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Grades 5 through 8

Upper School

The curriculum for our Fifth through Eighth Graders is intentionally designed to be creative, relevant, engaging and challenging.

The curriculum for our Fifth through Eighth Graders is intentionally designed to be creative, relevant, engaging and challenging. The faculty advises and helps guide the students’ academic pursuits, encourage artistic expression, support their social and emotional growth and facilitate student-driven conversations about self knowledge and cultural awareness.  In addition to our academic offerings that will help prepare them for Secondary School, our focus on Character Development is incorporated into what we do each day.

Program Components

ADVISORY: Students meet in Advisory groups each morning to touch base, plan for the day and build community through open and honest discussions, games and activities; improve study skills and executive functioning by learning time management skills and practicing organization.  Students build self awareness, decision-making skills, independence and learn the responsibilities of leadership through service projects. 

DECLAMATION: Students gain notable practice speaking publicly at Declamations.  They challenge themselves sto master and declaim celebrated works of poetry and prose, including speeches and excerpts from novels and plays.  The School community attends monthly Declamations and the students of 5th-8th Grades vie for the annual Declamation Award being evaluated for dramatization, poise, pacing, body language, eye contact and articulation.  

DESIGN THINKING: Students in Fifth and Sixth Grades are  introduced to the concept of design thinking, practicing the process for creative problem solving and understanding how best to approach challenges presented by problems. The 5th Grade will work individually and as a team on challenges with the goal of using processes which include the following steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. While Sixth Grade will utilize the process and work on understanding urban planning to design a future city. Basic urban design and consideration of typical problems confronting a city will be addressed. 

INDEPENDENT STUDY PROGRAM: Students engage in a project-based learning program as they research a subject, design a project, and develop a deeper understanding of a topic of interest. They will present their findings to the School community in the Spring. 

INTERSCHOLASTIC SPORTS: Students participate in the School’s program, representing SPS to challenge independent school rivals in a variety of sports (such as Basketball, Cross Country, and Soccer) but they also forge fast friendships with teammates and learn the rewards of sportsmanship.

STUDENT CLUBS: A variety of club activities that are offered during the school day allow students to specialize and explore areas of interest with like-minded peers.


Humanities is the study of the human condition, and the Fifth – Eighth Grades study about what it is to be a human. This integrated study approach aligns with fostering our students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and ethical citizens of their world.

FIFTH GRADE: A Journey Through Early Civilizations

Through a study of ancient cultures and journey literature, Fifth Grade students explore the traits, beliefs, abilities, and experiences that are essential to humanity. They focus on the continents of Africa, Asia and the Americas while gaining a deeper understanding of its diverse cultures and histories. Students learn to use concrete textual evidence to support their inferences and positions through in-depth writing, research projects, and creative expression. 



Students will compare and contrast chronological relationships and interactions, study the development of economics, citizenship and government as well as geographical impact, using a variety of  materials and texts (including 5th Grade level National Geographics History Alive! The Ancient World  and 6th Grade level McGraw-Hill’s World Adventures in Time and Place) 


1st Term

  • “History as Mystery:” Origin Stories & the Historical Detective’s Toolkit
  • Human Evolution to the Rise of Agriculture 


2nd Term 

  • Ancient Egypt (Feb.-March) 
  • Ancient Mesopotamia (March-April) 


3rd Term

  • Ancient America (April-May)



Fifth Grade works on finding and integrating key ideas and detail in text, drawing inferences, character development and conduction evidence research; figurative language is developed through stories, poetry and drama; understand author’s point of view; comparison of genres, similarities and differences; build academic vocabulary  

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
  • 52 Days by Camel by Debora Pearson and Lawrie Raskin
  • Science Fiction Short Stories by Ray Bradbury, Katherine Paterson, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
  • Origin stories, folktales and myths
  • other literature may include: The Egypt Game by Zilpha K. Synder, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin



Fifth Grade works on vocabulary usage in and out of context; the organizational structure in writing- planning, revising, editing, rewriting; use of an introduction, conclusion, details, quotes, facts, descriptions. sequencing, summarizing

  • Narrative Essay
  • Persuasive Essay
  • Science Fiction Short Story
  • “What I Believe” Poem
  • Literary Analysis Essay
  • collaborative work


SIXTH GRADE: Control, Conflict, and Change

Sixth Grade students explore the inevitability of conflict and its role in changing and shaping societies and groups. They focus on the continents of Asia, Europe  and America while gaining a deeper understanding of major world religions and the power struggles and cultural shifts which precipitated the rise and fall of civilizations. Students continue using textual evidence to substantiate their writing while also working to elevate their word choice and incorporate figurative language. 


Students will analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious and social structures; explore chronological and spatial thinking, conduct historical research, find evidence and assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources to draw conclusions, using a variety of  materials and texts (including 5th Grade level National Geographics History Alive!- The Ancient World  and 6th Grade level McGraw-Hill’s World Adventures in Time and Place) 


1st Term

  • “Interdisciplinarity”
  • Ancient India
  • Ancient China 


2nd Term

  • Ancient Greece (Feb- March)
  • Ancient Rome (March) 


3rd Term

  • Conflict on the World Stage: WWI & WWII (May) 


Reading and Language

Sixth Grade can cite textual evidence to support analysis and inferencing; determine central ideas conveyed by details and summarize; analyze the theme, setting, plot and word choice and tone; consider point of view; compare and contrast different genres for literature and informational texts.

Demonstrate command of standard grammar and usage when writing and speaking with appropriate spelling and punctuation; use affixes, roots and be able to verify preliminary determination of word meaning; use of figurative language and  word relationships; distinguish between connotations and denotations

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
  • D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths 
  • Science Fiction Short Stories by Ray Bradbury, Katherine Paterson, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
  • Poetry (including excerpts from The Odyssey, The Aeneid) 
  • Number The Stars by Lois Lowry and Author’s Project to analyze varying perspectives (will include a variety of period based literature)  


Writing, Speaking and Listening

Sixth Grade engages in collaborative discussions; prepares required material, set goals, meets deadlines and responds to specific questions with detail; demonstrates understanding of multiple perspectives through reflection and paraphrasing

Can form an argument focused on discipline-specific content, logical reasoning and data; uses phrases to create cohesion and clarify relationships, uses established formal style; draws evidence to support analysis, research and reflection; explains processes

  • Narrative Essay
  • Literary Analysis Essay
  • Science Fiction Short Story
  • “What I Believe” Poem
  • Expository Essay
  • Research Project 


SEVENTH GRADE Building a More Perfect Union: Understanding Our City and Ourselves

Term 1

Social Studies: What do historians do? Ask compelling questions, research, and interpret. Reading primary resources. Introducing Geographical Diaries. 

Reading: Learning to be active readers, annotate, identify meaning, and begin to connect ideas across texts and genres. Introduce Lit Circles, vocab assessments, monthly readers.  

Writing: Consider the audience and purpose of our writing. Practice outline and planning our works. How to introduce an idea and begin to argue for it. Introduce commonplace books and writing lab. Large Writing Projects: Sci-Fi Story & Why You Should Read video. 

Understand how racism manifests across individual and systemic levels. 

  • Unit 1  Utopias, Urban Planning, and Defining the Ideal Society with The Giver  by Lois Lowry
  • Unit 2  William Penn and Early Designs for Philadelphia. The Yellow Fever epidemic with Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Unit 3  The Yellow Fever Epidemic with Fever, 1793


Social Studies: Understand and analyze different historical perspectives. How events are interpreted and re-interpreted over time. How economics determines behavior. How to research and evaluate secondary sources. Continue Geographical Diary.

Reading: Evaluate POV, and how it affects meaning. Evaluate structure, both in terms of plot and argument, and determine structural choices. Understand structure and form in poetry. Continue commonplace books and monthly readers. 

Writing: Getting down that first draft. Learning about our writing process, how to effectively incorporate sources. Transition between paragraphs and ideas. How to workshop/give and receive feedback. Big Projects: Intro to Poetry Anthology, Persuasive Speech.  Understand how racism manifests across individual and systemic levels. 

  • Unit 4  Philadelphia During the Civil War, Slavery, and Perspective
  • Unit 5  Prison, Education, and Equality. 
  • Unit 6  Criminal Justice Continued – The Court System, Process, Perspective & Bias
  • Unit 7  Urbanization, The Great Migration, and Segregation



Social Studies: What is U.S. Culture? Learn about the disparate religious and ethnic communities in the US. Understand government functions on the local level. 

Reading: Learn to evaluate literature critically, and to understand its context culturally and historically. Be able to evaluate appropriate and sufficient primary and secondary sources to be used for an argumentative essay. 

Writing: How to rethink, revise and rewrite your work. Write a critical literature essay with a well-developed thesis and supporting sources. Write an audio documentary about our year’s theme with multiple primary and secondary sources. Writing Projects: Literary Criticism, Mini-NHD. Understand how racism manifests across individual and systemic levels. 

  • Unit 7 (con’t) Urbanization, The Great Migration, and Segregation 
  • Unit 8  Defining community. Religious and Ethnic Communities in America. Thinking about Modern Art
  • Unit 9  Suburbia, cars, television, technology, and women at work


EIGHTH GRADE: Colonialism, Revolution and Rebuilding


Social Studies: Ask big questions about important historical moments and learn how to answer them. Understand the connections between events and developments in broader historical contexts. Analyze multiple factors that influenced the perspectives of people have changed over time. Introducing the NHD topic. 

Reading: Learning to be active readers, annotate, identify meaning, and begin to connect ideas across texts and genres. Research and evaluate secondary sources for NHD. Introduce Lit Circles, vocab assessments, monthly readers.  

Writing: Consider our writing process. How to workshop/give and receive feedback. How to introduce an idea and begin to argue for it. Writing with constraints. Introducing commonplace books and writing lab. How does Science, Society, and the Media (Mis)Represent Race

  • Unit 1 Define Colonization, Early Colonialism, Economics, Power and The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  • Unit 2  Colonization throughout the Americas
  • Unit 3  Connections between enlightenment and revolution 



Social Studies: Learn to read and use historical sources and use those sources to identify further areas of inquiry. Evaluate the relevancy of a historical source based on information such as maker, date, place of origin, intended audience and purpose. Consider multiple historic events and distill similarities and differences in context and cause. 

Reading: Understand the structure of a piece of writing and its purpose. In fiction, also evaluate the use of literary devices in considering purpose and meaning. Identify modes of rhetoric and persuasion, including use of logical fallacies, in argumentative writing. 

Writing: Plan and execute a long-term writing project that includes strategizing, multiple drafts, feedback, and revisions. Evaluate and improve their work independently. Learn to integrate sources properly and effectively. Use rhetorical tools in development of their own ideas and arguments. 

How does Science, Society, and the Media (Mis)Represent Race.

  • Unit 4  American Revolution, Freedom, Democracy and Fighting for Your Rights
  • Unit 5  French Revolution, Political Violence, Class and Equali
  • Unit 6  Haitian Revolution, Slavery, and Broadening Perspectives



Social Studies: Explain the origins, functions, and structure of the government with reference to the U.S. Constitution, with special emphasis on the Bill of Rights. Examine the way revolutionary ideas have succeeded and failed in America today.  Understand the concept of ethics and how it applies to our lives as students and citizens.

Reading: Understand how fiction and non-fiction express ideas, both similarly and dissimilarly, and drawing connections between the two. Analyze two or more texts providing conflicting information or ideas on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation. 

Writing: Learn how to polish and finish a final draft. Identify and strengthen their unique writing voice. Looking back at a completed work and identifying its strengths and weaknesses with an eye towards future writing. 

  • Unit 7  The Constitution, Politics, Journalism and Satire
  • Unit 8  Ethics, Journalism as the Fourth Estate, and Free Speech 
  • Unit 9  Healthcare in America, Bioethics, and Building a Better Tomorrow


The Fifth and Sixth Grades Math program follows “Math in Focus” which is Singapore Math’s spiraling curriculum. In Seventh and Eighth Grade students use the Glencoe Math series for Pre-Algebra and Algebra I. The goal is to develop and nurture the mathematical curiosity of each student, to build community and to perform mathematical skills at the highest possible level.  Digital platforms (such as:, & are used as extension, support, challenge, and practice.  

Fifth Grade

Building problem-solving skills and strategies; multiplying and dividing with 2-digit numbers, fractions, mixed numbers, and decimals; solving equations and evaluating inequalities; finding the area of two-dimensional shapes, and surface area and volume of three-dimensional shapes; using ratios and percents, and finding the probability of an event; applying properties of angles, triangles, and four-sided figure


Sixth Grade

“Math in Focus” for Sixth Grade uses the same approach and format found in the previous levels of the course, students will learn about the number system and prime factorization; number lines, absolute value, and negative numbers; multiplying and dividing fractions and decimals, ratios and rates, percents, algebraic expressions, equations and inequalities, coordinate plane, perimeter, area, volume, statistics, and measures of central tendency.


Seventh Grade

Tools of Algebra 

  • Words and Expressions
  • Variables and Expressions
  • Properties of Addition and Multiplication
  • Ordered Pairs and Relations
  • Words, Equations, Tables, and Graphs
  • Scatter Plots

Operations With Integers 

  • Integers and Absolute Value
  • Adding/Subtracting Integers
  • Multiplying/Dividing Integers
  • Graphing in Four Quadrants
  • Translations and Reflections on the Coordinate Plane

Operations With Rational Numbers 

  • Fractions and Decimals
  • Rational Numbers
  • Multiplying/Dividing Rational Numbers
  • Adding/Subtracting Like/Unlike Fractions

Expressions and Equations 

  • The Distributive Property
  • Simplifying Algebraic Expressions
  • Solving Equations by Adding/Subtracting
  • Solving Equations by Multiplying/Dividing
  • Solving Two Step Equations
  • Writing Equations

Multi-Step Equations and Inequalities 

  • Solving Equations with Variables on Both Sides
  • Inequalities
  • Solving Inequalities
  • Solving Multi-Step Equations and Inequalities

Ratio, Proportion, and Similar Figures 

  • Ratios
  • Unit Rates
  • Converting Rates and Measurements
  • Proportional and Nonproportional Relationships
  • Solving Proportions
  • Similar Figures
  • Scale Models and Drawings
  • Dilations
  • Indirect Measurement


  • Fractions, Decimals, and Percents
  • Using the Percent Proportion
  • Finding Percents Mentally
  • Using Percent Equations
  • Percent of Change
  • Simple and Compound Interest
  • Circle Graphs

Linear Functions and Graphing 

  • Functions
  • Sequences and Equations
  • Representing Linear Functions
  • Rate of Change
  • Slope
  • Slope-Intercept Form
  • Writing Linear Equations
  • Systems of Equations

Powers and Nonlinear Functions 

  • Powers and Exponents
  • Prime Factorization
  • Multiplying and Dividing Monomials
  • Negative Exponents
  • Scientific Notation
  • Powers of Monomials
  • Linear and Nonlinear Functions
  • Quadratic Functions
  • Cubic and Exponential Functions

Real Numbers and Right Triangles 

  • Squares and Square Roots
  • The Real Number System
  • Triangles
  • The Pythagorean Theorem
  • Distance Formula
  • Special Right Triangles

Distance and Angle 

  • Angle and Line Relationships
  • Congruent Triangles
  • Rotations
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Polygons
  • Area of Parallelograms, Triangles, and Trapezoids
  • Circles and Circumference
    • Areas of Circles
  • Area of Composite Figures

Surface Area and Volume 

  • Three Dimensional Figures
  • Volume of Prisms
  • Volume of Cylinders
  • Volume of Pyramids, Cones, and Spheres
  • Surface Area of Prisms
  • Surface Area of Cylinders
  • Surface Area of Pyramids and Cones
  • Similar Solids

Statistics and Probability 

  • Measures of Central Tendency
  • Measures of Variation
    • Stem and Leaf Plots
    • Box and Whisker Plots
    • Histograms
  • Theoretical and Experimental Probability
  • Using Sampling to Predict
  • Counting Outcomes
  • Permutations and Combinations
  • Probability of Compound Events


Eighth Grade

Algebra I
Expressions and Functions

  • Words and Expressions 
  • Writing and Evaluating Algebraic Expressions 
  • Properties of Addition and Multiplication 
  • Recognizing Functions 


  • Transformations and Reflections 
  • Rules of Exponents 

Linear Equations

  • Exponents and Equations 
  • Absolute Value
    • Equations with Variable Inside the AV
    • AV in Algebraic Expressions
  • Equations
    • One-Step
    • Two-Step
      • Multi-Step
      • Variables on Both Sides of the Equation 
      • Literal Equations
      • Dimensional Analysis

Linear and Nonlinear Functions

  • Graphing Linear Functions 
  • Finding Zeros 
  • Rate of Change and Slope 
  • Slope Intercept Form 
  • Piecewise and Step Functions 
  • Graphing AV Functions

Equations of Linear Functions

  • Writing Equations 
  • Slope-Intercept Form 
  • Point-Slope Form 
  • Parallel and Perpendicular Lines 
  • Scatter Plots and Lines of Best Fit 
  • Regression 
  • Inverses of Linear Functions 

Linear Inequalities

  • Solving Inequalities 
  • Addition/Subtraction 
  • Multiplication/Division 
  • Multi-Step 
  • Compound 
  • w/ AV 
  • w/ Two Variables 

Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities Graphing Systems of Equations 

  • Applications of SoE 
  • Matrices 
  • Substitution 
  • Elimination 
  • Systems of Inequalities 

Exponents and Exponential Functions

  • Multiplication/Division Properties for Exponents 
  • Rational Exponents 
  • Radical Expressions 
  • Exponential Functions 
  • Transforming Exponential Expressions/Equations 
  • Writing Exponential Functions 
  • Geometric Sequences as Exponential Functions 
  • Recursive Formulas


  • Adding/Subtracting Polynomials 
  • Multiplying a Polynomial by a Monomial 
  • Multiplying Polynomials 
  • Special Products 
  • Using the Distributive Property 
  • Factoring Quadratic Trinomials 
  • Factoring Special Products 

Quadratic Functions and Equations

  • Graphing Quadratic Functions 
  • Transformations of Quadratic Functions 
  • Solving Quadratics by Graphing
    • … by Factoring
    • … by Completing the Square
    • … by Using the Quadratic Formula
  • Solving Systems of Linear and Quadratic Equations
  • Combining Functions


  • Measures of Center 
  • Representing Data 
  • Measures of Speed 
  • Distributions of Data 
  • Comparing Sets of Data 
  • Summarizing Categorical Data


The Science curriculum for Fifth-Eighth Grades emphasizes the use of engineering solutions and evidence-based reasoning for scientific explanations to communicate recommendations to address real-world problems. 


In Fifth Grade, students play the role of Urban Environmental Scientists and learn the importance of becoming stewards of the environment. Students learn about geology, populations and communities, ecosystems, and biomes, and living resources. 

This course engages students to make discoveries and draw conclusions using process skills such as record keeping, observing, measuring, hypothesizing, and experimenting. The focus of this curriculum is to explore how humans interact with nature in urban ecosystems. They will understand the terms sustainable and efficient to apply them to designing improved modern cities. Students will research green building techniques, alternative transportation options and alternative energy.

In the first term, the 5th graders will learn about the processes that formed the Earth’s surfaces and Philadelphia City’s biodiversity and urban ecosystem. In the second term, the students will explore animal adaptations and behavior, and urban wildlife. In the last term the students will investigate the consequences of our changing urban landscapes and how we all influence our urban ecosystem through coming up with solutions for a sustainable future.

Curricular projects include designing a Prototype Model of Urban Ecosystem; maintaining an Urban Ecologist Online Magazine; Participation in the 5th Grade Creative Engineering Festival and The Egg Drop Challenge.


In Sixth Grade students play the role of builders and designers as they discover how the properties of various materials, such as strength, flexibility, and buoyancy, determine what the materials are used for. Students will also explore the concept of matter, explore changes of state, and investigate the difference between physical changes and chemical changes.

The focus of this curriculum is to explore foundational concepts in chemistry and physics and encourages exploration of new discoveries in this field of science. The course includes an overview of scientific principles and procedures, and leads students toward a clearer understanding of matter, energy, and the physical universe.

In the first term, the 6th graders will explore the properties of matter, measuring matter, buoyancy, the first 20 elements of the periodic table and simple chemical reactions. In the second term, the students will explore the factors that affect the rate of chemical reactions; 3D modeling using TinkerCAD, and the principles of 3D printing. In the last term, the students will learn about basic electronics, circuit design, actuators, sensors, and output devices.

Curricular projects include boat building project design and construction using various materials starting from paper boats, modeling clay boats, Lego block boats, craft stick boats, and 3D printed boats. Extension projects will also include working with circuits, sensors, and other electronics to propel these design boats.


In Seventh Grade students play the role of Medical Detectives and explore biomedical sciences through hands-on projects and labs that require students to solve a variety of medical mysteries. Students investigate medical careers, vital signs, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, as well as human body systems such as the nervous system. Genetic testing for hereditary diseases and DNA crime scene analysis put the students in the place of real-life medical detectives.

The focus of this curriculum is to reinforce student understanding of change, cycles, patterns, and relationships in the living world. Students build on basic principles related to these concepts by exploring the cellular organization and the classification of organisms; the dynamic relationships among organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems; and change because of the transmission of genetic information from generation to generation.

In the first term, the Seventh Graders explore the world of epidemiology, infectious diseases, Philadelphia City’s water system, differentiate urban versus natural water cycle, and the immune system. In the second term, the students will learn about the circulatory systems, investigate the impact of epidemic diseases throughout history, the 1793 Yellow Fever and significant advances in the medical field. In the last term, the students will partner with local medical experts in the community to come up with sustainable solutions to combat infectious diseases and investigate the importance of health and nutrition education.

Curricular projects include 3-dimensional clay models of waterborne pathogens, Human Body Tape Sculpture showcasing the circulatory and immune system, participation in the Annual George Carver Science Fair, and Back to Fever 1793: Present a solution Dr. Benjamin Rush to combat yellow fever.


In Eighth Grade students strive to see the world through the eyes of a physicist while exploring the topics of motion, energy, forces, electricity, matter, and waves. Students work collaboratively to develop hypotheses, design experiments to test those hypotheses, interpret data and then refine their initial thinking. 

The focus of this curriculum is to study the physical world as it relates to fundamental concepts about matter, energy, and motion.  Students will build on the basic principles related to concepts of forces and motion, chemical and physical properties of matter, the ways in which matter, and energy interact, the forms and properties of energy, and other basic concepts in chemistry and physics.

In the first term, the Eighth Graders will learn about forces and energy, Newton’s laws of motion, and work and simple machines. In the second term, the students will explore the importance of data visualization, electricity, magnetism, sound, and optics. In the last term, the students will explore biochemistry, the cell, cellular processes, genetics, evolution, and body systems.

Curricular projects include: 10-step Rube Goldberg Project, Data Visualization for Colonial Research Project in collaboration with Humanities Class, Pinhole Camera Models, Electronic Quiz Board, and Profile of a Science Superhero.


In the Art Room, every student is an artist with a personal style and a unique perspective.

Students in Fifth-Eighth Grades will progress toward mastery of technical skills while also forming deeper, more complex understandings of creative concepts, cultural and personal expression, and innovation. In addition to this, students will learn about contemporary artists as well as artists from history. 

While the Elements and Principles of Design are an important component of the Visual Arts at SPS, students pair this learning with enduring concepts, RLC, individual expression, and cross-curricular learning to create art that is meaningful, authentic, and technically informed. Students also understand that art is a tool in which they can process and discuss social issues to challenge, make statements, and ask questions. Some units of study/essential questions include: 

  • The Art of Transformation: How and why do artists transform ordinary materials and spaces to create extraordinary works of art?
  • The Art of Identity: How and why do artists today and throughout history express themselves and their cultures through visual means?
  • The Art of Juxtaposition: How and why do artists create surrealist/ fantasy works?
  • The Art of Community: How and why do Contemporary and historic artists engage and collaborate with the world around them?



Artwork is displayed around the school on a regular basis and then on a more formal basis during the Spring Art Show (students are part of the curating, preparing, and display process of the event)

Student work is also documented in digital portfolio websites that students create in their Tech class. Students not only design their own art site with images of their work, but they write statements on the process and/ or meaning of the work.

Field Trips and Guest Speakers are part of the US Art experience. Examples:

  • URBN Headquarters 
  • Jade Apparel
  • Barnes Museum
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Magic Gardens
  • Local mural, public art walking trips


Arts Block (elective opportunity to do a deep dive into the art of their choice)

  • Students try out different Arts Block electives during different terms
  • After the term of Arts Block ends, students work is showcased 
  • Arts Block Elective Courses can vary term by term. Some past examples include:
  • 2D Studio (printmaking, painting, drawing, collage), 3D Studio (ceramics, sculpture, textiles), Newspaper, Graphic Arts, Comic Art, Songwriting, Podcasting, Chorus, Improv


Examples of Cross-Curricular Learning:

Artist statements in collaboration with Humanities, 3D Cell project in collaboration with Science, 3D Pathogen project in collaboration with Science, 3D organ project in collaboration with Science, Flower part identification paintings in collaboration with Science, Album Art project in collaboration with Music and Humanities, STEAM/ Maker Projects , Yearbook Art, Digital Portfolios in collaboration with Tech.


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 & instruments. 

When students reach Fifth-Eighth Grades they have the opportunity to learn in an ensemble situation working on popular songs with drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and singing culminating with Battle of the Bands. Students also integrate the music recording studio into various areas of our learning.

Throughout their time in Fifth – Eighth Grades, students continuously grow as young musicians and members of rock/pop bands and homogeneous ensembles, learning guitar, bass guitar, drum set, piano, and handbells. 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. Many students enjoy learning how to operate our onsite professional-quality recording studio.


Fifth Grade

  • A ½ year of beginning level guitar study: Chord Symbols, Basic Technique, beginning level reading skills and tablature
  • A ½ year of introduction to Hand Bell Choir 
  • Music fundamentals: Reading basic Music Notation, Time keeping/Rhythm Studies and 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


Sixth Grade

  • A ½ year of introduction to Hand Bell Choir – preparing a song for Celebration of Light
  • A ½ year of guitar studies: Chord Symbols, Technique, Intermediate reading skills and tablature
  • Music fundamentals: Reading Music Notation, Time keeping/Rhythm Studies, Beginning Harmony, Musical Texture and Timbre 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


Seventh Grade

  • A ½ year of introduction to Hand Bell Choir – preparing a song for Celebration of Light
  • A ½ year of guitar studies: Beginning Chord Progressions, intermediate level techniques, reading skills and tablature.
  • Music fundamentals: Reading Music Notation, Advanced time keeping/rhythm studies, -Harmony, Musical Form and Structure 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


Eighth Grade

  • A ½ year of guitar studies: Song Studies, Reading Skills, advanced tablature, Chord progressions and Riffs/lead guitar skills
  • A ½ year of Hand Bell Choir with a focus on performing a Graduation Song
  • A comprehensive and cumulative study of music fundamentals, history, and styles 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


Students also formally (presentations, written reflections) and informally (gallery walk, turn and talk) engage in positive feedback critiques to teach each other and encourage each other in community. 

Physical Education

Physical Education provides the opportunity to teach students about movement, strategies, cooperation and 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. 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.

World Language - French

In Fifth Grade students are formally introduced to subject-verb agreement and the conjugations of the irregular verbs “to be,” “to have,” “to like,” and “to do/make.”  They study the imperative tense of regular “-er” verbs as well. Vocabulary units include descriptions of self and others, body parts, sports and sports equipment, places in town, comparisons like “the tallest” and “taller than,” and professions. Each class period begins with a review warm-up with questions about the date, weather, activities, and the like, to practice vocabulary and conversation. There are three creative/collaborative projects which include the “Treasure Hunt” using the imperative tense, the diorama of a place in a French town, and the “Help Wanted” jobs poster. 

Sixth Grade has a strong emphasis on vocabulary and the knowledge of grammar rules. Students use the textbook “Discovering French Bleu,” and begin the year reviewing greetings, numbers, telling time, nationalities, dates, and verbs. Students study the conjugation of regular “-er” verbs, and how to use adverbs and negative expressions correctly. Other grammar units include possessive adjectives and objects, using the conjugated verb plus infinitive structure to express likes and dislikes, and language nuances. Vocabulary units include extended family, food and drink, nationalities, objects to own, and more prepositions. Sixth Grade includes the study of French-speaking countries around the world. The traditional restaurant trip for lunch at a local French restaurant upon completion of the food unit, is always popular.  

The Seventh Grade picks up with the second half of the textbook “Discovering French Bleu.” This year is full of important grammar-related material, including stress pronouns, ordinal numbers, agreement and placement of adjectives, the contractions “to the” and “from the” the important verb “to go,” which leads to the formation of the near-future tense and the optional future tense, the verb “to come,” and the conjugation of regular “-ir” and “-re” verbs. Vocabulary units this year include places in towns, adjectives, sports, and games, giving directions, adverbs of frequency, and idiomatic expressions with “avoir.” Students will be practicing writing and reading comprehension through news articles and the beginner’s novel “Les Aventures d’Isabelle.” 

The Eighth Graders use the next text “Discovering French Blanc.” Students learn school subjects and make and/or describe their schedules in French, they study more about advanced professions and extended family, they learn idiomatic expressions with the verbs “etre” and “faire,” and they study how to express quantities. They practice reading comprehension through newspaper articles and enjoy the traditional project of writing advertisements, announcements, and current events for the publication of the one-time Eighth Grade French newspaper. They also read the advanced beginner’s novel “Pauvre Anne.”  The Eighth Grade also focuses on formation and use of the two past tenses, the “passé composé” and the “imparfait.” Students learn vocabulary to use with the past tense, and the culmination of the past tense unit is the writing of basic French children’s books which they will read aloud to the St. Peter’s First Graders at the end of the year.  

Wellness and Social and Emotional Learning 

Strengthening our students’ social/emotional skills is a high priority in Fifth – Eighth 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.