Lower School Curriculum

Grades 4-5 are designed to help students acquire the skills to become independent and creative thinkers and communicators. Learning is thematic and activities, assignments, and projects are differentiated, taking into account student level and learning style. Work in the content areas tends to delve deep rather than skim the surface and it is not unusual to see students engaged in long term projects, such as creating museum displays on a topic, presenting at a “food fair,” or scripting and acting in a short play on a current subject.

Students are met where they are academically and are challenged to move forward in a wide variety of subjects. From language arts, math, and science to music, art, and drama, students find teachers who take the time to truly know them. The math program solidifies skills, introduces practical, life-time concepts (like percents and ratios), and offers many opportunities for critical thinking and problem solving.

Students use multiple senses to explore and learn more about their bodies, the planet, and the universe.  We use hands-on activities with real world connections to help students see the science all around them.  We act out cell processes, play games to learn how animals adapt to their environments, and explore the school’s garden to learn about plant and animal interactions.  We open up a world of discovery that inspires students to become excellent observers and critical problem-solvers.

In social science, students make connections, examine cause and effect relationships, explore a wide variety of cultures, and understand and use geographic tools.  World, national, state, and local topics are investigated in a three year cycle using primary sources, artifacts, human resources, and a wide variety of field trips.  In past years,  students have interviewed Marco Polo at a “press conference,” passed legislation in a mock congressional session, and used paintings and photographs from the past to launch research projects.

The aim of language arts is to help students gain the skills they need to become effective communicators, working to become skilled at crafting sentences and paragraphs, learning to write for a wide variety of purposes.  Through independent and group games and activities, students expand their vocabularies as well as their spelling and grammar skills.  In these years, students transition from learning the nuts and bolts of reading, to using reading to gain information or enjoyment.  Intermediate students are expected to talk about what they read and write, and strive to become attentive listeners.

Kitchen Science: students learn basic cooking skills while exploring culture, geography, biology, health sciences, chemistry, and physics.  Part home economics, part science lab, and part applied mathematics; the course seeks not only to teach a wide variety of skills and facts in a number of disciplines, but also to help students connect to the food they eat so that they may better appreciate the work it takes to get food from the seed to the plate.