Curriculum

Curriculum Content

Little Stars incorporates 5 learning strategies into the curriculum.  They include the Maine State Learning Results, Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Handwriting Without Tears, Second Step, and The Creative Curriculum.

*Howard Gardner, a Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, introduced seven different intelligences that all humans appear to possess.  By building a curriculum that caters to all eight intelligences, one provides a greater opportunity for success.  Each person learns differently.

  • Kinesthetic Intelligence – Building Center
  • Visual Spatial Intelligence – Art Center
  • Mathematical Logical Intelligence – Math Center
  • Naturalist Intelligence – Science Center
  • Musical Intelligence – Music Center
  • Linguistic Intelligence – Reading Center
  • Interpersonal Intelligence – Group Work
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence – Personal Work

*The Maine State Early Learning Guidelines identify the knowledge and skills essential to prepare Maine students for work, for higher education, for citizenship, and for personal fulfillment.  They serve to focus discussion and to develop consensus on common goals for Maine education.  In identifying essential knowledge and skills to be achieved by Maine students, the Learning Results do not represent a curriculum alone, rather goals for a curriculum to connect to.           

  • English Language Arts
  • Modern and Classical Languages
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Studies
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Health and Physical Education
  • Career Preparation

*Second Step provides engaging lessons and activities that teach essential social skills, such as problems solving, emotion management, impulse control, and empathy.  Young children enjoy Impulse Puppy and Slow-Down Snail puppets as well as the lively songs that reinforce ideas from the curriculum.

*The Creative curriculum is both emergent and constructive.  This means that classroom themes and projects often emerge from the children’s interests or from events in the daily life of the classroom community.  For example, a focus on babies might be prompted by the birth of new siblings.   We believe that children construct their own knowledge rather than simply receive it from adults.  They construct their own ideas and theories about their world through play and social interaction, and experimentation.  For example, the children might explore the properties of weight and motion by constructing ramps and rolling various objects; they learn much more through hands-on experience than they would from an adult’s verbal explanation.  Teachers observe and play carefully to enhance and extend the children’s learning.   The Creative Curriculum for Toddlers is based on accepted theories of child development and the latest brain research, which underscores the importance of the early years. This book features clear, easily understandable descriptions of the work of leading child development theorists, including Piaget, Erikson, Greenspan, and others.

*Reading A-Z is a reading program that adheres to individual’s development.  Once children feel confident in their ability to recognize letters and their phonic sounds, they are given the opportunity to start reading leveled books.  Like all activities at Little Stars, children are given a choice to participate.  It is most important not to rush children in the reading process and keep it as positive of an experience as possible.  Children’s future views on reading are being formed and we do not want any negative correlations.  They will read when they are ready.  Children will be taking home books that they have successfully read. Please get involved and have your child read their books to you.  Reading Assessment and placement of levels is based on running records that note a child’s behavior and recognition ability as he/she reads from leveled books.  Leveled Books –Leveled books are the key component in a guided reading program.  Reading A-Z leveled books are not selected from a collection of books and then leveled.  Rather, Reading A-Z leveled books have been carefully written in accordance with standardized criteria for each level.  They gradually increase in difficulty with each level.

*Handwriting Without Tears: This program is created to prepare children for writing in a playful way that is child-friendly and developmentally sound. The Pre-K program introduces school readiness activities for children of all ability levels.  Body awareness, good habits, grip, coloring, drawing, and beginning handwriting skills are all taught using music, movement, and multi-sensory manipulatives.  The HWT program is designed so that all children can participate but they may be participating at different developmental levels.  The multi-sensory activities are planned to appeal to all learning styles and preferences. “Holding a crayon is cultural and not developmental.  It must be corrected by age 4 or will not get better.”–Jan Olsen HWT Creator/OT

Children Learn Through Play

(During free choice time, children have the opportunity to play in several different learning areas.  These areas help foster individual growth.)

Construction: Block building gives children a chance to think, to plan and to solve problems.  This center involves working together, hand-eye coordination, planning, and development of imagination, shapes, sizes, lengths, balance, weights, textures, sequence, concentration, problem solving, and a visual of what numbers really stand for.

Climbing Area: a soft padded indoor climbing area designed to give toddlers the opportunity to jump, climb, crawl, etc…

Art: Children can color paint, use play dough, draw, etc… Art is also constructive way to release tension and/or anger, valuing themselves, an easy way to enter or become a member of a group, a feeling of accomplishment, exchange of ideas, an awareness of color, abstract shapes, lines, organization of space, expression of many moods, experiences, and feelings.

Dramatic Play: This center allows children to act out and bring together things they have learned and are feeling about their world and themselves.  Development of language (which sharpens abilities t communicate with others), working with another person on a common idea or purpose, development of imagination, preparation for new experience (baby in the family), and self-expression are all experiences undertaken. 

Sensory Table: This center produces a relaxation of tensions, a sense of well-being, hand-eye coordination, principles of absorption, spilling over, pouring, trickling, gravity, liquid weight, concentration span, geography, and teamwork.

Discovery: Themed materials for children to explore.  Incorporates math and science concepts.  Develops excitement of learning about: texture, shapes, sizes, weight, same and different, stimulates curiosity which leads to thought and imagination, encourages understanding of the natural world, encourages children to develop their own ideas, questions and answers,

Manipulatives (Clay, unifix cubes, etc.): Working together, hand-eye coordination, planning, development of imagination, shapes, sizes, lengths, balance, weights, texture, sequence, concentration, problem solving, basic math, geometry, fractions, a constructive way to release tension and/or anger, valuing themselves (each child’s work is different), an easy way to enter or become a member of a group, a feeling of accomplishment, exchange of ideas.

Science/Math: Develops excitement of learning about: texture, patterns, shapes, sizes, weight, numbers, patterns of movement, sequence of growth, same and different, stimulates curiosity which leads to thought and imagination, encourages empathy and understanding of the natural world, encourages children to develop their own ideas, questions and answers, enhances problem solving skills.

Books and Listening Area: Children learn the value of reading through many happy experiences with people and books.  There is no magical moment when children are ready to read or write.  Giving them a foundation of experiences-and the inspiration- to want to learn to read include singing, talking, reciting rhymes, providing a print rich environment, and reading aloud.  Puppets, flannel boards, and books on tape are also available for children to experience.  Children learn that pictures have meaning and are able to use pictures to help tell a story.  In these ways, the children are getting ready to read themselves.

Writing: This learning center involves small motor skills, hand-eye coordination, recognition of letters, connecting letters to words, stimulating thought concentration, familiarity with written words and letters as a way of expressing ideas.

Circle Area/Language/Music and Movement: Circle time or just a quiet, soft place where children can sit and flip through books at their own leisure.  Children learn the value of reading through many happy experiences with people and books.  There is no magical moment when children are ready to read or write.  Giving them a foundation of experiences-and the inspiration- to want to learn to read include singing, talking, reciting rhymes, providing a print rich environment, and reading aloud.  Puppets and flannel boards are also available for children to experience.  Children learn that pictures have meaning and are able to use pictures to help tell a story.  In these ways, the children are getting ready to someday read themselves.

Computer: Children get to experiment with toddler-developed programs.  Enhances hand-eye coordination and small motor skills along with the concepts on the game. 

All of these experiences form the groundwork of reading and number readiness.  Through play children are able to learn that they are able to be successful and have fun.

Curriculum Examples For Color:

Science

Mixing Colors – Children mix blue and red clay pieces together with their hands.  Discuss what happened.

Math

Favorite Color Chart – The lesson will be introduced by talking about favorite colors.  I will explain that favorite means the one you like best because it’s nice or makes you feel good.  We will create a chart to see how many students like particular colors.

Language

Story and Discussion/Song –

“Little Blue and Little Yellow” by Leo Lioni
Who is wearing blue today,
Blue today, blue today?
Who is wearing blue today?
Please stand up.

Social Studies

History of Dye – We will talk about the ways clothes were dyed in the past by using things in nature like beets.  We will use beet juice to dye coffee filters.

Art

Rainbow Rain – Students fill a brush with red, blue, or yellow paint and press against paper to make rain.  Each color will be a different texture.  We will discuss which color was fastest and what happened when they mixed together.

Throughout the activities, we incorporate Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development.

  • Use concrete props and visual aids whenever possible.
  • Make instruction relatively short, using actions as well as words.
  • Give children a great deal of hands-on activities.
  • Provide a wide range of experiences in order to build a foundation for concept learning and language.