Our Pre-K- Grade 4 Curriculum
The Mead School prides itself on delivering a rich curriculum that seamlessly marries academic rigor with emotional and social growth. We believe that learning goes well beyond the 3 R’s and the 4 walls of a classroom, and is most memorable when it is delivered in a personally meaningful way.
Cross-curricular, experiential learning is the norm, allowing learners to find their voices, take some risks, and cultivate their intuition, imagination and creativity.
We meet each child where they are with their academic skills, take them where they need to be in each grade and then allow them to soar.
Focusing on the four domains of reading, writing, speaking and listening, K-1 students work in whole groups, small groups and one on one to build literacy skills and concepts while developing a love of literature. Whole group experiences such as Morning Meeting are wonderful opportunities to practice and model speaking and listening skills. Students take turns sharing stories and answering questions while remaining on-topic and speaking clearly to be understood. K-1 students also actively participate in read-alouds, partner reading, independent reading, word work, guided reading, writing projects, and journal writing. Using Handwriting Without Tears, a program which mirrors Mead’s educational pedagogy, students learn proper letter and number formation in a fun and accessible way. K-1 language arts focuses on developing each student’s success and independence as he/she progresses along the reading and writing continuum.
2nd and 3rd graders students continue to develop the basic Language Arts skills that form the building blocks for later learning. During these years, one sees the shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Students learn strategies to work toward increased fluency as readers within grade level. They also work toward becoming more fluent and skilled writers, actively practicing the three basic components of the writing process:
- Brainstorming – often using graphic organizers;
- Writing a first draft; and
Within the editing phase, which often includes peer editing, students work together to ensure that there are complete sentences with proper sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling. All students come to class with the clear understanding that we need to use our mistakes to learn, and, for that reason, mistakes are to be celebrated.
Handwriting is taught using the program Handwriting Without Tears, which mirrors our educational pedagogy.
The Language Arts program for the 4th grade is designed to encourage and nurture a love of reading and writing. Students are stretched to build upon the skills already acquired with a goal of reaching ever-higher levels of competence and confidence as readers and writers. Students are challenged to become more autonomous learners. They are more likely to seek increased challenge in their learning when they have, at their core, a joy for that learning. As their conceptual reasoning develops, students are immersed in activities and discussions that elevate their emerging critical thinking and support reading for deeper meaning, both literal and inferential.
Students actively read a wide range of literary styles and genres. Active reading requires students to check for comprehension; identify the main idea; visualize; summarize; draw conclusions; make inferences, predictions, and connections; and build vocabulary. As they progress along the continuum, students move toward analyzing an author’s style – identifying theme, tone, and various literary devices, and they are encouraged to read for deeper meaning. Students are asked to support their thinking through clarifying questions and evidence from the text. In class discussions, students express their ideas and listen to others’ opinions.
Students are exposed to, and then asked to emulate, a variety of writing styles, with an emphasis on the mechanics of writing. Students learn to create both narrative and expository pieces, including multiple paragraph essays, book reports, letter writing, literary responses, and poetry. They continue to develop their understanding and use of MLA writing conventions. In addition, students regularly free write – an exercise that requires continuous, stream-of-conscious writing and shutting down one’s inner critic – allowing them to discover their inner writer.
Vocabulary and Grammar Work
Students work on vocabulary and grammar in several different ways. Students are asked to keep a log of unfamiliar words they encounter in the class reading. Word Voyage, an online program, further challenges students to develop a rich and varied vocabulary – with a focus on root meanings – and practice proper grammar and usage. Students also practice grammar using level-appropriate grammar workbooks published by McGraw-Hill.
Throughout this school year in language arts, children will be nurtured and encouraged to flourish as readers and writers with purpose, confidence, and joy.
The Mathematics curriculum in K-1 takes place throughout the day as well as during designated Math times. Experiences with math concepts are woven into everyday routines and practices in the K-1 classroom while also being a part of daily conversations and play. Using a variety of manipulatives, students explore numeration, one-to-one correspondence, sorting and classifying, graphing, measurement, number sense, operations, geometry, and data analysis.
The Mathematics curriculum in Grade 2 takes place throughout the day as well as during daily Math classes. Experiences with math concepts are woven into everyday routines and practices in the K-1-2 center while also being a part of daily conversations and play. In daily 40-minute class sessions, students construct meaning across a range of math concepts as they progress from the concrete (with manipulatives) to a representational world (of pictures), before demonstrating the ability to work with math ideas in more abstract forms.
The focus for the year is to:
- Develop number sense through frequent experiences and a variety of concrete materials;
- Build their understanding of place value;
- Gain competency with addition and subtraction operations (to 20);
- Conduct surveys and present conclusions in graphical forms;
- Measure objects;
- And investigate and problem-solve with two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional objects.
Instruction in Mathematics begins with the current level of each student’s mathematical understanding. From that entry point, the curriculum is designed to promote engagement and to create deeper and more lasting understanding. The goal is for students to recognize that math is useful and to cultivate a belief in their own efficacy.
Furthermore, lessons are structured to promote purposeful engagement and reflective thought using the following strategies:
Classroom Environment – Students try out ideas, take risks, share their thoughts, respectfully disagree, seek help from other students, and explain their thinking.
Mathematical Tasks - Tasks or problems are designed to engage the students in the concepts of the curriculum.
Cooperative Learning Groups – Students work in small groups or partnerships to encourage interaction and an exchange of ideas, as well as to question and to learn from each other.
Models as Thinking Tools – Manipulative models are used to help students develop new concepts, to make connections between concepts and symbols, and to assess a student’s understanding.
Additionally, the following strands, identified by the National Academy of Sciences, are used as indicators for mathematical proficiency.
Conceptual Understanding: Comprehension of mathematical concepts, operations, and relationships.
Procedural Fluency: Skill in carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently, and appropriately.
Strategic Competence: Ability to formulate, represent, and solve mathematical problems.
Adaptive Reasoning: Capacity for logical thought, reflection, explanation, and justification.
Lastly, math topics encompassing the following domains will be taught to various degrees of depth and in an age appropriate manner: Number Sense & Operations, Patterns & Algebraic Reasoning, Geometry & Measurement, and Data Analysis & Probability. A comprehensive listing of content can be found on The Mead School website under Upper School Math Standards.
A deep and hands-on understanding of nature and the environment are an important and daily part of the Pre-K student's day. Working in the greenhouse during the winter months, cultivating seeds to be planted in the organic garden during early spring and harvested in late spring and summer, as well as exploration of the environment around campus are just some activities that engage the students.
A large part of the Science curriculum is created around the interests of the children in the class. Thus, topics will be determined as the year progresses. The students will have opportunities to experiment and grow plants in the greenhouse. To start the year, we will embark upon a curriculum combining science with children’s literature about birds and nature. The lessons will focus on observing birds at the window feeder, learning to identify common feeder birds, and engaging in activities connected to the books we read.
The 2nd Graders will keep nature journals throughout this curriculum and will be encouraged to record their observations with a combination of sketching, writing, and data collection. As the year progresses, they will keep journals of other topics we cover, and any younger students interested in keeping journals will be encouraged to do so.
“Investigators” is a hands-on 2- year course designed to introduce students to many of the subjects within science as well as to the procedures used in scientific investigations. The students are surrounded by science and it impacts our lives in many ways. This course helps to to demystify science and make it accessible to children. Toward that end, students are introduced to scientific techniques using safe and familiar materials and ingredients common to most homes.
Class meets twice per week for a combination of lab activities, reading, and discussions. Students will begin learning scientific observation and note-taking.
Through the year, students will be studying several different units or topics, some of which investigate “pure” sciences (such as chemistry), and some of which follow a theme which requires the use of many different scientific disciplines (such as forensic science, when students have to solve a mystery by examining the clues left for them.
Goals for the students:
- To learn about the variety of scientific subjects, ad to explore their passion within science;
- To practice skills (observation, thinking, measuring, organization, reading, writing, etc.);
- To learn new science skills and practice old ones (observation, thinking, measuring, writing, organization, using equipment, etc.);
- To be comfortable with science and see how it affects our daily lives.
Students in K-1 Español will explore the Spanish language through a variety of authentic songs, popular songs, authentic literature, games and hands-on learning activities. Students will also learn about the diverse cultures and celebrations of countries that speak Spanish by experiencing the music, folklore, literature, symbols, celebrations, and traditions of these countries.
The curriculum mimics the social studies curriculum wherever possible. This year’s curriculum includes basic greetings, classroom commands, parts of the body, numbers 1 to 20, primary colors, shapes, and expressing emotions.
Students in Grade 2 are exposed to the language, customs and festivities of Spanish speaking countries through a number of media such as authentic songs, popular songs, and authentic literature or poetry. Students learn through games and hands-on learning activities. The curriculum mimics, whenever possible, the social studies curriculum. This year’s curriculum includes vocabulary related to the family, the house, food, clothing, the weather and seasons. Particular attention is given to festivities and holidays of Spanish speaking countries through the creation of crafts and projects.
In Grade 3 some very simple readings and writings are introduced, often by playing with word puzzles or creating labels for objects in or outside of the classroom. Some readings and written material will be used from the book “Teach Them SPANISH 3”. Grammar is presented sequentially and acquired through a natural and passive approach of exposure.
Special attention will be given to describe and celebrate the festivities important in Hispanic culture. The curriculum still follows a thematic approach, and it is inspired by the typical interests of children of this age. The main question we will answer this year is “Who (and how) am I, and who (and how) are the people around me?”
By the end of the year, students will be able to ask what someone’s name is and respond, describe themselves as a boy or a girl, discuss their age, color of their hair and eyes, and describe family members in relation to themselves. Students will be able to conjugate the verb ‘ser’ in the Present Tense in the first, second and third person singular, identify school objects, use common prepositions, and learn vocabulary about animals.
Students in Grade 4 will continue working on the skills needed to become more comfortable in speaking, reading, and writing. The curriculum continues to be taught with a thematic approach, and is inspired by the typical interests of children of this age. Hands-on activities such as the creation of posters, comics, songs, and role playing will be used to facilitate a love for language learning. Some readings and written material will be used from the book “Teach Them SPANISH 4”. Grammar is presented sequentially and acquired through a natural and passive approach of exposure.
Special attention will be given to describe and celebrate the festivities important in Hispanic culture. The main questions we will answer this year are, “How is the world around me? How are other countries different from mine? What animals live there? How do people dress there? Who are some famous people coming from countries where Spanish is spoken? What are the cities in these countries?”.
Topics studied will include the verb ‘ir’, describe a house and a city, order a meal, express likes and dislikes, compare and contrast Spanish speaking countries, cities, and people to those of the United States.
The Social Studies curriculum is embedded in the Values curriculum and is focused on exploring the students’ knowledge of self, self in community (e.g.: classroom, school, family, town, state, country, world) and self in relation to peers. This BIG and complex work takes place each day throughout the year during morning meetings, conversations with teachers/peers, engaging in the problem solving and brainstorming processes and exploring concepts together both in small and large groups.
The third and fourth grade Social Studies class will explore American History from the American Revolution and early slavery to western expansion and the Civil War. Keeping in mind our essential question, “How do you shape personal values as a member of the community?”, students will participate in a broad range of collaborative cross-curricular activities that are designed to engage and enhance their learning. Each unit culminates in an experiential project.
The Pre-Kindergarten Physical Development curriculum explores both fine and gross motor skills as well as locomotor skills and balance. Hand-eye coordination, body and space awareness will be taught in both large areas of play and smaller classrooms. Instructional and direction-driven games will be conducted.
The Kindergarten Physical Development curriculum explores both fine and gross motor skills as well as locomotor skills and balance. Body and space awareness will be taught in both large areas of play and smaller classrooms. Instructional and direction-driven games will be conducted.
Adventure Stories will be used to capture students’ excitement and attention to encourage participation and listening. Creativity and imagination will be encouraged as we balance along obstacle courses pretending to look for lions and monkeys in the jungle. Students practice rolling or throwing a ball, as to feed the animals by getting the ball into a bucket or knocking down a pin. These classes will be age-appropriate and lots of fun!
Beginner Sports Skills will be introduced in Grades 1 & 2 to include proper throwing techniques, rolling a ball with two hands or one, underhand and overhead catching, striking skills, kicking, bouncing and trapping (stopping a ball with a scoop or bucket, even with a foot). Balance and locomotor skills like galloping, skipping, log roll, somersault, jumping, marching, hopping and shuffling will be taught through instruction and applied in fun and engaging games. Team building activities will be introduced to help teach cooperative play.
All skills will be taught at very age appropriate and beginner levels and built up from there to ensure understanding and most importantly, building confidence. The goal for this age range is that students go home talking about or showing a skill they have learned. That alone will showcase confidence and the beginning of a healthy and active lifestyle.
The Physical Development Curriculum consists of four areas: Team Sports, Beginner Fitness, Team Building Activities and New Sport Exposure to emphasize overall Healthy Lifestyle patterns. As in all curriculum areas, each child’s learning is observed in relation to Mead’s Seven School Skills: TO THINK, TO INTUIT, TO IMAGINE, TO RECEIVE, TO ACT, TO EXPRESS, TO RESPECT.
TEAM SPORTS - The primary objective of this activity is to allow each child the opportunity to experience being a member of a team. Practicing individual and group skills and learning to face the challenges of game situations are important aspects of this experience. Soccer, basketball and softball are offered as the primary sports with games scheduled against other schools our size. All students have the opportunity to participate in games. Game Rules, Sportsmanship, Fair Play and “doing your best” are highly reinforced.
BEGINNER FITNESS - Classes offer a unique opportunity for students to work on coordination, agility, balance, cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength using their own body weight. Hand-eye and foot-eye coordination, movement, spatial awareness, force, energy, anatomy and physiology will all be learned through Beginner Fitness. Individual challenges are presented. These classes will help students learn how the body can create force to control speed and strength while pushing themselves to limits they never knew they could. Confidence may be built in a way they’ve never experienced.
TEAM BUILDING - Through team formatted activities, students will learn the importance of working in a team environment including how to cooperate with others and how to compromise to get to a goal. Adaptivity and creativeness will be widely used to reach activity goals and to learn how to solve issues in more than just one manner. Positive reinforcement and encouragement among peers will be reiterated. Team competition will be present, as well as reaching goals as an entire class. Elimination games, such as Dodgeball, will not be held!
NEW SPORT EXPOSURE - This will be a great opportunity for students to experience new sports. Some sports that will be implemented include: Volleyball, Badminton, Cricket, Cross Country and more traditional sports like Flag Football and Hockey. Students will be able to try sports that they never have before while applying skills learned through previous Physical Development experiences.
Students use imaginative and collaborative skills in songwriting lessons to build lyrics with poetry (particularly rhyming) as their foundation. Use of many different instruments in the Music Room is encouraged as a way to explore possible melodies and rhythms. The auditory information immediately promotes refinement and editing of melodies. Group Sing allows children to express themselves vocally and physically with the support of their peers. Learning songs from a variety of musical traditions gives them a chance to develop skills such as singing in tune, language acquisition and memorization.
Formal learning of musical notation and music appreciation is a focus of Grades 2 and 3. Through a variety of musical experiences, children learn the fundamental elements and skills of music. Some of these elements are melody, harmony, rhythm, listening, composition, form, sensitivity and dynamics, emotional expression, performance/sharing and the development of relative pitch.
Learning musical notation and music appreciation continues to be the focus of the 4th Grade program. The goal of the program is to have these skills available to children as they progress through their musical experiences at Mead. Specialized musical opportunities are offered to students, including Wind Ensemble and Hand Bells. Student performances are held twice a year for friends and family.
The focus in the K-1-2 Art class is an introduction to material, as well as exposure to new processes and techniques. Emphasis is placed on expression, as well as the development of a basic art language to be built upon throughout the years. Projects include drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, weaving, sewing, and ceramics. Students will talk about the intentions of their artwork to classmates. Each student has an “endless” sketchbook for class assignments and individual journaling.
Materials and concepts to be explored by Grades 3 & 4 students in Art class:
- Surreal Names
- Baroque Figures – students design an ornate figure with curvy and decorative lines
- Perspective Drawing –2 and 3 point perspective
- Color mixing/Color theory- students explore color theory by painting Shady Snakes and Tinted Flowers
- Advertisement – eye catching posters with a silly twist
- Clay - pinch pots, coil and slab building techniques, and glaze application
- Sewing- hand and machine sewing aprons, vests and hats to wear on the Oregon Trail
- Tea Light Owls- an owl in clay that has glowing eyes.
- Piñatas - additive sculpture in paper.
- Picasso Portrait- Cubism and the 4th dimension.
- Pointillism - Impressionistic paintings in the style of George Seurat (small and large)
- Personal sketchbook – class assignments, note-taking and individual journeying
The focus will be hands-on exploration of familiar materials, as well as exposure to new processes and techniques. Emphasis will be placed on expression, as well as the development of a basic art language to be built upon throughout the years.
The goal of Drama class for our Pre-K students is to work with their innate imaginations and let them create and emote their own stories. Working on the small stage in the Black Box Theater allows them to feel comfortable on stage in the presence of their peers and their teacher, building confidence.
Creative Drama class is for Grades K and 1. The goal of Creative Drama class is for children to feel safe enough to explore their imaginations and interact with each other on stage. Activities that the children will explore include:
Theatre Games: I’m a Magician is a game in which each child takes a turn playing the magician and turning everyone into something else. The magician receives his or her imaginary magic wand, waves it and says, “I’m a magician and I turn you into…” perhaps a favorite animal or even a cup of hot cocoa. Pass the Sound and Movement is a game in which each child makes a verbal sound or statement, adds a movement to it, and then passes that combination to the person next to him or her. From there, the receiver tries to repeat it back to the sender the same way he/she received it. This game builds connections among the students as well as observation skills. What Are You Doing? is a game in which each student gives another student an idea of an action to act out. It helps build connections, freedom of physicality and listening skills.
Make a Story: Students will be investigating characters and emotions. They will learn how to develop a story to dramatize. At the beginning of the year, the students will participate in improvisational exercises in which each student receives a character and an activity, and then presents it to the group. Then we add emotions to this exercise. This work helps us move into story structure. We explore how stories have a beginning, middle and end, as well as a conflict and resolution. We work on different stories each week. For these dramatizations, we use stories the students have read in class, folktales from various cultures, as well as new stories that are spontaneously created during class.
Theatreworks class gives Grade 2 students a solid foundation for theatre arts at Mead. Students learn the fundamentals of improvisation, in order to learn a particular style of theatre, but also to learn basic foundations of acting technique. Students focus on learning to be part of an ensemble on stage and the differences between cooperation and collaboration. Students focus a great deal on the skill of receiving, which forms the basis of all offers onstage. We move onto exploring the elements of a scene in a play, its structure and format, and also investigating the elements in playmaking. These italicized words form the core values of this curriculum.
Playmakers class offers an introduction to the world of play creation for our Grades 3 and 4 students. The students can determine if they wish to learn the more formal elements of play production, or enjoy the more immediate and spontaneous climate of dramatic play, as they build a story of their own making into a piece of theatre on the stage. Learning how to be completely present onstage and available to your scene partners is one of the most important skills in drama and forms the core values in the art of receiving for this curriculum.