Curriculum

The Lower School is centered around teaching students to be responsible, thoughtful, and independent in both their academic work and in their relationships with others. Through work in the classroom, within classrooms and units, and in discussion with individuals, the relationship between freedom and responsibility is highlighted. Our students learn what it means to be accountable for personal choice – that with freedom there is the opportunity to take risks, but also the accountability for the decisions and actions followed. Children are frequently given choices as a way for them to exercise independence and to support their interests. Additionally, students are expected to behave in a caring and compassionate way toward others and to act with care toward their school environment.

Lower Schoolers Writing

The close connections between students and teachers foster an atmosphere of honest, trusting communication where children are invited to voice their opinions and to learn the art of actively listening to the perspectives of others. Students in the Lower School have many opportunities to practice being part of a community through class meetings or Kid Talk. Students help to form classroom guidelines at the beginning of the year because they accept rules better when they have a part in making them. As problems develop, adults and students solve them together. Teachers support children as they work through problems, suggesting alternative solutions, if necessary. Children are encouraged to make choices and expand their ability to be responsible for their actions.

We deeply believe that educating a child is attending to the academic, social/emotional and physical growth and progress of our students. The planned instruction in each subject, as well as what students have the opportunity to learn through everyday living as a part of the Green Acres community, demonstrate a commitment to educating the “whole child.” We believe learning occurs best in an active, stimulating environment. How teachers arrange the classroom will vary with the tasks and goals of the teaching moment. In and out of the classroom, all adults are dedicated to providing an educational experience based upon the Green Acres mission and philosophy.

1st Grade

Thematic Units

The thematic content of social studies and science is infused into the content of many parts of the day for 1st and 2nd grade students. Teachers collaborate to weave the themes into the students’ studies so that the topics come alive for them in a creative, integrated way. The 1st and 2nd grade social studies themes rotate on a two-year cycle; children do not study the same group of topics each year.

2019-2020 Thematic Units

  • Migration;
  • Weaving around the World;
  • Ghana;
  • Roots.

Focusing on themes allows the students to explore social organization, how people relate to each other, how humans relate to the environment, how people sustain themselves, and how science and the arts have developed from people’s basic needs.

The thematic studies in the Primary Unit unify our curriculum studies. They provide ideas for reading, writing, and math, and they enrich all areas of learning. The emphasis is on learning the basic concepts and the process of collecting information, dealing with facts, drawing conclusions, and communicating with others. During the 1st and 2nd grades, children's work includes the opportunity to:

  • Participate in activities and group discussions, often including both 1st and 2nd graders;
  • Use resources by obtaining information from individuals, discussions, pictures, books, etc.;
  • Generalize from one’s own experiences to understand the experiences of others;
  • Show awareness of similarities and differences among people, places, and cultures;
  • Show some understanding of geographic spaces;
  • Show some sense of time, history, and sequence (e.g., before, after); and
  • Attend field trips related to the units of study (e.g., visiting Locust Grove Nature Center)

Language Arts

Building on the foundations laid in Pre-K and Kindergarten, the 1st grade language arts program continues to develop reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills through the use of various techniques, materials, and activities. Reading, writing, listening, and speaking are not taught separately; rather, they are intertwined throughout all of the language and theme-based activities in which students engage. The program focuses on helping children to break the reading code, develop reading strategies, learn how to comprehend an author's text, understand how to be responsive listeners, and become skilled at communicating their own messages and ideas orally and in writing. Each year, children enter 1st grade with a diversity of skills and learning styles. Teachers take these differences into account when planning the specifics of the language arts program. Components of the 1st grade language arts program include:

  • Shared Reading: The teacher reads a story aloud to the class and incorporates instructional strategies into the discussion of the book.
  • Guided Reading: Children meet in small groups with the teacher, who helps them to apply and develop reading strategies as they interact independently with a text.
  • Partner Reading: Children enjoy stories with partners in a variety of ways.
  • Read Aloud: The teacher reads aloud as children listen.
  • Responses to Literature: Children talk, draw, write, and engage in dramatic and artistic activities in response to stories.
  • Independent Reading: Children enjoy books of their own choosing.
  • Individual Reading Conferences: The teacher meets with students in individual reading conferences to check on their independent reading.
  • Journal Writing: Children draw and write in a variety of journals.
  • Handwriting: Handwriting is taught formally in 1st grade using the Handwriting Without Tears program. We emphasize accurate formation of uppercase and lowercase letters, spaces between words, and basic capitalization and punctuation conventions.
  • Sounds: Letter-sound relationships usually are explored in the context of texts and literature studied, as well as through direct training in phonemic processing and alphabetic code knowledge through games and small-group lessons with the teachers.
  • Dictation: During this teacher-directed time, children learn correct letter formation and the sounds associated with each letter. Later, dictation focuses on whole words and spelling.
  • Writers' Workshop: In the second semester, children select topics about which to write. They move their drafts through an introduction to the stages of the writing process, including writing first drafts, conferencing with their peers and then with an adult, editing and revising their drafts, and creating final versions. Skills are taught during "mini-lessons," as well as through editing conferences with teachers.
  • Spelling: Children are in the process of moving through the following developmental spelling stages: 1) Pre-communicative; 2) Semi-phonemic; 3) Phonemic; 4) Transitional; and 5) Conventional.

Mathematics

The Primary Unit mathematics program focuses on instruction and practice with manipulatives as a way to help students discover and understand important mathematical ideas. Written work and games then follow, permitting the child to explore the mathematical principles further and to gain skill in applying them. The Primary Unit uses two math programs to support student understanding in math: enVision and Investigations. These programs work well together; enVision primarily works on developing conceptual understanding, vocabulary, and practice with math algorithms, while Investigations focuses on conceptual understanding built through problem solving and application of mathematical concepts. Both programs allow the teachers to assess student understanding before, during, and after each unit. This enables teachers to assess each child’s mathematical understanding throughout the year and determine how to best challenge each individual and the class as a whole.

The Primary Unit mathematics program introduces children to many important concepts and skills by focusing on a number of different mathematical focal points. It is essential that these concepts be taught in an environment that promotes problem solving, reasoning, communication, making connections between concepts, and designing and analyzing different representations of their problemsolving ideas. Skills are reviewed, allowing each child’s understanding of these ideas to develop over time. An additional goal for the Primary Unit mathematics program is for students to have automatic recall of addition and subtraction facts up to 20. This is an important foundation for the work they will do in 3rd grade and beyond.

Key Features of the 1st and 2nd Grade Math Program

  • Problem solving applying math to everyday situations;
  • Developing readiness through hands-on activities;
  • Establishing links between past concepts, experiences, and explorations;
  • Sharing ideas through class discussions;
  • Learning cooperatively through partner and small-group activities;
  • Practicing mathematical concepts through the use of games;
  • Engaging in writing to explain mathematical reasoning and to practice and reinforce skills and concepts.

Subject Areas of the Primary Unit Math Program

  • Numeration
  • Operations (+, -) and Computation
  • Data and Chance
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Patterns, Functions, and Algebra

Spanish

Spanish in 1st grade is centered on a communicative approach that is based on the idea that learning a language successfully comes through having to communicate real meaning. The main objective of the communicative approach is to present a topic in context as naturally as possible. Following this approach, Spanish students at Green Acres have constant interaction with and exposure to the target language by engaging in communicative activities which are presented in a situation or context and have a communicative purpose. Typical class activities are songs, games, role-play activities, writing, simple math activities, and hands-on activities. The development of the four language skills— speaking, listening, reading, and writing—is developed in Spanish class, since communication involves all of these skills. Moreover, the Spanish curriculum is integrated with 1st and 2nd grade homecorner thematic units.

Units and Activities

  • Greetings;
  • Usual commands used in classroom situations;
  • Colors and shapes;
  • Descriptions of how students feel;
  • Counting from 0-20;
  • School supplies;
  • Family members;
  • Food;
  • Animals;
  • Days of the week;
  • Practice reading and writing short texts in Spanish;
  • Celebrations;
  • Working on pronunciation.

Creative Movement

Creative movement for 1st graders starts in late January. There will be two assemblies that focus on the Primary Unit themes of Ghana (January to early April) and roots (mid-April to June), along with opportunities for collaboration with the school’s music teacher.

Goals

  • Encourage creativity and spontaneity through safe, fun movement activities;
  • Develop body awareness, or relationships my body creates: body parts, body shapes, roles with others (e.g., lead, follow, partner, mirror, unison, solo, group);
  • Develop action awareness, or what my body does: move in place (stability: e.g., twist, stretch, bend) and around the room (locomotor: e.g., walk, run, gallop); D
  • evelop effort awareness, or how my body moves: time (speeds, rhythms), force (stop, start), degrees of force (strong, light), and flow (single movements, combinations of movements);
  • Develop space awareness, or where my body moves: space (self vs. shared), directions (e.g., up, down), levels (high, middle, low), and pathways (e.g., straight, curved);
  • Demonstrate moving in time with music using different locomotor actions;
  • Provide opportunities to use the body to interpret an idea, story, poem, or song;
  • Create movement sequences and activities based on the Primary Unit themes of Ghana and roots;
  • Provide practice working collaboratively on group projects to present during two theme assemblies.

Format of Classes

  • Opening Activities: Sessions begin with a gathering. These opening activities bring the group together, allow students to settle so that they can attend to class, and help them focus on class themes.
  • Warm-up Activities: The warm-up activities allow for vigorous, high-energy release within a structured framework. Exercises based on BrainDance, a sequence of eight developmental movement patterns, comprise the opening warm-up for each class, followed by locomotor explorations.
  • Movement and Body Awareness: These activities concentrate on the development of movement skills. General objectives are to explore movement dynamics, modulate body actions, move with attention to surroundings, create action patterns, and to move rhythmically and expressively.
  • Group Theme: This part of the session incorporates ideas and themes based on students’ ideas and the current Primary Unit focus. Creative movement sessions balance a connection with the classroom themes with an opportunity for new imaginative material to emerge. Books, simple costumes (created by children, when possible), and other props may be used to enhance this creative process.
  • Closing Activities: These activities help children to re-focus on their own bodies and to practice relaxing and resting. A brief review of the session’s events and a reference to the upcoming activities help smooth the transition to the next activity.

Music

Making music together as a group stands at the center of the music program in the Primary Unit at Green Acres. Students gather to sing, dance, and play music while learning about musical conventions, their world, and themselves. Our approach uses ideas and methods taken from the teachings of Carl Orff and Zoltan Kodaly, two composers and music educators who developed systems for teaching children. Kodaly developed a system of music education that focuses on singing beginning in early childhood. His method begins with simple tunes and progresses through more complicated pieces and uses many folk tunes from various countries around the world. Children are encouraged to sing, play instruments, dance, learn folk music of their own culture, and explore the music of other cultures. Orff’s teaching focuses on using language and movement as a basis for rhythmic and melodic exploration. Children use various instruments, including xylophones, glockenspiels, and simple rhythm instruments, to create ensembles supporting singing. Throughout the school year, they will perform, listen to, and analyze great music of the world. In addition, they will learn musical skills such as music reading and writing, singing, and part singing. They will improvise and compose at each level.

Skills and Concepts
Essential questions for the year include:

  • How do individuals work together to make music?
  • How can music teach us about our world?
  • How do elements of music affect the listener?
  • What differentiates sound from music?
  • What can I do to make an ensemble sound better?

Concepts revolve around basic elements of music (rhythm, melody, harmony, dynamics, tempo, timbre, and form). Skills include keeping a steady beat, playing and singing simple melodies and rhythms, and playing melodies and ostinatos on mallet and percussion instruments and belleplates. Students will begin to use color charts and adapted musical notation as well as standard notation. Throughout the year, strong emphasis is placed on caring for the instruments and working cooperatively as an ensemble.

Units and Activities
The music program for the Primary Unit will complement social studies and science themes throughout the year and will focus on migration, weaving, Ghana, and roots. In addition, the students will observe the cycle of the year by singing songs appropriate to the seasons and the changing weather.

Art

The goal of 1st grade art is to create an environment in which children can explore, experiment, and give voice to their creative selves. Children learn that, through art, they can express their ideas and feelings. They explore the properties of art materials to uncover infinite visual languages with which they can tell stories and represent their unique experiences. Students also will learn to observe and visually represent the world around them. The art teacher will engage in meaningful dialogue with children to help uncover the thoughts and ideas they experienced during the artistic process, making their learning visible to all. Through close collaboration with classroom teachers, art experiences will offer children the opportunity to extend their investigations and explore concepts with a variety of materials, document student understanding, and enrich the overall learning experience. The goals of the art program are to cultivate a sense of wonder through open-ended artistic exploration, cultivate craftsmanship, and to familiarize students with a variety of artistic media and techniques.

Goals

  • To continue exploring ways to visually represent thinking and learning experiences using a variety of media and techniques;
  • To continue to cultivate a sense of wonder by presenting students with open-ended artistic explorations;
  • To continue providing opportunities for students to familiarize themselves with materials and techniques;
  • To continue to foster visual literacy;
  • To learn proper art room etiquette (art room procedures and proper use of materials and tools);
  • To integrate thematic units from the homecorners to help students understand that art is a part of their everyday life;
  • To express and process individual emotions through art;
  • To create narratives and foster storytelling through art;
  • To explore the elements of art and how they are used to build an image or sculpture (line, shape, form, color, texture).

Concepts/Skills

  • Drawing different types of lines and shapes;
  • Creating shapes using a variety of lines (straight, curved, thick, thin, horizontal, etc.);  
  • Painting experimentation;
  • Identifying primary and secondary colors;
  • Using simple shapes to draw more complex objects;
  • Developing gross and fine motor skills;
  • Manipulating three-dimensional materials;
  • Mixing colors;
  • Understanding the difference between 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional art;
  • Identifying different types of art materials;
  • Using materials safely;
  • Following directions;
  • Improving cutting skills;
  • Fostering creativity and open-ended thinking;
  • Encouraging creative problem solving;
  • Interpreting and discussing art images.

Science

First grade scientists engage in experiential hands-on activities that encourage exploration, discovery, and critical thinking, in addition to fostering the development of productive social interactions.

Goals

  • To pique students’ curiosity about the world;
  • To expand their awareness and understanding of the world;
  • To foster the development of observational skills, employing all senses;
  • To engage students with basic scientific process skills (observing, inferring, measuring, communicating, classifying, predicting);
  • To engage students in the rudiments of experimentation;
  • To encourage students to observe their world mindfully and understand the connections among all its elements, living and non-living;
  • To encourage mindfulness in social interactions to enable students to work successfully in cooperative groups, as well as independently, during various explorations;
  • To encourage students to question actively and problem solve during investigations, furthering the development of their critical-thinking skills;
  • To have students gain experience with a range of scientific tools that aid in observation and analysis;
  • To have students practice various ways of recording and interpreting their observations, such as graphing, drawing, writing, speaking, and measuring.

Topics
Through exploration, discovery, and structured hands-on activities, 1st grade students learn about the natural world and problem solve. They also learn about their brain in conjunction with specific mindfulness activities. Specific topics of exploration support and extend classroom themes, such as metamorphosis and migration. Other areas of exploration include outdoor environments (forest, stream, field, sky), plants, animals, ecological principles, and problem-solving activities with manipulatives.

Physical Education

The goal of the 1st grade PE program is to create a lifelong desire to develop the whole person physically, socially, and emotionally. This program is integral to developing students’ education as it pertains to the total fitness, growth, and overall development of the individual. Teachers provide a wide variety of opportunities to enhance the social development of the student through participation in various physical activities. The program instills a sense of importance in promoting fitness, wellness, and an overall healthy attitude towards exercise and the benefits it provides. Most importantly, the physical education department promotes respect for the uniqueness and differences of the self and others through a wide variety of games and activities.

Students develop a sense of rules, skills, and strategies associated with the physical education activities in which they participate. They accomplish this while they work on developing their sportsmanship and team-building skills in class. There is an intentional, developmentally appropriate progression of motor skill development through activities that actively engage children. Teachers work to create a safe environment in order for students to have the confidence to take risks and improve athletically, socially, and emotionally.

The main goals are for all students to feel comfortable and confident in their abilities and to continue to develop a sense of cooperative learning. An introduction to team-oriented games is an important objective at this level, with an emphasis on teamwork and the basic rules of various sports. Soccer will be our first unit this fall, as our 1st graders develop and practice their passing, trapping, and shooting skills.

Concepts

  • The SELF Concept is stressed at this level, promoting sportsmanship, effort, learning, and fun in every class;
  • Each child is given an opportunity to learn, improve, and polish both new and existing skills;
  • Body awareness and spatial awareness (i.e., how our bodies move and where we move in relation to others).

Objectives

  • To work on developing and improving new and existing skills;
  • To learn fair play and work cooperatively with each other;
  • To continue to develop motor skills;
  • To perfect the proper techniques for throwing, kicking, catching, and hitting.

PE Activities

This is a list of potential units/activities this year. These may vary based on time, weather, and class interests:

  • Locomotor/non-locomotor;
  • Spatial/Body awareness;
  • Manipulatives;
  • Throwing/Catching;
  • Parachute;
  • Gymnastics;
  • Dance;
  • Striking/Kicking;
  • Relays;
  • Fitness games.

Homework

At Green Acres, we begin homework in 3rd grade because children at this level have the maturity and energy level to handle it. 

2nd Grade

Thematic Units

The thematic content of social studies and science is infused into the content of many parts of the day for 1st and 2nd grade students. Teachers collaborate to weave the themes into the students’ studies so that the topics come alive for them in a creative, integrated way. The 1st and 2nd grade social studies themes rotate on a two-year cycle; children do not study the same group of topics each year.

2019-2020 Thematic Units

  • Migration;
  • Weaving around the World;
  • Ghana;
  • Roots.

Focusing on themes allows the students to explore social organization, how people relate to each other, how humans relate to the environment, how people sustain themselves, and how science and the arts have developed from people’s basic needs.

The thematic studies in the Primary Unit unify our curriculum studies. They provide ideas for reading, writing, and math, and they enrich all areas of learning. The emphasis is on learning the basic concepts and the process of collecting information, dealing with facts, drawing conclusions, and communicating with others. During the 1st and 2nd grades, children's work includes the opportunity to:

  • Participate in activities and group discussions, often including both 1st and 2nd graders;
  • Use resources by obtaining information from individuals, discussions, pictures, books, etc.;
  • Generalize from one’s own experiences to understand the experiences of others;
  • Show awareness of similarities and differences among people, places, and cultures;
  • Show some understanding of geographic spaces;
  • Show some sense of time, history, and sequence (e.g., before, after); and
  • Attend field trips related to the units of study (e.g., visiting Locust Grove Nature Center)

Language Arts

The 2nd grade language arts program is a rich and diverse one that concentrates on the natural development and interaction among reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The program builds upon the foundations that children have developed in Kindergarten and 1st grade. Skills and strategies related to reading and writing are emphasized through each component of the program. The program is designed to develop a love of reading and writing and to increase stamina and fluency in both areas to prepare for content work in 3rd and 4th grade. The program focuses on developing comprehension skills, understanding texts, supporting opinions about reading selections, being responsive listeners, and communicating one’s own messages and ideas orally and in writing. Students are taught to recognize their own styles and preferences and discuss their experiences and attitudes about reading, and they learn to view themselves as competent readers and communicators. Reading, writing, listening, and speaking are not taught separately; rather, they are intertwined throughout all of the language and curriculum-based theme activities in which students engage. Components of the 2nd grade language arts program include:

  • Shared Reading: Children see the text, observe an expert—usually the teacher—reading it with fluency and expression, and are invited to read along.
  • Guided Reading: Children meet with the teacher, who guides them through the text.
  • Partner Reading: Children enjoy stories with partners in a variety of ways.
  • Read Aloud: The teacher reads a literature selection aloud as children listen.
  • Literature Discussion Groups: Children discuss and interpret works of literature that often are based on themes. They share their reflections on the reading and respond to the ideas of others.
  • Responses to Literature: Children talk, draw, write, and engage in dramatic and artistic activities in response to stories. These are often connected to the themes.
  • Independent Reading: Children read books of their own choosing. There are times when children read on their own to help build stamina and fluency.
  • Individual Reading Conferences: The teacher meets with students during individual reading conferences to check on their independent reading and to work with them on reading strategies.
  • Journal Writing: Children record their ideas, feelings, impressions, and observations in a variety of journals.
  • Writers' Workshop: Children select topics about which to write. They move their drafts through the stages of the writing process, including writing first drafts, conferencing with their peers and the teacher, editing and revising their drafts, and creating final versions. Skills are taught during "mini-lessons," as well as through editing conferences with teachers.
  • Spelling: As the year progresses, children continue to acquire spelling skills and strategies. This is achieved through a variety of instructional approaches that include studying spelling patterns, spelling lists, and other activities.
  • Sounds: Letter-sound relationships usually are explored in the context of texts and literature studied.
  • Handwriting: Manuscript letters using the Handwriting Without Tears program are reviewed.

Mathematics

The Primary Unit mathematics program focuses on instruction and practice with manipulatives as a way to help students discover and understand important mathematical ideas. Written work and games then follow, permitting the child to explore the mathematical principles further and to gain skill in applying them. The Primary Unit uses two math programs to support student understanding in math: enVision and Investigations. These programs work well together; enVision primarily works on developing conceptual understanding, vocabulary, and practice with math algorithms, while Investigations focuses on conceptual understanding built through problem solving and application of mathematical concepts. Both programs allow the teachers to assess student understanding before, during, and after each unit. This enables teachers to assess each child’s mathematical understanding throughout the year and determine how to best challenge each individual and the class as a whole.

The Primary Unit mathematics program introduces children to many important concepts and skills by focusing on a number of different mathematical focal points. It is essential that these concepts be taught in an environment that promotes problem solving, reasoning, communication, making connections between concepts, and designing and analyzing different representations of their problemsolving ideas. Skills are reviewed, allowing each child’s understanding of these ideas to develop over time. An additional goal for the Primary Unit mathematics program is for students to have automatic recall of addition and subtraction facts up to 20. This is an important foundation for the work they will do in 3rd grade and beyond.

Key Features of the 1st and 2nd Grade Math Program

  • Problem solving applying math to everyday situations;
  • Developing readiness through hands-on activities;
  • Establishing links between past concepts, experiences, and explorations;
  • Sharing ideas through class discussions;
  • Learning cooperatively through partner and small-group activities;
  • Practicing mathematical concepts through the use of games;
  • Engaging in writing to explain mathematical reasoning and to practice and reinforce skills and concepts.

Subject Areas of the Primary Unit Math Program

  • Numeration
  • Operations (+, -) and Computation
  • Data and Chance
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Patterns, Functions, and Algebra

Spanish

Spanish in 2nd grade is centered on a communicative approach that is based on the idea that learning a language successfully comes through having to communicate real meaning. The main objective of the communicative approach is to present a topic in context as naturally as possible. Following this approach, Spanish students at Green Acres have constant interaction with and exposure to the target language by engaging in communicative activities which are presented in a situation or context and have a communicative purpose. Typical class activities are songs, games, role-play activities, writing, simple math activities, and hands-on activities. The development of the four language skills— speaking, listening, reading, and writing—is developed in Spanish class, since communication involves all of these skills. Moreover, the Spanish curriculum is integrated with 1st and 2nd grade homecorner thematic units.

Units and Activities

  • Greetings and commands;
  • Talking about me, my family, and my friends;
  • Describing how students are feeling;
  • Counting from 0-50;
  • Colors and shapes;
  • Clothes;
  • Verbs “to wear” and “to like”;
  • Days of the week, months of the year, and the seasons;
  • The weather;
  • My house;
  • The alphabet;
  • Reading and writing in Spanish;
  • Understanding adjective-noun agreement;
  • Learning basic vocabulary about birthdays;
  • Understanding number-noun agreement;
  • Working on pronunciation.

Creative Movement

Creative movement for 2nd graders begins in September. There will be two assemblies focused on the Primary Unit themes of migration (September to early November) and weaving (early November to late January). There will be opportunities for collaboration with the school’s music teacher.

Goals

  • Encourage creativity and spontaneity through safe, fun movement activities;
  • Develop body awareness, or relationships my body creates: body parts, body shapes, roles with others (e.g., lead, follow, partner, mirror, unison, solo, group);
  • Develop action awareness, or what my body does: move in place (stability: e.g., twist, stretch, bend) and around the room (locomotor: e.g., walk, run, gallop); D
  • evelop effort awareness, or how my body moves: time (speeds, rhythms), force (stop, start), degrees of force (strong, light), and flow (single movements, combinations of movements);
  • Develop space awareness, or where my body moves: space (self vs. shared), directions (e.g., up, down), levels (high, middle, low), and pathways (e.g., straight, curved);
  • Demonstrate moving in time with music using different locomotor actions;
  • Provide opportunities to use the body to interpret an idea, story, poem, or song;
  • Create movement sequences and activities based on the Primary Unit themes of Ghana and roots;
  • Provide practice working collaboratively on group projects to present during two theme assemblies.

Format of Classes

  • Opening Activities: Sessions begin with a gathering. These opening activities bring the group together, allow students to settle so that they can attend to class, and help them focus on class themes.
  • Warm-up Activities: The warm-up activities allow for vigorous, high-energy release within a structured framework. Exercises based on BrainDance, a sequence of eight developmental movement patterns, comprise the opening warm-up for each class, followed by locomotor explorations.
  • Movement and Body Awareness: These activities concentrate on the development of movement skills. General objectives are to explore movement dynamics, modulate body actions, move with attention to surroundings, create action patterns, and to move rhythmically and expressively.
  • Group Theme: This part of the session incorporates ideas and themes based on students’ ideas and the current Primary Unit focus. Creative movement sessions balance a connection with the classroom themes with an opportunity for new imaginative material to emerge. Books, simple costumes (created by children, when possible), and other props may be used to enhance this creative process.
  • Closing Activities: These activities help children to re-focus on their own bodies and to practice relaxing and resting. A brief review of the session’s events and a reference to the upcoming activities help smooth the transition to the next activity.

Music

Making music together as a group stands at the center of the music program in the Primary Unit at Green Acres. Students gather to sing, dance, and play music while learning about musical conventions, their world, and themselves. Our approach uses ideas and methods taken from the teachings of Carl Orff and Zoltan Kodaly, two composers and music educators who developed systems for teaching children. Kodaly developed a system of music education that focuses on singing beginning in early childhood. His method begins with simple tunes and progresses through more complicated pieces and uses many folk tunes from various countries around the world. Children are encouraged to sing, play instruments, dance, learn folk music of their own culture, and explore the music of other cultures. Orff’s teaching focuses on using language and movement as a basis for rhythmic and melodic exploration. Children use various instruments, including xylophones, glockenspiels, and simple rhythm instruments, to create ensembles supporting singing. Throughout the school year, they will perform, listen to, and analyze great music of the world. In addition, they will learn musical skills such as music reading and writing, singing, and part singing. They will improvise and compose at each level.

Skills and Concepts
Essential questions for the year include:

  • How do individuals work together to make music?
  • How can music teach us about our world?
  • How do elements of music affect the listener?
  • What differentiates sound from music?
  • What can I do to make an ensemble sound better?

Concepts revolve around basic elements of music (rhythm, melody, harmony, dynamics, tempo, timbre, and form). Skills include keeping a steady beat, playing and singing simple melodies and rhythms, and playing melodies and ostinatos on mallet and percussion instruments and belleplates. Students will begin to use color charts and adapted musical notation as well as standard notation. Throughout the year, strong emphasis is placed on caring for the instruments and working cooperatively as an ensemble.

Units and Activities
The music program for the Primary Unit will complement social studies and science themes throughout the year and will focus on migration, weaving, Ghana, and roots. In addition, the students will observe the cycle of the year by singing songs appropriate to the seasons and the changing weather.

Art

Second grade students continue to develop and build upon skills learned in the Early Childhood Unit and 1st grade programs. The development of concepts and skills is balanced with an emphasis on the importance of feelings and self-expression and how emotions affect and enhance their artistic production. These goals are accomplished through such activities as drawing, painting, ceramics, collage, printmaking, and weaving.

The art teacher works closely with the 2nd grade classroom teacher to integrate homecorner units of study into the art curriculum. The goal of 2nd grade art is to create an environment in which children can each explore, experiment, and give voice to their creative selves. Children learn that, through art, they can express their ideas and feelings. They explore the properties of art materials to uncover infinite visual languages with which they can tell stories and represent their unique experiences. Students also will learn to observe and visually represent the world around them. Art teachers will engage in meaningful dialogue with children to help uncover the thoughts and ideas they experienced during the artistic process, making their learning visible to all. Through close collaboration with classroom teachers, art experiences will offer children the opportunity to extend their investigations and explore concepts with a variety of materials, document their understanding, and enrich their overall learning experience. The goals of the art program are to cultivate a sense of wonder through open-ended artistic exploration, cultivate craftsmanship, and to familiarize students with a variety of artistic media and techniques.

Goals

  • To explore ways to visually represent thinking and learning experiences using a variety of media and techniques;
  • To encourage open-ended creative thinking and problem solving;
  • To provide further opportunities for students to familiarize themselves with new materials and techniques;
  • To foster visual literacy;
  • To understand and implement the elements and principles of art.

Concepts/Skills

  • Identifying primary and secondary colors;
  • Mixing secondary colors;
  • Finding inspiration from everyday objects and from nature;
  • Continuing to practice cutting skills;
  • Recognizing and drawing different types of lines and shapes;
  • Learning proper painting techniques;
  • Using simple shapes to draw more complex objects;
  • Gaining an increased control of three-dimensional media by working with clay and recycled materials;
  • Using materials safely and responsibly;
  • Following directions;
  • Fostering creativity and open-ended thinking;
  • Encouraging creative problem solving;
  • Interpreting and discussing art images.

Science

Second grade scientists engage in experiential hands-on activities that encourage exploration, discovery, and critical thinking, in addition to fostering the development of productive social interactions.

Goals

  • To pique students’ curiosity about the world;
  • To expand their awareness and understanding of the world;
  • To foster the development of observational skills employing all senses;
  • To engage students with basic scientific process skills (observing, inferring, measuring, communicating, classifying, predicting);
  • To encourage mindfulness in social interactions to enable students to work successfully in cooperative groups, as well as independently, during various explorations;
  • To encourage students to observe their world mindfully and understand the connections among all its elements, living and non-living;
  • To encourage students to question actively and problem solve during investigations, furthering the development of their critical-thinking skills;
  • To have students gain experience with a range of scientific tools that aid in observation and analysis;
  • To have students practice various ways of recording and interpreting their observations, such as graphing, drawing, writing, speaking, and measuring.

Topics

Through exploration, discovery, and structured hands-on activities, 2nd graders learn about the natural world and engage in problem-solving activities and challenges. Additionally, they learn about their brain in conjunction with specific mindfulness activities. Specific topics of classroom focus and discussion include matter, measurement, and extensions of homecorner themes. They will learn about states of matter and be able to identify solids, liquids, and gases by their physical properties. They will learn to measure with a variety of tools, such as metric rulers, graduated cylinders, balances, and Celsius scale thermometers. They will engage in problem-solving activities with these measuring tools, such as determining the volume of a solid with displacement. These tools will be critical to scientific investigations throughout the year. Students will learn to record and graph data and communicate observations and experimental outcomes. Other areas of exploration include outdoor environments (forest, stream, field, sky), plants, animals, ecological principles, and problem-solving activities with manipulatives.

Physical Education

The major goal of the 2nd grade PE program is to create a lifelong desire to develop the whole person physically, socially, and emotionally. This program is integral to developing students’ education as it pertains to the total fitness, growth, and overall development of the individual. Teachers provide a wide variety of opportunities to enhance the social development of a student through participation in physical activities. The program instills a sense of importance in promoting fitness, wellness, and an overall healthy attitude towards exercise and the benefits it provides. Most importantly, the PE department promotes respect for the uniqueness and differences of the self and others through a wide variety of games and activities.

Students develop a sense of rules, skills, and strategies associated with the physical education activities in which they participate. Students will work on developing their sportsmanship and team-building skills in class. There is an intentional, developmentally appropriate progression of motor skill development through activities that actively engage children. Teachers work to make the classroom a safe environment in order for students to have the confidence to take risks and improve themselves athletically, socially, and emotionally.

An additional goal of PE in 2nd grade is to continue to develop individual athletic ability in areas such as general movement, coordination, and strength. Also, the cooperative aspects of teamwork are introduced through modified large-group games and some team sports.

Concepts

For the purpose of improving all-around coordination, students are taught proper techniques for various team sports, activities, and games associated with physical education. Through adapted game play, students are helped to further develop their own individual skills. Each child is given an opportunity to learn, improve, and polish both new and existing skills using different equipment. Team-oriented games are modified to help students better understand the relationships between their own skills and the concept of working together as a team. In addition, each student is taught that fair play is a critical element when participating in team-oriented sports.

Objectives

  • To learn at their own pace the goals and skills appropriate for their age level;
  • To improve existing skills;
  • To learn new skills;
  • To develop basic footwork and movement patterns needed within each sport;
  • To give students an opportunity to use individual skills in simulated game conditions;
  • To introduce more team-oriented sports and games to students;
  • To better understand the basic rules of the sport being taught;
  • To work cooperatively with teammates in small- and large-group games so that their team will become more successful;
  • To begin to work and understand fair play and what being a good sport entails;
  • To be able to say "good game" after competing, regardless of the score or outcome.

PE Activities

This is a list of potential units/activities this year. These may vary based on time, weather, and class interests:

  • Locomotor/non-locomotor;
  • Spatial/Body awareness;
  • Manipulatives;
  • Throwing/Catching;
  • Parachute;
  • Gymnastics;
  • Dance;
  • Striking/Kicking;
  • Relays;
  • Fitness games.

Homework

At Green Acres, we begin homework in 3rd grade because children at this level have the maturity and energy level to handle it. 

3rd Grade

Humanities Curriculum: Language Arts

The language arts curriculum focuses on a literature-based reading program and a process approach to writing. In the reading program, students learn to appreciate different genres of literature by reading and discussing various fiction and nonfiction materials, including chapter books, articles, poetry, and short stories. Through reading guided by the teacher and in small groups, children practice their decoding and comprehension skills, engage in discussions, and develop a wider vocabulary. They begin to use conceptual thinking to synthesize, summarize, and support their opinions about the written word. In addition to reading independently for pleasure and listening to stories read aloud by teachers, children are taught research skills in conjunction with the social studies program. Children gather information from articles and books—both printed and electronic—and learn to take notes in preparation for writing short reports and making oral presentations in class.

Teachers also use literature to develop students’ writing talents. Our goal is for children to enjoy writing and, in the process, to see themselves as authors. Students and teachers discuss the writing styles of various authors and use literature as models for student writing. Teachers guide children to express their ideas clearly and creatively and to expand them by adding details, thoughts, and feelings. Children learn to develop editing skills and to revise their work, and, in the process, they develop fluency and confidence in all aspects of writing. This is done through a variety of writing assignments, during which teachers guide children in selecting story topics, producing rough drafts, revising the drafts for content, and editing them to improve spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization.

Other areas that are addressed in the language arts curriculum are spelling and handwriting. Children study words and word patterns, examine spelling strategies, and also concentrate on some words misspelled from their own writing. Children are expected to know the “no excuses words” for their grade by the end of the year. In 3rd grade, students review lowercase cursive formations. Keyboarding is also introduced in 3rd grade.

Humanities Curriculum: Social Studies

At Green Acres, social studies includes geography, cultures, relationships of people to one another and to their environment, history, the development of arts and sciences in response to human needs, and civic ideas and practices. The subject is integrated into various areas, including reading, writing, math, and the arts, and it is used to help students develop critical thinking skills, such as reading maps, gathering facts, summarizing information, and drawing conclusions based on the information gathered.

Third graders begin the year with a friendship theme. They discuss what it means to be a good friend and explore the different qualities that characterize a good friendship. This theme is interwoven throughout the year in their study of earlier cultures in the United States.

Third graders concentrate on the geography and selected environments of North America. They study Native American cultures, both past and present, and life in early America. Third grade students explore the similarities and differences among cultures and compare those cultures to their own by investigating ideas such as:

  • In what ways are people’s lives like mine? How are they different?
  • How are people’s lives affected by their environment?
  • How is the environment affected by people?
  • How do the things people make reflect their lives and their surroundings?

The 3rd grade early America unit helps students to understand a different time period in American history. The unit capitalizes on Green Acres’ close proximity to St. Mary’s City and Chestertown, where students actively engage in learning about early settlements.

Third graders use a wide variety of resources and go on field trips as part of their units of study.

Mathematics

According to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, a mathematics curriculum in grades Pre-K through 8 should emphasize a well-defined set of the most critical topics. A proficiency with these topics should become the norm in elementary and middle school mathematics curricula.

The 3rd and 4th grade mathematics program reinforces the important concepts and skills explored in the 1st and 2nd grades, and it builds understandings to include increasingly abstract concepts. EnVision Math, published by Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley, is the math program for grades 1-6. Instruction and practice with concrete objects help children to discover and understand important mathematical ideas. This is accompanied by written work, exploration activities, and games, permitting each child to explore and apply mathematical principles. The EnVision program presents material in the form of an e-text.

The curriculum focal points and related connections for mathematics in 3rd grade are:

Number and Operations and Algebra

  • Mental computation of addition and subtraction; developing understandings of multiplication and division and strategies for multiplication facts and related division facts; creation and analysis of patterns and relationships involving multiplication and division.

Fractions and Decimals

  • Developing an understanding of fractions and fraction equivalents; place value up to and beyond 10,000.

Measurement

  • Measuring with fractional parts of linear units; developing an understanding of perimeter and area. 

Geometry

  • Describing and analyzing properties of two- and three-dimensional shapes.

Data Analysis 

  • Constructing and analyzing frequency tables, bar graphs, picture graphs, and line plots and using them to solve problems.

Science

Through exploration, discovery, and structured hands-on activities, 3rd grade students learn about the natural world and solve problems. Additionally, they also learn about their brain in conjunction with specific mindfulness activities. Specific topics focus mainly on life science, beginning with plant growth, structure, and responses. They will learn about the requirements for germination and plant responses and compare plant structures. They will study photosynthesis, food chains and webs, adaptations, and other ecological principles.

Goals

  • To pique students’ curiosity about the world;
  • To expand their awareness and understanding of the world;
  • To foster the development of observational skills, employing all senses;
  • To engage students with basic scientific process skills (observing, inferring, measuring, communicating, classifying, predicting), in addition to some more advanced process skills (relating objects and events to other objects and events, defining operationally, formulating hypotheses, interpreting data, controlling variables, investigating);
  • To engage students in scientific experimentation and develop an understanding of the scientific method;
  • To encourage mindfulness in social interactions to enable students to work successfully in cooperative groups, as well as independently, during various explorations;
  • To encourage students to observe their world mindfully and understand the connections among all its elements, living and non-living;
  • To encourage students to question actively and problem solve during investigations, furthering the development of their critical-thinking skills;
  • To have students gain experience with a range of scientific tools that aid in observation and analysis;
  • To have students practice various ways of recording and interpreting their observations, such as graphing, drawing, writing, speaking, and measuring.

Music

Through the practice of xylophone, soprano recorder, ukulele, percussion, and other instruments, the music program for 3rd graders provides students with a solid foundation of musical literacy that they will utilize throughout their time at Green Acres and beyond. Students will improve their musical literacy, performance etiquette, instrumental technique, and compositional skills through learning the recorder, xylophone, and ukulele. 

Skills and Concepts
Third grade students learn to play recorder, xylophone, ukulele, percussion, and other instruments. We perform on these instruments in class and at assemblies in formats including unison, canon, small groups, and large ensemble. Skills include instrumental technique, reading rhythmic patterns, identifying line and space notes, compassion, collaboration, creative composition, singing and instrument care. Students will work together to create and learn pieces of music, and they will have the opportunity to perform in a large ensemble format at school assemblies and concerts. Students read and perform music and learn concert etiquette as they participate in performances throughout the year.

Essential Questions

  • How is sound organized to create music?
  • How is melody created?
  • What does harmony add to music?
  • What is the purpose of rhythm?
  • How is music notated? 

Art

The goal of 3rd grade art is to create an environment in which children can each explore, experiment, and give voice to their creative selves, while also learning to understand others’ artistic production and how to discuss and respond to others’ creative output with respect and empathy. They explore the properties of art materials to uncover infinite visual language with which they can tell stories and represent their unique experiences. Students use a variety of materials that advance self-esteem, self-expression, and critical thinking. Students also will learn to observe and visually represent the world around them. The art teacher will engage in meaningful dialogue with children to help uncover the thoughts and ideas that they experienced during the artistic process, making their learning visible to all. Through close collaboration with classroom teachers, art experiences will offer children the opportunity to extend their investigations and explore concepts with a variety of materials, document their understanding, and enrich their overall learning experience.

Goals

  • To build upon skills and knowledge acquired in previous years in the art program;  
  • To explore ways to visually represent thinking and learning experiences using a variety of media and techniques;
  • To encourage open-ended creative thinking and problem solving;
  • To foster visual literacy;
  • To understand and implement the elements of art;
  • To acquire knowledge and skills that increase aesthetic awareness;
  • To develop skills for the safe use of materials, tools, technology, and procedures;
  • To develop self-awareness and self-expression through the ability to communicate in a variety of media;
  • To develop critical thinking skills;
  • To begin to assess and reflect upon one’s own work and the work of others;
  • To respect others’ ways of thinking, working, and expressing themselves;
  • To recognize the importance of preserving the artistic heritage of all cultures;
  • To make connections between the visual arts and other subject areas;
  • To recognize that art is essential to daily life.

Concepts/Skills

  • Mixing secondary and tertiary colors;
  • Mixing tints and shades;
  • Finding inspiration from everyday objects and from nature;
  • Recognizing and drawing different types of lines, shapes, and forms;
  • Continuing to develop proper painting techniques;
  • Using simple shapes to draw more complex objects;
  • Gaining an increased control of three-dimensional media by working with clay and sculpture materials;
  • Using materials safely and responsibly;
  • Following directions;
  • Fostering creativity and open-ended thinking;
  • Encouraging creative problem solving;
  • Interpreting and discussing art images;
  • Properly caring for and cleaning art materials;
  • Showing respect for one’s self and others, particularly when discussing art production;
  • Developing craftsmanship.

Spanish

The Spanish course for 3rd and 4th grade continues to use a communicative approach based on the idea that learning a language successfully occurs through having to communicate real meaning. In order to follow this linguistic approach, the use of communicative activities in the class is essential. These activities should be always presented in a context.

As with the Primary Unit, the development of the four linguistic competences—speaking, listening, reading, and writing—is integrated from the beginning of class to the end. Classes are conducted mostly in Spanish. Motivation is key in the process of acquiring a foreign language; the teacher acts as a guide and facilitator and helps learners in ways that motivate them to work with the target language. Some examples of typical activities in Spanish class include games, basic math exercises, writing and reading of short texts in Spanish, watching videos to practice pronunciation, hands-on activities, and role-play activities.

Third and 4th graders will learn that Spanish is spoken in many countries around the world. They also will be introduced to different Hispanic cultures and traditions. The curriculum is integrated with the 3rd grade social studies units. Vocabulary and activities related to friendship, animals, and culture will be emphasized.

Units and Activities

  • Greetings and commands;
  • Alphabet;
  • Calendar: days of the week, months of the year, and the seasons;
  • Weather;
  • Talking about me and my friends;
  • Counting from 0-50;
  • Colors and shapes;
  • School supplies;
  • Infinitive verbs (to swim, to skate, to dance, and to walk);
  • Telling time;
  • Reading short stories about celebrations;
  • Feelings;
  • Talking about likes and dislikes;
  • Expressions with the verb tener (to have);
  • Using pronouns in place of names or nouns;
  • Describing school subjects;
  • Understanding adjective-noun agreement;
  • Understanding number-noun agreement;
  • Working on pronunciation.

Physical Education

Goals
The major goal of the 3rd grade PE program is to create a lifelong desire to develop the whole person physically, socially, and emotionally. This program is integral to developing students’ education as it pertains to the total fitness, growth, and overall development of the individual. Teachers provide a wide variety of opportunities to enhance the social development of a student through participation in physical activities. The program instills a sense of importance in promoting wellness and a healthy attitude towards exercise and the benefits it provides. Most importantly, the PE department promotes respect for the uniqueness and differences of the self and others through a wide variety of games and activities.

Students develop a sense of rules, skills, and strategies associated with the physical education activities in which they participate. Students will work on developing their sportsmanship and team-building skills in class. There is an intentional, developmentally appropriate progression of motor skill development through activities that actively engage children. Teachers work to create a safe environment for students to have the confidence to take risks and improve themselves athletically, socially, and emotionally.

An additional goal of physical education at the 3rd grade level is to continue developing individual athletic ability in areas such as movement, coordination, and strength. An introduction to team-oriented games is also an important objective at this level, with an emphasis on teamwork and the basic rules of various sports.

Concepts
Through adapted game play, students are helped to further develop their own individual skills. Each child is given an opportunity to learn, improve, and polish both new and existing skills using different equipment. The students are taught the proper techniques for several different team sports. Teamoriented games are modified to help students better understand the relationships between their own skills and the concept of working together as a team. In addition, each student is taught that fair play is a critical element when participating in team-oriented sports.

Objectives

  • To learn at their own pace the goals and skills appropriate for their age level;
  • To improve existing skills;
  • To learn new skills and proper techniques;
  • To develop basic footwork and movement patterns needed for each sport;
  • To allow students to use individual skills in simulated game conditions;
  • To introduce more team-oriented sports and games to students;
  • To better understand the next level of strategy and rules of the sport being taught;
  • To work cooperatively with teammates in both small- and large-group games so that their team will become more successful;
  • To understand fair play and what being a good sport fully entails;
  • To be able to say "good game" after competing, regardless of the score or outcome.

Homework

At Green Acres, we begin homework in 3rd grade because children at this level have the maturity and energy level to handle it. Most homework is designed to reinforce skills taught at school. We try very hard to make sure that assignments are clear and that children understand the expectations.

Third graders are encouraged to read nightly, with or without assistance, for a minimum of twenty minutes, in addition to completing the assigned homework. The 3rd grade teacher coordinates daily assignments so that either math or humanities (but not both) is assigned Monday through Thursday. Those assignments are designed to be completed in about twenty minutes. Additionally, Spanish homework may be assigned during the course of the week. 

On occasion, there are projects which require work that is coordinated over time. Teachers will communicate with both students and parents when these special assignments occur.

Your child uses a homework binder to carry assignments to and from school. We want parents to help by establishing a routine and setting aside a time and place for doing homework. This can be any space at home that is removed from distractions. Writing should be done at a desk or table. It is also extremely helpful for parents to guide children in establishing a routine for returning homework to school. It is important for children to complete the last step of homework: putting completed assignments into their binders and then into a backpack to be returned to school the next day.

As always, ongoing communication between home and school provides the firm foundation on which to build this year’s accomplishments.

Social/Emotional Growth and Habits of Mind

Throughout the year, children solve problems and engage in activities to help them develop positive social relationships and healthful habits. Topics include friendship, cooperation, affirmation, conflict resolution, and age-appropriate information about family life and health-related issues. These topics are addressed in nurturing settings, including homecorners and cross-grade gatherings when appropriate.

4th Grade

Humanities Curriculum: Language Arts

The language arts curriculum focuses on a literature-based reading program and a process approach to writing. In the reading program, students learn to appreciate different genres of literature by reading and discussing various fiction and nonfiction materials, including chapter books, articles, poetry, and short stories. Through reading guided by the teacher and in small groups, children practice their decoding and comprehension skills, engage in discussions, and develop a wider vocabulary. They begin to use conceptual thinking to synthesize, summarize, and support their opinions about the written word. In addition to reading independently for pleasure and listening to stories read aloud by teachers, children are taught research skills in conjunction with the social studies program. Children gather information from articles and books—both printed and electronic—and learn to take notes in preparation for writing short reports and making oral presentations in class.

Teachers also use literature to develop students’ writing talents. Our goal is for children to enjoy writing and, in the process, to see themselves as authors. Students and teachers discuss the writing styles of various authors and use literature as models for student writing. Teachers guide children to express their ideas clearly and creatively and to expand them by adding details, thoughts, and feelings. Children learn to develop editing skills and to revise their work, and, in the process, they develop fluency and confidence in all aspects of writing. This is done through a variety of writing assignments, during which teachers guide children in selecting story topics, producing rough drafts, revising the drafts for content, and editing them to improve spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization.

Other areas that are addressed in the language arts curriculum are spelling and handwriting. Children study words and word patterns, examine spelling strategies, and also concentrate on some words misspelled from their own writing. Children are expected to know the “no excuses words” for their grade by the end of the year. Uppercase cursive letters are introduced—and lowercase reinforced—in 4th grade. Keyboarding is continually practiced in 4th grade.

Humanities Curriculum: Social Studies

At Green Acres, social studies includes geography, cultures, relationships of people to one another and to their environment, history, the development of arts and sciences in response to human needs, and civic ideas and practices. The subject is integrated into various areas, including reading, writing, math, and the arts, and it is used to help students develop critical thinking skills, such as reading maps, gathering facts, summarizing information, and drawing conclusions based on the information gathered.

Fourth graders use a wide variety of resources and go on field trips as part of their units of study.

Mathematics

According to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, a mathematics curriculum in grades Pre-K through 8 should emphasize a well-defined set of the most critical topics. A proficiency with these topics should become the norm in elementary and middle school mathematics curricula.

The 3rd and 4th grade mathematics program reinforces the important concepts and skills explored in the 1st and 2nd grades, and it builds understandings to include increasingly abstract concepts. EnVision Math, published by Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley, is the math program for grades 1-6. Instruction and practice with concrete objects help children to discover and understand important mathematical ideas. This is accompanied by written work, exploration activities, and games, permitting each child to explore and apply mathematical principles. The EnVision program presents material in the form of an e-text.

The curriculum focal points and related connections for mathematics in 4th grade are:

Number and Operations and Algebra 

  • Developing quick recall of multiplication facts and related division facts and fluency with whole-number multiplication; developing an understanding of multi-digit division; identifying, describing, and extending numeric and non-numeric patterns.

Fractions and Decimals 

  • Developing an understanding of decimals, including the connection between fractions and decimals; place value up to and beyond 1,000,000; estimation; generating equivalent fractions and simplifying fractions; adding and subtracting fractions with like and unlike denominators.

Measurement 

  • Developing an understanding of metric units of length, capacity, and mass; making connections between units of time; understanding how to calculate the area of twodimensional shapes; measuring and classifying angles.

Geometry

  • Classifying polygons and finding their area; working with symmetry and congruence; understanding lines.

Science

Through exploration, discovery, and structured hands-on activities, 4th graders learn about the natural world and delve into problem-solving tasks and challenges. Additionally, they learn about their brain in conjunction with specific mindfulness activities. They will learn about the structure of the earth and the dynamic process within it, as well as about plate tectonics. They will study the rock cycle and identify rocks and minerals by their physical properties.

Goals

  • To pique students’ curiosity about the world;
  • To expand their awareness and understanding of the world;
  • To foster the development of observational skills, employing all senses;
  • To engage students with basic scientific process skills (observing, inferring, measuring, communicating, classifying, predicting), in addition to some more advanced process skills (relating objects and events to other objects and events, defining operationally, formulating hypotheses, interpreting data, controlling variables, investigating);
  • To engage students in scientific experimentation and develop an understanding of the scientific method;
  • To encourage mindfulness in social interactions to enable students to work successfully in cooperative groups, as well as independently, during various explorations;
  • To encourage students to observe their world mindfully and understand the connections among all its elements, living and non-living;
  • To encourage students to question actively and problem solve during investigations, furthering the development of their critical-thinking skills;
  • To have students gain experience with a range of scientific tools that aid in observation and analysis;
  • To have students practice various ways of recording and interpreting their observations, such as graphing, drawing, writing, speaking, and measuring.

Music

The 4th grade music program complements their social studies curriculum with an emphasis on global geography and world celebrations. Students will begin by learning and performing music from various cultures around the world. Students also have an opportunity to be a part of the composition process throughout the year. Additionally, they will co-create their mini-musical, including writing lines, creating costumes, choreographing stage blocking, and managing props. This is a highlight of the year, and it provides important lessons about compassionate collaboration, creativity, singing, acting, production, and other elements of the performing arts.

In chorus, 4th graders will develop a repertoire to present at the annual Thanksgiving lunch and the winter and spring concerts. Through vocal warm-ups and exercises, students will learn how to train their voices effectively, and these concepts will be applied directly to performance repertoire.

Skills and Concepts
In 4th grade, students build on their musical literacy, instrumental technique, ensemble skills, and performance etiquette. Ensemble pieces linked to their social studies curriculum will find them working as a group to play music from around the world. This process necessitates a great deal of coordinated ensemble playing, so students focus on teamwork as they fit their interwoven parts together. We continue developing instrumental skills on ukulele, and, if students are ready, we move up to guitar. Students will work together to create and learn pieces of music and will perform together several times during the year. In February, 4th graders will perform a mini-musical, which they will help to create.

Skills developed in chorus include practicing healthy vocal technique and singing in unison, canon, and multiple parts. Students read and perform music and learn concert etiquette as they participate in performances throughout the year.

Essential Questions

  • How is sound organized to create music?
  • How is melody created?
  • What does harmony add to music?
  • What is the purpose of rhythm?
  • How is music notated? 

Art

The goal of 4th grade art is to create an environment in which children can each explore, experiment, and give voice to their creative selves, while also learning to understand others’ artistic production and how to discuss and respond to others’ creative output with respect and empathy. They explore the properties of art materials to uncover infinite visual languages with which they can tell stories and represent their unique experiences. Students use a variety of materials that advance selfesteem, self-expression, and critical thinking. Students also will learn to observe and visually represent the world around them. The art teacher will engage in meaningful dialogue with children to help uncover the thoughts and ideas experienced during their artistic process, making their learning visible to all. Through close collaboration with classroom teachers, art experiences will offer children the opportunity to extend their investigations and explore concepts with a variety of materials, document their understanding, and enrich their overall learning experience.

Goals

  • To build upon skills and knowledge acquired in previous years in the art program;
  • To explore ways to visually represent thinking and learning experiences using a variety of media and techniques;
  • To encourage open-ended creative thinking and problem solving;
  • To foster visual literacy;
  • To understand and implement the elements and principles of art;  
  • To acquire knowledge and skills that increase aesthetic awareness;
  • To appreciate the role of art in reflecting human experience past and present;
  • To develop skills for the safe use of materials, tools, technology, and procedures;
  • To develop self-awareness and self-expression through the ability to communicate in a variety of media;
  • To develop critical thinking skills;
  • To begin to assess and reflect upon one’s own work and the work of others;
  • To respect others’ ways of thinking, working, and expressing themselves;
  • To demonstrate respect for the environment through various projects using recyclable materials;
  • To recognize the importance of preserving the artistic heritage of all cultures;
  • To make connections between the visual arts and other subject areas;
  • To recognize that art is essential to daily life.

Concepts/Skills

  • Mixing secondary, tertiary, tints, shades, and neutral colors;
  • Understanding basic color theory, including analogous colors, complementary colors, and monochromatic palette;
  • Finding inspiration from everyday objects and from nature;
  • Recognizing and drawing different types of lines, shapes, and forms;
  • Continuing to develop proper painting techniques;
  • Using simple shapes to draw more complex objects;
  • Gaining an increased control of three-dimensional media by working with clay and sculpture materials;
  • Using recycled materials to create art;
  • Using materials safely and responsibly;
  • Following directions;
  •  Fostering creativity and open-ended thinking;
  • Encouraging creative problem solving;
  • Interpreting and discussing art images;
  • Properly caring for and cleaning art materials;
  • Showing respect for self and others, particularly when discussing art production;
  • Developing craftsmanship;
  • Using proper design language when discussing art.

Spanish

The Spanish course for 3rd and 4th grade continues to use a communicative approach based on the idea that learning a language successfully occurs through having to communicate real meaning. In order to follow this linguistic approach, the use of communicative activities in the class is essential. These activities should be always presented in a context.

As with the Primary Unit, the development of the four linguistic competences—speaking, listening, reading, and writing—is integrated from the beginning of class to the end. Classes are conducted mostly in Spanish. Motivation is key in the process of acquiring a foreign language; the teacher acts as a guide and facilitator and helps learners in ways that motivate them to work with the target language. Some examples of typical activities in Spanish class include games, basic math exercises, writing and reading of short texts in Spanish, watching videos to practice pronunciation, hands-on activities, and role-play activities.

Third and 4th graders will learn that Spanish is spoken in many countries around the world. They also will be introduced to different Hispanic cultures and traditions. The curriculum is integrated with the 3rd grade social studies units. Vocabulary and activities related to friendship, animals, and culture will be emphasized.

Units and Activities

  • Greetings;
  • Review of colors, numbers, and school supplies;
  • Talking about me, my family, and my friends; • Counting from 50-100; • Using numbers in everyday situations;
  • Parts of the body;
  • Food;
  • Sports;
  • Vocabulary about clothes;
  • Reading short stories on celebrations, people, animals, and countries;
  • Talking about places and people they know;
  • Comparisons, including cultural differences;
  • Talking about likes and dislikes;
  • Descriptions of objects and people;
  • Understanding adjective-noun agreement;
  • Understanding number-noun agreement;
  • Understanding subject-verb agreement;
  • Working on pronunciation and intonation.

Physical Education

Goals
The major goal of the 4th grade PE program is to create a lifelong desire to develop the whole person physically, socially, and emotionally. This program is integral to developing students’ education as it pertains to the total fitness, growth, and overall development of the individual. Teachers provide a wide variety of opportunities to enhance the social development of a student through participation in physical activities. The program instills a sense of importance in promoting wellness and a healthy attitude towards exercise and the benefits it provides. Most importantly, the PE department promotes respect for the uniqueness and differences of the self and others through a wide variety of games and activities.

Students develop a sense of rules, skills, and strategies associated with the physical education activities in which they participate. Students will work on developing their sportsmanship and team-building skills in class. There is an intentional, developmentally appropriate progression of motor skill development through activities that actively engage children. Teachers work to create a safe environment for students to have the confidence to take risks and improve themselves athletically, socially, and emotionally.

An additional goal of physical education at the 3rd grade level is to continue developing individual athletic ability in areas such as movement, coordination, and strength. An introduction to team-oriented games is also an important objective at this level, with an emphasis on teamwork and the basic rules of various sports.

Concepts
Through adapted game play, students are helped to further develop their own individual skills. Each child is given an opportunity to learn, improve, and polish both new and existing skills using different equipment. The students are taught the proper techniques for several different team sports. Teamoriented games are modified to help students better understand the relationships between their own skills and the concept of working together as a team. In addition, each student is taught that fair play is a critical element when participating in team-oriented sports.

Objectives

  • To learn at their own pace the goals and skills appropriate for their age level;
  • To improve existing skills;
  • To learn new skills and better techniques;
  • To learn new team-oriented sport activities, as well as individual activities and sports;
  • To develop basic footwork and movement patterns needed for each sport;
  • To give students an opportunity to use developing skills in simulated game conditions;
  • To work cooperatively with teammates in small- and large-group games so that their teams will become more successful, which is not always measured in wins or losses;
  • To begin to problem solve within large-group game situations;
  • To pass, receive, dribble, shoot, and communicate with teammates;
  • To understand fair play and what being a good sport entails;
  • To better understand the basic rules of the sport being taught;
  • To be able to say "good game" after competing, regardless of the final score or outcome.

Homework

Fourth grade students progress in what is asked of them for homework. They are expected to read for 20 minutes nightly and have assignments in both math and humanities on a daily basis. Additionally, Spanish homework may be assigned during the course of the week. 

On occasion, there are projects which require work that is coordinated over time. Teachers will communicate with both students and parents when these special assignments occur.

Your child uses a homework binder to carry assignments to and from school. We want parents to help by establishing a routine and setting aside a time and place for doing homework. This can be any space at home that is removed from distractions. Writing should be done at a desk or table. It is also extremely helpful for parents to guide children in establishing a routine for returning homework to school. It is important for children to complete the last step of homework: putting completed assignments into their binders and then into a backpack to be returned to school the next day.

As always, ongoing communication between home and school provides the firm foundation on which to build this year’s accomplishments.

Social/Emotional Growth and Habits of Mind

Throughout the year, children solve problems and engage in activities to help them develop positive social relationships and healthful habits. Topics include friendship, cooperation, affirmation, conflict resolution, and age-appropriate information about family life and health-related issues. These topics are addressed in nurturing settings, including homecorners and cross-grade gatherings when appropriate.