The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes Learning System is a full year of instruction specifically for 3-year-olds. The curriculum is designed to help children develop readiness skills and encourages cognitive, physical, and emotional growth while serving as a bridge to The InvestiGator Club® PreKindergarten Learning System. The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes Learning System curriculum materials may also be purchased as a supplement to The InvestiGator Club® PreKindergarten Learning System.
Summary of Curriculum Review
- Promotes research-based teaching practices in all Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) domains, especially in the domains of Approaches to Learning, Social and Emotional Development, and Language and Communication
- Aligns fully with ELOF domains and sub-domains
- Specifies developmentally appropriate learning goals throughout all curriculum activities
- Promotes ongoing assessment of children's learning
- Provides specific strategies and resources to promote parent and family engagement
- Offers standardized training and comprehensive materials to support implementation
- Includes specific prompts to extend children's learning throughout activities
- Provides specific adaptations for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs in some curriculum materials
- Lacks sequences of learning experiences that progressively build children's knowledge and skills in the domains of Mathematics, Scientific Reasoning, and Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
- Lacks ample opportunities for child-initiated play, activities based on children's interests, and activities that promote open-ended exploration
- Includes limited guidance on how to support the development and learning of children who are dual language learners (DLLs)
- Lacks guidance on how to fully integrate children's and families' cultures and home languages into interactions, the learning environment, and learning experiences
Cost of Curriculum
The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes 2018: $1,886 per classroom
Cost of Professional Development
Costs for on-site and online professional development are not publicly available on the publisher's website.
Contact the publisher for the most updated information on costs of the curriculum and current professional development offerings.
Availability in Other Languages
The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes 2018 will be available in Spanish.
All materials for families in the English kit are provided in Spanish.
Center-based preschool programs for 3-year-olds
Curriculum Materials Reviewed by Raters
All materials from The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes Learning System were purchased in late 2017 and reviewed in early 2018. These materials included:
- Just for Threes Teacher Guide
- Teacher Resource Guide
- Let's Investigate Investigation Kit
- Social and Emotional Development Kit
- PreKindergarten Assessment and Intervention Kit
- Other system resource materials (e.g., Oral Language Cards, Outdoor Play and Creative Learning Cards, Family Welcome Guides)
*A newer, updated version of the curriculum (The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes 2018) was published subsequent to this review and is now available.
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 The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes Learning System (Just for Threes). Research is needed in order to establish evidence for positive effects of Just for Threes on children's 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: 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).
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: Just for Threes clearly identifies 10 developmental domains: Language Development, Literacy, Mathematics, Science, Creative Arts, Social and Emotional Development, Approaches to Learning, Physical and Mental Health, Social Studies, and Technology. The Just for Threes Teacher Guide provides guidance for daily lesson plans and learning activities to support children's development in these domains. Detailed guidance for some activities is found in the Let's Investigate Teacher Guide, Social and Emotional Development Kit, and Outdoor and Creative Play Cards.
Sequence: In some developmental domains, Just for Threes provides a sequence of learning experiences that progressively builds children's knowledge and skills as they move through the developmental progressions. For example, in the domains of Approaches to Learning, Social and Emotional Development, Language and Communication, and Literacy, the Let's Investigate and Just for Threes Teacher Guides describe a variety of learning experiences that build children's conceptual knowledge and skills over time. However, learning experiences in the domains of Mathematics, Scientific Reasoning, and Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development do not appear to build on each other from less to more complex over time nor reflect children's developmental progressions. For example, in the domain of Mathematics Development, there is a clear progression in some skills but not others. In addition, the curriculum lacks guidance on how to individualize the sequence of learning experiences based on children's individual strengths and needs.
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 the curriculum materials in relation to the ELOF domains and sub-domains indicates Just for Threes is fully aligned with the ELOF. The learning experiences described in the Just for Threes and Let's Investigate Teacher Guides, Social and Emotional Development Kit, and Outdoor Creative Play and Learning Cards support children in each of the ELOF sub-domains. Additionally, learning centers (e.g., Reading, Math, Technology) provide opportunities for children to practice domain-specific skills.
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: The curriculum specifies measurable, developmentally appropriate goals for children's learning and development. Within the Teacher Guides, learning goals are specified in relation to each of the Learning Centers and Small and Large Group activities. The learning activities support children in making progress toward these learning goals. However, the curriculum lacks guidance on how to use the learning goals with diverse children or how to adjust the learning goals to individualize learning experiences based on strengths and needs.
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 Let's Investigate Teacher Guide includes specific guidance for teachers to observe, document, and reflect on children's development. It provides suggestions for observing, recording anecdotal notes, and collecting representations of children's learning in small-group, whole-group, and individual settings. The PreKindergarten Assessment and Intervention System includes authentic assessment tools (e.g., Anecdotal Notes and Narrative Progress forms) and performance assessment tools, such as Assessment Cards. In addition, the Let's Investigate Teacher Guide gives some direction on when to use the Assessment Cards. For example, "Do children attempt to use new vocabulary and grammar in speech, or do they need prompting? Use Assessment Card 6 to assess this skill and to implement intervention strategies." The curriculum provides some guidance in the form of reflective questions that assists teachers in using assessment to inform planning (e.g., What can I do each day to reinforce these skills? How can I meet with these few children on a regular basis to reinforce these skills?) However, this guidance is not embedded throughout all curriculum materials. The Just for Threes Teacher Guide and Social and Emotional Development Kit lack direction on how to observe, document, and reflect on children's development. An additional limitation is that there is no specific guidance on how to use assessment information to inform curriculum planning.
Standardized and Structured Assessment Instruments: Just for Threes encourages programs to use the publisher's structured assessment instrument (Assessment Cards) included in the PreKindergarten Assessment and Intervention System. The curriculum describes how assessment tools should be age-appropriate but does not discuss the importance of assessment instruments that are valid, reliable, or individually, linguistically, 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 Teacher Resource Guide offers strategies for communicating with families (e.g., have an "open-door policy", weekly newsletters, and the Bruno Buzzbee Mail Poster). The curriculum provides Family Welcome Guides that include information on topics such as child development, the daily classroom routine, and the curriculum's characters. In addition, teachers are encouraged to gather information about the children from their families using the At-Enrollment Family Survey. The At-Enrollment Survey, family letters, and other materials are available in English and Spanish. However, the curriculum lacks guidance on how to communicate with parents and families in culturally and linguistically responsive ways.
Engaging Families: Just for Threes provides specific guidance on how to engage parents and families in program activities and how families can extend learning at home. For example, the Teacher Resource Guide describes how to host a "Welcome to the Club Family Night," and the Let's Investigate Teacher Guide includes theme-based activities for "Family Investigation Nights" and "Investigation Celebrations." Additionally, the Teacher Resource Guide offers a list of other ways to involve families, such as making a special snack with children. The curriculum includes some considerations on how to engage diverse parents and families. For example, the Teacher Resource Guide suggests inviting parents to share their culture or ancestral heritage with the class. To extend learning at home, each unit includes a small take-home book related to the theme. Both the take-home books and instructions are provided in English and Spanish. Many Languages, One Classroom, a resource included with The InvestiGator Club® PreKindergarten Learning System (InvestiGator PreK), offers some suggestions on how to engage culturally and linguistically diverse families (e.g., prepare foods from the children's home cultures and invite families in to share them; ask children's family to sit and converse with children in their own languages). However, Just for Threes lacks guidance on how to engage parents from diverse cultures, parents who speak languages other than English and Spanish, or parents who have 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: The curriculum developer provides standardized initial training and ongoing professional development opportunities. The curriculum includes a one-hour Implementation Training webinar as well as materials for programs to conduct a one- or two-day on-site implementation training. The Facilitators' Implementation Guide notes that the training can be self-guided or led by an outside facilitator. The curriculum developer offers a large number of ongoing professional development opportunities for an additional cost. Examples of topics include, but are not limited to, Developmentally Effective Approaches to Teaching and Learning, Center-Based Learning for the Preschooler, and Literacy and Learning for English Language Learners (ELLs). In addition, the website for teachers includes a number of free bulletins that provide research-based information and practices on specific topics (e.g., Young Children and the Environment: Building a Connection, Inspiring Good Behavior). Upon request, the publisher offers customized workshops. A limitation is that trainings for Just for Threes appear to be part of InvestiGator PreK trainings, and materials specific to Just for Threes (e.g., Just for Threes Teacher Guide, Social Emotional Development Kit) may not be fully addressed. In addition, training is only available in an on-site format.
Curriculum Materials to Support Implementation: Just for Threes provides materials to support implementation, such as the Teacher Resource Guide, Just for Threes Teacher Guide, Let's Investigate Teacher Guide, and the Implementation Facilitator Guide, Participant Workbook, and DVD. The Teacher Resource Guide provides general information on program philosophy, classroom environment and management, and the role of the family. The Just for Threes Teacher Guide offers 30 weekly plans for Opening Circle, Everyday Literacy, Small and Whole Group, and Closing Circle Time, as well as extension activities; songs, chants, rhymes, and games; and book suggestions. The weekly plans reference lesson plans from the Let's Investigate Teacher Guide, and lesson plans describe how to implement learning experiences, list required materials, and articulate teaching practices. The Implementation Facilitator Guide, Participant Workbooks, and DVD help programs organize their implementation efforts. A limitation is that the Teacher Resource Guide, Implementation Facilitator Guide, and Participant Workbooks do not address implementation of Just for Threes; they specifically reference the materials in InvestiGator PreK.
- Fidelity Tool: Just for Threes does not include a fidelity tool.
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: The Teacher Resource Guide describes the importance of hands-on exploration for children's learning (e.g., "Children need a learning environment that allows them to initiate active exploration with materials and make choices about their own activities). The Let's Investigate Teacher Guide describes a variety of Learning Centers (e.g., Science, Art, Sand and Water) with open-ended materials that promote hands-on exploration. A limitation of the learning centers and activities described in the Teacher Guides is that they do not provide children with ample opportunities to actively engage in open-ended, hands-on exploration. All activities, including Learning Centers and Investigation Station, are structured and give specific directions about what children are to do with the materials. Children have little opportunity to engage with materials in open-ended ways or create and experiment with materials.
Interactions That Extend Children's Learning: The Just for Threes and Let's Investigate Teacher Guides, as well as the Social and Emotional Development Kit, offer specific guidance and examples of ways to use teacher-child interactions to extend children's learning throughout the day. Lesson plans for Opening Circle Time, Choices, and Small Group activities include opportunities for brainstorming and discussions. They use open-ended questions as prompts. For example, during Small Group, children investigate their shadows by moving their bodies closer and further to the wall, and teachers ask questions such as, "How does your shadow change?" In addition, scripts for Flapboarding and other structured activities provide prompts to extend children's exploration, thinking, and communication (e.g., encourage children to feel the objects and talk about what they notice. Help them sort and group items that feel the same. As children sort, ask, "Why do you think this one goes in this pile?").
Individualization: The Teacher Resource Guide provides general guidance on how to individualize learning experiences for all children. Additionally, the Let's Investigate Teacher Guide offers more specific supports for children who have disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs, as well as children who are DLLs, using callout boxes (e.g., Differentiation: Inclusion, ELL) in the lesson plan margins. For example, to support DLLs in a matching activity, the curriculum suggests the teacher give step-by-step directions by pointing to a picture on the list and saying, "Find this [block] in the basket; put it on your list." The Marvelous Me! unit offers a few ELL callout boxes, as well (e.g., encourage ELLs to use the four key "taste" words and to add to their descriptive language with gestures). Even so, the Just for Threes Teacher Guide, Social and Emotional Development Kit, and Outdoor Creative Play and Learning Cards lack guidance on how to individualize learning experiences for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs. Overall, the curriculum lacks guidance on how to individualize learning experiences for children from diverse cultural backgrounds.
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: Just for Threes offers specific guidance on how to design a well-organized, engaging indoor environment and some guidance for setting up the outdoor environment. The Teacher Resource Guide describes how to select and arrange furnishings, display children's work, store materials, and establish learning centers with materials to promote flexible learning opportunities. It also outlines principles for designing the outdoor environment (e.g., include both structure and exploration, promote large-group, small-group, and independent play). In addition, the Teacher Resource Guide and Let's Investigate Teacher Guide provide limited direction on creating an accessible physical environment for children with specific disabilities or special needs. However, the curriculum lacks guidance on how to include children's home language and cultures into the physical environment.
Learning Materials: Just for Threes includes specific lists of learning materials for Learning Centers and learning experiences. The Teacher Resource Guide presents a list of suggested materials for each of the Learning Centers and specific guidance for organizing and labeling materials (e.g., "Label each container with both a word and a picture describing the contents."). The lessons in the Teacher Guides list learning materials to be used in specific learning activities and instructions for their use. The curriculum provides some guidance for ensuring the learning materials meet the individual needs of children with disabilities or other special needs. For example, "Differentiation: Inclusion" callout boxes may describe ways to adapt materials for accessibility, and the Social and Emotional Development Kit and Outdoor Creative Play and Learning Cards offer some suggestions as well (e.g., providing an adaptive ball or slightly deflated ball can assist children with limited physical abilities). However, the curriculum lacks 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 curriculum provides guidance on how to establish a daily schedule and developmentally appropriate routines. The Let's Investigate Teacher Guide offers sample daily schedules for half- and whole-day programs. This Teacher Guide also describes daily routines (e.g., Start Your Day, Health, Transitions) as well as "Explicit Lessons" (e.g., Opening Circle, Everyday Literacy, Small Group) that are embedded across the weekly plans in Just for Threes. The sample daily schedules show times designated for Clean Up, Transitions, Outdoor Play (for whole-day programs), Snack, and Bathroom. However, the Just for Threes Teacher Guide does not include these samples in the Lesson Planner. In addition, the curriculum lacks discussion on how to adjust schedules and routines based on 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: The curriculum provides limited guidance for working with culturally and linguistically diverse families and children. For example, the Social and Emotional Development Kit Activity Guide reminds teachers to make sure children are aware of the other perspectives of children from diverse backgrounds and cultures. However, the curriculum lacks further guidance on how to engage in culturally responsive interactions with children and families.
Learning Experiences: Just for Threes lacks guidance on how to provide learning experiences that build on children's and families' traditions, cultures, values, and beliefs. One of the curriculum's characters (JT Gator) is fascinated by geography, culture, and travel, knows a lot about traditions and customs of people around the world and acts as a gateway to experiences that relate to diverse cultures. However, the learning experiences set around his character do not build on the cultures or languages of children in the group.
Learning Environment: The curriculum suggests some children's books (e.g., Be My Neighbor, Abuela) and includes some materials (e.g., Vocabulary and Oral Language Cards) that reflect children and families from diverse cultures and ethnicities. However, the curriculum lacks guidance on selecting and using materials that authentically represent the cultures and ethnicities of children in the group.
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 curriculum provides some specific guidance on how to support the development and learning of children who are DLLs. Some lessons in the Let's Investigate Teacher Guide and Marvelous Me! unit include ELL callout boxes that identify strategies specific to individual learning activities (e.g., an English-speaking partner can lead a learner of English in doing each movement; use the Rosalita Word poster to support words in print). However, the guidance on how to scaffold the development and learning of children who are DLLs is not embedded in parts of Just for Threes Teacher Guide, (e.g., Extension Activities) Social and Emotional Development Kit, and Outdoor Creative Play and Learning Cards.
Home and Tribal Languages: The curriculum provides some materials (e.g., Flapboard stories) in English and Spanish and the Teacher Guides identify some ways to incorporate English and Spanish (e.g., introduce the Word of the Week and record the day of the week in Spanish and English). However, Just for Threes lacks guidance on how to authentically incorporate children's home languages into learning experiences and daily interactions. While not part of Just for Threes, the publisher includes Many Languages, One Classroom in InvestiGator PreK. It describes some ways to incorporate children's language into the classroom (e.g., labeling materials in children's home languages, using books in different languages to introduce and reinforce themes and concepts, and incorporating children's home languages in classroom activities). 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: Some of the materials in the Just for Threes curriculum (also included as part of the InvestiGator PreK curriculum) provide guidance on how to embed teaching practices and other interventions in daily routines and activities to support the learning of children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs. The Let's Investigate Teacher Guide includes "Differentiation" and "Differentiation: Inclusion" callout boxes that describe ways to individualize instruction and scaffold learning for children who have special needs. For example, it suggests that if a child has difficulty holding or manipulating a marker or pencil, offer hand-over-hand assistance; or if children are language-delayed, ask simple, specific questions to help them tell about themselves. In addition, the Outdoor Creative Play and Learning Cards offer inclusion prompts for each activity. However, lessons in the Just for Threes Teacher Guide (e.g., Marvelous Me! unit, Extension Activities) do not provide teaching practices and other interventions to support children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other disabilities.
Learning Environment: Just for Threes provides specific guidance in some of the curriculum materials to ensure the physical environment and learning materials are accessible to children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs. The Teacher Resource Guide gives a few examples of modifications to the physical environment. The "Differentiation" and "Differentiation: Inclusion" callout boxes in the Let's Investigate Teacher Guide include specific suggestions for how teachers may need to add or modify learning materials to meet individual children's needs. However, the activities within the Just for Threes Teacher Guide and Social and Emotional Development Kit lack guidance to ensure that the physical learning environment and learning materials are accessible to children with disabilities, suspected delays, 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: Just for Threes describes Learning Centers as child-directed activities that encourage children to explore areas of interest. However, the curriculum does not offer guidance on how to plan learning experiences that build on individual children's interests. Learning experiences (including Learning Centers) are pre-planned, without direction on how to modify them based on individual children's interests.
Individualization Based on Strengths and Needs: The curriculum provides some support on how to make learning experiences responsive to individual strengths and needs. The Teacher Resource Guide offers general guidance, such as asking teachers to reflect on what skills are the most challenging for children to master and what might be done to reinforce those skills. The Let's Investigate Teacher Guide includes some specific scaffolding suggestions for children at different developmental levels through "Differentiation" callout boxes. For example, in a gardening activity, children at more advanced levels of development are encouraged to try writing the name of their plant on signs using a word list as a model. However, the Marvelous Me! unit and other Just for Threes materials lack guidance on how to make learning experiences responsive to individual strengths and needs.