The Lower School

Curriculum

Natural History

Natural History is a key component to the Lower School education. Along with detailed classification and regular notation in scientific journals, the boys actively engage in the natural surroundings on campus and nearby locations such as Cabin John Park, and the Potomac River. The subject fosters a systematic and knowledgeable understanding of the natural world as well as the ability for careful observation, appreciation, and greater awareness of the dynamic natural world surrounding them. Many of the subjects of study are similar across the grades, but the study increases in depth and detail and with different focuses per grade.

Grade 3

Texts:

Golden Guide to Trees, Golden Guide to Insects, Golden Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians, Birds of Eastern and Central North America by R.T. Peterson

Topics:

1. insects—especially lepidoptera (butterflies, esp.), coleoptera (beetles), and hymenoptera, (bees, ants, wasps)

2. trees—basic identification of 10+ trees in area, focus on trees near water, esp. sycamore, willow, and softwoods (pines and firs)

3. birds—basic identification of 20+ birds in area, generally focus on Perching Land Birds (thrushes, mimic thrushes, titmice, nuthatches, wrens, swallows, blackbirds, starlings); other groups include doves, bird hawks, and some specific woodpeckers (downy and common flicker)

4. reptiles and amphibians—especially cover frogs, toads, and turtles

5. mammals—especially squirrels, raccoons, foxes, and deer

Grade 4

Texts:

Golden Guide to Trees, Golden Guide to Insects, Golden Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians, Birds of Eastern and Central North America by R.T. Peterson

Topics:

1. insects—especially cover diptera (mosquitoes, flies), odonata (damselfly, dragonfly), hemiptera (“true bugs”- stink bugs, water strider)

2. trees—basic identification of 20+ trees in area, focus on oaks and maples

3. birds—basic identification of 30+ birds in area, generally focus on Swimming, Wading & Sea Birds (geese, ducks, herons, egrets, gulls, terns); other groups include finches, wrens, tanagers, flycatchers, woodpeckers, kingfishers, and osprey

4. arachnids, arthopods, specific reptiles (lizards, non-poisonous snakes)

5. wolf, coyote, rabbits, weasel, and martens

6. basic rocks and minerals

Grade 5

Texts:

Golden Guide to Trees, Golden Guide to Weather, Guide to Rocks and Minerals, Guide to Eastern Forests, Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants by R.T. Peterson, The Forest by Roger Caras, various supplemental materials

Topics:

1. insects—especially cover orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, katydids), homoptera (cicadas, leafhoppers, aphids)

2. trees—basic identification of 25+ trees in area, focus on beeches, (American Beech), specific fruit trees (orange, apple, cherry, peach), specific nut trees (pecan, walnut)

3. birds—basic identification of 30+ birds in area, generally focus on Birds of Prey (buteos, eagles, owls, vultures, falcons); other groups include jays & crows, waxwings, and hummingbirds.

4. venemous snakes, alligators, crocodiles

5. bear, badger, mole, groundhog

Religion

Religion is taught two to three times a week and is mandatory for Catholic students. The main text books are part of the Faith & Life series published by Ignatius Press. Classes are supplemented with selected and interesting narratives from the Old and New Testament, as well as monthly chapel services, and occasional devotional practices such as the recitation of the rosary, which includes an imaginative and meditative exploration of the various mysteries. Themes that pervade the religion curriculum include the recognition and efforts of living as a loved child of God, a more personal knowledge of the person of Jesus, as well as the understanding of religion and worship as just and proper responses to the Creator.

Grade 3

Texts:

Our Life with Jesus, Book 3; Sacred Scripture selections

Topics:

Survey of key narratives in the Old and New Testaments, Ten Commandments, and the Sacraments—especially as based in Scripture

Grade 4

Texts:

Jesus Our Guide, Book 4; Sacred Scripture selections

Topics:

Key Old Testament narratives, particularly Genesis and the Fall; redemption in the person of Jesus; Ten Commandments; Mass and basic prayers; the Seven Sacraments; and the lives of saints

Grade 5

Texts:

Credo: I Believe, Book 5; Sacred Scripture selections

Topics:

The Apostles Creed, the Trinity, salvation history from Adam and Eve through the New Testament, and the universal call to holiness

Mathematics

Math is taught using the Saxon program. It is an incremental program that constantly reinforces past lessons while introducing a broad range of math problems. Supplements include various games, projects, and narratives of famous mathematicians.

Grade 3   

Texts:

Math 54 by Saxon

Topics:

 Addition, subtraction, fractions, decimals, multiplication and division (including memorization of times tables)

Grade 4

Texts:

Math 65 by Saxon

Topics:

 Basic geometry, fractional and decimal operations, continued development of multiplication and division

Grade 5   

Texts:

Math 76 by Saxon

Topics: Fundamental geometry, simple algebra, multiplication and division of fractions and decimals

History

History mostly focuses upon United States history up to the Civil War. Texts, employing a strong narrative method, from Joy Hakim’s History of US published by Oxford University Press are used in each grade. In addition, the 4th grade uses a Maryland history text book. Various field trips and the use of outside sources and stories, including historical fiction, augment the program.

Grade 3   

Texts:

The First Americans: A History of US, Book 1 by Joy Hakim

Topics:

Early native settlers to the explorers and early colonization

Grade 4   

Texts:

Our Maryland by Jane Eagen and Jeanne McGinnis; Making Thirteen Colonies: A History of US, Book 2 by Joy Hakim

Topics:

 History, including geography, of Maryland up to the present day; development of the first thirteen English colonies in Eastern North America

Grade 5   

Texts:

 From Colonies to Country: A History of US, Book 3 by Joy Hakim, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, Rabble in Arms by Kenneth Roberts

Topics:

The American Revolution and early development of the Republic

Literature

Literature includes the reading, aloud and silently, of short stories, folk tales, and novels, as well as the memorization and recital of a number of poems. Students also practice creative writing with poetry and short stories. Outside reading and book reports are required. Entertainment and the love and use of language are important aspects of literature, but emphasis includes: heroism in epic stories; formation of the moral imagination; tapping capacities for wonder, especially through folk or “wonder” tales, such as those collected by the Grimm brothers; as well as perceiving the connections between choice, action and well-being. (Books and poems may vary slightly with each teacher).

Grade 3 

Texts:

 The Great Quillow by James Thurber, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis; Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White; A Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl; poetry includes The Cats of Kilkenny, The Daffodils by William Wordsworth, A Knight by Geoffrey Chaucer, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Tiger by William Blake, The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning, St. George and the Dragon by G.K. Chesterton

Grade 4  

Texts:

Farmer Boy by L.E. Wilder, The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling; poetry includes Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Barbara Fritchie by James Whittier

Grade 5  

Texts: 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham; poetry includes The Bells and El Dorado by Edgar Allen Poe, Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Pied Beauty and The Windhover by Gerard M. Hopkins, The Listeners by Walter de la Mare, The Donkey by G.K. Chesterton, Casey at the Bat by Ernest L. Thayer

Language Arts

Language Arts includes handwriting, spelling, vocabulary, dictation, library instruction, reading comprehension, grammar and writing mechanics, and occasional journaling. Students regularly practice with attention to detail the above mentioned aspects of language arts, as well as practice putting the pieces together in regular writing. A love of language and writing is encouraged, though often through different subjects. For example, creative writing is taught in literature, while journaling without necessarily being graded for grammar happens in language arts, history, and natural history.

Grade 3 

Texts: 

Voyages in English 3 published by Loyola Univ. Press; New Practice Readers, Book D published by McGraw Hill; Spelling Connections, Book 3 published by Zaner-Bloser; Handwriting Book 3 published by Zaner-Bloser; Wordly Wise 3000, Book C published by Educators Publishing Service

Grade 4   

Texts:

Voyages in English 4 published by Loyola Univ. Press; New Practice Readers, Book F published by McGraw Hill; Spelling Connections, Book 4 published by Zaner-Bloser; Handwriting Book 4 published by Zaner-Bloser; Vocabulary from Classical Roots Book 5 published by Educators Publishing Service

Grade 5   

Texts:

Voyages in English 5 published by Loyola Univ. Press; Spelling Connections, Book 5 published by Zaner-Bloser; Handwriting Book 5 published by Zaner-Bloser; Vocabulary from Classical Roots Book 6 published by Educators Publishing Service

Music

The classes are a blend of theory and musical experience. The “experience” includes programs of experiencing great music (developed at The Heights) and experiencing music by singing and learning an instrument. Beginning in 4th grade all students choose an instrument and learn to play it. Singing is taught throughout the Lower School.

Grade 3  

Topics:

 Beat, style, note reading, recorder (instrument), voice, instrument families

Songs:

 Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, Good Morning,
Young Folks, Old Folk, Kookaburra in a Round, Rockin’ Robbin

Grade 4  

Topics:

Experiencing Great Music, Grade 4, instruments (woodwind or brass)

Songs:

Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, Con Gioia in Cuor,
La Canzone del Vino, Pass the Witch’s Broom

Grade 5   

Topics:

Experiencing Great Music, Grade 5, instruments (woodwind or brass)

Songs:

Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Shenandoah, Home on the Range, Ave Maria, Dona Nobis Pacem, Agnus Dei, To The Heights, Minstrel Boy, Dem Bones, Good Christian Men Rejoice

Art

Art is taught one day a week for an extended period of one hour and fifteen minutes. Students learn elements of drawing, from basic three-dimensional shapes to more difficult assignments such as drawing the human person, the use of perspective, etc. Students will also learn some painting, including water colors and some acrylics. Other projects include learning about and coloring heraldic shields especially with regard to understanding the color wheel, and color relationships. Students will also see and study various great works of art.

Physical Education

Physical Education is taught four days a week and involves training in the skills, strategy, and overall development of common team sports. The understanding of sportsmanship is emphasized.