Lower School

18 Months - Grade 4

The Lower School serves children 18 months to Grade 4 and believes that every child is different. The program strives to partner with families to cultivate each child’s uniqueness. To meet the different needs of families and students, the Lower School is divided into two programs: the Pre-Primary Section and the Primary Section.

Pre-Primary Section (18 months-Age 5) Curriculum Overview

This section of the Lower School emphasizes the development of the whole child. It is believed that children learn best when they are actively involved in a nurturing environment that is responsive to their varying needs and focuses on their development – social, emotional, physical, and intellectual. Skills and abilities are promoted through developmentally appropriate, child-centered activities that allow each student to explore, investigate, communicate, and problem solve. Through this process, children develop a love of learning.

Early Childhood (3 or 5 day option)

Fine Arts - The children are introduced to a wide variety of art materials that are used for creative exploration. During these interactions, the children learn about the feelings art may inspire – including pride in one’s own work.

Language Arts – Throughout the year, children focus on using verbal/nonverbal communication, pre-writing and pre-reading skills. The children covey their awareness by responding to their names and conversation prompts. Addressing others by name and conversing with peers and teachers is fundamental in building our language skills. Using words and expressing wants and needs are important elements when expanding verbal communication. Expressing themselves on paper during art activities or at the writing centers are ways toddlers develop their pre-writing. The Early Childhood Program celebrates the importance of reading by having books available throughout the day for one-to-one reading and for group time reading.

Math – Toddlers love to divide objects into categories by shape, size, color, or type. Throughout the year the children are exploring, questioning and mastering problem-solving skills. The children will demonstrate, through play, their rudimentary understanding of classification and sequencing. Numbers are viewed and counted daily during calendar activities, number signs in the classroom, counting friends and other daily occurrences.

Music – Students have the opportunity to participate in a music class once a week with the Lower School music teacher. Students are introduced to steady beat, pitch (high and low pitch differentiation), timbre (sounds of various small percussion instruments and piano), loud and quiet instrument play, and active listening (movement to simple songs with hands and bodies).

Physical – Strengthening physical development can be observed in almost everything toddlers do, from holding a pencil to running and climbing. Some activities that help develop the hand muscles and other small motions include: sorting, building, writing, drawing, cutting and eating. Gross motor skills help to develop the largest muscle groups and are usually best experienced outdoors or in the gross motor room. Balancing, running, riding a bike and climbing are movements toddlers focus on throughout the year. Personal needs, such as washing hands, wiping noses and toileting are also part of the physical development of the children.

Science – Our classroom and environmental explorations provide numerous opportunities for children to increase their scientific knowledge. By engaging in constant conversations, children are expanding their vocabulary and knowledge of their bodies and the world around them. Nature exploration is facilitated by our outdoor studies teacher. Specific areas of interest include: sound, weather phenomena, seasonal changes, magnification and magnets.

Social Studies – Through experimentation with objects, language and social interactions, toddlers are entering a new phase of mental activity. The children are learning how to be safe within their environment, how to use words to express feelings, and how to act appropriately in different situations.

Pre-Kindergarten I

Fine Arts – Children are introduced to many different art experiences throughout the year. They explore different types of music, imaginative play opportunities and a wide variety of art materials. Children are also exposed to different tactile and sensorial experiences. During these experiences, they learn about the feelings art inspires.

Language Arts – Communication is the primary focus in PKI. Students work on following simple directions, listening to others, turn-taking, and using their words to express ideas and observations. Conversing with peers, teachers and community members during project work is an important way to develop and build upon these skills. A variety of activities including books, the writing center, the listening center, dramatic play, and art activities, are available daily for children to explore and practice language.

Math – Math is explored daily through natural opportunities and hands-on experiences. Numbers are viewed and counted daily during calendar activities, number signs in the classroom, counting friends and other daily occurrences. Math concepts are explored through hands-on materials, such as puzzles, counting objects, sorting objects, fun manipulatives, art, and cooking activities. There is a focus on problem-solving skills, number recognition to 10, shape recognition, size comparison, patterning, group graphing, and measurement.

Physical Education-Movement and Swimming – Students are introduced to and develop skills in the following areas: rhythmic fundamentals, creativity and self-exploration, locomotor skills, spatial awareness, pathways and directions, balance activities, ball skills (throwing and kicking) and cooperative games. In swimming, students work on development of the crawl stroke, breaststroke and backstroke. They experience water exploration and learn about water safety.

Science – Students ask questions, use their senses to collect information, and make observations to help find answers to their curiosities. Sharing their findings with peers help them develop a deeper understanding. Students explore the mixing of colors to expand their knowledge of primary and secondary colors. Walks outside enable the children to observe and identify changes in the environment as the seasons change. They focus on learning about scientific concepts of sink and float, magnets, the five senses, and what people and animals need to grow and be healthy.

Social Studies – Students work to build a classroom community and understand the importance of sharing, manners, and respecting rules. Children learn about the entire CCDS community and campus with walks outside, from the playing fields to the horse trails. Through cross-divisional events, the children learn confidence, whether meeting administrators, staff, or Upper School students. They have a strong sense of ownership and understanding of the CCDS culture.

Pre-Kindergarten II

Fine Arts – Through a variety of experiences, students explore an assortment of materials, participating in dramatic play, discussing art forms, reflecting upon their own artwork, and concentrating for periods of time. As part of the Project Approach philosophy, students complete drawings using their own interests and observations.

Language Arts – In PKII, students develop several skills associated with oral and written language. The FOCUS Reading and Language Program reinforces phonemic awareness activities, which include counting syllables, recognizing beginning, middle, ending letter sounds, and identifying alliterate words. Using the program Handwriting Without Tears, we work on letter formation as well as sounding out and writing words in isolation. Daily activities provide children with understanding of the many purposes for writing and supported language development.

Math – Students gain number sense and mathematical skills through projects and large and small group activities. The Project Approach provides opportunities to discuss many areas related to math, including measurement, sorting, and graphing. Daily counting and discussion of the “number of the day” support number identification and formation. Other vocabulary/symbols associated with simple math skills are also introduced.

Physical Education-Movement and Swimming - Students are introduced to and develop skills in the following areas: rhythmic fundamentals, creativity and self-exploration, locomotor skills, spatial awareness, pathways and directions, balance activities, ball skills (throwing and kicking) and cooperative games. In swimming, students work on development of the crawl stroke, breaststroke, and backstroke. They experience water exploration and learn about water safety.

Science – Students develop inquiry skills as they participate in a wide variety of activities. The Project Approach provides opportunities for children to develop questioning skills, simple research skills, and observe the details of an object. Sharing their knowledge as a group deepens their understanding of the science in our world.

Social Studies – Students explore various aspects of history, geography, and community/culture as they pertain to our classroom and projects. They explore history by gaining an understanding of their daily and weekly schedules, as well as being able to articulate personal or shared events sequentially. Through peer interactions of cooperative learning and group negotiations related to our projects, students work to build a strong sense of community and sense of group.

Montessori I & II

Fine Arts – Through the introduction of various artists, styles, and compositional genres, the students enjoy the freedom and space to experience their own explorations in creative expression. Visual arts, music, and creative dramatic experiences are available through free choice explorations, as well as organized performances. Students work on differentiation of tempo and volume as expressive elements in music. They study in more detail the instrument families (wind, string, and percussion).

Language Arts – The Montessori language curriculum is an integrated approach that combines phonics and whole language. Students work on following simple directions, listening to others, turn taking, and using words to express wants, needs, ideas, and observations. Phonetic awareness activities focus on analyzing sounds and on the sequence of sound (phonemes) in the objects familiar to students. Conversation and oral vocabulary-building activities prepare children for work with written language. Written letters are introduced through environmental print, books, and the use of sandpaper letters. Through lessons with sandpaper letters, a child can feel the shape of a letter as he learns its phonetic sound. A variety of writing materials, as well as metal insets are used to develop the motor skills needed for proper letter formation.

Math – Students first acquire a visual and tactile concept of numbers by participating in activities that teach sequence, recognition, and quantity of numbers 1 to 20. Sandpaper numerals and counters, the spindle box, and the short bead stair provide children the opportunity to experience reinforcement of numerical concepts. Over the course of the school year, students participate in lessons introducing fractions and the concepts of time, money, and measurement. In the math area, as in all other areas, students progress at their own pace, according to individual needs and interest.

Physical Education-Movement and Swimming - Students are introduced to and develop skills in the following areas: rhythmic fundamentals, creativity and self-exploration, locomotor skills, spatial awareness, pathways and directions, balance activities, ball skills (throwing and kicking) and cooperative games. In swimming, students work on development of the crawl stroke, breaststroke, and backstroke. They experience water exploration and learn about water safety.

Science – The Montessori science materials present the subject in such a way that children can observe, experiment, demonstrate, and record what has been learned. Units of study are: living and non-living, plants and animals, types of leaves, the mammal family, the human body and skeleton, and a special focus on food groups and nutrition, birds of Ohio, reptiles and amphibians, arts of the planet, growth of the seed, the flower, the world of insects, simple machines, and magnets.

Social Studies – Montessori children work on becoming part of the classroom and school community and understanding the importance of sharing, manners, and respecting rules. Through walks on campus and cross-divisional events, children develop a sense of the CCDS community as a whole. Students are introduced to our planet’s rich diversity of people. This area introduces students to the continents of the world, emphasizing a region or population’s geography, history, music, art, and cultural traditions. The children study different areas of the world, and experience concrete examples through globes, puzzle maps, and land/water forms. Students study the continents of the world, holidays, great Americans, the solar system, and layers of the Earth.

Primary Section (Kindergarten / Montessori Kindergarten - Grade 4) Curriculum Overview

This section of the Lower School emphasizes an increased love of learning through a variety of concrete, hands-on experiences. Increased independence, collaboration, self-exploration, self-discovery, risk taking, and more advanced reasoning/critical thinking skills are the hallmarks of the primary section. The curriculum provides developmentally appropriate academic and social opportunities designed to nurture, challenge, and engage each learner.

Kindergarten (Traditional and Montessori)

Fine Arts – Students will participate in visual arts and music. The visual art activities and assignments focus on the elements of line, shape, and color. The students learn the vocabulary of art terms and develop an appreciation for the formal expressive qualities in their own work, and that of others, through individual and group discussions. The musical activities and assignments concentrate on rhythm, including steady beat, short and long sounds, and rhythmic patterns; pitch (high, middle, low, and matching pitch in signing), timbre of instruments, and volume with use of the proper terms: piano, mezzo, and forte.

Language Arts- Students participate in shared reading, guided reading and beginning reading skills and strategies. This helps students with their oral expression. During Writer’s Workshop, students work on D’Nealian handwriting, phonetic spelling and writing conversations.

Math- Students gain a strong understanding of number concepts to 100. This includes counting, recognizing and identifying numbers 1-100, skip counting by 10’s, 5’s and 2’s, and having an awareness of place value with ones, tens, and hundreds. They will focus on counting with accuracy, sets, patterns, geometry, measurement, and collecting and recording data. They will end the year with simple addition, subtraction and problem solving strategies.

Physical Education – Students are introduced to and develop skills in the following areas: rhythmic fundamentals, creativity and self-exploration, locomotor skills, spatial awareness, pathways, and direction following activities, ball skills (throwing and kicking), and cooperative games. In swimming, the students work on development of the crawl stroke, breast stroke and backstroke. They experience water exploration and learn about water safety.

Science- Students develop inquiry skills as they participate in a wide variety of activities. The project approach to learning provides opportunities for children to develop questioning skills, simple research skills, and observe the details of an object. Sharing their knowledge as a group deepens their understanding of the science in our world. Units of study are: living and non-living, plants and animals, types of leaves, the mammal family, the human body and skeleton, and a special focus on food groups and nutrition, birds of Ohio, reptiles and amphibians, parts of the plant, growth of the seed, the flower, the world of insects, simple machines, and magnets.

Social Studies- Students explore what it means to be a part of the classroom community and school community and understanding the importance of sharing, manners, and respecting rules. Students are introduced to our planet’s rich diversity of people. Students are introduced to the continents of the world, emphasizing a region or population’s geography, history, music, art and cultural traditions.

World Language – (French and Spanish) Students take part in an exploratory year of the world languages. Students try out language by imitating high frequency words, phrases, greetings, and responses. They also learn the colors, counting, and parts of the body through games and songs. As part of the world language study, they learn about and celebrate traditional holidays.

Grade 1

Fine Arts – Students will participate in visual arts and music. Visual art activities and assignments focus on the elements of line, shape, and color. Each student works to develop a meaningful connection in recognizing and identifying the function of art in everyday life. We explore two- and three- dimensional art using a variety of media and techniques, including drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, and sculpture. The music program exposes students to American culture and regional music through singing and work with instruments (small percussion and xylophone family). Concepts include rhythm (steady beat, rhythm patterns and reading rhythm), recognizing and singing on pitch, listening exercises with composer study and instruments of the orchestra.

Language Arts – Students participate in daily reading groups that use Guided Reading books to teach decoding, fluency, and comprehension. These skills are also practiced through daily independent reading. The word study program emphasizes the acquisition of spelling patterns and high-frequency words for use in reading and writing. Writing Workshop lessons teach writing conventions and crafts used in writing personal narratives, research reports, opinion pieces and poetry.

Math – Math skills are presented in a variety of contexts that promote problem solving, reasoning, communication, making connections, designing and analyzing representations, and real life applications. Computation strategies for addition and subtraction are taught, and the inverse relationship between the two is explored. Students also work on math facts for speed and accuracy, word problems, geometry, measurement, time telling and money skills.

Physical Education – Students develop fine motor skills by working with manipulatives, and they practice creative movement through rhythm and tempo, rhythmic instruments, and movement exploration. Character development, physical fitness, and sportsmanship are fostered through participation in cooperative games, understanding team concepts, and encouraging respect for others, equipment, and facilities. Classes focus on development of gross motor skills through ball skills, gymnastics, swimming, and kinesthetic awareness. In swimming, the students work on development of the crawl stroke, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly. They experience water exploration and learn about water safety.

Science – Students will study all aspects of water. Students will use observation techniques to learn about water habitats while building aquariums and visiting local ponds. As students focus on water in their world, they learn about purification, conservation, and usage. Water properties, including the water cycle, are investigated through experimentation.

Social Studies – Students will have a year-long focus on the city of Cincinnati. Students learn about Cincinnati’s geographic features including ponds, rivers, and hills. Students study Native American cultures and early settlers from the Cincinnati area. The focus then shifts to the present, and students learn about Cincinnati today. Each student researches and builds a significant place in Cincinnati. Mapping skills are taught and utilized as students locate nearby places. Field trips to the Indian Hill Water Works, Cincinnati History Museum, and the Purple People Bridge reinforce and extend the social studies curriculum.

World Language – (French and Spanish) Students will learn elementary vocabulary relating to school, home and family, and foods. In addition to vocabulary introduced with each unit, first graders learn to build sentences beginning with “I am” and “I have” and “is”. Students use their developing skills in written and spoken projects and in classroom games and conversation. Students informally review study habits and are invited to practice for a few minutes each day.

Grade 2

Fine Arts - Students will participate in visual arts and music. Visual art activities and assignments focus on the elements of line, shape, and color. Each student works to develop a meaningful connection in recognizing and identifying the function of art in everyday life. In music classes; students concentrate on songs of other nations in vocal performance, rhythm (adding simple ostinato patterns to rhythm reading), written notation, keyboards, the major scale, and solfege (do re mi etc.).

Language Arts – Curriculum in second grade is comprised of reading, spelling, writing, speaking and listening and research. The goal of the program is to foster creative and meaningful expression of ideas by building vocabulary and increasing fluency in reading, writing, and speaking.

Math – Daily enVision Math lessons include interactive learning, visual animation, and story problems with emphasis on oral and written language to strengthen students’ ability to think and communicate mathematically. Students add and subtract, use measurement, geometry, and data to solve problems. They develop an initial understanding of multiplication as repeated addition.

Physical Education – Students focus on improvement of gross motor skills through ball skills, gymnastics, swimming, and kinesthetic awareness. Character development, physical fitness, and sportsmanship are fostered through participation in cooperative games, understanding team concepts, and encouraging respect for others, equipment, and facilities. In swimming, the students work on development of the crawl stroke, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly. They experience water exploration and learn water safety.

Science – Students explore the Life Sciences in second grade. Topics covered include the basic needs of people, animals and plants, world biomes, habitats, weather, and seasons. The 62–acre campus is used for exploration of our local ecosystem through nature hikes and activities when studying local plants, habitats, and seasonal changes. Scientific inquiry is a common approach, and students learn how to collect data and explain their findings in response to those observations and activities.

Social Studies – Students compare contemporary rural, urban, and suburban communities to settlements in Ohio’s past. They learn basic map skills, create timelines, and study relevant current events. The concept of citizenship is expanded through the study of historical figures by encouraging our students to understand that one person can make a difference.

World Language – (French and Spanish) Students continue to expand their vocabulary, particularly related to animals, calendar, and school. In addition to the vocabulary introduced with each unit, second graders focus on solidifying their understanding of target–language grammar, particularly in relation to the number and gender. They continue to work toward mastering proper pronunciation during spoken communication.

Grade 3

Fine Arts - Students will participate in visual arts and music. Visual art activities and assignments focus on the elements of line, shape, and color. Each student works to develop a meaningful connection in recognizing and identifying the function of art in everyday life. In music classes, students extend their knowledge of music through introduction of the soprano recorder, continued growth in vocal performance, and creative movement. The students use their basic notation and reading skills while paying attention to intonation on recorders.

Language Arts – Students in third grade have a curriculum comprised of reading, spelling, writing, speaking and listening, research, and study skills. The goal of the program is to foster creative and meaningful expression of ideas by building vocabulary, increasing fluency in reading, writing, speaking, and furthering literal and interpretive comprehension. In Writing Workshop, our goals include: strengthening mechanics, building confidence in written expression, improving sentence structure, encouraging proofreading skills, and strengthening spelling skills.

Math – Students in third grade utilize enVision Math program, which focuses on building number sense, strengthening mathematical concepts, and learning basic facts. The math program makes a strong connection between math skills and written expression. Students are expected to use the appropriate mathematical vocabulary when explaining their problem-solving strategies, both orally and in writing.

Physical Education – Students are provided a variety of challenges and stimulating activities that promote social interaction and improvement on self-concepts, teamwork, sportsmanship, fitness, and skill development. In swimming, the students work on the crawl stroke, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly as we break down the specific skills of each stroke. They experience water exploration and learn water safety.

Science – Students are exposed to a variety of life, earth, and physical sciences to build a foundation of general science knowledge. The curriculum includes both content and process learning. Learning about science (content) and how to do science (process) are two different, but equally important, functions of the science program. To this end, students engage in manipulative activities that allow them to construct a knowledge base of science concepts. The units of study are rocks and minerals, simple machines, sound, and ecology.

Social Studies – Students study and develop an understanding and appreciation of the Earth, its past, its people and their communities. Units of study are cross-curricular with an emphasis placed on learning through simulations, which provide rich, hands-on learning experiences of what life was like long ago. The goal of the program is to further an understanding and appreciation of our natural environment, and foster respect for the people in it.

World Language – (French and Spanish) Students continue to expand their vocabulary while practicing simple verb conjugation. Lessons target communication most relevant to young students. Students use their developing skills in written and spoken projects, in classroom games and conversation, and in correspondence with pen pals. Students informally review study habits and are encouraged to practice for a few minutes each day.

Grade 4

Fine Arts - Students will participate in visual arts and music. Visual art activities and assignments focus on the elements of line, shape, and color. Each student works to develop a meaningful connection in recognizing and identifying the function of art in everyday life. In music, focus is on the complete treble staff and music rhythm reading. Students continue to work toward proficiency in vocal performance with part-singing. Recorder performance is stretched to include performance of more difficult songs.

Language Arts – The foundation of the reading program is guided reading, which includes instructional reading groups, independent reading, and literature discussion. Students engage in reading for pleasure and understanding to gain information, and as a vital tool for beginning research skills. Grammar skills are introduced and reviewed during lessons and independent writing. In writing, the goals include: strengthening mechanics and spelling skills, building confidence in writing expression, improving sentence structure, refining, editing and proofreading skills.

Math – Students strengthen and extend many previously introduced concepts in the areas of number properties and operations, problem solving, measurement, geometry, data analysis, and algebra. Mathematical reasoning and process skills are at the core of the curriculum. Students work on transition from concrete understanding to abstract application of skills and concepts. As the math program moves toward a greater emphasis on application and the ability to express the thinking process, the focus shifts from the final product to the intellectual process.

Physical Education - Students are provided a variety of challenging, stimulating activities that promote social interaction and improvement of self-concepts, teamwork, sportsmanship, fitness, and skill development. In swimming, the students work on the crawl stroke, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly as we break down the specific skills of each stroke. They experience water exploration and learn water safety.

Science – Students are exposed to a variety of life, Earth/space, and physical sciences to build a foundation of general science knowledge. The curriculum includes both content and process learning. Learning about science (content) and how to do science (process) are two different, but equally important, functions of the science program. To this end, students engage in manipulative activities that allow them to construct a knowledge base of science concepts. The units of study are plants, solar system and space exploration, electricity, and magnetism.

Social Studies – Students develop an understanding of the past and how ideas, events, and people have shaped our country and state. The study of current events helps the students understand the world we live in, as well as how we are shaping our future. Units of study include: geography, people in societies, Ohio history, economics, government, and citizenship rights and responsibilities.

World Language – (French and Spanish) Students focus on writing paragraphs using common verbs and vocabulary. Lessons target communication most relevant to young students, from making introductions to talking about themselves, their family and friends, and their likes and dislikes. Students use their developing skills in written and spoken projects, in classroom games and conversation, an in correspondence with pen pals.

Extended Day Programs

Country Day has a variety of programs that extend beyond the typical school day to help meet the demands of busy families. These programs include Extended A.M., Lunch Option, Extended P.M., Learning Lab, After School, and Enrichment Clubs. Extended Day Programs.

QUICK FACTS

Grades: Early Childhood (18 months) - Grade 4
Students: 326
Faculty/Staff: 62
Average class size: 12 for younger children; 16 for older children
Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1 for younger children; 9:1 for older children
Division Head: Jennifer Aquino
Contact: (513) 979-0229 Handbook: Lower School
Curriculum Guide: All-School

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