Curriculum

The curriculum provides research-based content and teaching practices to support children's development and learning. A research-based curriculum is consistent with research on how children develop and learn. Specifically, it provides rich content, teaching practices, and learning experiences that research has shown to be effective in supporting children's development and learning. A research-based curriculum focuses on domain-specific, developmentally appropriate content and skills that contribute to children's long-range development in each domain.

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Curriculum

Rating

Review

Big Day for PreK™

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Approaches to Learning: Big Day for PreK promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's approaches to learning. For example, the curriculum offers guidance on classroom organization, such as posting a schedule or creating an interactive display, to help children learn daily routines. It also provides supports for teachers to scaffold children's emotional, behavioral, and cognitive self-regulation skills by helping children understand their own emotions and others' emotions and actively fostering children's attention skills. However, the curriculum provides minimal opportunities for child-initiated play, activities based on children's interests, and learning centers that promote open-ended exploration, which research shows are important for supporting children's attention, persistence, curiosity, and creativity.

Social and Emotional Development: Big Day for PreK consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's social and emotional development. For example, the Professional Handbook provides specific ways to establish an emotionally supportive environment and build secure and trusting relationships with children. Throughout the group activities and learning centers described in the Teaching Guides, there are many informal and formal opportunities for children to practice social skills (e.g., teachers are encouraged to model and engage children in social conversations during mealtimes and to help children communicate and problem-solve with peers during dramatic play), as well as many examples of how teachers use language to support children's social and emotional learning (e.g., inviting children to share how they feel when trying something new).

Language and Communication: Big Day for PreK consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's language and communication, such as providing ongoing opportunities for rich oral language experiences. The daily routines and activities include many formal and informal opportunities for children to engage in language and communication with adults and peers. Additionally, the curriculum includes daily opportunities for interactive read-alouds. Guidance on how to engage in dialogic reading, a research-based practice for promoting children's oral language development, is provided for all read-aloud experiences in the curriculum. To support children's vocabulary development, the curriculum offers guidance on how to use theme words or science and social studies vocabulary throughout the day.

Literacy: Big Day for PreK consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support literacy, such as providing varied opportunities for children to discuss, use, and make print materials (e.g., sign-in sheet for children, Writing Center includes materials for children to make print, such as dry-erase board or book binding materials). Furthermore, daily interactive read-alouds provide opportunities for children to develop concepts about print, comprehend text, and enjoy books, which research shows are critical early literacy skills. The curriculum provides guidance on how to use the "Morning Message" to support children's alphabet knowledge (e.g., circling letters they have learned).

Mathematics Development: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's mathematics development. The Teaching Guides offer an intentionally planned sequence of math lessons, with each unit providing a review of concepts and skills from previous units and focusing on one or two new mathematical concepts and skills. The sequence of activities for each mathematical concept or skill (e.g., counting, measurement) follows research-based developmental progressions. Both small- and large-group math learning experiences provide children with hands-on opportunities to build their conceptual understanding. The curriculum provides supports to engage children in understanding and using math vocabulary (e.g., Math Mats).

Scientific Reasoning: Big Day for PreK includes weekly science activities and a Science Learning Center, but these do not consistently promote research-based teaching practices. Science activities support the development of inquiry skills (e.g., making predictions, comparing and categorizing) and the practice of children describing and documenting their work (e.g., prompts for teachers to elicit children's observations and ideas). However, many of the activities are focused on content that is not developmentally appropriate (e.g., magnetism) and do not build on children's natural abilities, prior experiences, or interests (e.g., exploring the Arctic). Furthermore, the activities and learning centers are pre-planned and teacher directed, which does not allow for children's experiential learning, inquiry, and open-ended investigation.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: Big Day for PreKprovides some research-based teaching practices to support children's perceptual, motor, and physical development, such as creating a safe environment that encourages active physical exploration and engaging children in regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. The curriculum lacks guidance on how teachers can intentionally scaffold the development of children's physical skills (e.g., suggestions for modeling or specific feedback). In addition, the curriculum provides physical activities, but it lacks repeated opportunities for children to practice individual physical skills.

Core Knowledge® Preschool Sequence

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Approaches to Learning: Core Knowledge® promotes some research-based teaching practices to support children's approaches to learning, such as promoting sensitive, responsive caregiving. The curriculum also includes guidance on classroom organization (e.g., sample schedules, descriptions of learning centers and materials) and classroom management strategies (e.g., brainstorming and creating rules with children, providing visual cues), which promote executive functioning skills. The daily schedule includes learning centers where children can participate in activities based on their interests and engage in child-initiated play that promotes open-ended exploration. However, the curriculum provides fewer strategies and activities that support children in developing emotional and behavioral regulation.

Social and Emotional Development: Core Knowledge® promotes a few research-based teaching practices in this domain. The curriculum provides guidance on how to establish an emotionally supportive environment and suggestions on how to build secure, trusting adult-child relationships. For example, scaffolding strategies embedded in the "Teacher Responses" and "Teacher Feedback" sections of the Core Knowledge Preschool Sequence and Teacher Handbook (Handbook) emphasize how to engage in sensitive and responsive interactions. The "Autonomy, Social Skills and Work Habits" chapter guides teachers to identify and label emotions, and there is reference to the Stop and Think Social Skills Program. However, there is limited evidence that the curriculum supports teachers to use language intentionally to foster children's social and emotional development, or that it encourages teachers to coach and guide children to use problem-solving skills to resolve conflicts. References to culturally and linguistically responsive practices are minimal.

Language and Communication: Core Knowledge® consistently promotes research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as providing guidance on how to create rich oral language experiences and opportunities to hear, use, and understand complex language. For example, the Handbook section "Language of Instruction" includes a sampling of precise vocabulary for each chapter. The curriculum also provides learning experiences using the sounds of language to develop phonological awareness through nursery rhymes, poems, fingerplays, and songs.

Literacy: Core Knowledge® consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's literacy development. For example, it provides varied opportunities for children to discuss, use, and make print materials (e.g., using print during daily routines, creating charts with children). Guidance for storybook reading and storytelling, such as the STORY and INFO techniques, engages children as active participants. The curriculum suggests learning experiences that include varied, meaningful opportunities to develop emergent writing skills; teachers are encouraged to model and support children's writing activities across all play experiences (e.g., writing lists, signs, recipes). Furthermore, the curriculum provides strategies for interactive read-alouds that include opportunities for children to develop concepts about print, alphabet knowledge, and comprehension skills, which research shows are critical early literacy skills. Even so, the curriculum lacks guidance on how to plan literacy experiences based on rich and engaging content.

Mathematics Development: The curriculum promotes some research-based teaching practices to support children's mathematics development. "Teaching Ideas" and "Cross-Curricular Connections" provide suggestions for learning experiences and strategies to promote conceptual understanding, develop procedural skills, and introduce children to the language of mathematics. For example, one "Teaching Idea" suggests using hula hoops to create a Venn diagram to visually depict sorting and classifying objects according to two attributes. While the curriculum presents a developmental sequence of math skills, it is unclear how "Teaching Ideas" and "Cross-Curricular Connections" are sequenced based on children's development. In addition, most of the suggested learning experiences are skill-focused. Thus, children have limited opportunities to engage in problem-solving, inquiry, and creative invention.

Scientific Reasoning: Core Knowledge® promotes some research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as guiding teachers to support the development of important inquiry skills. For example, the Handbook provides specific guidance for engaging children in the scientific reasoning cycle (reflect and ask, plan and predict, act and observe, and report and reflect). "Creating an Engaging Science Center" describes how teachers set up, introduce, and interact with children in the science center. Guidance explains how teachers can use specific science language (e.g., hypothesize, describe). The "Teaching Ideas" and "Cross-Curricular Connections" provide suggestions for science learning experiences. However, the curriculum does not provide specific guidance on how to embed science in daily activities and play. It also lacks opportunities for children to explore scientific concepts in depth through multiple, varied, conceptually related learning experiences.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: The curriculum promotes a few research-based teaching practices to support children's perceptual, motor, and physical development. It provides some guidance on intentional teaching practices to support the development of physical skills and perceptual motor development. For example, the Handbook includes "Teaching Ideas" that incorporate specific instructions and targeted learning goals (e.g., have children throw rolled socks into shoe boxes). However, the curriculum lacks consistent guidance on how to use intentional teaching practices to support the development of self-care skills and personal safety knowledge. In addition, the curriculum lacks guidance on creating a safe outdoor environment that encourages physical activities.

The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool, 6th Edition

Full Review & Ratings
Four star rating graphicFull Evidence

Approaches to Learning: Volume 1: The Foundation describes research-based teaching practices to support children's emotional, behavioral, and cognitive regulation skills. Teaching practices include guidance on effective classroom organization and classroom management strategies. The Mighty Minutes provide brief activities to support children's regulatory skills during transitions. The daily schedule allows opportunities for children to make choices and engage in open-ended exploration, which research suggests sets the context for children's initiative, curiosity, and creativity.

Social and Emotional Development: Volume 6: Objectives for Development and Learning provides several examples of research-based teaching practices for teachers to support children's positive relationships, emotion regulation, and cooperation. The Intentional Teaching Cards promote a variety of research-based teaching practices, such as supporting children as they learn to regulate their emotions and guiding children to use problem-solving skills to resolve social conflicts. Finally, all Book Discussion Cards include a section on "Supporting Social Emotional Development," which encourages teachers and children to use language to focus on social and emotional topics (e.g., feelings, friendship, social conflict).

Language and Communication: Volume 1: The Foundation provides guidance on how teachers can integrate rich oral language opportunities throughout the day, such as using small groups to encourage children to share ideas or engaging in conversations during mealtimes. Additionally, Volume 3: Literacy provides research on language development. It includes information about second language acquisition and research-based strategies for fostering English language development. The Intentional Teaching Cards, Mighty Minutes, and Book Discussion Cards offer teachers several discussion prompts, open-ended questions, and new vocabulary to support children's language and communication skills.

Literacy: Volume 3: Literacy provides research on different facets of literacy development, including how children develop literacy skills in two different languages. The curriculum provides many research-based teaching practices to support children's literacy skills. It offers specific guidance on interactive read-alouds (e.g., Book Discussion Cards) and various opportunities to use print (e.g., Volume 2: Interest Areas; Volume 3: Literacy). Teachers are encouraged to build literacy experiences based on children's interests.

Mathematics Development: Volume 4: Mathematics describes research-based teaching practices to support children's understanding of numbers, geometry, measurement, and patterns (e.g., model comparing the number of objects in two sets, take advantage of daily experiences to discuss measurement concepts). The Intentional Teaching Cards provide developmentally appropriate activities with strategies to support mathematical skills at different levels (e.g., activities that support children in creating patterns or comparing and measuring). Volume 2: Interest Areas includes guidance for creating a mathematically-rich learning environment.

Scientific Reasoning: Volume 5: Science and Technology, Social Studies, & the Arts highlights research-based teaching practices that support experiential learning and scientific inquiry (e.g., providing tools for exploration, describing observable physical changes, asking open-ended questions). The Teaching Guides provide investigations that include learning opportunities and research-based teaching practices to support children in asking questions, exploring, observing, and predicting.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: Volume 2: Interest Areas provides guidance for creating safe indoor and outdoor areas that promote children's movement and physical activity. Volume 6: Objectives for Development and Learning provide several examples of research-based scaffolding strategies for teachers to support children's locomotor, gross motor, and fine motor skills (e.g., demonstrating movements slowly as describing it; labeling children's movements). The Intentional Teaching Cards and Mighty Minutes provide repeated opportunities for children to practice new physical skills (e.g., running, jumping, balancing, grasping, coordinating hand and eye movements).

Curiosity Corner, 2nd Edition

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Approaches to Learning: Curiosity Corner promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's self-regulation and executive functioning skills. The curriculum provides guidance on classroom organization, including a suggested daily schedule and ideas for transitions between activities. The Teacher's Manual offers classroom management strategies such as team cooperation goals and signs/signals (Zero Noise Signals). Children develop executive functioning skills through daily choices during Greetings, Readings & Writings, and Plan & Play, as well as Brain Games specifically designed to scaffold executive functioning skills (e.g., I Spy, What's the Magic Word). Getting Along Together activities (e.g., Stay Cool Steps) help children learn to regulate their emotions and develop problem-solving skills. However, the curriculum includes limited opportunities to engage children in child-initiated play and activities based on their interests. While children select their own learning areas (Learning Labs) during Greetings, Readings & Writings, this part of the day is a very short period (10 minutes in a part-day schedule), and the Plan & Play (dramatic play) scenarios are offered by the teacher.

Social and Emotional Development: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's social and emotional development. Getting Along Together activities are intentionally sequenced learning experiences that promote social and emotional development. For example, learning experiences such as "Using I Messages" and "Naming Others' Feelings" provide formal opportunities for children to practice social interactions. Other learning experiences (e.g., Learning Labs and Plan & Play) offer informal opportunities for such practice. Each unit includes a social and emotional development vocabulary list, and Getting Along Together activities utilize these words. The curriculum also includes guidance to support children as they learn to regulate their emotions and use problem-solving skills to resolve conflicts. Even so, the curriculum provides limited guidance on how to build secure, trusting relationships and culturally and linguistically responsive practices.

Language and Communication: Curiosity Corner consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children in developing language and communication skills. The instructional components (e.g., Greetings, Readings & Writings, Plan & Play, Clues & Questions) described in the Teacher's Manual and Theme Guides provide many formal and informal ways for children to engage in rich oral language exchanges with adults and peers. Story Telling and Retelling (STaR) plans describe ways to engage children in interactive read-alouds that allow them to hear, use, and understand complex language. To support children's vocabulary development, the curriculum offers multiple vocabulary lists for each unit (e.g., Wonderful Words, theme-related, STaR, Getting Along Together) and explicit instruction for vocabulary development within the context of each unit. In addition, Rhyme Time activities (e.g., "Baa, Baa Black Sheep," "My Mirror") promote phonological awareness in playful ways.

Literacy: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's literacy development. It offers varied and meaningful opportunities to discuss, use, and make printed materials. For example, daily activities include signing-in, "reading" the Daily Message, and engaging in STaR activities. STaR activities support literacy learning during daily read-alouds, such as previewing the story, asking various types of questions, and retelling to aid comprehension. Activities within the Instructional Components, such as Learning with Curiosity and the Daily Message, integrate additional research-based practices (e.g., using modeled writing, examining concepts of print, building alphabet knowledge).

Mathematics Development: Curiosity Corner promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's development of mathematical concepts and skills. Math Moments and Math Lab provide intentionally planned, daily math learning experiences that include sequences based on children's developmental progressions. They also offer opportunities to practice mathematical skills and concepts and to use math vocabulary. For example, Math Moments begin with rote counting practice (Count with Curiosity), followed by direct instruction of a concept or skill (Active Instruction), and then children work with a partner to explore the concept or to play a related game (Partner Practice). Math Moments also ask children to apply previously learned concepts and skills to help Curiosity Cat (the program's mascot) solve a problem. The curriculum includes math words within unit vocabulary lists, as well as guidance on how to model and facilitate math talk with children. However, Math Moments and Math Lab are highly structured, offering few opportunities for children to engage in inquiry and creative invention.

Scientific Reasoning: The curriculum promotes research-based teaching strategies to support children's development of scientific reasoning. Science Lab and small group activities offer hands-on science learning experiences that support the development of children's science skills. They allow children to construct knowledge through social interactions with adults and peers. Learning Lab Facilitation Guides provide prompts for teachers to support the development of important inquiry skills, such as making observations, asking questions, and gathering information (e.g., What happened when you mixed the red and yellow water? How will it change if we add more?). The curriculum encourages children to use language and other forms of communication to describe and document their work in the Science Lab (e.g., discuss, draw, or write about your observations). A limitation is that science experiences, including Science Lab, have specific instructions for children to follow. This leaves little room for teachers to build on children's previous experiences and interests or facilitate open-ended investigation. Additionally, other than in science-related units (e.g., Roots and Shoots, Fall into Fall, Healthy Me!), the curriculum does not provide children with multiple, varied, conceptually-related learning experiences in science.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: Curiosity Corner promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's development in this domain. The Teacher's Manual provides general guidance for setting up a safe indoor environment that encourages active physical exploration. Each thematic unit includes daily Move It! activities and suggestions for Outdoor Play/Gross Motor activities that offer regular opportunities to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activities and to practice new physical skills. Most Move It! activities increase children's cognitive understanding of movement. For example, in response to the song "Sammy," children act out different ways they can locomote to the store, such as flying, running, and hopping. The curriculum promotes fine motor skills in Learning Labs (e.g., Writing, Puzzles & Games, Art) and Plan & Play. The Healthy You! unit offers multiple strategies to introduce children to a broad range of health, safety, and nutrition topics. However, the curriculum lacks guidance on creating a safe outdoor environment that encourages physical activity and intentional teaching practices to support children's development of physical skills (e.g., practicing specific skills, providing children individualized feedback).

Galileo® Pre-K Online Curriculum

Full Review & Ratings
Four star rating graphicFull Evidence

Approaches to Learning: Galileo® Pre-K promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's Approaches to Learning. The Galileo Pre-K Curriculum Guidebook (Curriculum Guidebook) provides specific principles to support classroom organization, classroom management strategies (e.g., how to create a predictable daily schedule with a variety of activities; how to manage behaviors through constructive feedback), and practices that foster children's behavioral and cognitive regulation skills. The curriculum also offers general principles to support emotional regulation (e.g., provide positive feedback to children) and strategies to support children's problem-solving skills (e.g., "Peace Steps" as a template to facilitate conflict resolution). The sample daily schedule and activities allow ample opportunities for children to make choices and engage in free play and open-ended exploration. Research shows these experiences are important for supporting children's initiative, curiosity, and creativity.

Social and Emotional Development: Galileo® Pre-K provides a wide array of activity plans intentionally designed to foster social and emotional development. Week-long "model lesson plans" (Galileo G3 Lesson Plans) illustrate how social and emotional activities are sequenced to build upon each other. Within the daily routines described in the Curriculum Guidebook, children are offered many formal and informal opportunities to practice social interaction and relationship skills with their teachers and other children (e.g., large and small group activities, interest centers). The curriculum encourages teachers to consistently use a supportive, positive approach for providing feedback and to serve as role models for children. Even so, there is limited guidance for establishing an emotionally supportive environment, building secure, trusting adult-child relationships, and supporting children as they learn to regulate emotions.

Language and Communication: Galileo® Pre-K consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's language and communication. The Curriculum Guidebook provides general guidance on how to maintain a language-rich environment (e.g., ask open-ended questions, encourage extended conversations). The curriculum offers activities (G3 Activities) and model lesson plans (G3 Lesson Plans) intentionally designed to support children's language and communication skills. Suggested learning activities are developmentally appropriate and based on engaging content, including read-alouds, poems, and songs. The Storyteller G3 Lesson Plans and Storyteller G3 Activities offer additional model lesson plans and activities that focus on language and literacy goals.

Literacy: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's literacy development. The Galileo G3 Activities (G3 Activities) and Storyteller G3 Activities offer varied and meaningful opportunities for children to discuss, use, and make print materials. For example, the curriculum provides activities in the writing and library interest centers, shared reading of theme-based books, and computer-based activities focused on language and literacy goals. Activity plans for read-alouds include strategies for developing critical literacy skills, such as asking questions about letters, words, signs, and labels; modeling reading conventions; and retelling to aid comprehension.

Mathematics Development: Galileo® Pre-K consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's mathematics development. The curriculum includes intentionally planned math learning activities based on children's developmental progressions. The sequence of activities introduces children to key mathematical concepts and procedures (e.g., counting and comparing, identifying numerals, adding, subtracting, learning about shapes, and comprehending spatial concepts) and provides multiple, related opportunities to explore a mathematical concept or skill. The curriculum fosters a mathematically rich learning environment through interest centers (e.g., Cooking Interest Center; Toys, Block, and Building Interest Center) and by introducing children to the language of mathematics. Daily, self-directed play in interest centers provides ongoing opportunities for children to explore math concepts through inquiry and creative invention.

Scientific Reasoning: Galileo® Pre-K provides hands-on science experiences that facilitate the development of inquiry skills, such as making observations, asking questions, and gathering information. Interest centers such as Nature and Science as well as Sand and Water allow children daily opportunities to engage in open exploration. The curriculum offers a sequence of developmentally appropriate activities that foster science literacy skills (e.g., observation, prediction, classification). In addition, many of the activities focused on science provide guidance on how to support children to use language and other forms of communication to describe and document their work.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: Galileo® Pre-K consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's perceptual, motor, and physical development. For example, the curriculum provides regular opportunities to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity during outdoor play time and in games and activities. The G3 Activities include structured games to support physical activity (e.g., Climb and Count, Drawing Dance) and intentional teaching practices to support the development of new physical skills. The curriculum promotes fine motor skills in all interest centers and self-care practices as part of daily routines. In addition, many G3 Activities provide nutrition-related knowledge and personal safety information.

HighScope Preschool Curriculum

Full Review & Ratings
Four star rating graphicFull Evidence

Approaches to Learning: Many of the curriculum's resources, including Approaches to Learning, provide guidance on classroom organization (e.g., establishing predictable routines, minimizing transitions) and research-based teaching practices to support children's executive functioning and emotion regulation skills (e.g., giving children choices, embedding time for children to recall and reflect on experiences of the day, modeling for and coaching children on how to express and regulate emotions).

Social and Emotional Development: Many of the curriculum's resources, including Social and Emotional Development and Lesson Plans for the First 30 Days: Getting Started with HighScope, detail research-based teaching practices that support building positive, trusting relationships with children (e.g., respond attentively to children's interests, ask children questions to get to know them, and respond to children's questions honestly) as well as creating an emotionally supportive environment (e.g., adults take interest in children's ideas and acknowledge children's efforts and accomplishments). The curriculum also highlights the many informal and formal opportunities for children to practice social and emotional skills (e.g., cooperating with peers during block play, creating opportunities for children to act with empathy during greeting time or work time, problem-solving approach to social conflict).

Language and Communication: The Essentials of Active Learning in Preschool and HighScope Preschool Curriculum describe how to integrate research-based teaching practices to scaffold children's expressive and receptive language all throughout the day. For example, the daily schedule includes routines such as "Plan-Do-Review," small groups, mealtimes, and the message board, all of which allow children to be exposed to and use language in meaningful ways.

Literacy: The Essentials of Active Learning in Preschool and HighScope Preschool Curriculum provide several research-based teaching practices to engage children in meaningful literacy experiences, such as daily interactive reading, labeling interest areas, and using the message board. The Key Developmental Indicators provide research-based scaffolding strategies to support specific literacy knowledge and skills, including phonological awareness, alphabetic knowledge, reading, print concepts, book knowledge, and writing.

Mathematics Development: The Numbers Plus Preschool Mathematics Curriculum and Meaningful Math in Preschool: Making Math Count Throughout the Day promote meaningful math learning experiences as part of the daily routine. These math resources feature a range of research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as introducing children to the language of mathematics, promoting children's conceptual understanding, and providing opportunities for hands-on exploration, problem-solving, and inventions.

Scientific Reasoning: The HighScope Preschool Curriculum describes research-based teaching practices to nurture children's curiosity and engage children in hands-on, inquiry-based explorations. Specifically, Science and Technology provides various research-based teaching practices to support children as they observe, explore, and experiment throughout the day with peers and adults (e.g., vignettes and suggested scaffolding strategies ask children to describe observable phenomena, compare and categorize, make predictions, gather information, analyze results).

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: The HighScope Preschool Curriculum promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's gross, perceptual, and fine motor skills. For example, the curriculum recommends providing materials that encourage use of fingers and hands (e.g., squeeze bottles, shovels, writing utensils) as well as large muscle movement (e.g., wheeled toys, mops, large wood blocks). The curriculum also offers activities where children can practice various locomotor skills, including guidance for teachers on how to use language to increase children's body and directional awareness (e.g., large group activities of throwing scarves or practicing yoga poses). However, the curriculum lacks adequate guidance in the areas of health, safety, and nutrition.

Learn Every Day™: The Preschool Curriculum

Full Review & Ratings
Two star rating graphicMinimal Evidence

Approaches to Learning: The curriculum promotes a few research-based teaching practices to support children's approaches to learning, such as guidance on classroom organization (e.g., sample half- and full-day schedules, a chapter on transitions) and classroom management (e.g., remind, redirect, and remove; enact logical consequences; create classroom rules with children). Learn Every Day: The Preschool Curriculum—Foundations for Learning (Foundations for Learning) describes the importance of sensitive, responsive caring but lacks guidance on how to build relationships with children. In addition, most lessons, including those for learning centers, are highly structured and leave little room for open-ended exploration, which research shows is important for nurturing persistence, curiosity, and creativity.

Social and Emotional Development: Learn Every Day promotes a few research-based strategies in this domain. The suggested daily schedule and routines provide formal and informal opportunities for children to interact with peers and practice social skills (e.g., during Center Time, small group experiences, and learning center activities). Foundations for Learning describes the importance of early interactions and relationships. It suggests that teachers help children learn to identify how they feel and teach them basic problem-solving skills. The Volumes offer few activities to help children understand and express their emotions (e.g., invite children to think of ways they can make their bodies show feelings such as happy, excited, proud, and angry; read a book about feelings and talk about how we feel when we are happy, sad, and so on). However, the curriculum provides limited guidance on how to establish an emotionally supportive environment, build secure, trusting relationships with children, and support children's emotion regulation. Additionally, the curriculum lacks guidance on how to resolve conflicts during daily routines.

Language and Communication: The curriculum promotes a few research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as supporting vocabulary development. The Volumes offer suggested vocabulary for each unit and guidance on how to introduce and integrate new vocabulary. Guidance for Small Group and Literacy Center includes some learning experiences that use the sounds of language to develop phonological awareness (e.g., identify rhyming words in a story, invite children to make up rhymes). Lessons offer scripts with mostly known-answer questions that limit opportunities for communication rich with oral language and for teachers' use, modeling, and scaffolding of complex language. Additionally, Learn Every Day lacks guidance on how to facilitate language experiences that build on children's existing knowledge, skills, and interests.

Literacy: The curriculum promotes some research-based teaching practices in this domain. It provides multiple meaningful opportunities for children to discuss, use, and create print materials (e.g., Literacy Center, Small Group, daily sign-in). Guidance for daily read-alouds includes some questions and prompts that promote critical literacy skills, such as concepts about print, text comprehension, and enjoyment of books (e.g., while reading a story, introduce the author, illustrator, and title page; ask children to share what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the story). Learning centers (e.g., Literacy, Fine Motor, Sand and Water) offer meaningful contexts to support children's alphabet knowledge. For example, in the Fine Motor Center, children use a variety of items to spell out or trace the letters of their names. Though emergent writing and "writing center necessities" are described in Foundations for Learning, the thematic units lack guidance on providing varied, meaningful opportunities to develop children's emergent writing skills (e.g., in most writing experiences, children are encouraged to trace their name, letters, or words). In addition, the curriculum includes little evidence for planning literacy experiences based on rich and engaging content or children's interests. 

Mathematics Development: Learn Every Day promotes some research-based teaching practices to support children's development of mathematical concepts and skills. Intentionally planned experiences with math are integrated into Large Group, Small Group, Math Center, as well as other learning center activities. For example, at the Sand and Water Center, teachers encourage children to guess, count, and compare how many cups of rice it will take to fill different size bowls. Learning experiences provide many opportunities to introduce children to the language of mathematics, practice math skills, and apply math purposefully in meaningful contexts (e.g., after reading a story, children compare the school in the story to their own school; collect natural treasures and sort them by attributes, such as color and texture; search for patterns in the classroom). However, the learning experiences do not appear to be sequenced based on children's developmental progressions. Additionally, math learning experiences are highly structured, offering few opportunities for children to engage in inquiry and creative invention.

Scientific Reasoning: The curriculum promotes a few research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as embedding science into daily activities and guiding teachers to support the development of important inquiry skills. For example, learning centers such as Discovery Science and Sand and Water offer daily opportunities for children to engage in hands-on exploration. Foundations for Learning provides principles that explain how children learn about science through everyday activities. The Volumes include prompts for teachers to encourage children to use language and other forms of communication to describe and document their work (e.g., as children smell various scent jars, encourage them to use descriptive and comparative words to describe what they smell). Though the majority of science learning experiences engage children in hands-on exploration, they have specific instructions for children to follow, leaving little room for open-ended exploration. Additional limitations are that science learning experiences do not build on children's natural abilities, prior knowledge, experiences, and interests. The curriculum also lacks multiple, varied conceptually related learning experiences that allow children to explore science concepts in depth.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: The curriculum promotes a few research-based practices to support children's perceptual, motor, and physical development. The curriculum's learning experiences support the development of fine motor skills. For example, the Fine Motor Center and other learning center activities (e.g., Art, Math, and Discovery Science Centers) offer opportunities to cut, paint, write, and draw. This allows children to manipulate small objects as part of learning experiences (e.g., stringing beads to create a pattern, arranging leaves by size). However, while some lessons provide direction for the Outdoor Activities Center, the curriculum lacks a variety of opportunities for children to practice gross motor skills. The Learn Every Day About Safety Unit uses multiple strategies to introduce children to a wide range of personal safety topics (e.g., traffic safety, water safety, first aid), but the curriculum includes little to no guidance on handwashing, self-care skills, and how to create indoor and outdoor environments that encourage active physical exploration.

DLM Early Childhood Express®

Full Review & Ratings
Two star rating graphicMinimal Evidence

Approaches to Learning: The DLM Early Childhood Express® promotes a few research-based teaching practices to support children's approaches to learning, such as providing guidance on classroom organization (e.g., sample schedules, tips to support children during transitions) and scaffolding children's executive functioning skills (e.g., presenting new information in short segments; using tools to facilitate children's memory and attention, such as a "talking stick"). However, the curriculum lacks opportunities for child-initiated play, activities based on children's interests, and learning centers that promote open-ended exploration, which research shows are important for supporting children's attention, persistence, curiosity, and creativity.

Social and Emotional Development: The DLM Early Childhood Express® promotes a few research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as using language to support children's social and emotional development and providing many informal and formal opportunities for children to practice social interaction and relationship skills. However, there is limited evidence of how the curriculum helps teachers establish an emotionally supportive environment and build secure, trusting relationships with children. Furthermore, the curriculum offers structured activities to help children understand emotions and social problem-solving (e.g., puppet shows or storybooks that focus on feelings or peer conflicts), but it lacks guidance on how to support children as they learn to regulate their emotions and resolve conflicts during daily routines and free play.

Language and Communication: The DLM Early Childhood Express® promotes some research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as supporting children's vocabulary development and phonological awareness. The Teacher's Editions offer suggested vocabulary for each unit as well as guidance on how to introduce new vocabulary to children. Daily "Language Time" includes guidance for phonological awareness activities, and these experiences become more complex over the course of the units. However, the curriculum includes less evidence for other research-based teaching practices, such as planning language experiences based on rich and engaging content or children's existing knowledge, skills, and interests (i.e., most content is pre-determined in thematic units and may or may not be interesting or meaningful to the children).

Literacy: The DLM Early Childhood Express® promotes some research-based teaching practices to support literacy, such as providing varied opportunities for children to discuss, use, and make print materials (e.g., ABC Center and Writer's Center, daily writing activities). Furthermore, daily interactive read-alouds provide opportunities for children to develop concepts about print, comprehend text, and enjoy books, which research shows are critical early literacy skills. However, the curriculum includes less evidence for planning literacy experiences based on rich and engaging content or children's existing knowledge, skills, and interests (i.e., most content is pre-determined in thematic units and may or may not be interesting or meaningful to the children).

Mathematics Development: The curriculum promotes some research-based teaching practices to support children's mathematics development. For example, the math curriculum, Building Blocks, offers intentionally planned mathematical learning experiences. The curriculum provides 15-minute "Math Time" each day in a large group, a variety of related small group math activities as part of the classroom's "Math and Science Center," and online math activities as part of Building Blocks. Learning experiences are sequenced based on children's developmental progressions, provide many opportunities to practice mathematical skills, and introduce children to the language of mathematics. However, the activities are highly structured, teacher-directed, and pre-planned, and offer very few opportunities to apply math purposefully in contexts meaningful for children. There are also very few opportunities for children to engage in problem-solving, inquiry, and creative invention. 

Scientific Reasoning: The DLM Early Childhood Express® promotes a few research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as embedding science into daily activities and encouraging children to use language and other forms of communication to describe and document their work. However, the science learning experiences do not build on children's knowledge, skills, and interests, providing little opportunity for children to engage with content that is meaningful to them. Often, the content is not developmentally appropriate (e.g., discussing where rockets go and how they move). Furthermore, the activities and learning centers are pre-planned and teacher directed, which does not allow for children's experiential learning, inquiry, and open-ended investigation.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: The DLM Early Childhood Express® provides a few research-based teaching practices to support children's perceptual, motor, and physical development, such as supporting the development of children's perceptual motor skills (e.g., prompting children to move in different ways, such as galloping and skipping, and asking children to describe their movement) and fine motor skills (e.g., gluing small buttons in an art activity, using stirring sticks to form shapes). While the curriculum provides some physical activities, it lacks ample opportunities for children to practice gross motor skills and self-care skills. Furthermore, the curriculum lacks guidance on how teachers can create a safe indoor and outdoor environment that encourages active physical exploration.

Frog Street Pre-K

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Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Approaches to Learning: Frog Street Pre-K promotes some research-based teaching practices to support children's approaches to learning, such as providing guidance on classroom organization (e.g., predictable daily schedule, games and songs to support transitions) and classroom management (e.g., giving children choices). However, the curriculum lacks opportunities for child-initiated play, activities based on children's interests, and activities that promote open-ended exploration, which research shows are important for supporting children's attention, persistence, curiosity, and creativity.

Social and Emotional Development: Frog Street Pre-K promotes research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as guidance on establishing an emotionally supportive environment. For example, the curriculum's "Conscious Discipline" daily routines (e.g., Greeting Circle) and aspects of the physical space (e.g., We Care Center) help children feel welcome each day and provide spaces for children to express their emotions and ideas. Within the daily routines and activities described in the Teacher Guides, children are offered many formal and informal opportunities to practice social interaction and relationship skills with their teachers and other children (e.g., partner activities, large- and small-group activities).

Language and Communication: Frog Street Pre-K consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's language and communication, such as offering rich oral language opportunities. For example, the daily routines and activities described in the Teacher Guides provide children with a variety of formal and informal opportunities to engage in language and communication with adults and peers. Additionally, the Teacher Guides and Strategies for Intentional Instruction cards offer research-based strategies to engage children during read-alouds, support vocabulary development, and foster phonological awareness.

Literacy: The Teacher Guides and Strategies for Intentional Instruction Cards offer research-based teaching practices to support literacy skills during daily read-alouds, such as asking various types of questions, connecting the story to children's lives, and retelling to aid comprehension. The Morning Message integrates additional research-based teaching practices, such as modeling writing, examining concepts about print, and building alphabet knowledge.

Mathematics Development: Frog Street Pre-K includes intentionally planned daily math learning activities. The curriculum provides detailed guidance on how to introduce children to key mathematical concepts and promote the acquisition of math language and vocabulary. The whole-group math lessons demonstrate specific mathematical concepts or skills using manipulatives and hands-on activities. The practice activities that follow the lesson provide opportunities for individual hands-on practice of math skills, but learning activities provide limited opportunities to explore math through inquiry and creative invention. The mathematical concepts and skills are presented in a developmental progression across the Teacher Guides, with concepts from previous learning integrated with new knowledge and skills. However, at times, the order of the activities does not follow children's developmental progressions, with advanced skills or concepts appearing before foundational skills. Additionally, the weekly math activities do not provide multiple, related opportunities to explore and practice a new mathematical concept or skill.

Scientific Reasoning: Frog Street Pre-K provides ample hands-on science experiences that facilitate the development of inquiry skills, such as making observations, asking questions, and gathering information. Science is well integrated with math, language, literacy, and even social and emotional activities (e.g., compassion for all living things). The science activities are prescribed and teacher directed, leaving little room to build on children's previous experiences and interests or facilitate open-ended investigation. In addition, many of the activities do not focus on developmentally appropriate content that would allow children to engage in meaningful hands-on exploration (e.g., learning how the earth rotates on an axis or around the sun).

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: Frog Street Pre-K promotes some research-based teaching practices to support children's perceptual, motor, and physical development, such as providing many opportunities to practice new physical skills and intentionally scaffolding their development. The Teacher Guides include daily "Moving and Learning" activities, "Outdoor Learning" activities, and several learning centers that promote children's perceptual, fine motor, and gross motor development. Other research-based teaching practices in the areas of developing self-care skills, nutrition, and healthy food consumption are limited.

Opening the World of Learning™ (OWL) ©2014

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Approaches to Learning: OWL promotes some research-based teaching practices to support the development of children's executive functioning skills and emotional and behavioral self-regulation. The curriculum provides guidance on classroom organization (e.g., predictable schedules and tips for transitions) and classroom management strategies (e.g., establishing classroom rules and using visual representation of a daily schedule). Children have daily opportunities to choose learning centers. Activities in the centers support children as they learn to regulate their behavior. However, the curriculum lacks ample opportunities for child-initiated play, activities based on children's interests, and ones that promote open-ended exploration, all of which research shows are important for supporting children's attention, persistence, curiosity, and creativity.

Social and Emotional Development: OWL promotes some research-based teaching practices in this domain. The Teacher Guides provide weekly guidance focused on promoting social and emotional development, an intentional approach to a sequence of learning experiences in this domain, and ways to support children as they learn to regulate their behavior. The Social Emotional Handbook offers 10 "Let's Talk About It" lessons that address specific social and emotional learning goals. Collectively, these structured activities support children as they learn to regulate their emotions, help teachers use language intentionally to support social and emotional development, and guide children to use social problem-solving. However, the curriculum provides limited guidance on establishing an emotionally supportive environment, building secure, trusting adult-child relationships, and using culturally and linguistically responsive practices.

Language and Communication: OWL consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's language and communication. For example, the daily routines and activities described in the Teacher Guides provide children with a variety of formal and informal opportunities to engage in rich oral language opportunities with adults and peers. "Make Every Moment Count" prompts include specific questions and prompts for teachers to facilitate conversations with children during daily routines (e.g., mealtime). The Teacher Guides and Story Time Cards describe ways to engage children in daily, interactive read-alouds that allow children to hear, use, and understand complex language. To support children's vocabulary development, each unit in the curriculum provides weekly lists of oral vocabulary words (e.g., concept words and academic vocabulary), intentional strategies, and visual supports (e.g., vocabulary cards) for teaching these words within the context of the unit.

Literacy: OWL consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's literacy development. It integrates varied, meaningful reading and writing learning experiences throughout each unit of the curriculum. The Teacher Guides and Story Time Cards offer research-based teaching practices to support literacy learning during daily read-alouds, such as asking various types of questions, connecting the story to children's lives, and retelling to aid comprehension. "Today's News" integrates additional research-based teaching practices, such as engaging in shared writing, examining concepts about print, and building alphabet knowledge.

Mathematics Development: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's development of mathematical concepts and skills. Intentionally planned, daily math learning activities are offered through Math Small Groups, the Math Learning Center, and other routine activities (e.g., transitions, circle time). The curriculum provides detailed guidance on how to introduce children to key mathematical concepts and offers many opportunities to practice mathematical skills and concepts. Additionally, the curriculum consistently introduces children to the language of mathematics. Concept word and academic vocabulary lists include relevant mathematical terms, and guidance is provided for teachers on modeling and facilitating math talk with children.

Scientific Reasoning: The curriculum provides some research-based teaching strategies to support children's development of scientific reasoning. OWL provides science experiences through the Science Lab Center, science circle, and demonstrations that facilitate the development of inquiry skills such as making observations, asking questions, and gathering information. Throughout these experiences, children are encouraged to document and share their findings. A limitation is that science activities, even within the science center, are only teacher-directed, leaving little room for teachers to build on children's previous experiences and interests or facilitate open-ended investigation.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: OWL promotes a few research-based teaching practices to support children's Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development. The curriculum frequently engages children in a variety of movement experiences, such as "Sing and Move" activities during morning meeting. It also supports fine motor development through daily experiences in the art and writing centers. However, the curriculum lacks consistent guidance on using intentional teaching practices to support the development of physical and self-care skills and personal safety knowledge. In addition, the curriculum lacks guidance on creating a safe outdoor environment that encourages physical activity.

The InvestiGator Club® PreKindergarten Learning System

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Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Approaches to Learning: InvestiGator PreK promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's approaches to learning, including behavioral self-regulation and executive functioning. For example, the Teacher Guides offer guidance on classroom organization, effective classroom management strategies, and multiple ways to support children during transitions throughout the day. The Teacher Resource Guide describes how to establish positive rules and consistent routines. Learning experiences based on stories in which the curriculum's characters (e.g., Manny Salamander, Bruno Buzzbee) face a dilemma and portray a range of feelings foster the development of emotional, behavioral, and cognitive self-regulation skills. The daily schedule includes opportunities for children to choose Learning Centers that support their behavioral regulation (e.g., taking turns, following directions). However, aside from the abovementioned stories, InvestiGator PreK does not provide direction on how to support children's emotional regulation. The Social and Emotional Development Kit is offered by the publisher for an additional cost, or as part of the The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes Learning System (Just for Threes) curriculum. This kit provides guidance on how to support children's emotional regulation. An additional limitation is that the curriculum lacks ample opportunities for child-initiated play, activities based on children's interests, and those that promote open-ended exploration.

Social and Emotional Development: InvestiGator PreK promotes research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as establishing an emotionally supportive environment. The Teacher Resource Guide includes related guidance in the "Social Emotional Development" and "Establishing a Community of Learners" sections. For example, these sections suggest teachers create a climate of kindness and generosity, speak respectfully to children, and respond to them with sensitivity and patience. The curriculum offers structured opportunities for teachers to use language to foster social and emotional development (e.g., stories and discussion about the curriculum's characters). Daily routines and activities, as described in the Teacher Guides, offer many formal and informal opportunities for children to practice social interaction and relationship skills with their teachers and other children (e.g., Opening Circle Time, Small Group, and Learning Centers). However, the curriculum provides limited guidance on how to build secure, trusting adult-child relationships. Additionally, InvestiGator PreK lacks an intentional sequence of learning experiences to promote social and emotional learning and guidance on how to support children as they learn to regulate their emotions. However, this is provided in the Social and Emotional Development Kit, offered for an additional cost or as part of the Just for Threes curriculum.

Language and Communication: InvestiGator PreK consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's language and communication skills. Daily routines and activities (e.g., Opening Circle, Small Group, Learning Centers) provide many ongoing opportunities for rich oral language experiences as well as formal and informal opportunities for children to engage in social conversations with adults and peers. Whole-group literacy lessons offer daily opportunities for interactive read-alouds using dialogic reading, a research-based practice for promoting children's oral language development. To support children's vocabulary development, the curriculum suggests ways to use theme-related vocabulary throughout the day. In addition, Everyday Literacy and Small Group times incorporate learning experiences which use the sounds of language to develop children's phonological awareness.

Literacy: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support learning in this domain, including concepts of print, emergent writing skills, and alphabet knowledge. Daily Routines, Learning Centers, Everyday Literacy, as well as Small and Whole Group Literacy activities provide varied and meaningful opportunities for children to discuss, use, and make print materials. For example, the curriculum offers activities such as Reading and Writing Learning Centers, shared reading of Flapboards and theme-based books, and shared writing. Activity plans for read-alouds include multiple strategies for developing critical literacy skills (e.g., asking questions about letters, words, signs, and labels; modeling reading conventions; and retelling to aid comprehension).

Mathematics Development: The curriculum promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's development of mathematical concepts and skills. Daily lesson plans for Small Group and Whole Group include intentionally planned math learning activities, and Quick Minutes suggest ways to incorporate learning about numbers and counting throughout the day. The curriculum provides guidance on how to introduce children to key mathematical skills and concepts and offers many opportunities for practice (e.g., Quick Minutes, Learning Centers). In addition, it promotes a mathematically rich learning environment (e.g., manipulatives, blocks) and math vocabulary is introduced explicitly and utilized in suggested math learning activities. While some learning experiences offer opportunities for children to use math for a purpose (e.g., counting snacks, measuring the height of each plant), most math experiences do not involve everyday problems during routines and play, or engage children in activities that promote inquiry and creative invention.

Scientific Reasoning: The curriculum promotes research-based teaching strategies to support children's development of scientific reasoning. InvestiGator PreK provides hands-on science learning experiences through Science Center, Small Group, and Investigation Launches that facilitate the development of inquiry skills, such as making observations, asking questions, and gathering information. For example, the first unit focuses on what it means to investigate, and each subsequent unit has one central investigation that follows the same structure: look and ask, try it and try it again, think about it, and make meaning. Throughout these experiences, children are encouraged to document and share their findings (e.g., share verbally, draw a picture). A limitation is that many science activities, even within the Science Learning Center, have specific instructions for children to follow, leaving little room for teachers to build on children's previous experiences and interests or facilitate open-ended investigation.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: The curriculum promotes research-based teaching strategies to support children's development in this domain. The Teacher Resource Guide and Many Languages, One Classroom provide guidance for creating safe indoor and outdoor areas that promote children's movement and physical activity. Curriculum resources (e.g., Quick Minutes related to Music, Gross Motor Skills, and Outdoor Play) describe activities that foster the development of locomotor and gross motor skills. The curriculum also supports fine motor development through daily experiences in the Learning Centers, such as Writing, Math, and Art. The Teacher Guides offer specific guidance for health and nutrition in the Daily Routines. Quick Minutes offer the only direction for physical activity, and teachers may or may not choose to use Quick Minutes in this domain. Thus, the frequency of moderate to vigorous activity and opportunities to practice new physical skills is unclear. In addition, the curriculum lacks guidance on how teachers can intentionally scaffold the development of children's physical skills (e.g., suggestions for modeling or specific feedback).

The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes Learning System

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Approaches to Learning: Just for Threes consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's approaches to learning, including emotional and behavioral self-regulation and executive functioning. For example, the Let's Investigate Teacher Guide offers guidance on classroom organization, such as sample whole-day and half-day schedules and multiple ways to support children during transitions throughout the day. The Teacher Resource Guide describes how to establish positive rules and consistent routines. Learning experiences based on the curriculum's characters (e.g., Manny Salamander, Bruno Buzzbee) center around stories and discussions that foster the development of emotional, behavioral, and cognitive self-regulation skills. The Building Social and Emotional Skills Activity Guide provides additional guidance on supporting children as they learn to regulate their emotions. For example, it offers social coaching prompts (e.g., Validate children's emotions, follow with neutral words, and offer solutions, letting children choose the one that works for them). The daily schedule includes opportunities for children to choose learning centers that support their behavioral regulation (e.g., taking turns, following directions). A limitation is that, though learning centers allow for some open-ended exploration, there are limited opportunities for child-initiated play and activities based on children's interests.

Social and Emotional Development: Just for Threes consistently promotes research-based teaching practices in this domain. The Teacher Resource Guide provides guidance focused on establishing an emotionally supportive environment in the "Social Emotional Development" and "Establishing a Community of Learners" sections. For example, the curriculum suggests teachers create a climate of kindness and generosity, speak respectfully to children, and respond to them with sensitivity and patience. The Building Social and Emotional Skills Activity Guide (part of the Social and Emotional Development Kit), as well as the units Marvelous Me! and Let's Investigate, include intentionally sequenced learning experiences that promote social and emotional learning and support teachers in using language to foster children's social and emotional development. Daily routines and activities, as described in the Teacher Guides, offer many formal and informal opportunities for children to practice social interaction and relationship skills with their teachers and other children (e.g., Opening Circle Time, Small Group, and Learning Centers).

Language and Communication: Just for Threes consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's language and communication skills. Daily routines and activities (e.g., Opening Circle, Small Group, Learning Centers) include many ongoing opportunities for rich oral language experiences as well as formal and informal opportunities for children to engage in verbal interactions with adults and peers. For example, lessons in the Marvelous Me! unit provide prompts (e.g., What sounds do you think we will hear on our walk? Where should we go to hear lots of sounds?) that guide teachers on how to engage children in extended discourse. Whole-group literacy lessons offer daily opportunities for interactive read-alouds using dialogic reading, a research-based practice for promoting children's oral language development. To support children's vocabulary development, the curriculum provides guidance on how to use theme-related vocabulary throughout the day. In addition, Everyday Literacy and Small Group times incorporate learning experiences from the Extension Activities and Marvelous Me! unit which use the sounds of language to develop children's phonological awareness.

Literacy: The curriculum promotes research-based teaching practices to support learning in this domain. Opening Circle, Learning Centers, Everyday Literacy, as well as Small Group and Whole Group Literacy activities, provide varied and meaningful opportunities for children to discuss, use, and make print materials. For example, the curriculum offers activities such as Reading and Writing Learning Centers, shared reading of Flapboards and trade books, and dictation. Activity plans for read-alouds include strategies for developing critical literacy skills, such as asking questions about letters, words, signs, and labels; modeling reading conventions; and retelling to aid comprehension. However, the curriculum included less evidence for planning literacy experiences based on rich and engaging content or children's existing knowledge, skills, and interests. An additional limitation is that most of the curriculum's learning experiences that support alphabet knowledge are isolated activities rather than embedded in meaningful contexts.

Mathematics Development: The curriculum promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's development of mathematical concepts and skills. Lesson plans for Small Group and Whole Group (e.g., Extension Activities) include intentionally planned math learning activities. Quick Minutes, and Choices from the Let's Investigate Teacher Guide are embedded as Whole Group activities, which may also be used to incorporate learning about numbers throughout the day. The curriculum provides guidance on how to introduce children to key mathematical concepts and offers many opportunities to practice mathematical skills and concepts (e.g., Quick Minutes, Learning Centers). In addition, it promotes a mathematically-rich environment (e.g., blocks, manipulatives), and math vocabulary is introduced explicitly and utilized in suggested math learning activities. While some learning experiences offer opportunities for children to use math for a purpose (e.g., counting snacks, measuring the height of each plant), most math experiences do not involve everyday problems during routines and play or engage children in activities that promote inquiry and creative invention.

Scientific Reasoning: The curriculum promotes research-based teaching strategies to support children's development of scientific reasoning. Just for Threes provides hands-on science learning experiences through Science Center, Small Group, and Whole Group activities that facilitate the development of inquiry skills, such as making observations, asking questions, and gathering information. For example, the Just for Threes Teacher Guide weekly lesson planners include science learning experiences from the Let's Investigate Teacher Guide (e.g., Science Quick Minutes, Science Choices) as well as learning experiences from the Just for Threes Teacher Guide (e.g, Extension Activities, Marvelous Me! unit). Through the Let's Investigate unit, children learn a process for investigating—look and ask, try it, and try it again, think about it, and make meaning. Throughout science learning experiences, children are encouraged to document and share their findings (e.g., share verbally, draw a picture). A limitation is that many science activities, even within the Science Learning Center, have specific instructions for children to follow, leaving little room for teachers to build on children's previous experiences and interests or facilitate open-ended investigation.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: The curriculum promotes research-based teaching strategies to support children's development in this domain. The Teacher Resource Guide provides guidance for creating safe indoor and outdoor areas that promote children's movement and physical activity. Curriculum resources (e.g., The Outdoor and Creative Play Learning Cards, More InvestiGator Club Songs, Chants, Rhymes and Games, Quick Minutes) describe activities that foster the development of locomotor and gross motor skills. The curriculum also supports fine motor development through daily experiences in the Learning Centers, such as Writing, Math, and Art. The Let's Investigate Teacher Guide offers some specific guidance for health and nutrition in the Daily Routines section, as do some lessons in the Just for Threes Teacher Guide. Even so, teachers may or may not choose to use Quick Minutes that focus on activities in this domain, and the curriculum does not discuss how to use the Outdoor and Creative Play Learning Cards. Thus, the frequency of moderate to vigorous activity and opportunities to practice new physical skills is unclear. In addition, the curriculum lacks guidance on how teachers can intentionally scaffold the development of children's physical skills (e.g., suggestions for modeling or specific feedback).

Tools of the Mind®

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

Approaches to Learning: Tools of the Mind® consistently supports children's skills in the domain of Approaches to Learning. The curriculum is built on the Vygotskian idea that the goal of early childhood education is to foster children's self-regulation as they gain content knowledge. In addition to establishing predictable routines and activities throughout the year, the curriculum provides a variety of activities intentionally designed to promote self-regulation skills. For example, daily Opening Group activities such as "Fingerplays," "Chants," "Do What I Do," and "Physical Self-Regulation Games" develop children's working memory and self-regulation skills. Other activities, such as "Classroom Rules" (a plan created by a small group of children) or "Pretend Transitions," provide additional opportunities to practice physical self-regulation and develop executive function skills. Daily activities (e.g., Free Choice, Mystery Games, Make-Believe Play Practice) provide children with ample opportunities to initiate play and engage in open-ended exploration, which research shows support children's creativity.

Social and Emotional Development: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's social and emotional development. Tools of the Mind® includes guidance on how to establish a strong classroom community among children and adults (e.g., Community Building Games). With a focus on learning through social interactions, the daily large and small group activities, such as Make-Believe Play, Buddy Reading, and Share the News, provide social contexts for children to practice social interaction and relationship skills. In addition, these activities offer opportunities for teachers to scaffold children's learning as they develop emotional regulation skills, social problem-solving, perspective-taking, and emotional understanding. For example, during Make-Believe Play, teachers introduce and reinforce the use of specific language for expressing ideas, thoughts, and feelings to others.

Language and Communication: Tools of the Mind® consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's language and communication skills. The curriculum provides ongoing opportunities for rich oral language experiences based on topics interesting and relevant to young children (e.g., family, pets, grocery store). It offers multiple possibilities for dialogue and engagement. Teachers are guided to use, model, and scaffold children's language. For example, during Make-Believe Play, children choose and play characters based on the theme, and teachers elaborate on children's actions and interactions, adding complexity to children's oral language. Other activities, such as interactive read-alouds (Story Labs), Buddy Reading, and Opening Group activities (e.g., songs, chants, and games), support vocabulary development and provide ongoing opportunities to use and understand complex language. For example, in Story Lab activities such as "Active Listening" and "Connection," children listen to the story and then turn to a peer and discuss the book.

Literacy: The curriculum consistently supports the development of literacy skills through varied authentic opportunities for children to discuss, use, and make print materials. Each day's Opening Group time incorporates print in the form of illustrated poems, songs, charts, and chants that increase in complexity over the year. Make-Believe Play involves making print-based props (e.g., grocery lists, restaurant menus) for play scenarios that children plan. Story Lab activities use engaging children's books and magazines to support children's development of critical literacy skills, such as listening comprehension strategies, making predictions and inferences, building vocabulary, and conversing with peers about stories. The curriculum emphasizes the importance of written language (even if the mark is a scribble) to help children remember and express their inner thinking. Scaffolded writing is used in many activities (e.g., Message of the Day, Play Planning), encouraging children to draw and write any letter or word parts for authentic purposes.

Mathematics Development: Tools of the Mind® consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's mathematics development. Intentionally designed math activities and games, with suggestions for how to increase complexity as the year progresses, provide children with ample opportunities to develop mathematical skills and concepts. Math is introduced as a "tool for thinking" and is used to record data (e.g., Weather Graphing) and solve problems (Mystery Math games), and as part of science activities and Make-Believe Play. Activities with materials such as puzzles, manipulatives, calendars, and blocks are used to promote conceptual understanding and introduce children to math vocabulary. For example, the "Remember and Replicate" activity uses playdough as a mode for producing shapes and arranging them in different ways, using vocabulary words to describe position, size, and shape (e.g., first, round, long, behind).

Scientific Reasoning: Tools of the Mind® promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's scientific reasoning. Science Eyes, the main science activity in the curriculum, engages children in focused observations, communication, and documentation once or twice a week. Working with a partner, children describe and discuss observations in detail and then document them in their science journals using drawing and writing. Teachers are guided to ask questions that encourage in-depth observations using different senses (e.g., "Now observe something different. What else do you notice?") and to scaffold the use of science vocabulary. As the year progresses, children participate in simple science experiments, exploring topics such as actions and reactions, force, and motion. However, limited weekly time is allocated for science learning, and there is no guidance on how to integrate science into other domains of the curriculum.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: Tools of the Mind® promotes a few research-based teaching practices in this domain, such as providing opportunities for daily physical activity, practice of new physical skills, and the development of fine motor skills. However, physical skills are addressed indirectly through participation in activities that focus on self-regulation skills. Movement games, such as "Freeze Game," "Do What I Do," and "Pattern Movement," are incorporated into every day's Opening Time. Guidance for these games includes learning trajectories for gross motor development and some instructions about how to support children to participate successfully. There are also highly targeted learning activities for fine motor development (e.g., Graphics Practice). However, the curriculum lacks direction on how to create a safe outdoor environment that encourages active physical exploration, as well as intentional guidance to support the development of self-care skills, handwashing, personal safety, and nutrition.