Elementary | Grades 1 - 4

Active learning is at the heart of everything we do on the RCS Lower Campus. You can hear it in the sounds of children collaborating on group projects, engaging in meaningful class discussions, discovering possibilities in our Imagination Space, and speaking during assemblies and performances. Students in Grades 1 through 4 explore the process of experimentation, enhance their critical thinking skills, delve deeper into language and mathematics, bring history to life, create with technology, and further expand their minds. Our teachers inspire passion and ignite curiosity.

Literacy growth continues as children make the critical transition from learning to read to reading to learn and begin to develop a voice in writing. There is a natural progression in every aspect of our curriculum as students build confidence through risk taking, personal responsibility, and increased independence to lead with character. Our children experience the importance of being a significant member of a community.

- Penny Jennings, Head of RCS Lower Campus

Questions are the essential component of learning. We cultivate children's innate desire to learn how the world works and provide a nurturing setting in which students can stretch themselves without being inhibited by the fear of making mistakes. Both imaginative play and disciplined inquiry are a foundational part of every child's experience. 

Grade 1

List of 7 items.

  • Overview

    In first grade students engage in many hands-on activities allowing each unit of study to come to life in their classroom. The curriculum is differentiated to meet the needs of all students’ individual strengths and areas of growth. First graders are encouraged to be independent learners and feel comfortable in taking risks. Students develop their reading, writing, and math skills as well as their problem solving skills. The classroom environment fosters students comfort in asking questions and making observations. The first grade curriculum encourages curiosity, independence, and the development of a lifelong love of learning.
  • Language Arts

    The first grade literacy curriculum includes reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Reading is a fundamental skill for learning, personal growth, and enjoyment. As a lifelong learning skill, reading goes beyond decoding and comprehension to interpretation and development of new understandings.

    Reading skills are taught through direct instruction using an individualized multi-sensory approach. Moving from decoding to reading for meaning, the first graders apply phonics rules to the written word and come to recognize an ever increasing number of sight words. Comprehension skills are practiced through "read-alouds" and class discussion. Reading group size and instruction is modified, based upon individual strengths and needs.
  • Mathematics

    Investigations is our formal math program for students in Kindergarten through fourth grade. The program is designed to help students make sense of mathematics and become mathematical thinkers. The program teaches mathematical reasoning with emphasis on thinking about and understanding numerical and spatial relationships, and the communication of that understanding in both the written and spoken word.

    The Investigations math program in first grade focuses on exploring number operations and relationships; describing, identifying, and applying number patterns; and analyzing data, geometry, and measurement. The focus of this math program is on developing mathematical reasoning, computational fluency, and number sense. Students investigate different ways to combine numbers and develop strategies for recalling and applying basic facts. They communicate their observations and understanding of mathematical operations through conversation, pictures, writing, and standard mathematical notation. They share solutions to problems, identify and apply their classmates’ strategies, and develop new systems for solving different number problems.
  • Science

    Science in first grade emphasizes the use of the scientific method. Students are encouraged to explore and learn through discovery. They are continuing to develop their awareness of the physical word and other organisms sharing that world with them. They are learning to predict, experiment, observe, record and discuss the results of their efforts.
  • Social Studies

    The social studies program in first grade focuses on the importance of community, beginning in the classroom and connecting to the wider world. Students plan how they will live together as a school community and share stories and artifacts about their ancestors. At each stage they are encouraged to discover the past and compare it with their lives today.

    Throughout the first grade social studies curriculum, students gain an appreciation of our diverse world. Students compare different communities such as suburban, rural, and urban, in New York state, and then expand their global awareness by “traveling around the world.” Students are encouraged to explore and think critically about what they investigate, enabling them to make reasonable decisions and enhance their self-esteem and develop thoughtful values.
  • Spanish

    Our Lower Campus Spanish program introduces students in Kindergarten through fourth grade to the sounds and culture of Spanish speaking countries. It is primarily an oral program with much emphasis placed on games, songs, and the cultures of Spanish speaking countries.
  • Technology

    First grade students use KidPix for drawing and creating multimedia slideshows with special effects. They also learn to use PebbleGo.com for research on topics that tie in with the content areas. Keyboarding training begins with Dance Mat Typing. They also use PebbleGo.com for research and iPad apps such as Kid Pic Collage or Adobe Voice to share their findings. Kodable.com and the Tynker curriculum provide coding experience and students are also introduced to ScratchJr, a programming app for creating interactive games and stories.

Grade 2

List of 7 items.

  • Overview

    In second grade, students solidify the academic skills necessary to continue their development as readers and writers, strengthen their mathematical number sense and problem solving abilities, and explore formal scientific thinking and practice. The concepts of community and geographic awareness are revisited through studies of different cultures, places, and historical periods. Within an interdisciplinary framework, students are encouraged to be inquisitive and to be creative thinkers.
  • Language Arts

    Second graders continue to build and hone their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Decoding and encoding are taught through a multi-sensory approach with direct instruction, practice during guided reading, and differentiated, individualized center work. Students read each day with a teacher, individually, in small groups, and/or with partners to develop greater fluency and expression.

    Students maintain reading logs and use Post-its to monitor their reading and employ thinking stems (noticing, wondering, predicting, feeling, visualizing). Comprehension and critical thinking skills are fortified through analyses of story elements (characters, setting, problem, solution), and students support personal connections and inferences made using details from the text.

    A variety of genres are enjoyed through multiple, varied units, as well as through independent reading. Teachers select guided reading books and groups based on individual needs, and regular one-on-one conferences support each student’s reading progress.

    Writing skills are part of the continuum of the second grade curriculum. In writing workshop and within reading, mathematics, social studies, and science, students learn to utilize the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, publishing) to create increasingly sophisticated sentences, paragraphs, narratives, poems, journals, and creative stories.
     
  • Mathematics

    Investigations is our formal math program for students in Kindergarten through fourth grade. The program is designed to help students make sense of mathematics and become mathematical thinkers. The program teaches mathematical reasoning with emphasis on thinking about and understanding numerical and spatial relationships, and the communication of that understanding in both the written and spoken word.

    Through the Investigations math curriculum, second graders explore addition and subtraction of two-digit numbers, the landmark numbers of 10 and 100 and their relationships to mathematical operations, characteristics of polygons, fractional parts of a whole, symmetry, data analysis, and measurement.

    Students are exposed to, and practice using, a variety of problem solving strategies that support computational fluency, accuracy, and efficiency. Journal work and use of manipulatives help students monitor and make sense of their math thinking and explore multiple methods for solving individual problems. Discussion about different strategies modeled is an essential part of each activity.

  • Science

    The second grade science program continues to provide students with a challenging yet balanced curriculum to develop scientific literacy. The goal of the program is to develop a lasting interest in science with an emphasis on individual discovery. The scientific method is paramount in the curriculum and students are encouraged to apply previous knowledge to new venues. The program seeks to nurture a student's inherent curiosity and appreciation for the natural world.
  • Social Studies

    The second grade social studies curriculum is comprised of three areas of study: the Native American Iroquois tribe of New York state, the peoples and land of the Arctic, and the life of Leonardo da Vinci as part of the Renaissance.

    Activation of prior knowledge, questioning, and brainstorming lead to goal-oriented, hands-on, multi-media projects that thoughtfully integrate language arts, math, science, art, and music into each unit. Highlights of second grade social studies are the fall performance of an Iroquois “Gathering”; individually researched, written, and designed Arctic animal e-books; and “Leonardo’s Workshop.”

  • Spanish

    Our Lower Campus Spanish program introduces students in Kindergarten through fourth grade to the sounds and culture of Spanish speaking countries. It is primarily an oral program with much emphasis placed on games, songs, and the cultures of Spanish speaking countries.
  • Technology

    Second grade is a pivotal year. Students begin formal touch typing training, working their way through the lessons on Typing.com. Search skills are an important part of research and second graders learn about keywords as they utilize resources including the Destiny database, PebbleGo.com, ARKive.org, and Britannica’s online encyclopedia and image collection.The importance of citing sources is introduced. Students create with ScratchJr as they further their experience in coding. Working with text and graphics students present their research findings and creative work in Print Shop, and apps including Book Creator and Adobe Voice allow for the addition of recorded sound and music for multimedia presentations.

Grade 3

List of 7 items.

  • Overview

    The third grade curriculum reinforces academic skills and encourages independent learning.

    The theme of third grade is exploration, and some of the main content areas of the third grade curriculum include mapping, explorers, Vikings, and Pilgrims. The Viking unit launches the question of why people go exploring. Students examine the nature of dissent, change, and risk as they discover why people seek out new places and new cultures.

    The third grade curriculum is intended to encourage students to question why history unfolds the way it does and to prepare them for the more challenging academic topics they will encounter in fourth grade.
  • Language Arts

    The literacy program (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) in third grade revolves around developing students’ writing skills and supporting the transition from learning to read, to reading to learn. The reading program for third grade students includes a friendship unit, a biography unit, historical fiction, independent reading of fiction and nonfiction, and class "read-alouds".

    The writing curriculum includes a skills-based program covering sentence expansion, paragraph organization, and grammar. Poetry, creative writing, and expository writing are also key parts of this program. Throughout the year, students write reading responses based on their independent reading focusing on identifying the elements, character traits, and important events in the book by making connections and asking questions.

    Comprehension activities further enhance students’ understanding of events and characters. Differentiating main ideas and supporting details are practiced orally and in writing. Students learn to edit and elaborate on their writing pieces and, after revising and rewriting, third graders are offered the opportunity to publish their work.
  • Mathematics

    The math curriculum for grades K-4 is the Investigations program. Our overall strategy on the teaching of mathematical reasoning is to emphasize thinking about and understanding numerical and spatial relationships, and the communication of that understanding in both the written and spoken word.

    The main content area for the third grade Investigations mathematics curriculum includes multi-digit addition and subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, numbers through 1,000, measurement, data analysis, and 3D geometry. During this year, students continue to develop their number sense through landmark numbers such as 20, 25, 50, and 100. Larger numbers are broken down into landmark numbers. Multiplication is introduced through skip counting and the construction of arrays. This leads third graders to an understanding of square numbers, factors, multiples, and division.

    The fraction unit builds an understanding of the relationship between part and whole. Students work on equivalencies and recognizing quarters, halves, eighths, thirds, and sixths. Third grade students practice using standard and metric linear measurements. To understand 3D shapes such as cubes, spheres, and prisms, students build on their understanding of 2D geometry.

    The third graders’ knowledge of basic facts is encouraged through weekly practice. Students are expected to recall and repeat their addition and subtraction facts so that they can calculate and apply this information to more complex problems before moving on to multiplication and division facts. Categorization of data and number families are consistently practiced.

    Following the fraction unit of study, third graders compare and contrast the links between fractions, multiplication, and division. The Investigation program expects students to recall, recognize, and record numbers, and to infer and generalize information from data. From there, students apply their information to new situations and use creative thinking and problem solving.
  • Science

    The students begin the year following the 3rd grade theme of exploration. We discover how compasses work and build our own, we study and create maps, and learn how a location’s non-living things can affect what living things are found. We take the learning local by going outside and exploring the RCS campus. By observing, comparing, and classifying, we can notice what makes each habitat unique including our outdoor classroom in the woods. Predator/prey, living/non-living, and food webs are not only discussed, but experienced. We bring the outdoors in by constructing a scientific investigation on the local woodlouse. Students design and implement a lab using the scientific method to discover what living situation the woodlouse prefers. The students then become engineers and are needed to solve problems using electricity. By re-thinking the term “technology” and discovering the engineering design process, students gain the same foundation as electrical engineers. They test conductors and insulators, build circuits, and solve a variety of problems in teams which will cumulate with constructing a working alarm system. The scientific method and engineering design process are the two guiding principles that each student will follow while working on the science fair. Science fair in the third grade is all about experiential learning and discovery. Every student will create a project that is special to them and that creates curiosity. By researching, experimenting, and creating, students are challenging themselves while finding the joy in becoming an authentic scientist. They each are required to present their findings and share the process. After the fair, the third grade focuses on rocks and minerals. As geologists, both research and fieldwork takes place.

    A few favorite lessons include demonstrating the rock cycle by shaving, compressing, melting, and cooling crayons, and in teams investigating and sharing the different types of rocks. The students debate whether fossil fuels or renewable energy is the best source of power for RCS and vote. We end the year going back to our outdoor classroom. We discover the wonder of spring and create field guides to classify the plants and animals we discover. The whole school can use them to assist with their own discovery of nature.
    By the end of grade three, students will experience the following:

    Inquiry and Investigation
    • Planning and Carrying out investigations
    • Making hypotheses based on prior knowledge
    • Recording results from experiments
    • Drawing conclusions
    • Designing an experiment to test one variable
    • Developing and using models
    • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
    • Measuring and graphing quantities
    Physical Science
    • Magnetism
    • Electricity
    Life Science
    • Ecosystems
    • Life Cycles
    • Energy Transfer
    • Biodiversity
    • Fossils
    Earth Science
    • Weather and Climate
    • Earth’s systems
    • Rock types and cycle
    • Minerals
    • Energy and Fuels
    • Volcanoes, Earthquakes Mountain ranges
    Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering Design Process
    • Asking questions and defining problems
    • Technological Literacy
    • Applying science and math to solve a problem
    • Teamwork, communication, collaboration
  • Social Studies

    The main content areas of the third grade social studies curriculum are mapping, explorers, Vikings, and Pilgrims. In the mapping unit, students become familiar with the components of various maps and how to use them. During all the social studies units, third graders are developing research and reading skills, organizing relevant information, and learning to present information sequentially. Students are exposed to a variety of note taking tools such as post-its and note cards. The third grade curriculum is designed to develop analytical skills, promote intellectual curiosity, support individual strengths, and enable each student to become confident and independent learners.
  • Spanish

    Our Lower Campus Spanish program introduces students in Kindergarten through fourth grade to the sounds and culture of Spanish speaking countries. It is primarily an oral program with much emphasis placed on games, songs, and the cultures of Spanish speaking countries.
  • Technology

    Third graders continue to solidify keyboarding skills through practice at school and at home using Typing.com. It is expected that they will achieve typing speeds of at least 8-10 words per minute and use proper 10-finger touch technique. In the computer lab and in the classrooms, they will use word processing and presentation applications for their work. Laptops are available in the classrooms and the iPad cart can go between classroom and lab. Students use apps such as Book Creator, Adobe Voice, and Pic Collage for multimedia presentations. Research skills are reinforced and coding continues to be part of the curriculum as well.

Grade 4

List of 6 items.

  • Language Arts

    Children’s literature is the heart of the fourth grade reading program. The focus for the year is to enhance comprehension skills by teaching the same strategies that proficient readers use. These strategies help students learn to read on a deeper level. The close reading strategies in Notice and Note are used to help students develop the critical reading habits that make them more attentive, thoughtful, independent readers.

    In addition, students are introduced to the six signposts that alert the reader to significant moments in a book and encourage students to read closely. In fourth grade, students grow from being literal readers who simply understand the plot of the story, to interpretive ones who realize that characters have feelings, and that many of the author’s ideas have to be inferred. Each student uses a reading log to help monitor comprehension.

    Throughout fourth grade, students read in many genres such as Realistic Fiction, Fantasy, Mysteries, Historical Fiction, and Adventure. During the course of the year, there are two "read-alouds", which are used as models for the skills being taught, as well as small group and paired reading exercises.

    The fourth grade program stresses the strong connection between reading and writing. Literary elements and techniques, which writers use to develop their characters and to add interesting details to make stories some alive, are explored. Emphasis is placed on the importance of using descriptive language and elaborating on an idea. Students are instructed in both narrative and expository writing activities such as letter writing, narrative pieces, expository writing, historical fiction, poetry, and formal essays. Writing assignments generally follow a similar pattern. First, students are exposed to examples of a particular genre. Then students model the skills necessary for that style of writing.

    Finally, students learn to use tools such as brainstorming ideas, creating word banks, and drafting using an organizational web or outline. Emphasis is placed on the importance of the revision stage of writing. Students are expected to revisit their writing to add, delete, reorganize, or to use more precise language. They are encouraged to read their work aloud to a partner and then discuss the changes that will make their writing better. The mechanics of writing are taught in the revision and editing stages, and in mini lessons. Throughout the writing curriculum, students are encouraged to use colorful language, to add creative details, and to expand on an idea. Students often publish their written work on the classroom laptops.
  • Mathematics

    The primary goal of fourth grade math is to extend students’ competence and confidence in their math skills, building on what they learned in third grade, and to provide students with problem solving strategies. The fourth grade math curriculum focuses on multiplication and division, algebra, 2D and 3D geometry, measurement, fractions and decimals, and problem solving.

    Students are encouraged to attain automaticity of their multiplication facts, based on conceptual understanding and foundations that have been established. Standard algorithms for addition and subtraction, are introduced now that students have a solid understanding of place value and number sense. New problem solving strategies are also introduced to help students solve challenging word problems. These include working backwards, estimating, check and revise, draw a table or a picture, look for a pattern, and use logical reasoning.
  • Science

    Science in fourth grade emphasizes critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. By threading labs and experiments throughout the year, students have many opportunities to research, plan, and execute their own questions. The year begins, and is interspersed with an in-depth investigation of the properties of water and the systems water influences.

    Making models of watersheds, taking a water cycle journey, and understanding the distribution of water help to reinforce how important studying water is. Labs examine cohesion, surface tension, density, acid-base reactions, buoyancy, and the states of water. Students will work individually, in partners, and in groups to follow a lab procedure and the scientific method. They are challenged to ask questions, measure accurately, and record their results.

    The fourth graders become civil engineers and construct various bridges to solve problems. Using the engineering design process, they need to plan, build, test, then replan, rebuild, and retest. By understanding forces and what creates strength and stability, students work in groups to build the strongest and most cost effective bridge. We also spend time exploring the nearby Tappan Zee Bridge where a major reconstruction effort is underway. Student will also design and build paper airplanes and test for distance, style, and accuracy.

    The science fair is a tradition that combines challenge, fun, and curiosity. Students are required to use the scientific method or the engineering design process to research, design, test, record, and analyze data. There is a lot of freedom, but being curious and challenged are key! During the fair, everyone shares their findings to an audience of peers and families.

    The year concludes with investigating the health of RCS water systems. The students test, analyze, and graph their data, as well as search for living creatures. Using microscopes, single celled animals are examined and observed. Creating journals assists with illustrating and documenting their findings.

    By the end of fourth grade, students will experience the following:

    Physical Science
    • Molecules / Atoms
    • Measuring
    • Metric system
    • Aerodynamics
    • Properties of water
    • States of Matter
    • Gravity
    Life Science
    • Ecosystems - wetlands
    • Plant Growth
    • Nutrients
    • Pollution, Trash, Recycling
    Earth Science
    • Watersheds
    • Water cycle
    • Cohesion/surface tension
    • Trash/Recycling
    Inquiry and Investigation
    • Making hypotheses based on prior knowledge
    • Designing and testing multiple experiment
    • Recording results from experiments
    • Drawing conclusions
    • Designing an experiment to test one variable
    • Interpreting data from computer generated graphs
    • Using computer programs to organize data for analysis
    • Discussing and presenting results from an experiment
    Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering Design Process
    • Asking questions and defining problems
    • Technological Literacy
    • Apply science and math to solve a problem
    • Teamwork, communication, collaboration
  • Social Studies

    Our fourth grade social studies program is exciting and interactive - through journal writing, 3D projects, use of technology, simulation games, and drama and song, students explore the original 13 colonies in the 1700’s through the 1800’s and across the continent. Students continue to develop their research skills through studying these different topics. Students conduct research using primary and secondary resources such as journals, diaries, books, magazines, newspapers and websites that have been chosen and bookmarked for them. As the year progresses, the research sources become more complex and the note taking more detailed. Student share their knowledge with their peers in the form of oral presentations, powerpoint presentations, and art projects.
  • Spanish

    Our Lower Campus Spanish program introduces students in Kindergarten through fourth grade to the sounds and culture of Spanish speaking countries. It is primarily an oral program with much emphasis placed on games, songs, and the cultures of Spanish speaking countries.
  • Technology

    Fourth graders use a variety of programs and apps for word processing, presentations, and basic spreadsheets. Adobe Voice, Comic Life, Educreations, and Pic Collage are a few other options for sharing ideas creatively. Classroom laptops are used for most assignments and additional keyboarding instruction is provided for students who have not yet attained the speed and accuracy goals set in third grade. Scratch and Code.org Studio provide opportuniites to explore the world of coding. Responsible and ethical use of resources and equipment is expected at all times.