Here at The Beautiful Stuff Project we are strong believers in letting young children play and free explore with materials before any specific expectations for learning content is introduced.
Maybe you can imagine how excited we were when Janet MacNeil, the JK-12 Science Coordinator for the Cambridge Public Schools, contacted us to partner with them to do just this. She was interested in figuring out ways to introduce our treasure boxes in the early childhood classrooms aligned with their mandated curriculum themes. Together we decided to start with the first-grade light and shadow curriculum and introduce The Beautiful Stuff Project Shadow Treasure boxes at the beginning of the study for creative exploration. It was most cost efficient for Cambridge Public Schools to purchase one classroom set of 24 treasure boxes and work mats for each school and have multiple classrooms share them over the course of the study. They also hired us to create several short training videos for teachers that familiarized them with the general guidelines for free exploration with the treasure boxes and, more specifically, introducing them how to use them with their classes for shadow play with flashlights. Janet wrote the Treasure Boxes into the curriculum guide as lesson 2 of the unit and encouraged essential questions with the play such as “What can we discover about light and shadows on our own?” and “What new questions do we have?”
This kind of partnership is so primary to our mission. To work collaboratively with school systems, individual programs, teachers, and students to bring the essential component of play into the daily classroom life of children. We don’t have a specific recipe for how we make this happen. Instead, as we did with Janet MacNeil, we work directly with whoever hires us to do it in a way that is best for your particular situation. Contact us for a free consultation if you are interested in pursuing such a project with us for your school or program.