section. In the “Wheels” Teaching Guide, the section recommends “Invite families to contribute photos, books, and materials related to wheels to the classroom collection. Invite families to join the class on a walk to look for wheels during large group on Day 3.”
A photo library provides PDF files with pictures for family learning. These are aligned to themes, including “First Six Weeks,” “Ball Study,” “Exercise,” “Trees,” “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle,” and “Buildings.”
The digital platform includes a “Family” menu button that the teacher can use to share digital and PDF resources with families. The “Connect to Ready Rosie” button takes parents to an online, interactive learning platform. It contains videos of modeled activities and resources for parents to use at home to meet the objectives of each lesson.
The materials include authentic pictures and print resources that support and enhance student learning and outcomes; these are neither distracting nor chaotic. The materials include appropriate use of white space and design that supports and does not distract from student learning. Pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Within each “Teaching Guide,” visuals are relevant to the units of study and support student understanding and vocabulary development. Materials use authentic pictures. Each Teaching Guide includes “Make Time For” in the margin of each “At a Glance, Exploring the Topic” overview. It includes tips for the teacher on how to incorporate outdoor experiences, family experiences, and “Wow!” experiences. This section is visually designed to be easily located, with attention to white space. Visual aids within the materials are not distracting; visuals are engaging and support learning.
The materials include “big books” and picture books, which include authentic pictures and text for daily read-alouds. The big books are connected to the units explored in the curriculum as well as to the content domains. For example, the materials include the big book “Who Wears That?” which supports the “Social Studies” domain. The Children’s Book Collection contains books with simple text and colorful pictures, which are supportive of children’s learning. The Collection uses bold letters for titles and vocabulary. Authentic pictures are supported by child-friendly descriptions. Vocabulary cards, big books, read-alouds, and picture cards accompany each Teaching Guide unit. The pictures in these resources do not distract. The resources provide authentic examples for students, make good use of white space, use colorful pictures, and use simple text formats.
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