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).