The Big Lift

The Project

Starting in 2016, The Big Lift, with San Mateo County Library and BELL, sought to offer enriching, evidence-based summer learning opportunities to end summer learning loss for low-income San Mateo County children between preschool and third grade through its Inspiring Summers Camps. The Big Lift and partners were prepared to offer literacy programming, but needed to round out their experiential learning curriculum, including creative team projects and diverse STEM content for rising kindergarten and first grade students. The Center for Childhood Creativity (CCC) was selected to develop the curriculum and to train and coach staff on implementation and developmentally appropriate practice.


Our Approach

We developed a program based on school readiness research relevant to children entering grades kindergarten and first. The curriculum was written to build executive function, number sense, scientific curiosity, and fine motor skills, in addition to building children’s creativity and aligning with state standards. In addition to lesson plans for each of the five weeks, we provided an exhaustive supplies and book list. We also developed a tailored training manual and a three-day training course to introduce the educators to the curriculum and pedagogy.



We delivered an extensive training manual and curriculum guide for the Inspiring Summers Camps and trained over 150 early career educators on instructional content and pedagogical strategies. Our creative STEM curriculum includes weeks on neuroscience, physics, math, engineering, and chemistry. The curriculum also incorporates physical movement, and open-ended activities to invite children to take the lead. We have provided ongoing consulting on implementation, including site visits and observations, coaching, and assessment, and recently developed three additional sets of curriculum, and supplementary training, for the summer of 2017.

  • 99% of parents reported that they would recommend the Big Lift summer program to others
  • 98% of parents reported that their children were exposed to interesting activities during the Big Lift summer program
  • 98% of parents reported that their children enjoyed attending the Big Lift summer program



“I thought the training was very good in introducing a majority of non-teachers to some really essential techniques and strategies that will aid them in the weeks to come.”
–Camp staff

“This hands-on experience gave me confidence to work with children.”
–Camp staff

“Everything [during the training] was useful and really helped a lot. I feel better prepared for the program and more assured that I will do great!”
–Camp staff