Academics
Lower School

Curriculum

Lower School Curriculum

List of 12 items.

  • Homeroom

    Kindergarten
    The Kindergarten Homeroom curriculum provides dedicated time for community building activities. The boys learn skills related to becoming a citizen the classroom, grade level, division, school and the world through guided practice, games, discussions and read-alouds. During Homeroom, the boys learn social skills. Specifically they learn to identify their emotions and to attend to other’s needs. A big goal for the Homeroom time is to teach the boys how to be a student at Allen-Stevenson and develop empathy for others. Character education is a cornerstone of the Kindergarten Homeroom curriculum. The boys spend the year focusing on the nine values listed in the Allen-Stevenson Code.

    First Grade
    The goals of the First Grade Homeroom curriculum are to foster the social and emotional growth of our boys. The year begins with learning about each other, and respecting and appreciating the differences among us, as well as articulating how to make the classroom a safe place for everyone’s learning. We emphasize that this requires cooperation, compromise and shared responsibility. We also continue the goal of instilling in our students what it means to be a member of the Allen-Stevenson community by focusing on the words from the Allen-Stevenson Code. As we examine one word each month, we explore how there are diverse ways each individual can express each of these concepts. Through role-play, writing and art projects, we develop our conflict resolution skills, our ability to be “up standers” and an appreciation for things we often take for granted. We also learn to appreciate each other’s strengths, unique qualities and personal experiences that make for a diverse learning community.

    Second Grade
    In support of the Allen-Stevenson Mission, the Second Grade Homerooms strive to educate boys to become Scholars and Gentlemen. The teachers value the partnership between home and school in order to best nurture each boy’s social and emotional needs. Differentiated instruction is a part of our daily teaching practice, inspiring boys to reach their full potential. The values expected of Allen-Stevenson boys, as part of our code, are also discussed, and activities are planned each month to explore and expand our understanding of these values.

    Third Grade
    As the oldest members of the Lower School, the Third Grade Homeroom curriculum focuses on leadership. The students are expected to set the standard for the Lower School, modeling behavior becoming of a scholar and a gentleman. In their role as leaders, students serve the community by delivering healthy snacks to each lower school classroom, weekly. They also “buddy up” with first graders for games and activities. In addition, Third Grade is the first year in which students who play instruments are able to join the Third Grade Ensemble and perform at special events. The students are emcees at Friday assemblies, introducing performances and guest speakers. This is also a year of growing independence and responsibility. The boys in Third Grade have SET (social emotional training) classes each week that provide them opportunities to explore issues of friendship and community on a regular basis.
  • Language Arts/Writing

    Kindergarten
    Our literature-enriched curriculum in Language Arts exposes our boys to many skills. The program in Kindergarten begins with the basics of how to hold a writing tool, the proper placement of the student’s body when writing and the appropriate pressure used when writing. After a review of writing all the uppercase letters, we spend the remainder of the school year learning and practicing the formation of lowercase letters. Boys have many opportunities to write, allowing our boys to develop and strengthen their inventive spelling skills. Independent writing opportunities in journals and as part of Writer’s Workshop are also encouraged each week. We are looking to have boys develop automaticity with their writing and to derive joy form the process of writing.

    First Grade
    In First Grade, the curriculum focuses on basic skills of how print connects with the spoken language. Our program supports the boys’ efforts to write easily and legibly with the goal of becoming independent writers. Boys develop their ability to write brief compositions with appropriate grammar rules and punctuation. We begin the year by teaching the boys how to write a basic sentence. Through weekly journals, boys learn to express their ideas in full sentences, using phonetic spelling and applying the conventions of punctuation and capitalization. As the year progresses the boys learn to expand on their ideas, adding details and using expressive language in supporting sentences. Throughout the year, the boys write poetry, non-fiction and fiction to further their expressive writing skills. Drafting, editing, and publishing are part of this writing process. We use the PAF handwriting program to help the boys develop clear and legible handwriting.

    Second Grade
    The Second Grade writing curriculum focuses on understanding the purpose of different texts such as opinion pieces, informative texts and narratives. Our program provides guidance and support to strengthen writing with a goal to produce a wide range of written projects, such as research projects with a final written report, various published works and poetry. Students are guided through the editing and revising process, which includes spelling, grammar, punctuation, use of vocabulary in context and organization.

    Third Grade
    The goal of our Language Arts curriculum is to develop the students’ writing skills and reinforce proper usage of their writing mechanics. Graphic organizers are used in our writing program to facilitate the organization of written ideas in a logical manner. These skills are practiced in isolation, however the emphasis is on application. Exposure to the drafting process provides the opportunity to revise and edit, as well as promoting the idea that writing can always be improved. Projects include a letter of introduction, expository and persuasive writing, as well as creative prose. By the end of the year, each boy will go home with a collection of published pieces in a Writing Portfolio.

    Our spelling program equips the boys with spelling rules to apply to their daily writing. Completing a variety of language-based exercises on a weekly basis helps reinforce their understanding of these spelling rules. Consistent with our emphasis on the application of writing fundamentals, our spelling program cultivates the habit of spelling frequently used words correctly and on a regular basis. Additionally, third grade boys learn cursive handwriting and keyboarding skills, which we utilize throughout the year.
  • Reading

    Kindergarten
    Kindergarten boys are exposed to a print rich environment that fosters a love of books and printed materials. Boys develop their pre-reading skills by engaging in a variety of hands on activities and educational games that promote letter recognition, phonemic awareness and left to right orientation. Boys actively participate in read-alouds, generate and illustrate word lists featuring specific letter sounds, formulate morning messages and read the classroom schedule and job charts. During designated classroom book times such as D.E.A.R. ("Drop Everything And Read), boys page through their classroom's rich library of predictive text picture books. Boys are encouraged to recognize printed words by using visual cues from the classroom and take "picture walks" to understand the story. Pre-Reading in Kindergarten aims to develop a strong foundation of basic literacy skills as well as a vast range of experiences to help the boys to become thoughtful and joyful emergent readers. Those boys who enter Kindergarten reading have an opportunity to further develop their reading skills. Although reading is not taught directly in set reading groups in Kindergarten, many boys learn how to read through the rich exposure to the pre-reading skills taught during this year.

     In order to expose Kindergarten boys to as many books as possible, they participate in our Book a Day program, which enables them to take home a new book every day. This program features book discussions, which help to shape the boys into a strong reading community that we continue to nurture over the years. 

    First Grade
    Boys come to First Grade with a wide range of reading abilities, and all boys are challenged to become better readers. Phonics instruction is an important part of our reading program, as it ensures that every boy has the building blocks to read and spell increasingly complex words. As the boys’ reading skills grow, they work to strengthen their oral fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Teachers work to help each boy find books appropriate for his skills and to develop a love of reading in every boy. Teachers read aloud to the boys daily in order to enrich vocabulary and understanding of character development.

    Second Grade
    In Second Grade Reading, we build on the skills acquired by the boys in First Grade. Phonics instruction continues but there is an increased emphasis on fluency, vocabulary development and reading comprehension. Boys study a variety of genres and continue to read aloud to work toward becoming expressive readers. Books are chosen to enrich boys’ vocabulary and understanding of story and character. We discuss books in small groups, enabling the boys to share their ideas while strengthening comprehension skills. Boys learn to show their understanding by writing about what they read.

    Third Grade
    In Third Grade the boys begin to move beyond a simple, literal understanding of what they read. They are asked to think more deeply about the text and its meaning. They are expected to read more fluently and expressively. This means they must recognize most words while decoding new ones, and pay close attention to punctuation. The single most important tool for acquiring mastery of all these skills is daily reading practice. It is our goal to have each boy leave the Lower School as a competent, excited reader who has developed a love of reading.
  • Math

    The enlightened traditional approach to math in the Lower School allows boys to explore numbers and operations, data, measurement and geometry through a variety of hands- on materials while developing accurate and efficient strategies to solve problems.

    Kindergarten
    Kindergarten Math connects our boys to the world around them though a variety of multisensory hands on math activities. Number recognition, the formation of numbers, counting, the sequence of numbers, relationships of different quantities, the invariance of numbers, sorting, classifying, addition and subtraction and creating repeating patterns are explored throughout the year. Boys are encouraged to make and check predictions. Kindergarten boys express their mathematical thinking through the writing of numbers, graphing and the written notation of addition and subtraction.

    First Grade
    In First Grade, the boys build number sense and understanding of the Base Ten System, while learning addition and subtraction. Different materials are used, including manipulatives and games, to develop number sense and build strategies for adding and subtracting single digit and more complex numbers accurately and efficiently. Data, measurement, coins and the analog clock are studied, with the focus on building an understanding of how we use these tools in the world. Problem solving and strategic thinking are developed through “real world” story problems, and through the use of strategic games and logic puzzles. Risk taking is encouraged as boys are asked to explain their thinking, and to try out different strategies. We emphasize that there is more than one way to efficiently solve a problem.

    Second Grade
    A large focus of Second Grade Math is developing the automaticity of addition and subtraction facts to 20, leading to the beginning of understanding multiplication. Using a variety of tools and approaches, boys practice their facts regularly to increase both speed and accuracy. Building upon this knowledge of facts, boys learn to do more complex addition and subtraction, using regrouping. Other topics covered during Second Grade include measurement, time, money, geometry and logical reasoning. Math games, manipulative tools, and Smartboard activities allow boys various opportunities to practice and develop their skills.

    Third Grade
    The primary focus of Math in Third Grade is to solidify computational skills by mastering fast facts and algorithms for addition and subtraction, followed by an extensive study on the concept of multiplication and its relationship to division. Specific topics include time, measurement, money, fractions, decimals and geometry. By engaging in games, puzzles, problem solving and exploratory activities, students develop flexibility of thinking which allows them to tackle a wide variety of math problems and challenges using mathematical vocabulary and logical problem solving to explain their reasoning.
  • Social Studies

    Kindergarten
    The Kindergarten curriculum threads itself throughout all of the academic areas. Through units about families, himself, cultural traditions and holidays, the school community, food, waste and recycling, transportation and notable Americans, boys explore connections between themselves, others and the world. Boys learn skills such as listening, observing, and questioning in order to gather information and to integrate new information into their prior knowledge. Class discussions and field trips encourage boys to verbally express what they have learned, listen to the views of others, and to draw conclusions. A primary goal of our Social Studies curriculum is to foster an understanding and respect for differences across cultures and people.

    First Grade
    In the first half of the year, the First Grade focuses on the study of water and how it affects the choices we are able to make in our daily lives. Boys explore why people need water, how people use water and how we can best preserve this precious resource. We learn how water gets to our city, how water comes into Allen-Stevenson and how it moves to the different parts of the building. We then compare how we obtain and use water to how people in other parts of the world do the same. During the second half of the year, the First Grade focuses on the study of bridges. We learn what makes something a bridge, why we need them, what the different types of bridges are, who uses them and who builds them. We work in teams and challenge ourselves to build different types of bridges using different materials. We also use our newfound knowledge to examine bridges around New York City.

    The Social Studies curriculum is a springboard for many writing projects including writing poetry, doing research projects and telling stories. These interdisciplinary studies encompass science, technology, art and research skills. A goal of the program is to develop research skills and thinking skills, as well as to encourage collaboration and creativity.

    Second Grade
    The Second Grade Social Studies program focuses on immigration. The boys collect information from their family’s immigration story and research a country from their family's heritage. Students learn about the experience of the immigration process through Ellis Island. Our field trips enhance our study of the different aspects of immigration. Current events and basic geography skills are also part of the curriculum in Grade Two.

    Third Grade
    Our focus in Third Grade Social Studies is a geographic overview of the countries in North America, with a more in-depth look at the geography, history and cultures of the United States. In our initial unit on map-making, students learn to read and understand maps by creating their own. This knowledge is then applied to the investigations and research-based projects the students engage in on the countries of Central America, Mexico, the United States and Canada.
  • Science

    Kindergarten
    The boys learn through guided inquiry and exploration, using tools of research to analyze information, increase their problem solving skills, and understand subject matter for each boy.  Students observe, and ask questions, create and conduct their own investigations, draw conclusions, and communicate their findings to others.  Above all, the Kindergarten curriculum is designed to capture the curiosity of each boy and engender a lifelong love of questioning.
     
    First Grade
    First graders begin science by focusing on questions. Asking questions is essential to developing scientific habits of the mind. Our inquiry-based approach allows boys to make discoveries by using scientific methods, and applying skills as scientists do, when conducting research. They are able to find their answers and generate their own questions, formulate their hypotheses, design and implement their methods for testing their hypothesis and use data to answer their original questions.  Students will record observations using science notebooks. Science content in first grade will include solids and liquids, magnetism, force and motion; seed germinating and life cycle of plants.  They will increase their technological literacy and become engineers, designing and constructing bridges and water filters.  The Engineering is Elementary curriculum was developed specifically to enhance the boys exposure to engineering and the sciences from a young age.
     
    Second Grade
    The science objectives are an extension of the first grade concepts and the focus is hands-on, student centered, and inquiry-based. The science disciplines we are studying are Life Science, Physical Science, Earth Science and Technology. The second grade boys started out with the question: “ What is a living thing and how does a living thing respond to its environment? “ In this unit boys, working in team, are given time to contemplate and discuss these questions. They then share their ideas/findings with the class.  This leads to an investigation of vertebrates – comparing and contrasting the physical and behavioral characteristics that allow animals to adapt and respond to the challenges of life.  An insect unit is added and we will have entomologists and apiologists roaming the second grade. The boys will learn about food web by dissecting owl pellets and honed their research skills with a written project on Owls. They will end the year studying electricity.  Through a series of investigations, boys will build electric circuits, disassemble toys to explore the inner circuitry and mechanisms.
     
    Third Grade
    The goal for science is to foster development of science process skills.  We focus on the five essential features of classroom inquiry.  The boys will work collaboratively to brainstorm question, design procedures for testing their predictions, carry out investigations, and ask thoughtful questions about other students’ conclusions. In addition to units in Life, Earth and Physical Sciences, we have integrated Engineering units. Boys explore and are engaged in real world engineering experiences, which sharpen their abilities to function in three dimensions; all of which are skills important for prospering in the modern world.
  • Spanish

    Kindergarten
    Spanish in Kindergarten is all about exposing boys to the spoken language and encouraging them to speak at an age when their brains can hear and mimic a native accent perfectly. Material is presented through games, songs, chants, and total physical response activities, and classes are conducted 100% in Spanish. By the end of the year, boys can use simple greetings, say how they feel, and describe the weather. They can identify and say the colors, shapes, and numbers, and they can follow classroom commands.

    First Grade
    First Grade Spanish continues along the same lines as Kindergarten, fine-tuning the boys’ ears and perfecting their near-native accents. Combining prior and new knowledge through games, songs, chants, and total physical response activities, the boys are now able to actively participate and lead parts of their everyday morning meetings in the target language. During many classes, imaginative play is used as the boys use the language in a “new and exciting Spanish-speaking world,” allowing all five senses to be utilized in their experience.

    Second Grade
    Second Grade Spanish, like the previous two years, is about listening and speaking skills. Boys learn how to recognize and speak about a variety of topics that are pertinent to their daily lives, such as family, feelings, food, animals, and physical descriptions. Each unit is explored through projects, games and songs in a way that accommodates a range of learning styles and skills. Boys can also answer daily questions (“what is the day, date, weather, and time?”), they learn to count to 60, and they learn about masculine/feminine/singular/plural nouns and about the agreement of nouns and adjectives.

    Third Grade
    Boys begin speaking in complete sentences in Third Grade Spanish. They begin their journey into writing in the target language by learning the alphabet and comparing cognates in Spanish and English. Through songs, skits, total physical response, and lots and lots of games, the boys begin to make strong connections between the English and Spanish language. Using project-based learning, the boys begin to write their own imaginative works and record them, helping them learn to be self-regulated learners. By the end of the year, boys leave Lower School with the ability to identify parts of speech in both English and Spanish and continue to strengthen their linguistic and auditory competencies.
  • Library & Digital Fluency

    Kindergarten
    In the early grades the overriding goal of the Allen-Stevenson library is to nurture a love of stories and an excitement about books. In our cozy, lower school reading room, especially designed for our youngest boys, we explore a variety of genres, starting with classic nursery rhymes. We guide the boys carefully as they choose books to take home. In order to expose them to as many books as possible, boys in kindergarten participate in our Book a Day program, which enables them to take home a new book every day. This program features book discussions, which help to shape the boys into a strong reading community that we continue to nurture over the years. We foster the boys’ innate curiosity with our research projects, beginning in kindergarten with our study of bears. In order to benefit fully from our rich selection of resources, we teach the boys to navigate the space and to become thoughtful library citizens.
     
    First Grade
    In the early grades the overriding goal of the Allen-Stevenson library is to nurture a love of stories and an excitement about books. In the First Grade we continue our exploration of genres by appreciating and analyzing fairy tales. The boys do author studies on Patricia Polacco and Vera Williams and explore the Caldecott and Coretta Scott King book awards. We guide the boys carefully as they choose books to take home, considering both their preferences and their reading ability. We foster the boys’ innate curiosity with our research project on water animals, which we do in partnership with the homeroom teachers.
     
    Second Grade
    In the Second Grade our exploration of genres continues with a study of international folktales. Boys at this grade level are really taking flight as readers and we continue to introduce them to books that are a great fit for them, with a particular emphasis on books in series. The boys now have a wealth of experience with books so we teach them how to ‘book talk’, which fosters their ability to summarize plot, articulate a book’s appeal and also helps to develop our strong reading community. The boys learn how to use the library’s online catalog, enabling them to start finding books by themselves. Research projects in the Second Grade include a study of owls and immigration. At this grade level boys begin taking notes on a graphic organizer using keywords and learning the importance of citing their sources.  Through the use of technology tools in projects, we begin to teach our boys the basics of digital fluency, setting them on a path to become independent learners.
     
    Third Grade
    When boys enter the Third Grade, they have a good sense of what they like to read and where to find it. Therefore, we focus strongly on expanding their reading tastes and being open to the suggestions of others in our reading community. We spend a lot of time learning how to share books through book talking and delve more deeply into genres, including poetry, sophisticated picture books and non-fiction. Our discussions about books emphasize more complex responses to texts, as the boys become better at making predictions, inferences and empathizing with the characters. Boys learn how we organize our non-fiction collection, and this knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System helps them to find books more easily. Research projects continue full steam at this age including an investigation into Spanish speaking countries and the 50 states. Boys at this age are enthusiastic doers and our classes capture this energy and shape their skills so that they are ready for the next stage.
  • Technology & Digital Fluency

    Kindergarten
    Boys learn about the different parts of the computer. They also learn how to navigate through software and internet websites chosen to complement the different areas of instruction covered in the classroom such as: following directions, listening, problem solving, basic mathematical concepts, pre-reading skills, shape recognition, spatial reasoning, artistic expression, fine motor skill development, and sharing of ideas. We want the boys to understand that a computer is not only fun but is also a tool for learning and gaining new information.

    First Grade
    Boys are introduced to concepts of programming and creative reflection using computers. Using a mixture of Scratch Jr. and MicroWorlds Jr., the boys practice programming loops to create colorful desktops. They further develop these skills to create their own sprites and even build their own digital bridges. The boys also make extensive use of podcasting and "telestrating," using VoiceThread to comment and write upon their work in real time, reflecting on themes of digital citizenship as well as the bridge curriculum.

    Second Grade
    Boys begin an intensive Scratch curriculum in which they design and program an interactive curriculum-based game. While the final projects vary from class to class, and year to year, projects have included interactive stories of immigration and programming owls to hunt their prey. This first year of Scratch lays a foundation for programming that will continue through Ninth Grade. In addition to this work, the curriculum continues fostering a sense of digital citizenship and an encouragement for boys to be smart consumers.

    Third Grade
    Boys are introduced to touch typing, and work in dedicated groups during design thinking time. As part of a year working in projects that engage their engineering and problem-solving skills, they engage in an intensive "camouflage design" course; concepts of order, chaos, random variables, and art are combined as boys choose an environment and create a custom camouflage for it. In this last year in the Lower School, boys have now become emergent learners in programming, and are prepared for more involved work in the Middle and Upper School. Also, as boys become more independent both physically and digitally, we continue discussions of digital citizenship and responsibility.
  • Music

    The Music Department uses an eclectic approach to music education that keeps in mind the differing levels, abilities, and learning styles of the students. While fostering personal growth in music, we also encourage the boys' ability to work, play and create together. Classroom music, from kindergarten through third grade, includes the fundamentals of music theory, stories of composers which connect historically to student’s social studies, a hands-on introduction to instruments of the orchestra (beginning in Second Grade), recorder study (beginning in Third Grade) and a progressive study of note reading and singing throughout the Lower School.

    Practical experience is emphasized in the classroom through the playing of instruments, singing and musical games. The ability to sing accurately with a clear tone, to read and perform simple pitch and rhythmic notations, and to participate in group ensembles are three primary goals that are outlined in our curriculum.

    Students practice the 4 Cs of 21st Century Skills (creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration) on a daily basis in music class when they work in groups. Through their creative movement compositions, they use their creativity to generate ideas. They then communicate their ideas with one another. In order to distill the best or most appropriate ideas, students use critical thinking. The entire process requires collaborative learning and decision making in order to come to a final performance.

    In the Third Grade, students begin the study recorder. In addition to performing vocally and on the recorder, the boys develop ostinatos and improvise, developing these skills through the playing of many songs. They are introduced to the Spanish, French and Hebrew languages through classroom songs. In addition, the boys learn many song games, learning to work together cooperatively as they develop their music skills.
  • Theatre Arts

    Kindergarten
    Students are introduced to theatre in their very first year at Allen-Stevenson. Each kindergarten class puts on a play led by the classroom teachers. The play is performed for a large audience in the school’s main stage theatre. The main objective of this introduction is to build self-confidence regarding the presentation of material in front of an audience.

    First Grade
    Every first grade class puts on a play led by their classroom teachers. The play is performed for a large audience in the school’s main stage theatre. The main objective in First Grade is to build on their experience in Kindergarten so that they have even more confidence in front of an audience. Typically, students are required to memorize a bit more material for their first grade play than they did for their kindergarten play.

    Second Grade
    Every second grade class puts on a play led by their classroom teachers. The play is performed for a large audience in the school’s main stage theatre. The main objective in second grade is to build on their experience in their previous two years so that they have even more confidence in front of an audience. Typically, students are required to memorize a bit more material for their second grade play than they did for their first grade play and more character building is emphasized for this production.

    Third Grade
    In the Third Grade, the entire grade works on a production in conjunction with their study of the United States. While the third grade teachers work intricately with the students on this show, the show is directed by one of the school’s theatre directors. It is in the Third Grade that students begin to learn the vocabulary of the theatre and how a professional rehearsal is conducted. Because this production includes music and dance, it is the student’s first experience integrating these forms into one production. Through this production, Mr. America, students learn to work as an ensemble to create a single work of art.
  • Physical Education/Dance

    In Lower School, dance class focuses mainly on sustaining freedom of movement and finding a sense of rhythm. Throughout First and Second Grade we concentrate on maintaining flexibility through stretching, finding the beat, and learning the '8' count. When the boys enter Third Grade they are ready to start building on the '8' count by learning basic choreographed combinations.

    Kindergarten
    The P.E. Program includes a variety of activities, both individual and group, that foster a love for movement and an appreciation of collaborative learning. Our boys begin the process of learning how and where their bodies can move. As they understand the relationship their body has to objects (balls, scarfs, hoops, cones, classmates, etc.) and to space, they become successful participants in a dynamic movement education program.

    First Grade
    P.E. provides our boys the opportunity to continue upon their movement experience and their development of a strong skills base. Motor skills, cognitive skills, spatial awareness, directionality, working at different levels, and a movement vocabulary remain a strong part of the program’s foundation. Additionally, the boys continue their work in small and large group activities. It is during these activities that the development of social skills: cooperation, teamwork, listening, respect, and sportsmanship are taught.

    Second Grade
    The boys are introduced to different activities that assist in the advancement of their motor, cognitive, and social skills. The movements become more complex and the lead up games more challenging. The ability to work collaboratively to achieve group goals requires our boys to access skills and vocabulary faster and to be better listeners, teammates, and communicators.

    Third Grade
    In Third Grade, we provide boys the opportunity to participate in modified sports games that develop their acquisition of sport specific motor skills and their understanding of game rules and strategies. They are challenged to work in an environment that requires a strong sense of teamwork and sportsmanship. The relationship between fun, competition, and sportsmanship is taught during these modified games. Our boys are encouraged to win and lose gracefully and to never lose sight of the importance of sportsmanship.

Lower School Directory

Lower School News

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Allen-Stevenson’s distinctive “enlightened traditional” approach educates boys to become scholars and gentlemen.