Big Day for PreK™ offers learning experiences and materials that support children's social and emotional, academic, and physical development. The curriculum is organized into eight thematic units. Each unit includes weekly and daily lessons with whole-group learning activities, small group instruction, and learning centers.
Summary of Curriculum Review
- Promotes research-based teaching practices in all Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) domains, but promotes few research-based teaching practices to support the Scientific Reasoning domain
- Provides sequences of learning that gradually build children's knowledge and skills and ways to individualize learning experiences based on children's strengths and needs
- Specifies developmentally appropriate learning goals throughout all curriculum activities
- Promotes ongoing observations of children's learning and development
- Provides a range of strategies and resources to support parent and family engagement
- Offers comprehensive standardized training and materials to support implementation
- Provides specific prompts to extend children's learning throughout activities
- Gives specific guidance to scaffold the development and learning of children who are dual language learners (DLLs)
- Offers specific adaptations of learning activities for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs and some guidance on how to ensure the physical environment is fully accessible
- Provides strategies to make learning experiences responsive to individual children's strengths and needs
- Lacks ample opportunities for child-initiated play, activities based on children's interests, and open-ended exploration
- Lacks guidance on culturally responsive interactions, learning experiences, and materials
- Provides limited guidance on how to incorporate children's home languages into the learning experiences and environment
Cost of Curriculum
Big Day for PreK™ (English Edition): $2,999 per classroom
Cost of Professional Development
Getting Started Courses: Included in price of curriculum
Contact the publisher for the most updated information on costs of the curriculum and follow-up professional development courses and coaching.
Availability in Other Languages
Big Day for PreK™ (English/Spanish Edition): $3,830
Center-based preschool programs for children 3–5 years old
Curriculum Materials Reviewed by Raters
All materials from Big Day for PreK™ were purchased and reviewed in 2017. These materials included:
- Teacher Welcome Kit (e.g., Professional Handbook)
- BIG Theme Boxes (e.g., Teaching Guides)
- BIG Wall Chart Box
- BIG Book Box and Little Book Boxes
- BIG Learning Box
- Big Day Online
Evidence Base for Child Outcomes
Evidence from research demonstrates that the curriculum has been associated with children's positive learning outcomes. The curriculum has been implemented and directly studied in early childhood programs, and the research showed significant, positive effects on children's developmental outcomes. Evidence of effectiveness has been obtained in rigorous research studies, such as randomized controlled trials or regression discontinuity designs. Research studies on the curriculum have optimally included multiple, diverse groups of children and teachers.
At the time of this review, there are no available published research studies on Big Day for PreK™. The publisher, Scholastic, has conducted two studies without comparison groups. In these studies, results on the Scholastic assessment indicated significant growth in children's oral language, phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, and mathematics after children attended Big Day for PreK™ classrooms. More rigorous research published in peer-reviewed journals is needed in order to establish evidence for the effect of Big Day for PreK™ on children's positive learning outcomes.
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.
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 PreK™ provides 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.
Scope and Sequence
The curriculum includes an organized developmental scope and sequence to support children's development and learning. A scope and sequence outlines what the curriculum focuses on and how the plans and materials support children at different levels of development. The scope refers to the areas of development addressed by the curriculum; the sequence includes plans and materials for learning experiences that progressively build from less to more complex, with the goal of supporting children as they move through the developmental progressions. A content-rich curriculum ensures that sequences of learning experiences include multiple, related opportunities for children to explore a concept or skill with increasing depth. Sequences of learning experiences should be flexible to respond to individual children's interests, strengths, and needs.
Scope: Big Day for PreK™ clearly identifies nine learning domains: Social-Emotional Development, Oral Language, Emergent Reading, Emergent Writing, Mathematics, Science and Health, Social Studies, Fine Arts, and Technology and Media. The Teaching Guides provide daily lesson plans, learning goals, and teaching practices to support children's development in these domains.
Sequence: Big Day for PreK™ provides sequences of learning experiences that gradually build children's knowledge and skills as they move through the developmental progressions in all Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) domains. The Teaching Guides offer multiple, related opportunities for children to explore concepts and skills in all domains. Learning experiences include "One-to-One Follow-Ups" and "Modifications" to individualize based on children's development and special needs. There is less flexibility to adapt sequences of learning experiences based on children's interests.
Alignment with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF)
The curriculum is aligned with the ELOF. Aligning a curriculum with the ELOF identifies the extent to which ELOF domains and sub-domains are addressed in the curriculum. Curricula that are fully aligned with the ELOF are comprehensive and cover all areas of children's learning and development described in the ELOF.
Alignment with the ELOF: A thorough review of all of the curriculum materials in relationship to the ELOF domains and sub-domains indicates that Big Day for PreK™ is fully aligned with the ELOF. The learning experiences and centers (e.g., Reading and Listening Center, Math Center, and Dramatic Play Center) described in the Teaching Guides provide opportunities for children to build skills in each of the ELOF domains and sub-domains.
Learning Goals for Children
The curriculum specifies learning goals for children. The curriculum's learning goals are objectives for children's development and learning across domains. Learning goals should be measurable and developmentally appropriate. Measurable learning goals focus on skills, behaviors, and knowledge that are observable; developmentally appropriate learning goals are consistent with well-established developmental progressions. Teachers should be able to use a curriculum's learning goals to individualize learning experiences for all children, such as children from diverse cultures, children who are dual language learners (DLLs), children who are tribal language learners, and children with disabilities or other special needs.
Learning Goals: Big Day for PreK™ provides measurable, developmentally appropriate learning goals throughout its curriculum materials. The Professional Handbook describes "Pathways to Readiness" with goals for pre-emergent, beginning, emerging, and developed skills. Furthermore, each Teaching Guide ends with a "Knowledge, Skills, and Concepts" chart that summarizes the learning goals covered in that unit. All learning activities in the Teaching Guides specify learning goals, and the learning activities support children in making progress toward these learning goals. The curriculum lacks guidance on how to use the learning goals with diverse children or how to use the learning goals to individualize learning experiences for all children.
Ongoing Child Assessment
The curriculum provides guidance on ongoing child assessment. Ongoing child assessment is a process of gathering information to understand and support children's development over time. Information gathered through observation and documentation helps inform curriculum planning, teaching, and individualizing for all children. Ongoing child assessment can also be used to periodically complete standardized and structured assessment instruments to evaluate children's developmental progress.
Ongoing Observation and Documentation: The Professional Handbook describes how teachers can use informal observations, portfolios, anecdotal observation records, and checklists to understand children's developmental progress over time. To support this process, all Teaching Guides include weekly reminders for which assessment tools should be used, as well as specific prompts embedded throughout learning activities for teachers to observe children. Finally, the online Teacher Space offers downloadable forms such as observation guides and anecdotal records.
Standardized and Structured Assessment Instruments: Big Day for PreK™ encourages programs to use the publisher's standardized and structured assessment instrument, the Scholastic Early Childhood Inventory. The curriculum describes how assessment tools should be age and linguistically appropriate, but the curriculum does not discuss the importance of assessment instruments that are valid, reliable, and individually or culturally appropriate.
Parent and Family Engagement
The curriculum promotes parent and family engagement. Parent and family engagement is a collaborative and strengths-based process through which early childhood teachers, families, and children build positive and goal-oriented relationships. It is a shared responsibility of families and staff that is built on mutual respect for the roles and strengths each has to offer. The curriculum provides culturally and linguistically responsive strategies to communicate with families and to engage families in children's learning.
Communicating with Families: The Professional Handbook offers strategies to share information with families (e.g., writing letters, parent-teacher conferences). The online Teacher Space provides materials that can be downloaded to share with families or directly accessed online by families, such as letters about what the children are learning. These materials for families are translated into Spanish, and the Professional Handbook suggests that teachers should reach out to colleagues or community organizations to support communication with families in their home languages. However, the curriculum does not provide specific guidance on how to communicate in culturally responsive ways. Additionally, the curriculum lacks information on how to learn from families about children's development.
Engaging Families: The curriculum provides multiple resources to support parent and family engagement. For example, the online Family Space includes activities, take-home books, and other resources for parents to extend their children's learning at home, all of which are offered in English and Spanish. All Teaching Guides include sections on "Engaging Families and the Community," which provide examples for how to include family and community members in the classroom. While the resources on parent and family engagement are plentiful, there is limited consideration for how to engage parents from diverse cultures, parents who speak languages other than English or Spanish, or parents with disabilities or other special needs.
Professional Development and Materials to Support Implementation
The curriculum offers professional development and materials to support implementation and continuous improvement. Professional development includes gaining the knowledge and skills required for effective implementation of a curriculum. Standardized training procedures include initial and ongoing training to support education staff as they learn to implement a curriculum with fidelity. Standardized training procedures provide consistent content and delivery methods across training sessions. Curriculum materials to support implementation include resources that come with a curriculum to help education staff understand how to use it. The materials may also include resources to help education managers and coaches support education staff to implement the curriculum effectively.
Professional Development: Big Day for PreK™ offers one standardized initial training that is included in the cost of the curriculum. It is offered as either a half- or full-day training, which can be provided in person or as a webinar. Furthermore, Big Day for PreK™ provides a range of courses that programs can use to support their ongoing professional development needs. They run a free professional development webinar series that focuses on domain-specific teaching practices. They also offer several half- and full-day in-person courses available at an additional cost that focus on a range of training topics, such as family engagement. Finally, Big Day for PreK™ can provide individualized coaching sessions that include collaboratively setting goals and thinking about the specific needs of children and teachers in a program.
Curriculum Materials to Support Implementation: Big Day for PreK™ includes a comprehensive set of materials to support implementation. The Professional Handbook offers specific guidance for implementation of the curriculum, such as how to set up the learning environment, an overview of the Teaching Guides, how to differentiate instruction for all learners, and how to implement best practices in each of the learning domains. Each Teaching Guide includes daily lessons that clearly describe how to implement learning experiences, with lists of materials, specific teaching practices, and learning goals. The online Teacher Space provides additional helpful resources for teachers, such as a "Lesson Planner," assessment tools, and a "Family Space."
- Fidelity Tool: Big Day for PreK™ offers the In-Classroom Observation Checklist, which can be used to assess fidelity of implementation. The tool guides observation in different areas, such as classroom environment, instructional materials, family involvement, and classroom management.
Learning Experiences and Interactions
The curriculum promotes rich learning experiences and interactions to support development across domains. Rich learning experiences support and extend children's knowledge, understanding of concepts, and skills across domains. As children actively explore their learning environment by manipulating objects and investigating concepts, teachers interact with them to extend their exploration, thinking, and communication. The curriculum offers children ample opportunities to engage in hands-on exploration and provides teachers with guidance on how to extend children's 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.
Active Exploration: While the Professional Handbook describes the importance of hands-on exploration for children's learning (e.g., encouraging children to express themselves creatively with a variety of materials in the learning centers), the Teaching Guides provide limited opportunities for preschoolers to actively engage in hands-on exploration. All activities, including learning centers, are structured and teacher directed, leaving children little room to engage with materials in open-ended ways and experiment with materials.
Interactions That Extend Children's Learning: Many of the curriculum's resources provide guidance on and examples of how teachers engage in interactions that extend children's learning. All Teaching Guides include weekly "Teacher and Child Interactions" charts that provide examples and strategies for meaningful interactions that extend children's thinking and communication. For example, to support a teacher's quality of feedback, the chart suggests, "When children name the animals they think might live in each habitat, ask them to explain their responses ... ‘Why do you think sharks live in the ocean? What do sharks need that an ocean has?' " Similarly, the BookStix provide specific prompts (e.g., what, why, and how open-ended questions) for teachers to extend children's thinking and communication during daily book reading.
Individualization: The curriculum provides specific guidance on how to individualize learning experiences for all children. The Teaching Guides frequently include "Supporting English Language Learners," providing specific adaptations for learning activities (e.g., using visual tools, explicit vocabulary instruction). Similarly, throughout the Teaching Guides, each "Big Learning Experience" includes modifications for children with disabilities or other special needs. The curriculum provides minimal guidance on how to incorporate children's cultures throughout learning activities or learning centers.
Learning Environments and Routines
The curriculum provides guidance on how to set up rich learning environments and developmentally appropriate routines. Rich learning environments are nurturing spaces that support the development of all young children. The curriculum provides guidance on how to design developmentally appropriate schedules, routines, and indoor and outdoor opportunities for choice, play, exploration, and experimentation. Learning environments include age-appropriate equipment, materials, and supplies. They also reflect home cultures and are flexible to support the changing ages, interests, and characteristics of a group of children over time.
Environment: The Professional Handbook provides guidance on how to arrange the classroom, create a safe space, and set up engaging learning centers that support children's development in the ELOF domains. The Professional Handbook and Teaching Guides provide some suggestions for ensuring the physical environment is accessible for children with specific disabilities or special needs. However, the curriculum lacks guidance on how to design the outdoor environment and minimally addresses how to include children's cultures or home languages in the physical environment.
Learning Materials: Big Day for PreK™ provides developmentally appropriate learning materials, such as books, magnetic letters, and manipulatives (e.g., snap cubes, attribute blocks). The Teaching Guides provide suggestions for learning materials to use in specific activities and learning centers (e.g., variety of blocks, such as hollow, unit, and handmade blocks). The curriculum provides some guidance for ensuring that the learning materials meet the unique needs of children with disabilities or other special needs, but the curriculum lacks adequate guidance on how to select learning materials that authentically represent the cultures, ethnicities, and home languages of children in the program.
Schedule and Routines: The Professional Handbook provides guidance on creating and posting the daily schedule and preparing for transitions. It also describes the specific classroom routines organized into three categories: meet and greet routines, engagement routines, and wrap-up routines. The organization of the Teaching Guides reiterates the guidance on how to establish a daily schedule and routines. The curriculum acknowledges the need to be flexible with the daily schedule, but it lacks specific discussion of how to adjust schedules and routines based on individual children's needs and backgrounds.
The curriculum supports cultural responsiveness. Cultural responsiveness is a strengths-based approach to teaching and caregiving rooted in respect and appreciation for the role of culture in children's learning and development. A culturally responsive curriculum prompts teachers to learn about each child's strengths, abilities, experiences, and interests as developed within the child's family and culture. The curriculum provides guidance on how to modify and enhance curriculum plans and materials to build on these strengths, abilities, experiences, and interests with the goal of incorporating each child's culture into the classroom.
Interactions: Big Day for PreK™ lacks guidance on how to interact with diverse children and families in culturally responsive ways.
Learning Experiences: The curriculum does not offer any guidance on how to provide learning experiences that build on children's and families' traditions, cultures, values, and beliefs. The curriculum includes one activity at the end of the year to invite "cultural friends... parents, grandparents, caregivers, or neighbors who come from another country" to share a story, tradition, or food with the children, which acknowledges diverse cultures and ethnicities, but it does not necessarily authentically reflect children and families in the program.
Learning Environment: The curriculum provides some learning materials that reflect diverse children and families (e.g., books). However, the curriculum provides minimal guidance on how to select learning materials that represent the cultures and ethnicities of children and families in the program. Throughout the curriculum materials, only a few specific examples are provided (e.g., including multicultural figures in the block area, ensuring that dress-up clothes reflect children's diversity).
The curriculum supports linguistic responsiveness. Linguistic responsiveness refers to teaching practices that support the learning, development, and engagement of children from diverse linguistic backgrounds. It includes supports for continued development of children's home or tribal languages by authentically incorporating children's languages into the learning environment. Furthermore, linguistically responsive practices can facilitate English acquisition. The curriculum provides scaffolding strategies to support children at any level of English knowledge to fully participate in the curriculum's learning experiences.
Scaffolding Strategies: The Professional Handbook discusses the importance of individualization for children who are DLLs and provides specific teaching practices to support their development and learning. Furthermore, specific scaffolding strategies for children who are DLLs are embedded throughout the learning activities in the Teaching Guides.
Home and Tribal Languages: Big Day for PreK™ provides many classroom materials translated into Spanish, such as wall charts, finger plays, and songs. While the curriculum states, "Honor the diverse cultures and languages of your children," it lacks adequate guidance on how to incorporate children's home languages into the learning experiences and environment. Tribal languages are not addressed.
Individualization for Children with Disabilities, Suspected Delays, or Other Special Needs
The curriculum provides guidance on how to individualize for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs. Individualization for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs includes providing more specialized supports for children to access and participate in learning, social experiences, and activities. The curriculum's guidance for specialized supports includes specific teaching practices and ways of interacting with children, as well as adaptations to daily schedules, learning activities, and the learning environment. Individualizing for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs enables all children to access, participate, and thrive in early learning settings.
Teaching Practices and Interventions: The Professional Handbook provides a general overview of adaptations for children with disabilities or other special needs (e.g., teach to children's strengths, address children's needs with special scaffolding). It also describes how teachers can use the "One-to-One Follow-Ups" to provide responsive instruction, all of which follow a similar structure of "If you observe..., then adapt..." Finally, the Teaching Guides provide specific modifications for each "Big Learning Experience" in relation to certain disabilities.
Learning Environment: The Professional Handbook includes some adaptations to ensure learning materials and the physical space are accessible for children with disabilities or other special needs (e.g., adding a screen magnifier, using visual posters, providing easy-to-grip markers). The suggested modifications for each "Big Learning Experience" often refer to making the materials and physical space accessible for specific activities (e.g., rearranging physical space so that children in wheelchairs can participate). However, universal design principles are not discussed, and the Teacher Guides do not provide consistent guidance embedded throughout on how to ensure the physical environment and learning materials are fully accessible to children with disabilities or other special needs.
Individualization Based on Interests, Strengths, and Needs
The curriculum offers guidance on how to individualize based on children's interests, strengths, and needs. Individualization is a process of planning and implementing learning experiences that are responsive to each child's interests, strengths, and needs. Teachers reflect on their observations of each child and then plan the most effective ways to support each child's learning and development. When learning experiences are tailored to children's interests, they are more engaging and meaningful to children. Because children may vary in their developmental progressions, it is also important that the curriculum supports teachers in planning learning experiences that are responsive to individual children's strengths and needs.
Individualization Based on Interests: Big Day for PreK™ does not describe the importance of or offer guidance on how to plan learning experiences that build on individual children's interests. Learning experiences are pre-planned, and there is no guidance on how to modify them based on individual children's interests.
Individualization Based on Strengths and Needs: The curriculum provides a variety of strategies to make learning experiences responsive to individual children's strengths and needs. For example, each "Big Learning Experience" provides modifications for 3-year-olds as well as enrichment modifications. Additionally, the learning activities offer "Responsive Instruction: One-to-One Follow-Ups," which provide suggested scaffolding strategies for children with particular needs.