The WDS K/1 is an exciting classroom where children engage in creative play to ignite their imaginations and create community while becoming mathematicians, authors and readers. We start each day with a Morning Meeting which helps us create a common repertoire of songs, games and activities. Throughout the day, students are challenged to work cooperatively with many hands on group activities and can often be found making use of our beautiful campus as we take our clipboards and journals outside to explore our natural world.
Math and Language Arts are separated by grade. The Kindergarten and First Grade join together for Morning Meeting, Lunch, Choice Time and Social Studies.
Social Studies in the K/1 is a time when the K/1 is combined, often working in small groups on hands-on projects. Each year begins with a focus on the social aspects of being in a community and being a unique individual. We use the Tribes Agreements as our guides to explore how we treat each other, ourselves and the classroom. The five Tribes Agreements are Mutual Respect, Listening, No Put Downs, Participation, and Appreciations and Apologies. We do many different activities and games that help teach and reinforce these important life skills.
For the rest of the year, the Social Studies Curriculum is divided into an A and B year. During the A year, we focus on Communities and during the B year we focus on United States Geography. Throughout the A year, we explore various communities that we are a part of beginning with our families, our classroom, our school and finally spreading outward to our towns. We go on various field trips to learn about community helpers and institutions like the firehouses, farms, post offices and local merchants. We also explore the natural community around us to find out what animals and plants live in our community and how we effect and are affected by them. During our B year, we “travel” around our country learning about the food, key features, states and ecosystems that make up our country. We begin by exploring geographical elements like landforms, borders, maps, and regions to create a common language and skill set that we can use when we explore our country. Students get their hands dirty cooking food from various regions, making up songs in the style of different regions and creating various landforms and environments that they would find across our country.
The Kindergarten Language Arts curriculum is rich and exciting, as the children are taking their first steps towards literacy. We have a balanced curriculum with the Four Blocks Model used as a guide. The children are provided with daily opportunities for oral language through storytelling, sharing and discussions. Students have the opportunities to explore a variety of genres through quality literature. The students learn recognition and reproduction of uppercase and lowercase letters through Handwriting Without Tears program. They develop phonemic awareness as they learn the letter names and sounds and gain an understanding of the conventions of print through daily games and lessons. Emergent literacy skills and strategies are developed through authentic reading and writing opportunities during Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop and explored during literacy stations. Our goal is for all of our students to enjoy the purpose and process of reading and writing, as well as view themselves as readers, authors, and illustrators.
The Singapore Math curriculum is used as a guide for our Math program. It is based on an approach that moves from concrete, through pictorial, and finally abstract concepts. Singapore Math, which is used throughout the Lower School, is based on a spiral progression, which builds on concepts already taught and mastered. Our Math program is based on the understanding that children learn in different ways, while including metacognitive elements such as Math journaling, so students can monitor their own thought processes. Manipulatives and hands-on games help students explore new concepts and encourages active learning. In Kindergarten, students learn to match, sort, order, and identify shapes and patterns, experiment with length, weight, time, and money, compare and contrast, and begin to add and subtract numbers up to twenty.
The curriculum as a whole is inquiry based and multidisciplinary. We use thematic studies and many of our lessons combine components from several disciplines. Like so much of the Kindergarten work, the Science curriculum utilizes a lot of hands on situations. We are grateful to have the resources of our beautiful campus. We go on several nature walks a week. We model for the children how to be a scientific observer and give them the opportunity to be observers themselves. We have a science table in our classroom where we always have things for them to explore. Children learn about what is alive and what is not and what plants and animals need, and do, to survive. We do a lot of measurement and graphing. The curriculum includes Earth science and life science, especially in the spring, when we do a unit about sprouting seeds and planting, etc. Some anatomy is included in our “all about me” study, where we talk about our senses and how our amazing bodies work. Physical geography and astronomy is fascinating to young children and we have many discussions, such as the fact that the sun is the center of the universe and everything spins around it. We do a float tank to see what floats and what sinks and we do experiments with snow when it arrives, melting it and seeing how much space it takes up etc. Of course we are always talking about ecology and how to best take care of our Earth.
During First Grade Language Arts, students explore reading and writing in many genres. We write and perform plays and songs based on stories we read, we write letters to our buddies around campus, poetry during our nature research reports bad on our social studies curriculum to name a few. We use a four blocks approach to our Language Arts program. Guided Reading is where students read in small groups with the teacher to focus on comprehension, fluency, and strategies for decoding. During Self-Selected Reading, students read independantly to apply strategies we are working on and build an appreciation of literature. During Writer’s Workshop, students apply writing concepts, experience the joy of writing and sharing a story and editing. Working with Words is where we play with words, spelling patterns and endings.
The SRA Math curriculum includes Mental Math exercises, teacher demonstrations, concept reinforcement, thinking stories, and mastery checkpoints. We use a Problem of the Day and re-teaching strategies for additional support. In Unit 1, students solve problems involving adding and subtracting 1, 2, and 3 using counting up, counting back, and counting on a number line. Lessons in Unit 2 develop memorization of basic facts with numbers 0 – 10 and introduce subtracting numbers through 20 and one digit numbers. Unit 3 extends work to numbers through 40 and introduces counting by tens to 100. Unit 4 promotes mastery of basic facts through 10 + 10 and gives an informal introduction to two-digit addition and subtraction with regrouping.
Science for the First Grade is a transition from the unstructured exploration of Kindergarten science to the more structured unit study of First Grade. In First Grade three categories of science are introduced: Life science, Earth science, and Physical science. By introducing them to several different branches of science, they become more aware of the world around them from many different aspects. Encouraging them to ask questions and to get pleasure from their own discovery of the answer is very important in First Grade. The year begins with an introduction of rocks and their formation, progresses through a study of five animal groups and their characteristics, we then look at matter, and conclude with magnets and magnetism.
The Music class explores singing and classroom instruments through an integrative arts approach. Songs are interwoven with creative movement, artwork, and stories, thus creating depth of understanding and connection to the songs we sing. The 1/2 Music class learns several songs in a variety of styles. We learn and compose pattern pieces with simple rhythm, including whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, and rests. Pitch and rhythm syllables are introduced as precursors to standard notation. Active listening, music games, and in-class performance are all be a part of learning developmentally appropriate music concepts.
Over the course of the year the children are placed in situations where they can learn through movement exploration and put their imaginations to work. Basic movement patterns such as running, galloping, skipping, jumping, rolling and leaping will be emphasized. All sorts of objects are manipulated including jump ropes, beanbags, a plethora of balls, hula-hoops, scooters and the parachute. Students move to music, act out stories and play what seems like five-dozen variations of tag. Personal Space and Body Awareness are important themes at this age. This allows students to move and learn in a safe environment. Students are also put in situations in which cooperation and teamwork are important. Last and perhaps most important, the students have fun while learning.
In our class, students begin their adventure into the elements of design and the classical arts. This is done first subtly by using the language of art and then a bit later by actually studying the color wheel, mixing colors, painting, using clay, printmaking, collage, etc. Some of their art work is done solely to learn the different mediums and some of it is done in conjunction with their classroom studies.