K-3rd Grade

Explorations is a page-turning adventure through the wonderful world of children’s literature. Explorations books are specially selected to capture imagination, teach deep truths, excite innovation, and explore God’s wonderful world. Our goal is to create delight-filled, hands-on unit studies using the best in children’s literature.

In our unit-study model, each academic activity and hands-on experience is connected to our beautifully illustrated children’s books. Our book list is organized into themed units with specific books for each grade.


Are you looking for a program that:

  • Explores the world through beautifully illustrated children’s books?
  • Strengthens your child’s written and spoken communication skills?
  • Launches learning in the classroom that extends at home?
  • Provides self-contained classrooms with gentle structure and academic standards led by trained educators, who create a richly layered learning environment?
  • Models how to create discussion-based, hands-on unit studies at home?
  • Builds your family legacy as well as your family library?

Program Overview

Is Explorations Right For You?

Explorations Classrooms

Classroom teachers

Special Program Events

Classroom-Home Connection

Parent Partnership

Academic Options

  • Does your student love to create and explore?
  • Does your student enjoy listening to books read aloud?
  • Does your student enjoy classroom structure and collaborative work?
  • Do you want to actively participate in your child’s education?
  • Do you want to lead hands-on, discussion-based learning at home?
  • Does your family want to use beautifully illustrated children’s books to jump into deeper academic and life lessons?

Each grade level enjoys the delights of learning in a self-contained classroom with a dedicated teacher. We offer Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, or 3rd-grade classes. Grade-level divisions may vary depending on student enrollment.

Visual art and art appreciation are an integral part of our program. Explorations books are hand-picked for their story content as well as their beautiful illustrations. On Explorations program days, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade rotate into 50-minute art classes, which dive into creative technique and artistic expression. Kindergarten students enjoy creating art in their classroom setting.

In class, teachers launch learning and celebrate student work, but they do not grade assignments.

  • Create hands-on learning environments and experiences based on beautiful books
  • Inspire imagination through captivating storytimes
  • Lead lively book discussions
  • Teach writing composition
  • Introduce scientific inquiry
  • Guide social studies discovery
  • Plan assignments to be completed at home and shared in class
  • Craft a classroom community in which students are nurtured and encouraged
  • Do not grade student work

Our quarterly program – Explorations Presents! – gives students the opportunity to practice their growing communication skills in front of a big audience of parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends. Through Explorations Presents, we provide all students with the opportunity to practice the communication process in front of an audience. We celebrate each child’s growth and budding confidence!

  • We celebrate each child’s growth and budding confidence!We launch learning in the classroom so that it can be connected and expanded at home in the areas of Reading Comprehension, Writing Composition, Science, Social Studies, Bible, and Art as inspired by our books. Our grade-specific Home Lesson Plans (HLPs) provide a learning guide for each book, including project ideas, discussion questions, resource hyperlinks, and assignments from classroom teachers.
  • In the classroom, Explorations students experience group learning activities, themed unit studies, and hands-on action. Our excellent teachers create engaging learning environments and take students on weekly book adventures. Through the HLP, classroom teachers also provide assignments to complete at home and opportunities for students to present what they are learning in class.
  • At home, we invite parents to use our Explorations resources to guide the early elementary years of their children. For each book, parents receive custom-designed, grade-level Home Lesson Plans, which provide subject-by-subject, hyperlinked lessons for each grade.
  • Receive grade-specific Home Lesson Plans (HLPs) that provide subject-by-subject, hyper-linked unit studies for each book
  • Learn how to use beautiful books to teach and inspire their students in multiple subject areas
  • Create delight-filled learning environments at home
  • Lead discussion-based, activity-focused home lessons
  • Grade all student work and complete monthly reports in compliance with Circle policy.
  • Have fun with their children

Parents may select Explorations for core academics or for enrichment only. If selected for core academics, students must attend class. Parents agree to purchase the 2018-19 books and follow the grade-level Home Lesson Plans (HLPs), which cover the following subjects:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing Composition
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Bible
  • Art

Parents wishing to use Explorations to cover these core academic subjects will select 2-3 assignments per subject area, per book. Depending on a student’s grade level, parents will need to round out language arts by selecting curriculum to teach phonics/reading instruction, handwriting, and spelling. Also, parents are responsible for selecting and teaching a math curriculum.
Families selecting Explorations as enrichment only are welcome to enjoy classes, use Home Lesson Plans ideas, and participate in school activities, but are not able to count Explorations for any core academic subject. Instead, they will need to select and use Circle-approved curriculum covering all areas of Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Bible.

In Explorations, parents grade all student work and complete monthly reports in compliance with Circle policy.


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Ruth Brown

Explorations Program Director

Ruth Brown guides the Explorations program by bringing teachers, classrooms, and families together around beautiful children’s literature. She helped create the Explorations program in 2012. Since then, Ruth has encouraged delight and connection as our parent liaison and home curriculum writer. Ruth holds a BA in Communication from Florida State University, minor in Journalism from Florida A&M University, and a MA in Marketing Communication from FSU.

Married for 25 years and mother of six kids ages 17 to 11, including two sets of twins, means there’s never a dull moment in the Brown home. Her children have attended Circle Christian School for seven years. Ruth agrees with Hans Christian Andersen, “Every person’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s fingers.” She is excited to see the stories God will write for us this year in Explorations.

Contact Ruth Brown

Amy Smith

K4-Kindergarten Teacher – Oviedo & Winter Park

Amy Smith has spent over 35 years working with children in early educational settings, enrichment programs, and ministries. She has served on Circle’s teaching staff since 2011, but her story with Circle began many years ago when she homeschooled her daughter. Amy designs her classroom instruction to fully engage students with a variety of hands-on, age- appropriate activities, such as teamwork exercises, making crafts, singing songs, creating games, and dramatic role playing. Amy believes that children’s literature provides vast opportunities to guide students in amazing adventures, heartfelt lessons, and beautiful Biblical truths. She is so thankful to be on this storybook journey with your children.

Contact Amy Smith

Amy Scruby

First Grade Teacher – Oviedo & Winter Park

A charter Explorations parent and a classroom assistant since the program began in 2012, Amy Scruby is now bringing her love of literature and joyful enthusiasm to our first grade classroom. She looks forward to sharing adventures with her students as they travel the world, meet interesting characters, navigate troubled waters, celebrate exploration, and triumph together through the pages of the stories they share. Amy and her husband, Scott, have been married for 19 years and have been homeschooling their two daughters, who attend Circle Christian School, for 5 years. Amy has studied the Orton Gillingham approach to reading, writing, and spelling and is currently using it to successfully remediate her daughter’s challenges with dyslexia. She is excited to partner with parents on their homeschool journey and recognize and encourage each child to discover their unique God-given gifts, strengths, and talents.

Contact Amy Scruby

Ruth Rouchard

Second Grade Teacher – Oviedo & Winter Park

Ruth Rouchard is excited to return to the Explorations classroom to share her love of literature. She looks forward to creating a fun and engaging environment where students feel the delight and joy of the stories they hear. She strongly believes in the power of story and in the value of spring-boarding all learning from that platform. Previously the state representative for a literature-based language arts curriculum, Ruth conducted workshops throughout Florida for homeschooling families, encouraging them in this style of teaching. Married for 24 years, Ruth has four children and has been homeschooling for over 15 years. She and her husband also work with Adventures in Missions, where they travel the world serving as spiritual formation coaches to World Race mission participants. Ruth’s desire is to use the power of story to leave a lasting imprint on the heart of every child.

Contact Ruth Rouchard

Mollie Chang

Second Grade Teacher – Winter Park

Mollie Chang is excited for the opportunity to teach second grade in Explorations this year. She is excited to see her students explore, create, and learn through children’s literature. Mollie holds a BS in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida. She has taught 1st and 2nd grade for 6 years. When she’s not teaching school she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and teaching dance at Northwest Dance studio. Married for 8 years, Mollie has 2 children. Her daughter will be attending Circle Christian School as a kindergarten this year. Mollie is excited to continue her passion of teaching and influencing others in a positive way.

Contact Mollie Chang

Stephanie Walker

Third Grade Teacher – Oviedo & Winter Park

Stephanie Walker’s goal is to delight her students as they read superb children’s literature accompanied by clever activities. She believes this is the best way to learn. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Stephanie has a BA in psychology from UCLA as well as a teaching certificate from the Florid Department of Education. For 10 years, she taught third grade at Trace Academy in Orlando. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys reading mystery novels and biographies. Plus, she is always in training for a half- or full marathon.

Contact Stephanie Walker

Kimberly Jagen

Third Grade Teacher – Oviedo

Kimberly Jagen is excited for the opportunity to move up to third grade Explorations this year. She graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Early Childhood Education (Certification Pre-K-6th grade). She has enjoyed a variety of teaching assignments at public schools, private Christian schools, and a homeschool co-op. Kimberly joined the Explorations teaching team three years ago, after moving to Florida with her husband and children. She agrees with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who once said, “There are many ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

Contact Kimberly Jagen

Kevin Bartle

Art Teacher – Oviedo & Winter Park

Kevin Bartle’s love of art and God’s amazing design of the world around us began at an early age. He believes that through visual communication children are given a medium to express themselves with freedom, confidence, and creativity. Kevin joined Circle’s teaching staff in 2013. Kevin currently attends Asbury Theological Seminary, where he is pursuing a Master’s of Divinity. Kevin believes that art always tells a story, from the comedic, thoughtful drawings of Charles Shultz to the picturesque paintings of Norman Rockwell. Because Explorations books are chosen for their richness in illustration, Kevin uses each book as inspiration to help his art students create their own masterpieces. His hope is that by the end of the year students have a gallery of art to proudly display and call their own.

Contact Kevin Bartle