Place-Based Science Curriculum

As part of our Mohala Nā Pua program, we worked with early childhood educators over the course of two years to develop place-based science curricula that integrate the CREDE Standards. We collaborated with several educators from preschools and elementary schools on O‘ahu and Maui.

One of the goals of this project was to provide assistance to other educators who may be interested in developing their own place-based science curriculum. Here we share Curriculum Development Process including the steps we took in the process of creating our curriculum and the resources and tools we developed to assist us in this process.



Place-Based education is an educational approach that uses the local community and environment as a starting point to teach language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and other subjects across the curriculum (Sobel 1996). At its deepest level, Place-based education refers to “place” beyond geography. Within any “place,” each individual has a “sense of place.” The term “sense of place” refers to “a living ecological relationship” between a person and a place, where place does not simply mean a geographical location (Gruenwald, 2003). Place is a complicated, ecological system that includes physical, biological, social, cultural, and political factors with the historical and psychological state of the persons who share the location. Place is constituted of: the Perceptual (Places are alive with cultural and ecological lives), the Sociological (Places are socially constructed), the Ideological (Places are not a reflection of society – they are society), the Political (Places are sites for the politics of identity) and the Ecological (Place is local). Sense of place, therefore, captures the dialectical relationship between students and place. A sense of place emerges from the core set of experiences one uses to make sense of the world.


Samples from Mohala Nā Pua Curricula

The educators at each school site collaboratively selected an overarching theme for their curriculum. These place-based themes were selected based on their school environment, location, student experiences and interests. Some of the unit themes selected were gardening, oceans, and Native Hawaiian plants. Here we provide Curriculum Samples and Activities developed by our Mohala Nā Pua educators, including curriculum unit overviews, lesson/activity plans, and completed curriculum unit presentations.