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Lower School:  Grades 3-5

Letter from Mary Ann Ligon, Head of Lower School

Welcome to Sacred Heart’s Lower School where our students enter the enthusiastic and exciting years of school as 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. In Lower School students, we see the development of the creative use of their imaginations joined with an enthusiasm for school and their place in our community. Their increasing sense of personal accomplishment and a growing awareness of their own learning styles becomes a focus as they begin to grow in knowledge and compassion, awareness and self-esteem.

Lower School students are curious, connected, competent and eager to communicate. Often that communications is humorous and insightful, demonstrating their joy in the learning process itself. Their curricular learning shifts from the basics of “learning to read” to the lifelong process of learning and sharing that knowledge with others. A common thread throughout the Lower School years is the development of critical thinking skills in all the academic subjects, ranging from an inquiry-based approach in science to shared inquiry discussion in literature.

There is never a dull moment in Lower School as students proceed through the study of foundational curricula such as math and language arts, science and social studies. Our world languages of French and Spanish, include the study of culture; religion, which provides an opportunity to grow in faith, are among special area classes students also offered in Lower School. The whole child is further nurtured with classes in physical education and wellness, visual arts and music, and technology. These special area classes provide student opportunities for service to community and environment, the development of cultural awareness, creative expression, personal fitness and health awareness, and an understanding of skills and applications in technology.

At the heart of their curricular experience is differentiated instruction that allows us to celebrate a diversity of learning styles and needs in an environment especially suited to young learners. Fundamental to our entire learning process is the affirmation of the respect for and value of each student as articulated by our foundress, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat.

I am looking forward to working with you, your children and your family during your time in Lower School! 

Sincerely,

Lower School Curriculum

Art

Lower School art provides opportunities for students to advance their skills in drawing, painting, sculpting, and ceramics. Students will develop an understanding of how to use the elements of art and principles of design in the art making process. Numerous art media and resources are available for creative exploration that supports artistic growth. Reflecting on the work of selected artists increases students’ awareness of how images influence our views of the world and advances their understanding of content and form in a work of art. Many Lower School units of study are integrated with core subjects and address contemporary issues in art and culture.

Mathematics

The Lower School mathematics curriculum develops students’ self-confidence, as well as their disposition to seek, evaluate, and use quantitative and spatial information in solving problems and making decisions. The program’s objectives are threefold: understanding concepts and the relationship of numbers; skillful computation; and facility in problem solving. The use of manipulatives deepens understanding through a hands-on approach. Calculators are introduced as tools. Whole group, small group, and individual work are all utilized in the classroom.

 

GRADES 3-5

Important goals during the Lower School years include an understanding of: numbers and numeration; operations and computation; data and chance; measurement and reference frames; geometry and patterns; functions and algebra. Content areas include basic arithmetic operations (through multiplication and division); place value; rounding and estimation; fractions and decimals. Students use patterns, symbols, and models to problem solve and will learn to communicate strategies for their mathematical thinking.

Science

Lower School students continue to explore basic concepts in physical, earth, and life sciences, apply appropriate technology to their investigations, and integrate reading, writing, and mathematics into their studies. As they grow in understanding, confidence, and curiosity, students engage with the process of scientific inquiry, build scientific literacy, and learn more about matters of scientific concern as well as ethical and social dimensions of scientific applications.

 

GRADE 3 

Studies include structures of life, balancing forces, and weather and climate.

GRADE 4

Units include characteristics and adaptations of animals, energy conversions, and resource conservation.

GRADE 5

Fifth graders study cells (plant and animal cells and microorganisms), and measurement and states of matter.

Language Arts

The development of reading, writing, and analytical thinking skills are the principal goals of the Lower School language arts program.

 

GRADE 3

Literature plays a crucial role in each classroom, and students are exposed to an ever-widening circle of authors and literary genres, especially through 3rd grade’s use of the Junior Great Books program. Students learn to evaluate literature through the exploration of standard literary elements such as plot, setting, point of view, character, conflict, and theme. Basic comprehension skills covered include recognizing main ideas, supporting details, understanding cause and effect relationships, paraphrasing, summarizing, making inferences, predicting outcomes, and drawing conclusions.

In writing, students continue to use the Six +1 Traits curriculum: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency and conventions. Students begin to write with an awareness of their intended audience, for a variety of purposes, and in a range of styles — narrative, persuasive, and informational. Writing is taught as a process that moves from pre-writing through the drafting, sharing, revising, editing, and publishing steps.

GRADE 4

Literature plays a crucial role in each classroom, and students are exposed to an ever-widening circle of authors and literary genres. Fourth graders begin with short stories from the Junior Great Books program and progress to novels and non-fiction sources. Students learn to evaluate literature through the exploration of standard literary elements such as plot, setting, point of view, character, conflict, and theme. Basic comprehension skills covered include recognizing main ideas, supporting details, understanding cause and effect relationships, paraphrasing, summarizing, making inferences, predicting outcomes, and drawing conclusions.

In writing, students continue to use the Six +1 Traits curriculum: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency and conventions. Students begin to write with an awareness of their intended audience, for a variety of purposes, and in a range of styles — narrative, persuasive, and informational. Writing is taught as a process that moves from pre-writing through the drafting, sharing, revising, editing, and publishing steps.

GRADE 5

Literature plays a crucial role in each classroom, and students are exposed to an ever-widening circle of authors and literary genres. Fifth grade students focus on novels and non-fiction works. Students learn to evaluate literature through the exploration of standard literary elements such as plot, setting, point of view, character, conflict, and theme. Basic comprehension skills covered include recognizing main ideas, supporting details, understanding cause and effect relationships, paraphrasing, summarizing, making inferences, predicting outcomes, and drawing conclusions.

In writing, students continue to use the Six +1 Traits curriculum: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency and conventions. Students begin to write with an awareness of their intended audience, for a variety of purposes, and in a range of styles — narrative, persuasive, and informational. Writing is taught as a process that moves from pre-writing through the drafting, sharing, revising, editing, and publishing steps.

Social Studies

Social studies looks at human behavior within a social and environmental context. As such, it encompasses several disciplines, including history, geography, economics, and civics. The social studies program at Sacred Heart assists students in establishing habits of careful inquiry, supported by a sound knowledge base and a firm commitment to personal responsibility through good citizenship. Students grow in their appreciation of the diversity of human experience, culture, and values.

 

GRADE 3

Third grade social studies focuses on the history of the United States from the first Native populations through the colonial period and the creation of the American nation.

GRADE 4

Fourth grade focuses on the study of Illinois from early Native settlements to the present, including topography, climate, people, government, and economics.

GRADE 5

Fifth grade studies world cultures and geography through the lens of human rights. The theme of democracy in our world is the focus as the concepts of equality, justice, and freedom are looked at globally to give a broader perspective of past and current events. Students learn to engage in historical thinking as they look at multiple perspectives to better understand the complex issues facing our world today.

Physical Education

The intent of physical education is to motivate students to create, improve and maintain their personal health and fitness. Physical well-being is directly linked with academic learning. The healthy, physically active child is more likely to be intellectually motivated and alert. Physical education promotes the social skills that are increasingly viewed as essential for success in school. Physical education at Sacred Heart offers activities that allow students to make developmental transitions from childhood to adolescence. Games and sport are viewed as a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Competition is put into proper perspective. Students are encouraged to develop a positive outlook to personal fitness and relate to others in encouraging ways. The program helps students develop an age-appropriate level of fitness, a broad spectrum of physical skills, and the enjoyment, understanding and self-confidence needed to motivate a lifetime of active participation.

 

GRADES 3-5

In Lower School, aerobic conditioning, agility drills, and muscle strengthening activities are emphasized. Students are introduced to a variety of games and dance activities, and they develop their understanding of game play strategies. Students learn about health topics as they pertain to personal health, body systems, nutrition, and activity.

 

Music

The music program nurtures the natural creative impulse in each child through a wide range of vocal and instrumental activities. The program consists of three primary activities: singing, instrument playing, and musical academics. Singing is taught as a form of personal expression, for enjoyment, and as a form of prayer. Instrument playing accompanies singing and is used as a practical expression of other music skills, such as keeping time and music reading. In the academic portion of class, students explore the history of Western music, orchestral music, American folk music, and African American spirituals. Children learn to enjoy music and to participate with confidence. Children at all grade levels participate in performances.

 

GRADES 3-5

In Lower School, daily singing creates opportunities to advance each student’s ability to match pitch, sing with good vowel formation, and to sing in parts. Over three years, the student’s repertoire will grow to include liturgical songs, folk songs and popular music. Additionally, the students will be introduced to instrumental music through instruction on handbells and recorders.

 

Religion

Lower School students are developing their faith in a variety of ways.  They are eager to join in with their faith community, understand the human need for rules in our society, and exhibit an innate concern for fairness and justice that brings about God’s love in the world. Feast days and liturgical seasons are studied, and children learn the traditional prayers of the Church. Students become familiar with the themes of Jesus’ teachings and the Holy Spirit as gift and guidance. The spirituality and traditions of the Society of the Sacred Heart continue to play an important role in the developing faith of each child.

 

GRADE 3

Third grade students learn about the life of Jesus and the early Church, focusing on discipleship through prayer, worship, embracing other faiths, as well as the lives of the saints.

GRADE 4

Fourth graders begin the year learning about Jesus’ teachings of the Beatitudes and the Law of Love.  Classes then study the Ten Commandments and how God’s laws guide us.

GRADE 5

Fifth graders learn about the seven Catholic sacraments and understanding how these sacraments are signs of God’s love for us, instituted by Jesus Christ.

World Languages

Lower School students study both French and Spanish using a communicative approach to learning. The foundation of this program is a progression of partner conversations, which allows students to have meaningful, authentic interactions in French and Spanish. Students continue with both languages until 5th grade, when they select to focus on French or Spanish through 8th grade.

 

GRADE 3

Developing oral proficiency through a communicative approach continues to be the focus of language learning in third grade. Students are engaged through songs, partner activities, dialogues, and games. Third grade students write phrases and sentences to develop phonology skills.  Students celebrate various cultural holidays through projects, games and songs.

GRADE 4

The communicative approach to learning a second language continues through conversations and games that encourage the exchange of information. The formal study of grammar begins by providing students with a context for the structure and vocabulary they encounter when using the target language.  Cultural themes are also explored.

GRADE 5

As students become increasingly comfortable with the target language, they will begin to use the vocabulary and phrases they’ve learned to create their own basic sentences and questions. Authentic conversations, songs, games, and partner activities will continue to provide a context for grammar explanation via multimedia. Activities will also include reinforcing the learning themes of the past years, while continuing to encourage open communication in the target language. Students participate in projects ranging from a French fashion show to a Spanish cultural celebration of the Day of the Dead. Videos and songs will bring the real Spanish/French- speaking world into classroom. Students actively discuss cultural similarities and differences.

THE LOWER SCHOOL

Nat Wilburn
Head of Schools

Mary Ann Ligon
Head of Lower School

Marjie Murphy
Director of Curriculum & Instruction