UD's Laboratory Preschool created a social studies curriculum that engaged students by creating a model of Newark's Main Street.

Learning about community

University's Laboratory Preschool models Main Street


1:11 p.m., Feb. 18, 2015--Chances are, your social studies class consisted of reading textbooks, studying maps and memorizing things like state capitals and the primary export of Argentina. 

Faculty working at the University of Delaware’s Laboratory Preschool wanted to create a curriculum for the pre-kindergarten/kindergarten class that was considerably more engaging, while teaching UD’s early childhood education students how to develop and implement social studies. Their efforts went on display Feb. 13, when their students unveiled an 18-foot model of Newark’s Main Street. 

People Stories

'Resilience Engineering'

The University of Delaware's Nii Attoh-Okine recently published a new book with Cambridge University Press, "Resilience Engineering: Models and Analysis."

Reviresco June run

UD ROTC cadets will run from New York City to Miami this month to raise awareness about veterans' affairs.

The Main Street project is a place-based, developmentally appropriate social studies curriculum created by Laura Morris, pre-kindergarten/kindergarten master teacher, and Jennifer Gallo-Fox, assistant professor of human development and family studies. It integrates key components outlined in the Common Core State Standards, the National Council for Social Studies Standards and the Social Studies Delaware Recommended Curriculum.

“Our goal was to teach youngsters about ‘community’ – what it means, how it impacts our lives and how we benefit from building a strong community,” said Morris. Gallo-Fox added, “This is one example of how UD teacher candidates use their background in educational theory to develop and implement curriculum in a real setting. This experience will enable them to create curriculum in their future classrooms, linking student learning to their community.”

Working with the UD students enrolled in HDFS 413, Gallo-Fox and Morris developed a curriculum that integrated literacy, math, art, history and even social/emotional development while emphasizing how “community” starts in the classroom and ripples outward into the larger society. 

Surveying Main Street 

During the fall semester, the 29 UD students organized a field trip to Main Street for the children in Morris’ classroom. Each child was asked to investigate a specific building using various learning devices — count the number of windows, take photos of the architecture, read the signs, ask about the history. 

Upon returning to school, the children and their UD teacher partners designed poster boards to document their findings. Much like artists develop sketches to plot out their masterpieces, the children then referenced their posters to create 3-D models of their buildings. 

Using recycled materials, the children lovingly recreated notable landmarks — the Deer Park, the National 5 & 10, even UD’s Trabant University Center and Academy Building. 

Unveiling the model

On Feb. 13, parents of the Lab Preschool children were invited to hear an overview of the program by Morris, Gallo-Fox and the children. Then, much to the delight of the children, the model was unveiled. 

“I see mine! I see mine,” they cheered, as the black draping was removed from the four display tables. Grabbing hold of their parents’ hands, they proudly explained the services provided at each location and shared historical tidbits.   

“Children this age are still developing a sense of time,” said Gallo-Fox. “Understanding the difference between 20 versus 100 years ago is challenging. We helped them gain historical perspective with photos from different eras. They understand that horses were used before cars.” 

Much like the buildings being documented, the Main Street project has evolved over time. This was the fourth semester it has been taught at the Lab Preschool. 

Gallo-Fox and Morris have increased the learning opportunities, encouraging the UD students to take a more active role in the planning, and fostering a more creative, participatory element for the children. 

“This project helped both our lab preschool children and our UD students develop a greater appreciation of Newark,” said Gallo-Fox. “Our UD students were struck by the dynamic nature of Newark’s business and how the buildings have been repurposed over the years.”

The presentation concluded with lunch provided by various Main Street merchants. 

“The businesses enjoyed being part of the curriculum. They talked to the children, handed them mementos; it was exciting for everyone. Grotto’s Pizza and Newark Deli and Bagel donated food for our unveiling, and Newark Bagel asked if they could put their building representation on display,” said Morris. “I was excited to see that our goal of building community ties was reached.”

Article by Alison Burris

Photos by Evan Krape

News Media Contact

University of Delaware
Communications and Public Affairs

UDaily is produced by
Communications and Public Affairs

The Academy Building
105 East Main Street
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716 | USA
Phone: (302) 831-2792
email: publicaffairs@udel.edu