Hands On Minds On Preschool Overview


Hands On Minds On is a Preschool Curriculum piloted and researched at Kids For Kids Academy.

The curriculum, developed by National Board Certified Teacher, Beth Davis, integrates best practices in a theme based model which places a great deal of emphasis on hands on science and math with a heavy concentration of early literacy and teacher collaboration (Theme Listing in Appendix A).

The key concepts are modeled after published action research done in Davis’ classroom over a 17-year period as a classroom teacher and elementary science lab teacher.

Davis holds a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education, A Masters Degree in T.E.S.O.L (Teaching English Speakers of Other Languages), and an Educational Specialist Degree in Computer Education.  Davis has also published curriculum for TS. Denison Instructional Fair and Miami-Dade County Public Schools, taught in the College of Education at Barry University, acted as a curriculum consultant for the Florida Department of Education, and is a workshop presenter for teachers.

In her research published by FIU & Barry University, Davis proved that children exposed to hands on science instruction gained greater subject matter understanding than students exposed to book learning or traditional worksheets.

In her study, TLC: Teachers Learning and Collaborating, Davis doubled the amount of hands on instruction given to the lowest performing student population (an at risk class) at Jack D. Gordon Elementary. At the end of the study, these children showed the highest gains when compared to the other 10 classes. (TLC Research in Appendix B) Using Hands On Minds On in her preschool for a two-year period, 98% of Voluntary PreKindergarten students entered Kindergarten prepared for success.

Kids For Kids Academy posted readiness ratings of 278 and 276 respectively in their first two years, placing the school in the top 9% of all preschools in Miami-Dade County.  All VPK students are given the LAP-D assessment by a trained assessor when they enter the school.  They are also given a post test at the end of the school year.  Students in the program showed significant gains.

The Hands On Minds On approach recognizes that what might be seen as play by some, is actually a child’s way or “working” and learning as they explore.

Center time provides an opportunity to explore all of the components of the curriculum. Each class is equipped with well defined centers which include, but are not limited to; a carpeted area for block building and exploration with vehicles and animal figures, a housekeeping area for dramatic play with multicultural and multiethnic dolls and clothing, a library area with cozy places for reading and a listening station for listening to stories, a tabletop area with puzzles and other manipulatives, an art area with varied art media including paper, magazines, scissors, markers, crayons, glue, stamps, stencils, and easels for painting, and a discovery area for science exploration.  Items in the discovery area include, but are not limited to; containers of sand, rice, or beans for scooping and measuring, water containers for pouring, magnifiers, magnets, microscopes, scales, insect replicas, musical instruments, and other devices for science inquiry.

Hands On Minds On is a blueprint for learning based on several components put into a daily schedule.

The main premise behind this model is that children learn through hands on experiences. The model discourages the use of traditional worksheets during the classroom experience.

Although it is referenced as a Pre Kindergarten Model, many of the components of the curriculum are infused in the schedule for all children in the school starting at 1 year of age, as developmentally appropriate for the children.

By age 4, all elements are completely infused in the program.  A large part of the curriculum is based on teacher collaboration. The school believes that every teacher has unique gifts and talents thus, by collaborating, the program capitalizes on the gifts and talents of each educator.

Teachers meet weekly for one hour in planning teams to design a weekly plan for their students.  Planning teams are broken into age groups as follows:

Team 1: 2-23 months (Green, Red & Yellow Door)
Team 2: 2 & 3-Year-old classes (Blue & Rainbow Door)
Team 3: 3 ½ – 4 Year-old classes (Gold Door)
Team 4: VPK (Orange & Brown Door)
Team 5: Kinder/First Grade (Purple Door)

 

The Curriculum centers itself on the school’s vision: We believe that every child has unique gifts and talents. We accept the challenge to nurture those gifts and talents in every child.