Lower School Curriculum
- History and Social Studies
- Physical Education
- Performing Arts
- Visual Arts
- Computer Science
- Counseling/Children's Roundtable
- Learning Resources
- Health Services
Reading and writing is taught through a workshop approach in which large and targeted small group instruction is utilized. Children are exposed to a variety of genres and authors throughout the year. Speaking, listening, word study (spelling), grammar and handwriting are an integral part of our students’ literacy development. These skills are taught explicitly as well as integrated into the daily context of their reading and writing.
Reading: Alphabet recognition and letter-sound correspondence, recognition of environmental print, recognizing rhyme, making inferences and predictions about books read aloud, sequencing and retelling main events of a story or book
Writing: Names, capital letters; label and explain illustrations, begin experimenting with inventive spelling
Speaking: Perform for each other and families through poetry, songs, movement and storytelling, show-and-tell
Listening: Stories, conversations, group discussions, songs, rhymes, poems; understand and interpret the spoken word
Reading: Reading Workshop focuses on developing identities and habits of readers, foundational skills, (concepts of print, phonemic awareness, phonics), and monitoring for understanding while reading fiction and non-fiction texts
Writing: Writing Workshop focuses on teaching that writers start with something to say and then do everything they can to put that meaning onto a page (through pictures and words). Experiences consist of shared writing, interactive writing, independent writing and letter and number formation.
Speaking: Small and large group conversations around developmentally appropriate topics, following agreed upon rules such as, listening to others and taking turns speaking about group’s topic
Listening: Students develop and practice “whole body listening” skills (look toward the speaker, both ears ready to hear, wait for your turn to speak, quiet hands and feet).
Reading: Consists of small and large group instruction, independent practice, student/teacher conferring, strategy groups, phonics and word study and interactive read alouds Units Include: Building Good Reading Habits, Fluency, Phonics and Comprehension, Reading Nonfiction
Writing: Consists of small and large group instruction, independent practice, student/ teacher conferring, strategy groups, shared writing, handwriting, mechanics and grammar instruction. Units include: Writing Fiction Series, Writing with Focus, Detail, and Dialogue, Nonfiction Chapter Books, Writing Reviews, Story Elements
Speaking: Small and large group presentations, express and clarify ideas, ask questions and engage in social conversation, present at a lower school assembly
Listening: Students develop and practice “whole body listening” skills
Reading: Reading Workshop, including reading habits, inferencing, fiction, nonfiction, poetry and books in a series.Large group and small group instruction, and one-on-one instruction based on needs and goals, word study, guided reading, shared reading, read-alouds, independent and partner reading with leveled books.
Writing: Writing Workshop, including units on narrative, informational, opinion, and poetry; large group and small group instruction, mechanics, grammar, word study and handwriting instruction. Building writing stamina and using mentor texts as examples of ways to write by using mechanics like adding voice and long descriptors. Lab reports are also explored.
Speaking: Small and large group sharing, presentations of research and information learned; express ideas clearly, ask questions and engage in social conversation, making connections to peers and community members, using feedback for self-improvement.
Listening: Read alouds, comprehension, multi-step directions to use for independent work times, discussion, making genuine and thoughtful comments and connections
Reading: Reading Workshop will consist of four major units, including habits of good readers, critical informational text skills, study of characters and research clubs.
Writing: Writing Workshop will consist of four major units, including the habits of good writers, the art of informational writing, a unit on opinion/ argumentative pieces and fairy tale writing.
Speaking: Students are regularly given opportunities to collaborate with one another, share their writing aloud, read aloud, and use discourse to deepen their understanding of topics.
Listening: Because students are regularly given opportunities to collaborate and engage in discourse, they will also be using critical listening skills. We will lay the foundation for these skills in the morning meeting, as well, and monitor these in academic blocks.
Reading: During Reading Workshop, students will read, write, discuss, be read to, work on vocabulary and comprehension and choose appropriate books. Units include: Interpreting Characters; Obtaining Information from Non-fiction Texts; and Media Literacy/Social Justice
Writing: The Writing Workshop program provides opportunities for students to exercise writing skills that will support their ability to communicate ideas, thoughts and perspectives. Units include: Writing Realistic Fiction; Informational Writing; and Media Literacy/ Social Justice. Grammar skills are honed at the beginning of the year and addressed in each writing unit. Cursive and keyboarding skills are practiced throughout the year.
Speaking: Students are regularly given opportunities to share their writing aloud and present in front of peers. Students also regularly read orally to aid in their reading fluency.
Listening: Students practice active listening
The lower school social studies program is dedicated to providing a sound understanding of the world in which we live and an appreciation for the rich diversity of humankind. The curriculum reflects an age-appropriate, multidimensional, project-based approach to the study of people and the land. The goal is to give students a sense of others and the context of their place in the larger world. Specific units of study integrate literature, music, art, social studies and, where appropriate, math and science.
Units: Caring for me and my Community, Peace, Art and Design
Research: Read and create books based on ongoing observations and accumulation of facts. Explore what it means to become a peacemaker. Hands-on study and exploration of various artists, architects and artistic styles and traditions.
Units: First 6 Weeks of School (including Creating Safety and Belonging, Understanding You and
Me, Building a Community); Celebrating Family Traditions, Peace.
Outreach: Making decorations for Inspiration Cafe in Uptown; welcoming elders from Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly and students’ families to share their stories.
Units: First 6 Weeks/School Community, Personal Communities, Peace, Family Stories
Research: personal identity, family history
Units: Getting to Know Our Classroom Community (The First Six Weeks), Getting to Know Ourselves and Each Other (Identity and Culture), Peace, Our Fifty States
Research: state research
Units: The First Six Weeks/Identity (Quarter 1), Chicago History (Quarter 2), Chicago Neighborhood Study (Quarter 3), Urban Planning (Quarter 4)
Research: Chicago History, Chicago Neighborhoods
Units: First Six Weeks: Community, Empathy, Respect (Unit 1); Identity: First in Family to Illinois, Heritage Objects, “I am” Poems” (Unit 2); Peace: Activism Brings Peace (Unit 3); Illinois: Geography, Transportation Hub, Illinois: Who was here first? (Unit 4)
Research: Use informational texts and literature to discuss issues that matter to the students, interviewing classmates using oral and digital formats (e.g., Seesaw).
Communication: Students practice engaging in respectful discussions and conversations. They learn ways to navigate difficult conversations using accountable language.
JK and SK are collaborating with the Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative to put into practice the Big Ideas of Early Mathematics. First through fourth grades are using the Singapore math program, which teaches significantly fewer topics per grade level, but in greater depth. There are two lower school math specialists who provide weekly support and resources to teachers and students in a whole class setting or in small groups. For additional challenge, students in grades 2–4 have the option to attend a weekly challenge word problem session or use the ST Math (Spatial Temporal Math) computer program.
Numbers and counting, shapes and patterns, sorting objects by various attributes, introduction to number stories, charts and measuring tools. Mathematical concepts and understanding will be explored through intentional hands-on experiences.
Sort, compare, and order sets; quantify and number sets up to 100, with a particular emphasis on 10 (compose/decompose); see/tell number stories and create/solve early operation problems; identify, extend, create and name patterns; explore and compare shapes and their attributes; measure and compare objects using non-standard measurement tools; collect, represent and analyze data.
Numbers to 120; add and subtract within 20; intro to multiplication and division concepts; fractions with halves and fourths; time to the hour and half- hour; measuring with non-standard units and the concept of a ruler; basic 2D and 3D shapes; recognize coins and their values and count a collection of coins.
Numbers to 1,000; add and subtract within 1,000 with re-grouping; multiplication and division with 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 (connecting repeated addition to multiplication); showing fractions with halves, thirds, fourths and eighths; time to the nearest five minutes; measuring length in U.S. and metric units; properties of 2D and 3D shapes; reading picture graphs, bar graphs and line plots; solve word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies, using $ and ¢ symbols appropriately.
Numbers to 10,000; use place value to perform multi-digit addition and subtraction to 1,000; multiplication and division strategies within 100; extending basic facts to solve problems with 2-digit numbers with regrouping in both multiplication
and division; basic understanding of fractions, especially unit fractions (fractions with numerator 1); rectangular arrays, area, and perimeter; describing and analyzing two-dimensional shapes; telling time to the nearest minute and elapsed time; measuring length to halves and fourths of an inch.
Numbers to 1 million; addition and subtraction within 1 million; multiplication and division facts 0–12; multiplying numbers up to 4-digits by a 1-digit number and multiplying two 2-digit by 2-digit numbers and dividing up to 4-digit dividends and 1-digit divisors; fractions greater than 1 and mixed numbers; writing, comparing, and ordering decimals; using decimal notation for fractions with denominators 10 or 100; angles and classification of triangles and quadrilaterals; tables and data interpretation; solve multi-step word problems involving all four operations, including problems in which remainders must be interpreted.
Science in the lower school encourages students to explore the world around them while introducing them to science concepts and vocabulary. In JK, science is integrated into daily activities and thematic units. In grades SK-4, science takes place in a stand-alone classroom. Students develop observational and record-keeping skills by collecting and recording data, taking notes in science journals and making written observations. Process skills are developed through hands-on activities and investigations. Some of the most important skills for students are observing, collecting and recording data, and developing and using models and diagrams. Through cooperative activities, students construct explanations and design solutions. They engage in discussions based on evidence, and learn to communicate their ideas to others. Often, technology is integrated into the science curriculum. Students use iPads and laptop computers to explore concepts in depth, research, and use creative applications to present information. Engineering and design challenges take place in the context of the curriculum at every grade level.
Unit: Caring for Our Earth
Hands-on activities that develop science investigation, exploration, observation and scientific thinking.
Topics of study: animal observations, force and motion, simple machines, the senses, density explorations, light explorations.
Topics of study: vertebrates and invertebrates, skeletal system, life cycles, properties of matter,
rock cycle, sun, earth and moon system.
Topics of study: vertebrate classes, human body systems, trees, dinosaurs and fossils, electricity.
Topics of study: rock and mineral observations, water cycle, force and motion, planets of our solar system, parachute design project.
Topics of study: trees and tree identification, acids and bases, physical and chemical changes, oil spill project, indoor and outdoor egg drop.
Latin’s language program seeks to encourage students to become motivated language learners and global thinkers, connecting to the school’s mission of providing students with an educational program that embraces diversity of people, cultures and ideas. Latin has implemented a best practices program that stresses proficiency in language acquisition. The primary goal of the program is to build a vocabulary base that fosters communication and creates a degree of comfort with the language. An integrated approach to teaching enhances student learning and provides cultural connections in a stimulating and meaningful way.
Spanish: During the JK and SK years, students focus on developing a confident, enthusiastic approach towards learning a world language and acquiring an early foundation of language learning skills. Through music, movement, and play-based activities the children build their vocabulary and comprehension through the exposure to topics such as greetings and goodbyes, personal introductions, and naming, counting, and describing items using colors, shapes and sizes.
Spanish: Students continue building their language learning confidence and foundation of skills. Through music, movement, and play-based activities the children expand their vocabulary and home their comprehension through topics such as greetings and goodbyes, introducing and describing one’s self, family, and friends, and naming school activities. A second semester storytelling unit incorporates a review of the JK and SK topics and encourages students to demonstrate both receptive and expressive language skills.
Spanish: Students develop conversational language skills by exploring the essential question: What are my routines... at school? ...in the home? ...and in my free time? Language goals include describing a typical school day, comparing morning and night routines, and exchanging information related to personal free time interests.
Spanish: Students continue building conversational language skills by exploring the essential question: Who are the children of the Spanish-speaking world, and how are our lives the same or different? Language goals build on the first grade topics of school, home, and free time to draw comparisons to daily life in several Spanish-speaking countries.
Spanish: Students expand their conversational language skills by exploring the essential question: "What is special about living in a big city?" Language goals are centered around learning about our own Chicago neighborhoods and using that information to broaden our understanding of other Spanish-speaking communities around the world.
Spanish: Students deepen their acquired JK-4th grade language skills by exploring the essential question: "How can I use my Spanish to get to know someone and the world around me?" Language goals focus on sustaining a complex conversational exchange. In culmination of their language learning experiences, students use their skills to develop and present fictional group stories as a capstone project.
Our comprehensive physical development and health program is designed to help students learn to identify and work toward short- and long-term goals, to utilize fitness technology, to persevere in solving problems, to follow directions responsibly and to work both independently and cooperatively with others. The program seeks to help students achieve active and healthy lives.
P.E.: Participation in age/developmentally appropriate games and activities that support gross motor development, body and spacial awareness.
Senior Kindergarten, First, Second, Third & Fourth Grades
Skill-building in games and sports begins with the premise that every child has athletic potential is to be developed and celebrated. Physical education in the lower school emphasizes fine and gross motor skills through games, activities and sports that contribute to the growth, development and social attitudes of each student. The physical education program includes basic body management, skill development and improvement, visual-motor integration and spatial awareness. The program stresses civility and good sportsmanship for all. Low-level activities include golf, field hockey, soccer, floor hockey, bowling, scooter activities, tumbling, mat games, yoga and Baggo. Multi-level activities include swimming, rock climbing and rope jumping. High-level activities include lacrosse, volleyball, softball, flag football, tee ball, softball and racket sports. Physical Education teachers will coach during free choice to help with fair play and game skills.
The performing arts program in the lower school is represented by a predominantly Orff based general music program in grades JK-4, band in fourth grade, and dance/movement activities in JK and SK.
The lower school music curriculum is a stand-alone curriculum that aligns with the National Performing Arts Standards and integrates elements from the language arts, mathematics, science, art, computer science and social studies curricula. In the Orff Schulwerk classroom, children begin with what they do instinctively: play! Imitation, experimentation, and personal expression occur naturally as students become confident, life-long musicians and creative problem solvers. The Orff approach to teaching is a model for optimal learning in 21st Century classrooms. It facilitates curiosity and provides the space to explore and to be challenged. Music is treated as a wholistic subject integrating content from mathematics, logic, science, language, social studies as well as developing skills and strategies for learning and citizenship. Orff Schulwerk music and movement pedagogy contributes to development of the individual far beyond specic skills and understandings in the arts.
In JK and SK, visual arts are integrated throughout the curriculum. The program in grades 1 through 4 familiarizes students with how art functions in different cultures and increases students’ understanding of artists and how they use art to communicate about the world. Students learn about elements and principles of art through a wide range of media and techniques.
Unit: Art and Design Daily classroom art activities with a focus on process, where children participate in the exploration of art materials and media.
Projects: Self and family portraits; water color and tempera painting, eco-friendly art; JK Art Museum
Regular participation in art activities and exploration of materials and media, including collage, construction, printmaking, painting and drawing; opportunities to reflect on process and discuss work with the group.
Students develop fine motor skills and practice varieties of lines, recognize shapes, learn the color wheel, explore texture, construct a balanced and stable three-dimensional form, model a form in clay, learn about a range of artists and styles from different cultures.
Examine the color wheel in depth; investigate negative and positive shapes; experiment with the elements of texture and value; explore printmaking; model in clay; build a three-dimensional sculpture; discover contemporary art; learn the genres of still life, portraiture and landscape.
Drawing from observation; design and paint a landscape with illusionistic depth; use printmaking tools to make a Day of the Dead print with Spanish titles; model and carve a relief terracotta clay tile; employ math skills to measure and divide space with a ruler; study Chicago public sculpture and architecture and create ceramic tiles in the style of Louis Sullivan.
Examine masterworks from the Art Institute collection; draw the figure in action; learn drawing techniques of contour, gesture, and sketching; employ a range of value in a self-portrait; mix tints and shades with acrylic paints on canvas; carve a linoleum block and make a Japanese print; fold origami cranes; practice Chinese calligraphy with a bamboo brush and ink and make a bamboo painting; use a compass to design an Indian manuscript for the Hindu god Ganesha; design Lunar New Year banners for a restaurant in Uptown; study the monuments of the Silk Road and model an Islamic eight-pointed star tile out of clay.
Computer science in the lower school engages JK-4th grade students in activities aligned with the national CSTA Standards. A variety of unplugged and plugged activities are explored to teach problem solving, computational thinking, coding, and creating. Block based coding apps and programs are used throughout the grades for integrated projects with other subjects. Students are exposed to a variety of tools and games to grow their interest and exposure to computer science and computational thinking. Students work collaboratively on developmentally appropriate projects to better understand the core concepts and practices of computer science.
The Lower School Counseling Program provides a range of prevention and intervention services to support the social and emotional wellbeing of all students. The Roundtable program helps children gain a foundation in the areas of self- awareness, self-management, relationship skills and responsible decision making. Counselors visit each classroom JK-4 to build relationships, lead discussions, and facilitate activities that promote the positive mental health and wellbeing of students. In the early grades, the goal is to help children develop a vocabulary to talk about feelings. As they get older, the curriculum shifts to help children think about group dynamics and forming healthy relationships.
The librarians meet with all lower school students. Goals are organized into four curricular areas: accessing information, evaluating information, using and creating information, and appreciating information and literature in all formats. The librarians collaborate with homeroom and special subject teachers to ensure an integrated curriculum. Students, teachers and parents are encouraged to visit the library to select materials for pleasure reading, for assignments and to satisfy natural (and encouraged) curiosity.
The lower school learning resources program is designed to work with children who have diagnosed learning differences in collaboration with their teachers and families. Support is provided through individualized remediation, modifications, accommodations and/or consultative services. The primary goal is to meet the unique needs of our youngest students preparing them to be confident and resourceful learners. The lower school reading and math resource programs are designed to support struggling and at-risk readers in senior kindergarten through grade four. Students are referred by their classroom teacher and work in small groups.
Latin employs two full-time registered nurses, one in the lower school and one to serve the middle and upper schools. The nurses provide immediate emergency care, do initial assessments and work with parents and health care providers to help children with chronic conditions remain healthy at school. They also educate students, faculty and parents about health issues and good health practices.