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Curriculum & Assessment
Tools of the Mind Project
The Tools of the Mind project, which started in 1992, is the result of collaborative work between Russian and American education researchers based on the educational theories of Lev Vygotsky. Utilizing the Vygotskian approach, a series of tools (strategies) was created to support meta-cognitive and meta-linguistic skills, as well as other skills essential to literacy development. Play is the central teaching tool, within a scaffolded learning environment that focuses on giving children the tools they need that will lead to the development of higher mental functions (Bodrova & Leong, 1996). Techniques include teachers’ facilitation of children's construction of individual play plans and asking children to describe multiple, imaginative uses for open-ended objects such as blocks. Central to the approach is the use of scaffolded writing to help children recognize words as units, work with the sounds that make up words and use letters to represent those sounds. The program emphasizes that young children must build strong speaking and social skills and be able to exercise emotional and behavioral control (self-regulation) before they can learn to read.