We begin with using The Creative Curriculum by Teaching Strategies Gold because it gives us a reliable process for ensuring that our teaching meets the Top State Curricular standards while still being flexible enough to allow us to practice Emergent Curriculum, which includes following the child’s lead and adapting learning experiences for the needs of each child.
The Creative Curriculum is a hands-on, project based curriculum that is perfectly aligned with the WA State Early Learning Guidelines and is recommend by Early Achievers, the Washington State Early Learning Quality Rating System, in which we participate. Centering on 38 research based objectives for development and learning, The Creative Curriculum also includes levels from Birth through 3rd Grade, making it possible for us to assess and plan for children whose abilities fall outside the normal range of development, such as children with developmental delays and children who are functioning beyond their peers, in the gifted range.
Activities are individualized so that each child is comfortably challenged and encouraged to move to the next level of development but is never pushed. The curriculum is thematic/literature based and integrated so that, for example, if children are studying insects, they may be finding them outdoors, reading and writing about them, representing them in art, singing and dancing about them in music, doing a play about them in drama, and building obstacle courses or homes for them in blocks or carpentry. The following components are included in the curriculum:
Social Skills: The goal is for children to form deep and meaningful friendships with their peers, to be
able to work cooperatively within a learning community, and to be able to get their needs met in a way that respects the rights of others. Through puppetry, storytelling and ongoing direct guidance and instruction, children are taught the following concepts:
School rules of “Be kind and be safe.”
Use of courtesies and empathy
Social justice concepts such as fairness and inclusion of those with differences
The process of negotiation which includes: identifying the problem in terms of the needs of both parties, brainstorming possible solutions, agreeing on a plan of action, and following through with that plan.
Specific Goals for Social/Emotional Development:
- Regulates own emotions and behaviors: Manages feelings, follows limits and expectations, talks care of own needs appropriately
- Establishes and Sustains Positive Relationships: Forms relationships with adults, responds to emotional cues, interacts with peers, solves social problems
- Participates Cooperatively and Constructively in group situations: Balances the needs and rights of self and others, solves social problems
Social Studies: This aspect of the curriculum involves learning about one’s self and others, and showing respect and appreciation for one’s own culture and the culture of others.
Specific Goals for Social Studies:
- Demonstrates knowledge about self
- Shows basic understanding of people and how they live
- Explores change related to familiar people or places
- Demonstrates simple geographic knowledge
Language, Literacy, Cognitive, and Drama: Children are introduced to current quality literature as well as traditional fairy tales and folk tales. Children are encouraged to dictate their own stories and books which are recorded by the teacher and read to the class. Children are given many opportunities to enact both familiar stories and stories of their own creation. They are encouraged to illustrate these stories and to create scenery and dialogue for dramatic play production. As this process occurs, children gain a deep understanding of the connection between the written and spoken word. And, as they show an interest, children are taught the alphabet and beginning phonics so they can begin to read & write on their own.
Specific Goals for Language Development:
- Listens to and understands increasingly complex language: Comprehends language, follows verbal directions
- Uses language to express thoughts and needs: Uses and expanding expressive vocabulary, speaks clearly, uses conventional grammar, tells about another time and place
- Uses appropriate conversational and other communication skills: Engages in conversations, uses social rules of language
Specific Goals for Literacy Development:
- Demonstrates phonological awareness, phonics skills, and word recognition: Notices and discriminates rhyme, notices and discriminates alliteration, notices and discriminates discrete units of sound, applies phonics rules and knowledge of word structure to decode text
- Demonstrates knowledge of the alphabet: Identifies and names letters, identifies letter-sound correspondences
- Demonstrates knowledge of print and its uses: Uses and appreciates books and other texts, uses print concepts
- Comprehends and responds to books and other texts: Interacts during reading experiences, book conversations, and text reflections, uses emergent reading skills, retells stories and recounts details from informational texts, uses context clues to read and comprehend texts, reads fluently
- Demonstrates writing skills: Writes name, writes to convey meaning, writes using conventions
Specific Goals for Cognitive Development:
- Demonstrates positive approaches to learning: Attends and engages, persists, solves problems, shows curiosity and motivation, shows flexibility and inventiveness in thinking
- Remembers and connects experiences: Recognizes and recalls, makes connections
- Uses classification skills
- Uses symbols and images to represent something not present: Thinks symbolically, engages in sociodramatic play
Math Skills: Children are introduced to counting and other beginning math concepts such as sorting and classifying, measuring, adding and subtracting. The hands-on “Math Their Way” curriculum is utilized. This curriculum involves experiences using manipulatives to concretely explore and represent numerical and spatial concepts.
Specific Goals for Math Development:
- Uses number concepts and operations: Counts, quantifies, connects numerals with their quantities, understands and uses place value and base ten, applies properties of mathematical operations and relationships
- Explores and describes spatial relationships and shapes: Understands spatial relationships, understands shapes
- Compares and measures: Measures objects, measures time and money, represents and analyzes data
- Demonstrates knowledge of patterns
Science: Children are offered many experiences with the natural world around them both indoors and out. As they learn to be close observers of detail and begin to try and represent what they see, children gain a deeper understanding of their surroundings. The science program includes the following:
Study of insects, spiders, birds, reptiles, rocks, plants, light and shadows, magnetism, various liquids and solids, etc. Observation, predication, and classification skills are modeled and encouraged.
Specific Goals for Science and Technology:
- Uses Scientific inquiry
- Demonstrates knowledge of the characteristics of living things
- Demonstrates knowledge of Earth’s environment
- Uses tools and other technology to perform tasks
- Demonstrates progress in listening to and understanding English
- Demonstrates progress in speaking English
Art: Children are introduced to a wide variety of art experiences designed to help them gain mastery over the materials. With repeated experiences using the tools of art, children become more and more able to creatively self-express by using art as a language to represent the world within and around them. The art program includes the following elements:
Drawing – Through visual aids and movement, children are introduced to the five basic elements of drawing. As they study various aspects of the world around them, children are encouraged to find and observe these elements so that they can learn to represent what they see. Children are offered experiences using wide and fine tip markers, oil pastels, colored pencils, chalk, and clay etching. They are also offered experiences drawing in shaving cream, salt, finger paint, and wipe-off markers.
Painting – Through puppetry, children are introduced to painting processes as they use a variety of brush sizes, textures and painting materials. Children use liquid tempera paint, tempera cakes, liquid water color, glitter paint, luminescent paint, finger paint, and fabric paint. They are encouraged to paint at the table, the easel, and outdoors, and to cooperatively paint scenery for dramatic play.
Forming – Children work with porcelain clay, Model Magic, and Play dough, as always, moving developmentally from exploration to expression and from simple to more complex forms.
Collage – Children work with a wide variety of papers, even making their own at times, while learning to incorporate tools and techniques such as hand-tearing, crimping, folding, cutting, pasting, stapling, taping, hole-punching and paper fastening. In collage, children will also be using 3-D materials such as wood and wire, sticks, shells, dried flowers, etc.
Music: Children participate daily in rich music experiences that include singing, rhyming, rhythm instrument play, creative movement with props, song writing, and beginning folk dance. Teachers lead children in music using guitar, voice, recorded music, and visual aids. Children are encouraged to contribute their own ideas during the music and movement circle. In this way, they use music as another language for self-expression.
Specific Goals for Art and Music:
- Explores the visual arts
- Explores musical concepts and expression
- Explores dance and movement concepts
- Explores drama through action and language
Physical Development and Outdoor Play: Children are offered a wide variety of experiences designed to enhance large muscle development, balance, and coordination, including: running, jumping, hopping, pulling, climbing, pedaling, ball skills, and hopscotch.
Specific Goals for Physical Development:
- Demonstrates traveling skills
- Demonstrates balancing skills
- Demonstrates gross -motor manipulative skills
- Demonstrates fine-motor strength and coordination: Uses fingers and hands, uses writing and drawing tools