The Kindergarten reviews, broadens and deepens the preschool curriculum. Students are able to answer simple questions in French. Interactions between the children increase as they practice phrases, perform a short play about Le Petit Chat Noir (a hungry kitten rescued by his friends the farm animals) or dance to traditional songs.
The Kindergarten year is a time to explore a variety of handcrafts. The year begins with finger knitting, a wonderful craft that’s easy to master, creating a great sense of accomplishment among these young students. For the first big project, the students create the parts for a one of a kind animal friend that they will care for throughout their regular classroom studies. In addition to honing their fine motor skills, this pom-pom project utilizes the children’s math skills in counting the rounds wrapped to determine the ball’s size and density. Each animal’s personality reflects the character of the child’s handwork. The class prepares for Thanksgiving by creating woven baskets (jute string) decorated with hand sewing (whip stitch) and dried schoolyard plants. Following the math sequence, the next project is a patterning project. Each child crafts a garland gift for the birds of dried fruit and popcorn strung in a specific configuration to be hung outside on a tree for the birds to enjoy.
The Handcrafts curriculum is designed to integrate nature with the child’s development of fine motor skills, his or her sensibility to the textures and colors of the natural environment, the harmony between human activity and the seasons, and to the ways humans can use natural resources thoughtfully and respectfully. Throughout the winter and spring, the lessons focus on the properties of different fibers. The children investigate plant fibers by working directly with wood in different forms, from sticks to lumber, including sanding and conditioning a cutting board. Another energetic exercise that the kindergarteners undertake is felting wool. They wet felt a pocket for aprons by vigorously agitating the wool roving in warm water and soap for twenty minutes or so. In addition, these students become expert button sewers in order to complete the apron project. After this, they make Rainbow Hats (using recycled felt), which they don for their Kindergarten Culminating Event. In conjunction with their social studies investigations of shelter, the students wrap up the year by using their architectural sensibilities and numerous handcrafts skills to create a Boogle House out of natural materials and repurposed project supplies. To conclude their classroom “self” studies, the kindergarteners create felt banners using symbols to declare who they are. These children are encouraged to continue to use their handcrafts skills to explore the world around them throughout the summer.
In kindergarten, children discover that the world of print is not the exclusive domain of adults. Surrounded by print and rich literature, children play with words, enjoy rhymes and poetry, listen to books read aloud, act out stories, and write. Through explicit and developmentally appropriate instruction in reading, writing, and word studies, children learn that the world of language belongs to them. Kindergarteners increase their knowledge of letters and letter sounds to make sense of their books. As they develop independence through practicing decoding strategies and recognizing sight words, they gain fluency and understanding. Book discussions, author studies, skits, and art projects, inspire children to think about the various components of good literature. Children write daily, receiving both individually tailored instruction in word study and spelling, and group instruction in a writing workshop format. Good penmanship is developed through practice with the Handwriting Without Tears program and workbooks. Children learn to organize their thoughts and ideas by relating stories verbally or pictorially. As their knowledge of print grows, they begin writing at their level of understanding. Through producing personal narratives, journals, poems, fictional stories, and informational texts, the students come to see themselves as writers and perceive writing as a rich and rewarding activity.
Students continue to be immersed in literacy to support beginning reading skills development. Students learn that libraries follow systems of organization, and students become familiar with the section of the library where they find books of interest to them. Students recognize the difference between fiction and nonfiction writing and begin to apply alphabetic principles to their understanding of a library’s organization. Read alouds based on the virtues program as well as classroom areas of study are conducted throughout the year, giving students the opportunity to reflect upon and make connections within their learning. The idea of a learning community is fostered throughout the year through activities such as the writing and publication of a class book.
Singapore Math is the main program used for instruction in kindergarten. This program is supplemented with Montessori math materials, which introduce abstract mathematical concepts in developmentally appropriate concrete terms. Students begin the year by exploring the number system and what it means to count. Through various counting games and counting in real life situations, students come to understand that counting is practical and useful. As the children become proficient at counting in sequence, rote counting, recognizing number symbols, and using different strategies to keep track of growing quantities, they explore the idea that numbers represent quantities and that relationships exist between numbers. To develop an understanding of addition and subtraction, they act out, model, and solve story problems with practical math applications. Patterns, data, and geometry are explored throughout the year. Students create and extend linear patterns to predict what will come next and explore shrinking and growing patterns to determine descriptive rules. Using a variety of materials, students are introduced to geometry as they observe, construct, represent, describe, and explore relationships between two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes. Students use concrete materials, pictures, numbers, and words to explain and interpret data.
The kindergarten science curriculum is guided by the ideas of interdependency and systems. These concepts are an integral part of the questions explored in science. Topics of study include trees, birds, anatomy, and desktop ponds. As the students explore these topics, they learn that every part of a natural system has an integral function and is interdependent within the framework of the system. In a quest for comprehensive understanding, students engage in the process of inquiry and problem solving and develop both knowledge and skills that lead toward scientific literacy. The program empowers students to relate to their environment in a positive fashion and to restore sustainable relationships between people and their environment.
The focus of the kindergarten social studies curriculum is the self. As children consider the essential question “Who am I?”, they become aware of who they are as individuals in relation to others around them. They explore the attributes that make them unique such as how they look, feel, behave, change, and grow. Through self-investigation they gain an understanding of their characteristics, motivations, needs, desires, abilities and talents, and realize that their differences can be assets that enrich the social environment. Examining themselves in the context of their classroom, school, family, and the world, students appreciate the importance of responsibility cooperation, and support.
Kindergarteners work on a series of projects designed to enhance classroom concepts, foster self-expression, and explore new artistic skills and mediums. Students work with concepts such as observation, composition, imagination, color mixing, foreground and background, 2D vs. 3D, texture, and symbols by viewing and discussing works of art from cultural and master artists. Projects include pastel self –portraits, artistic tree designs, nature-inspired bottle-cap mosaics, artistic bird collages, Totem animal sculptures, texture animal designs, and creative family portraits. Each project is designed to enhance students’ artistic skills, craftsmanship, and understanding of art concepts, while encouraging each student to develop his or her unique artistic voice.