Primary: K-3


A child’s natural enthusiasm for learning

Welcome to the Primary Years, where The Country School Mission is alive each day. Encompassing young learners in Kindergarten through Grade 3, the Primary Program appreciates and respects a child's natural enthusiasm for learning, curiosity about the world, and joy in being part of a special community.

The program is designed to include a thoughtful balance appropriate to the developmental stage of the different grade levels. Each day, children will experience vigorous activity and quiet time; traditional academic subjects along with the arts, physical education, STEAM, and global language; time inside the classroom and time outdoors; whole group instruction and individual attention.

In the Primary Program, there is an emphasis placed on the developing social/emotional life of each child. Students are seen as individuals with unique strengths. We foster self-confidence and self-awareness as important ingredients for success in learning and living. Children are given many opportunities to contribute ― through classroom jobs, service commitments, performances, and class meetings. The feelings of pride and accomplishment gained through assuming roles of responsibility encourage leadership in the years to follow.

Curriculum Overviews

Kindergarten

Literacy
Literacy instruction encompasses reading, writing, listening, and speaking. At the simplest level, reading is getting meaning from print and pictures while writing is conveying meaning with print and pictures. Children acquire language skills differently and at varying rates. Children will read, write, listen, and speak/communicate by being immersed in these activities daily through a Reading and Writing Workshop model. They will read “real” books, poetry, and magazines, engage in authentic writing, and learn to converse in meaningful ways. Your child will solidify alphabet knowledge and letter formation through the Fundations Language program and necessary skills (such as phonics, phonemic awareness, print concepts, and high frequency words) are taught in context within a balanced approach.

The foundation of this practice is:

  • Reading to children, Reading with children, and Reading by children
  • Writing to children, Writing with children, and Writing by children

Within this context is a balance of whole group, small group, and individualized instruction as well as a mixture of direct teaching, reinforcement, and independent practice. Experiences include children’s literature studies and discussions, reading buddies, shared reading/writing, guided reading/writing, and skills based literacy centers.

Math
Math concepts and lessons are integrated throughout daily activities such as calendar and circle times as well as during specific math times. We use “Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics” based on principles of the Singapore Math approach to help Kindergarten students build a strong foundation using hands-on lessons and activities. The children encounter math in meaningful ways through concrete activities before progressing to pictorial and then abstract representations. The program encourages mastery of the material on a deeper level through its reliance on solid number sense, conceptual understanding, and problem solving. Furthermore, the program emphasizes metacognition and encourages children to think about why the math works and to explore multiple strategies. The children learn to think more mathematically and improve their organizational, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. Units of exploration include the following: Number Sense, patterns, problem solving, sorting and classifying, graphing, beginning addition/ subtraction, place value, geometry, and measurement

Science and Social Studies
The prevailing theme in our Kindergarten program is Growing and Changing. Throughout the year, Kindergarteners observe and discuss the growth and changes that occur around them, in nature, in their school environment, and in themselves. Units include the following: Seasons, Weather, Recycling and Trees, Me and My Family, Diversity, Manners, Health and Nutrition, Five Senses, Shelter/Building, Living Things and Life Cycles.

STEAM is the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math which provides a framework for planning and implementing daily lessons. STEAM activities emerge from collaborative planning and take place in cocurricular classes, during our weekly designated STEAM/Science lab time as well as within the classroom on a daily basis. These lessons promote creative thinking, problem solving, collaborating, making connections, and inspiring innovation. STEAM is a vital thread in our curriculum.

Art
In addition to weekly classes with the art teacher, Kindergarteners engage in art experiences daily within the classroom. In the early years when children may not be able to adequately express themselves through written or verbal means, art enables them to creatively express their individuality, feelings, and ideas. Art experiences provide an engaging, nonjudgmental scaffold within which the classroom teacher can effectively incorporate literacy, science, math, and social studies as well as physical, social/emotional, and creative goals.

Global Language
In Primary School, Spanish is an extension and an expansion of the fundamental concepts started in early childhood education. Children will expand upon their basic knowledge of the Spanish language, reviewing such topics as basic greetings, weather, colors and numbers. Students will additionally learn forms of transportation, body parts, clothing and parts of the house. Spanish is incorporated in an interactive way, through song, dance, art and games, incorporating Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) and Responsive Classroom. As with other grades, particular emphasis will be on the repetition of vocabulary and commands.

Affective Education
Affective Education at The Country School includes social and emotional development, outdoor education, and the Elmore initiative.

Social/Emotional development: We use components of the The Responsive Classroom approach that foster strong learning environments through an emphasis on social and emotional development. The following Kindergarten classroom practices are examples of how Responsive Classroom principles help to create an atmosphere of respect for each other and for learning:

  • Morning Meeting - gathering as a whole class each morning to greet one another, share news, and warm up for the day ahead.
  • Rule Creation - helping students create meaningful and appropriate classroom rules
  • Interactive Modeling - teaching children to notice and internalize expected behavior through modeling
  • Positive Teacher Language - using words and tone to promote children’s active learning and self-discipline
  • Logical Consequences - responding to misbehavior in a way that respects children, guides them to recognize the effects of their actions, and helps them develop internal controls
  • Guided Discovery - introducing materials using a format that encourages creativity and responsibility
  • Academic Choice - increasing student motivation and learning by providing students with teacher-structured choices in their work
  • Classroom Organization - setting up the physical room in ways that encourage independence, cooperation, and productivity
  • Collaborative Problem Solving - using conferencing, role-playing, and other strategies to resolve problems with students

Outdoor Education
Kindergarteners are encouraged to connect with their outdoor environment through playing outdoors daily, helping in our TCS Children’s Garden, going on campus walks and hikes on the Blue Trail, and participating in seasonal field trips.

Elmore Leadership Initiative (Leadership and Service Learning)

  • Community Service projects - Kinders collect cans for the food pantry, pet supplies, and clothing for local charities
  • Leadership - Kindergartners learn to appropriately communicate with others, share their voices, and become more confident speakers through daily classroom and co-curricular activities, WTCS sharings, and our Poetry Recitation. They are also learning to be more responsible for themselves, their belongings, their learning. They are learning to lead as well as to follow.

1st Grade

Math
Primary Mathematics (Standards Edition) from Marshall Cavendish International (Singapore) is our text. Primary Mathematics is designed to provide students with a strong foundation in mathematics through moving students from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract. The program’s emphasis on metacognition teaches students to think deeply about mathematics to the “why,” not just the “how.” Skills include numbers to 100, number bonds, addition, subtraction, position, shapes, length, weight, capacity, comparing numbers, graphs, multiplication, division, halves and fourths, time and money. First Graders also begin each math time with “Focus on Math.” During this time children engage in calendar, number line, days in school, place value, tally marks, telling time and money activities.

Reading
We seek to foster a love of reading in each child. We use a literature-rich, phonics-based program that includes leveled books and ongoing assessments. Author Study exposes students to the natural language of authors as texts are read aloud during daily Read Aloud time. Children read individually, with partners, and in small flexible groups to practice phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary and comprehension skills. A variety of genre, big books, books on tape and audio-visual materials in the classroom help to stimulate reading interest. Children learn to self-select books at their own reading level which we call “Just Right Books.”

Writing Workshop
First Graders write daily. Weekly journals are used to help children increase writing organization, fluidity, and creativity. Applying capitalization and punctuation skills are emphasized in the writing process. The Writing Workshop (Lucy Calkins, Units of Study) approach is used to help teach students the joy and purpose of writing. During Writing Workshop, mini-lessons are used to deliver instruction and students engage in writing which provides time for practice. While students write, individual conferences between teacher and student are conducted to help raise the quality of each child’s writing skills. Spelling and handwriting are also part of the 1st Grade Writing program. Using the spelling program How to Spell and Wilson Fundations, 1st Graders are learning to move from transitional spellers to conventional spellers. Wilson Fundations also provides explicit handwriting instruction with the goal that children will develop legible and fluent handwriting, using proper letter formation and spacing.

Social Studies, Science and STEAM
In Social Studies, 1st Graders learn about the world around them, both near and far. Themes are the springboard for our studies. Themes traditionally studied in the fall, winter and spring include Families, Our Town, Our State, Our Country, Our Continent, Plants and Animals in Our World, Seasonal Changes, Leaves and Trees, First Thanksgiving, Celebrations (customs and traditions) in other Cultures, Hibernation, Places in Our World, Antarctica and Emperor Penguins, The Water Cycle, CT River, Tide Pools and the Seashore. Science instruction and STEAM activities in the lab connect to classroom studies and a hands-on, exploratory approach allows all students to be active participants. Our wooded 26-acre campus affords children many opportunities for hands-on experiences as they explore and observe the nearby woods, trails and bogs, often bringing the outdoors indoors. Our on campus “Children’s Garden” inspires 1st Graders to plant, nurture and observe different varieties of seeds and seedlings.

Spanish
In Primary School, Spanish is an extension and an expansion of the fundamental concepts started in early childhood education. Children will expand upon their basic knowledge of the Spanish language, reviewing such topics as basic greetings, weather, colors and numbers. Students will additionally learn forms of transportation, body parts, clothing and parts of the house. Spanish is incorporated in an interactive way, through song, dance, art and games, incorporating Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) and Responsive Classroom. As with other grades, particular emphasis will be on the repetition of vocabulary and commands.

Affective Education
Affective Education in 1st Grade is woven into the day by day workings of the classroom. Children learn to work together, to be aware of their own and other’s feelings, to resolve conflicts and to make their classroom a safe and happy place. The Responsive Classroom approach is modeled throughout the day as we work together on building a classroom community, social skills, friendship, kindness, self-esteem, feelings, values and character education. First Graders take part in community service activities with their Reading Buddies throughout the year. First Graders also participate in the school wide theme, “C.A.R.E.S.” (cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, self-control). This year, our focus is on the ‘C’ in “C.A.R.E.S.” - Cooperation. Here at The County School we refer to our students’ leadership opportunities as The Elmore Leadership Program.

2nd Grade

Math
The Math program is “Primary Mathematics” (Standards Edition) from Marshall Cavendish International, Singapore. The core curriculum is presented in a logical sequence. Each topic is covered in detail and taught to mastery. In addition to the workbook, there are supporting materials and math choices to both scaffold and stretch our young mathematicians. Units of study include Numbers to 1000; Addition and Subtraction with renaming; Measurement; Multiplication and Division; Methods for Mental Addition and Subtraction; Money; Fractions; Time; Capacity; Tables and Graphs; Geometry.The Singapore Program aligns itself with the eight mathematical practices set forth in the Common Core State Standards.

Reading Workshop
The Second Grade community of readers helps students discover personal and shared interests. Children will be stretched to dig deeper as readers. Strategic actions for thinking include reading within the text (literal); beyond the text (prediction, connecting to previous knowledge and other texts); about the text (analyze and critique). Whole-group, small-group and one-on-one teaching is used in reading. Curriculum components include interactive read-aloud and discussion; shared and performance reading; writing about reading; phonics, spelling and word study; independent reading and literacy work; guided reading. Formal assessments include DIBELS; San Diego and Slosson; Ekwall Reading Inventory; CORE Assessments; Words Their Way.

Writing Workshop
Children discuss the practices of good writing and reflect on what good writers do when writing. Peer partners share their work and offer support and ideas for writing. Children investigate story elements and learn strategies for planning when writing. Mini-lessons are given to teach writing skills, grammar and process. Second Grade writing focuses on Narrative Writing; Writing about Reading; Science reporting and Poetry. Writing conferences with the teacher support the writing process. First drafts are revised and edited with the teacher. Final drafts and works in progress are shared with classmates and supportive feedback given by peers.

Social Studies and Science
During the fall, Second Graders will focus on the theme,”Colonial Days.” Two field trips will be taken to support and enhance our learning of what life was really like 300 years ago. Children become part of a colonial family and venture into the woods to build structures to create a colonial village. Weekly visits, accompanied by parent volunteers, are a special part of the colonial experience. The study will involve S.T.E.A.M. learning throughout. It will culminate in a shared celebration of learning for parents.

In January, the class will plot a course and travel to Africa. The planning and focus will involve all areas of S.T.E.A.M. learning. Students will learn, in a very hands on way, about deserts, the savannah and rainforests. People, families and customs in Africa. are experienced as we travel throughout the country. A field trip to the African Exhibit at the Yale University Gallery of Art enhances the study. From planning and dressing for a Bedouin Feast in Egypt to Adinkra cloth making in Ghana, children get a sense of this country that is part of our global community. This, too, culminates with a celebration of learning for parents.

Spanish
In Primary School, Spanish is an extension and an expansion of the fundamental concepts started in early childhood education. Children will expand upon their basic knowledge of the Spanish language, reviewing such topics as basic greetings, weather, colors and numbers. Students will additionally learn forms of transportation, body parts, clothing and parts of the house. Spanish is incorporated in an interactive way, through song, dance, art and games, incorporating Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) and Responsive Classroom. As with other grades, particular emphasis will be on the repetition of vocabulary and commands.

Class Meetings and Affective Education
Class meetings support the Second Grade sense of family and community. Children learn to share their issues and support one another in finding resolutions and ways to make good choices. The weekly meeting helps support the TCS Core Values. Second Graders will have many opportunities to shine as leaders and caring citizens in our community. This is an important aspect of the TCS experience. Here at The Country School we refer to our students’ leadership opportunities as, The Elmore Leadership Program.

3rd Grade

Word Study
This program focuses on spelling rules and patterns, syllabication, high frequency words, and content vocabulary. Children receive direct instruction one on one and in small groups and practice their skills through a variety of games and activities. Assessments are given biweekly to assure progress and retention. Key Resources: Words Their Way; Rebecca Sitton core word list (high frequency words); How to Spell by Laura Toby Rudginsky and Elizabeth C. Haskell

Reading
Reading each day is structured around the Reading Workshop model. Children pick out books at their independent reading level (Just Right Books). Skills practiced and strengthened are phonics, oral reading fluency, silent reading stamina, comprehension, and vocabulary. Children will receive instruction in various forms as needed for their independent growth and development. Students are read to, read, and discuss books daily. They are expected to practice reading every night. Key Resources: trade books; Lucy Calkins Reading Workshop

Writing
Children write daily. This occurs through Writing Workshop, reading responses, journal entries, letters, selected topics and prompts. Children write narratives, persuasive and informative paragraphs, essays, stories, and reports. Instruction occurs through whole group daily mini-lessons as well as one on one conferences. Key Resources: Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop Units of Study

Math
Our program, Primary Mathematics, is based on the Singapore Math program. One major concept in this year is for children to secure their overall number sense. They use the Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract (CPA) approach to learn, understand and express their knowledge of our number system and place value. Research proves this to be the fundamental concept to future success in mathematics. Other concepts covered will be; money, time, fractions, decimals, geometry, measurement, probability and data analysis. Memorizing basic facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division is critical to a child’s efficiency in computation. Children should practice these with speed and accuracy on a daily basis at home as part of their homework routine. The use of flashcards, timed worksheets and a variety of websites and apps can be helpful. Key Resources; Primary Mathematics, Workbooks 1 & 2.

Handwriting
Students receive direct instruction in this area several times each week. Students learn to write in cursive through the Wilson Cursive program. Key Resources: Wilson Cursive workbook.

Global Studies
Our theme for the year is Journeys. Students begin their journey learning about themselves through their autobiography. They then learn about Connecticut - its geological features, Long Island Sound, Native Americans, early settlers, and CT as a part of the Northwest. We will then continue throughout the U.S as we explore the different regions. Students will also broaden their global understanding by engaging in the exploration to China as well as the “New World.” Students move on to learning about other explorers specifically those in Space. 3rd graders create timelines and strengthen their global mapping skills. Key Resources: A Historical Album of Connecticut by Charles Wills, Connecticut, Hello U.S.A. by Amy Gelman, and various non-fiction books.

Co-curricular Studies
Student experiences across campus include Art, Music, Physical Education, Science, Global Language (Spanish) and Library Media. Teachers collaborate and plan according to 3rd grade units of study.

Spanish
In Primary School, Spanish is an extension and an expansion of the fundamental concepts started in early childhood education. Children will expand upon their basic knowledge of the Spanish language, reviewing such topics as basic greetings, weather, colors and numbers. Students will additionally learn forms of transportation, body parts, clothing and parts of the house. Spanish is incorporated in an interactive way, through song, dance, art and games, incorporating Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) and Responsive Classroom. As with other grades, particular emphasis will be on the repetition of vocabulary and commands.

STEAM
Children are scheduled each week to take advantage of this unique program. Skills of collaboration, problem solving and design thinking are practiced as children gain a deeper understanding of classroom studies through the integration of Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics.

Social/Emotional Curriculum
The importance of a child’s academic success is directly impacted by how they feel about themselves and others. Building confidence, respect, responsibility, compassion and honesty are just a few of the core values instilled in each third grader. Morning Meeting time and Class Meeting is scheduled daily for routines and activities to build these skills. The Reading Buddy program fosters student-to-student connections across grade levels. Outdoor experiences and field trips bring to life and extend learning that happens within the classroom. 3rd graders are given many opportunities to shine as leaders and this is an important aspect of their TCS experience. Here at The Country School, we refer to our students’ leadership opportunities as The Elmore Leadership Program.

STEAM

Kindergarten

Growing and Changing
The prevailing theme in Kindergarten, children observe and discuss the growth and changes that occur in nature, the classroom and school, their families, and themselves. Using the many versions of “The Three Little Pigs,” student learn about architecture, weather, and structures. They build, create, and problem-solve along the way.


1st Grade

First Graders continue to explore and investigate life cycles organisms and the world around them. Through hands-on learning, students work together to create solutions to problems in order to make the world a better place. As young engineers the students use recycled cartons to plan and build a garden, create watering systems, and make real life connections. Students collaborate to make a difference.

Animal Adaptations and Hibernation Research Project
Students study and research how animals survive in the winter. They design, construct, and creating habitats for these animals. Designing the habitat, they use a variety of materials: paint, wood, fabric, etc. They use computers for research, sewing machines for their habitats, and they create 3D representation of animals. Habitats are created after studying temperature, heart rate, and scale. They make predictions and weight comparisons.

Polar Regions/Antarctica and Emperor Penguins
Students study the similarities and differences between the northern and southern hemispheres: climate, terrain, animals (with a focus on the Emperor Penguin), weather, temperature, and animal adaptations. Students use computers for research, watch videos on Antarctica and Penguins, and record daily temperature in Antarctica. They create sculptures of Antarctica and clay penguins starting with penguin drawings to scale. They learn how to read a thermometer (Fahrenheit), measure the size of the Emperor Penguin (use of rulers-yardsticks and tape measures), and they compare the penguin’s average height to than of an average 1st Grader.

Carton to Garden Project
The objective of this national contest is to recycle and repurpose milk/orange juice containers in order to enhance The Country School garden. Students learn about various plants and their life cycles and the environmental factors (soil, sunlight, water, etc.). They research what other schools have done, understanding weather instruments (ph tests, thermometers) and make a video for Carton to Garden contest (time guidelines, other criteria). Students plan and design the garden and the layout, measuring the area and perimeter.

Sound and Light
For this STEAM project, students investigate sound vibrations and how different objects have different qualities. Students use tuning forks and tools for creating instruments. They engineer and use cup fiddles (establishing vibrations), head harps (tension and tone), book fiddles (tension and quality of pitch and how it changes with length and tautness, kazoos (feeling vibration and creating sound vibrations) secret bells (how sound travels); and tuning forks (using sound generator to see vibrations). Students study frequency, looking at volume as a number, metric, measurement, rhythm and timing.


2nd Grade

The Colonial Day and Africa
Second Grade students make connections between different styles of learning and daily educational practice. The interrelationships of Colonial life and African culture create learning that fuels creativity, deepens understanding, and fosters collaboration and cooperation.

The Global Village-Africa Exploration
This unit involves the study of geography, geology, history, literature, science, math, engineering, technology, visual arts music cuisine, and global language. Specifically in science they study the Cartesian Coordinate System, the salinity of water, and magnets and compasses. In technology class they design vehicles that can travel through the desert and create robotic animals with predator-prey adaptations. Art and music classes provide them with opportunities to practice their hands at creating African art using clay, drawing Kanga cloths, drawing camels, practicing African drumming and making African instruments (rainsticks). In math during the winter they measuring how big their “snow boat” needs to be to get to Africa, learn about scale and distance and degrees as unit of measure.



3rd Grade

Long Island Sound/Connecticut Study
As students learn about their state, they begin to make connections between Connecticut today and Connecticut long ago. Students learn about Long Island Sound as an estuary and they investigate the ecosystems that make up the sound. 3rd Graders study tide charts and clocks, view the Sound on Google Maps, and visualize, collaborate, and design ecosystem maps of Grass Island in Madison. 3rd Graders learn about Long Island Sound in relation to Connecticut topography and geology studies. Students discuss the gifts of the Sound that Native Americans relied upon long ago.

On a field trip to Grass Island, 3rd Graders used population sampling methods to gather data on common and uncommon organisms of the intertidal zone of Long Island Sound. They collected interesting specimens and shared them with their classmates. Once back at school, 3rd graders compiled and totaled their data, and share it with 4th Graders.

Students study maps of our country, our state, our county, and our city/town. They learn about the Connecticut symbols and important Connecticut landmarks. Students create a Connecticut Advertisement book to entice visitors to travel to our favorite places in our wonderful state.

Native American Study
Students partake in hands-on learning experiences while collaborating, problem solving and making connections. The Native American study incorporates designing, creating, and building a Native American Village on our campus.

Gallery of the Galaxy Space Study
This STEAM unit explores space through different lenses such as science, art, music, and math. Students study the physical and chemical properties of the moon, observing and recording the phases of the moon in a moon journal, learning about lunar eclipses and tides, and comparing forces on the moon and on earth.

In technology, students use Google Moon to study the lunar surface. They look at the history and accomplishments of the Apollo Missions, learn about the technology of lunar landers and rovers, conduct internet research for surface models, and create a Google Slides presentation to share solar system research.

Students draw blueprints of lunar landers and lunar rovers, build and test lunar vehicles on a simulated lunar surface, program Lego rovers using basic coding software, engineer reverse molds and learn plaster casting techniques.

In the arts students observe lunar characteristics for drawing and clay work to create lunar tiles. They discuss light to dark value scale, write moon haikus and compose haiku melodies and learn to play “Au Claire de la Lune” on the recorder. Additionally, they learn about the moon based on the Aztec Calendar in Spanish.

Math class provides them with opportunities to discuss scale, angles, arcs, diameters and orbits. They analyze large numbers and units of measure; use comparisons, ratios, quadrants and grids; create spheres and learn related geometric terms, and grid the lunar surface.