Lower School Curriculum

 

S.T.E.A.M. Overview

The Lower School STEAM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, art, math, and library) builds on a child’s natural curiosity. Each STEAM subject is an access point for guiding student inquiry and problem solving with authentic, hands-on, project-based learning.

Students develop a deeper understanding of a topic by working on each STEAM project in multiple disciplines each week, which enriches the learning process. In addition, students use technology, math, reading, and writing as foundational skills to understand, analyze, and synthesize their learning.

STEAM encourages a process of questioning, investigating, problem solving, and creating. All core subject disciplines use a process that emphasizes research and design thinking. Teachers choose projects according to the developmental age of students, and the challenges grow more complex with each year. For example, kindergarten students study and build simple structures, while second graders research and construct large 3D models of animals.

Early Childhood Program

Children in the Pre-Kindergarten and Junior Kindergarten classes learn through guided play. Teachers emphasize independence and self-motivation and encourage students to choose and complete developmentally appropriate activities. The program supports the emotional and intellectual needs of each child, and fosters her growth in self-awareness as well as helps her to further develop an understanding of the needs of others. Group activities are designed to help the child see herself as a member of the school community.

A major goal of the early childhood program is to develop a child’s socio-emotional skills so she can express herself and communicate with adults and peers. Students develop language skills as they listen to stories, perform plays, recite poetry, sing, and participate in daily discussions. During daily meeting time, students practice speaking in front of the class to develop oral language skills. Role-playing in the dramatic play area helps children to practice their newly emerging social skills and to develop their imaginations. Early childhood classrooms are equipped with reading and mathematics readiness materials geared to a range of developmental levels. A variety of appropriate visual, auditory, and kinesthetic activities foster alphabet recognition. Block building, puzzles, games, sand play, and art projects emphasize the concepts of space, pattern, size, sequence and measurement, and encourage the development of fine motor skills. The use of manipulatives promotes a strong number sense, the foundation upon which our Singapore Math curriculum is based. Beginning in Pre-Kindergarten, students are exposed to a number of strategies in literacy and math. In Junior-Kindergarten, student learning is guided by implementing a tailored, research-based curriculum that is designed by teachers and our Early Childhood Math  Specialist. Daily art activities  include easel painting, watercolor, collage, clay modeling, and drawing. Hands-on activities in science encourage the skills of observation, prediction, and classification. During their weekly visit to the library, students explore themes through stories, songs, flannel-boards, and crafts to encourage early literacy skills. Each week students participate  in religion, creative drama, music, physical education, library, French or Spanish, and daily outdoor play. Our learn-to-swim program is held weekly at our Athletics and Wellness Center. In addition, the students may select from a wide range of after school electives.

Kindergarten

The kindergarten program develops the child’s sense of self-worth as an active learner and member of the school community. Each child learns to assume responsibility, master skills, and solve problems.

The classroom environment stimulates students’ natural sense of wonder and curiosity through opportunities for fun, friendship, vigorous activity, adventure, and quiet reflection. A rich and varied curriculum—including language arts, mathematics, and social studies—supports and promotes students’ intellectual development. Students participate in weekly classes in religion, studio art, music, science, drama, library, health, physical education, outdoor play, and French or Spanish.

French and Spanish
When students enter Sacred Heart, they choose to study either French or Spanish. They discover the target language through songs, stories, games, and various kinesthetic activities. Instruction emphasizes oral expression, aural comprehension, and pronunciation. The Kindergarten French and Spanish curriculum establishes foundations for successful language acquisition by instilling good habits and a positive attitude towards world language and culture.

Language Arts
Each child builds her language skills and vocabulary in an environment rich in educational materials and opportunities for conversation. Students read stories and poems daily to strengthen their ability to empathize, to express their feelings, and to use their imaginations, while regular singing develops rhyming, memory, and word patterning skills. Because phonetic analysis is an essential reading skill, each child is introduced to the consonant and short vowel sounds through activities and written exercises. Depending on her readiness, a child may learn to blend sounds, read short vowel words in word families, write simple sentences and create short stories. Each child is also encouraged to compose, dictate, begin to write words, and illustrate her own stories on a regular basis.

Writer’s Workshop
Writer’s workshop occurs throughout the week when students participate in activities such as guided writing, shared writing, letter writing, and story writing. Throughout the year, students create fiction and nonfiction books independently. They learn and practice writing skills by brainstorming, planning, and publishing stories. Students practice their handwriting daily. They also participate in a fairy tale study in which every student has the opportunity to write her own fairy tale after writing a class book together as a model for their own individual tale.

Mathematics
Using Singapore Math strategies, students develop mathematical understanding in stages, beginning with concrete (using various manipulatives), then moving to pictorial (solving problems with pictures representing numbers), and finally working in abstract (where numbers represent symbolic values). Through this process, students learn a variety of strategies to deepen their understanding of numbers. They build number sense through part-part- whole thinking, begin to understand place value, and break numbers into decomposed parts or “friendlier numbers” to begin basic computation skills in addition and subtraction. The math program is supplemented with Big Math for Little Kids to develop conceptual understanding of measurement, money, and geometry.

Religion
The Kindergarten religion program is designed to support students as they develop a positive self-image. It emphasizes the uniqueness of each child and celebrates the natural joy and wonder of childhood within the embrace of God’s love. Students explore and celebrate the five senses as well as the importance of reflection and imagination. Students give careful consideration to belonging to various communities: family, school, parish, neighborhood as well as the world of nature. Because young children learn best through actual experience, religion lessons utilize children’s literature, songs, and art projects.

Science
Students begin their science education by learning how to predict and observe. The year begins with a study of the five senses and how they are used to understand the natural world. Through simple experiments, students see how matter has properties that can be observed and measured by using our five senses as well as through the use of helpful tools such as rulers, hand lenses, balances, and graduated cylinders. In the second semester, students begin the study of engineering. After learning about a variety of different simple machines, students begin a STEAM unit based around folk tales. The girls collaborate to build structures designed to withstand certain forces and learn the differences between various types of bridges and the advantages of each.

Social Studies
The kindergarten social studies program focuses on the child herself, her family, her class at school, and the school community. At the beginning of the year, students celebrate their individual “personality boxes” by sharing with their peers what makes them unique. A thematic, integrated study of the family includes literature, writing, art, and individual class visits from each family. Student learning in this area is integrated with language arts, math, science, and art activities. Children also experience the meaning of holidays and the social traditions connected with them through songs, stories, writing about experiences, and other special projects. Students understand that there are multiple kinds of families, as well as recognize their class as being a unique family as well.

Library
Kindergarten classes visit the library once a week, focusing on different units of study throughout the year. Initially, students learn about different sections of the library and become familiar with library procedures. Students begin to examine what types of stories they personally connect to and learn how to review literature. A study on Little Red Riding Hood demonstrates how folktales change over time and space, as students begin to comprehend the elements of both stories and folktales. Children also begin learning how an inquiry-based research project is conducted through a unit on people from around the world.

Art
Kindergarten students explore the basic skills of constructing with paper, clay, recycled materials, fabric, and a variety of other media. They practice fine motor skills through the use of drawing media, brushes, scissors, and other art tools. Students understand the elements of art—line, shape, color, value, and texture—through projects and class discussions. Students develop their sensitivity for color by viewing paintings by famous artists and learning to mix paints. Experimentation and creative thinking are encouraged as students learn to explore their imagination in an atmosphere that is comfortable for each child. Some art projects are integrated with math and social studies. The kindergarten art program is designed to develop students’ confidence and joy in making art and displaying their work throughout the year.

Creative Drama
Drama embraces young people’s imaginations and creativity through vocal, physical, and emotional expression. Students focus on imaginative play in which they essentially “play pretend” within the structures of various stories, celebrating and collaborating with each other’s ideas and impulses. They also develop their voices through singing and acting, fine and gross motor skills through puppetry and dancing, and socio-emotional skills through problem-solving in our stories.

Music
Music appreciation in kindergarten emphasizes the exploration of folk songs, musical storytelling, listening activities, and games. Students are introduced to rhythmic and melodic notation. Students discover the many facets of the voice, as well as focus on healthy vocal development throughout the year.

Health
The goal of the kindergarten health curriculum is to promote self-esteem and the social skills that are foundations for all healthy behavior. The uniqueness of each child is examined, family portraits are developed and issues of nutrition, healthy habits, and safety are addressed. Identifying and expressing feelings appropriately are important skills for this age group. Health is integrated throughout the curriculum and in the Positively Me! class.

Physical Education
The kindergarten physical education program emphasizes the acquisition of fundamental motor patterns and manipulative skills, as well as the development of social skills. Simple organizational games and fitness concepts help students develop agility, coordination, strength, and endurance. In swim class, students work in small groups with instructors to learn safe water behavior, basic water safety rules, and introductory propulsion skills on both one’s stomach and back. Students are introduced to basic water safety skills (treading water and floating). Dance and yoga concepts are introduced through the lens of creative dance to encourage imaginative and diverse movement and coordination. Students learn specific behaviors and attitudes about competition, teamwork, good sportsmanship, game play, and safety.

Grade 1

French and Spanish
In grade 1, the French and Spanish curriculum expands on students’ language skill set. They refine their oral and aural skills through music, stories, games, and kinesthetic activities, and begin to communicate in the target language. Students develop an appreciation for different cultures throughout the French and Spanish speaking worlds. They also begin familiarizing themselves with the written word through various reading and writing exercises.

Language Arts
Students learn reading, writing, spelling, listening, and oral expression using multi-sensory instruction. A balanced literacy approach emphasizes recognizing basic sight words, using decoding strategies, building fluency and expression, and expanding vocabulary. Students develop reading comprehension strategies of predicting, questioning, sequencing, summarizing, making inferences, and drawing conclusions. The first grade reading program emphasizes shared reading, guided reading, read aloud, and independent reading as helpful tools to support student growth.

In writer’s workshop, students work on elaborating their sentences by adding details and descriptive words, and they learn how to use the CHOPS proofreading tool to independently check and edit their written assignments. Writing assignments include personal narratives, a series of realistic fiction stories, monthly autobiographies, poems, and community books. Children learn the writing process by brainstorming, planning, drafting, conferring, revising, editing, and publishing stories. Students practice handwriting daily.

Mathematics
The Singapore Math approach fosters continuing development of each child’s number sense through part-part-whole thinking, concentrating on place value up to 120 and a conceptual, pictorial, and abstract understanding of addition and subtraction to 100. Students learn to decompose numbers into parts or “friendlier numbers” to master basic facts in addition and subtraction and to encourage mental math strategies. Students learn to recognize, write, compare, build, break apart, and order numbers up to 120. Students are also introduced to Model Drawing as a tool for problem solving. Units on picture graphs and bar graphs, time to the hour and the half hour, and money up to $1.00 are included in the first grade math curriculum through real-world applications.

Religion
The religion program focuses on the theme of God’s love. Children listen to and reflect upon Scripture stories about God and creation. The Scripture readings of the liturgical year serve the dual purpose of introducing the children to the narrative of Jesus’ life and exposing them to the rhythms of the liturgical calendar. A rich foundation is created in preparation for the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Science
Science focuses on the similarities and differences between different forms of life. The year begins with a study of the organs of the human body to learn what living things need. The students then study the similarities between all life on Earth, beginning with insects. The students observe live insects in the classroom to compare how their needs are similar to those of humans and to see how their various structures and behaviors allow them to survive in the wild. After learning how all living things have a life cycle, the students learn how to design simple experiments and to record their observations of the natural world with diagrams and graphs. Students then observe chicks hatch in their classrooms and continue to learn about the lifecycle of warm-blooded animals.

Social Studies
Social studies activities help students develop an awareness of community, appreciate cultural diversity, and better understand themselves and others. Students learn lessons emphasizing friendship, problem solving, manners, respect, good listening, and cooperation. Students also participate in a service project with a senior citizens center. The school community study is the central focus of the spring social studies curriculum. Beginning with a walking tour of the school, students conduct weekly interviews of a diverse group of Sacred Heart faculty and staff. Students summarize what they have learned about each community member’s role in the school. Finally, students publish and present their individual community books. The culminating social studies unit is the embryo development and hatching project in which the students learn about the life cycle of chicks and provide a nurturing environment for the newborn chicks.

Library
Weekly visits to the library expose students to good literature to promote enthusiasm for reading. Regular reading aloud during library class strengthens the child’s language and literacy skills and expands her vocabulary and comprehension. Students learn how to find books on the library shelves and how to choose books based on personal interest and reading level to help motivate their independent reading skills. Students engage in a comprehensive introduction to research that focuses on learning how to use nonfiction text features to find information. In an integrated unit, students investigate insects by using both digital and print resources, and use this information for a combined science, art, and library project. Children end the year with a study of folktales from around the world that focuses on finding the “truth” in these stories and verifying this information.

Art
Students work in the areas of drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and mixed media to develop their skills with art tools while experimenting with color mixing and the beginning of color analysis. They draw and paint from imagination and learn to observe nature and the work of famous artists to broaden their creative view. Coordinated projects include a mixed-media project inspired by a study of illustrator Eric Carle and an insect STEAM unit. Students focus on further developing their understanding of line, shape, color, and texture. The elements of form and space are studied in more depth. Students continue to learn the joy of exploring and experimenting as well as following more complex sequential directions. Learning and sharing continue through art exhibits and class discussions.

Creative Drama
Through movement, imagination and guided imagery, students further develop their ability to think creatively, speak clearly, and use their bodies effectively when acting out scenes and communicating ideas and information orally in the classroom and in performance. Students use puppets to tell stories they have read together out loud. This helps them learn how stories are structured, how to explore and invent characters, and how to embrace new experiences.

Music
Students begin to develop a deeper understanding of music through listening activities that distinguish beat from rhythm and identify differences in pitch, dynamics, and tempo. Students continue to explore rhythmic and melodic notation by practicing various strategies and playing games together. They also utilize healthy vocal practice and learn to sing as part of an ensemble.

Health
In grade 1, health is integrated into the curriculum. Students learn to develop healthy behaviors. Children learn about their own health habits and support the positive behavior of others. They also learn to promote good nutrition and hygiene and discuss how positive practices are part of a healthy lifestyle.

Physical Education
The aim of the physical education program for first grade is to establish a basic foundation in motor skills, water safety, and physical fitness. Students develop gross motor skills, body awareness, and coordination through movement games and activities by using small apparatus such as balls, hoops, and jump ropes. In the pool, students reinforce proper pool etiquette and develop water safety skills through treading, floating, and propulsion. Students are introduced to basic water safety skills (treading water and floating). Dance and yoga concepts are introduced through the lens of creative dance to encourage imaginative and diverse movement creation and coordination. Specific behaviors and attitudes about competition, teamwork, good sportsmanship, and safety are discussed, developed, and emphasized along with game play.

Grade 2

French and Spanish
In grade 2, students continue exploring the French or Spanish languages and their respective cultures. Students improve their aural comprehension through the use of music, kinesthetic activities, interactive technology, stories, games, and celebrations, and spend more time developing their reading and writing skills. Throughout the year, various units are aligned with the language arts and social studies curricula.

Language Arts
Through the use of a wide variety of literature, the grade 2 reading program emphasizes the refinement of decoding skills, the expansion of students’ sight word vocabularies, the development of reading comprehension skills, the application of reading strategies, and the ability to read aloud with fluency and expression. Students learn about a variety of genres that they explore during independent, shared, and guided reading, and they are given tools to make book choices appropriate to their individual reading levels. The grade 2 writing program provides opportunities for students to explore and create a variety of writing styles including persuasive, informative, narrative and expressive pieces. In writer’s workshop, students continue to use the writing process as a means of revising, editing, and publishing their written work. Grammar instruction emphasizes the construction of complete sentences. Students learn the rules for the appropriate uses of capitalization and punctuation, and they are introduced to dictionary reference skills as appropriate. The spelling program focuses on mastering one phonetic rule each week. Over the course of the year, hand- writing skills are developed through the writing program and individual and group instruction.

Mathematics
The Singapore Math approach continues to foster the development of each child’s number sense through an understanding of the relationships between the parts and whole, concentrating on place value, as well as a conceptual, pictorial, and abstract understanding of addition and subtraction up to 1,000. Students learn to break numbers into decomposed parts or “friendlier numbers” to build on and reinforce number theory and mental math strategies. Students are also introduced to basic multiplication and division. The familiar tool of Model Drawing is integrated into every new concept. Units on lines and surfaces, shapes and patterns, fractions, time, and money are included in the second grade math curriculum as well through real-world applications.

Religion
Students in grade 2 learn about and discuss the stories of Jesus in the Bible. Through reflection, literature, discussion, art projects, and drama activities, the values of Jesus are more immediate to everyday life. The religious studies program also prepares the students for the Sacrament of the Eucharist. They develop a sense of belonging to God’s family by exploring their relationship with Jesus and the Christian community. For nine weeks leading up to Communion, parents, teachers, and students collaborate in preparation for the celebration.

Science
The students begin the year by studying the interactions of air, water, and land. Through experiments and observations they will explore how the interactions of these physical phenomena change the surface of our planet. The students will then learn how these interactions create the different biomes of the world and all the creatures that dwell in them. After learning about the food web of various ecosystems, the students will study the relationship between animals and their environment. This leads to a STEAM project on animals. The students build an animal in art, and in science learn about the animal and how humans can help it. In the final stage of this project, students design and build a living terrarium for each biome to be placed in a museum to educate the public about how to help various animals.

Social Studies
The grade 2 social studies curriculum focuses on Sacred Heart, the surrounding neighborhood, New York City, and immigration to Ellis Island. First, students learn about their school from a historical perspective, exploring the evolution of Convent of the Sacred Heart. They learn about architectural elements of the Otto Kahn and James Burden mansions, as well as other buildings in their own neighborhood in conjunction with a program directed by Friends of the Upper East Side. The immigration unit focuses on the rich cultural diversity of New York city, as well as immigration into New York through Ellis Island during the late 1800s and early 1900s. A short study of mapping skills precedes the explanation of geography of the city. In the culminating unit, students explore the five boroughs and focus on a specific landmark in each borough. Experiential class trips to key New York City sites including Ellis Island and the Tenement Museum promote student learning and a deeper understanding of the history of New York.

Library
The library curriculum for grade 2 promotes increasing independence in students using the library and locating different types of library materials. Many hands-on activities enable students to discover how libraries are organized and how materials can be found. Students learn to use print and digital forms of reference materials such as dictionaries and encyclopedias, which act as a foundation in the research process. Students further their research skills through an integrated STEAM and library project about animals. The children then begin a unit on folktale types and use this knowledge in their classroom to write pourquoi tales based on their specific animal. At the end of the year, students learn to analyze books by writing Itty Bitty Booktalks.

Art
Students continue to explore various media and to develop skills in using art equipment. Students learn to draw, paint, and sculpt from their imaginations and observations of nature, in which color mixing and analysis are a strong focus. Integrated art projects emerge from their studies in science and social studies. The final papier-mâché STEAM project focuses on creating a 3D sculpture of an animal. Students further develop their understanding of the element of space and composition. Throughout the year, students study and learn about works by various artists. Learning and sharing continue through art exhibits and class discussions.

Creative Drama
As the girls mature and start to have greater control of movement and voice, they begin activities that enhance comfort, confidence, and performance skills through musical theater. Students also begin to collaborate with their peers to create original work. They improvise, create scenes, and share their efforts and talents both in class and in fully staged performances.

Music
All grade 2 students learn how to play the recorder at an introductory level. Students begin to learn to formally read music. Students develop healthy and natural vocal production which culminates in Christmas and spring performances.

Health
Social-Emotional development is at the core of the grade 2 health curriculum. Children explore their uniqueness and learn how to develop positive peer relationships and communication strategies. Students engage in activities that explore topics such as empathy, point of view, recognizing and dealing with conflict, active listening, problem solving, fairness, and discrimination in all subjects including a new course called Positively Me!

Physical Education

Students in second grade work toward greater mastery of basic motor skills, building on skills learned in the primary years. Students learn to use hand-eye and foot-eye coordination through such activities as throwing, catching, and kicking by using a variety of equipment. Simple organization games offer students an opportunity to apply the skills they are learning and promote group interaction and support. Students learn the basics of jazz dance to further their practice of spatial awareness, weight shifts, balancing, and flexibility. Safety in physical education is an emphasis throughout the year. Students discuss and develop specific behaviors and attitudes about competition, teamwork, and good sportsmanship along with game play. In the pool, students learn basic water safety skills (treading water and floating) as well as the long axis swimming strokes of freestyle and backstroke. Through an interdisciplinary mermaid unit, the students learn surface dives, dolphin kick, and foundations of synchronized swimming.

Technology
Formal technology classes begin in second grade. Problem-solving as well as computational and design thinking are a strong focus through hands-on engineering and coding projects. Students also bring their stories to life by creating stop motion animations of their writing. In this grade, students learn the features of the Chromebook and how to create documents by creating posters about digital safety. Emphasis is placed on digital citizenship in terms of what it means to be safe online.

Grade 3

French and Spanish
The French and Spanish program in grade 3 emphasizes pronunciation, oral comprehension, and continued awareness about the many cultures that exist in the French and Spanish-speaking worlds. Students learn basic grammar, and units are aligned with the language arts curriculum whenever possible. Students complete homework assignments regularly and begin taking short written and oral assessments.

Language Arts
Students learn reading in a variety of ways, through large and small group differentiated instruction, as well as one-to-one instruction within a group lesson. Students focus on learning a variety of inferential comprehension strategies that help deepen their understanding. Students utilize these comprehension strategies as they read and reflect upon their own books, as well as shared texts. The third grade reading curriculum encourages students to read with appropriate expression, develop critical thinking and comprehension skills through discussion, and foster an appreciation for various genres of literature. Teachers read aloud to their students regularly to enhance their vocabulary and comprehension skills and to instill a love of reading. Students learn decoding strategies daily through direct instruction and a targeted spelling program. Teachers emphasize expository writing as students learn how to organize their ideas and structure a paragraph. In addition, students use various techniques for effective writing and revision as they compose narrative, descriptive, expository, and creative fiction writing pieces. Students edit their own writing and conference with peers to practice applying grammar and language skills. Students learn how to publish their writing either in cursive or by using individual chromebooks.

Mathematics
As students continue their study of the Singapore Math approach, they further develop their number sense by exploring the relationships between the parts and whole, concentrating on place value as well as a conceptual, pictorial, and abstract understanding of addition and subtraction up to 10,000. Students take a deep dive into multiplication and division, studying arrays and area models to understand these concepts before learning the standard algorithms. Students learn strategies to reinforce number sense and mental math strategies, and the familiar tool of Model Drawing is integrated into every new concept. In addition, students build upon their background knowledge of angles and lines, fractions, time, and money using real-world applications.

Religion
Students in grade 3 reflect on the human experience and relate these experiences to Christian faith and tradition. The stories in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament further interpret the faith experience. The curriculum emphasizes the intersection of grace and the divine call to action. An introduction to some of the traditional prayers and devotional practices of the Church enhance the students’ appreciation of Church heritage.

Science
The students begin the year with a more in-depth study of matter. Through a study of water, students describe, categorize, compare, and measure observable physical properties of matter and objects. In the second semester, the students investigate energy and the interaction between matter and energy. This leads to a unit on static and current electricity. After learning how to design and build circuits, the students culminate the year in a STEAM project where they use circuits to create a superhero who protects the world from environmental disasters.

Social Studies
At the beginning of the year, grade 3 students explore what New York was like four hundred years ago. Through field trips and integrated science lessons, students learn about the landscape and natural resources of early New York, and how this geography shaped Native American life. Students cultivate basic research skills while studying the Lenape tribe in greater depth. Students learn about the historical impact of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement through an in-depth, integrated study. The recurring theme of heroes and the impact they had on history is emphasized through class discussions and an interdisciplinary approach. The year culminates with an introduction to United States geography and the fifty states. Students use reference materials, learn basic mapping skills, write research-based essays, and complete technology-based, differentiated projects to enrich their learning.

Technology
The year begins with engineering and design challenges where students explore principles of engineering and circuitry. A unit on digital citizenship emphasizes safe and kind online activity. In the spring, students embark on their STEAM project, which is closely integrated with library, science, and art classes. In technology class, they learn fundamental coding concepts by creating animations in the programming language Scratch. An interactive, game-based web program introduces proper keyboarding skills, which are reinforced throughout the year.

Library
Students continue to learn the complex organization of the library and learn how to use the patron’s catalog to search for materials for their reading pleasure. A mock Caldecott unit emphasizes the importance of visual images in books and allows students to practice discussing children’s literature. Using Trickster and Tall Tales, students explore the origins of hero stories and discover how they have been adapted for modern day superhero tales. Students use these attributes to create their own unique superheros in a science, art, and technology project. Students use research tools, such as the encyclopedia, databases, and web-based encyclopedias when completing a classroom social studies project on African Americans. Third grade ends the year with a unit on genres and the beginnings of literary criticism.

Art
Using images from their imaginations and life observations, students further develop their skills in the areas of drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, photography, and printmaking. Major art projects are coordinated with other areas of study. Students develop their skills in color analysis and design in two and three-dimensional art projects. Students’ observations, drawings, and paintings reinforce the concepts of scale and space. The final project is a study of artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Learning and sharing continue through art exhibits, class discussions, and self-evaluations.

Creative Drama
As their bodies and voices develop, students learn more advanced techniques in creative drama classes. Students use improvisation, tableaux, and stage movement to exercise creativity and imagination when creating their own original scenes and monologues. In preparation for these presentations, students use images and music as inspiration to generate their ideas. As actors, students further develop effective skills of clarity and communication which add dramatic flair to their performances throughout the year.

Music
Students use Orff instruments to explore song form and notation as well as to have the experience of performing in an ensemble. Through using instruments and voice, students explore improvisation and music composition. They practice harmony and ear training while singing and playing partner songs and rounds. Liturgy preparation encourages students to grow in their ability to sing.

Health
Health is integrated throughout the grade 3 curriculum with the goal of developing knowledge and skills for making responsible decisions regarding personal safety, conflict resolution, and other important health issues. The implementation of a social-emotional development program emphasizes positive social interactions. During the second semester, classes led by the school psychologist are devoted to a discussion of the physical and emotional changes that occur in young girls at this age.

Physical Education
The physical education program in third grade continues to emphasize developing motor skills, coordination, agility, strength, and endurance. Students learn initial skills in volleyball, basketball, soccer, kickball, and wiffle ball to further the development of hand-eye and foot-eye coordination. Modified team sport activities enable students to apply their new skills and foster an enthusiasm for team sports. Students continue to develop more advanced skills and to increase their overall fitness levels. Students learn basic health-related fitness concepts, including how to take one’s pulse, understand one’s target heart rate, and develop cardiovascular endurance. Students study the elements of dance: time, space, energy, and body; as well as choreographic structures, in order to develop their own movement in solo, duet and small group dances. Specific games and activities emphasize safety, sportsmanship, and teamwork as well as behaviors and attitudes about competition. Building on the swimming skills learned in second grade, third grade students develop more advanced swimming skills. Students will begin to learn short axis strokes of butterfly and breast- stroke, flip turns, and diving.

Grade 4

French and Spanish
The grade 4 French and Spanish program emphasizes pronunciation, reading, aural comprehension, and writing. Students learn about essential structures, expressions, and vocabulary through oral practice, written exercises, role-playing, and games. Regularly scheduled homework assignments, projects, and short assessments supplement these activities. Cultural awareness remains an integral part of the program.

Language Arts
The goal of the fourth grade language arts program is to develop reading, writing, vocabulary, and analytical thinking skills. During Reader’s Workshop, students read high interest, self-selected literature from multiple genres. Additionally, teachers select texts to model and apply higher-order thinking skills such as synthesis, interpretation, and critical thinking. Students demonstrate and strengthen their understanding of these skills through independent reading, student-teacher conferences, and literary discussions. Shared reading texts provide the opportunity to share ideas and discuss vocabulary. Teachers deliver consistent phonics instruction through spelling and word study. During writer’s workshop, students learn to write across a variety of genres, including expository, creative, persuasive, narrative, and research. Grammar, vocabulary, and spelling instruction further enhance student writing. Graphic organizers and individualized teacher conferences also help students to develop writing organization and further enhance their skills. Teachers work closely with specialists to integrate reading, writing, research, and study skills across the curriculum. Students develop public speaking skills through class projects and presentations.

Mathematics
As students continue their study of the Singapore Math approach, they further develop their number sense through an understanding of place value up to one million, as well as a conceptual, pictorial, and abstract understanding of multiplication and division. Students continue their deep dive into these concepts using a series of approaches, from the area model, to partial products and quotients, and ultimately to the standard algorithms. Students continue to learn strategies to reinforce number theory and mental math strategies, and Model Drawing is applied with skill and accuracy. The students’ study of numbers continues with improper fractions and mixed numbers, as well as an introduction to decimals. The fourth grade math curriculum also includes units on tables and line graphs, data and probability, perpendicular and parallel lines, angles, squares and rectangles, and area and perimeter. Each unit provides opportunities for real-world applications.

Religion
The formation of conscience is emphasized in grade 4. Our study of Gospel stories focuses on Jesus’ message of forgiveness. Since preparation for the solemn celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a central part of the year’s instruction, religion classes are designed to foster moral discernment in a Christian context. There is particular emphasis on the extravagance of God’s love, which is God’s acceptance of our shortcomings. Students receive the sacrament in the fall. After Reconciliation, the lessons follow the trajectory of the Sunday Gospels, as they lead us through Jesus’ life to Death and Resurrection, and finally to the birth of the Christian Church through the arrival of the Holy Spirit.

Science
Grade 4 science begins with a study of the dynamic nature of Earth. Through scientific inquiry, students analyze data, explain natural phenomena using models, and draw conclusions about events that change the surface of the Earth which create the geologic features we see today. In the second semester the students study how the same physical properties that created our planet affected the creation of our Solar System. They study the motion of the planets and the causes of seasons, tides, and moon phases. The year ends with a study of space travel and the physics involved in traveling through space. The students participate in a STEAM project where they embark on a simulated space mission. They build and launch rockets, land a capsule with an egg astronaut, and program electronic rovers to explore their new surroundings.

Social Studies
The core of the social studies program involves the investigation of American history from the Age of Exploration, early British settlements and the Thirteen Colonies, the American Revolution, and early American independence. Analytical thinking and research skills are enhanced through simulation activities, class trips, collaborative projects, primary documents, and written and oral reports. Students study early United States geography throughout the year. Students end the year with a culminating research project. In the project, entitled “Herstory,” each student embodies a notable woman with special attention to her achievements and connection to the Sacred Heart Goals. The project includes a theatrical performance, an oral presentation, a cross-curricular visual aid display, and an individualized writing project.

Technology
The technology program in fourth grade engages students in hands-on, open-ended projects that encourage collaboration, problem-solving, and iteration. Students are exposed to engineering and coding challenges that tie into the social studies curriculum. In collaboration with science, students embark on a “Mission to Mars” challenge where they are asked to build their own robotic rovers using the Lego WeDo 2.0 kits, which they then program to navigate an obstacle course. Students also learn introductory file management skills as well as more advanced features of Google Docs. Emphasis is placed on digital citizenship. As leaders of the Lower School, fourth graders model for younger students how to use the Internet safely, responsibly, and with kindness towards others.

Library
Library work in grade 4 is closely coordinated with the classroom language arts and social studies curriculum. Following a review of general library skills including the use of the online catalog and locating materials on the shelves, students are exposed to a comprehensive study of literary terms that highlights genre, mood, pace, and characterization. For their Persuasive Letter essay students review the steps of the research process and learn to use databases and how to create a works-cited document using Noodletools, an online research platform. In a culminating integrated research project, aptly named “Herstory,” students conduct an in-depth study of an important woman in history using books, reference sources and websites.

Art
While continuing to use the media and tools introduced in previous grades, students discover new media such as relief printmaking, acrylic paint and paper sculpture. Students grow in their understanding of perspective and design as they experiment with different techniques. Many art projects are integrated with social studies, language arts, and technology. Students begin to write about their art as well as the art of other people, and through class discussions students begin to understand different ways in which to interpret a piece of art. Students are given a sketchbook in which to record their ideas. Throughout the year students are introduced to several important artists, cultures, and art movements. The year culminates in a collaborative unit with a collage portrait of a famous woman for the Herstory project. Learning and sharing continue through class discussions, art exhibits, and self-evaluations.

Creative Drama
Students profit from the practice of good communication habits and purposeful movement, and they continue to develop comfort and ease in solo public speaking performances. As a result, students become more self-aware and feel ownership over their work. The entire second semester is spent studying and performing the works of William Shakespeare, culminating in a staged production in the spring. As the girls approach Middle School, they possess a clear understanding of what an ensemble is and how to support one another.

Music
In grade 4 music, students consolidate the musical skills they gained throughout the previous years. Students work in ensembles with hand chimes and rhythm band and learn harmony through part-singing and rounds. In the spring, students study orchestral instruments. Students meet once a week to prepare for chapel liturgies. End-of-semester performances form an important part of the year and integrate closely with the social studies curriculum on Colonial America.

Health
Students continue to develop the skills to positively resolve conflicts as well as to make informed decisions regarding their personal well-being. Two classes during the first semester are devoted to a discussion of the physical and emotional changes in young girls, while other classes focus on social-emotional development of students. The school psychologist plans and leads these sessions.

Physical Education
Incorporating skills introduced in previous grades, the physical education program in fourth grade progresses to team sport skills and strategies. Activities include softball, soccer, basketball, and volleyball. Teachers assess physical fitness conditioning of every student throughout the year, with testing done at the end of the fall and spring units. Students review basic health related fitness concepts, including pulse-taking, cardiovascular endurance, and other components of fitness. Through exploration of the conventions, techniques, and history of the lindy hop, salsa, cha-cha, and waltz, students learn how to execute partner dances through a cultural lens. Game play emphasizes competition rules, teamwork, good sportsmanship, and safety. Fourth grade students learn more advanced swimming skills to build on the swimming skills they have learned in prior years. By the end of fourth grade, students are able to swim all four strokes and know how to dive and to do flip turns.

Public Speaking

Beginning in grade 1, Lower School students learn the rudiments of oral presentation: eye contact, expression, volume, posture, and poise. Students develop sequencing and organizational skills, and grow in confidence through a series of oral assessments and presentations. Because public speaking is integrated into academic curricula and interdisciplinary projects, students improve on their ability to identify and recall essential facts and to present this information to various audiences.

Support Services

The Support Services Program is a resource that offers a variety of services to children, parents, and teachers, both individually and in groups. The reading and mathematics specialists provide remediation and enrichment, both in the classroom and with small groups outside the classroom. The Lower School psychologist is available to teachers and parents to consult about individual children, to offer workshops on developmental issues, and to facilitate discussion groups.

Extracurricular Program

After-School Program
Beginning in Pre-Kindergarten, children may choose from a wide variety of after-school activities that take place both at school and off-campus. The after-school program includes activities in sports, dance, art, drama, chess, gymnastics, and robotics. There is a fee for each class.

Extended Day
An extended day option is offered for girls in kindergarten through grade 4. The program runs until 5:30 pm, Monday through Thursday, and until 4:30 pm on Fridays when school is in session. Financial aid is available for both the extended day and after-school programs.