Curriculum

star

◀ Curriculum Consumer Report

Infant and Toddler

The curriculum promotes rich learning experiences and interactions to support development across domains. For infants and toddlers, rich learning experiences take place within the context of an engaging play environment, interactions and conversations with caregivers and peers, and daily caregiving routines. Rich learning experiences support and extend children's knowledge, understanding of concepts, and skills across domains. Infants and toddlers develop and learn by freely moving their bodies and actively exploring their environments in open-ended ways. The curriculum offers infants and toddlers ample opportunities to move and explore and provides teachers with guidance on how to interact with children to extend exploration, thinking, and communication. Rich learning experiences should be culturally and linguistically responsive and inclusive of children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs.

What do the ratings mean?

  • Four star rating graphic Full Evidence
  • Three star rating graphic Moderate Evidence
  • Two star rating graphic Minimal Evidence
  • One star rating graphic No Evidence

Curriculum

Rating

Review

Beautiful Beginnings: A Developmental Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Active Exploration: Beautiful Beginnings provides some opportunities for infants and toddlers to move freely and explore their environments actively. Some "Experiences" encourage movement and open-ended exploration. For example, "Finding Things" encourages teachers to create a "discovery corner" where they set out a new object or toy each week for children to freely explore. In addition, "Pushing and Pulling" invites teachers to provide toddlers with various toys that they can push (e.g., boxes, small chairs, wagons) and pull (e.g., toys with strings attached to them), which provide several opportunities for movement and exploration of how things work. However, other "Experiences" are more teacher-directed, encouraging infants and toddlers to do something very specific and providing limited opportunities for children to engage with the environment in open-ended ways. For example, in one activity, teachers model different types of scribbles and encourage toddlers to imitate the model drawings. In another activity, teachers demonstrate how to use cause-and-effect toys and encourage older infants to do the same actions.

Interactions That Extend Children's Learning: The curriculum provides specific guidance on how teachers can engage in interactions that extend children's learning. The "Experiences" include prompts or suggestions for teachers to label objects, narrate what adults and children are doing, expand children's language, and extend pretend play. For example, an "Experience" for younger infants suggests that teachers describe various textures and what those textures feel like. Another prompts teachers to initiate possible next steps in children's pretend play, while letting the child choose what to do next.

Individualization: The curriculum provides a general approach for individualizing learning experiences for all children. The approach includes observing children; selecting "Experiences" based on children's interests, strengths, development, needs, or concerns; using the "Goals Sheet" to plan for an individual child or group of children; offering "Experiences;" and documenting the children's responses. "Using Beautiful Beginnings with Children with Special Needs" encourages teachers to use a child's functional age to select learning experiences. "Taking Culture into Consideration" instructs teachers to adapt activities as appropriate. However, the curriculum lacks specific guidance embedded throughout the "Experiences" on how to use learning experiences with diverse children, and at times, is suggestive of a deficit approach: "For children at-risk, such as children from very low-income families, one Experience should always be in the area of communication because of the tendency for children to be delayed in this area."

HighScope Infant-Toddler Curriculum

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Active Exploration: Active participatory learning is one of the guiding principles of the HighScope Infant-Toddler Curriculum. Guidance on the learning environment invites teachers to provide children with a variety of interesting and open-ended materials to manipulate and explore. The daily schedule includes multiple opportunities for infants and toddlers to move freely and actively explore during "Choice Time," "Group Time with Materials," "Group Time with Music," and "Outdoor Play." For example, a toddler "Group Time with Materials" has teachers offer children different types of tubes to explore and suggests providing additional tubes to support the ways toddlers play with the tubes (e.g., lining up tubes, fitting one inside the other, tapping them on the floor).

Interactions That Extend Children's Learning: Adult scaffolding represents another guiding principle of the HighScope Infant-Toddler Curriculum. The "Supportive Adult-Child Interactions" chapter provides guidance and examples on how teachers can engage in interactions that extend children's exploration, thinking, and communication (e.g., communicating with children in a give-and-take manner, making comments and acknowledgements, encouraging children's choices in exploration and play). Furthermore, the scaffolding charts embedded throughout the Lesson Plans for a Strong Start books offer specific examples of strategies and interactions to support and extend children's learning and development in the various content areas (e.g., describing the materials children are exploring and what the infants around them are doing, commenting on children's efforts to reach, scoot, or lean toward an item they are curious about).

Individualization: The curriculum provides some guidance for how to individualize learning experiences for all children. It describes a process for how to observe children, document their development and interests, reflect, and use this information to plan for individual children. Lesson Plans for a Strong Start recommends teachers use the scaffolding charts to make accommodations for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs. The "All About You!" form suggests the importance of supporting and celebrating families' cultures in the classroom, but there is no advice on how teachers can integrate this information into learning experiences. Tender Care and Early Learning includes one suggestion to include traditional songs and rhymes from the cultures of children's families. The curriculum lacks comprehensive, in-depth guidance on how to individualize learning experiences for children from diverse cultural backgrounds, children who are DLLs, or children who are learning tribal languages.

Frog Street Infant

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Active Exploration: Welcome to Frog Street Infant discusses how infants need space and opportunities to move freely. Some of the Activity Cards allow children to actively explore their environment, such as manipulating play dough and touching or crawling on a tactile path. However, many of the activities are more teacher-directed, inviting infants to do something very specific and leaving less opportunity for them to engage with the environment in open-ended ways. For example, one activity instructs teachers to put blue and yellow paint on children's hands to make green. In another activity, teachers model how to create art with a golf ball in a pan, and children are directed to do the same thing.

Interactions That Extend Children's Learning: Some Activity Cards provide supports for teachers to engage in interactions that extend infants' exploration, thinking, and communication. For example, teachers introduce two rattles and talk about the different sounds with infants. Another activity encourages children to stack tactile blocks and prompts teachers to compare the textures using descriptive words. However, some guidance in the Activity Cards would limit children's open-ended exploration and communication. For example, an activity invites a child to explore a musical toy, but encourages teachers to demonstrate the "right buttons to push." Another activity tells teachers to stack three blocks, encourage the child to copy the tower, repeat, and count the blocks in the towers with the child. This type of guidance for how the teacher should interact with the child during block play limits what the child may learn from exploring the blocks in a more open-ended way with suggested prompts for teachers that focus more on the child's exploration (e.g., balance, size, quantity, symbolic representation).

Individualization: The curriculum provides minimal guidance on how to individualize learning experiences for all children. The Activity Cards are translated into Spanish, but there is no guidance on how and when to use the Spanish translations with children who are dual language learners (DLLs). Welcome to Frog Street Infant offers a few general tips for working with children with specific needs (e.g., visual and hearing challenges, physical delays). The curriculum does not address how to individualize learning experiences for children from diverse cultures, children who speak languages other than English and Spanish, or how to modify the activities for children with other types of disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs.

Frog Street Toddler

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Active Exploration: Welcome to Frog Street Toddler discusses how toddlers need space and opportunities to move freely and explore with all of their senses. Some of the suggested learning centers and activities in the Activity Guides allow children to actively explore their environment by providing various objects for filling and dumping or offering several boxes for playing and building. However, many of the activities are more teacher-directed. These invite children to do something very specific, leaving less opportunity for toddlers to engage with the environment in open-ended ways. For example, one activity has toddlers sit in a chair and use their toes to move cotton balls from one bowl to another. In another activity, teachers model how to make a paper chain and children are directed to do the same thing.

Interactions That Extend Children's Learning: Frog Street Toddler provides specific guidance throughout the Activity Guides and Photo Activity Cards on how teachers can engage in interactions that extend children's learning. There are many prompts for teachers to describe objects, narrate what adults and children are doing, ask children questions, and make connections to children's previous experiences. For example, as children manipulate play dough, teachers are encouraged to discuss the dough's texture, color, and smell. Another activity focuses on round objects and invites children to think of other objects that are round. However, some prompts within activities are too advanced for toddlers. For example, an early activity in the curriculum prompts teachers to ask toddlers if they can feel vibrations when talking normally, but not while whispering. Other prompts elicit very specific or limited responses from children which would not extend their exploration, thinking, or communication (e.g., during a painting activity, one prompt asks, "Which yellow color is darker?;" during block play, another prompt reads, "Do the red materials make you think of something red to build?").

Individualization: The curriculum provides some guidance on how to individualize learning experiences for all children. The Activity Guides provide many songs, vocabulary, and prompts in Spanish, but provide no guidance on how and when to use the Spanish translations with children who are dual language learners (DLLs). Welcome to Frog Street Toddler offers a few general tips for working with children with specific needs (e.g., visual challenges, cognitive challenges, speech or language delays). The Activity Guides provide very few adaptations for children with specific needs (e.g., adaptations for two activities in a four-week Activity Guide). Similarly, the curriculum very minimally addresses how teachers can individualize learning experiences for children from diverse cultures, such as inviting them to share about celebrations in their family or offering chants and rhymes from diverse cultures. However, the curriculum lacks comprehensive, in-depth guidance on how to individualize learning experiences for children from diverse cultural backgrounds, children who speak languages other than English and Spanish, or how to modify the majority of activities for children with various types of disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs.

Innovations: The Comprehensive Infant and Toddler Curriculum

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Active Exploration: The curriculum provides ample opportunities for infants and toddlers to freely move and actively explore their environment. It includes suggestions related to the environment that encourage movement and active exploration (e.g., offering a variety of materials to foster exploration, providing equipment that allows children to move and climb). In addition, the curriculum describes the value of long periods of uninterrupted time for exploration of the environment. Finally, the various "Possibilities Plans" provide opportunities for children to manipulate objects, investigate concepts, and engage in open-ended exploration (e.g., exploring shakers, feeling a texture board, manipulating play dough, playing peek-a-boo).

Interactions That Extend Children's Learning: Many of the curriculum's resources provide guidance on and examples of how teachers can engage in interactions that extend children's learning. Innovations: Infant and Toddler Development offers general strategies for supporting children's exploration, communication, and thinking (e.g., expanding on children's ideas, describing what is going on in a child's world). Furthermore, the activity instructions and "Teacher Talk" comments throughout the "Possibilities Plans" include specific strategies, open-ended questions, and other prompts that teachers can use to spark children's thinking and encourage them to communicate (e.g., modeling different ways to use objects, narrating what children are doing, describing objects, discussing cause and effect, asking simple questions for children to respond to).

Individualization: Innovations: The Comprehensive Infant and Toddler Curriculum provides a general approach for individualizing learning experiences for all children. The curriculum planning process encourages teachers to observe children's development, interests, and emerging play themes and plan learning experiences based on this information. It also promotes "webbing," whereby teachers plan learning experiences but are prepared to adjust based on children's responses. However, the curriculum does not specify how to ensure learning experiences are culturally and linguistically responsive or inclusive of children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs.

The Creative Curriculum® for Infants, Toddlers & Twos, 3rd Edition

Full Review & Ratings
Four star rating graphicFull Evidence

Active Exploration: The Creative Curriculum® for Infants, Toddlers & Twos offers ample opportunities for infants and toddlers to freely move and actively explore their environment. Volume 1: The Foundation highlights the importance of children having time for play and exploration daily. Volume 2: Routines & Experiences gives many specific examples of learning materials and equipment that lend themselves to open-ended exploration (e.g., natural materials, cups and pails for filling and dumping, manipulative toys, climbers). The Intentional Teaching Cards provide opportunities for children to manipulate objects, investigate concepts, and engage in open-ended exploration (e.g., exploring water using cups or other props; building with large blocks; exploring bells). Many learning experiences do have teachers modeling or demonstrating how to do something, but even within these activities, children are still given opportunities to freely explore the materials.

Interactions That Extend Children's Learning: Many of the curriculum's resources provide guidance and examples on how teachers engage in interactions that extend children's learning. Volume 1: The Foundation offers general strategies, such as to describe what a child is seeing or doing, provide vocabulary, or ask children open-ended questions. Volume 2: Routines & Experiences provides "Caring and Teaching" examples of how to extend children's learning (e.g., describe changes the child can observe, point out cause-and-effect relationships, encourage the child to solve problems). Finally, the Intentional Teaching Cards and Book Conversation Cards provide several examples of specific strategies, open-ended questions, and other prompts that teachers can use to spark children's thinking and encourage them to communicate (e.g., model different ways to use objects, describe objects, invite children to share observations, ask simple questions to prompt children to think about solutions).

Individualization: The curriculum provides specific guidance on how to individualize learning experiences for all children. The Intentional Teaching Cards feature the section "Including All Children," which offers strategies to ensure children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs can participate. The Intentional Teaching Cards also include scaffolding strategies to support children who are DLLs. Volumes 1–3 give some suggestions for how teachers can consider children's cultures as they plan routines and learning experiences, but they give very few specific examples of embedding children's cultures within learning experiences throughout the curriculum materials.