The InvestiGator Club® PreKindergarten Learning System is an integrated curriculum created to prepare children for kindergarten in all developmental areas. The System Resources Box includes basic key components that are used throughout the year, and content-specific materials are housed in seven themed Investigation Kits.
Summary of Curriculum Review
- Promotes research-based teaching practices in all Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) domains, especially in the domains of Language and Communication and Literacy
- Provides a sequence of learning experiences that progressively builds on children's knowledge and skills
- Specifies developmentally appropriate learning goals throughout all curriculum activities
- Promotes ongoing assessment of children's learning
- Provides a range of specific strategies and resources to promote parent and family engagement
- Offers comprehensive standardized training and materials to support implementation
- Includes specific prompts to extend children's learning throughout activities
- Includes specific guidance on how to support the development and learning of children who are dual language learners (DLLs)
- Provides specific adaptations for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs
- Moderately aligns with the ELOF but lacks comprehensive guidance in the following sub-domains: Relationships with Adults, Relationships with Other Children, and Emotional Functioning
- Includes limited guidance on how to fully integrate children's and families' cultures and home languages into interactions, the learning environment, and learning experiences
- Lacks ample opportunities for child-initiated play, activities based on children's interests, and activities that promote open-ended exploration
Cost of Curriculum
The InvestiGator Club® PreKindergarten Learning System 2018: $3,299 per kit
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® PreKindergarten Learning System 2018 Spanish: $3,299 per kit
Some materials for families in the English kit are provided in Spanish.
Center-based preschool programs for children 3–5 years old
Curriculum Materials Reviewed by Raters
All materials from The InvestiGator Club® PreKindergarten Learning System were purchased in late 2017 and reviewed in early 2018. These materials included:
- Teacher Resource Guide
- 7 Themed Investigation Kits
- Assessment and Intervention Kit
- Implementation Facilitator Guide
- Implementation Participant Workbook
- Professional Library
- Other system materials (e.g. Family Welcome Guide, Alphabet Kit)
*A newer, updated version of the curriculum (The InvestiGator Club® Pre-Kindergarten Learning System 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® PreKindergarten Learning System (InvestiGator PreK). An evaluation funded by the publisher, without a comparison group, suggests children in InvestiGator PreK classrooms make gains in literacy, math, science, social studies, oral language, fine arts, and music outcomes. However, this study is not included in the rating, because it was not published in a peer-reviewed journal. More rigorous research is needed in order to establish evidence for positive effects of InvestiGator PreK 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: 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).
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: InvestiGator PreK 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. Each Teacher Guide provides detailed guidance for daily lesson plans and learning activities to support children's development in these domains.
Sequence: The curriculum provides a sequence of learning experiences that progressively builds children's knowledge and skills as they move through the developmental progressions in each of the seven ELOF domains. The Teacher Guides provide multiple, related opportunities for children to explore or learn concepts and skills in each domain. However, 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 that InvestiGator PreK is mostly aligned with the ELOF. The learning experiences described in the Teacher Guides support children across the majority of ELOF sub-domains, and the Learning Centers (e.g., Reading, Math, Technology) also provide opportunities for children to practice domain-specific skills. Even so, Relationships with Adults, Relationships with Other Children, and Emotional Functioning are not fully covered within InvestiGator PreK. However, the publisher offers a separate Social and Emotional Development Kit for an additional cost or as part of the Just for Threes curriculum. The addition of these materials fully addresses Relationships with Other Children and Emotional Functioning. Additionally, the sub-domain Operations and Algebraic Thinking is not fully covered. While there are suggested learning experiences to support children's understanding of simple patterns, the curriculum lacks support for developing children's understanding of addition and subtraction.
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 that are integrated throughout the curriculum. Within the Teacher Guides, learning goals are specified in relation to each of the Learning Centers and Small and Large Group activities, and 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 curriculum provides specific guidance embedded throughout the materials for teachers to observe, document, and reflect on children's development. Each of the Teacher Guides 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 and performance assessment tools, such as Assessment Cards, Anecdotal Notes Forms, and Narrative Progress Forms. In addition, the Teacher Guides offer some guidance 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 general support in the form of reflective questions that assist 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?). Even so, there is no specific guidance on how to use this information to inform curriculum planning.
Standardized and Structured Assessment Instruments: InvestiGator PreK 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 a Family Welcome Guide that includes 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. Though Many Languages, One Classroom suggests ways to communicate in linguistically responsive ways (e.g., establish a Language Advisory Community), the book is part of the professional development library and not referenced in any other curriculum materials. In addition, the curriculum does not provide specific guidance on how to communicate in culturally responsive ways.
Engaging Families: InvestiGator PreK 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 each Teacher Guide describes 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. Though some guidance is provided in Many Languages, One Classroom, there is limited consideration embedded within the curriculum for 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: InvestiGator PreK provides a 2.5-hour implementation webinar as well as materials for programs to conduct a one- or two-day on-site implementation training. The Implementation Facilitators' 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 include 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 ongoing trainings are only provided on-site.
Curriculum Materials to Support Implementation: InvestiGator PreK provides materials to support implementation, including the Teacher Resource Guide, Teacher Guides for each of the seven units, a PreK implementation webinar, and Implementation Facilitator Guide, Participant Workbook, and DVD. The Teacher Resource Guide includes an overview of the curriculum as well as general information on program philosophy, classroom environment and management, and the role of the family. The Teacher Guides offer detailed lesson plans with step-by-step instructions for activities and guidance for teacher-child interactions. The Implementation Facilitator Guide, Implementation Participant Workbook, and DVD help programs organize their implementation efforts and support teachers to understand the curriculum. A limitation is that the professional development library (e.g., Many Languages, One Classroom) is not referred to in any of the other curriculum materials.
- Fidelity Tool: InvestiGator PreK 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 Teacher Guides describe 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 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 Teacher Guides offer specific guidance embedded throughout curriculum materials and examples of ways 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 Opening Circle, teachers invite children to share what they would like to investigate about construction and use a web to record their ideas. In addition, scripts for Flapboarding and other structured activities provide prompts to extend children's exploration, thinking, and communication (e.g., "Guide children to use their senses to describe the apple. What does the apple look like? What does an apple feel like?").
Individualization: The Teacher Resource Guide provides general guidance on how to individualize learning experiences for all children. Additionally, the Teacher Guides offer 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 assessment chapter encourages teachers to consider what assessment data reveal about children's needs and use the Teacher Guides to select the most appropriate lessons and "choices" during daily routines (e.g., Opening Circle, Small Group, Whole Group) based on those data.
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: InvestiGator PreK includes specific guidance on how to design a well-organized, engaging indoor 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). Some additional support for setting up the environment is embedded in the Teaching Guides. A limitation is that specific guidance on ensuring that children's home languages and cultures are included in the physical environment is provided only within the professional development resource, Many Languages, One Classroom (e.g., "In the Block Area offer accessories… representing the different languages/cultures of the classroom."), but this resource is not referenced within the Teacher Resource Guide or Teacher Guides. In addition, the Teacher Resource Guide and Teacher Guides offer limited guidance on creating accessible physical environments for children with specific disabilities or special needs (e.g., children who are visually impaired should be seated close to print materials; a child in a wheelchair must be able to navigate all areas of the classroom safely and easily).
Learning Materials: InvestiGator PreK includes specific lists of learning materials that are developmentally appropriate and foster open-ended exploration. 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 that 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. Many Languages, One Classroom articulates 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 Teacher Guides include sample daily schedules for half- and whole-day programs. The Teacher Guides also describe daily routines (e.g., Start Your Day, Health, Transitions) as well as "Explicit Lessons” (e.g., Opening Circle, Everyday Literacy, Small Group) that occur throughout the day. For example, the curriculum suggests using "Start Your Day" to share special events, display children's work, and discuss safety. Opening Circle might focus on domain-specific content such as oral language, literacy, or gross motor development. The curriculum, however, 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, an ELL callout box in a Teacher Guide encourages teachers to be aware of children's cultural communication differences. It explains that, in some cultures, calling attention to oneself may be considered overly assertive and suggests that teachers invite children to share with a partner rather than the whole group. However, the curriculum lacks further guidance on how to engage in culturally responsive interactions with children and families.
Learning Experiences: InvestiGator PreK offers minimal guidance on how to provide learning experiences that build on children's and families' traditions, cultures, values, and beliefs. Many Languages, One Classroom describes some practices that acknowledge diverse cultures and ethnicities. For example, the Language Advisory Committee might collect recipes from the different cultures represented in each classroom to use for lesson plans, and teachers might ask family members to demonstrate how to play traditional children's games from their culture. In addition, some of the ELL callout boxes identify ways children can share their cultures as part of activities (e.g., children share pictures of clothing worn in their home countries). However, the activities and Learning Centers in the Teacher Guides lack specific guidance on how to plan learning experiences that authentically build on children's cultures. One of the curriculum's characters (JT Gator) 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 this character do not build on the cultures or languages of children in the group.
Learning Environment: The curriculum provides general guidance on selecting materials that reflect children's cultures and ethnicities. For example, Many Languages, One Classroom suggests asking families to equip the dramatic play area with authentic items from their homes, neighborhoods, or countries of origin or to send in games from their home countries. A limitation is that such guidance is limited to Many Languages, One Classroom, and this professional development resource is not referenced anywhere else in the curriculum.
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 specific guidance that is embedded throughout the curriculum on how to support the development and learning of children who are DLLs. Each Teacher Guide includes ELL callout boxes that identify strategies specific to individual learning activities (e.g., allow DLLs to use total physical response to answer questions related to the story). In addition, Many Languages, One Classroom describes daily support, such as using key word lists for each theme, including visual aids, and narrating play and activities.
Home and Tribal Languages: The curriculum provides general guidance on how to incorporate children's home languages into the learning environment. Many Languages, One Classroom offers suggestions such as 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. The curriculum includes some materials (e.g., Flapboard stories) in English and Spanish, and the Teacher Guides identify some ways to incorporate English and Spanish into daily activities (e.g., introduce the Word of the Week and record the day of the week in Spanish and English). However, the curriculum lacks specific guidance for incorporating home languages other than English and Spanish 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: The curriculum provides 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. Each Teacher Guide offers "Differentiation" and "Differentiation: Inclusion" callout boxes that describe ways to individualize instruction and scaffold learning for children who have special needs. Some examples include guidance such as, 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.
Learning Environment: InvestiGator PreK provides specific guidance that is embedded throughout many 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, while the "Differentiation" and "Differentiation: Inclusion" callout boxes in the Teaching Guides include specific suggestions for how teachers may need to add or modify learning materials to meet individual children's 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: InvestiGator PreK describes Learning Centers as child-directed activities that encourage children to explore areas of interest. However, the curriculum does not offer support on how to plan learning experiences that build on individual children's interests. Learning experiences (including Learning Centers) are pre-planned, without guidance on how to modify them based on individual children's interests.
Individualization Based on Strengths and Needs: The curriculum provides guidance 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 present the biggest challenge for their class and what they can do to reinforce these skills. Each Teacher Guide includes 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 their plant name on signs using a word list as a model.