Lower School

Curriculum

Lower School

Curriculum

Kindergarten

Art

Art is a significant part of the McLean School experience. Our Lower School program teaches students to develop planning and problem solving skills and the knowledge that is necessary to create, learn and respond to art. We introduce the elements of art and principles of design by studying famous artists and working with a wide range of media including drawing, painting, collage, ceramics and printmaking. Each grade level meets twice weekly and continues to build on previous experiences by extending projects, increasing vocabulary and working more independently.

Art history and world cultures are important sources of inspiration and information. Art happens in the studio and classrooms and is often integrated into math, science, social studies and language arts. Beautiful student art is displayed throughout our building and reflects our dedication to the process of creating art, self expression and development of presentation. We are delighted to be present in community art shows and school events.

Communications
The Lower School Counselor teaches a weekly Communications class in Kindergarten. The course pulls from several programs and curricula to teach skills, such as conflict-resolution and problem-solving with peers, for social and academic success.
Handwriting
Kindergarten students learn the correct formation of all upper and lower case letters using the Handwriting Without Tears method of handwriting. Proper pencil grip is introduced and the correct positioning of the body and paper for handwriting accuracy and writing comfort is stressed. A variety of writing aides, including stetro grips and lined slates, are used to assist with handwriting and to clarify line-space relationships.
Library
Students visit the Learning Commons twice a week for Library classes. During these periods, Kindergarteners are given the opportunity to experience the joys of listening to stories – both in print and digital formats. Children learn about the proper care of library materials, how to check out books, and how to select books on their own. They are introduced to vocabulary and concepts relating to title, author, illustrator, fiction, and nonfiction. Students begin to learn to identify and locate books in the library. They explore Web sites containing e-books and videos of children’s literature and create book reviews on their iPads. Students begin to learn about online safety as they develop digital literacy and citizenship.
Math
Kindergarten students are grouped according to skill level and learning needs. Groups are fluid throughout the year in order to provide appropriate support and challenge. Mathematics in Kindergarten focuses on the usage of manipulatives and hands-on experiences to help children develop number sense, reinforce one-to-one correspondence, recognize numbers, count, sort, group, compose and decompose numbers 1-10, and form patterns.
Music
In Music, Kindergarten students are introduced to non-pitched percussion instruments, visual and aural identification of specific instruments and proper instrument use and care. Students are introduced to the concepts of steady beat, loud and soft, sound and silence, high and low, fast and slow and active listening, through multisensory activities which utilize chanting, singing, movement and the playing of non-pitched percussion instruments. Students also learn about the woodwind, brass and string families of instruments, focusing on visual and aural identification. Kindergarten students develop vocal skills by learning singing games, folk songs, and call-and-response songs. Orff instruments are introduced in the second half of the school year, and students explore improvisation and composition on pitched and unpitched percussion instruments through group activities. Students are exposed to multicultural music through vocal and instrumental performance of folk songs and through listening activities.
Physical Education
Kindergarten students receive daily Physical Education in classes that focus on games and activities that promote healthy exercise, cooperative play, and good sportsmanship. Basic locomotor movements are reinforced through throwing, catching, kicking, and striking. Spatial awareness skills are developed through balance and tumbling activities. Students begin to understand the basic concepts of physical fitness and healthy living. They are exposed periodically to health education as part of the Physical Education curriculum. Facilities at the Lower School level include an indoor gymnasium, a multipurpose room, a large outdoor grass field and blacktop space.
Reading
Teachers group students across the grade level based on ability and learning profile. Groups remain flexible throughout the school year. Differentiated instruction allows each child to receive an individualized program based on their areas of strength and need. In Kindergarten, phonemic awareness skills, such as segmenting, blending, rhyming, and phoneme manipulation with spoken words, are first strengthened as the foundation of reading. The Speech Language Therapist and classroom teachers work with students in small groups with programs, such as LiPS, to solidify these phonemic awareness skills. Decoding skills are developed using Orton-Gillingham’s Multisensory Reading program. This program aids students in mastering letter/sounds and blending and segmenting learned phonemes to encode and decode. Throughout the course of the year, students work towards decoding and encoding VC, CVC, CCVC and CVCC words containing digraphs (V=Vowel, C=Consonant). Sight Words, known as Red Words, are introduced along the way. When Red Words are introduced, students learn how to encode and decode them through arm-tapping, rainbow writing, and using the word in context. Vocabulary is acquired through exposure to various texts and experiences. Daily, students listen to a book during Story Time. Each book is reread multiple times throughout the week, working on vocabulary and comprehension skills. Students review and practice using the newly learned vocabulary words throughout the week. Braidy the Storybraid program aids students’ comprehension of texts read. Inquiry based questions are asked daily. Text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections help students comprehend and make meaningful connections from stories read and heard.
Social Studies
Fully integrated into the Kindergarten curriculum, Social Studies engages students in a broad range of activities. The program progresses from “All About Me,” a unit pertaining to self and community, to units that focus on the months, seasons, and special occasions. The country study for Kindergarten explores Mexican culture, animals and geography. The students present their culminating knowledge of Mexico at the school-wide World Culture Day event. Students learn about the globe, climate, and map skills. Class projects, field trips, speakers and videos are incorporated into the curriculum; stories, discussion, and songs build appreciation for similarities and differences between cultures.
STEM
The STEM program concentrates on the exploratory learning of elementary science concepts integrated with technology. Students learn using a hands-on, multisensory approach that builds on their natural interest in the world. Observation, identification, and interpretation skills increase as students engage in experimentation, application, and critical thinking. Students have fun while synthesizing concrete and abstract information about topics that may include balls buoyancy, coding and robotics, forces, life cycles, the Iditarod dog sled race, and building challenges. Projects may include raising and releasing butterflies, designing and constructing boats, measuring and graphing, programming droids, building and testing ramps, making color changing playdough, and building towers. Students begin to relate science to their everyday lives and the goal is to encourage curiosity and exploration.
Writing
Writing is taught separately from handwriting so that the focus is on content and the organization and expression of ideas. Writing on the Kindergarten level includes a variety of activities that culminate in shared writing projects and displays. Students are encouraged to use inventive spelling in their story writing. Students are exposed to webbing and using illustrations to help generate ideas for writing projects. By mid-year, Kindergarten students write weekly entries in a journal. Prior to writing in their journals about one thing they did “Over the weekend,” students draw a picture. The WriteTrack program provides supplemental writing formulas, tools and projects.

Grade 1

Art

Art is a significant part of the McLean School experience. Our Lower School program teaches students to develop planning and problem solving skills and the knowledge that is necessary to create, learn and respond to art. We introduce the elements of art and principles of design by studying famous artists and working with a wide range of media including drawing, painting, collage, ceramics and printmaking. Each grade level meets twice weekly and continues to build on previous experiences by extending projects, increasing vocabulary and working more independently.

Art history and world cultures are important sources of inspiration and information. Art happens in the studio and classrooms and is often integrated into math, science, social studies and language arts. Beautiful student art is displayed throughout our building and reflects our dedication to the process of creating art, self expression and development of presentation. We are delighted to be present in community art shows and school events.

Communications
The Lower School Counselor teaches a weekly Communications class in Grade 1 for one semester. The course pulls from several programs and curricula to teach skills, such as conflict-resolution and problem-solving with peers, for social and academic success.
Handwriting
Teachers employ the Handwriting Without Tears method to develop students’ handwriting skills and reinforce the proper formation of letters and numbers.
Library
Students visit the Learning Commons twice a week for Library classes. During these periods, Grade 1 students are exposed to a variety of genres, styles, and authors. The improvement of reading comprehension skills is a focal point in the Grade 1 library program. Students retell stories through class discussion and other activities. Students learn to recognize the difference between fiction and nonfiction, and where these books are located in the library. Different genres of literature are introduced in the form of fairy tales, folk tales, fantasy and fiction. At this level, students learn to distinguish among authors’ writing styles. Students recognize author letter alphabetization of books and find picture books on the shelves. They learn about the library’s online system and use the app to locate books in the library. They explore Web sites containing e-books and videos of children’s literature and create books reviews on their iPads. Students begin to learn about online safety as they develop digital literacy and citizenship and learn about online safety and respect, digital footprints, and online privacy.
Math
First grade students are grouped according to skill level and learning needs. Groups are fluid throughout the year in order to provide appropriate support and challenge. Before moving to pencil and paper tasks, students explore concepts through hands-on, multisensory activities. They begin the year with an introduction to basic addition and subtraction. Other topics include numbers and patterns to 100, place value involving ones and tens, fractions of shapes, word problems, data and graphing, time and calendar concepts, money, measurement, geometry, fractions, and symmetry. The understanding of specific math vocabulary is emphasized in Grade 1. Commercial curriculum materials (e.g. Do the Math by Marilyn Burns and JUMP Math) and teacher-made games are used throughout to help students practice, maintain, and generalize their skills. All students are exposed to each concept, but coverage and mastery is dependent on students’ skills and needs.
Music
Students build on previous concepts and skills learned in music class, including: steady beat, loud and soft, sound and silence, high and low, fast and slow, identification of instrumental timbre, and active listening. Concepts are presented using multisensory activities which include chanting, singing, movement, and the playing of non-pitched and pitched Orff percussion instruments. First grade students discover the elements of music and develop a musical vocabulary through active music-making. Vocal abilities are strengthened through the singing of traditional childhood songs and folk tunes. Students learn to determine components of form in musical compositions (like and unlike sections, aurally differentiate between instrumental timbres, and represent concepts and objects with instrumental timbres through active creation of group arrangements of songs. Students also learn about the woodwind, brass, percussion and string families of instruments, focusing on visual and aural identification. Students are exposed to different musical styles and multicultural music through hands-on performance and active listening.
Physical Education
Grade 1 students receive daily Physical Education in classes that focus on games and activities to promote healthy exercise, cooperative play, and good sportsmanship. Basic locomotor movements are reinforced through throwing, catching, kicking, and striking. Spatial awareness skills are developed through balance and tumbling. Students begin to understand the basic concepts of physical fitness and healthy living. They are exposed periodically to health education as part of the Physical Education curriculum. Facilities at the Lower School level include an indoor gymnasium, a multipurpose room, a large outdoor grass field and blacktop space.
Reading
Teachers group students across the grade level based on ability and learning profile. Groups remain flexible throughout the school year. Differentiated instruction allows each child to receive an individualized program based on their areas of strength and need. First grade teachers use a multisensory approach called Orton-Gillingham to introduce and reinforce concepts in reading. Students meet daily in their small reading groups to develop skills in phonemic awareness, decoding, encoding, and comprehension; they also develop sight vocabulary and fluency skills. Emphasis is placed on listening comprehension and oral skills. Vocabulary and comprehension skills are further developed through read-alouds and activities. Text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections help students comprehend and make meaningful connections from stories read and heard. The overall objective is to instill an appreciation for literature, while reinforcing students’ reading skills.
Social Studies
Grade 1 Social Studies follows the Social Studies Alive curriculum. Students are introduced to the basics of geography, map reading, government, economics, communities, customs and lifestyles both within the United States and throughout the world. Part of the year is also spent on a country study of France. The Grade 1 curriculum emphasizes the culture, people and wildlife of this region and students explore customs, language and lifestyles through field trips and classroom materials. The students present their culminating knowledge of France at the school-wide World Culture Day event. Social Studies is integrated into students’ library, music, art, and STEM classes.
STEM
Grade 1 STEM concentrates on the discovery and instruction of science concepts integrated with technology. Activities provide an opportunity for students to document, observe, and analyze scientific data in a hands-on environment. Students synthesize concrete and abstract information about topics that may include constructions, animals, body systems, weather, coding, and robotics. Some projects may include building and examining bridges, creating a digital book on animals, measuring and graphing, programming droids, the Iditarod dog sled race, designing and constructing buildings with different materials, creating a weather report using apps green screen app, and making stop motion videos. Students begin to relate science to their everyday lives and the goal is to encourage curiosity and exploration.
Writing
Writing is taught separately from handwriting so that the focus is on content and the organization and expression of ideas. Instruction is informed by several programs, such as The Writing Process and Being a Writer. Grade 1 students practice writing through a variety of activities, palresponding to writing prompts, letters, poetry, journal entries and class books that cover topics which are integrated across the curricula. These projects provide students the opportunity to gain exposure to parts of speech, sentence structure, sequencing and organizing ideas, punctuation and spelling. Using the writing process, students gain practice with brainstorming, organizing ideas, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing their work.

Grade 2

Art
Art is a significant part of the McLean School experience. Our Lower School program teaches students to develop planning and problem solving skills and the knowledge that is necessary to create, learn and respond to art. We introduce the elements of art and principles of design by studying famous artists and working with a wide range of media including drawing, painting, collage, ceramics and printmaking. Each grade level meets twice weekly and continues to build on previous experiences by extending projects, increasing vocabulary and working more independently. Art history and world cultures are important sources of inspiration and information. Art happens in the studio and classrooms and is often integrated into math, science, social studies and language arts. Beautiful student art is displayed throughout our building and reflects our dedication to the process of creating art, self expression and development of presentation. We are delighted to be present in community art shows and school events.
Communications
The Lower School Counselor teaches a weekly Communications class in Grade 2 for one semester. The course pulls from several programs and curricula to teach skills, such as conflict-resolution and problem-solving with peers, for social and academic success.
Handwriting
Teachers employ the Handwriting Without Tears method to develop students’ handwriting skills and reinforce proper habits of letter and number formation.
Library
Students visit the Learning Commons twice a week for Library classes. During these periods, students are exposed to a variety of genres, styles, and authors. Students retell stories through class discussion and other activities to target comprehension goals. As students explore genres, they learn where to locate different books on the shelves. They also learn about the library’s online system and use the app to locate books in the library. They explore Web sites containing e-books and videos of children’s literature and create books reviews on their iPads. Students learn about online safety as they develop digital literacy and citizenship and learn about online safety and respect, digital footprints, and online privacy.
Math
Second grade students are divided into groups according to skill level and learning needs. Groups are fluid throughout the year, in order to provide appropriate support and challenge. All groups utilize commercial curriculum materials (e.g. Do the Math by Marilyn Burns and JUMP Math) and teacher-made games to help students practice, maintain, and generalize their skills. Students use manipulatives to facilitate problem-solving and calculation tasks. Key concepts introduced include two-digit addition and subtraction with regrouping. Students also work on measurement, geometry, fractions, money, graphing, and solving word-problems. Toward the end of the year, children encounter the concepts of multiplication and division in array form and as repeated addition and subtraction. All students are exposed to each concept, but coverage and mastery is dependent on students’ skills and needs.
Music
Students build on previous concepts and skills learned in music class, including such concepts as: steady beat, loud and soft, sound and silence, high and low, fast and slow, identification of instrumental timbre, and active listening. Concepts are presented using multisensory activities which include chanting, singing, movement and the playing of non-pitched and pitch Orff percussion instruments. Second grade students continue to discover the elements of music and develop a musical vocabulary through active music-making. Vocal abilities are strengthened through the singing of traditional childhood songs and folk tunes. Students continue to determine components of form in musical compositions (like and unlike sections), aurally differentiate between instrumental timbres and represent concepts and objects with instrumental timbres through active creation of group arrangements of songs. Students also learn about the woodwind, brass, percussion and string families of instruments, focusing on visual and aural identification. Students are exposed to different musical styles and multicultural music through hands-on performance and active listening.
Physical Education
Grade 2 students receive daily Physical Education in classes that focus on games and activities to promote healthy exercise, cooperative play, and good sportsmanship. Basic locomotor movements are reinforced through throwing, catching, kicking, and striking. Spatial awareness skills are developed through balance and tumbling. Students begin to understand the basic concepts of physical fitness and healthy living. They are exposed periodically to health education as part of the Physical Education curriculum. Facilities at the Lower School level include an indoor gymnasium, a multipurpose room, a large outdoor grass field and blacktop space.
Reading
Differentiated instruction allows each child to receive an individualized program based on their areas of strength and need. The goal of the Reading program in second grade is to help students develop independence as they become thoughtful, confident readers. The program focuses on both oral- and silent-reading activities that stress decoding, fluency and accuracy. These daily reading groups expose students to a variety of reading materials, including trade books, and programs to develop fluency in decoding and encoding words. Students receive instruction to develop phonics skills using the multisensory Orton-Gillingham approach, which helps them link sounds and symbols through auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic modalities. As their skills increase, students segment sounds orally, examining the sequence of the letter sounds in each word. Multisyllabic words are introduced once all the vowels have been taught. Each day, teachers provide time for silent reading and time for listening to books. Comprehension activities focus on developing an understanding of story structure, the ability to predict actions, analyzing cause and effect, as well as describe and identifying characters. Vocabulary and comprehension skills are further developed through read-alouds and activities.The overall objective is to instill an appreciation for literature, while reinforcing students’ reading skills.
Social Studies
Grade 2 Social Studies follows the Social Studies Alive curriculum. After an opening unit on map skills, the students in 2nd Grade investigate communities both in America and throughout the world. They learn about good citizenship, American history, the basics of government, and the diversity of American culture. They compare and contrast the ways in which people meet their basic needs, and they learn to appreciate similarities and differences among the people of the world. Grade 2 students focus their country studies on Brazil and the United States. Students explore the cultures, customs, languages, and traditions of their countries of study using a number of resources including folk tales and legends. The students present their culminating knowledge of Brazil at the school-wide World Culture Day event.
STEM
Grade 2 STEM encourages students to learn using a hands-on, multisensory approach that builds on their natural interest in the world. Students are challenged to share knowledge and synthesize it with personal inquiries and curiosities. As they report what they see and look for changes, they sharpen their observation and description skills. They use hands-on materials and apply the scientific method in a variety of experiments about topics that may include states of matter, simple and complex machines, wildlife, the Iditarod sled dog race, coding and robotics, and earth’s processes. Projects may include testing out different materials, programming droids to follow a set course, designing investigations using heating and cooling to explore the states of matter, measuring and graphing, designing and constructing dog houses, making an insect hotel, building marble ramps, and exploring a glacier. Students begin to relate science to their everyday lives and the goal is to encourage curiosity and exploration.
Writing
Writing is taught separately from handwriting so that the focus is on content and the organization and expression of ideas. Instruction is informed by several programs, such as The Writing Process and Being a Writer. Grade 2 students practice writing through a variety of activities including personal letters, journal entries, writing stories, and research reports. These projects provide students the opportunity to apply their knowledge of parts of speech, sentence structure, sequencing and organizing ideas, punctuation and spelling. Using the writing process, students gain practice with brainstorming, organizing ideas, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing which are reinforced through the Four-Square program.

Grade 3

Art
Art is a significant part of the McLean School experience. Our Lower School program teaches students to develop planning and problem solving skills and the knowledge that is necessary to create, learn and respond to art. We introduce the elements of art and principles of design by studying famous artists and working with a wide range of media including drawing, painting, collage, ceramics and printmaking. Each grade level meets twice weekly and continues to build on previous experiences by extending projects, increasing vocabulary and working more independently. Art history and world cultures are important sources of inspiration and information. Art happens in the studio and classrooms and is often integrated into math, science, social studies and language arts. Beautiful student art is displayed throughout our building and reflects our dedication to the process of creating art, self expression and development of presentation. We are delighted to be present in community art shows and school events.
Chorus
Grade 3 students have the opportunity to join Chorus class in which students participate in active music-making activities including chanting, singing, movement activities and the playing of non-pitched and pitched Orff percussion instruments. Students who enroll in Chorus increase their vocal technique while further developing their musical vocabulary through active music-making. Members of the String Ensemble and the Chorus participate in seasonal concerts throughout the year.
Communications
The Lower School Counselor teaches a weekly Communications class in Grade 3 for one semester. The course pulls from several programs and curricula to teach skills, such as conflict-resolution and problem-solving with peers, for social and academic success.
Handwriting and Keyboarding
Cursive handwriting is developed and practiced, fine-tuning the individual student’s cursive style, using the Handwriting Without Tears program. While students continue to improve their handwriting skills, keyboarding is also introduced. Grade 3 students are introduced to the QWERTY keyboard and utilizing the home row method for keyboarding tasks on the iPAD with touch typing and use of bluetooth keyboards. Components of the Grade 3 keyboarding curriculum include formatting and typing sentences, progressing to typing multiple paragraphs that are three to four sentences in length, reinforcing fine motor memory, and increasing typing speed and accuracy. They review and master foundation keyboarding skills such as learning numbers, shift, and function keys. They also are creating sentences from provided grade-level spelling words to type with bluetooth keyboards in the Notes App.
Math
Third grade students are assigned to groups appropriate to their math skills and learning needs. Groups are fluid throughout the year in order to provide appropriate support and challenge. The JUMP Math program guides the sequence of instruction. Visuals, manipulatives, games, and centers are used to teach math concepts. Students cover place value, numeration, addition and subtraction with regrouping, multiplication concepts, multiplication with regrouping, and division with exposure to remainders. Additional topics include fractions, measurement, money, time and elapsed time, graphing, geometry, and word-problems. Supplemental materials include Marilyn Burns’ research-based Do-the-Math series. Math instruction is enhanced through the use of cooperative games, manipulative materials, and real life application during our math lab periods. All students are exposed to each concept, but coverage and mastery is dependent on students’ skills and needs.
Music
Students build on previous concepts and skills learned in music class, including such concepts as: steady beat, loud and soft, sound and silence, high and low, fast and slow, identification of instrumental timbre, and active listening. Concepts are presented using multisensory activities which include chanting, singing, movement and the playing of non-pitched and pitched Orff percussion instruments. Third grade students continue to discover the elements of music and develop a musical vocabulary through active music-making. Vocal abilities are strengthened through the singing of traditional childhood songs and folk tunes. Students continue to determine components of form in musical compositions (like and unlike sections), aurally differentiate between instrumental timbres and represent concepts and objects with instrumental timbres through active creation of group arrangements of songs. Students create new verses or chants to augment songs for performance. Students also learn about the woodwind, brass, percussion and string families of instruments, focusing on visual and aural identification. Students are exposed to different musical styles and multicultural music through hands-on performance and active listening.
Physical Education
Grade 3 students receive daily Physical Education in classes that focus on games and activities that promote healthy exercise, cooperative play, and good sportsmanship. Basic locomotor movements and spatial awareness are reintroduced through throwing, catching, kicking, striking, and balance and tumbling. Grade 3 students also begin to play lead-up games to various team sports. Basic concepts of physical fitness and healthy living continue to be stressed; and health education is periodically incorporated into the curriculum. Facilities at the Lower School level include an indoor gymnasium, a multipurpose room, a large outdoor grass field and blacktop space.
Reading
Teachers group students across the grade level based on ability and learning profile. Groups remain flexible throughout the school year. Differentiated instruction allows each child to receive an individualized program based on their areas of strength and need. The Grade 3 reading program uses a variety of strategies and programs to enhance students’ overall reading skills. Students receive instruction to develop phonic skills using the multisensory Orton-Gillingham, which helps them link sounds and symbols through auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic modalities. Additional materials include chapter books, controlled reading passages, games, and other multisensory tools are utilized to target specific skills. Students develop strategies in order to comprehend and gain word attack skills. Using novels, biographies, and other authentic literature, students reinforce their ability to actively interact with the text to understand main ideas, predict outcomes, empathize with characters, sequence story events, develop vocabulary through context clues, and recall factual information. Vocabulary and comprehension skills are further developed through read-alouds and activities. The overall objective is to instill an appreciation for literature, while reinforcing students’ reading skills.
Social Studies
Grade 3 Social Studies follows the Social Studies Alive curriculum. Students begin the year by studying the geography of the United States. Students label features on maps and diagrams and explore longitude and latitude. They move into a study of the Chesapeake Bay as they examine the lives of the Native Americans, who were the first people who lived there. They expand their study of Native Americans across the American continent, as they discover how they adapted to different environments in North America, and how the cultural regions differed. Students then turn to the travels of Europeans to the New World during the Age of Exploration. They study the challenges that came during various settlements, including the Jamestown Settlement and the Plymouth Colony. Grade 3 students focus their country studies on Australia and Kenya. Students explore the cultures, customs, languages, and traditions of their countries of study using a number of resources. The students present their culminating knowledge of Australia and Kenya at the school-wide World Culture Day event.
STEM
Grade 3 STEM instruction is delivered with a hands-on approach to instill a love of science, technology, engineering and math. Students are challenged to share knowledge and synthesize it with personal inquiries and curiosities. As they report what they see and look for changes, they sharpen their observation and description skills. Grade 3 students explore many topics, including space, types of transportation, the Iditarod dog sled race, plants, crime science, and coding and robotics. Projects may include creating a scale model of the solar system, making a detective kit, designing and constructing different types of transportation, creating a digital detective book, making a home planetarium, programming droids to follow a map, creating a green screen project, and using stop motion video to demonstrate different modes of transportation. Students begin to relate science to their everyday lives and the goal is to encourage curiosity and exploration.
Strings
Grade 3 students have the opportunity to join the String Ensemble and learn to play either the violin, viola or cello. Students learn proper bow hold, hand position, note reading, and ensemble skills. Students who enroll in the Strings Program are required to take weekly lessons. Private string instructors are on campus to provide lessons for an additional fee.
Writing
Writing is taught separately from handwriting so that the focus is on content and the organization and expression of ideas. Several different venues are employed to make writing more accessible to all students. Third grade students write daily in structured activities based on the The Writing Process and Being a Writer. Writing instruction begins with identification and construction of simple and complex sentences by incorporating the 5W’s (Who, What, Where, When, Why), as well as conjunctions. Once the students have a strong foundation in sentence development, they delve into writing paragraphs, including narrative, persuasive, informational, and opinion paragraphs, by brainstorming and organizing ideas with planners and graphic organizers. Each student author confers with teachers and peers to share their written pieces and to receive feedback on their writing. After the conferences, they revise and edit their rough drafts, producing improved final drafts. To foster listening and speaking skills, students share their published work. Technology is also utilized to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others. Additionally, the students continue to expand their knowledge of grammar, spelling, and mechanics through multisensory methods, as well as examine the fundamentals of poetry and how to conduct research.

Grade 4

Art
Art is a significant part of the McLean School experience. Our Lower School program teaches students to develop planning and problem solving skills and the knowledge that is necessary to create, learn and respond to art. We introduce the elements of art and principles of design by studying famous artists and working with a wide range of media including drawing, painting, collage, ceramics and printmaking. Each grade level meets twice weekly and continues to build on previous experiences by extending projects, increasing vocabulary and working more independently. Art history and world cultures are important sources of inspiration and information. Art happens in the studio and classrooms and is often integrated into math, science, social studies and language arts. Beautiful student art is displayed throughout our building and reflects our dedication to the process of creating art, self expression and development of presentation. We are delighted to be present in community art shows and school events.
Chorus
Grade 4 students have the opportunity to join Chorus class in which students participate in active music-making activities including chanting, singing, movement activities and the playing of non-pitched and pitched Orff percussion instruments. Students who enroll in Chorus build their vocal technique while further developing their musical vocabulary through active music-making. Members of the String Ensemble and the Chorus participate in seasonal concerts throughout the year.
Handwriting and Keyboarding
Cursive handwriting is developed and practiced, fine-tuning the individual student’s cursive style, using the Handwriting without Tears program. While handwriting instruction continues, students also continue to work on keyboarding skills. Grade 4 students work on improving their typing speed and fluency, strengthening muscle memory, and improving skills needed for computer based training. They start discovering the world of touch typing, formatting by typing out word study spelling lists, short paragraphs and poems.
Library
Students visit the Learning Commons twice a week for Library classes. During these periods, students are exposed to a variety of genres, styles, and authors. Students retell stories through class discussion and other activities to target comprehension goals. As students explore genres, they learn where to locate different books on the shelves. They also learn about the library’s online system and use the app to locate books in the library. They explore Web sites containing e-books and videos of children’s literature and create books reviews on their iPads. Students learn about online safety as they develop digital literacy and citizenship and learn about online safety and respect, digital footprints, and online privacy.
Math
Fourth grade students are grouped according to skill level and learning needs. Groups are fluid throughout the year in order to provide appropriate support and challenge. The JUMP Math program guides the sequence of instruction. Commercial and teacher-made games are used throughout to help students practice, maintain, and generalize their skills. All groups utilize manipulatives to facilitate problem-solving and calculation tasks and are exposed to the same core concepts and skills. Money, place value to millions, and multi-digit addition and subtraction of whole numbers are taught and reinforced through the use of manipulatives and brain-based instruction. Students are introduced to multi-digit multiplication, long division, and basic fraction and decimal concepts. Students also explore basic geometry concepts, the interpretation of data, and probability. Students learn and practice problem-solving strategies to decipher challenging logic and word problems. The application and transfer of math concepts to everyday practice and understanding are also reinforced at this grade level. All students are exposed to each concept, but coverage and mastery is dependent on students’ skills and needs.
Music
Students build on previous concepts and skills learned in music class, including such concepts as: steady beat, loud and soft, sound and silence, high and low, fast and slow, identification of instrumental timbre and active listening. Concepts are presented using multisensory activities which include chanting, singing, movement and the playing of non-pitched and pitched Orff percussion instruments. Fourth grade students continue to discover the elements of music and develop a musical vocabulary through active music-making. Vocal abilities are strengthened through the singing of traditional childhood songs and folk tunes. Students continue to determine components of form in musical compositions (like and unlike sections), aurally differentiate between instrumental timbres and represent concepts and objects with instrumental timbres through active creation of group arrangements of songs. Students create new verses or chants to augment songs for performance. During the second semester, students learn to play the recorder. Students also learn about the woodwind, brass, percussion and string families of instruments, focusing on visual and aural identification. Students are exposed to different musical styles and multicultural music through hands-on performance and active listening.
Physical Education
Grade 4 students receive daily Physical Education in classes that focus on games and activities that promote healthy exercise, cooperative play, and good sportsmanship. Basic locomotor movements and spatial awareness are reintroduced through throwing, catching, kicking, striking, and balance and tumbling. Grade 4 students also begin to play lead-up games to various team sports. Basic concepts of physical fitness and healthy living continue to be stressed; and health education is periodically incorporated into the curriculum. Facilities at the Lower School level include an indoor gymnasium, a multipurpose room, a large outdoor grass field and blacktop space.
Reading
Teachers group students across the grade level based on ability and learning profile. Groups remain flexible throughout the school year. Differentiated instruction allows each child to receive an individualized program based on their areas of strength and need. The focus of the Reading program in fourth grade is the development of comprehension skills and reading strategies learned through small group instruction. Critical thinking activities and analysis of texts provide enrichment challenges for students with higher level comprehension skills. Reading at this grade level includes an exploration of a variety of genres. Students read on their own, with peers (buddy and small group), or in the whole class setting. Listening to other readers reinforces students’ individual listening and comprehension skills. Plays, poetry and recitations are used to practice fluency and reading out loud. For students who need support in the area of decoding, reading groups focus on decoding skills using the Orton-Gillingham multisensory method. Vocabulary and comprehension skills are further developed through read-alouds and activities. The overall objective is to instill an appreciation for literature, while strengthening students’ reading skills.
Social Studies
Grade 4 Social Studies follows the Social Studies Alive curriculum. The study of American History picks up as a continuation of the third grade curriculum. Students begin by reviewing the founding of the original 13 colonies, and continue through the American Revolution, the writing of the US Constitution, and the War of 1812. Several long term projects coordinating with the social studies curriculum are also assigned to the students. Second semester includes a country study, during which Grade 4 students focus on the culture, history, people, and wildlife of Italy, Switzerland and Japan. The students present their culminating knowledge at the school-wide World Culture Day event.
STEM
Grade 4 STEM continues to encourage the hands on exploration of science, technology, engineering, and math. Students develop their ability to observe, identify, interpret, and conduct experiments. Then, they record their findings and vocabulary words in science journals. Students cover topics such as inventions, electricity, the Iditarod dog sled race, biomes, flight, and coding and robotics. Projects may include designing and constructing a new invention, making electrical circuits, creating sculptures with lights using conductive and insulating dough, making an aquatic ecosystem, designing and constructing an irrigation system, programming droids to follow a map, and building a dog sled. Students begin to relate science to their everyday lives and the goal is to encourage curiosity and exploration.
Strings
Grade 4 students have the opportunity to join the String Ensemble and learn to play either the violin, viola or cello. Students learn proper bow hold, hand position, note reading, and ensemble skills. Students who enroll in the Strings Program are required to take weekly lessons. A private strings instructor is on campus to provide lessons for an additional fee.
Writing
Writing is taught separately from handwriting so that the focus is on content and the organization and expression of ideas. Instruction is informed by several programs, such as The Writing Process and Being a Writer. Grade 4 students learn to write compositions using a step-by-step writing process that begins with brainstorming and leads to the creation of graphic models (webs, linear graphs, and outlines) to organize their ideas. As students progress through various writing stages, they conference with teachers and with peers to form subsequent drafts. Each student proofreads, types and evaluates the final copy of a composition using a student writing checklist. Over the course of the school year, students progress from writing single paragraphs to compositions following the writing process. Compositions include informative, persuasive, explanatory, and descriptive pieces. Poetry is emphasized through creative writing. Grade 4 writing mechanics are reinforced through the Four-Square program.
Communications
The Lower School Counselor teaches a weekly Communications class in Grade 4 for one semester. The course pulls from several programs and curricula to teach skills, such as conflict-resolution and problem-solving with peers, for social and academic success.