Curriculum

Junior Kindergarten 4 boys playing violin

Early Childhood

Junior Kindergarten (Age 3)

Developmental Stages and Transitions

As our students in Early Childhood begin their educational journey, a focus is placed on providing a curriculum which develops positive interpersonal relationships and a love of learning through exploration, play, and problem-solving activities. A safe, nurturing, and welcoming environment is promoted in which each student is valued, cared for, and respected. Learning activities are personalized to meet each child where they are as individuals and as members of their class as well as to help each student reach both challenging and realistic learning goals. Teachers provide structure and routine while encouraging responsibility. Students are praised for their efforts to make good choices, care for themselves and others, follow directions, exhibit dependability, and display trustworthiness. An emphasis is placed on respecting God’s creation and preparing our young students to be stewards of the earth’s resources. The Early Childhood Program is a reflection of the values and mission of the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria.

Curriculum Highlights

Many memorable events are shared with our parents throughout the school year. Some of these events and activities included are: monthly literature selections, dads’ visit, moms’ visit, Thanksgiving and Christmas programs, and outdoor activities, including the garden and nature trail, as well as field trips to Good Shepard Farm, St. Louis Zoo, Magic House, and Powder Valley.

CURRICULUM OVERVIEW

Language Arts

The Language Arts Curriculum for JK3 is based on the Standards of Best Practice for Early Childhood Education written by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for Missouri. These standards include literacy and literacy writing.

As we build upon the natural interest and enthusiasm for books and story time that is inherent in young children, our curriculum is designed to inspire a life-long love of reading and communicating. This curriculum focuses on using developmentally appropriate activities that integrate reading, listening, speaking, and writing. This is a literature-based curriculum, and a special story is selected from classic children’s literature each month. The theme for the month is developed around this story, and it is integrated into math, science, art, music, and creative activities. Children are actively engaged during story time as they learn to make predictions and develop an awareness of the nature of the characters and events in the story. Phonological awareness is developed as the children think about how words sound, and they participate in letter games and activities. Language development is integrated into the whole curriculum throughout the day. Children are encouraged to describe their block structure, express their feelings as they dramatize a favorite story, share observations at the science center, tell the story of their art work, listen for comprehension at story time, learn finger plays and nursery rhymes, and begin to express themselves through writing. Pre-writing skills are enhanced as the children participate in activities to strengthen their fine motor and visual/spatial skills through the use of manipulatives and hands-on materials. Beginning writing tools include crayons, colored pencils, and chalk. The environment in our classroom is rich with wonderful books, print, and writing materials. The children will experience enthusiasm, joy, and success in their pre-school language arts experiences.

Mathematics

The math curriculum for JK3 is based on the Standards of Best Practice for Early Childhood Education written by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for Missouri. These standards include counting and cardinality, geometry, operations and algebraic thinking, measurement, and data. This curriculum is process oriented and uses a variety of manipulatives which are considered “objects to think with.” These include such items as teddy-bear counters, linker cubes, colored tiles, geometric shapes, measuring cups and tools, and tangrams. Through the hands-on experiences with manipulatives, the children will observe, investigate, question, create, and validate their mathematical experiences. iPads are also used to personalize the math experiences of the children. Critical-thinking skills develop as the children are encouraged to problem solve when they explore and experiment in many of their daily activities. Math experiences are woven into everyday routines and conversations. The literacy center offers a variety of appealing and engaging books through which mathematical concepts can be developed and enhanced.

Religion

Through the God Made Me program, the children will understand that God created them and made them good, happy, active, and special. They will grow in an understanding of God’s love and experience the joy of God’s world around them. Through the weekly Seeds publication, the children will become familiar with the Sunday Gospels. The children will attend many weekly Masses with the Oak Hill community, including the Mass of the Holy Spirit, Feasts of Mater, St. Philippine Duchesne, St. Madeleine Sophie, Christmas Baskets, and Ash Wednesday. In February, parents are invited to a special prayer ceremony remembering baptismal days. A May ceremony in the chapel honors Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the mothers and grandmothers of the JK3 children. Throughout the year, the children participate in the daily practice of Espacio, a five-minute time of quiet and reflection.

Science

Our science curriculum in JK3 enhances the natural curiosity that our young children have about the world around them. Through the use of all their senses and hands-on activities, the children are encouraged to observe, question, explore, experiment, predict, and solve problems. Their growing language skills help the children to talk about their observations and share information with their teachers and classmates. The science activities enable our children to develop the problem-solving and critical-thinking skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. Some of the science units included in the program are: metamorphosis, seasons, weather, magnets, embryology, and seeds-gardening. The children will additionally be able to enhance their practical skills by making observations, collecting data, and drawing conclusions in the Oak Hill Pollinator garden, which was developed through the Sprouting Science Program of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Social Studies

As students at Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School, JK3 children are introduced to a new community as they begin the school year. They meet classmates, teachers, and school personnel. They form friendships and develop relationships within the classroom and the whole school. They begin to know and understand the role of the school personnel who are part of their first year in JK3. Learning to develop and maintain friendships, acting in a polite way, and sharing good manners is an important part of our curriculum.

Art

The JK3 art curriculum encourages the children to explore the world around them and express themselves through a variety of media. Using all of their senses, creative art experiences allow the children to talk and share, develop fine motor and visual/spatial skills, and interact with friends and teachers. The primary focus of creative art experiences in young children is to engage in and enjoy the process. The curriculum is rich in opportunities for our children to scribble, draw, color, paint, sculpt, and paste as they are guided by their imagination and natural creativity. Some of the mediums used include crayons, chalk, tempera, finger and water-color paints, natural materials, and play dough. A variety of techniques are used such as drawing, painting, sculpting, collage design, and printing. The goal of our art curriculum is to help children express themselves, and explore their world, enjoy sensory experiences, promote cognitive development, and enhance social and emotional development.

French

JK3 students begin their exploration of the French language and culture with fun songs and games. The children learn to use polite greetings and phrases such as, merci, s’il vous plait, au revoir and je t’aime (for their family members). Listening to the teacher read books in French helps the students develop the ability to hear and reproduce different sound systems and learn new vocabulary words. Songs and games help with learning colors, counting to 10, some basic body parts, and following simple directions. Holidays, such as, Christmas, Mardi Gras, and Easter, lend themselves well to exploration of some French traditions and how they compare to those in the United States. The students learn some songs that they perform for their families at special programs. Learning to recite the Sign of the Cross and a simple prayer in French, helps students to connect with our Sacred Heart heritage.

Performing Arts

Music, movement, and drama are integrated into the students’ class time. The students learn to use their voices expressively, speaking and singing in large and small groups. Through playing simple rhythm instruments and creative movement, they begin to develop their internal sense of beat and rhythm. The students participate in Thanksgiving and Christmas programs and a May ceremony for mothers and grandmothers.

Physical Education

Foundations for physical education are laid out in the JK3 PE class. The children learn a routine that includes warm up, activity, and cool down. Basic concepts in safety and following directions are emphasized. Gross locomotor skills such as balance, running, jumping, hopping, and hand-eye coordination activities are introduced and practiced throughout the year. Simple active-sorting games using colors and counting are introduced. Children learn to follow simple rules for games and are encouraged to take turns, share, and play by the rules.

Outdoor Education

Our early childhood students spend much time outside tending our school gardens. Students and teachers participate in the Sprouting Science program in conjunction with the Missouri Botanical Garden. Students also visit our school nature trail, observing birds and various other plants and animals.

Instructional Strategies

In JK3, a variety of strategies are used to facilitate positive-learning experiences, and these include group activities at circle time and morning meeting. There are opportunities for small group and individual one-on-one learning. Special support and coaching strategies are also employed.

Technology Integration

iPads are used to personalize the learning of the children in JK3 as well as the SMART Table. The Internet is used as a teacher resource to find appropriate resources, such as, information of the hatching of chicks.

Junior Kindergarten (Age 4)

Developmental Stages and Transitions

Four-year-olds have a range of social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills. They learn best through their own play, being read to, and by using manipulatives, such as play dough, blocks, and paint. Socially, children are very egocentric at this age. We encourage and model appropriate ways to play, speak, and interact with their peers. We give them the tools they need to negotiate things they need or want in the classroom. Fine- and gross-motor skills vary at this stage of development. The children are exposed to large and small muscle activity and play daily.

Curriculum Highlights

Some of the memorable events shared with our parents throughout the school year include a special dad’s day, a gingerbread house making day with mom, and both a Thanksgiving and Christmas program. Field trips are scheduled to coincide with the thematic units of study.

CURRICULUM OVERVIEW

Language Arts

Language development is integrated into the curriculum throughout the day. The Junior Kindergarten 4 literacy curriculum consists of teaching to the individual child and their needs. We strive to ensure an understanding of rhyming, upper and lowercase letter identification, and sound recognition. Phonological awareness is developed as the children think about how words sound, and they participate in letter games and activities. We also create a love of reading by bringing books alive to the children and reinforcing comprehension and new vocabulary words. Children are actively engaged during story time as they learn to make predictions and develop an awareness of the nature of the characters and events in the story. Children are taught to write their names as well as all uppercase letters. We expose the children to inventive spelling and sounding out words. The children are able to use the Smart Table to help enhance their letter and sound recognition. The environment in our classroom is rich with wonderful books, print, and writing materials. The language arts program provides enthusiasm, joy, and success for our children.

Mathematics

The mathematics curriculum for the JK4 program is based on the Standards of Best Practices for Early Childhood Education, including those from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the State of Missouri. These standards include counting, cardinality, geometry, operations, and algebraic thinking, measurement, fractions and estimation, and data. Our curriculum builds on the JK3 mathematics program and is process oriented and uses a variety of manipulatives, which are considered “objects to think with.” These objects include, teddy-bear counters, linker cubes, two-colored tiles, geometric shapes, measuring cups, manipulatives, and the tools of mathematics. Because technology is a part of their lives, children use iPads and a Smart Table as tools to model mathematical concepts. Through hands-on experiences with manipulatives, the children observe, investigate, question, create, and validate their mathematical experiences. Critical-thinking skills are developed as the children are encouraged to problem solve when they explore and experiment in their daily activities. Mathematical experiences are woven into everyday routines, and conversations occur to instill mathematics as an integral part of their everyday lives.

Religion

The JK4 religion curriculum, God Made the World, is the basis of the religion program. The children are read stories from the Bible and participate in creative, hands-on activities to reinforce lessons taught. The children learn that God is a loving God who wants us to always be loving and kind to ourselves and others.  Children attend weekly Masses and pray with the Oak Hill community.

Science

The science program centers on themes based on values, letters, seasons, and children’s interests and ideas. Activities spark student interest and develop a love of learning new topics. Students are instructed through books, video clips, projects, cooking, discussions, observations, and experiments. The school garden and nature trail are used to enhance student learning.

Social Studies

The social studies program centers on themes. Students build on content learned in JK3, specifically topics related to communities. The children develop and maintain friendships, use greetings, make introductions, behave in a polite manner, and identify good manners.

Art

Art is integrated into all areas of the JK4 curriculum. Our preschool art education program is a developmentally appropriate curriculum which provides for all areas of a child’s development: physical, emotional, social, and cognitive through an integrated approach. The art curriculum is designed to promote a positive self-image, sensory awareness, growing independence, and an eagerness to learn. Children are encouraged to manipulate and create with a variety of materials and engage in a variety of art-making processes. Social interaction and communication skills are particularly important to the JK students’ verbal and visual expressions of ideas and feelings. Situations in which students observe and discuss original works of art and reproductions from a broad range of cultures and times are a regular part of the JK art program. The children are exposed to many different art materials including tempera paint, watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, chalk, markers, and clay.

French

The students enjoy songs and games while learning the French language and about French culture. They learn how to greet others in French and to use polite expressions, such as, s’il vous plait for “please” and merci for “thank you.” Practice with following basic classroom directions and simple sentence structure to reply to questions are also part of the program. Students build vocabulary with words for fruits, colors, basic body parts, and some clothing items. Cultural exploration is involved when learning about French traditions at holiday times, such as Christmas, Mardi Gras, and Easter. In celebrating our French Sacred Heart heritage, students learn the Sign of the Cross and to recite a simple prayer in French, just like St. Rose Philippine and St. Madeleine Sophie who spoke in French when they prayed.

Performing Arts

Music, movement, and drama are integrated into the students’ class time. The students learn to use their voices expressively speaking and singing in large and small groups. Through playing simple rhythm instruments and creative movement, they begin to develop their internal sense of beat and rhythm. The JK4 students begin to develop body awareness and spatial perception through energy work and simple choreographed dances. The students participate in Thanksgiving and Christmas performances.

Physical Education

Foundations for physical education are laid out in the JK4 PE class. The children learn a routine that includes warm up, activity, and cool down. Basic concepts in safety and following directions are emphasized. Gross loco-motor skills, such as, balance, running, jumping, hopping, and hand-eye coordination activities are introduced and practiced throughout the year. Simple active sorting games using colors and counting are introduced. Children learn to follow simple rules for games and are encouraged to take turns, share, and play by the rules. Dance and rhythmic movements are also taught. Manipulatives, such as, scarves, and bean bags are used. Stunts, tumbling, and balance beam activities are introduced.

Outdoor Education

Our early childhood students spend much time outside tending our school gardens. Students and teachers participate in the Sprouting Science program in conjunction with the Missouri Botanical Garden. Students also explore outside on our school nature trail, observing birds and various other plants and animals.

 

Instructional Strategies

The children learn through many different teaching strategies. The class spends time in morning circle together. Throughout the day, each child works in a small group setting with a designated partner or one-on-one with a teacher. This is based on the planned activities for the day as well as individual student needs.

Technology Integration

The iPads and the SMART table are used to support the learning within the classroom. Technology is used to enhance the children’s knowledge of letters and numbers.

Kindergarten (Age 5)

Developmental Stages and Transitions

Children in kindergarten learn best through exploration of concrete materials and experiences, such as, manipulatives, projects, acting out stories, parallel play, and field trips. Typically, some children may confuse letter and number formations in that some may be reversed. They may test the limits although they like routine in the classroom. The children benefit from structure and routine through a predictable schedule which follows personal growth. Kindergarten children are very social and are interested in playing and learning with one another.

Curriculum Highlights

The kindergarten curriculum involves a variety of projects based on holidays and weekly themes. Some examples include Thanksgiving and Christmas programs, the study of apples and pumpkins, author studies, and the study of Mexico/Belize for our international festival. Our Helping Hearts, Heifer International’s Read to Feed Program, aligns with Goal III-Social Awareness.

CURRICULUM OVERVIEW

Language Arts

The kindergarten language arts program consists of a well-balanced literacy program. Some of the components of this program are big books (rhyming, punctuation, capitalization, and use of expression), class books, guided reading (vocabulary, comprehension, main idea, beginning, middle and end, punctuation, oral and shared reading), phonemic awareness (word families, making and breaking words, analyzing words, word blends, vowels, letter-sound relationships, and sight words), journaling (inventive spelling, sentences and stories), and handwriting (lines, correct letter formation, and pencil grip).  The Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System allows instructors to determine a student’s independent and instructional reading level. Teachers observe students reading one-on-one, discuss text for a deeper level of comprehension, and determine appropriate further instruction for the individual students.

Mathematics

The kindergarten mathematics program is designed to help students build a solid conceptual understanding with a focus on problem solving. The Math in Focus series engages the children with visual models to move from the concrete to the pictorial and abstract stages. One goal is to prepare the children to be able to explain the steps they use to analyze a problem and explain how they reach the end result. Another goal is to develop mathematical proficiency and to help the children understand the usefulness of mathematics in everyday life. The mathematics curriculum includes experiences in counting and cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, number and operation in base ten, measurement and data, and geometry. The students count and compare numbers, add and subtract, gain foundations for place value, estimate, measure, compare, contrast, classify, graph, pattern, and explore money and time during calendar math. Kindergarten students gain knowledge and experience in whole group lessons and through center stations in which students work to obtain a level of mastery. Students are engaged in developing mathematics skills through, games, collaborative work, projects, and cross-curricular exploration, using math throughout the day.

Religion

There are four themes in our religion program: God gives us many gifts, God is our creator, Jesus shows us God’s love, and Jesus wants us to share God’s love. In addition, we celebrate many of the feast days of the Saints. The curriculum also centers on building an active faith in God. Students grow in faith with daily prayer and their connection to the Gospel message through their weekly Promise Magazines. Students attend Mass weekly and pray with the Oak Hill community. The students actively participate in the Helping Hearts program.

Science

The topics in science include themes that are related to the seasons. Kindergarten children bring a natural curiosity, enthusiasm, and willingness to share and please. Science incorporates different types of learning styles that enhance the children’s ability to process and apply new knowledge and make connections with previously learned concepts. We focus on life cycles of plants using our garden and by apple-picking, as well as the life cycles of animals and insects. The garden and nature trail enhance the students’ knowledge.

Critical language and thinking skills along with communication skills are developed through our children’s active involvement in drama, art, cooking, writing, reading, speaking and listening experiences related to the themes in science. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) framework is considered as lessons are planned to integrate learning experiences.

Social Studies

The social studies program focuses on themes that are related to the seasons and holidays. Kindergarten children share information about themselves and listen to stories to develop language and listening skills. Social studies incorporates different types of learning styles that enhance the children’s abilities to process and apply new knowledge as well as make connections with previously learned concepts through projects, books, magazines, and personal experiences. The Scholastic News magazine as well as online resources are available for students to experience interaction with a topic via the SMART board.

Art

The kindergarten art curriculum introduces students to the elements of line, shape, form and color. Through various projects, students learn to associate art and literature. Artists studied include Mondrian, Van Gogh, Matisse and Gehry. Students explore the folk tales and art of Central America and Africa. The techniques of collage, wax-resist, printmaking, weaving, the media of oil-pastel, modeling clay, and watercolor are added to their art making experience. Students participate in art room procedures and safety practices while learning to use centers for further learning after projects are completed.

French

French class for kindergarten students is a fun and engaging time for learning the language. Songs and stories reinforce and build on their vocabulary for animals, foods, numbers, and everyday objects. Students also work on identifying body parts, following simple directions, and begin using verbs in complete sentences. Games are another fun way we practice our vocabulary words. Kindergarten students also learn the Sign of the Cross and to recite a simple prayer in French just like St. Rose Philippine and St. Madeleine Sophie, who founded the Society of the Sacred Heart.

Performing Arts

Music, movement, and drama are integrated in the students’ class time. The students learn to use their voices, speaking expressively and singing in large and small groups. Through playing simple rhythm instruments and creative movement, they begin to develop their internal sense of beat and rhythm. The kindergarteners develop body awareness and spatial perception through energy work and simple choreographed dances. The young musicians will identify: music that is fast and slow; pitch (high and low); music that is piano and forte; the musical symbol treble clef; whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes. The students perform in Thanksgiving and Christmas performances.

Physical Education

Kindergarten students learn to follow directions and to play simple games while working on improving their skills. Some examples of this include hopping, skipping, and more complex loco-motor skills, such as, the hop-jump maneuver and the crisscross maneuver. The students also work on dance, rhythmic structure, kicking, throwing, tumbling, and balance beam activities. Manipulatives such as bean bags, scoops, paddles, and scooters are incorporated. Kindergarten students begin to develop teamwork and a deeper sense of sportsmanship as they learn why it is important to play by the rules.

Outdoor Education

Our early childhood students spend much time outside tending our school gardens. Students and teachers participate in the Sprouting Science program in conjunction with the Missouri Botanical Garden. Students spend much time outside on our school nature trail, observing birds and various other plants and animals. A solar oven is used in kindergarten to bake school snacks.

Instructional Strategies

A variety of strategies are used in kindergarten to reach a variety of learners. Whole group instruction is used to introduce a skill or lesson. Small group instruction is used to work on a specific skill that needs to be developed or reinforced. One-on-one instruction is also used for individual student needs. During center time in the morning, literacy games and projects are used to expand upon a book or theme. During math centers, games are used to teach specific skills.  Children are given a variety of seating choices (balls, wobble chairs, traditional chairs, etc.) to accommodate their individual needs within the classroom.

Technology Integration

Kindergarten students are exposed to technology in a variety of ways. The classroom is equipped with a SMART board and SMART Table to engage students in reading, writing, and math skills. Skills and concepts learned in the classroom are reinforced with iPads.