At Smarty Pants, lesson plans include age-appropriate, domain-based activities reflective of children’s interests and skills; address the developmental needs of each and every child; are informed by ongoing observations and use of developmental checklists; family member input (based on the ‘all about my child” form) and include information from an IFSP/IEP, if provided.
Monthly themes are selected to explore together as each child works on specific skills. Domain-based activities provide opportunities for whole group, small group and individual learning experiences that include adequate time for transitions, literacy, and reading opportunities. Learning takes place in many ways at Smarty Pants. Children learn in large group activities, primarily a literacy circle time and a math circle time. They also learn in Learning Centers. These are centers planned and intentionally set up to allow children to learn using hands on experience and play. Learning also takes place during classroom routines as children learn self-regulatory and social skills.
Teachers help the children learn by using learning centers, defined in the curriculum and through best practices in the field, that are designed to allow children to learn while they play and explore. The classroom has about ten centers with enough materials for all children to actively engage in their environment. These materials are selected to meet quality standards for early childhood programs. Each center includes age appropriate activities and reflects the interest and skill levels of each of the students. Materials and some defined activities are added to centers on a regular basis. While children explore, the teachers guide the learning through questions and extension activities. We invite parents to become part of this process by observing in our classrooms during center time.
Teachers also prepare small group instruction, particularly around literacy and math. These small group lessons address the developmental needs of the small group participating. The lessons are differentiated to meet the needs of children with special needs including IEP and IFSP plans.
Decisions regarding planning are based on what themes are being studied and/or children's interests. Teachers review their observations, portfolio work-samples, and reflect on recent events and interactions. This information is then used to update the child's assessment and to plan for the following week. Teachers take into account changes they notice in routines and new materials that they would like to introduce.
While planning for centers, small groups and large groups they ask themselves:
What experiences interest the children now?
Which materials are the children using the most?
What skills are the children developing?
What is working well or not working well?
What actually happened with this week's activities and what changes need to be made?
In addition to planning the weekly activities, teaching staff use the planning process to make needed adaptations to their daily routines. For example, replacing "outdoor learning" with "music and movement" to help burn energy and build gross motor skills when the weather is inclement. Teaching staff are allowed flexibility when planning children's activities and permitted to revise lesson plans as often as needed.
Whole group, small group and individual learning experiences include domain-based activities. Throughout the day we provide opportunities for adequate time for transitions, literacy, and reading opportunities.
Learning domains for preschool children:
Social and Personal Development
Language and Literacy
Physical Development and Health
SMARTY PANTS CURRICULUM
We provide creative, hands-on activities that allow children to learn through experimentation and exploration while encouraging development of higher-order thinking skills.
Language, science, patterning, independent thinking, and creative expression are a few of the skills covered each week.