Lower School Curriculum

Distinctive Programs

Service Learning
Ridgefield Academy’s Service Learning program combines community service opportunities with classroom lessons and advisory programs in order to teach civic responsibility, strengthen our school and neighboring communities, and enrich the academic experience. Through guest speaker events, field trips, organizational partnerships, and discussion groups, our Service Learning curriculum addresses broader citizenship matters ranging from hunger, poverty, and homelessness to developmental differences and environmental awareness. These programs encourage and empower students to become thoughtful, reflective citizens who are inspired to serve as active change agents in their community.

In the Lower School, students are given the opportunity to participate in Service Learning activities and events at an age appropriate level:
  • Campus clean-up
  • Garden activities
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Food bank
  • Care packages for troops

 

 

Physical Education/Sports
Lower School Physical Education allows students to tackle developmentally appropriate exercises in the gym and outdoor playground. The curriculum is designed to explore spatial orientation, refine motor skills, develop hand-eye coordination, and discover body awareness, balance, and rhythm. In addition to skill development, our Lower School PE program teaches students the importance of sharing, taking turns, responsibility, respect, cooperation, kindness, honesty, and winning and losing with grace.

Kindergarten/Grade 8 Buddy Program
Ridgefield Academy unites students across the Lower School and Upper School by partnering each Grade 8 student with a Kindergartner “buddy” for the school year. This special program brings a sense of community to our school, gives younger students a role model, and offers our oldest students the opportunity to experience responsibility and inspired leadership. Grade 8 students are introduced to their buddies in September and meet biweekly to share in the joy of reading, work on projects, play, and enjoy one another’s company. In June, our Kindergarten buddies escort their Grade 8 buddies to the Graduation Stage.

Public Speaking Program
An important part of becoming a confident learner is mastering the tools to effectively communicate ideas to others. Ridgefield Academy’s public speaking program teaches communication skills beginning with our youngest grades. Lower School children engage in our formal public speaking curriculum and are given ample opportunity to practice these skills throughout our curriculum. Every one of our graduates completes his or her educational journey at Ridgefield Academy with a personal graduation speech that highlights the success of our public speaking program.

Lower School Campout
Children in Grades 1 – 3 along with their parents are invited to spend a night under the stars on our scenic 42-acre campus. All campers enjoy a BBQ dinner, campfire, marshmallow roast, and a not-so-scary story before heading home or back to their family tent for the night. In the morning all are treated to a “Survivor’s Breakfast” before packing up. This is a hallmark and much anticipated event for our Lower School students and allows our families to engage in an old-fashioned family-friendly event that takes advantaged of our spectacular property.

Feel Good Fridays
On the last Friday of each month our Lower School students enjoy a way to come together as a community to build relationships with each other, connect with teachers, and celebrate a month of hard work. Each Feel Good Friday takes on a different theme, such as animal mania, STEM and innovation, dress up day, hot chocolate and holiday reads, sports and fitness, and more. Themed activities allow our children to enjoy a break from the usual school schedule and explore learning about a variety of topics through fun, hands-on activities with our Lower School community.

Preschool/Lower School Monthly Assembly
Each month Lower School students gather in Turner Hall for an assembly that is led by our Grade 3 students. During this time, exciting units of learning and activities that the students have experienced that month are featured, along with student performances, announcements, and more. This assembly not only allows our leaders of the Lower School to practice their public speaking skills, but it builds community, generates excitement, and highlights the great learning happening in our Lower School program.

Food Service Program
Ridgefield Academy’s farm-to-cafeteria food program is a point of distinction. Chef Paul Desiano and his staff are dedicated to providing nutritious, locally grown lunches for our students, and work each day to source available food for preparation on-site. In fact, over 90% of every meal is made from scratch at Ridgefield Academy. We believe learning how our food is grown and the way in which it nourishes our bodies is an important part of every child’s education. We encourage all children to try new foods and embrace new tastes in an effort to broaden a child’s knowledge and appreciation of food and help him or her become better prepared to make healthy choices in the future. Every Monday the school participates in the nationwide “Meatless Monday” movement, and every Wednesday international cuisine is served. Children with food allergies are treated with care and kindness.

 

Core Programs

Language Arts

Kindergarten
  • Phonetic rules and writing
  • Recognize letter sounds
  • Read words with short and long vowel sounds and multiple syllables
  • Identify high frequency words
  • Write upper and lower case letters on lined paper

Grade 1
  • Introduction to grammar
  • Introduction to reading and comprehension strategies
  • Build fluency and comprehension
  • Apply phonics rules when reading and writing
  • Identify and spell high frequency/trick/sight words
  • Write complete sentences
  • Respond to literature and writing prompts

Grade 2
  • Introduction to story structure
  • Relate reading to personal life
  • Apply phonics rules when reading and writing
  • Crossover from learning to read to reading to learn
  • Fluency to comprehension integrate grammar and mechanics in writing
  • Respond to writing prompts using modeled techniques

Grade 3
  • Introduction to personal narrative, expository, and problem/solution writing
  • Enrich vocabulary Identify and write main ideas and supporting details
  • Reinforce phonetics to decode and understand complex words
  • Summarize stories and predict outcomes
  • Engage in group discussions of literature

Math

Kindergarten
  • Identify, write and count to 100 by 1’s, 5’s, 10’s and 2’s
  • Identify basic shapes, patterns and graphs
  • Understand and apply concepts of addition and subtraction to 10
  • Solve problems
  • Students will also be introduced to coins, time, measurement, place value.

Grade 1
  • Counting, skip counting, adding and comparing numbers
  • Number lines - open and closed
  • Addition and subtraction facts and strategies
  • Exploring fact families and equations
  • Story Problems
  • Two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes
  • Place value to hundreds
  • Time to the hour
  • Money Fractions
  • Measurement

Grade 2
  • Master addition and subtraction facts
  • Place value through thousands
  • Measurement
  • Addition and subtraction within 100 (regrouping)
  • Geometry
  • Fractions
  • Money
  • Multiplication/Division

Grade 3
  • Master multiplication and division facts
  • Add and subtract whole numbers and money.
  • Calculate elapsed time
  • Multiply 2 and 3 digit numbers and money
  • Divide with and without remainders
  • Solve problems

Social Studies/History

Kindergarten
  • Investigate the community, the country and the family

Grade 1
  • Discover the world of people working together

Grade 2
  • Investigate communities at home and around the world

Grade 3
  • Research regions of the United States

Science

Kindergarten
  • Animals
  • The Properties of Water
  • Space, Planets, Moons

Grade 1
  • The Five Senses
  • Solids, Liquids, Gases
  • Light and Shadows

Grade 2
  • Plants and Animals
  • Physics
  • Weather

Grade 3
  • Insects
  • Measurement
  • Flight

World Languages

Kindergarten
FRENCH
  • French culture
  • Pronunciation
  • Greetings and farewells
  • Vocabulary: alphabet, weather, colors, numbers, family, animals, food
  • Expressions: feeling, ownership
  • Calendar

Grade 1
FRENCH
  • French culture
  • Pronunciation
  • Greetings and farewells
  • Vocabulary: alphabet, weather, colors, numbers, family, animals, food
  • Expressions: feeling, ownership
  • Calendar

Grade 2
FRENCH
  • French culture
  • Pronunciation
  • Greetings and farewells
  • Vocabulary: alphabet, weather, colors, numbers, family, animals, food
  • Expressions: feeling, ownership
  • Calendar

Grade 3
Students are given the choice to start Spanish or to continue French.
FRENCH
  • Listening/writing skills
  • Read materials using basic vocabulary
  • Appropriate grammar
  • Greetings
  • Calendar
  • Numbers
  • Vocabulary: colors, school supplies, family, body, food
SPANISH
  • Recognize basic written and spoken words
  • Spanish culture
  • Greetings
  • Calendar
  • Numbers
  • Vocabulary: colors, school supplies, family, body, food

Art

Kindergarten
  • Primary colors, multimedia and collage, line art, ceramics, printmaking, stamping, watercolor and tempera painting, paper sculpture, weaving
  • Art history
  • World art

Grade 1
  • Secondary colors, multimedia, self-portraits, sculpture, weaving, printmaking, ceramics, painting
  • Art history
  • World art

Grade 2
  • Sculpture, multimedia, ceramics, drawing, printmaking, painting, drawing, weaving
  • Art history
  • World art

Grade 3
  • Printmaking, drawing, painting, weaving, sculpture, ceramics
  • Art history
  • World art

Music

Lower School students attend music twice a week for 30 minutes in Kindergarten, and 40 minutes in Grades 1-3. Each music class is comprised of singing, movement/dance, playing a variety of pitched and unpitched instruments, and music listening activities. 

Students learn the musical language through a rich variety of musical experiences carefully selected to be both age-appropriate and accessible to the children at each stage of their social and emotional development. Music literacy and performance skills are taught sequentially through a wealth of music materials including American folk music, classical, world music, and Broadway classics. 

The children are immersed in a performance-based program and given the opportunity to develop their vocal, instrumental, rhythmic and movement skills through performances both in class, at school assemblies, and at various concert performances at Ridgefield Academy. Lower school students perform at our Grandparents and Special Friends/Thanksgiving Concert, Winter Concert and Spring Concert.

Kindergarten

In Kindergarten, the main focus of the children’s learning is centered around 2 fundamental music concepts: keeping a steady beat and matching pitch. These skills are the foundation of all music making. In each 30 minute class, the kindergarteners will sing, play musical instruments, listen to music, and move in time with music. We focus on developing our listening skills, playing a variety of instruments alone and with others, and experience vocal exploration through rhythmic speech, solo, and group singing.


Grade 1
In Grade 1 we begin to develop our music literacy by focusing on reading, writing, and performing rhythms including quarter notes, eighth notes and quarter rests. Our melodic vocabulary includes reading, singing and playing melodies that include the Mi, Sol and La solfege syllables. Our music vocabulary includes tempo, dynamics, rhythm, melody, accompaniment, and form. The first graders will experience units on American folk dance, rhythmic composition, and world music. In first grade we begin keeping listening logs to track the various classical composers and compositions we listen to and learn about over the course of the year.

Grade 2
Grade 2 students expand their rhythmic vocabulary to include half notes, half rests, and whole notes. They also begin singing, playing, and composing melodies using the Pentatonic scale which includes the solfege syllables of Do, Re, Mi, Sol and La. 2nd graders also begin performing complex musical accompaniments to the songs they are learning in class. They develop their musical independence by playing individual melodic and rhythmic ostinato patterns on the Orff instruments and various unpitched percussion instruments. We focus on the challenge of singing while accompanying yourself. 2nd graders will experience units on folk dance, world music, instruments of the orchestra, and composition.

Grade 3
In Grade 3, students continue to hone their musical literacy as they are expected to read, write, sing and play rhythms that include quarter notes and rests, eighth notes, half and whole notes and rests, and a variety of 16th-note patterns. A variety of key and time signatures are taught and explored. By the end of the year, 3rd graders are expected to be able to read notes on the treble staff spanning from middle C to F at the top of the staff. All students learn to play the soprano recorder which is a perfect tool to develop their note-reading abilities and prepare them to begin a wind instrument as they graduate to the middle school music program. Part-singing is introduced as each student’s musical independence evolves.  3rd graders will experience units in patriotic music, folk songs and dances from around the world, melodic composition, and music time periods including composers and works from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods.

Drama

Kindergarten
  • Students participate in seasonal performances and cross-curricular class plays, with songs, movement, and individual lines to memorize.

Grade 1
  • Students participate in seasonal performances and cross-curricular class plays, with songs, movement, and individual lines to memorize.

Grade 2
  • Students participate in seasonal performances and cross-curricular class plays, with songs, movement, and individual lines to memorize.

Grade 3
  • Students participate in seasonal performances and cross-curricular class plays, with songs, movement, and individual lines to memorize.

Technology

Kindergarten
  • Applications
  • Keyboarding
  • Multimedia and graphics

Grade 1
  • Applications
  • Keyboarding
  • Multimedia and graphics

Grade 2
  • Applications
  • Word processing
  • Multimedia and graphics
  • Keyboarding

Grade 3
  • Keyboarding
  • Databases
  • Word processing/formatting
  • Multimedia and graphics
  • Internet/Internet Safety

Library

Kindergarten
  • Exposure to different types of literature
  • Develop listening skills through story time

Grade 1
  • Exposure to different types of literature
  • Develop listening skills through story time

Grade 2
  • Story time
  • Develop library skills

Grade 3
  • Story time
  • Develop library and study skills