Our Elementary curriculum emphasizes the development of the whole child, to lay a solid foundation for lifetime learning. This developmental approach recognizes that children are unique in their personal and academic development and learning styles. We use a variety of hands-on activities and help facilitate mastery in computation, reading and writing. The curriculum also employs multi-sensory teaching techniques to further ensure successful learning. A Classroom Resource teacher and an Enrichment teacher are available to support and challenge students during classroom learning.
A Developmental Approach to Elementary Education
The educational philosophy of our Elementary school is developmental in its approach to teaching and learning. Children pass through specific stages of development but not necessarily at the same time or with the same outcomes. Therefore, children must be considered within a number of contexts for successful education to occur. Educators consider the child’s chronological age, family background, culture and community, past history and present circumstances when determining the most appropriate educational techniques and programs to use at any particular age. Developmental education approaches children as unique individuals with unique gifts, talents, and abilities academically, socially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Some of the major principles of developmental education include:
- Development occurs in an orderly and predictable sequence with ability growing upon ability.
- Each child has a unique pattern and pace of development.
- Early experiences affect future development in all areas – spiritual, academic, social, physical, and emotional.
- There are optimal times of learning in certain areas. For example, the early years of a child’s development provide times of readiness that should be taken advantage of when planning curriculum.
- Play, exploration, and research activities are crucial for learning to take place in the early stages of development.
- Children learn best in an atmosphere of safety and love.
The elementary years represent an explosion in cognitive growth, increased social awareness and empathy. Immanuel Christian School teachers design creative lessons to encourage students to develop reading and writing fluency and critical thinking skills while promoting greater independence in accomplishing academic tasks. Reading is an integral part of the curriculum because it lays the foundation for all other future learning experiences. Children are first introduced to sounds and their relationship to language. As the children move into higher level critical thinking and reasoning skills, they are challenged to use previous knowledge to expand into an understanding of new and more complex academics. Because children learn best from hands-on experiences, math is introduced using manipulatives so children can experience math concepts and thinking – not merely memorize math facts – before moving to the symbolism of math. Creativity, self-expression and camaraderie are all supported through the hands-on curriculum extensions that enhance classroom instruction and meet the needs of diverse learning styles.
Children also develop spiritually. Therefore, children are exposed to godly principles through experience and example. Memorizing God’s Word daily gives to our students a foundation rich in scripture that can be used as the child matures and he/she is called upon to defend his/her faith and meet the demands of daily challenges. The truth found in scripture is taught and reviewed often in order to solidify godly principles and build character. A biblical worldview is integrated throughout the curriculum and students participate in ongoing class service projects.
FIRST GRADE: Experiential and Developmental Learners
In first grade, we emphasize experiential and developmental learning. First graders explore the world around them daily, developing knowledge in core subject areas through tasks that grow in complexity throughout the year. This is a time when students are seeking answers, and the first grade curriculum helps provide insights. First graders learn to apply previous knowledge, observations and critical thinking skills to solve new problems. Additionally, they have numerous opportunities to develop their creative gifts and talents.
Social skills are developed in first grade with exciting activities. Through the following initiatives, students learn the values of exploration, cooperation, sharing and patience.
SECOND GRADE: Understanding The World Around Them
This is a year when significant advances are made in reading fluency and proficiency. Through reading groups tailored to meet each student’s individual learning profile, they develop skills in a supportive environment. Development in math is also strongly emphasized in second grade. Algebraic concepts are introduced in the curriculum and the practice of basic math operations builds mastery in anticipation of third grade.
THIRD GRADE: Expanding Critical Thinking and Writing Skills
Our teachers encourage third grade students to increase their responsibility for learning new concepts and are constantly devising new classroom strategies that engage all types of learners. Students in third grade are gaining confidence and learning how to be a positive influence in our school community.
FOURTH GRADE: Building Independence
Students will read more challenging books and be expected to identify key elements of plot, setting, and character development. The school year ends with students performing an annual favorite, The Missing Parts of Speech play. Students will be expected to do more independent reading and research and to be able to answer more challenging comprehension questions that require inference and critical thinking.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM
The Language Arts encompasses reading, writing, and oral language, but teachers recognize that learners progress in acquiring language mastery at their own pace. First grade utilizes scaled reading groups and differentiated language activities to reach each child in his or her individual ability level. Opportunities for growth in language proficiency include phonics-based reading resources and modeled writing using appropriate children’s literature books. Reading units with recognized authors such as Mercer Mayer, culminate in students writing their own illustrated journals. Reading and writing skill development takes place through practice in spelling, letter formation, and writing complete sentences.
Students’ concept of community grows as they learn about the people who live and work around us. A field trip to the local Fire Station provides a first-hand experience in the value of being an active and responsible participant in our community. Basic geography studies involve familiarity with the globe, identification of continents, and knowing how to find the United States. First graders begin to develop a sense of history as they explore the differences between past and present.
Learning the language of mathematics is a focus of first grade math studies. Students begin to read and write number sentences and discover the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction. Practical math topics include time, measurement, using a calendar, and place value. The concept of 100 as well as word and vertical math problems of increasing complexity are included in the math curriculum as our students makes strides in numeric comprehension and computational ability.
The properties and characteristics of objects in nature are organizing concepts of first grade science. With a combination of curriculum from the science carts and teacher-created units, students experiment with classifying objects and identifying them according to their properties. Students examine geological objects such as rocks, soil, wood and seashells as well as living organisms such as plants and guppies. The role of habitat and the purpose of the life cycle are taught in the living organisms unit.
Music and Art
Students learn basic musical terms and singing skills in first grade. Rhythm, tempo, dynamics, pitch, and singing in unison are important performance preparations for the December Christmas musical. In depth examination of a particular composer (Mozart) and various musical instruments accompany singing practice in the second semester.
Art classes integrate with literature units whenever possible. For example, as the children read Eric Carle books in the first grade classroom, they create a collage based on the illustrations of Carle’s books. Color theory and the contrast between warm and cool colors introduce students to the basics of visual art. The warm, bright colors of Vincent Van Gogh, and in particular his masterpiece Sunflowers is the model for sunflowers painted by first graders and displayed in the entrance hallway to the school.
First Grade expands the Old Testament overview from kindergarten as the students lay the foundation of who God is, who they are related to God, and how sin separates them from God. The students begin to understand God’s redemptive plan as they trace God’s messianic promises through the Old Testament. Additionally, the students memorize weekly Bible verses that correspond to the letters of the alphabet.
First graders have weekly classes that focus on acquiring vocabulary, developing listening and inference skills, and speaking basic conversational phrases. The classes combine music, games, and hands-on activities to encourage long-term retention.
Physical fitness and outdoor exercise are a priority for Immanuel students. In first grade, students enjoy cooperative play in their daily recess times. The skills of simple organized sports and the exercise, agility, and endurance necessary for good health are emphasized in twice-weekly PE classes. Sportsmanship, teamwork, respect, and safety are all taught as essential to the enjoyment of sports activities.
Second graders discover characterization, identify conflict and solutions, and observe writer’s technique through the study of Kevin Henkes’ witty and engaging books in addition to a selection of many other grade level books chosen for their readability and relationship to reading skills acquisition. Students begin to construct paragraphs in response to reading. Scaled reading groups that fit the reading level of individual students promote confident oral reading and prepare the students for independent silent reading. Two whole-class literature units expose young readers to various elements of grammar, comprehension and analysis of plot, and traits of creative writing.
Spelling practice, punctuation mini-lessons, and correct sentence composition modeling assists students in their growth as confident writers. In the fourth quarter, students each “author” a story from beginning to end, putting into practice all of the skills acquired throughout the year.
While studying the Immigration Unit, second grade students develop an appreciation for their personal family heritage and recognition of the multi-cultural composition of America. Each child creates a “Family Book” that explores their family’s traditions and culture. Students also read about and discuss the lives of individuals who have come to our country and made a positive impact, with the objective of making a connection to the students themselves and encouraging them to use their God-given talents and interests for the benefit of others.
Second grade students build on their first grade addition and subtraction skills to compute numbers of greater place value. Using the properties of addition, students are introduced to multiplication. Word problems encourage math reasoning and creative thinking. Hands-on activities using metric measurements expand students’ understanding of quantities and distances. Reasoning and analytical games are used to increase critical thinking and stimulate memory/retrieval skills.
Materials from the science kit provide experimentation in gears and conductivity. Students also study the systems of the human body. Projects and lessons help children identify the body systems and their function, concluding in the construction of a “vest” showing all of the body systems. Springtime brings caterpillars and chrysalises to the classroom, as students observe the stages of butterfly development, culminating in the Butterfly Release Party.
Music and Art
Using the music of Peter and Wolf as a source, students learn about the various instruments in the orchestra, listening for the timbre, tone, and other individual properties that enable identification and enjoyment of string, percussion, horns and woodwind instruments. Instruction and practice in singing in unison and reading music continues in rehearsal for the Christmas musical and other classroom music.
Students work with a variety of media in Art classes, including clay, tissue paper, printmaking materials, paints, and drawing pencils, using each to depict a figure, object, or scene that corresponds with the second grade classroom curriculum.
Second Grade briefly reviews the Old Testament emphasizing the Old Testament promises of a coming savior. This leads into a focused study of the life of Jesus as seen in the Gospels through the birth, public ministry, death, & resurrection of Jesus. Students are also introduced to the structure of the Bible & verse references. Additionally, the students memorize weekly Bible verses that dovetail with the Biblical content studied.
Second graders have weekly classes that focus on acquiring vocabulary, developing listening and inference skills, and speaking basic conversational phrases. The classes combine music, games, and hands-on activities to encourage long-term retention.
Physical fitness and outdoor exercise are a priority for Immanuel students. In second grade, students enjoy cooperative play in their daily recess times. The skills of simple organized sports and the exercise, agility, and endurance necessary for good health are emphasized in twice-weekly PE classes. Sportsmanship, teamwork, respect, and safety are all taught as essential to the enjoyment of sports activities.
Third Grade Language Arts encompasses English, reading, spelling and vocabulary instruction. Students practice the building blocks of good writing through English instruction, which emphasizes familiarity with the parts of speech and the components of paragraph writing.
Whole-class reading books, Little House in the Big Woods, The Courage of Sarah Noble, Eagle Feather, Squanto and The Boxcar Children, integrate with social studies topics and engage young readers while teaching them the habits of proficient readers. Students observe the writer’s craft by identifying descriptive words and apply descriptive language to their own writing. Class discussions examine the character traits of central characters in the novels and make connections between the students’ lives and the actions and attitudes of book characters.
Students begin the year in Social Studies with a study of geography in which they identify the characteristics of land and water. Natural habitat for various plants and animals and sustainability in diverse regions are also discussed. Throughout the remainder of the year, third graders combine their study of geography with history, as they read about Native American tribes in the northwest, plains, and desert regions of the United States. Students study more in-depth about the arrival of the Pilgrims and the government and society they developed. The year concludes with the westward expansion, the effect of railroads on the West, and developing an appreciation for the hardships endured by settlers and their families. These are all depicted in the Moving West play, performed for parents at the end of the fourth quarter.
Math strategies, critical thinking, math facts and their applications are all features of third grade mathematics. Students enhance their understanding of the number system through the study of place value up to one hundred thousand and work with decimals and fractions. Everyday use of math is demonstrated through word problems involving time and money. Students memorize the multiplication table through games such as Math Football and Around the World which track their progress and encourage the learning of math facts. Learning the principle of division allows students to find quotients for three-digit numbers and completes initial instruction in the four basic operations. Using this information, third graders apply their knowledge of operations to word problems.
In their first year in the Elementary Science classroom, third graders review the concepts of plants, animals, living and non-living things, habitats, and the concept of the experiment. Using plants and colored water, students observe how plants absorb nutrients through the soil and gain an appreciation for the delicate balance of the environment. The importance of gathering and notating data is introduced through the observation of aphid and daphnia populations over a period of weeks. Making predictions about plant and animal behavior introduces the method of developing a scientific hypothesis. Electricity, magnets, the properties of liquid solutions, and basic physics experiments complete the units of study for third graders.
Music and Art
Music classes in the first semester prepare third graders for their part in the Grandparents’ Day Christmas musical in December. Third and fourth quarters are devoted to identifying notes on the treble staff, identifying and performing rhythms using eighth, quarter, half and whole notes. Playing recorders for the Moving West play is the culmination of music instruction for the year.
Third graders experiment with line and movement in Art, based on the painting Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh and use color resist technique to create their own depiction of the painting. The students view and discuss Alexander Calder’s sculptures with emphasis on his mobiles and create an original work based on this genre. In keeping with “modeling with the masters,” students observe the style of Georgia O’Keefe and use pastels to create their own version of Sunflowers.
In third grade students use the ESV Student Study Bible and are introduced to basic Bible study tools. These skills are used as the students study the Books of the Old Testament Law. Students take an in depth look primarily at the foundational books of Genesis and Exodus to gain understanding of who God is, who man is, and how God relates to man through the lives of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. Additionally, the students memorize weekly Bible verses that support and apply the concepts learned through their Bible study.
Third graders have weekly classes that focus on acquiring vocabulary, developing listening and inference skills, and speaking basic conversational phrases. The classes combine music, games, and hands-on activities to encourage long-term retention.
Physical fitness and outdoor exercise are a priority for Immanuel students. In third grade, students enjoy cooperative play during their recess times. The skills of simple organized sports and the exercise, agility, and endurance necessary for good health are emphasized in twice-weekly PE classes. Sportsmanship, teamwork, respect, and safety are all taught as essential to the enjoyment of sports activities.
As in all the elementary grades, Language Arts instruction includes English, Reading, and Spelling/Vocabulary. Development of Writing skills is integrated in each of these areas. Fourth grade readers are acquiring the ability to work with greater independence and the curriculum encourages this developmental milestone. New reading skills include identifying figurative language, making inferences and predictions, identifying cause and effect and interpreting character traits through the conversations, actions, and opinions in the novel characters. Both positive and negative character traits are part of the novel selection at this grade level, creating valuable interpretation and application skills and encouraging critical thinking.
Students in fourth grade begin the research project process at ICS which culminates in the eighth grade formal research paper. At the fourth grade level, students learn the basics of finding relevant information in a non-fiction book, conducting research using an online database, how to incorporate research information into their writing, and correct paragraph formation to include a topic sentence and supporting sentences. Each year, fourth graders enact The Case of the Missing Parts of Speech, a play which concludes grammar studies for the second semester.
Virginia history and early American history from the first explorers to North America through the Civil War are the focus of Social Studies in fourth grade. Students study and discuss the role of Virginians leading up to and in the Revolutionary War, the First and Second Continental Congresses, and in the development of key documents for the republic. The development of mapping skills, including the creation of a topographical, clay map of the state of Virginia, connects textbook depiction of maps with the actual geographical features of the Commonwealth. Parent volunteers assist in the Virginia History Day celebration, in which fourth graders dress in 18th century attire and explore a variety of activities common to colonial times. In the fourth quarter, students research books and the Internet in order to create a project that describes a famous Virginian.
Students continue to explore the number system as they compare, round and order numbers through hundred millions. Identification of prime numbers and associative, communicative, and zero properties as well as computation of problems with three, four and five-digit whole numbers stretch students’ math abilities. Collection, organization, and interpretation of data using a variety of graphs allow students to connect mathematics to real world problems. Students employ strategies to choose the correct operation to solve word problems, identify patterns, and estimate products and quotients.
The physics of motion and inertia, measurement of direction and distance, observing the behavior of objects in three dimensions of space, concepts of galaxies and the universe, development of language to describe the properties of constellations, starts, meteor, and the structure of the universe are all covered in fourth grade science. The environment on Earth and factors that influence plant and animal growth are examined. Students observe hermit crabs in a terrarium and determine their response to changes in temperature, light, and moisture.
Music and Art
In music, our fourth grade students practice reading and performance skills in preparation for the Christmas concert. Continued instruction on recorder further acquaints students with more advanced music and supports participation in the ICS Junior Orchestra. Composers studied include Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Handel.
After learning the history of quilt-making from a member of the local quilting guild, students create their own quilt designs and assemble them using paper triangles of various colors. Students study sculpture techniques and use lengths of silver wire to create a human figure and attach it to a display base. Gesture drawings, using the technique of spiral drawing of the human body, prepare students for the sculpture unit and promote understanding of the composition of the human figure.
Fourth grade uses the ESV Student Study Bible to build on their foundational studies in the Books of the Old Testament Law as they continue to trace the messianic promises and God’s desire to redeem His people through the study of the books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and First and Second Samuel. Additionally, the students memorize weekly Bible verses that correspond to the application of the themes of these Old Testament Books.
Physical fitness and outdoor exercise are a priority for Immanuel students. In fourth grade, students enjoy cooperative play in their recess times. The skills of simple organized sports and the exercise, agility, and endurance necessary for good health are emphasized in twice-weekly PE classes. Sportsmanship, teamwork, respect, and safety are all taught as essential to the enjoyment of sports activities.
TEXTS AND RESOURCES