Curriculum

  • READING/WRITING WORKSHOP
Reading and Writing Workshop at Pine Crest School is structured to teach reading and writing as an active, student-centered process. Our approach emphasizes collaborative learning and shared responses, which are vital skills for our 21st century learners.

Our Lower School literacy program is dedicated to fostering a lifelong love of books and reading. As students enter Lower School, they develop their skills through rich, literature-based activities in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Our primary goal is to nurture each student's individual needs, imagination, creativity, and interests while building a strong reading foundation in comprehension, fluency, and phonemic awareness. This is accomplished through explicitly taught reading strategies, shared reading, small group instruction, and individual reading conferences.

Reading and Writing Workshop supports differentiation of instruction to enable students at all levels to master our learning objectives. Our writing program greatly complements our reading program. During Writing Workshop, our Lower School students are empowered as writers. Students are given opportunities to become storytellers by writing books that are meaningful to both the reader and the writer. In addition, students are taught proper letter formation through formal handwriting instruction.

As students advance toward fourth and fifth grades, students reflect, respond, and discuss their reading every day during Reading Workshop. Students are encouraged to share and collaborate with their classmates, and they are taught how to read with a purpose and to search for meaning.

Just as our Reading Workshop opens a new world to readers, Writing Workshop empowers our students as writers with authentic ideas and creative thoughts. Our students are taught to see the world through writers' eyes. They quickly learn that opportunities to write are everywhere and possibilities are endless. We challenge our students to think, create, and communicate in both oral and written form.

  • WORD STUDY
Word Study in Lower School integrates spelling, phonics, and vocabulary instruction into one comprehensive program with grammar beginning in first grade. This challenging curriculum component teaches students how to look closely at written language to discover the patterns of sound and the meaning of words. During Word Study, students are taught to recognize individual sounds and words, letter/sound relationships, and spelling patterns. Through Literacy Stations, students manipulate letters and form words through hands-on, sensory-based activities.

As students progress toward fifth grade, Word Study integrates vocabulary instruction. Students look closely at written language to discover the patterns of sound and the meaning of words. Students in fifth grade focus on the etymology of words with particular attention on Latin and Greek roots. During word study, students are taught to recognize individual sounds and words, letter/sound relationships, and spelling patterns. As word solvers and wordsmiths, our students are taught not only how to spell correctly but also to understand how language works. Students learn that there are many word-solving strategies that they can use to spell, to understand the meaning of words, and to make important word-grammar connections.

  • MATH
Mathematic instruction at Pine Crest School allows students to develop a conceptual understanding of numbers. Students learn how and when to apply mathematical skills and strategies as well as why they should apply them.

The math curriculum in our youngest Lower School classrooms is designed to engage students in making sense of mathematical ideas. The mathematics content is organized and presented in five strands: number sense, algebra, measurement and geometry, data analysis, and mathematical reasoning. The core curriculum is designed to support the student’s ability to make sense of mathematics, and to learn to be mathematical thinkers. Students engage in various activities that promote computational fluency. They become mathematical problem solvers who can recognize patterns, solve problems readily, and find ways to reach a solution when no routine path is apparent.
 
  • SCIENCE
Pine Crest's experienced science teachers have created a science-rich culture, which invites children to wonder and speculate about the world around them.

The first grade science curriculum offers our students the opportunity to learn by asking questions, to create hypotheses, to develop and use models, and to test ideas and gather data. The science curriculum employs hands-on, inquiry-based learning methods. Our experienced science teachers have created a science-rich culture, which invites children to ask questions about the world around them.

As students expand their scientific knowledge, they are offered opportunities to critically think, explore, investigate, and engage as problem solvers. By the fifth grade, students grow into problem solvers who gather data, analyze evidence, and build arguments to support or refute hypotheses. Science explorations and labs are designed to offer students a variety of opportunities to engage with the world around them. Hands-on learning, both collaborative and individual, is at the heart of our instruction. Students learn concepts and skills through observation, inquiry, research, and discovery. Science concepts, skills, and approaches are taught to students through active involvement and guided discovery. In a resource-rich laboratory environment, our students learn formal and scientific terminology which they use to document the inquiry process and support their findings.

  • SPANISH
Students in first through fifth grades have Spanish class twice per week, exposing them to the culture and receptive and expressive language. Mandarin Chinese is offered as an after-school enrichment class.

  • SOCIAL STUDIES
Beginning in first grade, students are encouraged to explore concepts related to people and places of the past and present. Children's literature is integrated throughout our social studies program, which provides students with the opportunity to make connections to the world around them.

Through collaboration and cross-curricular, inter-disciplinary activities, students discuss and debate social studies topics on a daily basis. Our students are given opportunities to investigate authentic questions about historical and current events so that they can become independent thinkers and problem solvers. Students are challenged in social studies to express verbally and in writing their ideas. In this way, they develop an understanding of how the past is connected to the present and how current events and people influence the future. With an emphasis on leadership, tolerance, respect, and responsibility, teachers guide students to recognize their roles as citizens in both their local and global community.

  • TECHNOLOGY/COMPUTER SCIENCE
All Lower School classrooms have access to iPads, laptop computers, and interactive whiteboards to enhance learning, and each student in grades three through five has access to a Chromebook. Students are instructed on proper use of equipment, and technology is integrated into all subject areas. The use of a sound-field amplification system is used in the classrooms to maximize listening and learning opportunities in the classroom.

Our first and second grade students are introduced to electronic components and applications to solve problems and develop interactive games and stories, students gain an understanding of binary code, basic algorithms, debugging, and how to use conditionals using the Scratch programming language.

As students progress into grades three, four, and five, they explore computing practices and programming, where they are creating flexible solutions to complex problems. Students gain an understanding of problem decomposition, functions, nested loops and conditionals, Internet transmission methods, and digital citizenship. Students use game design to build systems thinking in a highly engaging and creative environment.

  • MUSIC AND ART
The Fine Arts department at Pine Crest enriches students' lives by exposing them to various art forms.  Faculty members are highly trained in dance, music, art, and theater.

The Lower School music program is designed to engage students in performing, creating, and responding to music. All students participate in the general music program and may also enroll in a strings program, band, choir, private voice and piano lessons, and dance.

Lower School students experience art instruction in the art studio. The program seeks to enrich student lives by stimulating creativity through a variety of art media. The art curriculum is a hands-on approach to drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, and art history.