At Friends Academy, learning is more than reading, writing, and math. Even our youngest students serve their community and connect globally.

Students enjoy a progressive, well-rounded education built on exercising their creativity, exploring community, building confidence and reaching personal achievement. Inspired by our school values, this is shaped in a supportive and safe environment in which to make mistakes, apply original ideas, and experience a thoughtful approach to learning.

Curriculum is inclusive and integrated. For instance, when exploring whaling in New Bedford, 4th grade students craft scrimshaw in art, learn about our largest mammals in science, and sing sea shanties in music.  They read the a variety of books, view video, and take field trips to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Mystic Seaport, and the Manjiro House. They then apply what they have learned by creating game boards about aspects of whaling, write diary entries from a person of their choice on a whale ship, and create Moby Dick “selfies.”

These early grades are also an important time for self-expression and achievement, not only in the classroom, but also through the arts and programs such as Winterfest, the Bookworm Celebration, dramatic performances, and the Buddy Program in which older students work with younger students. By the end of grade five, students have grown as leaders and have come to discover the joys of expressing themselves clearly, creatively, and confidently.

Please see our curriculum pages to explore your child’s grade level and those to come.

Lower School Curriculum

Our Reggio Emilia inspired Early Childhood Language Arts program is guided by the essential questions:

  • How do we acknowledge and hone the “hundred languages” for communication that is a two-way interactive process of representing and interpreting signs and symbolic systems?
  • How do we use reading and writing as a tool to communicate and  promote social justice?
  • How does collaborative inquiry, project-based learning, and multimedia documentation  provide practical ways to develop communicative literacy?
  • How can our educationally rich, varied, and challenging content encourage language and literacy development, symbolic thinking, social interaction, and cultural awareness?

 

Our Reggio-inspired educators do not view children as empty vessels to be filled, but as competent, capable, and full of potential. This powerful image of the child is at the heart of everything that is undertaken. Early Literacy is addressed through authentic writing activities and exposure to an abundance of quality literature for both information and pleasure. We use literature as a tool to promote social justice and to think critically about complex issues.The program encourages the use of many expressive languages to represent ideas, questions, and learning.

Students see themselves as authors as they develop understanding that writing is used as a tool for planning, strategizing, understanding, and reflection. Through this children develop the understanding that letters represent specific spoken sounds and that written word represents spoken word. Early literacy concepts such as phonemic awareness, letter formation, directionality, spacing, and the steps of the writing process (prewriting, drafting, and editing) are explored as students immerse themselves in writing for a purpose.

A comprehensive literacy program is cultivated in our literature-rich learning environment, where children progress at a developmentally appropriate rate.  A love of literature is promoted; many experiences with books and phonemic awareness activities are provided, and guided reading is introduced for the first time.  We provide a balance of reading, writing, speaking and listening experiences.

Reading

  • Phonemic awareness: awareness of sound
  • Phonics: sound and symbol awareness – associating letters with the sound they make – consonant, vowels, and word family studies
  • Word study activities help students learn and apply strategies for rapidly identifying words, as well as for expanding vocabulary and spelling abilities
  • Guided Reading: small group instruction

Writing

  • Practice with phonetic spelling
  • Authentic writing experiences: book making and journaling
  • Application of sight words

Listening and Speaking

  • Greeting
  • Morning Meeting
  • Share Time
  • Journal sharing
  • Presentations at All-School Meeting

Special events throughout the year:

  • I am thankful
  • Love is…
  • ABC’s of Kindergarten (end of the year culminating event)

First graders develop a love of reading through a variety of experiences. Language Arts opportunities include interactive read-aloud and literature discussions, shared reading, speaking, writing, guided reading, phonics, spelling, and word study.  Written products include journals, poetry, inquiry-based research projects, response to literature and personal narratives.

Instruction draws on current research and practice in order to ensure that students develop successful reading and writing habits, nurtured in an environment that balances skills, strategies, materials, and social and emotional support.

Technology is embedded into the curriculum in a thoughtful way to reinforce the skills being used through Raz-Kids.com and Lexia Core 5.

These essential questions guide learning in the classroom and are lens through which the curriculum is focused. Our essential questions include:

  • How can spelling and handwriting help students communicate most clearly and effectively in writing?
  • How do our students apply word structure analysis and vocabulary skills to comprehend reading?
  • How do students become active and engaged readers so that they develop confidence and stamina?
  • How do readers understand the wide range of genres and reading materials?
  • How does the beginning, middle, and end of a story lead to understanding?
  • How can students reflect on their strengths and growing edges as readers?

Special events: Bookworm Celebration; Author Celebration

Second grade focuses curriculum through these essential questions:

  • How do students use their skills as a reader to be a responsible reading citizen?
  • How do students see their responsibilities within the classroom?

Students develop a love and appreciation of language arts through our comprehensive literacy program.  As they learn to read fluently and with expression, they develop stamina and confidence.

Reading comprehension strategies are taught directly through read aloud texts, where students practice and learn strategies as a group, prior to reading independently.  Through a workshop approach to literacy, students extend the meaning of text through a variety of genres.  During writing workshop, mentor texts are used to model different writing styles to increase motivation and creativity as students learn about themselves as writers.

  • The children identify and read different genres as a group and independently. Reading behaviors and understandings are modeled to help students think within, beyond, and about the text.
  • Reading comprehension strategies are taught directly through read aloud texts.Students “dig deep” into exploring the comprehension strategies of making connections, wondering, visualizing and inferencing.
  • Language arts skills include parts of speech, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, dictionary skills, and most importantly, accountability for these skills.They learn to gather information from a text and how to choose a just-right book.
  • During writing workshop, mentor texts are used to model different writing styles to increase motivation and creativity when writing independent stories and poems.
  • Writing process, genre and craft are practiced while learning solid, effective writing techniques.
  • Literacy routines allow students to work collaboratively as they make real-world connections to text.
  • Research and public speaking skills continue to develop through inquiry-based projects and presentations.

Third Grade’s comprehensive literature-based language arts revolves around these essential questions:

  • How does literature expand the understanding of the world, its people and oneself?
  • How can a reader have a deeper understanding and meaning through text?
  • How can writing help us to communicate effectively?

Students delve into all aspects of reading. They continue to work on building fluency, phonics skills, word structure and decoding skills. Literature is explored through themes, genres, literary terms and the reading process.  Language Arts is often integrated with social studies concepts, allowing for deeper understanding of story and cultures of the world. Students:

  • learn literary terms such as characters, setting, conflict, resolution and sequence of events are identified and explored.
  • develop comprehension strategies, among them sequencing, drawing conclusions, locating facts, inference, summarizing, story elements, and making predictions
  • develop specific reading strategies for informational text and apply them
  • strengthen research skills necessary for the project-based learning that occurs
  • compose a variety of written products for multiple purposes which includes a focus on writing conventions and process.
  • develop word meaning, spelling and vocabulary that  allows for balanced word study.

The language arts program focuses on three main components: building phonetic understanding in order to bolster decoding and encoding skills, teaching and practicing reading comprehension strategies, and developing the skills of written expression.

The literature we read is a balance between independent choice, class novels used for literature circles and group discussion, books which have curricular ties to Social Studies themes, and read-alouds chosen to model and strengthen comprehension skills. Past titles include:The Minstrel in the Tower, Santiago’s Silver Mine, and Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Mummies in the Morning and Helen Keller.

Reading instruction is guided by a student’s individual needs and learning profile. Differentiated instruction may include:

Decoding & Encoding is developed through the use of the following approaches:

Fluency is strengthened through the use of:

Comprehension is developed through:

Students in third grade explore the elements of the writing process and are exposed to a variety of writing styles, strengthened by two programs:

  • Being a Writer  
  • Framing Your Thoughts

3rd grade students learn about the structure of sentence writing, parts of speech, and paragraph writing. They write personal narratives, journals, blog entries and poems. They learn to take notes and craft them into research papers.

In fourth grade, students experience a comprehensive literature-based program with increased expectations for expository and creative writing across the curriculum. The curriculum is guided by these essential questions:

  • How do stories connect to each other and to my life?
  • How can I deepen my understanding of a topic through literature?

Class novels, readers’ theater, partner reading and independent reading allow students to strengthen comprehension strategies and learn by applying what they know during literature study.

Students build on the early research skills they have acquired and apply them to long-term, inquiry-based projects that are often related to the social studies curriculum.  They compose and write their own examples of a variety of genres, written for authentic purposes.  They have the opportunity to extend their understanding of text through literature discussions and independent projects.

  • Students to expand their thinking beyond the literal to the inferential
  • Language Arts projects and activities allow students to develop their fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension
  • Readers continue to develop an understanding of literary elements such as sequence of events, conflict-resolution,setting, character development, main idea, theme and cause and effect
  • Daily instruction in word study focuses on word solving, spelling and vocabulary
  • Students compose a variety of written products such as imaginative and personal narratives, letters, diaries/journals, research papers, biographies, and letters

Among the books that can be read are: Moby Dick Classic Starts, Liberation of Gabriel King, Andrew Clements, A Week in the Woods, The School Story, Frindle, and Little House on the Prairie.

The reading program in fourth grade encompasses decoding and word attack, fluency and comprehension and is guided by the following essential questions:

  • How can I understand and improve my reading fluency?
  • What is the difference between decoding and comprehension? How are they related?
  • How do I make pictures in my head when I am reading or listening to stories?
  • How do stories connect to each other and to my life?
  • How can I deepen my understanding of a topic through literature
  • How can I use writing to communicate effectively?

The literature read by students is a balance between independent choice, class novels used for literature circles and group discussion, books with curricular ties to social studies themes and read-alouds chosen to strengthen comprehension. Past titles include stories from the Hank Zipzer series to facilitate a discussion on learning differences as well as Moby Dick Classic Starts, The Liberation of Gabriel King, Little House on the Prairie and Al Capone Does My Shirts.

Reading instruction is guided by a student’s individual needs and learning profile. Differentiated instruction may include:

Decoding & Encoding

Fluency – Read Naturally Live

Comprehension strategies

Students in fourth grade are exposed to a variety of writing styles, strengthened by Framing Your Thoughts. Among the projects that 4th grade students can write are: personal narratives, 3-paragraph research papers, tall tales, diary entries in the persona of a whaler, and blog posts, and movie reviews.

As fifth graders develop as readers and writers, they are guided using the following essential questions:

  • What kind of person do I want to be?  What do I want to be known for?
  • How can diverse authors and narrators expand my understanding of a topic?
  • How can honoring different narratives lead to empathy?
  • What makes a good piece of writing?
  • How can I use my own experiences to develop my voice to approach various audiences?

In a workshop approach to literacy, using a comprehensive and research-based curricula, students are exposed to a variety of genres, and are called upon to discuss strategies applied by different authors.  The literature we explore reflects the values we strive to instill in students, and inspires conversations around topics we are studying in other content areas.  Major concepts include:

  • Students continue to use strategies to comprehend a variety of genres.
  • Students compose a variety of written products using the publishing process such as reflections, journals, formal research papers, poetry, letters in a reader’s notebook, imaginative and personal narratives, historical fiction and response to literature.
  • Literature Circles allow students to be active participants in their own learning process and participate in in-depth literature discussions using authors Natalie Babbitt, Roald Dahl, Laurie Halse Anderson, Spinelli, Creech, Paulsen. Students using book talks, .
  • Word study continues to focus on word solving, spelling and vocabulary development.

Among the books read can be  Blood On The River, Wonder, My Brother Sam Is Dead, and Tuck Everlasting.

As fifth graders develop as readers and writers, they are guided using the following essential questions:

  • How can the examination of events from multiple perspectives lead to a deeper understanding?
  • How do conflict, and resistance to conflict, play a role in the stories we hear and tell?
  • What is a “single story”? How are various cultures underrepresented?

Using research-based curricula, students are exposed to a variety of genres, and opportunities to develop reading strategies, which are key to sound comprehension of text.

The books read echo the values we strive to instill in our students, and inspire conversations around topics we are studying in other content areas. Fifth grade places an emphasis on developing a love for reading and building reading stamina. The program is multi-layered, encompassing decoding and word attack, fluency and comprehension.

Reading instruction is guided by a student’s individual needs and learning profile. Differentiated instruction may include:

Decoding, fluency & encoding are developed and honed by using the following:

Comprehension is deepened through the Visualizing & Verbalizing for Language Comprehension program. Students use keywords to expand ideas and produce visual imagery using descriptions and figurative language. Students develop metacognitive strategies to check their comprehension.

  • Literature Circles allow students to be active participants in their own learning process and participate in in-depth literature discussions.
  • Students explore author’s purpose and story element, point of view, and using evidence in the text to support an idea.

Writing evolves from the basics of writing a complete sentence to a paragraph structure to a more complex system of introductory, supporting, and concluding paragraphs. Students apply these skills to a variety of genres, including research papers, speeches, letters, persuasive writing, descriptive pieces, fiction stories, journal, Reader’s/Writer’s Notebooks, creative writing and poetry. Grammar is emphasized throughout.

Among whole-class books reads each year are Wonder, Star Girl, Tuck Everlasting. For guided reading / independent reading assignments, students also can read Because of Mr. Terupt, Van Gogh Cafe, Tiger Rising, and Because of Winn Dixie. Other reading opportunities: Jeanette Winter Author Study, and Kate DiCamillo Author Study and “Story Elements in Short Films.”

Math in the Early Childhood program is guided by the following essential questions:

Do the children see themselves as mathematicians? Architects? Engineers?
How might we use math as a tool to promote social justice? How might discussions around the topics we explore include more math to promote deeper and more critical thinking about social issues?
How do we use math to communicate?
Are we exploring and responding to math concepts from diverse perspectives?
Are we successfully integrating math into our long-term investigations?
Are we using math to develop multiple perspectives and advocate for others?

The Early Childhood program cultivates mathematical skills and habits such as curiosity, risk-taking, perseverance, reasoning, and problem-solving. Teachers encourage students to find patterns and relationships, become flexible problem solvers, strategize, and articulate their reasoning. Inquiry-based investigations are used as a way to build understanding of mathematical concepts and skills.

Mathematical meaning is constructed through real world experiences and the use of physical materials. Mathematics is presented as a tool to represent ideas with multiple materials and to encourage the use of many expressive languages to represent ideas, questions, and learning. Students work on open-ended problems, investigations, and projects to build a common language for talking about math.

The essential question that guides the mathematics program is: How can students use math to understand the world around them? Kindergarteners explore the world around them using Math in Focus, which provides insight into the pattern of math through hands-on activities:

  • Calendar
  • Number recognition and number formation
  • Shapes: two and three dimensional
  • Counting: by 1, 2, 5, and 10
  • Sequencing
  • Graphing
  • Coins
  • Exploring word problems: addition and subtraction

First Grade uses the Math in Focus program.  In addition, games, manipulatives, templates, partner/group work, and other explorations are used to develop strong mathematical skills and understanding.

These are the essential questions that guide the class’s explorations in math:

  • How can I check to be sure I am counting  and computing accurately?
  • How can I use varying strategies to demonstrate understanding of mathematical concepts and think flexibly about mathematics?
  • How can I show my mathematical work pictorially, with concrete objects, numerically, and verbally?
  • How can I solve real-world mathematical problems by applying skills I have learned and explain my thinking clearly?

Topics include:

  • patterning
  • sorting
  • classifying
  • graphing
  • measuring
  • add and subtract two-digit numbers
  • estimating
  • probability
  • time and money
  • geometry
  • congruence and symmetry
  • place value
  • problem solving

Second graders work diligently to solidify their math skills. They are guided by the essential questions:

  • How can students use their skills to be responsible math citizens
  • How do students see their responsibilities within the classroom as mathematicians
  • How do students apply their math skills in their everyday life?

Using the Math in Focus program, math games, and hands-on manipulatives to bring math to life, students gain a greater understanding of the manipulation of numbers, patterns and operations.

  • In the active process of learning math, second graders learn place value, their math facts for all operations, addition and subtraction with regrouping, and multiplication and division. telling time.
  • They study money values, telling time,and understanding and comparing fractions. Graphing and patterning  are introduced as are geometric shapes
  • Students explore mass and volume and how to measure and compare with grams/kilograms and liters. Metric measurement of length is explored.
  • Students work independently, as well as with others through group and partner collaboration.
  • Real life problem-solving is integrated with all levels of the curriculum.

Third grade uses the Math in Focus program which is enriched with many resources including computer software, manipulatives and games.  The essential questions which guide the curriculum are:

  • How are math concepts found in and applied to everyday life?
  • How do we connect various math concepts to each other?
  • How are multiplication and division related?
  • How are fractions used in everyday life?

Concepts covered:

  • Telling digital and analog time; converting hours/minutes; elapsed time
  • Using money
  • Place value to millions place
  • Addition and subtraction of three and four digit addition and subtraction problems; mental addition and subtraction
  • Multiplication and division facts through nine
  • Multi-digit multiplication and division; mental multiplication math
  • Using strategies and inference to solve problems
  • Understanding and identifying geometric shapes; angles and lines, right angles, perpendicular and parallel lines; congruency, and symmetry
  • Understanding fractions, numerators and denominators; equivalent fractions; comparing fractions, simplest form, and addition and subtraction with like denominators
  • Measurement of area
  • Data analysis with graphs and charts

Students work individually and collaboratively to solve problems and share ideas as they work through the Singapore Primary Math curriculum and Math in Focus, cognitive activities, and Matholia software.

The essential questions that guide students are:

  • What does it mean to add and subtract? How are they related? How are they different?
  • Why is learning about money and time important to our daily lives?
  • What does it mean to multiply and divide? How are multiplication and division related? How are they different?
  • How are multiplication and division related to addition and subtraction? How are they different?
  • What does it mean to work with numbers less than 1 or 0?
  • What is the relationship between wholes and parts?
  • How can I decide if my answer reasonable?

Concepts covered include:

  • Continuing development of number sense and place value
  • Addition and subtraction to 10,000, with and without regrouping
  • Beginning multiplication and division, facts 0-12; Demonstrate ability to perform multi-digit multiplication and division computations
  • Money: Make change for $1, $5, and $10; add and subtract money within $10
  • Time: Tell time as minutes after the hour or minutes before the hour, relate daily activities to the time, use a clock to find the time interval in minutes or in hours, find the end time when given the start time and the minutes or hours passed
  • Fractions: Identify wholes and how many parts needed to make up the whole; Identify basic measuring tools; show competency using measuring tools

Our pedagogical approach begins with concrete learning, and moves to pictorial representation of learned concepts, and finally abstract thinking. Our students develop cognitive flexibility through activities and games.

Fourth Grade

Mathematics instruction demands a wide variety or resources. We rely on both Math in Focus and a wealth of supplementary resources to ensure comprehensive instruction. Instruction is centered around real-life explorations and the following essential questions:

  • How does math help our brain to grow?
  • How can I represent my thinking in a picture?
  • Why are mistakes that we make in math positive learning opportunities?
  • How does my understanding of place value help me to read, write, compare and manipulate numbers?
  • How can the math concepts that I learn in class be applied in my own life?  

Mathematical concepts covered include:

  • Multiplication and division mastery
  • Big numbers, estimation, and computation
  • Adding and subtracting fractions; understanding mixed numbers and improper fractions; renaming improper fractions and mixed number
  • decimals, and percents
  • Perimeter and area
  • Using numbers and organizing data (Determining mean, median, mode, and range of a set of numbers) in a variety of graphing opportunities
  • Using real-world data to explore probability and predict outcomes
  • Naming and drawing geometric figures including the characteristics of squares and rectangles; using formulas for area and perimeter of rectangles; composite figures; Understanding, measuring and drawing angles

Students in SBP fourth grade utilize a tri-component curriculum using Singapore Math Primary Mathematics, cognitive activities and Matholia software. Students also benefit from the use of Stern Structural Materials and Math in Focus materials. Our pedagogical approach begins with concrete learning, and moves to pictorial representation of learned concepts, and finally abstract thinking. Our students develop cognitive flexibility through activities and games.

The essential questions around which the curriculum is formed are:

  • How is math is “Thinking About Thinking”?
  • Why are mistakes that we make in math positive learning opportunities?
  • How does my understanding of place value help me to read, write, compare and manipulate numbers?
  • How is multiplication the same as repeated addition and what “tricks” can help with fact recall?
  • How can I represent my thinking/ information  in a picture?
  • What are fractions and how are they represented as pieces of a whole?
  • What are decimals and how are fractions and decimals related?

Concepts covered include:

  • Abstract math thinking; gaining comfort when approaching challenging problems; team building and positive group work methods and strategies
  • Place value: Reading, writing, and comparing numbers to 100,000
  • Estimation and number theory; big numbers and computation
  • Multiplication and division by one and two digit numbers and solving multi-step, real-world multiplication and division problems
  • Fractions and Mixed Numbers; adding and subtracting fractions; Naming fractions; numerator and denominator concepts; and finding equivalent fractions
  • Understanding tenths and hundredths; comparing decimals; fractions and decimals relationships; adding and subtracting decimals with and without regrouping
  • Making and interpreting graphs; using a tables to organize and present data

Emphasis is placed on real-world problem solving, critical thinking, and developing strategies implementing skills we are learning as a group.  Students work individually and collaboratively to solve problems and share ideas as we work through our Math in Focus curriculum.  Students are grouped heterogeneously, but individual needs are met using a variety of resources and instructional techniques.  Students are given daily challenges, and intermittent long-term projects to stretch their thinking. Math curriculum is centered around the following essential questions:

  • How can I clearly communicate my thinking about my problem-solving methods?
  • How can I represent my thinking in a picture?
  • How does a growth mindset change my approach to learning?
  • How does estimation serve as a tool with all problem solving?

Major concepts include:

  • Whole numbers: multiplication and division
  • Decimals and percents: Reading and comparing decimals; expressing fractions and mixed numbers as decimals; multiplying and dividing decimals; rounding decimals to the nearest whole number and nearest tenth.
  • Fractions: vocabulary of fractions, mixed numbers, equivalent fractions.  Prime and composite numbers.  Adding and subtracting like and unlike fractions.  Reading and writing tenths and hundredths in decimal and fractional form.  Expressing fractions as decimals.
  • Data, graphing and probability
  • Measurement
  • Geometry: understanding properties of triangles and four-sided figures; finding the area of a triangle; exploring the properties of  3-dimensional shapes; measurement of all angles;
  • Ratio: Use ratio to compare 2 numbers or quantities by division
  • An introduction to algebra: using algebraic expressions; use order of operations and collect like terms to simplify algebraic expressions; Write numerical expressions and use variables to represent numbers; evaluate algebraic expressions involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division

These essential questions guide students’ study:

  • Why do we need math?
  • Was math discovered or invented?
  • What is the “language of math”? Is it the same throughout the world?

 

Throughout the year, all lessons generally consist of 1) warm-up, 2) Number Talk, 3) Mini-lesson or intro to activity 4) Independent/Group work 5) Reflection

Math in Focus and Singapore Math materials; xtramath.org

 

Math concepts include:

 

 

  • Whole Numbers / Place Value

 

  • Review Operations and AlgorithmsWhat are different ways to visualize basic operations, without utilizing an algorithm? Adding/subtracting with hundreds charts and number lines; air-writing equations to improve Symbol Imagery; define algorithm, and describe the purpose of algorithms
  • Operations and Algorithms
  • Tables and Graphs: Read, interpret, and present data in a table or bar graph; solve problems; collect and present data in a table and bar graph; determine how information can be presented to influence a reader’s opinion
  • Fractions and mixed numbers: vocabulary of fractions, mixed numbers, equivalent fractions; prime and composite numbers; adding and subtracting like and unlike fractions; reading and writing tenths and hundredths in decimal and fractional form; and expressing fractions as decimals.
  • Decimals: Reading and comparing decimals; expressing fractions and mixed numbers as decimals; multiplying and dividing decimals; rounding decimals to the nearest whole number and nearest tenth.
  • Percents: Expressing Fractions as percents; percent of a number; real-world problems with percents
  • Geometry: angles; perpendicular and parallel lines; area and perimeter of rectilinear figures; area of a triangle; and properties of triangles and four-sided figures

Sharpen observation skills by:

  • Investigating using each of the five senses
  • Exploring FA campus to find natural “crayon” colors
  • Matching shakers by the sound of the contents
  • Learning to identify foods, spices and extracts by their scents • making cinnamon-apple sauce ornaments

Build understanding of the properties of materials by:

  • Testing objects for sink/ float, magnetic/not- magnetic
  • Separating objects by size using series of strainers
  • Applying understandings by separating mixed materials

Learn to organize and represent results by:

  • Creating a real objects graph
  • Transforming real objects graph to a paper graph

Investigating the needs of plants and animals by:

  • Exploring the FA campus
  • Growing different kinds of bean seeds
  • Making worm homes

Scientific curiosity is a key component to discovery and exploration. In first grade, children learn early on how to predict, observe and compare, experiment, classify and problem-solve through hands-on projects and using our 65 acres of forests and fields.

The curriculum is guided by these Essential Questions:

  • How can I think like a scientist?
  • How do objects move on their own or how can we program them to move?
  • How can I use the engineering design process to improve my designs?
  • How can I be a responsible environmental citizen?
  • How do I use science to communicate and solve problems

The year is divided into four large units of study where our student-scientists can delve deeply into the following topics:

  • Waves: Sound and Light: Investigate properties of sound by testing multiple materials to understand the relationship between length and pitch and explore how sound can travel.
  • Balance and Motion: to explore motion, students look at  the difference between forces: pushes and pulls on an object; gravity and predicting what objects will hit the ground first and how to change the center of gravity; building spinning tops and experimenting with the best shape for the tops to be; and predicting how to make an object balance.
  • Basic coding with Beebots: students learn how to operate a Beebot; program them to draw. They create mazes and program the Beebots to go through them.
  • What can air do? Students experiment with air by making pinwheels; Building parachutes and redesigning them to stay in the air the longer; create straw hoop gliders and compare the difference in drag and thrust.

Scientific curiosity continues to be a key component to discovery and exploration. In second grade, practice prediction, observation and comparison, experimentation, classification and problem-solve through hands-on projects and the use of our 65 acres of forests and fields.

The curriculum is guided by these Essential Questions:

  • How can I think like a scientist?
  • How can I use the engineering design process to improve my designs?
  • How can I be a responsible environmental citizen?
  • How do I use science to communicate and solve problems?

The year is divided into four large units of study where our student-scientists can delve deeply into the following topics:

  • Plant life: Students investigate plant structures and adaptations; observe plants around FA campus and within the school garden; plant and observe the life cycle of plants; invent a plant with adaptations to a specific environment; observe seeds collected around FA campus and learn about seed dispersal mechanisms. Finally, they explore why leaves change color in the fall.
  • Structures and bridges: Students explore the push and pull, compression and tension in  a structure or bridge. They are  challenged  to build the tallest tower possible with limited materials.
  • States of Matter: Students collect and sort solids and liquids by properties; learn the characteristics of states of matter; apply the characteristics of matter to investigate gases; Investigate surface tension and density layers; Make Oobleck and develop an argument about what state of matter it is.
  • Simple machines: Students investigate the six simple machines: inclined plane, screw, wheel and axle, lever, pulley, and wedge. Using spring scales they determine the amount of force required to move an object with each type of simple machine. Students build catapults and look at real world examples of each type of machine.

Essential Questions or Throughlines

How can I think like a scientist?

How can I use the engineering design process to improve my designs?

How can I be a responsible environmental citizen?

How do I use science to communicate and solve problems?

Monarch butterflies: Students follow their scientific curiosity and  learn to predict, observe, experiment, and classify by studying the stages of  monarch butterflies lives and how they interact with their environment.Using the information gathered, students invent an insect to live in a certain environment. Students have to think about what adaptations the insects will need to survive.

Coding with the Lego Wedos’ curriculum, student explore how they can write code to move an object the way they want it to? They follow a plan to make a model while working collaboratively as a team with other students, troubleshooting when they run into a problem

Solar System: Students explore constellations and planets, moon phases and moon maps, looking for patterns using moon journals. They engineer a spacecraft to land safely on the moon.
Plant and Tree Study: Throughout the year, students observe plants and trees to see how they change over the different seasons. They document these observations both through writing and through drawings.

Essential Questions or Throughlines

How can I think like a scientist?

How can I use the engineering design process to improve my designs?

How can I be a responsible environmental citizen?

How do I use science to communicate and solve problems?

Monarch butterflies: Students follow their scientific curiosity and  learn to predict, observe, experiment, and classify by studying the stages of  monarch butterflies lives and how they interact with their environment.Using the information gathered, students invent an insect to live in a certain environment. Students have to think about what adaptations the insects will need to survive.

Coding with the Lego Wedos’ curriculum, student explore how they can write code to move an object the way they want it to? They follow a plan to make a model while working collaboratively as a team with other students, troubleshooting when they run into a problem

Solar System: Students explore constellations and planets, moon phases and moon maps, looking for patterns using moon journals. They engineer a spacecraft to land safely on the moon.

Plant and Tree Study: Throughout the year, students observe plants and trees to see how they change over the different seasons. They document these observations both through writing and through drawings.

Essential Questions or Throughlines

How can I think like a scientist?

How can I use the engineering design process to improve my designs?

How can I be a responsible environmental citizen?

How do I use science to communicate and solve problems?

 

Marine ecosystems: In an integrated unit with social studies, students focus on whales, wondering how do organisms depend on their environment for survival and how everything is connected in a marine ecosystem. Through different hands-on projects and activities, they explore food chains and webs, echolocation, whaling behaviors and the difference between baleen and toothed whales. They create scaled drawings of whales.

 

Design challenges: Students explore the question “How can I build the most effective structure for a given need based on the materials that are available? How can I redesign my project to improve its strength?” Working collaboratively, students explore a number of activities to answer: building the tallest tower with paper cups and popsicle sticks; Building the tallest tower that has to support a golf ball that is at least 10 cm off the table. Bucket tower challenge and building a newspaper table that supports the greatest number of books.

 

Electric circuits: Students discover how electricity works through a variety of experiments such as making a light bulb light up, creating circuit diagrams, learning the direction of electrical currents, building light switches and exploring circuits.

Geology and the Rock Cycle: Students journey through the rock cycle game, learn the three different kinds of rock and the characteristics of metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous rocks. Using crayons, students model metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous rocks. They also explore the difference between minerals and rocks.

Essential Questions or Throughlines

How can I think like a scientist?

How can I use the engineering design process to improve my designs?

How can I be a responsible environmental citizen?

How do I use science to communicate and solve problems?

Marine ecosystems: In an integrated unit with social studies, students focus on whales, wondering how do organisms depend on their environment for survival and how everything is connected in a marine ecosystem. Through different hands-on projects and activities, they explore food chains and webs, echolocation, whaling behaviors and the difference between baleen and toothed whales. They create scaled drawings of whales.

Design challenges: Students explore the question “How can I build the most effective structure for a given need based on the materials that are available? How can I redesign my project to improve its strength?” Working collaboratively, students explore a number of activities to answer: building the tallest tower with paper cups and popsicle sticks; Building the tallest tower that has to support a golf ball that is at least 10 cm off the table. Bucket tower challenge and building a newspaper table that supports the greatest number of books.

Electric circuits: Students discover how electricity works through a variety of experiments such as making a light bulb light up, creating circuit diagrams, learning the direction of electrical currents, building light switches and exploring circuits.
Geology and the Rock Cycle: Students journey through the rock cycle game, learn the three different kinds of rock and the characteristics of metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous rocks. Using crayons, students model metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous rocks. They also explore the difference between minerals and rocks.

Essential Questions or Throughlines

How can I think like a scientist?

How can I use the engineering design process to improve my designs?

How can I be a responsible environmental citizen?

How do I use science to communicate and solve problems?

Weather and Water Cycle: Students investigate weather patterns by: observing /drawing sky and cloud patterns; making predictions based on cloud types and changes in conditions; creating a cloud in a bottle; and visiting the Blue Hills Weather Observatory. Students Build simple weather instruments such as an anemometer and barometer. They study wind and create and observe a water cycle in a bag.

Newton’s Three Laws of Motion: Through a variety of activities and projects, students study forces, how mass and force impact distances an object can travel. Students use spring scales to explore Newton’s 3rd law — for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Designing balloon rocket to go as far as possible and making a Newton’s Cradle culminate the unitl

Renewable Energy: Through a variety of hands-on projects and activities, students explore energy consumption over time with renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. Student teams build and investigate one kind of renewable energy and build different models out of Knex.
They then create an experiment where they research their renewable energy source and try to improve their Knex structure in some tangible way. This is culminated in the Renewable Energy Fair.

Potential and Kinetic Energy: Students explore the  difference between potential and kinetic energy. They build paddle boats and use the engineering design process to improve the design.
Students design experiments to investigate potential and kinetic energy.

Built into the curriculum are executive functioning supports and reinforcement of habits of mind that support students with language-based learning differences.

These essential questions guide the curriculum:

  • How do I use science to communicate and solve problems?              
  • How am I related to the Earth and how do I take care of it
  • How do things move and change?

Weather: Students study cloud identification  They build weather instruments and measure the weather daily. They organize this data into data table. Students also learn the process to scientifically create and experiment.  They identify the parts of an experiment and variables, write hypotheses, and draw conclusions.

Biomes and Climate: students create climographs with an x and y axis as well as bar and line graphs. They research a biome of their choice and build a diorama with key elements. They use two column notes for their research. They present their findings to the fifth grade class.

Renewable Energy, Generators, Solar Ovens and Catapults: Through a variety of hands-on projects and activities, students explore energy consumption over time with renewable and nonrenewable energy sources. Students utilize the (STEM) design process to build a solar oven. The also use the Linx System building materials to design and build catapults. They then redesign them to see if they can catapult a material farther. Finally, students learn the parts to a motor and build a generator. These projects are culminated in the Renewable Energy Fair.

Overarching goals: 

How do we identify ourselves as individuals?
What is my obligation as a good citizen?

Units of study:

  • Self
  • Family
  • Community
  • Citizenship
  • Town, city, state, continents
  • Map and globe exploration
  • Cultures and holidays
  • Explore ways to take care of the earth

Overarching goal:

How can we become good citizens and stewards of the natural world?

Units of study:

  • Family
  • Self
  • Community
  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Fish

Overarching Goals:

How do members live, work, learn, and play together to help the community?
What are roles of the community members?
What rules do communities have and why?
Can communities exist without the support of their members?

Our second grade social studies theme centers around the need for community. Starting in our classroom, students investigate the significant elements of a community and recognize the important roles and responsibilities of each individual and needed structure to support one another. The concentration then shifts to the school and local communities where students identify commonalities among various communities. Eventually, the study goes global by researching the rainforest.

  • Our social studies program integrates map skills throughout the year.
  • Second graders take part in two research projects using an inquiry-based approach, with the goal to educate others.

It is by sharing a self-chosen job in the community at our annual job fair and creating a game that acknowledges interdependence within the rainforest that our students truly invest, internalize and share what they learn about the value of communities.

Overarching goals:

  • What is a culture?
  • How are cultures similar and different from each other?
  • What does it mean to be a caring world citizen?
  • What is geography?

Units of Study include:

  • Mexico
  • Japan
  • Egypt

THIRD GRADE OVERARCHING GOALS:

  • What is Geography?
  • What is Culture?
  • How are other cultures similar to, and different from, my culture?
  • What does it mean to be a caring world citizen?

Our curriculum focuses on the world cultures. Students learn the differences between, city, state, country and continent. They learn to identify the world’s continents on a map, and are exposed to several in-­‐depth country studies. Past countries of study include Mexico, Japan, and Egypt.

Past highlights from these units include field trips to the Boston Children’s Museum Japanese Home exhibit, and the Museum of Fine Arts Egyptian exhibit.

The fourth grade social studies program is a geographical and historical study of the United States. Major overarching goals are:

How do important events specific to each region have a powerful influence on it?

  • How can we learn from the U.S. past in order to become better stewards of our country now and in the future?
  • How does the geography of the United States shape the history, culture, daily practices, industry, and agriculture?

Units of study include:

  • Exploration
  • Whaling
  • The South
  • Westward Movement
  • Pioneers
  • Geography
  • ID 50 states, note taking, research, historical fiction, essay writing, oral/presentations, projects
  • Field Trips: Mystic Seaport, New Bedford Whaling Museum, an 1800’s school house

Overarching Goals:

  • How did important events specific to each region have a powerful influence on it?
  • How can we learn from the U.S. past in order to become better stewards of our country now and in the future?
  • How does the geography of the United States shape the history, culture, daily practices, industry, and agriculture?

Our curriculum focuses on the regions of the United States. By the end of the year, students hopefully will know the location of all 50 states, and their capitals! The content of the course includes:

  • Regions of the United States
  • Explorers
  • Whaling (Northeast)
  • Civil Rights (South)
  • Gold Rush (West)
  • Pioneers (Midwest)

Past highlights from these units include our 4th grade Whaling Days event, a field trip to the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship in Mystic, CT, Prairie Days event and a field trip to Hornbine School: an authentic one-room schoolhouse in Rehoboth, MA.

In Social Studies, we lay the groundwork for a fifth grade journey with through-lines, or common threads that run through the year’s curriculum.  With Perspective and Conflict as our guides the students are able to approach all subjects with a flexible and empathic mind.  Teachers design two or three major research projects that align with the Friends Academy mission of building community.  Throughout these units, students are provided opportunities for experiential learning. Major Concepts include:           

  • Settlement of Early Jamestown
  • Plimoth Plantation and religious freedom
  • French and Indian War
  • Early Colonial Taxation
  • The American Revolution
  • The Constitution
  • American Government and current events

We lay the groundwork for a fifth grade journey with throughlines, or common threads that run through the year’s curriculum. With Perspective and Conflict as our guides, students are able to approach all subjects with a flexible and empathic mind. Teachers design two or three major research projects that align with the Friends Academy mission of building community. The Sally Borden Program supports students’ learning with multi- sensory instruction and embraces our small classroom environment with individual attention for each child. Unique learning styles are celebrated as children learn who they are as students and come to understand how to advocate for what best helps them learn. Technology is thoughtfully woven into curriculum with each Sally Borden student having a laptop and iPod.

SPANISH

Spanish is generally taught through conversation, games and songs. Children are expected to be able to answer basic interpersonal questions. Most of what is taught in the Lower School is the foundation for the Middle School program. Topics covered in the first grade are:

  • Numbers 0-20
  • Basic colors
  • Family
  • Basic vocabulary about birds and their habitats
  • Days of the week
  • Classroom objects

The Spanish Program Website

Early Childhood students are scheduled to meet once a week for forty-five minutes. Following the Reggio Emilia philosophy, lessons often depend on the strengths and interests of the class as a whole. Students are encouraged to discuss and create art that reflects their perception of the world around them. Much emphasis is placed on investigating new materials and discovering the potential and limitations of these natural, recycled and other materials.

Skills taught in preschool:

  • Recognize primary and secondary colors
  • Understand process of mixing colors to make a new color
  • Explore art through literature
  • Recognize shapes
  • Combining shapes to create identifiable objects
  • Recognize patterns in nature
  • Experiment with new materials
  • Use nature for inspiration

Kindergarten is scheduled for two forty-five minute classes each week for the full year. Students are introduced to the elements of art through visual and hands on provocation. They continue to explore methods and materials while exercising their imaginations and creative thinking.

Skills taught in kindergarten:

  • Understand how to mix primary colors to make secondary colors
  • Understand complementary and warm/cool colors
  • Understand the affect of overlapping
  • Recognize and create simple patterns
  • Recognize individual shapes within a whole form
  • Continue to develop basic hand building skills with clay
  • Use literature to inspire original work
  • Ability to identify specific artists and well known works of art

The Lower School Studio Website

First grade is scheduled for two forty-five minute classes each week for the full year. Lessons often integrate themes taught in other subjects such as bird, mammals, fish and math concepts. Basic sculpture with clay and three-dimensional construction with recycled materials encourages students to develop their imaginations and problem solving skills.

Skills taught in first grade:

  • Use understanding of color mixing to inspire further investigation of this process
  • Create preliminary sketches which are later refined
  • Use a variety of lines to show patterns.
  • Begin to draw objects by connecting simple shapes
  • Recognize symmetry and asymmetry
  • Begin to transform 2D shapes into 3D forms
  • Continue to develop hand building techniques with clay
  • Ability to identify specific artists, their styles and works of art

The Lower School Studio Website

Second grade is scheduled for two forty-five minute classes each week for the full year. Lessons are often integrated with social studies themes such as careers, communities, and the rainforest. Students begin transforming concrete images into abstract. As they explore the use of textiles and learn basic sewing and weaving skills, students begin to use the vocabulary associated different forms of art.

Skills taught in second grade:

  • Recognize balance in composition
  • Use proper art vocabulary and terminology
  • Use nature and personal experience for inspiration
  • Demonstrate understanding of foreground, middle ground, and background
  • Continue to develop and refine techniques for manipulating clay
  • Understand the process and vocabulary associated with weaving
  • Incorporate texture into art work

The Lower School Studio Website

Third grade is scheduled for two forty-five minute classes each week for the full year. Lessons are often integrated with social studies topics promoting a deeper understanding of other cultures such as Mexico, China, and Egypt. Students continue to develop imaginations, creative responses and greater problem solving skills

Skills taught in third grade:

  • Continue exploration of the color wheel including tint and shade
  • Identify and discuss art from various world cultures
  • Continue to develop techniques for manipulating clay
  • Continue to explore uses for line, pattern, and texture
  • Continue to develop and use proper art vocabulary
  • Ability to identify various artists, styles and works of art
  • Demonstrate basic sewing skills

The Lower School Studio Website

Fourth grade is scheduled for two forty five minute classes each week for the full year. In addition, each student participates in art studio for half of the school year. Art studio meets once a week for forty-five minutes. Fourth graders are encouraged to apply concepts and vocabulary learned from past years. They are expected to organize their time and materials efficiently and to reflect on each lesson as a form of self-assessment.

Skills taught in fourth grade:

  • Recognize color relationships (analogous, complementary, monochromatic)
  • Use a variety of lines to create shapes and show texture
  • Understand realism and abstraction
  • Continue to explore the use of shape and form in 2D and 3D works.
  • Continue to develop and use appropriate art vocabulary
  • Ability to identify specific artists, styles, and cultural art
  • Reflect on art making process and assesses individual progress

The Lower School Studio Website

Fifth grade is scheduled for two forty five minute classes each week for the full year. In addition, each student participates in art studio for half of the school year. Art studio meets once a week for forty-five minutes. Visual arts education inspires students to perceive and shape the visual, spatial, and aesthetic characteristics of the world around them. Students are exposed to a variety of art concepts, skills and the history of art. This enables the students to expand their ability to organize, abstract, experiment, problem solve and explore. Lessons are often integrated with core subjects. Students are challenged to develop their capacity for imaginative and reflective thinking.

Skills taught in fifth grade:

  • Understand and uses color relationships (tints and shades)
  • Understand composition ( overlapping, foreground, background, balance)
  • Understand and uses a variety of lines to create form, show texture, shading
  • Recognize patterns in nature and incorporate into art objects, rhythm as a tool for showing pattern, repeat designs, movement and change
  • Use abstraction, show development of an object by departing from reality, abstraction in the realm of fantasy
  • Understand form in 3D, creating sculptural shapes and the mechanics of the process, creating 3D form in clay
  • Continue to develop and use appropriate art vocabulary
  • Introduction to various artists and cultures

The Lower School Studio Website

In professional sports (which is entertainment), there is only one goal – to have the most points at the end of a contest. However, in youth sports (which is education), there is a second goal: to produce young people who will be winners in life. To help our children get the most out of competitive sports, we need to redefine what it means to be a “winner.”
Winners are people who:

  • Make maximum effort
  • Continue to learn and improve
  • Refuse to let mistakes (or fear of making mistakes) stop them.

In the Friends Academy Athletic program coaches emphasize the personal philosophy of E.L.M, and the team concept of R.O.O.T.S.

  • Effort
  • Learning & rebounding from
  • Mistakes
  • Rules: We don’t bend the rules to win.
  • Opponents: A worthy opponent is a gift that forces us to play to our highest potential.
  • Officials: We treat officials with respect even when we disagree.
  • Teammates: We never do anything that would embarrass our team on or off the field/track.
  • Self: We live up to our own standards regardless of what others do.

When a student is involved in our athletics program we want to provide them with a positive experience, helping them learn more about themselves through healthy competition, while forming bonds with classmates on and off of the playing field. We look forward to a new year of impacting the lives of youth through sport.

OUTDOOR EDUCATION

From the earliest of ages, students at Friends Academy participate in an ongoing experiential learning curriculum that takes place out-of-doors. A trip to the woods of Maine for the Chewonki program in seventh grade represents the pinnacle of a carefully orchestrated, multi-year participation plan that offers learning opportunities for all students from preschool up. Students not only learn how to climb, camp, and swing from ropes, they are also exposed to team- building games, lessons in leadership, and personal responsibility. They learn what it takes to trust and be trusted, to communicate cooperatively, and to practice empathy.

Physical education teachers introduce the concept of cooperative teamwork through games with pre-school students during their PE sessions. This also happens in the rest of Lower School. During the opening weeks of school, the third, fourth, and fifth grades spend a half day playing initiative games to foster teamwork and trust, and another half day on the low elements of the ropes course, building on those skills. These programs take full advantage of the school’s fully equipped ropes course.

By the time students finish the fifth grade, they have been on an overnight campout, spent a day on the low elements, and a morning on the Giant’s Ladder, a two-person high element that requires teamwork. 

Technology is thoughtfully integrated into the curricula at all levels. Students use technology to create, communicate, and collaborate. Technology is used as a research and assistive tool, as a medium for expression, and as a catalyst for problem solving and critical thinking. The thoughtful and purposeful integration of technology supports and fosters each child’s learning style, enabling differentiation within the classroom. Sequenced concepts and skills are introduced and reinforced at each grade level, beginning with basic terminology and computer literacy in the earliest grades, progressing to research, multimedia production, and word processing by the end of second grade, and culminating with basic programming and robotics by the end of fifth grade.

There are three laptops in each room. Thirty-two Mac laptops in two mobile carts allow one-to-one computer access in any classroom as needed. In addition, a mobile cart of iPads is available for student use. Each classroom is outfitted with an interactive whiteboard. Other peripherals like printers, digital cameras, and digital video cameras are also available for teacher and student use.

Sample Project and Skills:

  • Use a green screen, alpha channels and filters to create a photo composite for an “artistic license”
  • Apply engineering concepts to design an autonomous vehicle programmed to avoid collisions
  • Synthesize information into a graphic organizer using mind-mapping software
  • Embed photos and text into a PowerPoint slideshow for a Spanish vocabulary lesson
  • Know how to evaluate websites for accuracy and relevance
  • Know how to build and maintain a web page
  • Type at least 10-17 wpm
  • Compose and format longer stories using word processing software

Preschool students become familiar with the library during weekly visits that incorporate language activities and the checking out of books. Many of the lessons, which may include stories, poetry, finger plays, are integrated with topics introduced by the preschool teachers. Preschoolers begin to learn about the responsibility of the care and handling of books. They are taught to make sure the books are returned each week and to keep them together in their book bags.

  • Share stories, finger plays, felt boards and puppetry
  • Visit weekly and select own books
  • Explain care and selection of appropriate titles

Kindergarten children become more familiar with books, materials and library usage. They learn how to browse through materials to make a selection of books to take home each week. Sections of the library become familiar to them as they learn that similar materials are classified together. Wonderful children’s classics and exciting new literature is introduced to the children through reading, felt board, puppetry, etc.

  • Enforce literature through story times
  • Familiar with books and various parts of library
  • Explore various themes, authors and illustrators

First graders continue to select books of visual interest and, increasingly, books that they can read independently. Activities include sharing literature through reading books together, discussions, discovering authors, participating in poetry sharing, etc. Beginning library skills include identifying the parts of a books and locating categories of books.

  • Select books to start reading independently
  • Share literature through discussions, poetry and story times.
  • Library skills, learn parts of books
  • Familiar with non-fiction/fiction differences

Second graders become able to identify the parts of a book such as the title page, author, illustrator and call number. They become increasingly aware of the broad categories of books in our own school collection and able to find sections of particular interest to them.

  • Continue literature appreciation
  • Building library skills, finding different categories, subjects
  • Select appropriate titles for classroom assignments
  • Begin using library catalog
  • Use of databases for research

The sharing of good literature continues in the third grade with activities such as small plays, poetry readings and stories. Library skills broaden in the third grade with use of different classifications of books and resources. Many social studies units in particular correlate with library skills.

  • Expand research skills
  • Select appropriate titles for social studies projects
  • Dewey Decimal system knowledge
  • Use the library catalog

The children in the fourth grade continue to be introduced to authors and books on their interest and ability level as well as continue a program of literature enhancement. Continued growth in library skills includes use of the library catalog and databases. Reference skills continue.

  • Explore reference section in-depth
  • Almanac research and skills
  • Encyclopedia research and skills

The students in fifth grade continue to review and expand all reference skills as well as gain an understanding of the Dewey Decimal system. Literature and reading for pleasure feature prominently and support classroom goals.

  • Literature appreciation
  • Review and expand all reference skills
  • Dewey Decimal system