Kindergarten students at St. John’s attend a full day program. Teachers focus on providing a positive and encouraging first year of formal education by attending to the social, academic, and emotional needs of the students. Kindergartners will learn to listen, cooperate, follow directions, show self control, interact positively with others, communicate appropriately and take care of self-help tasks independently.
Success traits and core values of kindness, honest, respect and compassion are introduced in Kindergarten. Kindergartners begin to see the value of each trait through daily reinforcement and curriculum integration.
In Kindergarten, Language Arts are integrated throughout each day and the school year as a whole. Reading, writing, listening and speaking are a part of everything that we do. The following components of our Language Arts program lay the foundation of basic skills for students to become capable readers, writers and communicators.
Students learn to read in Kindergarten through daily instruction, primarily using Reading A to Z. A variety of other sources are also used that enrich and enhance the program. Children learn how to use the letter sounds to read and write. Phonics readers, appropriate to the children’s levels, are utilized in school as well as at home. The basic skills taught in the program are:
- Letter sounds/phonics & reading comprehension
- Letter formation
- Sight words
- Parts of speech
The rich selection of literature read aloud in class affords many opportunities for the development of comprehension skills and for group discussions and activities related to story elements. Books are selected based on curricular themes.
Be Excited About Reading (B.E.A.R.)
Students exhibit their own reading skills through the B.E.A.R. program. Children read at least twenty minutes every night, either to or with a parent. They read from their own collection and from those provided by the school. Their reading is logged daily, and their accomplishments are acknowledged in class. The goals of the program are for children to:
- develop a love of reading,
- view themselves as readers,
- reinforce decoding skills,
- build student sight word vocabularies, and
- reinforce basic comprehension skills.
In Kindergarten we implement a number of ways to increase positive self esteem in children. Students engage in activities to promote effective speaking and listening skills. In January, Kindergarten students create and present their first research report about animals — integrating technology, reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. They also sing songs and recite poetry as a class during school assemblies to build their confidence in larger settings.
From the first days of school, writing is presented as an extension of reading. We want students to learn how to share ideas and express themselves through all stages of writing. Children may draw pictures and share the story behind their drawings. Also, teachers create group language experience stories to model how ideas are put into writing. As student skills progress, the children begin writing stories with drawings and invented spelling. Students are encouraged to use invented spelling to facilitate expression of ideas and content over absolute precision in spelling. They also use their print-rich environment and classroom word walls to assist them in writing. Some stories are “read” to classmates and transcribed into formal written language by teachers.
Through guided lessons, kindergartners learn the earliest conventions in writing mechanics, including when to use capital and lowercase letters and the meaning of punctuation marks.
Handwriting is taught following the Zaner-Bloser Verbiage. Children can learn the manuscript style of print and focus on the proper formation of letters. Kindergarten children are encouraged to print using top to bottom and left to right strokes. The practice using lines paper correctly.
The Kindergarten mathematics program presents experiences that build skills in the areas of shapes, patterns, numeration, data handling, graphing, probability, operations, measurement, money, geometry and time. The curriculum is based on building a foundation of skills and levels of understanding which increase in complexity throughout the year. Much use is made of manipulatives, games, and hands-on exploration.
Activities include verbal counting to 100, skip-counting, reading and writing numerals, identifying and extending patterns, measuring using a variety of tools, recognizing values of coins, exploring parts and whole through fractions, telling time to the hour and half hour, identifying and comparing shapes, collecting and graphing data, and solving simple addition and subtraction equations. Problem-solving, logic and reasoning are emphasized and students are taught the processes behind math concepts. Children learn that math is an integral part of their daily lives.
Kindergarten Science is hands-on and exploratory. Teachers encourage students to use their natural curiosity to observe the world around them in meaningful ways. Science-based units include:
Students explore the similarities and differences among animals and determine how animals survive in their environment. Animals are classified by their behavior during winter-whether they migrate, hibernate or adapt. Students select an animal to investigate further through a research report. They are asked to learn where the animal lives, what it eats, how it moves, what covers its body and how it survives in the cold. Students then share their animal expertise with their classmates through an oral presentation of their report.
From Seed to Plant
Students learn about different types of plants and stages of plant growth. They learn the parts of a plant and what plants need to live. Students observe and record the life cycle/stages of pumpkin growth from seed to decomposition and back to seed. Students take a field trip to a pumpkin patch. They also plant seeds and conduct experiments during this unit.
Time, Travel and Technology
Kindergartners end the year with a trip to the outer edges of the universe. Children learn about outer space, astronauts and the solar system during the month of May.
In Social Studies, Kindergarten students first study themselves, and then their roles in increasingly larger communities: home, classroom, school, state, country, and the world. Efforts are made to develop an appreciation for oneself, as well as a respect and care for the community of the class and school. Our goals are to strengthen interpersonal relationships among classmates, to teach positive problem solving skills, and to build compassion and empathy for each other.
Getting to Know You
In the first unit, students spend time getting to know themselves, their classmates and their school. Students hear stories about and engage in activities around themes of friendship, cooperation and teamwork. Teachers help students develop an understanding of similarities and differences among people and the importance of learning how to work together.
Our Place in the World
Students explore the town, state and country in which they live. Through activities and discussion they learn more about the world around them. Children learn practical skills such as where they live and their address and phone number. Students learn map skills and how to find their state and country on a globe. Children learn symbols that represent the state of Maryland and the United States. We take a closer look at the pledge of allegiance and what it means. Children also learn about our country’s heritage as Thanksgiving approaches.
Students in Kindergarten rotate each year between the countries of Japan, Germany and Mexico during our International Festival studies. This year kindergartners will learn a folk dance from Germany. During the International Festival, students will be involved in a variety of activities as they explore the culture of Germany.
In the early grades, a great deal of attention is placed on developing listening skills. Class work is primarily oral, but both verbal and non-verbal skills are used. Worksheets, puppets, flash cards, posters, toys, videos and DVDs are used to introduce kindergartners to numbers, shapes, colors, food, places, parts of the body, etc. Learning is more effective when approached with an element of fun and enthusiasm. Therefore, children play games and sing songs during class. In order to reinforce what is being taught in the classroom, children make mini-books that are sent home to help students review, at an easy pace with their families, vocabulary learned at school.
In grades preschool through two, the program Godly Play helps our students, whatever their background and whatever their learning needs or strengths, to access the stories and their connection to God on their own level. Godly Play can help make religion a powerful and personally meaningful experience, helping students to recognize God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and His abiding love.
In the Episcopal tradition, the act of wondering or asking questions to explore personal faith, is an act of faith in itself. Therefore, in Godly Play, students are presented a lesson using beautifully made manipulatives and then asked questions such as “What is the most important part of this story?” or “What part did you like the most?” Then, they are asked, “Is there any part of the story that is about you?” Finally, they answer the question, “Is there any part of this story that we could have done without and still have had all that we needed?” These questions lead to some very thoughtful conversations about the story and the children’s experiences in reference to them.
Godly Play is much like the process of acquiring a language. During the first year or two of learning a language, students are learning and repeating sounds and words (learning story scripts, learning how to build a circle in which to experience the stories and where the teacher supports the students’ wondering, etc.). Then students develop a level of language proficiency and start using those manipulatives to make meaning and deep connections among the lessons.
Preschool through grade two students experience Word of God classes and Feasts in Godly Play, an informal liturgy and breaking of the bread. Each year, students go to the grade three skit, “The Real Story of Christmas, God Gives Us His Son.” Additionally, grade 1 participates in a Christmas tableau.
The Arts at St. John’s
General Music K-4
In general music in Kindergarten through fourth grade, students explore four key areas of development; music performance, music literacy, music appreciation, and classroom and global connections. Students perform through singing, dancing, and playing instruments. Students acquire and apply music literacy skills through development of musical vocabulary. Students listen and respond to music from a variety of cultural and historical sources. Students make connections between music, their world, and the greater global community through their singing, dancing, listening, and playing. Students have many opportunities to connect to and demonstrate the Traits for Success particularly Courage, Persistence, Positive Attitude, and Attentiveness as they study and perform music.
Students in Kindergarten explore music through singing and speaking a diverse array of simple songs and poems. They have their first experiences with instrumental performances and making digital or 3D art to connect with the songs they have learned. The students respond to great works of music and folk songs through movement, classroom discussion, and visual art. They acquire formative understanding of basic music concepts such as pitch, beat, and volume (dynamics). To demonstrate these skills, each student participates in the three performances annually including the Festival of the Arts.
Kindergarten students work in a variety of media, including pencils, markers, pastels, watercolors, tempera, etc. Students complete 2-D and 3-D projects. The curriculum provides the opportunity for children to learn and to develop skills in drawing, painting, composition and crafting. Kindergartners learn about the color wheel and practice mixing and creating colors. The main rules of perspective and figure drawing are introduced. Each student draws a self-portrait that becomes part of a collage for the yearly St. John’s auction. Demonstration and step-by-step explanations of how to complete projects are used to ensure that children understand the project and how to complete it. The instruction about safe and proper use of equipment is a part of the lessons.
In Kindergarten, movement education is the primary vehicle used for the development of loco motor and non-locomotor skills, spatial awareness and body control. Students become more aware of their own bodies as they learn to move in their own space while respecting the space of others. A variety of manipulative objects such as beanbags, hoops, noodles, and juggling scarves are used to develop fine motor coordination. Students learn to interact together in physical activity settings as well as work independently to discover their own capabilities. Low organization and holiday games encourage teamwork, cooperation, respect, safe play, and following directions. The program encourages students to participate in and enjoy a variety of physical activities and gain a sense of self accomplishment in a non-competitive learning environment. It is the goal of the program to motivate our students to try new activities and enjoy physical activity.
The Kindergarten students cover a variety of loco motor movements and non-loco motor skills while moving to music. The students learn about resting vs. active heart rate as they execute movement skills. Balances, tumbling, throwing, catching, kicking and striking are also presented. The Physical Education staff works with classroom teachers to integrate activities from the classroom into the gymnasium. Integration activities may include, but are not limited to: shapes, the skeleton, bones, math and space activities. Multicultural games are introduced to increase the student’s knowledge of global awareness.
St. John’s students are exposed to and experience a wide variety of activities that encompass shared experiences. The Physical Education department organizes and supervises school events such as Community Building Week, International Festival, Blue Gold events, Buddy program and Field Days. Students are introduced to the knowledge necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle.
During Kindergarten, students will develop an age-appropriate understanding of technology concepts, systems and operations. By the end of the year, we expect St. John’s technology students to be able to work independently in all software programs we use throughout the year, including operating the related peripherals, tools and menus. Kindergartners are also expected to be able to compose written words using the keyboard and understand the relationship between images and text in several contexts, including desktop publishing, concept-mapping and image-editing programs. Their experience is limited to the NETS (National Educational Technology Standards for Students) categories of technological collaboration and communication, creativity and decision-making.
Weekly library classes for students in Kindergarten consist of a read aloud time using classic picture books followed by an opportunity for book selection. Attentiveness is a key component of each visit. Children are assisted in finding and checking out books from the picture book area and from the non-fiction sections of the library.
In November, students contribute an item to a classroom Thanksgiving basket given to a local family in need. In April (Generosity Month), students participate in a class community service project. Students learn the importance of helping others in their local community through these activities.
During the school year the Kindergarten classes will take several field trips. Possible trips will be to the Discovery Theater, a nature center, a farm, a planetarium and an in-school visit from Maryland Historical Society.