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Kindergarten

Kindergarten Teacher with students

Kindergarten is a special year at Tuxedo Park School as it holds many exciting firsts. As students move through the grades in primary school, they will always remember the first time they:

  • Wear the official uniform of TPS
  • Play on the “big kid” playground
  • Share family-style lunch with the larger community
  • Create art in the art studio
  • Meet their seventh-grade buddy classmates
  • Run the Kindergarten Post Office
  • Perform an original play in front of the whole school

These experiences and more make kindergarten a year full of new experiences, challenges, and triumphs. Your child's kindergarten teacher is eager to partner with parents as their child continues building the foundational skills and habits for their current and future learning.

Our kindergarten program is a healthy balance of structure and exploration, work and play, and learning and inquiring. You will find all these qualities intertwined as we structure students’ exploration, encourage play as the work of childhood, and instill that learning happens through asking thoughtfully posed questions and experiencing the world around them. We strongly believe in developmentally appropriate education, also recognizing that chronological age isn’t always an exact match of what children need. We are careful observers of kindergarten learners, which enables us to tailor instruction so we engage each child’s interests and design appropriate challenges.  

Five- and six-year-olds are:

  • In need of lots of physical activity, including free play, to stretch their imagination, creativity, and cognitive skills.
  • Eager to help, wanting of adult approval and encouragement, and cooperative.
  • In the very early stages of developing the ability to see another viewpoint than their own.
  • Thinking out loud and expressing themselves simply with few words.
  • Enjoying repetitive activities, which develop their mastery over new skills and concepts.
  • Acquiring new knowledge and skills in high volume, so they are still apt to make occasional reversals of letters and numbers.
  • In need of time to attempt their own ways of doing things, even though some of these ways may, in adult eyes, be inefficient or ineffective.
  • Responding best to frequent reminders and redirection that is warm yet firm, especially as they become increasingly apt to test limits during the course of their development over the year.
  • Enjoying jokes, riddles, and opportunities to guess.
  • Developing their story-telling skills, which are heavily influenced by illustrations that they see in books or that they create themselves.

English Language Arts

 

The goal of the language arts curriculum is to create an environment of exploration and discovery in which each child learns and grows at his or her appropriate pace. Tuxedo Park School uses a research-based reading and writing curriculum developed by Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is a research and staff development organization housed at Teachers College, Columbia University. The teacher-educators who staff the Project are involved in long-lasting collaborations with teachers across the world. The Project has a lasting and deep affiliation with six hundred schools and develops ideas that are foundational to literacy instruction across the globe. While this program is the foundation of our curriculum, we believe thoughtful educators adapt and enrich the curriculum to meet students’ unique learning abilities.  

In Kindergarten, we strive to develop a love for literature.  Reading and writing are developmental processes, and each child develops differently.  Reading is a combination of science and exposure. We utilize a research-based, multi-modal phonics program (Fundations) to develop strong phonemic awareness and early phonics skills.  Students receive explicit phonics instruction each day. Students are exposed to many different texts and are taught how to apply their phonics knowledge and develop reading skills through read-aloud, shared reading, guided reading, and reader’s theater.  The kindergarten classroom encourages children to feel comfortable and build confidence whether they are reading or not. Children are surrounded by a richly literate environment that welcomes and nurtures their reading and writing interests. In writing, students learn to generate ideas and that writing is linked to reading and phonics.  They are taught how to utilize what they have learned from familiar authors and apply their phonics skills into their writing pieces. We don’t believe anything is taught in isolation and that literacy is about teaching the ‘reader’ and the ‘writer,’ not the ‘reading’ and the ‘writing.’ Developing strong, lifelong skills begins in kindergarten! 

Phonics

The following was adapted from Fundations™ Teacher’s Manual

 

Fundations™ systematically and comprehensively instructs students in phonemic awareness and word study and contributes to fluency, vocabulary development, and the applications of strategies for understanding text.  Additionally, Fundations™ sets the foundation for writing with the direct teaching of handwriting, the study of English orthography for spelling, as well as basic skills for capitalization and punctuation. 

Skills taught in Fundations™:

Phonological Awareness: the understanding that the spoken language consists of parts (words, syllables and phonemes-separate sounds)

Phonemic Awareness and Alphabetic Principle: the idea that words are constructed with letters to represent sounds; they must develop an understanding that words can be divided into smaller segments of sound

Sound Mastery: a phoneme is the smallest segment of sound in our language; it takes practice to pronounce a phoneme individually without adding a sound or distorting the sound

Forming Key Linkages: Letter Name, Formation and Sound: sound instruction is initially linked to letter formation, learning the letter name, its formation and its sound simultaneously; this utilizes motor memory learning to associate letters with their sounds

Phonics: sound mastery using keyword association (i.e. b-bat-/b/) and teaching sounds in two directions, letter to sound and sound to letter

Vocabulary: in kindergarten, students develop vocabulary through hearing stories read aloud, in subsequent grades, they also develop vocabulary from independent reading and explicitly instruction, learning a ‘word of the day’  with corresponds with the word structure being studied

High Frequency ‘Trick’ Words: high frequency words appear often in text, such as ‘they’ and ‘what’ and while some are phonetically regular, many are irregular and therefore need to be recognized and spelled quickly

Fluency: fluent reading is essential for comprehension, this includes not just automaticity but phrasing and expression as well

Comprehension: Fundations™ is not a comprehension program, however, it does provide instruction to help students learn how to think activity and self-monitor their understanding by forming a visual image or constructing a mental picture from words imagining a scene and predicting subsequent events and recalling and explaining written text

Handwriting: carefully planned and explicit manuscript handwriting instruction with the goal of developing legible and fluent handwriting

Spelling: students learn to segment and spell words in correspondence to decoding patterns

Punctuation: systematically learn punctuation, capitalization and proofreading skills, along with beginning concepts of sentence structure.

A few key concepts students will have mastered by the end of Kindergarten:

  • Recognize and produce rhyming words
  • Segment words into syllables
  • Manipulate phonemes wit additions or substitutions in one-syllable words
  • Write all manuscript letters in lowercase and uppercase
  • Distinguish long and short vowel sounds within words
  • Read and spell approximately 200 CVC words
  • Spell other words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships

Reading

Units of Study for Teaching Reading

Unit 1 - We Are Readers 

In this unit, children will begin their reading careers! They will discover that they are true “Readers,” and they will learn to recognize different types of texts they see in the world (e.g. signs, high-interest nonfiction books, familiar storybooks, etc.). Children will become excited as they retell stories they see in their books and proclaim “We are Readers!” 

Unit Outcomes: 

  • Using strategies to read tricky words. 
  • Stopping and thinking about what is happening in books. 
  • Rereading in different ways. 
  • Talking about books with a partner. 

 

Unit 2 - Super Powers: Reading with Print Strategies and Sight Word Power 

In this unit, children will learn a variety of strategies, which will be referred to as superpowers, to decode tricky words in books. They will point to words, check pictures, use patterns and think about what makes sense as they become more independent readers. Once they have super confidence they will bring their books to life through rereading, acting out, and reading to a partner. 

Unit Outcomes: 

  • Use special powers such as “pointer power” to tap each word, check that their reading makes sense, and notice words they know “in a snap”
  • Talk about what is happening in the book and why
  • Use context clues, an early foundational skill of using text and pictures to make meaning
  • Decode by utilizing phonics knowledge of letter sounds and patterns  

 

Unit 3 - Bigger Books, Bigger Reading Muscles

In this unit children will use known and new decoding strategies to read more challenging books. They will learn how books become harder and learn to read using more complicated patterns in books. They will use letter sounds to help decode unknown words and use more and more high-frequency words. Children will also think about what is happening in their books to support reading comprehension. As appropriate, students will shift from reading mostly familiar texts to reading more difficult books that progress in both text complexity and deeper comprehension opportunities. 

Unit Outcomes:

  • Recognize patterns in words
  • Use their knowledge of letters and sounds to read tricky words
  • Think and talk about books with motivation and fervor

 

Unit 4- Growing Expertise in Little Books: Reading for Information
This is a unit on nonfiction reading for beginning readers. It emphasizes the importance of learning from books. Children will practice thinking carefully about what their book is about and reading closely to look for new ideas and information. Students will be invited to notice all of the details in their books and be encouraged to ask questions such as, “What was this book about?” “What did it teach me?” “What can I
teach someone else about this book?”

Unit Outcomes:

  • Noticing more information in books
  • Learning new things and words from pictures and words
  • Comparing books about the same topic to create new understandings

 

Unit 5 - Becoming Avid Readers

The main goal in this unit is to provide multiple situations and conditions where students are transferring and applying their learned reading skills. The first bend of the unit invites children to fall in love with characters by becoming the characters in their books, acting out small scenes, and naming the feelings these characters have. The next bend of the unit conveys that avid readers also love reading and learning from nonfiction books. Children share this knowledge with others in topic-based reading clubs. The final bend of the unit celebrates poetry and songs in order to build fluency and strengthen phonological awareness. Students will move towards greater independence, as they become avid readers of fiction and nonfiction.

Unit Outcomes:

  • Build fluency and phonological awareness
  • Track character feelings across a text
  • Identify learned information
  • Build literary conversational skills

 

Whole Class Instruction

Mini-lesson: Each Reading Workshop begins with the class convening on the rug for the mini-lesson. During this time the teacher models a new skill or strategy that students will need to become proficient readers. The students are then given a chance to “try it out” with teacher support before being sent off to their seats to practice it on their own during independent reading time. 

Read Aloud:  Reading aloud exposes children to books on and beyond their current reading level. This enables children to enjoy and appreciate the world of literature, while giving them a glimpse into their future reading lives. It is a way to expose children to cultural and social issues that they are faced with daily. This exposure leads to rich conversation and reflection about both the literature and important worldly topics. Reading aloud is typically done in a whole class setting with time set aside for partnership discussion. 

Shared Reading : Shared reading is when the teacher uses an enlarged text to teach skills and strategies. Skills and strategies are based around self-monitoring for meaning while reading, accumulating information, developing thoughts around the big ideas and making connections to what we already know about the world and ourselves. The text is enlarged so students can see and follow along in the learning process. Texts may include letters, short stories, poems, advertisements, newspaper articles, songs or nonfiction materials. 

Small Group Instruction 

Guided Reading: Instruction happens with students reading at the same reading level. This time is used to introduce a set of skills necessary to move on to the next reading level. This instruction incorporates strong teacher support as students become comfortable navigating more difficult texts. Teacher supports include strong book introductions, vocabulary exposure, tools to support students with new reading skills and in-depth book discussions. 

Strategy Lessons: A time when the teacher works with a small group of students with the same needs. These students may not be on the same reading level but they need the same work with specific readings skills and strategies. Here students are taught strategies to practice right then and there. They work within their own books so the work is authentic. Discussions ensue about the usefulness of the strategy and how it can be incorporated into further learning. Often students set goals during this time for how they will practice this strategy in their future reading. Based on need, strategy groups are commonly held 2-3 times on the same strategy so that it becomes a natural tool for the student to use while reading. 

Independent Instruction

Independent Reading:  During independent reading, children are reading books at their “just right” reading level. These are books that are easy enough for them to read on their own, yet present challenges for the children to work through, using the lessons and strategies we are teaching. Children will “shop” for new books from their classroom library each week, and will have the opportunity to bring books home each night. It is during independent reading that most one-on-one conferences occur. 

Teacher Conferences: Teachers meet regularly with students to individually discuss their reading progress and set individualized goals for their reading work.  Teachers also use this time to both formally and informally assess students’ reading abilities. Further, this one-on-one meeting allows students to ask questions and seek advice in areas they are personally seeking instruction in.

Writing

Unit 1 - Launching the Writing Workshop

In this unit, children will discover that they, too are writers! They will learn the power in putting their ideas to paper as well as developing the habits of writers. In this unit, children will write both stories and information. As the unit progresses, they will learn to add more to their writing and will eventually publish a piece of writing, emphasizing the importance of their process. This unit will culminate in a celebration of children as “real writers!” 

Unit Outcomes: 

  • Write using drawings, labels, words and sentences. 
  • Teach others by writing “all-about” books on an expert topic
  • Write stories about their life
  • Learn to revise and edit their own writing 

 

Unit 2 – Show and Tell

This unit teaches children to write texts that are a written version of show-and-tell time. Children will bring objects to share with each other. These objects will inspire their drawings, labels and descriptions. As the unit evolves, the children will move from describing concrete objects to telling about things that are too big to bring. 

Unit Outcomes:

  • Continuing the work of revision
  • Developing writing partnerships
  • Taking risks with spelling to write more words
  • Incorporate sight words into writing
  • Adding endings

 

Unit 3 - Writing for Readers

In this unit, children will be guided to tell true stories from their lives that can be read by others. Children will continue to expand their labels and sentences as they apply more phonemic strategies to their writing. Young writers will also begin to use tools such as word walls, partner feedback, and word choice charts to make their stories more fun to read!  This unit will culminate with students selecting a story to revise, edit and finally share with their peers. 

Unit Outcomes:

  • Talk, draw and write about true stories
  • Use all I know about sounds, letters, and snap words to write books 
  • Utilize tools to improve my writing
  • Revise my book to make it more interesting 
  • Edit my writing to make it more readable and share with others 

 

Unit 4 - How-To Book: Writing to Teach Others

In this unit, children will explore procedural writing. They will learn features of this genre from mentor books read aloud. The children will then begin drawing and writing their own How-To books (for example: how-to brush your teeth, how-to feed a dog, how-to play soccer, etc.) Children will also learn the importance of sequencing and procedural vocabulary (first, second, next, then, finally). In addition, they will learn that adding “warnings” or “tips” will make their writing more engaging.

Unit Outcomes:

  • Use pictures and words to teach people how to do something
  • Write and revise my how-to books by using what I learn from real authors
  • Think about my reader as I write
  • Revise and edit my writing for clarity by using multiple strategies

 

Unit 5 - Persuasive Writing of All Kinds: Using Words to Make a Change

In this unit, Kindergartners are introduced to a new, powerful type of writing - persuasive writing! The children learn that persuasive writers are convincing writers. They write to change the world. They will explore different ways they can persuade an audience through the use of songs, signs, speeches, and letters. The children will identify an issue that’s important to them, determine an appropriate audience that should be convinced, identify reasons why there’s an issue, and offer a strong solution to make a change. Soon enough, they will be writing all their problems away! 

Unit Outcomes:

  • Write my opinion to convince others 
  • Add more to my writing to make it more persuasive 
  • Craft petitions, persuasive letters, and signs that rally people to address problems in the classroom, the school, and the world
  • Revise and edit my writing for clarity by using multiple strategies

 

Unit 6 – All About Books

This unit is designed to have children write many all-about books on topics of their choice. Then they will select one to publish toward the end of the unit. The point of writing informational texts is to teach others. 

Unit Outcomes:

  • Sticking with one piece of information at a time
  • Elaborating to say more on each page
  • Making revisions
  • Editing for ‘publication’

 

Whole Class Instruction

Mini-lesson: Just like in Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop begins with a mini-lesson. During this time, the teacher instructs the class on a writing technique that is not just appropriate to the unit of study they are working in, but to their life as a writer. Again, students will have the opportunity to practice each skill while on the rug before independent writing time. 

Shared Writing: During shared writing, the teacher and students work to create a writing piece together. During this time, the students generate the ideas and sentences, while the teacher does the physical writing. It is a time for students to practice writing skills as a whole class with teacher support. Shared writing emphasizes both skills recently learned and those skills that should be used consistently in their life as a writer. It is a piece that can be referenced as an example during their independent writing time. 

Interactive Writing: Interactive writing is when the teacher and student share the pen. This means that instead of the teacher doing the writing, the students hold the marker and does the writing. If teacher support is needed during the letter formation process, a hand-over-hand procedure will be used. Often the ideas/sentences are teacher generated, however, depending on the level of students, and the topic at hand, it can be jointly created with students. 

Small Group Instruction 

Strategy Groups: Teachers pull small groups of students to work with based on their needs as a writer. This can include revisiting old strategies, reviewing the day’s lesson, or even introducing a new strategy to challenge the writers. Teachers may use interactive writing, shared writing, modeling, or a coaching-in approach during small group instruction time.

Independent Instruction

Independent Writing: Independent writing is similar to independent reading in that the children are working at their own “just right” writing pace. During independent writing time, students have the opportunity to generate their very own writing pieces. Students will learn how to go through the writing process, taking a seed idea into a published piece! It is during independent writing that most one-on-one conferences occur.

Teacher Conferences: Teachers meet regularly with students to individually discuss their writing progress and set individualized goals for their writing work.  Teachers also use this time to both formally and informally assess students’ writing abilities. Further, this one-on-one meeting allows students to ask questions and seek advice in areas they are personally seeking instruction in.

Literacy Assessments

We use many forms of assessments to ensure that we are constantly aware of where your child is performing and how we can best help them succeed. 

Concepts of Print 

This informs us about what students know about how books work. For example, can they identify the front and back of the book? Do they know the difference between pictures and words or letters and words? Do they know that print goes from left to right and that we turn pages as we read a book? 

Letter and Sound Identification

This tells us which lowercase and uppercase letters students can identify and what letter sounds they know. 

High Frequency Word Lists 

High Frequency words are the words that occur most often in print. We want students to read these words “in a snap.” So, we ask them to read word lists to see which words they identify quickly and which words we need to continue working on. 

Spelling Inventory 

This is a list of words that a teacher dictates and students write. We look at what words students spell correctly and what words they miss. When students miss a word, we look carefully at what they missed as they spelled that word. For example, if the word is “cat,” did the child know that it starts with the letter c, ends with t and has an a in the middle? If the child wrote, “CT,” we know that the child knows the beginning and ends of words, and that we need to begin to teach short vowels in word study. So, we are not teaching words for students to memorize, but rather we are teaching them spelling patterns that they can apply to many different words. The spelling inventory informs us as to what is the best instruction each child needs. 

Running Records

During a running record, a child sits with a teacher and reads a book or an excerpt from a book aloud. As the child is reading, the teacher records what the child does as he/she reads. The teacher codes miscues, fluency, intonation and comprehension, both literal and inferential.  The teacher then uses all of this information to determine a reading level, as well as goals and instruction for the child. 

Conference

A teacher sits with a child during reading or writing and they talk about the work the child is doing. Perhaps the child will read to the teacher. The teacher gives the child positive feedback about his/her work. He/She then makes a decision about how to support this child in his/her work and teaches and guides the child to try it out. 

Student Writing 

Teachers look at student writing to see what writing strategies they are using and how they are progressing with their goals. This includes “on demand” pieces where the students write for one full period independently as well as published pieces from the end of each writing unit. Teachers also offer feedback to students on their published pieces. 

Listening and Speaking

Children learn effective listening and speaking skills through a variety of classroom activities. In whole class situations, students listen to an individual speaker and take turns as they contribute to discussions. In smaller groups, they learn to communicate effectively to accomplish a task or play a game. We emphasize careful listening to directions and retelling of expectations. Children learn to share air time when speaking without interrupting the speaker. Children practice speaking and listening skills during voluntary sharing sessions, lunch time announcements, Town Halls each week, and Show and Tell. In addition, the Kindergarten performs a play for the entire school and attends the all-school assemblies which provide additional opportunities to listen and share.

Mathematics

Primary School Mathematics Overview
The mathematics program in the primary school is designed to build strong thinkers and problem solvers who are proficient in a broad range of mathematical skills and possess a deep understanding of mathematical concepts. The core of our curriculum is Singapore Mathematics. Recognizing that one-size-fits-all does not comprehensively address the fluctuating needs and skills of children, we enhance and enrich the core of our math program by drawing from a variety of published resources. This allows for our skilled faculty to provide appropriate extension and support to meet the needs of each student. In all grades, nightly math homework typically consists of assignments that provide further practice, extend daily topics to home applications, review previous material, and enrich understanding. Our curriculum is anchored and driven by these six goals:

1. Establish mathematical confidence and competence through exposure to the following content areas at developmentally appropriate levels.

  • number sense
  • computation
  • parts-of-a-whole
  • patterns & rules
  • geometry
  • measurement
  • probability

2. Build mastery and quick recall through frequent practice of basic computation, ensuring a solid foundation for more complex mathematical topics in older grades.

3. Gain familiarity and facility with available tools used to solve mathematical problems, including, but not limited to:

  • pencil & paper
  • rulers, tape-measures, meter sticks, & yard sticks
  • thermometers
  • calculators
  • calendars
  • math apps
  • analog clocks
  • pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, & dollar bills
  • geometric pattern block templates
  • various math manipulatives

4. Explore multiple approaches to and algorithms for problem solving to enrich conceptual understanding of mathematical relationships.

5. Articulate mathematical understanding by thoroughly explaining, in both written and verbal forms, steps to solve various types of simple and complex problems.

6. Demonstrate understanding both formally (via standardized testing) and informally (via ongoing assessment).

Kindergarten Mathematics
Kindergarten age children need many avenues and tools to express what they know and time to test and try their own ways of solving problems. Early on in the year, students use real materials to create and solve addition and subtraction equations, practice both complex and simple methods of counting and sorting, and create graphs and other visual representations of data. These skills capitalize on their eagerness to express their mathematical understanding in a variety of ways. Developing fine and gross motor skills allow for deeper exploration of three-dimensional objects via examination of size, shape, length, and volume. Students have many opportunities to practice writing and manipulating numbers as they develop their mastery of proper numeric orientation and place value.

As children develop over the course of the year, they become increasingly adept at and confident in asking questions. They learn through discovery and have a growing understanding of spatial and functional relationships. Children develop the skill of collaboration in each math class. Teachers use mathematical games, songs, poems, stories, and riddles to help inspire engagement. As children master concrete skills, teachers introduce early mental math. Increasingly strong numeric understanding and problem-solving strategies allow for computation with money and the introductory use of technological tools. 

Our mathematics program emphasizes playful, verbal interactions and manipulative activities while laying the groundwork for symbolic understanding. The activities encompass a variety of mathematics strands, including: simple and complex counting, numeration, operations, measurement, geometry, clock and calendar use, graphs, patterns, attributes, and functions. Common life applications are a feature of each strand. In addition, children’s literature, songs, and movement activities encourage further mathematical thinking. 

Social Studies

The social studies curriculum in kindergarten focuses on behavior skills and respect for one another. Students hone their sharing skills and practice listening to and responding to the opinions and statements of peers. They explore the word "community" repeatedly, beginning with the classroom community.

Classroom and School Community

The sense of community is very important from the first day of school. We strive to build a community of sharing and supportive children, all the while discussing problems that may arise. Each child has a weekly job that helps to build classroom citizenship. Students design their own classroom rules to establish the learning environment they desire.  As everyday social problems arise, role play, teacher modeling, and classroom discussions help students reach effective solutions. While the kindergarteners work to establish their classroom community, they also begin to explore the school community. Students go beyond the classroom to learn about the roles and responsibilities of various community members. In addition, new routines become part of early studies, such as visiting the dining room, art room, gym, French room, library, music room, and the science lab. 

Family Communities

Children in kindergarten learn best when they begin with what they know and expand upon that with new information. The family is the main focus during the next part of the fall. By looking at their own families and those around them, children develop a definition of what a family is. We use personal experiences and literature to examine similarities and differences in families, types of families, contributions of different family members, families in other parts of the world, and changes in families over time. 

Community Helpers

Children explore how other people contribute to the communities we live in beyond the school. They begin by considering what they know best--knowledge of their own communities. They discuss how their towns are different and the same. Next, they discuss who is involved in helping to provide for community members needs, starting with the post office and then later, going through each of the different organizations that make our towns function successfully: the police department, fire department, ambulance corp. and the library. 

Culture Study

The culture study is the focus of January and February . Our cultural study of a specific country is where the students learn about the people, customs, food, and lifestyles. By sharing books, preparing food, making traditional crafts, and learning words, music, and songs in the country’s language, the students develop a deeper understanding of this new country and the similarities and differences between the two cultures. In recent years, kindergarten culture study topics have included: 

  • Brazil 
  • France 
  • Greece
  • Germany

Local Community

The expanded understanding of community developed during the first half of the year leads the class into the community of Tuxedo. In recent years, visits to the Tuxedo Park Library and Post Office helped the class understand how these services are organized. The students apply this new knowledge to the classroom library and designing their own school-wide post office.

Valentine's Day gives students the opportunity to study the postal service and its contribution to communication within a community. Kindergarten runs a school-wide post office, collecting, canceling, sorting and delivering mail throughout the school. 

Designing a Community

After spending the majority of the year researching multiple aspects of communities, the class synthesizes this information to decide what a community needs to provide for its citizens. Students work cooperatively to plan, design, and build a town of their own. This project is the culmination of their year in social studies.

Science

During kindergarten, students learn to question and observe their world. This naturally opens the first topic of the year: senses. The students explore each of the five senses and find out how scientists use their senses to make observations. The school campus becomes an “outside classroom,” a wonderful place to explore with their senses first hand. In conjunction with the health curriculum, kindergartners expand the idea of touch as a sense to develop an understanding of the difference between good touch/bad touch and how this applies to their lives. Taste is extended to the different classifications of food, how good food choices help you to stay healthy, how to make good choices at lunch, and the idea that food is a fuel, an energy for life. 

Following winter break, students begin making observations about the weather and learn to use instruments that help them observe and measure the weather. They use charts to organize this information. Students learn cloud formations through observations and experiments, and they learn how to forecast the weather. The sun is introduced as a source of energy. 

The study of weather leads students to discover forces that make things move, such as wind, magnets, and gravity. With these units, the science process skills of predicting as well as cause and effect become an important part of students’ learning. 

Following spring break, students begin their exploration of oceans with a field trip to the Norwalk Aquarium. With knowledge from the aquarium visit and a guided research project, each student chooses a marine animal, draws it in its environment, and presents it at the class science celebration. The year ends with a wrap-up of the observations they have collected throughout the year and a comparison of their fall-to-spring observations made in the “outside classroom.” 
 

French

The most important skill for kindergartners to develop when learning a modern language is that of listening. Early in the year, students are exposed to a variety of directives in French, accompanied by physical gestures. These phrases are used throughout the year to promote familiarity with the sounds of the language and facilitate transitions between activities. Some of the language spoken at the beginning of each meeting is used for greetings, expressions of well-being, the calendar, and identification. The French specialist teacher reviews topics from the Pre-K French program and introduces new topics, including animals and post office vocabulary. Children learn to identify cognates to create an awareness of the connectedness between the languages of the world. Using art supplies also plays an important role in the development of concepts, as does literature, music, fingerplays, puppetry, games, and movement.

Art

In the art room, kindergarten students begin by exploring primary colors, understanding their relative strengths (i.e. yellow is a weaker color than blue or red) and mixing the primary colors to produce secondary colors. From there we move on to shapes, where we discuss how objects and images are composed of shapes. Students then create their own pictures using those shapes. Throughout the year we read picture books and discuss the illustrations. Often we read a book together and create our own version of either the subject matter or the illustrative style. Three-dimensional projects include cardboard sculpture and projects in clay. Each year, the culture study also inspires an art project. In recent years, such projects have included decorating a paper cut-out “pot” with ancient Greek patterns and figures and a three-dimensional painting of the Eiffel Tower for the study of France.
 

Music

The music program is based on a system of music teaching developed by the Hungarian, Zoltan Kodály. We explore prolific, varied, high-quality repertoire. The main focus of this repertoire is folk music, which we practice performing in creative, artistic, and expressive ways. We sing songs that are natural to children and that come from many different cultures and ethnicities. The use of songs also develops each child’s natural instrument, his or her own voice. All musical concepts and skills are drawn from the repertoire itself so that the knowledge is concrete and meaningful, rather than abstract. In practical terms, this means singing a song, playing a game, dancing a dance, or playing an accompaniment on the barred Orff instruments. Then, we isolate one melodic or rhythmic fragment of the song and identify it. In this way, new concepts emerge from “unknown to known,” meaning that the idea is made conscious gradually, rather than presented first and explained later. Children learn to read and write music in addition to playing and having fun!

Kindergarten students develop a foundation of musical skills that will enable them to explore music in many different ways. They compare music through various dichotomies: loud/soft, fast/slow, high/low, short/long, beat/rhythm, etc. They experience music through physical action, listening examples, and written notation. Vocal development is very important as Kindergarten students learn to match pitch, sing in tune, and explore a wide vocal range while singing.

The students also begin to learn music history through storytelling. Stories of composers and musicians are told in ten-minute installments at the end of each class. Once the students are acquainted with the composer, they are eager to listen and learn about their music.

Physical Education

The kindergarten PE program begins with the basic locomotor movements (i.e. walking, running, hopping, jumping) and non-locomotor movements (i.e. bending, balancing, twisting, swinging, rocking, and pulling). Using these basic movement skills, students learn to safely and efficiently move through space as they demonstrate skills of chasing, fleeing, and dodging. Incorporating rhythm and dance into these movement explorations is vital. The students are then introduced to manipulative skills using eye-hand and eye-foot coordination. Throughout all these activities, the focus is on skill development within the boundaries of correct decision making and cooperation with others.