15 Thanksgiving Activities That Integrate STEM

Lani deGuia, Guest Blogger and Curriki Member

turkey yumIt’s November! That means this month is full of all things Thanksgiving.

The history of the first Thanksgiving meal with Native Americans, turkey crafts, and daydreaming of all of the delicious food usually top the month’s festivities.

However, this holiday can also be a great opportunity to make learning STEM concepts in math, science, technology, and design thinking incredibly fun and engaging. Here are several activities that are perfect for integrating into your classroom or homeschooling curriculum. Most involve easy-to-find materials in the household, so they are also budget-friendly!

Turkeys Involve Math?

Pattern Block Turkeys
Mrs. T’s First Grade Class takes the traditional turkey craft to the next level by using pattern blocks to create “math-friendly” turkeys.

Candy corn athCandy Corn Counting
No Time For Flash Cards has a great counting activity for young learners. Use candy corn for basic counting or to illustrate math sentences.

Thanksgiving Math and Science Activities 
Little Giraffes Teaching Ideas offers several Thanksgiving-themed math and science activities, including making food graphs from Thanksgiving foods, and popcorn or cranberry patterns.

Candy Sorting Mats
Making Learning Fun has templates for candy sorting mats for all occasions, including a turkey for Thanksgiving. Using skittles or other candies, kids can sort, count, and then eat their work!

Thanksgiving Budgeting
What the Teacher Wants offers a Thanksgiving math activity to teach kids about budgeting. Using circulars and newspaper ads for Thanksgiving, students will plan and budget for a Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving Tallying and Graphing Charts
Having a large Thanksgiving get-together? Loving 2 Learn offers fun printable tallying and graphing charts to find out what is the most and least popular pie, vegetable, and pumpkin treat of the season.

Let’s Talk Turkey: The Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner
Calculate the cost to put out that lavish spread.

The Science of Thanksgiving

How Long Do Leftovers Last?
Wonderopolis helps teach kids about refrigeration, bacteria growth and temperature by exploring how long all the parts of a Thanksgiving meal keep in the refrigerator.

dancing corn activityDancing Corn Thanksgiving Science Activity
Little Bins for Little Hands has an activity where kids can explore density, physical properties and chemical reactions with corn kernels, baking soda and vinegar.

Make Homemade Butter Thanksgiving Edible Science
Teach children about states of matter and food science by making butter from heavy cream. Then use the end product to butter rolls on Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Science Experiments
Turn ordinary pumpkins into science marvels! Kids make pumpkin slime, volcanos, car tunnels and more.

Candy Corn Catapults
Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls offers a hands-on activity in physics. Using common household items, catapults can be made with pencils, popsicle sticks, clothespins, and more to learn about trajectory, tension and force.

Study Seeds With Popcorn
Steve Spangler Science shows how you can observe seedlings and germination from popcorn.

Light Up Thanksgiving Turkey Circuit Craft 
Left Brain Craft Brain offers  a fun craft to teach children how to make a simple electrical circuit and a cute turkey at the same time.

Competition and Design

Thanksgiving STEM Challenges leftovers
Incorporate competition, design thinking, and math and science skills in these STEM challenge activities from Plans for a Better Tomorrow. Challenges include making a Mayflower boat and pumpkin catapults, and present Pilgrim building design dilemmas.

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving-themed STEM activity? Please share! We hope your November is full of lots of learning!

LaniLani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology.

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Teaching the Elections: One Week to Go!

Trump and CLintonBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

With U.S. Presidential Elections coming into the home stretch, many Americans are heaving a sigh of relief that one of the most acrimonious election seasons in memory is finally almost over.

But for teachers and homeschoolers, that means just one week remains to use active elections as an exciting real-time teaching tool for US history and social studies.

Curriki’s elections page includes a collection of helpful, interactive election teaching resources for kids of all ages. They include:

  • Mock Election, a three-day simulation lesson in which students explain the steps taken from party formation to national election.
  • Win the White House, in which students to manage their very own presidential campaign.
  • Electoral Process, a peek into the electoral process, from party primaries to the general election.
  • Poster PLanHow to Become President of the U.S. Poster Lesson Plan, in which students go from Constitutional qualifications for becoming President of the United States, through background research on a candidate, through campaign analysis, and finally participate in a mock election.
  • Scholastic Election, created by the expert editors of Scholastic News magazines, is designed to inform and engage kids in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Curriki also offers “Participation Presidential Elections in Government, a half-year course that aims to make students appreciate their voice in American politics. The course explores the foundations of Democracy, the American dream, social issues, and of course the presidential election.

You’ll also find links to the platforms for the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties and much, much more.

Other Election Resources

Election centralHere are some other election resources to use during this final week of the US Presidential campaign:

  • Because this campaigning cycle has been unusually contentious, Teaching Tolerance offers and promoting civility in times of conflict. The lesson plan Civil Discourse in the Classroom teaches students how to developed reasoned arguments from unsubstantiated claims. You’ll find more tips on its Election 2016 Resources page.
  • PBS Learning Media offers Election Central, a collection of election news, history, and ideas for facilitating classroom debates.

Share Your Successes!

What has been working best for you? Please share your most successful strategies on Curriki’s Facebook page and enter a drawing for an Amazon gift card!

Photo of Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Habla Español? Curriki que sirve ahora

By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Curriki' Spanish website

Curriki’s Spanish website

In response to growing interest in Open Educational Resources by educators, parents and student who speak Spanish, Curriki has created a Spanish-language version of its website.

The new, BETA Spanish-language Curriki site recently went live, and you can access it by simply clicking on the “Español” link on the upper right of the Curriki.org homepage, or by going directly to www.curriki.org/es/.  You’ll discover a collection of hundreds of Spanish-language OER resources in   language arts, mathematicsscience,  social studies and history and even more in English: writing, computer science, engineering!

It’s a great start, but Curriki needs to expand the library with more Spanish-language resources. We are encouraging educators and homeschoolers who teach in Spanish to upload your curricula and share what works for you.

At its heart, Curriki is about ensuring that all children—no matter where they come from, where they live or what language they speak—receive a world-class education, which means access to the Curriki OER Library is critical to their success as students. Offering Spanish-language curricula through Curriki is a good step toward providing teachers, schools and parents the support they need to reach every child and for students to access resources in their native language.

How You Can Contribute

  1. Become a Volunteer Translator!Currently, there are 377 resources written in Spanish in the Library, and we are asking the Curriki community to lend their services to help translate its more than 84,000 teaching and learning resources from English to Spanish. If you are fluent in English and Spanish and familiar with education resources, or you can refer someone to us, please contact jpinto@curriki.org
  2. Contribute Your Spanish Teaching and Learning Materials!Educators are encouraged to contribute their lessons, videos, activities, assessments, ebooks, curriculum, units, worksheets, and more to the Curriki Library. Contributors must first join Curriki (it is free) and login to the site.

Please check out the site and send us feedback.  

We also have a survey we would love for you to take,  here

Por Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

En respuesta por crecer el interés en Recursos Abiertos de Educación por los maestros, padres y estudiantes que hablan español, Curriki ha creado una versión de lenguaje en español de su sitio web.

La nueva versión BETA del sitio Curriki en lenguaje español acaba de abrirse para todos, y para entrar simplemente de un click en el link de “Español” en la esquina derecha del sitio Curriki.org en la página de inicio, o yendo directo a www.curriki.org/es/. Encontrará una colección de miles de recursos OER en lenguaje español en artes del lenguaje, matemáticas, ciencia, estudios sociales e historia, y ¡de igual manera en inglés: escritura, ciencia de la computadora e ingeniería!

Es un gran comienzo, pero Curruki necesita expandir su biblioteca con más recursos en lenguaje español. Estamos retando a los papas que dan escuela en casa que enseñan en español para que suban más recursos en español que nos sirvan como recurso para ellos.

Curriki quiere asegurarse que todos los niños de donde quiera que vengan, en donde quiera que vivan o en que lenguaje hablen, reciban una educación mundial adecuada, eso significa que tengan acceso a la librería de Curriki OER es crítico para el éxito de los estudiantes. Ofrecer este tipo de recursos en lenguaje español es un gran paso para proveer a todos los maestros, escuelas y padres que necesiten de este soporte para criar y enseñar a sus hijos o estudiantes en su lenguaje nativo.

¿Cómo puedo contribuir?

  1. ¡Conviértete en un traductor voluntario!: Actualmente, hay 377 recursos escritos en español en la biblioteca, y estamos preguntando a la comunidad de Curriki para pedir su ayuda y traducir sus más de 84,000 recursos para enseñar y aprender del inglés al español. Si usted puede traducir de inglés a español o sabe de alguien que lo pueda hacer, háganoslo saber, por favor. Contáctenos al correo jpinto@curriki.org
  2. ¡Puede contribuir con sus materiales de enseñanza y aprendizaje de lenguaje español!: Estamos invitando a los educadores para que contribuyan con sus lecciones, videos, actividades, asentamientos, libros en línea, currículums, unidades, hojas de trabajo y más en la biblioteca de Curriki. Los contribuyentes primero se tienen que unir al sitio Curriki (es gratis) y entrar al sitio.

Por favor, cheque el sitio y envíenos un mensaje de vuelta:


¡De igual manera tenemos recursos que le podrían ayudar aquí!:


Kim JonesKim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Open Educational Resources:  A Powerful Means for Educational Equity

By Lani deGuia, Guest Blogger and Curriki Member

OER logoEducation provides families and communities the opportunity to thrive. However, educational systems and curricula differ across communities, states and even nations. These inequities can prevent many children from having adequate opportunities to learn.

According to the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, almost one-third of the U.S. population is living in poverty. Coupled with additional barriers such as under-resourced schools, societal and cultural expectations, teacher shortages, illiteracy and lack of access, gaps in education are severely challenging to address. As a consequence, generations of young people are slipping through the cracks and their potential for contributing to society is diminished or lost. The impact of inequality is even heavier on gender and minorities. We simply cannot sit back and wait, perhaps for decades, for these inequities to be resolved.

OER to the Rescue!

With the exponential growth of technology and the Internet, Open Educational Resources (OER) give communities around the world the ability to meet their educational needs. UNESCO coined the term “OER” in 2002, describing it as teaching, learning and research resources in the public domain or with license that permits free use and re-purposing.

Curriki seeks to fill in instruction gaps by providing a free global OER platform for educators, parents, and students to access and share courses, curriculum, textbooks, videos, assessments, lesson plans, simulations and a multitude of other teaching and learning resources.

Computer learningHere are some ways that OERs can foster educational equity:

  • Access to Free Quality Resources. OER resources exist in the public domain or are released with intellectual property licensing that allows the public to use them for free for educational and personal purposes.  Therefore, anyone can access these resources, use them in their classrooms and disseminate among staff and educational peers.
  • Ease of Accessibility. OERs are readily available wherever there is internet access, via computers, laptops, mobile devices and cell phones. This can happen at school, at home, or even at a library, restaurant, or even a mall where public Wi-fi is available. Public domain and permissible content can be downloaded onto USB drives and continue to be shared.
  • Provide Personalized Learning Experiences. Differentiated instruction to meet individual needs of students is a cornerstone of effective teaching. In addition to the unique qualities and interests of every student, legislation requires the customization of instruction to meet the needs or defined groups such as gifted and talented and special needs students.
    OERs allow educators, homeschooling educators, parents, and students to search for topics and complementary teaching materials. Imagine being able to find engaging videos, simulations, units, and activities targeting unique interests ranging from NASCAR to Harry Potter and the Hunger Games.
  • Curated collections of resources also help provide targeted materials at all levels. Curriki offers standards-aligned collections on Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, Physics, Computational Thinking and more.
  • Fostering a Diversified Curriculum. Effective education is no longer viewed as a “sage on stage” scenario where teachers lecture and students rely on textbooks for learning. But challenges for adequate curriculum development and limited planning time make it difficult to meet the needs for 21st century learning. The Framework for 21st Century Learning emphasizes creativity and innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration. Research and investigation are the prime vehicles for learning, and OERs hone in on this with valuable resources on problem-based learning, flipped classrooms, technology integration and inquiry.
  • Collaboration on Successful Practices. Curriki’s large repository of high-quality materials — shared by educators, parents and students — can be linked or uploaded to share around the world. Teachers have shared their personally developed units, lesson plans, videos and more to create an abundance of classroom-tested instructional materials.  Curriki makes it easy to find these resources by keyword searches, subjects, grade level, resource type (unit, lesson plan, video, assessment, etc.), and even by standard (Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Standards).

In addition, Curriki’s platform allows its community of users to rate and review each resource. Teachers, parents and students can also create their own groups, public or private, and participate in forums on a variety of topics to advance collaboration.

Education for All

Educators, parents, and students don’t have to be restricted from limited resources, geography or their current learning environment. The global community is working through OERs to help provide quality education for all. Curriki is proud to be a prime facilitator of this educational progress!

LaniLani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology.

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College and Career Readiness

Photo of Janet PintoBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

It is universally recognized that two very important goals of K-12 education – if not the most important goals – are college readiness and career readiness. But what are college readiness and career readiness exactly and how do they differ?

A large majority of states in the U.S. have studied the issue and provided their definitions and views on college and career readiness. These are summarized in the report from the American Institutes for Research (AIR):


The vast majority of the states whose views were summarized in the report, placed career and college readiness together within a common definition. 

One simple definition for college readiness is the possession of a sufficient background in math, science, and English language arts that one can succeed in postsecondary course work without a need for remediation classes. But we also intuitively understand that it takes more than a high school academic background to complete a college education.


The definition of career readiness is more specific to the line of work in question. “A Career Ready student possesses both the necessary knowledge and technical skills needed for employment in  their desired career field. For example, a student who is ready to become a teacher not only possesses knowledge of education policy, but also possesses all required certifications required to become a teacher.” – DC.gov web site

Because of the needs of our advanced, technical economy, career readiness increasingly demands a similar level of knowledge and skills as college readiness.

The major categories covered in the state definitions from the AIR report included:

  1. Academic knowledge
  2. Critical thinking and/or problem solving
  3. Social and emotional learning, collaboration, and/or communication
  4. Grit/resilience/perseverance
  5. Citizenship and/or community involvement
  6. Other additional activities

The report concludes:

“State definitions included in this review reflect the recognition that readiness for college and careers is multifaceted, encompassing academic readiness, as well as knowledge, abilities, and dispositions that impact academic achievement. Research on this latter group is still emerging and, in some instances, is controversial as we have yet to conclusively determine the impact that instruction and educational supports can have on the development of these lifelong learning skills.”

So in plain English, the definitions from the states recognize the need to go beyond academic knowledge to incorporate the development of mental abilities and attitudes that will support achievement by students in their college studies and/or careers. These especially include critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills, and the ability to persevere in the face of challenges.

Yet education is structured primarily around the academic knowledge acquisition category. The Common Core State Standards were designed to promote critical thinking and application of academic knowledge to real-world problems.

CCSSO is the Council of Chief State School Officers – the leaders of K-12 education in the various U.S. states. Over 80% of the states in the U.S. have signed on to the recommendations of their Task Force on Career Readiness. You can read more about their Career Readiness Initiative, at:


There is a significant consensus that the categories numbered above as 2, 3, 4 and even 5 can be developed and supported by project-based learning. Project-based learning provides a natural methodology for structuring lessons that require critical thinking and problem-solving, perseverance, and collaboration.

Searching on “project” within the Curriki resources library brings up over 6000 resources. For example, you can find a collection of biology projects here: http://www.curriki.org/oer/Biology-Projects/ . Make use of Curriki’s freely available, open resources to help your students become more college-ready and more career-ready.

Time Saving Classroom Tips to Engage Your Students

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, CurrikiPhoto of Janet Pinto

As we close out the year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our good fortunes, and extend a heartfelt thank you to you, our global Curriki community! In 2015, we were thrilled to provide you with a more personalized and easy-to-use learning experience.

If you haven’t visited Curriki in a while, I highly encourage you to explore the NEW and IMPROVED Curriki website: www.curriki.org Here’s a sampling of how parents, teachers and students are using Curriki to enhance learning.

“Curriki makes it easy for me to choose the topic, plan the lesson, design the activities, and prepare materials. In some cases, I use exactly the same materials and lesson plan found in Curriki.” – Shyamkumar S.

See our Curated Content, which includes collections of Math, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and other subjects for various grade levels.



“Never before has Biology been so accessible to students, as with the current use of digital media and through independent research. Curriki has helped me achieve my goals with my students by giving them excellent visuals and resources to explore!” – Caryn O.

Lots of great biology resources on Curriki, including Zombie Plague (students identify what’s causing a deadly outbreak) and MIT OpenCourseWare AP Biology.


“I’m now a home school mom. We never buy textbooks. We love Khan Academy and of course all the great educational material to be gained via PBS.org, TedTalks, etc.” – Barb O.

Find Khan Academy Geometry videos, or explore TED Talks for professional development, such as Teaching Math to Teachers (how to teach mathematics in the 21st Century).

With the newly designed Curriki site, finding K-12 teaching and learning resources is easier than ever with mobile views and upgraded search capability. Please forward this post to a friend and encourage them to join Curriki so they can share, download or customize the thousands of free K-12 resources available to everyone.

Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season!

The Case for a Complete OER STEM Library (#TCEA16)

tcea date

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

If you’re an educational technology enthusiast, I hope you’re planning to attend the TCEA 2016 conference in Austin this year, Feb. 1-5. This conference brings educators together to explore best practices for engaging students, increasing productivity, and innovating teaching and learning through the use of technology.


Please stop by our session on Monday, Feb. 1 (10:00am – 10:50am), which is part of the STEM Academy track. Curriki CEO Kim Jones will present The Case for a Complete OER STEM Library:

Kim Jones, Curriki CEO

Kim Jones, Curriki CEO

The two most powerful forces that have transformed the education world in recent decades have been the emphasis on STEM education and the Open Educational Resources (OER) revolution. These two innovations have permeated the education community and are shepherding in a digital age that is today transforming education in every corner of life.

In this session, you will hear what Curriki.org, is doing to drive the development of OERs for STEM educators and the many ways you can lead the way in your own schools and communities.

Participants will:

  • Discover why OERs are the best tools you’ll ever find to personalize learning for your students.
  • Understand how Curriki is curating the global OER library for STEM educators to download and use in their classrooms.
  • Find out how OERs empower districts to adapt the materials to their own community needs.
  • Understand the role OERs play in helping meet the demand for high quality STEM content in K-12 education.
  • And more.

Please stop by and say hello! We look forward to seeing you at #TCEA16!

Advancing Education through Educational Technology


By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Photo of Janet Pinto

Are you interested in educational technology? If so, I hope you’re planning to attend GaETC (Georgia Educational Technology Conference) next month in Atlanta. GaETC is focused on the professional development of educators and everyone else interested in educational technology.

Please stop by our session titled “Curated, Standards-aligned Courses for the High School Math Teacher,” presented by Allen Wolmer, on Wednesday, November 4 at 3:15PM. Allen works with Curriki on the high school math collections. Check out our curated and aligned mathematics resources available free on Curriki.

About Allen Wolmer

wolmerAl Wolmer is an engineer by education who has been fortunate enough to pursue his passion: teaching and training. He is a SMART Exemplary Educator, SMART Certified Trainer for Notebook and Math Tools, and for eleven years was Head of the Math Department at Yeshiva Atlanta High School (now the Atlanta Jewish Academy Upper School). He is also a mathematics author/editor for various publishing companies, an AP Calculus Reader for the College Board and a Consultant for the National Math & Science Initiative.

Teach for America is Making a Difference

Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

 Teach for America is now a quarter-century old. Each year it fields around 5000 new teachers in disadvantaged urban and rural areas within the U.S. The  number of applicants each year is in the range of 40,000 to 50,000.

 Its mission?


“Our mission is to enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.” – Teach For America website


Teachers in the Teach For America program are “full-fledged faculty members” in their schools, receiving a regular salary and benefits plus a small stipend for credentialing courses, further education, or payments toward student loans.

Teach for America has an excellent track record. Independent studies in various geographies have indicated:

  • 1.3 months of reading gains in elementary schools (Mathematica study)
  • 2.6 months of gains in secondary school level math instruction (Mathematica study)
  • 3 months of math instruction gains (Calder Center and American Institutes for Research study)
  • 1-2 extra months of gains in English and Math (Harvard Strategic Data Project)
  • Teach for America teachers are the most effective pool of new teachers in North Carolina and Tennessee
  • A very high percentage of principals are satisfied with the TeachForAmerica experience in their schools

We encourage recent college graduates, college seniors and professionals to consider making a difference. Consider applying to Teach For America!

And if you get selected, you can search at Curriki for supplementary K-12 materials. Our site hosts nearly 75,000 open educational resources, all free.

To learn more go to: https://www.teachforamerica.org/


No Child Left Behind being replaced by Every Child Achieves

 By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, CurrikiJanet Pinto - Curriki CAO/CMO

 The “Every Child Achieves Act” (ECAA) has passed the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary  Education Act (ESEA). Approval of similar legislation is expected in the House (which has called their bill the Student Success Act). The original ESEA  act from 1965 was focused on addressing equity, at a time when civil rights and desegregation were in focus.

Every Child Achieves Act of 2015

This bill reauthorizes and amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). The bill addresses issues such as accountability and testing requirements, distribution and requirements for grants, fiscal accountability requirements, and the evaluation of teachers. The bill provides states with increased flexibility and responsibility for developing accountability systems, deciding how federally required tests should be weighed, selecting additional measures of student and school performance, and implementing teacher evaluation systems.


ECAA is designed to replace the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act for elementary and secondary education which has been in force since 2002. You can find a summary of the bill here.

There has been much criticism of the extensive – many would say onerous – testing regimes enforced by NCLB, from educators and parents across the U.S. It was felt that the testing requirements were excessive, and took away from time that should be spent in teaching and learning in the classroom, and that the penalties were counter-productive. The American Federation of Teachers has called NCLB a “test-and-punish” system, due to federal sanctions against low-performing schools.

ECAA would relax these testing requirements, and provide more flexibility for schools to allow parents to opt their kids out of tests. Federal sanctions would no longer apply; any such rewards or sanctions would be handled by individual states.

The President of the National Education Association, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, says about the ECAA, “This bill reflects a paradigm shift away from the one-size-fits-all assessments that educators know hurt students, diminish learning, narrow the curriculum and that they fought to change.”

The well-known education activist Diane Ravitch supports the Senate bill because “it draws a close to the punitive methods of NCLB….(and) is an important step forward for children, teachers, and public education. The battle over ‘reform’ now shifts to the states.”

One concern is that the bill would weaken provisions meant to track the progress of students with disabilities, which may account for one in eight of America’s school children.

We’d like to hear your view, what do you think about the new legislation? Please leave a comment.

Curriki is all in favor of flexible learning models and curricula that adapt to the needs of individual students. This is why we make available to the public for free over 62,000 educational resources, in open source format. These include full courses, lessons and many supplemental materials. With our new website coming on line early next month, it will be even easier to search these materials, and also to contribute materials so that other educators can make use of them.