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Lower School

Our Lower School teachers show students how to associate and integrate ideas using real-world examples and thematic study. Exploring and learning through the theme, students are given choices that invoke critical thinking and reflection. This enables learning experiences, encourages creativity, and fosters a learning environment that students enjoy. They study Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics, Spanish, Art, Physical Education, and Music.
Two kindergarten students riding tricycles together at recess


Our Kindergarten teachers guide students in developing ideas and considering others’ perspectives. They learn how effective choices play a role in responsibility. Students are able to express their understanding of the world through writing, art, dramatic play, and math activities. Teachers also create a plant and animal theme that changes depending on class interests. Whole group lessons begin each day, and students work in small center activities in math, science, social studies, reading, and writing.

Literacy + Numeracy

We believe in providing students with a positive, interactive daily reading experience. It immerses them in a literacy-rich environment to enable and encourage them to read when they’re ready. Teachers directly instruct students and help them build focus skills for different reading levels. Students progress in writing by building on new phonemic lessons, punctuation, spelling, and grammar rules.

In Kindergarten we help to ingrain a strong sense of numbers in students. They learn how to recognize a number of objects and gain a beginning knowledge of place value. Students are encouraged to take apart and rebuild numbers to develop a base for addition and subtraction. Teachers introduce students to real-life situations using non-standard and standard means of measurement and geometric shapes in two and three dimensions in a hands-on environment through models and manipulatives.

Social Studies + Science

Through social studies, we encourage students to see beyond themselves and explore how they can add to the success of their local and world community. Students share personal experiences as they relate to discussions about families, holidays, and traditions. They discuss why rules are necessary in their school environment and in our society. Teachers nurture their understanding of how to support each other through assigned classroom jobs that mimic the jobs in our community.

Science incorporates hands-on exploration with experimentation. Students ask questions and seek answers, create collections, count and measure objects, make qualitative organized observations, and present information to a group. The yearly science theme focuses on the life cycles of plants and animals: apples, sunflowers, bulbs, spiders, insects, mammals, and/or birds. Students study fun classroom habitats that allow for observation of animals as they grow and change throughout life cycles.

1st & 2nd Grade

Our Lower School program has students stay with the same teacher through both grades. The 1st-grade theme always revolves around community - starting with their classroom and extending to their neighborhood, city, and state. Field trips, guest speakers, and community service projects help our students become community helpers and learn about transportation (planes, trains, and boats).

In 2nd grade, students engage in the study of animals, observing and identifying the habitat in which each animal lives. They continue to hone their fundamental academic skills while exploring the living things in their environment. Students learn fundamental concepts such as our basic needs like water, air, and shelter, and how our interactions can affect animals.
A 2nd grader smiling while working with a group

Literacy + Numeracy

The 1st and 2nd grade literacy program hones in on developing writing strategies. In 1st and 2nd grade students create their own books and learn writing conventions (spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and paragraphing) through frequent mini-lessons. They explore writing for a variety of purposes and audiences. Through these exercises and projects, students learn alternative writing techniques and develop their skills as authors.

Our numeracy program for 1st and 2nd grade focuses on mathematical understanding and fluency. Classrooms have a wide variety of hands-on physical manipulatives, including attribute and pattern blocks, counters, geoboards, graphing grids, and balances. These tools provide students with a strong conceptual basis to establish skills in a way that makes sense to them.

Social Studies + Science

In 1st-grade social studies students to see their school as a community and guides them to make decisions as both individuals and as members of a group. They also learn about the function of a city and its workers to help them better understand their role as a responsible citizen.

The 2nd-grade social studies program helps students observe the social order of specific animals, research each animal’s social network, and analyze how the animal is both helpful and harmful to humans. Students compare techniques for survival and study migration.

In our 1st-grade science program students study geography, geology, and meteorology, as well as principles of flight, aerodynamics, and buoyancy. Students examine the characteristics and properties of objects and Earth materials. Explorations include how things respond to magnetic forces as well as daily and seasonal temperature changes and what happens to objects when force is applied. They develop skills in scientific inquiry and engineering design.

2nd-grade students learn to examine the biology of animals and plants in science. They dive into the study of animal behavior and make comparisons through observation, research, and inquiries. Students learn how to ask questions, identify the form and function of animals, and apply the information they learn through multiple intelligence inquiries that develop their conceptual thinking.
3rd and 4th graders exploring the coast, barefoot and playing in the sand.

3rd & 4th Grade

The Lower School Program’s “Intermediates” are a blend of 3rd and 4th-graders who travel between two classrooms for different subjects. They develop broader relationship opportunities and foster leadership, and instruction differentiation as they prepare for middle school.

In one theme year, they examine the American government at every level, historical events of Oregon, northwest Native American culture, the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark’s journey, and the Oregon Trail. In the alternate year, they dive into habitats across Oregon. Uniquely designed curriculum and experiential learning opportunities give them an understanding of environmental features and the life cycles and adaptations of organisms in forests, deserts, ponds, rivers, marshes, and the coast.

Literacy + Numeracy

In Intermediates, students to acquire and apply language skills in a wide variety of areas and applications. They become proficient in verbal communication, listening, reading, writing, grammar, phonics and spelling, dictionary use, and the writing process. Reading fluency and comprehension are taught in the context of authentic literature. Students learn the art of organized writing with proper mechanics in a variety of formats. They experience Listening and Public Speaking via book projects and thematic projects.

In our numeracy program, we teach students concepts using a combination of traditional drill and practice exercises, hands-on activities, and thematic projects. Topics include graphing, place value, calculations and estimations, statistics, and geometry. Intermediate students are offered a natural progression of math instruction, with each strand building upon the other. Student skills are pre-assessed to determine existing knowledge. After each unit, a post-assessment occurs to determine learning gains.

Social Studies + Science

3rd and 4th grade social studies is an inclusive study of civic competence through understanding government, economics, geography, and history. Thematic studies focus on the people, places, and things that have shaped local history. They focus on the idea that communities must be directly involved and informed in the events, issues, or phenomena occurring in society. Students analyze and discuss how humans can impact the natural environment and formulate ideas on how to reach effective resolutions to problems.

Our science program incorporates hands-on exploration and experimentation, observation, research, and investigation of special topics in each theme year. Students learn to formulate questions, discover answers, and present the outcomes of their studies. They analyze the form and function of simple machines and examine different types of soil. Using the scientific method, experiments are conducted using magnetism, Newton’s Laws, and sound waves. Studies of habitats, adaptations, food chains, and life cycles of plants and animals in the state of Oregon are directly related to the theme.
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6974 Bates Rd, Salem, OR
97306 | (503) 399-9020
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