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Grades 1 through 4

Lower School

Students take intellectual risks, develop self-awareness and gain independence through an educational experience that honors the richness of childhood.

Students take intellectual risks, develop self-awareness and gain independence through an educational experience that honors the richness of childhood. The faculty encourages students to read, collaborate, and think critically as well as ask questions and explore to gain a better understanding of themselves and their world.

First through Fourth Grades

The curriculum for the Lower School grades at St. Peter’s is predicated by the school’s mission statement and driven by the school keys, emphasizing the richness of childhood in tandem with a developmentally appropriate program that fosters a lifelong love of learning. Moreover, the program promotes social and emotional discovery and development while providing a solid foundation in all academic subject areas. 

The small student-teacher ratio and class sizes enable the faculty to monitor the progress of each individual student while implementing a “best practice” approach to learning. Cross-curricular collaborations across subject areas and our City Curriculum help to enhance rich, project-based learning opportunities in which students can express their unique understanding, creativity, and perspective with confidence and poise.  

Curriculum Highlights

  • Differentiated Instruction/Small Group Instruction
  • Project based learning / Collaboration
  • City Curriculum Integration
  • Cross Curricular and Cross Divisional Opportunities
  • Thematic/Inquiry centered
  • Social Emotional Learning/CharacterStrong

First Grade

ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS

Reading – The Wilson Fundations program is used and teaches students phonics strategies for reading and spelling. This program is used alongside the Great Minds’ Geodes book collections. These collections follow the Fundations’ scope and sequence, providing students the opportunity to practice and enhance their phonics skills while also cultivating a deep reading experience and building knowledge in history, science, and the arts.

The Writing Process – Workshop mini lessons address all aspects of the writing process. Individual conferences are held to provide each student with selective feedback on content, topic development and writing mechanics.

1. Plan, 2. Write and Draw, 3. Revise: adding on more, 4. Edit, 5. Publish/celebrate, 6. Repeat

 

MATH

First Graders learn concepts that help strengthen problem solving and critical thinking to give them real world connection to math. Concepts are taught using hands on manipulatives and are strengthened through playing games. Skills such as number sense, addition, and subtraction are spiraled throughout the year with increasing difficulty. The students also explore time, money, the calendar, 2D and 3D shapes, and measurement. 

 

SOCIAL STUDIES

The First Grade focuses on Friendship, Family, Community, and Habitats.  Students learn through books, videos, local field trips, and work with parents and other community members.  First Graders work independently and in small groups for discussions and projects that relate to the learning.  The culminating project of the year focuses on the Rain Forest. Students spend weeks researching facts about an animal of their choice, while creating a 3D structure of this animal. Throughout this unit, students transform their classroom into a real-life Rain Forest, to make their final presentation of their project even more exciting. 

Trimester 1: Our Family and Friends 

Trimester 2: Our Community 

Trimester 3: Our Habitats (Artic, Desert, Ocean/Coral Reef, Rain Forest) 

Second Grade

ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS

The Second Grade Language Arts program scaffolds on the skills learned in First Grade to infuse more detail, richer vocabulary words, more complex sentences, and enhanced plots when telling or writing narrative, persuasive, and informative stories. The Wilson Fundations program is continued and provides phonics strategies for reading and spelling. This program is used alongside the Great Minds’ Geodes book collections. These collections follow the Fundations’ scope and sequence, providing students the opportunity to practice and enhance their phonics skills while also cultivating a deep reading experience and building knowledge in history, science, and the arts.

Grammar concepts to support proper sentence structure and complex sentence writing are used from Writing Matters. StoryWorks allows the students to work on reading comprehension, vocabulary, and writing skills through a variety of texts, paired texts, and poetry. The children are encouraged and allowed ample time to explore and read different kinds of genre individually and in small, guided groups.

 

MATH

Students focus on strategies to express verbally and in writing what they notice, what they wonder, and how they use those strategies to estimate and solve algebraic, geometric, measurement, and data problems. 

Concepts covered: Numbers to 1,000 – Numbers and Operations in Base Ten; Addition and Subtraction up to 1,000; Use of Bar Models; Operations and Algebraic Thinking; Multiplication; Metric Measurement of Length – Measurement and Data; Mental Math and Estimation; Money – Measurement and Data; Time; Picture Graphs; Lines and Surfaces; Time – Measurement and Data; Geometry-Lines/Surfaces/Shapes/Patterns; Fractions

 

SOCIAL STUDIES

The students begin exploring various map skills, including map keys/legends, landforms, cardinal directions, grid locations, reading a map, and creating a map through various. Next comes comparisons for similarities and differences between countries and continents, how the different geographies shape our lives, traditions, and culture, and how we shape the geography. The culminating unit “World Cultures” has the students showcase a different country’s geography and culture in various creative ways. Students are introduced to the use of artifacts and complete the unit with a study of Native Americans. 

Third Grade

ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS

The Third Graders continue with the use of the Wilson Fundations program and include “Readers Theater ” exploring a wide variety of genres including: Realistic Fiction, Informational, Fantasy, Historical Fiction and Poetry. Attention is given to locating text evidence, character and plot development, main ideas, setting, and inference making and drawing conclusions. Independent reading is emphasized as well as fluency and oral presentation (Declamation program).  Third Grade continues use of “Writing Matters” as well as the Four-Square Writing Method. Cursive letter writing is introduced. 

MATH

Each Third Grader is challenged according to their abilities using the “Math in Focus: Singapore Math” curriculum. Aligned with standards, the spiraling curriculum fosters a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts by a focus of hands-on learning and dynamic problem solving. Numbers to 10,000, addition and subtraction within 10,000, Multiplication Tables, Using Bar Models -the four operations, fractions, measurement, area and perimeter, time, graphs and line plots, angles/lines and two-dimensional figures.  

Concepts covered: Numbers to 10,000, addition and subtraction within 10,000, Multiplication Tables, Using Bar Models -the four operations, Fractions, Measurement, Area and Perimeter, Time, Geometry- graphs and line plots/ angles/lines/ two dimensional figures. 

SOCIAL STUDIES

The themes of the Third Grade course focus on: Colonial and Present America. The essential question is “Why do people move?” This includes units on William Penn and the Quakers, the Naming of the City, Ben Franklin; Native Americans-the Land Bridge concept, Natural Resources, Discovery Learning Centers for Tribal Regions, Introduction to Research, Tribal Showcase centered on The French and Indian War. The final unit is concerned with the major events that were the spark for the American Revolutionary War.

Fourth Grade

ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS

The Fourth Grade curriculum systematically and comprehensively instructs students in phonemic awareness and word study developed from the Wilson Fundations program. It contributes to fluency and vocabulary development and sets a foundation for writing.  The StoryWorks program practices leveled reading comprehension skills using a range of themes in literature, multiple text genres, in addition to a focus on the full writing process, mechanics and oral presentation (Declamation program.)  

MATH

Each Fourth Grade student will be challenged in Math according to their abilities using the “Math in Focus: Singapore Math” curriculum. This program aligns with standards and fosters a deeper understanding of each mathematical concept through a focus on hands-on learning and dynamic problem solving. Singapore Math uses a spiral approach to the curriculum, meaning that students will touch on each major topic in First – Fourth Grades, each year diving a little bit deeper and challenging them a little bit more.

Concepts covered: Place Value, Estimation and Number Theory; Multi-Digit Multiplication and Long Division; Creating and Interpreting Tables; Creating and Interpreting Graphs; Collecting and Calculating Data; Probability; Fractions; Decimals to the Hundredths Place; Geometry and Angles; Measurement; Tessellations

 

SOCIAL STUDIES

The Fourth Grade focuses on three main units in Social Studies:

  • The American Revolution (Fall): Causes, major events, and aftermath of the American Revolutionary War, The Declaration of Independence, The United States Constitution
  • Governmental Civics of the United States (Winter): The structure and branches of the United States government, State vs. Federal governments, The Electoral College/electoral process
  • US Geography and the States (Spring): The geographic regions of the United States, Pennsylvania state history, the geography/topography of states and the impacts on their borders, States Project

Art

Students in First Grade through Fourth Grade will complete projects that emphasize expression, process, and skill building. Students will work with a variety of media including drawing materials, paints, sculpture materials, and more. Students will learn about and explore artists both local and global, from our time and from history. In the Art Room, every student is an artist with a personal style and a unique perspective!

 

FIRST GRADE – 2D and 3D art fundamentals 

Development of drawing, painting, and collage techniques

Development of pottery hand building basics

Development of mixed media and non-traditional art forms such as recycled material sculpture and land art artist studies 

Explore expressive art practices focused on fine and gross motor 

Focus is on the process over product 

 

SECOND GRADE – 2D and 3D art fundamentals 

Development of drawing, painting, and collage techniques

Development of technical skill basics such as introductory perspective

Development of pottery hand building basics

Development of mixed media and choice-driven art forms 

Discovery of artists and artistic movements from around the world and an understanding of what a contemporary artist is 

 

THIRD GRADE – 2D and 3D art fundamentals 

Development of drawing, painting, and collage techniques

Development of technical skill basics such as introductory perspective

Development of pottery hand building basics

Development of mixed-media sculpture techniques 

Development of choice-driven art forms 

Discovery of artists and artistic movements from around the world and an understanding of what a contemporary artist is 

Understand artists in relation to culture, heritage, and history

 

FOURTH GRADE – 2D and 3D art fundamentals 

Development of drawing, painting, and collage techniques

Development of technical skill basics such as perspective and shading

Development of pottery hand building basics

Development of mixed media and choice-driven art forms 

Discovery of artists and artistic movements from around the world and an understanding of what a contemporary artist is

Understand how artists use conceptual means such as symbolism to create dialogue and portray personal meaning 

Music

At St. Peter’s School, Music is a blend of developing the knowledge about the fundamentals of music, exploratory activity-based learning and strengthening student listening skills. Classes are divided into conceptual learning experiences and hands-on learning experiences with singing and instruments. 

Drawing from the Orff Model of music education that aims to engage the mind and body through experience first, then conceptualization, the First – Fourth Grade students engage with percussion instruments, xylophone, ukulele, and of course, do lots of singing. Additionally, students learn about essential musical concepts, the cultural and social impact of a wide variety of genres, and perform in several settings including Battle of the Bands, seasonal concerts, and graduation. And unique to St. Peter’s, many students learn how to operate our onsite professional-quality recording studio.

 

FIRST GRADE

  • Xylophone studies: basic technique, reading rhythms and basic ensemble skills 
  • Introduction to reading, saying, and playing rhythms with quarter notes, quarter rests, and paired eighth notes
  • Identifying and learning about the four families of the orchestra 
  • Introduction to Music Elements: Tempo and Dynamics 
  • Preparing Holiday and event songs and dances 

 

SECOND GRADE

  • Drum Pad studies: Basic Technique, reading rhythms and building consistency 
  • Introduction to Music Elements: Basic Notation, Tempo, Meter and Time Values with listening activities and actively employing concepts with instrument activities
  • Preparing Holiday and event songs and dances

 

THIRD GRADE

  • A year of Xylophone studies: beginning level reading skills, technique, and basic ensemble skills  
  • Music fundamentals: Introduction to Pitch, Dynamics, Duration, Basic timekeeping, and an overview of Musical Elements with listening activities, writing in listening journals and actively employing concepts with instrument activities
  • Preparing Holiday and event songs and dances

 

FOURTH GRADE

  • A year of ukulele studies: Chord Symbols, Basic Technique and beginning level reading skills
  • Music fundamentals: Introduction to Music Notation, Basic time keeping/rhythm studies and introduction to pitch with listening activities, writing in listening journals and actively employing concepts with instrument activities
  • Working in an ensemble of mixed instrumentation to develop songs for performance
  • Preparing Holiday and event songs and dances

Science

The Science curriculum aims to propel our students into the next generation of science education driven by national standards by exposing them to content-specific knowledge in the earth, life, and physical sciences, and by giving them opportunities to direct their own thought process to explain phenomena. Engineering design is woven into the science curriculum throughout the year by way of topic-specific activities, STEAM challenges, and other cross-curricular projects. Through hands-on interactions and thoughtful discussions that engage both their minds and their senses, students will form, test, and refine foundational ideas using the same practices implemented by scientists and engineers. The goal is to empower students to develop their ideas over time, both individually and as a class, and learn to design effective solutions to real world problems. 

FIRST GRADE students focus on patterns of the sun, moon, and stars, fundamental properties of light and sound, how plants and animals use external structures to help them survive, and how the behavior of animals and their offspring also functions to aid survival.

SECOND GRADE students focus on Earth’s landforms and bodies of water, how and why the Earth’s surface may change, properties of and changes to matter, biodiversity in local ecosystems, and the dependence of plants on animals for pollination and seed dispersal.

THIRD GRADE students focus on weather and climate, weather-related hazards, and possible solutions, balanced and unbalanced forces, magnetic interactions, fossil evidence, adaptations, traits, and life cycles of organisms, and how changes to environments affect these organisms.

FOURTH GRADE students focus on weathering, erosion, and other natural Earth processes, energy transfer, waves, electricity, and the structures and functions of organisms and how they relate to information processing.

World Language: French

In First Grade, students add to their vocabulary and practice pronunciation and continue building retention through songs and games. Students begin to read vocabulary words and are more formally introduced to grammar points like masculine vs. feminine and putting adjectives after a noun. They also begin using longer phrases and sentences in their speaking. Students keep a French coloring book and a folder for worksheets in their desks, and as the year progresses, they will begin bringing their folder home with a practice sheet to complete! 

Second Graders begin the year with a review of vocabulary and basic grammar points like greetings, expressing their age, the date, and the weather in French, masculine vs. feminine nouns and adjective placement. New vocabulary units this year include additional animals and adjectives to describe them, extended family, transportation, numbers to sixty, fruits, vegetables, and sports. Students will begin to speak in sentences using the expressions “I am,” “I have,” and “I like.” They will practice pronunciation and vocabulary through songs, games, skits, and the warm-up review at the beginning of each class. 

Third Grade vocabulary units include school supplies, toys, sports and games, food and ordering at a cafe, clothing words, animals, adjectives, and prepositions. Students continue to review basic vocabulary each day with warm-ups where they are asked questions about the date, weather, their activities, and the like. Students now read and write in basic French, and they complete written homework and class work regularly. They continue to play review games, sing songs, and role play to practice vocabulary and pronunciation. 

Fourth Graders begin the year reviewing vocabulary like greetings, colors, foods, animals, body parts, and school supplies. The new Fourth Grade units include weather and seasons, family using the possessive adjectives “my” and “your,” numbers to 100, asking and answering questions using question words and vocabulary, adjectives including placement and gender, sports, and foods. They continue to practice vocabulary and pronunciation through class participation, songs, games, skits, and the warm-up at the beginning of each class.

Physical Education

Physical Education provides the opportunity to teach students about movement, strategies, teamwork, problem solving, and health related wellness. Exposing students to a variety of sports and methods of fitness can teach the whole student an enjoyment for the physical activities as well as build social, psychomotor, and cognitive skills. Sports classes strive to provide the means for students to become more confident with their abilities, increase their knowledge of health-related fitness, and to remain physically active. 

Cooperative Activities: Students will be able to move in the activity area safely. Perform class skills learned in small group and large group games and activities. Activities will allow practice of skills learned and also introduce students to lifetime activities. Limited experience due to age will necessitate practice in many activities to master skill.

Wellness:  Students will be able to perform various exercises and warm up activities to improve overall fitness. Students will discover how exercise, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle improve overall quality of life. Limited experience due to age, will necessitate practice in many activities to master skill. Emphasis is placed on effort, sportsmanship, listening skills, determination, cooperation, and patience.

Manipulative Skills:   Students will be able to perform various ball skills demonstrating proper hand and body position. Students will discover how these skills are the basis for lifetime physical activities. Limited experience due to age will necessitate practice in many activities to master skill.

Movement/Locomotor Skills: Students will be able to move in the activity area safely. Perform locomotor and non-locomotor movements individually and activities demonstrating spatial awareness and body awareness. Limited experience due to age, will necessitate practice in many activities to master skill.

Wellness and Social and Emotional Learning 

Strengthening our students’ social/emotional skills is a high priority in First – Fourth Grades.

St. Peter’s School uses a Social Emotional Learning curriculum called CharacterStrong. This curriculum aids students in developing self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Using resources from the CharacterStrong program, including videos, activities, crafts, scenarios, quotes, and stories, the students have plenty of opportunities in small and large groups to learn about and practice the following character traits: courage, respect, gratitude, perseverance, honesty, kindness, empathy, responsibility, cooperation, and creativity throughout the year.