Lower School PK3-GR4
The pre-kindergarten and kindergarten curricula offer experiences built on a blended Montessori philosophy within a traditional classroom setting. Students are challenged and nurtured by certified teachers who allow for individual differences and learning styles.
The program’s goal is to instill a love for learning while preparing students to work and think independently and responsibly within a community. Special activities include visits from firefighters, police officers and a dentist, enjoyment of holiday festivities and performances, and local field trips.
Students participate in chapel twice per week; parents are welcome to attend Friday Awards Chapel.
The PK3 curriculum is based on a modified Montessori instructional program that employs manipulatives to promote spontaneous discovery and learning for the child. The academic program focuses on:
- Number recognition and concepts
- Letter recognition and sounds
- Name recognition
- Writing skills
- Thinking skills
- Auditory skills
- Social skills
Students are actively engaged in lessons that promote critical thinking and problem solving that help prepare them for reading readiness. Students explore science through hands-on Montessori materials that teach comparing, classifying, and predicting. Students learn about farming and caring for a garden, parts of a plant, life stages of plants, and differences between living and non-living things.
Art projects develop creativity and fine motor skills in drawing, cutting, coloring, sewing and painting and are integrated in social studies. Students are introduced to the world through hands-on materials that correlate to thematic units in social studies.
Spanish classes offer students an introduction to the language that makes acquisition a natural, personalized and enjoyable experience. Students participate in enrichment classes in music, physical education, and use of the media center.
Classroom teachers incorporate the use of interactive Smart Boards to enhance student learning. PK3 classrooms share an interactive whiteboard.
The PK4 curriculum builds on the Montessori philosophy implemented in PK3 and emphasizes reading concepts, phonics, and mathematics. Academic lessons in math are presented daily.
Students use the calendar-based math program that covers a multitude of mathematics skills and concepts. Students receive individual math lessons that supplement the formal math curriculum.
Specific math concepts include:
- Set identification
The reading curriculum incorporates a balance of systematic instruction, guided practice, and application of skills through decodable text and authentic literature with an emphasis on word knowledge and phonemic awareness.
Social studies units include:
- Community helpers
- Landforms and continents
- Families everywhere
In science, students learn about the five senses, farming, parts of a plant, life stages of a plant, magnetism, density, color and classification. Three in-house science field trips by High Touch–High Tech enhance the curriculum
Students attend weekly Spanish classes and are exposed to the language through conversation, role-playing, stories and songs.
Students explore art through an integrated approach within the classroom setting and participate in technology in the Mac computer lab. Students visit the media center once a week and attend music and physical education twice weekly.
The kindergarten curriculum provides a challenging program that allows for individual differences and learning styles. Students are encouraged to become independent, responsible, respectful, and productive members of the school community.
The Saxon mathematics program is a hands-on math program that uses a variety of manipulatives to teach math concepts such as number recognition, place value, addition and subtraction, counting, sorting, classifying, graphing, time, money and story problems. The Saxon math meeting and calendar concepts reinforce mathematical skills.
The language arts Treasures curriculum creates beginning readers by strengthening listening and reading readiness skills with an emphasis on high frequency word recognition, sight word vocabulary, and phonics-based instruction. The writing component develops expressive language skills through oral storytelling and listening, illustrated journals, and other activities that encourage written expression.
Handwriting instruction enhances fine motor skills; differentiated instruction allows for each child to develop storytelling and writing skills at an individual readiness level.
Teachers generate science lessons and include units on:
- Health and hygiene
- The body
- The environment
- Planets and matter
Students travel to the science lab for 30 minutes each week to reinforce classroom instruction.
The social studies program is comprised of theme-based units through which students gain knowledge about citizenship, history, geography, famous Americans, voting, and holidays.
Kindergarten students attend Spanish class weekly and learn new vocabulary through conversation, flashcards, flannel board stories, songs and games.
Students have enrichment classes in music twice per week and can join Kinder Choir after school once per week. Students also attend physical education twice weekly to improve movement, hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, agility, balance, strength and endurance.
Computer centers complement classroom. Beginning in PK4, students attend weekly technology classes in the Lower School Mac Lab. Skills reinforce concepts learned in the classroom while familiarizing students with fundamental computer processes.
LOWER SCHOOL CURRICULUM OVERVIEWThe Lower School program extends from grades one through four and builds on the foundation developed and implemented in the pre-kindergarten/kindergarten program. The program provides a diverse, nurturing and challenging atmosphere where students can excel in academic pursuits, spiritual development, and respect for themselves and others.
Students are in self-contained classrooms for core academic subjects: mathematics, social studies, science, and language arts. Lower School teachers are devoted to the individual growth of their students and differentiate instruction to meet the needs of each unique learner. Teachers utilize technological resources in each classroom to meet teaching objectives, such as SMART Boards, a Mac lab, and laptop centers.
The curriculum provides a strong academic foundation while developing the whole child through enrichment classes in:
- Physical education
To promote civic responsibility and the rewards of stewardship, students earn service hours through the Honor Service Program. Third and fourth grade students are provided opportunities as acolytes and readers for chapel services.
To foster a sense of community in its students, Lower School students participate in several traditional events such as:
- Halloween parade
- Blessing of the Animals
- Santa’s arrival by helicopter
- Christmas Capers field day
- Christmas Cantata
- Academic Night
- Grandparents’ Day
All classes take field trips to museums, plays, and area attractions. Lower School field trips culminate with a three-day, two-night fourth-grade trip to St. Augustine and Cape Canaveral.
The after-school program expands the educational experience by providing students with homework assistance by certified teachers, extracurricular activities, playtime, and snack. The wide activities include:
- Chess club
- Cub Choir, Jr.
- Expressways to Learning
- Fun Fridays
- Garden club
- Singing Lions
- Spanish club
- Tae Kwon Do
- Voice lessons
At all levels, the St. Mark’s curriculum is carefully designed and implemented to draw out of each student his or her finest capabilities of excellence and honor. The balance between nurture and challenge sets the stage for continued intellectual growth through both tradition and innovation. The whole child is prized and affirmed. The culture of diversity and appreciation is emphasized.
The Honor Code and Honor culture invite students to reach new lengths in community involvement. Through St. Mark’s core values of academic excellence, nurturing atmosphere, virtue, faith, and service, the community continues to build on the excellence of the present while learning toward the future. St. Mark’s Episcopal School is leading the leaders.
LOWER SCHOOL LANGUAGE ARTS
The goal of the Language Arts program in Lower School is to develop confident and articulate writers, speakers, readers, and critical thinkers by providing necessary tools and skills in reading, writing, and grammar.
Lower School students focus on the interrelationship between grammar, usage, mechanics, and vocabulary. Students analyze the grammatical structure of sentences and identify the functions of words, phrases, and sentence parts. Through grammar instruction, students begin to understand the structure of language and learn to apply the progressive levels of grammar and language skills to their own writing.
The program introduces different styles of writing: creative, descriptive, expository, narrative, and persuasive. Expository and persuasive reports incorporate research skills instruction. Spelling and handwriting are important elements of the writing curriculum. Students learn to express ideas and to revise and edit their work.
The goal of the reading program is to develop confident readers by building reading fluency and promoting reading comprehension. Students learn to independently read fiction and non-fiction by using decoding skills and strategies and by mastering high-frequency words.
The curriculum emphasizes reading strategies that strengthen comprehension skills and foster an appreciation for various genres of literature. Students become strategic readers and are able to use these skills in all other areas of learning.
LOWER SCHOOL MATHEMATICS
The Lower School mathematics program facilitates student development of basic math skills and concepts and cultivates reasoning abilities needed for problem solving. The mathematics curriculum is sequential, allowing children to progressively build understanding, skills, and confidence.
The Lower School mathematics curriculum consists of five mathematics strands with an emphasis on real-life application:
- Data analysis
- Geometry and spatial sense
- Number sense and operations
Within the five subject strands, Lower School students become comfortable with an array of skills that prepare them for more focused, subject-based instruction in Middle School. Students are introduced to number theory through experience with:
- Determining place value
- Representing numbers
- Sorting and grouping
- Understanding operations and their relationships
Children build on their geometrical knowledge by:
- Identifying patterns and shapes
- Reading maps
- Reasoning spatially
- Solving problems through geometric modeling
- Visualizing objects in space
In grades three and four, students use coordinate geometry to specify locations, give directions, and describe spatial relationships. Students learn to measure and compare length, weight, temperature, capacity, time, and money. In data analysis and probability, students use charts, tables, and graphs to help them organize data.
In order for students to reach their maximum potential, mathematics instruction is ability-grouped in grades three and four. The Lower School mathematics program employs textbooks and series supplements, manipulatives, online resources, and group collaboration.
LOWER SCHOOL SCIENCE
The Lower School science program provides an engaging and stimulating environment that allows students to explore the world around them. The science program employs and develops critical thinking skills through hands-on exploration using the scientific method.
The curriculum for grades one through four integrates life science, earth science, and physical science. Students receive science instruction in their homeroom classrooms regularly and in the science lab each week.
In first grade, students learn about animal and plant life, habitats, Earth’s resources and changes, and forces and states of matter. Grade two topics include plants, the human body, the Earth’s surface, Earth and weather systems, the solar system, paleontology, energy, and matter.
Grade three students classify plants and animals and identify their relationships within ecosystems. Instruction also includes geology and physical energy. Grade four students continue the study of living things, the human body, Earth systems, and ecosystems.
Complementing their studies of Florida in the social studies program, grade four science students study space and the space program prior to visiting the Kennedy Space Center.
LOWER SCHOOL SOCIAL STUDIES
The social studies curriculum provides students with the basic concepts that have shaped our country and the world from early history to present. Through study of communities, world history, American history, and Florida history, students learn to compare and contrast various cultures, use geography skills, read timelines and flow charts, and interpret bar graphs. All areas of learning are enhanced through projects, field trips, maps, discussion, and textbook study.
The grade one curriculum focuses on community; students learn about communities and relationships within families, neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, and the world. Students learn the importance of citizenship as it relates to roles and responsibilities in these communities.
The grade two curriculum introduces students to the concepts of history and chronology for the first time. Students delve into personal family history to begin the study of past events and their impact on the present and future. From family history, students move into more general studies of United States history, government, and the role of the citizen.
Grade three students focus on discovery, colonization, and expansion in early United States history. Topics include:
- Foundations of the U.S. government
- Geography and natural resources
- Industrial Revolution
- Jamestown colony
- Native American communities
- Oregon Trail
- Spanish Missions
Grade four students research the state of Florida. For hands-on experience with Florida’s geography, plant life, and history, fourth graders participate in a field trip to St. Augustine and Cape Canaveral. This trip provides an experiential supplement to students’ extensive research for a group multimedia project. Students also engage in discussions about local and global current events to complement the study of the history of Florida.
LOWER SCHOOL ART
In the Lower School art program, students improve fine motor skills, think creatively, express their personal sense of creativity, and appreciate the relationship between art and culture. Visual challenges present opportunity for critical thinking and problem solving as students begin to understand how to accurately represent ideas and perceptions.
In addition to learning art history and theory, students use various media to produce original works that incorporate the elements and principles of art. Lower School students attend art class once each week.
LOWER SCHOOL COMPUTER/TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION
The Lower School interdisciplinary technology program integrates instruction with content area application. Each week, students receive instruction in a technological skill and then practice its application in an assignment from the classroom teacher.
Classroom teachers also incorporate technology into instruction through the use of interactive Smart Boards. All classrooms have a SMART Board and interactive whiteboards that enhance lessons and give students hands-on practice. Classrooms are equipped with MacBook stations.
Students attend weekly technology classes in the Lower School Mac Lab. Concepts support skills needed for 21st Century learning. Keyboarding is introduced early. Classroom teachers collaborate with the computer teacher to plan integrated, cross-curricular, technology-based projects. Computer care and ethics are taught at all levels.
Primary instruction targets the identification and use of computer components. Students build their mouse and keyboarding skills and learn basic computer application programs. Once basic computer knowledge is mastered, students learn to use more complex programs and are introduced to online research.
The interdisciplinary approach allows students to build their skills in research, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and data management by using online services and a wide range of computer applications.
LOWER SCHOOL MEDIA CENTER
Lower School students visit the Media Center weekly to enhance studies in the classroom and in other enrichment subjects. Students listen to stories from different genres and learn characteristics of each genre.
To aid in research endeavors, students learn the Dewey Decimal System and how to use and access reference materials and approved online databases for research. Students participate in the Accelerated Reader program to promote reading comprehension skills and supplement classroom reading instruction. The Media Center provides a loan system that facilitates long-term research and encourages students to develop their own literary interests.
LOWER SCHOOL MUSIC
Singing, playing instruments and movement with rhythm are all integral parts of the Lower School Music program. Singing using solfege (do, re, mi) is taught as early as kindergarten. Drums, bells and a variety of other instruments are used at all levels.
In grades two through four, students are introduced to the recorder, the principal tool for learning to read and play music in the music program. In addition to two weekly music classes, the music department offers two performing choirs as after-school activities. The music curriculum is designed to create music-reading, music-performing and music-loving children.
LOWER SCHOOL PHYSICAL EDUCATION
The Lower School physical education program encourages positive self-image and develops social skills through instruction and practice in movement. The physical education program emphasizes developing a healthy body, mind and spirit. The program assists students in reaching their full potential and prepares them for a healthy, long, active life.
The most basic element of the student’s learning experience in physical education is learning how to move.
Instruction in movement allows students to develop motor skills, which are the foundation for ability in skill-oriented sports. Students enjoy being physically active and gain self-confidence by understanding their own physical strengths. Confidence promotes positive self-image, which helps create healthy social interaction with peers. Through participation in group instruction and play, students learn respect, fair play, cooperation, and good sportsmanship.
Each year, Lower School students participate in the President’s Physical Fitness challenge to assess their own progress and set future fitness goals.
LOWER SCHOOL RELIGION
As the fabric of St. Mark’s, religion is experienced and lived in prayer, worship, learning, and service. Lower School students attend chapel service and grade four students participate in the weekly celebration of the Eucharist.
The Lower School religion program offers children an opportunity to experience what it means to be a Christian in today’s world. Age-appropriate Bible stories are the principal source of instruction. Students develop awareness and sensitivity to cultural diversity and the importance of social justice and peace. Extending beyond a study of isolated biblical lessons, the scripture-based program encourages students to apply Christian philosophy to all areas of their lives.
LOWER SCHOOL SPANISH
The goal of the Lower School Spanish program is to offer the students an introductory program that makes language acquisition a natural, personalized, enjoyable, and rewarding experience. The program is designed to help students gradually attain a desirable level of proficiency in basic skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
The curriculum is presented in thematic units reinforced by a variety of coordinated activities such as music, games, dramatization, and special events. The three-day-per-week program begins with instruction in basic phonemic awareness and vocabulary, enhanced by repetition, drills, songs, games, and the use of audio-visual materials.
Each year, students graduate to a new level of language proficiency and, by the end of grade four, students write and read complete sentences and participate in short conversations. Cultural study, celebrations, a Spanish Spelling Bee, and field trips enhance the comprehensive Spanish curriculum.