Our Kindergarten math curriculum is based upon the Investigations in Number, Data and Space program and is complemented by additional activities and materials that continue to help children develop solid number sense. Students learn to sort, classify, and represent data, develop strategies for accurate counting and explore manipulatives and mathematical tools. They also develop the idea of equivalence, describe and sort 2-D and 3-D shapes, understand length using linear units, compose and decompose 2-D and 3-D shapes, develop strategies to solve addition and subtraction problems with small numbers. Students demonstrate their strategies and solutions through the use manipulatives, drawings, tools and notation.
Our approach to teaching literacy in Kindergarten combines whole language and phonics instruction. Whole language is based upon the theory that children construct their knowledge of language through their experiences. Reading and writing are taught simultaneously. Phonetic spelling, also known as developmental spelling or “invented spelling,” is appropriate and strongly encouraged in the beginning stages of writing. Developmental spelling gives children the confidence they need to feel comfortable communicating through written words. Students’ literacy development is supported through shared reading, read-alouds, reading workshops, word studies, Lively Letters, writing workshops, shared writing, journals, practice with letter formation, handmade class books and child-authored individual books.
Our science curriculum focuses on the environment and our overarching yearlong theme of migration. Through observation, investigation and hands-on experiences, students learn about animal life cycles and witness the environmental changes that naturally occur throughout the year. Kindergartners maintain plant and animal life inside and outside the classroom, and examine plants and animals living in various habitats. They observe plant and animal adaptations over the course of the year, both on and off campus, as part of our weekly Outdoor Classroom curriculum.
Kindergartners continue to develop their sense of self—and their sense of self as part of a larger community—through our social studies curriculum. Their study of community leads them to explore common characteristics and differences of culture and examine connections among people across the globe. Students learn about spheres of influence that impact their lives in various ways, ranging from their classroom to the natural world. They also develop an appreciation for the importance of respect, responsibility, sharing and tolerance in order to sustain a community. Classroom jobs, class contracts, community projects, conflict resolution strategies, and morning meeting all foster growth through daily practice. A year-long unit entitled Families All Matter fosters the appreciation and celebration of different kinds of families. Students also develop a sense of responsibility toward animals and nature through their exploration of migration and animal adaptations, and explore geography through maps and migration patterns.
Our world language program seeks to inspire curiosity by exposing students to a variety of cultures and places. Kindergartners become familiar with languages from across the globe such as Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic, Hebrew, Indonesian, Czech, Danish and American Sign Language. Throughout the year, students also learn about a range of countries and cultures—including Mexico, Peru, China, Portugal, South Africa, Croatia, Japan, Zimbabwe and more—through stories, songs, costumes, vocabulary, crafts, food and recipes.
Kindergartners visit the library at least once a week for a dedicated library class where they engage in read aloud presentations that focus on their year-long migration study as well as exposure to new and exemplary children’s literature. Students begin to locate books based on interests as well as to recognize the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Our extensive 18,000+ volume collection serves as a valuable resource for students and faculty throughout the school year as part of our integrated curriculum model, and it also provides families with a variety of child and adolescent development resources.
They like to move it, move it! In music class, Kindergartners learn to understand basic concepts such as pitch and steady beats, and then apply their skills as members of a musical ensemble. Reading simple note values and playing Orff instruments (xylophones and rhythmic instruments) reinforces the development of musical skills. Students mimic simple dynamics such as “loud,” “soft” and “medium” music through song and body movement. In doing so, they develop an appreciation and respect for many styles of music. Through our performing arts curriculum, Kindergartners also act in various musical productions such as the annual Kindergarten & First Grade Play and the Lower School Play.
In an effort to continue to develop a sense of pride in oneself as an artist, Kindergartners visit our art classrooms where they explore, create and learn using a broad range of creative processes and techniques. Students deepen their understanding of the unique properties of art materials and begin to develop a greater sense of responsibility regarding their work areas and their materials. In addition to identifying primary colors, Kindergartners learn to mix secondary colors and explore the use of color in their artwork. They practice using scissors, learn simple shapes and use those shapes to make more involved pieces. Basic art concepts and skills are taught, practiced and reinforced, encouraging students to begin to see their environment with more observant eyes and thus become more visually literate.
Kindergartners develop an appreciation of the benefits of being physically active through a variety of games and exercises in P.E. class. Students learn to perform various movements with greater efficiency and control, and begin to utilize game play strategies to work both independently and cooperatively in group scenarios.
Weekly “Tinker Shop” sessions enable Kindergartners to develop foundations in electronics, coding and robotics. Students explore familiar and unfamiliar materials in their discovery of electronics, connect their everyday language to the language of coding, and utilize developmentally appropriate technology tools to expand their robotics and programming experience. Using simple circuits, Bee-Bot robots, iPads, virtual reality (VR) goggles and more, Kindergartners learn about sequencing, estimation and problem-solving. Classroom integrations occur often, such as drawing digital pictures to help students generate poems, conducting research with VR as an extension of their scientific study of animals, and creating alphabet books with iPads.
A dedicated outdoor space located just steps from our Kindergarten classroom is used daily to support and broaden concepts and observations as an extension of their science curriculum, as well as in support of a variety of other cross-curricular projects. For example, each fall, Kindergartners study Monarch butterfly life cycles and migration patterns. They create large mixed-media depictions of the butterfly life cycle in art class, recognize and say colors in Spanish in world language class, plant and care for milkweed in garden beds in their outdoor classroom, and tag and release butterflies to embark on their migration south to Mexico from the butterfly garden in their outdoor classroom. Kindergartners also benefit from the decision-making and problem-solving skills that are required to take care of animals through their responsibility for Elliot, a pet bunny who lives in a student-engineered hutch in their outdoor classroom. Hands-on learning experiences such as these inspire students to foster lifelong habits of inquiry, critical thinking and creativity.