Early Childhood and Elementary Programs

AMAZE’s core programs advance equity and inclusion by combining quality children’s literature and skill-building exercises to spark age-appropriate discussions about difference. Because family is one of the most important and accessible sources of both strength and difference for many children, the program focuses on exploring and appreciating all the ways that families can be different. And by engaging parents, guardians, teachers, and school administrators in reading to children and leading discussions that explore diversity and challenge bias, AMAZE builds cultures of acceptance and respect that reach beyond the classroom to impact whole schools and communities.

AMAZE’s programs are so effective because they engage children directly in making their own environments safe and welcoming for each other, fostering the knowledge, values, and skills that the next generation needs in order to support, and respect each other across differences of race, class, culture, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion/faith, and physical ability. The curricula, hands-on activities, and interactive materials help adults and children work together to break silences about difference and discrimination in their schools and communities – and give them the tools and support to do it in a respectful, constructive, and effective way.


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The Families All Matter Book Project (FAM) for Elementary

  • Literature based supplemental curriculum that improves social and learning environments by engaging children and adults in important conversations that build empathy and respect across differences
  • Organized into five sections
    • Empathy and Belonging
    • Healthy, Complex Identities
    • Respect Across Differences
    • Naming Bias, Prejudice, and Stereotypes
    • Taking Action Against Injustice
  • Teachers, social workers, counselors, and trained parent volunteers share high quality picture books covering diversity through the lens of family
  • Discussion questions and journal activities that align with reading, writing, and social studies standards
  • Project based activities allow students to extend their learning in an interactive way
  • Students internalize anti-bias education theory and practice standing up to bias based behaviors and attitudes in a safe, age appropriate way
  • For a curriculum sample, click here

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Classroom Dynamics

  • Seven question online survey that shows students’ perspectives on the social dynamics of a classroom
  • Sociograms illustrate positive and negative connections, as well as isolated students
  • Intervention strategies are provided towards supporting a more connected classroom
  • Increases the teacher’s ability to prevent and respond to classroom behaviors that lead to targeting and isolation

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Everyone Matters for Early Childhood

  • An adaptation of FAM for preschool children, their families, and their caregivers
  • Organized into the following sections
    • Creating Safety and Belonging
    • Understanding Me and You
    • Valuing Families
    • Building a Community
  • Each section uses children’s literature, classroom activities, parent/child activities and open-ended questions that carry the conversations throughout the daily activities and into the home
  • Proactively addresses issues of prejudice for younger children before biased attitudes and behaviors have become entrenched
  • For a curriculum sample, click here

Persona Dolls

  • In addition to our literature based curriculum, AMAZE has created a line of persona dolls – preschool sized realistic cloth dolls with a variety of skin colors, facial features, and hair true to their chosen ethnicity
    • Each doll has a personality and a story rich with family, likes and dislikes, challenges, and successes
    • Persona dolls take the learning a step further by providing an avenue for teaching social skills, conflict resolution, and problem solving
    • To visit our Persona Doll page, click here

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We All Matter Family Childcare Kit

  • This is a smaller version of our Early Childhood program, containing only six books
  • The training that goes along with the six books uses materials that can be found in a regular home such as one might find in a home-based daycare setting
  • Using art projects, recipes, and outdoor activities, We All Matter meets a need that has been made by early childhood educators for years

 


Training: All AMAZE programming is supported by adult education opportunities. Many of us are unsure of how to talk directly with young children about difference and bias. We worry that we won’t know how to answer their questions or might give them too much information too fast.

  • What is the developmentally appropriate way to talk to a 6 year old about sexuality or race or hate violence?
  • What if they ask the same questions that we have? Many of us didn’t grow up talking openly about sexuality, race, gender, socioeconomic difference, discrimination, etc. – and often the silence taught us to be uncomfortable with those topics.

AMAZE provides ongoing training, workshops, and coaching for adults implementing our curricula to help them successfully incorporate courageous conversations on diversity and difference into their classrooms, faith organizations, and families.

  • Reader trainings teach adults how to handle questions that children have about diverse families
  • Orientation sessions for school staff, PTAs, and congregations help adults learn to build stronger, more inclusive learning and faith communities and improve communications with diverse groups of parents and community members
  • AMAZE regularly holds staff development trainings and workshops on issues including creating safe and inclusive classrooms, bullying, building bridges across differences, and creating healthy and involved families
  • We conduct community forums where speaker sessions and peer-led seminars help parents, teachers, religious educators, community volunteers, neighborhood members, and school administrators learn about bias and prejudice and become leaders in challenging it
  • We have developed two trainings specifically for new teachers: “Inclusive Classrooms” and “Using Culturally Diverse Literature,” which are now required for all pre-service elementary school teacher training programs in the state of Iowa and also available online through the Eager to Learn platform

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