Peekapak ties in most easily to existing ELA curricula. Though many lessons could potentially stand alone, they really work best as a full package. That means teachers should plan for two 20- 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 they don't lose the advantages of exploring topics from multiple angles. Or, perhaps better yet, they could do full units but only some rather than all 10.
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. Though it would be great to have full parent participation, 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.Continue reading Show less
Peekapak offers complete teaching units for 10 topics in social and emotional learning. Kids explore these issues as they accompany Leo the hedgehog on his first day of school. They follow Leo and a mixture of human and animal characters throughout the school year in Peekaville. Each topic unit -- such as empathy, honesty, teamwork, or self-regulation -- consists of an introductory storybook, eight activities to do in the classroom, and eight 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 for each student.
Teachers get an easy-to-follow overview, classroom resources like character cards and posters, and step-by-step instructions for each lesson. Every lesson also has quick tips for adjusting the lesson to make it more or less difficult or to adapt it for an ELL crowd. When teachers create a class account, they indicate the appropriate grade level. This choice affects the content of some of the lessons; higher grade levels get more complex and age-appropriate activities.
Peekapak's strength lies in its simple yet thorough approach to providing teachers with an easy-to-implement plan for covering complex topics. Lessons include a nice mixture of strategies that should get kids exploring concepts such as self-regulation and honesty from a variety of angles. This variety also should help teachers reach kids with different learning strengths. The material is presented on a neat, organized site that makes it super easy for teachers to jump right in. Classroom resources such as printable character cards and posters help make this curriculum an integrated part of the classroom that follows kids throughout the year.
The home-school connection is a great idea, but some lessons require significant time commitments from parents. Buy-in will vary greatly from class to class. The materials, characters, and story plots seem a bit more appropriate for the lower elementary years but aren't so far off as to be totally irrelevant for older kids. At the time of this review, the only data tracking available was that teachers can mark which lessons they've completed; some teachers might appreciate a built-in reporting or assessment tool. Despite that shortcoming, Peekapak has done much of the background work for teachers looking to integrate social and emotional learning or character development into their teaching.