In our classrooms at Woodland Pond School, we use the KWL discussion framework to introduce new ideas. It stands for Know Wonder Learn and allows students to explore concepts from a place of curiosity while bringing to bear their lived experiences. As part of the CEE-Change Fellowship, I used the same framework to explore the natural intersection of place-based learning and civic engagement.

Know: The key word is place—we incorporate the heritage, culture, landscape, and opportunities that surround our school in every aspect of our school. And we understand that a community operates at its best when all members are engaged participants.


  • How can we, as early childhood educators, encourage our students to be active and engaged citizens?
  • How can we, as 4–7 year olds, actually make a difference in our world? Why does it matter?

Learn: Because place-based learning centers place, community is at the heart of all we do.

For Woodland Pond School, that place is Bangor, Maine, a historic small town in central Maine. Bangor is shaped by its history as a key player in the 18th and 19th century timber industries, its proximity to the many natural splendors of Maine, its status as a service center for the northern and western ⅔ of the state, and its relationship with the Indigenous tribes of our region.

The community of Bangor offers many incredible opportunities for Woodland Pond School, including an abundance of public green spaces and multiple cultural and artistic institutions. Our neighbors are excited to engage with our students, sharing their traditions, skills, and talents with us. But the community is not without challenges. Bangor has recently experienced an extreme uptick in the number of unhoused people taking shelter and seeking services in our community. Many of those individuals congregate in and around the downtown area, in the very green spaces and public areas that we incorporate into our school routines.

Read the full article about education for civic engagement by Aubrae Filipiak at NAAEE.