World of Wonders provides developmentally appropriate instruction for early learners, ages 3 to 5. It includes cross-curricular activities in early literacy, social and emotional development, science, social studies, math, and music and movement. The curriculum establishes classroom routines, addresses the needs of all learners through differentiated instructional pathways, and integrates children's interests into thoughtfully designed lesson structures.
Last updated Jan. 29, 2020
Summary of Curriculum Review
- Promotes research-based teaching practices in all Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) domains, especially Language and Communication, Literacy, Scientific Reasoning, and Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
- Provides a sequence of learning experiences that progressively builds children's knowledge and skills in most ELOF domains, except for some components of Mathematics Development and Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
- Fully aligns with the ELOF domains and sub-domains
- Specifies developmentally appropriate learning goals, including goals for 3- and 4-year-olds; extension goals for advanced learners; and goals for children acquiring English
- Includes specific prompts and open-ended questions to extend children's learning throughout activities
- Includes a range of strategies and resources to support parent and family engagement
- Provides specific guidance on how to support the development and learning of children who are dual language learners (DLLs)
- Provides specific guidance on how to individualize based on children's strengths and needs
- Offers comprehensive standardized training and materials to support implementation
- Provides specific guidance on how to establish well-organized, engaging indoor and outdoor environments
- Promotes ongoing observation of children's learning, but lacks information on reliability and validity for assessment instruments provided by the curriculum
- Provides general adaptations for children with disabilities, suspected delays, or other special needs, but lacks guidance related to specific activities within the curriculum
- Provides some guidance on how to integrate children's and families' cultures into the learning environment and learning experiences, but lacks specific guidance on how to modify learning experiences to build on children's cultures
Cost of Curriculum
World of Wonders Comprehensive Package (English Edition): $3,277.17 for a 6-year subscription
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
World of Wonders Comprehensive Package (Spanish Edition): $3,660.12 for a 6-year subscription
Center-based preschool programs for children 3–5 years old
Curriculum Materials Reviewed by Raters
All materials from World of Wonders were purchased and reviewed in 2019. These materials included:
- Language and Literacy Flip Chart
- Social–Emotional Flip Chart
- Assessment Flip Chart
- Assessment Handbook
- Teacher's Edition:
- Unit 1: Who We Are
- Unit 2: Making Friends
- Unit 3: Families
- Unit 4: Food
- Unit 5: Our Neighborhood
- Unit 6: Transportation
- Unit 7: Animals
- Unit 8: Nature
- Unit 9: Ready for Kindergarten
- Teacher's Choice: "My Favorite Themes" Mini-lessons
- School-to-home letters
- Professional development online resources
- Professional development environment (Quick-Start Course and modules)
- Home School Connections Fingerplays Units 1–10
- Teachers Resource Book Units 1–10
- Welcome to the World of Wonders
- World of Wonders: Pattern Books and Little Readers Concepts and Skills Coverage
- ELOF: Correlation World of Wonders
- Photo Cards
- Oral Language Cards
- Alphabet Cards
- Letter Cards
- Photo Cards
- Concept Cards
- Pre-K Foundations for Common Core Correlations
- Scope and Sequence
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 World of Wonders. Research investigating the curriculum is needed in order to establish evidence on children's learning outcomes. The publisher is currently conducting a study to measure the impact of World of Wonders on children's learning and development.
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: World of Wonders consistently promotes research-based teaching practices to support children's approaches to learning, including the development of executive function skills, emotional regulation, and problem-solving skills. Weekly tips embedded in the curriculum materials provide information on how to support children in sustaining attention and persisting in tasks. The curriculum also provides guidance on classroom organization, including suggestions for setting up learning centers and specific activities for teachers to incorporate during transitions (e.g., sign language, singing songs).
Social and Emotional Development: The curriculum consistently promotes practices to support social and emotional development. It provides strategies for establishing an emotionally supportive environment (e.g., managing feelings, using positive, respectful communication). Learning experiences in the units are intentionally sequenced and cover a range of topics, such as determining classroom social guidelines, discussing empathy, and problem-solving. In addition, flip-chart images and role-play experiences help teachers intentionally foster children's social and emotional development. However, the curriculum provides limited guidance on how to build secure, trusting teacher-child relationships and how to embed culturally and linguistically responsive practices into social and emotional learning.
Language and Communication: The curriculum consistently supports research-based practices that facilitate language and communication skills. World of Wonders supports vocabulary development and the use of complex language through group discussions, embedded Purposeful Play Prompts to extend conversations, and visuals, games, and child-friendly explanations of new vocabulary. The curriculum's learning experiences are grounded in rich and developmentally appropriate content that relates to the units of study and builds on children's existing knowledge (e.g., making friends, neighborhoods, nature, food). In addition, the Phonological Awareness lessons provide in-class learning experiences, while "Finger Play" exercises support children's development of phonological awareness at home.
Literacy: The curriculum consistently supports research-based teaching practices to support children's literacy knowledge and skills. The daily activities contain many varied opportunities to make and use print (e.g., creating thank you notes), engage in active read-aloud experiences, and develop critical literacy skills. World of Wonders supports children's acquisition of alphabet knowledge in meaningful contexts, such as in learning centers and movement activities. Children also have opportunities to participate in emergent writing experiences (e.g., teachers model pre-writing techniques and appropriate pencil grip). The curriculum's learning experiences also build on children's existing knowledge (e.g., discussion of environmental print, such as EXIT and bathroom signs).
Mathematics Development: World of Wonders consistently promotes research-based practices to support children's mathematics learning. It provides a variety of planned math learning experiences in whole- and small-group formats, and in Math and Manipulatives learning centers. In addition, Daily Math Talk sections are incorporated into lessons to introduce children to the language of mathematics. The curriculum promotes conceptual understanding through the use of manipulatives (e.g., putting together shapes to create new shapes). Unlike for the other domains, the curriculum does not provide any differentiation between 3- and 4-year-old age groups and for DLLs. Some of the math activities appear to be at a higher level than what one would expect for 3-year-olds (e.g., asking children to say the next number in a sequence when lining up).
Scientific Reasoning: The curriculum consistently supports research-based practices for children to observe, inquire, and participate in science learning. It nurtures children's curiosity through hands-on, inquiry-based explorations (e.g., experiments with simple machines; exploration of soil, sand, and rocks). To foster the development of important inquiry skills, the curriculum provides science-related flip-chart images and teacher-prompted questions within the learning experiences (e.g., "What makes the toys move? What could you build or use so that it moved on its own?"). Children are given opportunities to explore concepts in depth through multiple related activities (e.g., revisiting the growth cycle of plants).
Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development: The curriculum consistently promotes research-based practices to support children's perceptual, motor, and physical development. World of Wonders discusses indoor and outdoor learning environments in the "Outdoor & Indoor Play" and "Let's Move" text boxes, as well as in the Music and Movement lessons. For example, the curriculum promotes body awareness through songs and transitional movements that include body part vocabulary. It also promotes spatial awareness through obstacle courses and cooperative games. Supports for hand-washing and knowledge related to healthy food consumption are provided in the "Health and Safety" text boxes. In addition, the curriculum supports fine motor development with the inclusion of shapes, puzzles, and mini-projects that require children to use small utensils, such as creating a hole punch.
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: World of Wonders identifies six content areas: Social-Emotional Development, Literacy (including Alphabet Time and Book Time), Science and Social Studies, Math, and Music and Movement. The units include daily lessons and learning activities to support children's development in these domains.
Sequence: The curriculum materials provide a developmental sequence of learning experiences in most ELOF domains, including Approaches to Learning, Social and Emotional Development, Language and Communication, Mathematics Development, and Scientific Reasoning. However, for some aspects of Perceptual, Physical, and Motor Development, it is unclear how the sequences of learning experiences gradually build children's knowledge and skills as children move through the developmental progressions. In addition, the learning goals and objectives within the Scientific Reasoning and Literacy domains do not consistently follow a developmentally appropriate sequence.
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 curriculum materials in relation to the ELOF domains and sub-domains indicates that World of Wonders is fully aligned with the ELOF. The learning experiences and centers described in the units provide opportunities for children to develop 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: The curriculum specifies learning objectives that are fully embedded within the curriculum. A majority of these learning goals are measurable and developmentally appropriate, and specific learning experiences are designed to support each objective. The curriculum provides learning objectives and experiences for 4-year-olds, and a parallel set of objectives and learning experiences modified for learners of different abilities. Objectives and learning experiences provide scaffolded lessons for 3-year-olds and those in need of extra support; extension activities focused on kindergarten standards for advanced learners; and suggestions and pre-teaching strategies for children acquiring English.
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 describes a process for observing and documenting children's development in the Assessment Handbook. To support this process, the curriculum includes weekly reminders to use Observation Checklists and Daily Observation Forms to monitor children's progress. The curriculum also promotes the use of varied tools to record and observe children's learning, such as photos, notes, and work samples in a portfolio.
Standardized and Structured Assessment Instruments: World of Wonders provides guidance on using structured assessment instruments to regularly assess children's developmental progress. In the Assessment Flip Book, some measures include counting, comparing and ordering numbers, walking in a straight line, and phonological awareness. The curriculum does not discuss reliability and validity information for the assessments presented. The curriculum suggests that assessment should "take into account the diversity of children's experiences, language, and cultural backgrounds." However, although some of the assessments are translated into Spanish, there does not appear to be other information on how the included assessments are culturally, linguistically, and individually 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 Welcome to the Wonders section within the units describe the importance of ongoing, positive communication with parents and families. The curriculum provides Family Unit Letters in several languages (e.g., Spanish, Chinese, Haitian), which include "Ideas for Busy Families" with thematic activities that are organized around key times of the day (e.g., car activities, cooking activities). In addition, unit finger plays are sent home to build children's literacy and phonological awareness skills. Some bidirectional communication incorporates prompts that ask family members to share information on their cultures or traditions. This may include asking families to send in photos of their children cooking so teachers can use the photos as a basis for oral language and writing activities. However, the curriculum does not provide guidance for how to communicate in culturally responsive ways.
Engaging Families: The curriculum provides specific guidance on how to engage parents and families in their children's development and learning. The Home-School Connection pages within each unit offer multiple ways to engage families in experiences that are linked to their children's learning in school. For example, the curriculum provides a list of theme-related books for families to find in libraries. It also recommends setting up a game lending library so children have the opportunity to check out their favorite classroom games (e.g., puzzles) and play them at home with family members. In addition, Theme Projects often promote family visits to the classroom so parents can join activities and observe their child's learning. Although a range of materials are used to engage families, guidance on engaging families who speak languages other than English and families from diverse cultures is limited.
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 provides comprehensive standardized training to support World of Wonders implementation. There is a large selection of professional development videos, which are limited in duration but address a wide range of initial and ongoing training through coaching and classroom videos, digital resources, and administrator support. The publisher provides a range of customizable professional training options, such as program implementation training for teachers, support staff, and administrators. These trainings are designed to meet teacher and program needs.
Curriculum Materials to Support Implementation: Embedded throughout the curriculum is a comprehensive, systematic set of user-friendly materials to facilitate understanding and implementation of the curriculum. Curriculum support includes schedules for full- and half-day programs, differentiated instructional pathways, weekly planning outlines with classroom materials, and family newsletters.
- Fidelity Tool: World of Wonders provides the Classroom Observation Tool with specific guidance for observing five components: classroom environment, classroom management, teaching and learning, interactions with families, and professionalism and growth.
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: World of Wonders provides ample opportunities for children to actively engage in open-ended, hands-on exploration. For example, the learning centers are designed for "purposeful play," where children freely manipulate objects and investigate concepts related to the units of study (e.g., art activities, science center experiences). A majority of learning centers are open-ended and child-initiated with few rules dictating how children should navigate these experiences within their classrooms.
Interactions that Extend Children's Learning: The curriculum provides guidance on how to engage in interactions that extend children's thinking and learning. Purposeful Play Prompts include specific questions to promote communication and thinking (e.g., "Which melted faster? Why?"; "How do you know it is a living thing?"). In addition, probing questions in the "Time to Talk" text boxes often connect learning experiences to children's personal lives and previous experiences.
Individualization: The curriculum provides specific guidance embedded throughout curriculum materials for how to ensure learning experiences are relevant, accessible, and appropriate for all children. Many of the structured activities include text boxes that discuss specific considerations for children who are DLLs and those with special needs, such as utilizing concept or oral language cards. Differentiated learning experiences for younger and advanced learners introduce specific learning strategies to scaffold (e.g., three-column charts, sentence frames) and extend (e.g., additional probing questions, extending the pattern or counting sequence) learning experiences.
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: World of Wonders provides specific guidance for how to design a well-organized, engaging indoor environment that promotes active exploration and supports development in the ELOF domains. It includes specific guidance on how to set up centers, calendars, and circle time areas. Guidance for outdoor play recommends offering many portable play options, such as balls, jump ropes, bubbles, bean bags, and sidewalk chalk. In addition, the "Adaptations for Children with Special Needs" text boxes provide specific strategies and suggestions to support children with differing abilities. However, fewer supports are provided for how to adjust the environment to reflect children's unique cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Learning Materials: The curriculum suggests specific developmentally appropriate learning materials that foster open-ended exploration and inquiry. The units outline all included materials and suggest materials for learning centers and experiences. The curriculum provides support on how to adjust learning materials to meet the needs of children with various disabilities or suspected delays (e.g., special crayons or pencils, visual reminders, e-books). The curriculum also invites families to bring in materials that are representative of their children's cultures. However, overall there is limited guidance on providing learning materials that represent the unique cultures and home languages of children and families.
Schedule and Routines: The curriculum provides specific guidance on how to establish a daily schedule and developmentally appropriate routines. The Welcome to the World of Wonders guide provides information on how to set up learning centers and establish routines. Learning experiences embedded within the social and emotional lessons provide support on classroom expectations, hand-washing, clean-up, and mealtime. However, the curriculum provides limited guidance on how schedules and routines can be adjusted 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: The curriculum provides some general guidance on how to engage with families in culturally responsive ways. The Welcome to the World of Wonders guide and professional development materials describe the importance of culturally responsive interactions and provide suggestions for inviting family and community members into the classroom. However, the curriculum lacks specific guidance on how teachers should engage families from diverse backgrounds.
Learning Experiences: World of Wonders provides some specific guidance for how to offer learning experiences that build on families' cultures, values, and beliefs. Some Theme Projects and Family and Community Home-School Connections pages encourage family members to share cultural practices and traditions. For example, the curriculum invites children's family members to bring a food dish that is special to their cultural heritage or family traditions. The curriculum also asks families to send in copies of photos of their children at family gatherings or celebrations to provide information about their family's culture. Systematic guidance on how to modify learning experiences to authentically build on children's cultures is limited.
Learning Environment: The curriculum provides some specific learning materials that authentically represent the cultures and ethnicities of children and families. For example, the curriculum encourages the sharing of cultural objects from the children's homes and includes diverse book selections. In addition, concept cards portray foods, instruments, holidays, and types of homes from around the world. However, guidance on how to select learning materials that represent the cultures and ethnicities of children and families in the program is limited, and is not systematically included across all units.
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 on how to scaffold development and learning for children who are DLLs throughout its units. World of Wonders includes scaffolding strategies embedded within the "English Learners" text boxes (e.g., concept cards, sentence frames). Specific strategies recommended for children who are DLLs include previewing a book, utilizing visuals to support children's language acquisition, and using gestures and simple questions for children to respond to.
Home and Tribal Languages: The curriculum provides specific, embedded guidance on how to authentically incorporate children's home and tribal languages into learning experiences. The Welcome to the World of Wonders guide briefly states the importance of using home languages and suggests that teachers should make children's home languages and bilingual experiences visible in the classroom. In addition, the curriculum includes prompts for teachers to ask children to respond both in English and in their native languages. Some curriculum materials are translated into languages other than English, and sign language is incorporated during classroom practices (e.g., listening, bathroom).
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: World of Wonders provides embedded guidance throughout the curriculum materials to support the development of children with disabilities, suspected delays, and other special needs. The "Adaptations for Children with Special Needs" text boxes provide support for children with varying special needs (e.g., language delays, physical, vision impairments, the autism spectrum). However, the same specific strategies are repeated across the units for everyday classroom experiences (e.g., circle time, learning song movements). Adaptations are not tailored to specific activities within the different domains, but provide general guidance (e.g., quiet praise for appropriate behavior, modeling turn-taking).
Learning Environment: The curriculum provides guidance to ensure the physical environment and learning materials are accessible to children with disabilities, suspected delays, and other special needs. The Welcome to Wonders of the World guide discusses the importance of facilitating learning opportunities to ensure children with disabilities can access the learning experiences. In addition, the "Adaptations for Children with Special Needs" text boxes provide examples of modifications for learning materials to meet individual needs (e.g., visual reminders, Velcro to stabilize puzzle pieces). Similar to the teaching practices, suggestions for adaptations to the learning environment are general and not specific to the learning experiences presented throughout the curriculum.
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: World of Wonders offers guidance on how to plan learning experiences that build on individual children's interests. Within the learning experiences themselves, teachers are prompted to learn from children if they have prior experiences with the topic. In addition, the curriculum includes templates for teachers to create their own mini-units based on children's interests. Teachers are also invited to think about other thematic projects or about a center based on children's interest.
Individualization Based on Strengths and Needs: The curriculum provides specific, embedded guidance that is responsive to individual children's strengths and needs. The differentiated text boxes modify the learning experiences for younger children and include additional support (e.g., tracing letters, giving time for experimentation with pencil grasp and body position). In addition, some of the descriptions within the learning experiences and centers include prompts to challenge children who have mastered a basic skill set (e.g., prompting children to retell key story events to a partner and share personal responses).