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Pros: Thorough lesson plans use a variety of approaches to get kids engaged in the material, and the game is a perfect complement.
Cons: Adding the game almost doubles the price, so it may be a tough sell for teachers.
Bottom Line: Detailed social and emotional learning lessons provide teachers with almost everything they'll need to spark positive character development and reflection in their students.
ELA or social studies teachers will find that Peekapak ties in most easily to their curricula. Use the stories, interactive game activities, and lessons to teach kids concepts like self-regulation and empathy. As you work through the lessons, you'll help kids build awareness of community and the importance of developing the SEL skills necessary to become responsible, respectful people.
Though you can choose to teach lessons in isolation, they really work best as a full package. That means teachers should plan for two or three 10- to 25-minute lessons per week for four weeks (for each of the 10 units). If there's not enough time to do the full curriculum, teachers should be thoughtful in their choices of which lessons to skip so that they don't lose the advantages of exploring topics from multiple angles. Take advantage of the printable resources and really make the characters come alive for kids to get them fully engaged with the storylines and learning concepts. Because of the wealth of resources, it may take some work to get families to put in the time required to complete all the home activities; teachers may want to pick a few to send home so as not to overwhelm parents.
Peekapak is a website that offers complete teaching units for 10 social and emotional learning (SEL) topics as well as the MyPeekaville interactive game (in beta). Kids explore the different topics as they accompany Leo the hedgehog and a mixture of human and animal characters throughout the school year in Peekaville. Each topic unit -- such as empathy, perseverance, teamwork, or self-regulation -- consists of an introductory storybook, eight or 12 activities to do in the classroom, and additional activities to send home for kids to do with their parents. For the home-school connection feature to work, teachers need to create a student list and provide a parent email address to obtain verifiable consent.
Teachers get an easy-to-follow overview, classroom resources like character cards and posters, and step-by-step instructions for each standards-based lesson. Every lesson also has quick tips for adjusting the lesson to make it more or less difficult (to adapt it for ELL students), including text and audio in English or Spanish and a screen reader feature students can use or mute. When teachers create a class account, they can indicate the appropriate grade level. This choice affects the content of some of the lessons, meaning higher grade levels get more complex, age-appropriate activities.
Peekapak offers a simple yet thorough approach to providing teachers with easy-to-implement plans for covering complex SEL topics. Lessons include a nice mixture of strategies that should get kids exploring concepts such as courage and gratitude from a variety of perspectives. There are also plenty of opportunities to learn new vocabulary and reinforce reading, writing, and listening skills at all levels, helping teachers reach kids with different learning needs. Classroom resources such as printable character cards and posters help make this curriculum an integrated part of the classroom that can serve as visual reminders throughout the year.
The home-school connection is a great idea, but some lessons require significant time commitments from parents. The materials, characters, and story plots seem a bit more appropriate for the lower elementary years but are relevant enough to appeal to older kids as well. MyPeekaville has some kinks, such as repeat situations within the same activity, but it offers a personalized learning approach as kids learn to problem-solve their way through vital SEL concepts. Overall, teachers will appreciate that Peekapak has done much of the work for those looking to integrate social and emotional learning and character development into their teaching.