Welcome back to my blog! In this post I am going to share how I modify the Creative Curriculum to fit the needs of my students. I want to preface this post by saying that my administration is extremely flexible with their expectations of the preschool teachers using the curriculum to its fullest. The curriculum they have provided us with, The Creative Curriculum, is written for a full day general education class. My class is a half day special education class, so the expectations provided by the curriculum do not align with the expectations we have in place for my students . They have full trust in the preschool team that we know what is best for our students and we know what they need.
I will have another blog post about how I organize all of my Creative Curriculum materials.
General Info About My Class
I teach a preschool self-contained class in a public school. I have 2 half day classes that can go up to 12 students in each, and two teaching assistants. All of my students have IEPs (Individualized Education Plans). In my school there are also two other preschool classes. One class utilizes ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) where students work in 1:1 and 1:2 ratios with teachers. The other class is an integrated class, where half of the students are typically developing, and the other half of the students have special needs. Having the different classes allows us to move students to the class that best fits their needs at any time during the school year. Also, if we find it appropriate, we have the ability to have a student split their day between two classes.
Our supervisor provided us with 10 Creative Curriculum Studies when the district switched to the Creative Curriculum. We have the following alternative studies; Beginning of the Year, Boxes, Clothes, Buildings, Trees, Bread, Pets, Reduce Reuse Recycle, Roads and Balls (we only use during ESY if needed). For some of the studies we only have the guide and for some we have the books and the other provided materials (you will find out below why this isn’t really a problem in my classroom). The Pre-K team decided a few years ago to make an ‘A’ and ‘B’ year with the studies. We did this because there are too many studies to fit into 1 year and we have so many students that are with us for 2 years, so they are able to get different materials each year.
A year: Beginning of the Year, Boxes, Clothes, Buildings, Trees
B year: Beginning of the Year, Trees, Bread, Pets, Reduce Reuse Recycle, Roads
Modifying the Curriculum
Since my classroom is self-contained, all of my students have some type of delay and are not able to learn in a general education setting. This is why I modify the curriculum and expectations for my students. To be honest, I look at the focus questions in each study and plan on my own from there. For the most part, I make each focus question last a whole week. I find that my students need a full week of one topic to fully grasp the material. Below is an example of how I planned the PETS study. When there is a holiday or something special like Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Hanukkah/Christmas, Fire Safety Week, etc. I do try to plan a whole week to talk about it.
I make a plan like this before the school year starts for the Fall and right before winter break for the Spring. This gives me an idea of how long we will spend on each study and when I have to prep certain things.
I am going to share with you how I plan for each study and each week. I think this will give you a better understanding of how I use the curriculum in my classroom.
I use this Unit Planning sheet that I made to plan for each study. This gives be a broad outline of how each week will look. At the end of this post there is a download button for you to download my planning freebie. This unit planning sheet is part of the freebie.
Since I have already planned what week I am going to teach each focus question, filling out the first three columns is easy.
- First, I start to figure out what lesson materials I will need for each week. When I discovered that @twopeasinaprimarypod made anchor chart materials for the Creative Curriculum my life was made so much easier! I use these anchor charts to teach my students about each focus question. These anchor charts are simplified versions of what needs to be covered from the curriculum, and they are a PERFECT fit for my students! Now that I have them all prepped and ready for each study, I just pull them out when it is time. So, in the ‘lesson materials’ column I write what anchor chart I am going to use and then if there are any other materials that will help teach my students for that focus question I also write them there.
I have started to make retention data sheets for each CC study to see if my students are gaining the information from the focus question after a week of talking about it. You can find those in my TPT store.
- Next, I start finding books for the study. Again, I do not have the books for all of the studies, probably just for 6 of the studies. But even the books I do have from the curriculum are too advanced for my students. Most of the time I get books from our school library related to the focus questions, or I find books online. I plan one/two books per week depending on how many I find and depending on the focus question.
- Then, I plan cooking activities in advance. There are cooking activities in the curriculum, but I do not use those. The PreK ABA teacher and I do cooking together on Fridays. We find cute cooking activities together online or we make them up ourselves. We like to plan this in advance so that, if possible, we can shop for what we need all at once. Parents give us $5 a month for cooking and we “cook” every Friday. Here are some examples of cooking activities we will be doing during the PETS study:
This is an example of what the planning sheet looks like when it is done. I do not give this to admin, this is not part of my lesson plans, this is just to help ME!
The last thing to start thinking about/planning is small and large groups!
We do small group 3 times a week. Small group is when my students work in a group of 3-4 with one teacher for about 8 minutes and then rotate to another teacher. I use these small group rotation boards during this time. I do not use the small group suggestions from the curriculum simply because they are too advanced for my students. Also, I have so many other topics I need to make sure I cover with my students since they all have IEP goals.
We either focus on a skill related to their IEP goals during small group, or something related to the focus question/study that we are working on that week. This is when we do Made For Me Math work, Especially Education task boxes, seasonal activities or other activities I find on Pinterest or TPT related to our study. If there are any crafts we might do during the study I try to plan them out ahead of time. We don’t do crafts every day, or even every week, but if there are crafts I want to do during the study, I like to print an example of it or pull it from my files and put it aside to make sure we prep it in time.
Large group only occurs in my afternoon class, because my students are older (mostly 4 turning 5). In large group we work as a class to complete an activity. This is mostly Made For Me Math activities/books, butcher paper activities, or other fun stuff I find that is higher level for them!
Here is an example of my planning sheet for small/large groups. At the end of this post there is a download button for you to download my planning freebie. This group planning sheet is part of the freebie.
I usually plan large and small groups 2 weeks in advance just for peace of mind. This year I am really trying to pull from what I have since I have so much stuff that I have purchased or made over the past 2 ½ years.
My lesson plans in the end look like this. Again, very simple and my admin is okay with that! They know that I am focusing on what my children need while also incorporating the general education curriculum. This template is from The Creative Classroom. Having my lessons laid out like this helps ME. I print the ‘groups’ page just like it is here and put it on display for myself and my TA’s. This keeps us organized for the week.
Questions I have gotten about this topic on Instagram:
Q: How can I modify the CC for a 2 year old level?
A: I would recommend doing something similar to what I do. If they are general education 2 year olds it should work well. TwoPeasInAPrimaryPod has great resources for adapting and modifying the CC.
Q: What areas of the CC do you think are most important?
A: I really think the focus questions are the most important. If you can get your students to have an understanding of each FQ, then you are doing a good job. That will look different for all of our students, but I think that is the most important. I do this by having the anchor charts for each focus question out for a week and going over it every day.
Q: What do I do if I was not given materials for the curriculum, just the framework?
A: Honestly, since I don’t use a lot of the materials that I was given, and I only use the focus questions, I might not be the right person to answer this. I take the focus questions and do my own thing (as you can see above). Hopefully reading this post will help you do the same!
Q: Do you have a planner or a pacing guide?
A: As you can see above, I make my own! I take the focus questions from each study and come up with my own schedule. I also use my own unit planning sheet for each study. This just helps me stay organized.
I hope this was helpful to some of you! I would love to add more to this if anyone is looking for more information. If you have any questions or want to know more you can message me on Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org