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Jayme Smith | Class of ’15 | May 12, 2015

Although many people support early education, few realize just how critical the need is. According to Hart and Risley (2003), children in economically at-risk families learn, on average, 30 million fewer words in their first three years than their higher-income counterparts. With this fact in mind, Vickie and I set out to create a curriculum that would be intellectually stimulating, teaching many new, unique words to our students, and curiosity-stimulating, giving them an opportunity to explore a place they never had before.

The result was several animal-centered classroom activities, all leading up to a fun-filled day at the Houston Zoo. In the classroom, we had a variety of activities, from traditional lessons to songs and art projects. Our goal was to focus on different aspects of animal life: what they look like, where they live, how they move, noises they make, etc. in order to generate as many unique words as we could. That way, when we actually went to the zoo, the students were able to experience all of the new words that they learned firsthand!

The children absolutely loved the opportunity to interact with animals they’d never seen before, and especially being able to show off all of the new things that they learned. We’re so thankful to Small Steps Nurturing Center, the Houston Zoo, and the Kinder Institute for making this immersive learning possible!