A STEM-FOCUSED CURRICULUM

Our hands-on STEM focused curriculum, Collections Curriculum is aligned to the current Massachusetts state standards in PreK, Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2. We take great pride in our curriculum approach at all levels and make updates to meet student’s needs, student interest and current best practice. Students who attend The Hundred Acre School are prepared in all domains of learning: social emotional, physical development, cognitive development, language and literacy (ELA: English Language Arts), mathematics, science, technology, engineering, arts, and social studies. STEM

In 2014, a preschool curriculum was developed for The Hundred Acre School at Heritage Museums & Gardens Inc. located in Sandwich, Massachusetts. Heritage Museums & Gardens received a Preschool Innovative STEM Curriculum Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) in 2014. The goal of the grant was to develop innovative preschool Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics curricula to be used by early education programs for preschool-aged children. EEC recognizes that quality programs include: project based learning, hands-on experimentation, and providing experiences that support natural inquiry. These concepts are central in the Collections Curriculum. While this curriculum has been developed for use at The Hundred Acre School, the hope is that the concepts are easily replicated by other Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care programs.

In 2015, Heritage Museums & Gardens received a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which primarily works with communities to create conditions so vulnerable children can realize their full potential in school, work and life. This grant provided the opportunity to pilot the curriculum at two additional sites in New Orleans, Louisiana and Brockton, Massachusetts. Through this grant, Heritage Museums & Gardens updated the Curriculum and added additional Investigations, and developed an online training program for educators interested in implementing this STEM-focused model.

In 2019, the Collections Curriculum was expanded to Kindergarten. It is to be used in combination with an award winning and research based literacy and math program. See details in the Kindergarten Curriculum section.

In 2020, the Collections Curriculum was expanded to grade 1. See details in the Grade 1 Curriculum section.

In 2021, the Collections Curriculum was expanded to grade 2. See details in the Grade 2 Curriculum section coming soon.

About the PreK Curriculum

This curriculum is designed for preschoolers. It covers all domains of development, but focuses teaching and learning activities through a STEM lens. The learning environment (indoors and out) had been carefully designed to promote STEM explorations and support and enhance the curriculum.

The curriculum is divided into for in-depth study of each topic. Following an emergent curriculum philosophy, the Investigations serve as a guide for teachers as they capitalize on children’s and families’ interests in each topic and design lessons based on children’s inquiry questions. Each Investigation has been selected to cover all objectives outlined by the Massachusetts Preschool Learning Experiences developed by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care and is aligned to a standardized assessment tool.

The school year begins with “Using STEM STEM Tools for Investigations” to introduce children to the Scientific Method, their new school and daily routines. The goal is to encourage children and families to explore inquiry learning and how to use tools to test their theories. The tools introduced in this initial Investigation will then become part of the instruments used for other Investigations. Using the Scientific Method becomes a way for children to organize their ideas, develop and test hypotheses, and build upon their knowledge.

The remaining Investigations can be taught in any order depending on teacher goals, student interest, and environmental/social influences.

  1. Paying Attention to Sound: Human-Made & Natural
  2. Becoming Patternmakers
  3. Creating Visual Arts
  4. Living and Nonliving Objects in our Environment
  5. Exploring Color
  6. Playing with Sunlight and Shadows
  7. Investigating Insects, Arachnids, and Earthworms
  8. Discovering Flight: Birds to Machines
  9. Kitchen Chemistry: Conducting Science Experiments
  10. Studying Trees
  11. Connecting with our Community
  12. Recycling: Protecting Our Environment
  13. Water is Essential for Life

Every Investigation begins with provocations designed by our teachers to get children and families talking and asking questions about STEM concepts related to the specific Investigation. As children’s questions emerge, teachers will design activities to help children test their hypotheses and further their learning. Teachers expand the investigation based on children’s interests and experiments.

Investigations culminate when students have fully explored a particular concept and a future investigation is selected based on students’ interests and teacher’s goals for deepening their knowledge and connections. Our investigations last between 5 and 8 weeks.

About the Elementary Curriculum

Early elementary education (K-grade 2) is an important time for children age 5-8 in both physical and mental development. Unlike many other elementary schools, students of the Hundred Acre School will spend their day both indoors and out engaged in play activities that strengthen their social and cognitive development.

What children learn in these early elementary years will shape their success in school and as an adult. One of the most important aspects is laying the building blocks for solid literacy and mathematical development is the development of what is referred to as soft skills. Soft skills are things like communication and listening, insight into others, critical thinking and making connections across complex ideas. These soft skills are key in our STEM focused curriculum so elementary students, K – 2nd at The Hundred Acre School will blend together our STEM focused curriculum with literacy and math programs that have had proven successful results.

STEM Focused Curriculum

Kindergarten Collections Curriculum: The school year begins with “The Scientific Method: Conducting Science Experiments”. Students reconnect with STEM tools and the scientific method while and they explore kindergarten routines, explore their new classroom, science in their world, and get to know new classmates. The remaining Investigations can be taught in any order depending on teacher goals, student interest, and environmental/social influences.

  1. Inventive Thinkers: Engineering Design Process
  2. Animals in Our Environment
  3. Learning About the Human Body
  4. Observing Weather and Weather Forecasting
  5. Exploring Horticulture
  6. Connecting with our Community
  7. Stewards of the Earth

Grade 1 Collections Curriculum: The school year begins with Persistence Pays Off: Inventors and Inventions. The remaining Investigations can be taught in any order depending on teacher goals, student interest, and environmental/social influences.

  1. Survival of Living Things
  2. Stewards of the Earth
  3. Waves: Light and Sound
  4. Patterns in our Environment
  5. Mapping and Directions
  6. Exploring our World: Conducting Science Experiments

K & 1st: Language & Literacy