Abington Friends School Freedom to Flourish
Lower School Age 3 through Grade 4
Our philosophy is grounded in the belief that the best teaching practices engage students in experiences that build curiosity, expand critical thinking skills and involve reflection. In our Lower School, students learn through action and involvement and they stretch their thinking to examine the how and the why.
“AFS educates and nurtures the whole child, while instilling a love of learning and developing the values and dispositions of a responsible, respectful and engaged citizen.” - Francis, AFS Parent
In colorful and light-filled Lower School classrooms, children are immersed in history by researching colonial trades and presenting them at a Colonial Trade Fair. They have created and run a school-wide post office in order to learn about history, geography and culture, while mastering basic Spanish and learning to play string instruments. Students have used STEAM principles to write and evaluate lines of code. The fourth grade students have ventured off campus for retreats to explore ecology and participated in an “invention convention” to create simple machines with circuit technology. The AFS Lower School is a progressive learning environment where children in Pre-K through Kindergarten follow Reggio Emilia inspired emergent curriculum based on the interests of the students. In first grade through fourth grade, students have set themes of study, but their personal interests are considered in how each theme is covered. The Lower School curriculum is skillfully and thoughtfully integrated, allowing for all areas of academic work to cohesively deepen student knowledge across a range of disciplines. Specialized resource teachers are integrated throughout the school — inside and outside the classroom — covering science, art, physical education, technology, library skills, music and Spanish. This integrated learning model produces a unique group of learners who are better problem-solvers, stronger in their ability to analyze and think critically, and able to view ideas and understand concepts through multiple lenses. The Lower School academic program is infused with Quaker ideals and the education of our students is led with a spirit of collaboration and community. At AFS, we inspire each student individually and instill them with a lifelong love of learning, personal virtue and a commitment to the service of others.
Abington Friends School Freedom to Flourish.
Preschool/Early Childhood Development
Language and Literacy Students engage in a variety of hands-on experiences, independent explorations, shared learning opportunities and classroom conversations that contribute to language and literacy skills. The classroom environment is rich with language and literature. Classroom objects are named and labeled, students write in journals, and student stories are told and recorded. Books are read aloud and followed by literary discussion. Name recognition and name writing | Recognition of uppercase and lowercase letters | Ability to express and differentiate wants and needs | Use of simple and complex sentences | Story comprehension | Ability to reflect on stories | Knowledge of letter sounds | Utilization of kid-writing
Cognitive Young students are constantly deciding how to interact with the world around them. Some students may learn by taking things apart to see how they work, others ask questions to gain information, and some quietly observe before determining their course of action. Numerical knowledge | Shape recognition | Sorting by attributes | Learning style | Approach to problem solving | Relational concepts – between, over, under
Physical As young people develop they become more aware of where they are in relation to other people and objects around them. In early childhood, physical development encompasses activities from the running, jumping, ball throwing and balancing often seen on the playground, to develop scissor, pencil and crayon manipulation and the ability to sit as part of a group and listen. Gross motor skills | Fine motor skills | Strength and stamina | Bodily awareness | Balance and coordination | Rhythmic response
Music Music classes present hands-on experiences for students to gain an understanding of musical concepts and to become aware of and increase their individual music abilities. Students experience diverse musical concepts through songs, games, poetry, technology and instrumental music.
Early Childhood classes follow an emergent curriculum model, structured to plan developmentally appropriate and meaningful learning, based on students’ interests. They learn about story composition through hearing, telling and sharing stories, while outdoor play encourages scientific thinking about the natural world. Students are encouraged to build and create with tangible materials and to draw and form letters to develop fine motor skills and writing ability.
Social and Emotional Teacher guidance helps students learn to navigate relationships with peers and adults in a variety of contexts. The goal of helping students grow their independence and ability to engage in social situations is an important focus of the early childhood program. Students learn the importance of understanding the world from other’s perspectives. Independence in personal care | Ability to follow directions | Response to transitions | Interactions with peers | Flexibility and resilience | Types of play: independent, parallel, cooperative, interactive
Students learn español by identifying and naming colors, numerals through 20, geometrical shapes, days of the week, and basic modes of transportation. Through music, movement, stories and games, students develop correct pronunciation, rhythm and intonation. Students learn and utilize common greetings and expressions.
Library Literature that is specific to the studies of the classroom are explored each year. Teachers model literary thinking by verbalizing predictions, making inferences and asking questions about events occurring in the text. Students check out books for community use in their classroom and delight in listening to read-alouds and exploring a wide range of books of interest in the library.
Art Students are introduced to a range of materials and artistic techniques such as clay, paint and collage. The foundation of students’ identities as artists are encouraged and cultivated through creative exploration and selfexpression. Many projects are developed to extend the emergent studies of the classroom into the art room.
As older early childhood students in a multi-age setting, children preparing for kindergarten take on leadership roles in the classroom community and serve as role models to younger children. Name recognition and writing | Letter and number recognition | Listening comprehension | Following multi-step directions | Problem-solving capabilities | Attention to tasks | Independence in personal care | Counting | Shape identification
Abington Friends School Freedom to Flourish.
Mathematics Students engage in an expansive range of hands-on activities to foster mathematical thinking, problem solving and develop a foundational understanding of numbers and their composition. Students practice composing and decomposing numbers up to ten and are gradually introduced to double-digit numbers as ten and some ones. Students learn how to estimate quantities, develop reliable strategies for early computation and acquire a sense of numbers and how they work. Problem-solving strategies | Identification of basic geometric shapes | Measurement concepts | Use of data collection and displays (calendar, data tables, graphing) | Create and extend simple patterns | Identify and write numerals to 30 | Addition and subtraction problems
Music Music is grounded in exploration and exposure to sound, rhythm and movement through a variety of activities that build students’ musical repertoire through chants (rhythmic speech), singing and instrument playing as well as learning songs from around the world. Kindergarten students use movement and kinesthetic experiences to deepen their connection to music by experiencing musical ideas with the body.
Spanish Students learn español by identifying colors, describing geometrical shapes, naming common modes of transportation, reading the calendar including numerals through 31, days of the week, and months of the school year. Through reading bilingual books, practice, videos, music, movement and games, students develop correct pronunciation, rhythm and intonation. Projects and activities in español also connect to students’ emergent studies.
Library/Technology Students share their reflections on books read in class and are encouraged to stretch their thinking. Kindergarteners are encouraged to think about events in each story’s plot to guide their predictions. Students practice navigating a community space, learning to care for books, and returning books promptly. Students are introduced to using the online catalog, where they learned to input search terms in order to locate books of interest.
Kindergarten students, as part of an emergent curriculum model, are encouraged to joyfully explore the world around them, and their teachers are attuned to discover where each student’s greatest interests lie. Emergent themes of study in kindergarten have included music, insects, the human body and robots — with early reading, writing and math skills threaded throughout their studies. Kindergarten is comprised of an abundance of outdoor play as well as time to work individually and in small groups. Students are encouraged to be reflective of each day’s activities, helping them to develop a stronger sense of who they are as individuals and as members of a community.
Language Arts A focus on letter formation and recognition is an essential aspect of kindergarten literacy. Students engage in numerous writing activities including journal writing, letter writing, and making class books. Kid-writing strengthens students’ ability to connect letters and sounds. Kindergarten students speak in front of the class during morning meeting, class discussions, and book sharing. These activities also provide an opportunity to develop listening skills. Strategies for decoding text, such as identifying beginning and ending letter sounds, rhyming, vowel patterns, and contextual clues are taught. Identification of letters and letter sounds | Recognition of sight words | Rhyming | Listening comprehension skills | Independent phonetic spelling (kid-writing) | Decoding strategies for unfamiliar words | Relevant contributions to discussion
Art Kindergarten artists explore new art vocabulary and concepts, such as line, shape and color mixing. Students’ ability to clearly communicate concepts in a visual manner increases as they are able to articulate their thoughts about their work. Projects are designed to enrich the emergent curriculum from their classrooms.
Kindergarten students explore topics such as life cycles, chemistry, magnets and sensory awareness. The students become familiar with science terminology and take advantage of science equipment such as microscopes and beakers. When a student is curious about a topic in science, we often use the scientific method to carry out an experiment to discover the answer. The students use lab sheets and nature journals to record their findings just like the older students.
Physical Education The kindergarten physical education program focuses on spatial awareness, locomotor and non-locomotor movements and manipulative skills. Students explore their own sense of space and develop their bodymovement skills, manipulative skills and eye-hand-foot coordination. The valuable skills of listening carefully, following sets of directions, and working cooperatively are always reinforced with our youngest physical education students.
“Lower School is the best all around school for academics and equality. The students are truly treated as there is a light shining in each individual.” - Daniel, AFS Parent
Abington Friends School Freedom to Flourish.
Mathematics Mathematics in first grade helps children expand on their understanding of numbers and number sense and learn to work with numbers in new and varied ways. As students explore numbers, they develop a baseline understanding of place value and the importance of digit placement in relation to the hundreds, tens or ones places. Number sequence | Measurement | Greater than/less than | Addition | Subtraction | Symmetry | Problem solving, story problems | Data collection and displays
Social Studies A major unit of study in first grade is the Hero Study where students identify individuals as being heroes in the context of people who make a difference in our world. First graders focus on the character traits of heroes, and look for them within themselves, others in their communities, and in the larger world. The study of community continues with learning about the postal system and creating and running a school-wide post office where students design and sell stamps to the school. Apply research skills | Identify important/relevant facts in writing | Make connections to prior knowledge | Organize information gleaned from research
Spanish The primary focus of the Lower School Programa de Español (Spanish Program) is to teach students to use the Spanish language as a communicative tool. Class activities are contextual in nature, encouraging the use of language in authentic situations, such as describing self and environment and following classroom instructions. Topics reinforced include: greetings with an emphasis on expressing simple feelings/emotions, colors, shapes, numerals through 100, the calendar, traditional modes of transportation and basic parts of the body.
Music Music classes present hands-on experiences for students to gain an understanding of musical concepts and become aware of and increase their individual music abilities. They isolate, discuss and/or experience musical concepts such as rhythmic notation and patterns, pitch matching, beats versus rhythm, and movement in multiple meters through songs, games, poetry, technology and instrumental music. Students engage in deep exploration of musical traditions from around the world.
Library/Technology First graders define themselves as “big kids” and they are ready to take on new academic challenges and the learning that accompanies those challenges. Through studies of Monarch butterflies, students explore themes of change and transformation, which is a perfect way to begin a year that is truly transformational. Reading skills take off and
Library time encourages students to borrow a “just-right” book to read to their families and one book to read with their families. Technology in first grade focuses on introductory Word skills and students practice use of the trackpad toolbar. Stories read aloud offer first graders the opportunity to practice their expanding literary thinking.
students to put their rapidly expanding skills to work.
First grade students strengthen their understanding of art concepts such as symmetry, pattern, repetition and visual unity. First graders learn about influential figures from art history, such as Frida Kahlo, and have the opportunity to try new art techniques, such as weaving.
practical applications for mathematical thinking present opportunities for first grade
Lessons are taught at the beginning of each reading workshop, modeling strategies that strengthen decoding and comprehension skills. Through teacher read-aloud, independent reading, partner reading and book groups, students practice applying these strategies daily. Readers learn the elements of literature such as setting, character, plot, problem and solution. Poetry, non fiction and letter writing are core aspects of first grade writing and students learn to organize ideas, as well as use proper sentence structure and punctuation.
By first grade, spatial awareness, locomotor and non-locomotor movements, and manipulative skills are more developed. Students develop a sense of space with games involving hoops, scarves, and balloons. Students practice their locomotor movement by running, jumping, and dodging during activities such as tag, and jump rope.
Recognition of sight words | Effective use of contextual clues | Listening comprehension skills | Early research skills | Effective use of decoding strategies | Relevant contributions to discussions | Clear verbal expression of ideas | Independent phonetic spelling (kid-writing)
Science builds upon the classroom study of Monarch butterflies in the fall. The students study insects, their life cycles and migration patterns, and later in the year they study the extraordinary properties of air, which leads to a general study of weather, water and properties of sound. First graders learn to make hypotheses, observations and conduct experiments.
Abington Friends School Freedom to Flourish.
Math Building a variety of problem solving strategies and learning to clearly communicate mathematical knowledge is a primary focus of second grade mathematics. Students practice these skills through daily work on topics such as representing and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, fractions, money, telling time, patterns and mental math. By the end of second grade, students understand place value and number relationships in addition and subtraction, as well as simple multiplication and division. Accurately discern between addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in word problems | Mastery of basic addition and subtraction facts through 20 | Add and subtract three digit numbers with and without regrouping | Tell time using clocks and calendars | Identify and combine coins
Social Studies Studies of Ancient Egypt encourage students to imagine life in the past through reading, exploring “artifacts” and a field trip to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Students collect information in their “Explorer’s Notebook” and demonstrate their knowledge to family and friends on “Egypt Night.” Second graders use globes and maps to learn about continents and oceans. This geography work enables students to learn more about the country of origin for many “How and Why stories,” tales from around the world. Read and interpret maps and globes | Work independently on projects and assignments | Employ research strategies | Translate knowledge gained through research into writing
Spanish Students become increasingly familiar and comfortable using español to communicate. Classroom activities enhance the four components to learning a language: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students learn to use correct pronunciation, stress, rhythm and intonation in Spanish. They acquire an understanding and appreciation of the cultures of the Spanish speaking world and are exposed to a variety of folktales from Spanish-speaking countries.
Music Music classes present hands-on experiences for students to gain an understanding of musical concepts and become aware of and increase their individual music abilities. Second graders study music from around the world. Students isolate, discuss and experience the following musical concepts: beat vs. rhythm, isolation of Sol-Mi melodies, reading music-including a three-line staff and the pentatonic scale. They study rhythmic notation and patterns including quarter notes, eighth notes, half notes and quarter rests.
Library/Technology Second graders embrace challenges with an ever-expanding level of independence and willingness to take risks. This growing level of independence allows second graders to view themselves as capable and confident. Students are expected to listen to and respect
There is an explosion of library and technology skills in second grade. Throughout the year, students become more facile with typing, create podcasts, strengthen their skills in PowerPoint, and begin to explore media literacy. We also examine the library as a physical space and investigate the Dewey Decimal System.
Throughout the year, second graders are encouraged to take on an increasing responsibility
Second grade artists engage in projects that require increased concentration and more complex design thinking. Students learn to use new art tools, such as the straight saw, and utilize new art concepts, such as mixing tints and shades in their artwork. Art curriculum focuses on art from nature, including trees and birds, projects inspired by Ancient Egypt and figures from art history.
for themselves and their learning.
the perspectives and ideas of their peers and to thoughtfully share their own insights.
Language Arts Shared reading in second grade allows engagement in purposeful conversations around a common text and builds vocabulary, while also promoting strong comprehension skills. The opportunity for close examination of text, illustrations and the visual structure of a book leads to discussions that explore setting, character development, story message and cultural understanding. Second graders explore a variety of genres and learn how to choose a “just-right” text. Reading comprehension | Application of decoding skills | Thoughtful written responses to texts | Writing in a logical and sequential manner | Using appropriate conventions of written language including grammar, capitalization and punctuation | Proofreading of their own writing
In second grade we emphasize the development of spatial awareness, locomotor and non-locomotor movements, and manipulative skills. Much of the development of these important skills occurs through cooperative and competitive game play, as students participate in variations of tee-ball, kickball, newcomb ball and soccer.
Science Science takes full advantage our spacious and naturally rich campus, including the creek and arboretum. The students study birds and trees. The bird study is an opportunity to explore concepts of flight, feathers, bones and other bird adaptations. Building upon their Ancient Egypt studies, the students do a variety of experiments, including constructing a Nile River model. Students finish the year with a unit on light, optics and color.
Abington Friends School Freedom to Flourish.
The foundations of math skills in the first half of third grade are based on having a solid understanding of numerical concepts, computational fluency and number sense. Third graders deepen their understanding of place value to the millions, master multi-digit addition and subtraction with regrouping and develop multiplication and division strategies. Strategy games and computation practice are done in a variety of ways to solidify math fact fluency. There is a strong emphasis on problem-solving and applying previously learned concepts to new mathematical challenges. Masters addition and subtraction facts | Masters multiplication and division facts | Metric measurement | Multi-digit addition and subtraction equations | Multi-digit multiplication | Places value into the millions | Fractions
Students learn about the history and culture of Ancient China through lessons and activities. They focus on understanding important themes, values, and vocabulary through their exploration of China in literature, art, science, and research. Third graders become adept in expressing their learning in a variety of formats and presentations. Active participation in discussions | Demonstrate research skills | Make effective use of research resources | Understand and retain thematic concepts and vocabulary | Work with care on projects
Third grade students build their Spanish language skills through listening, speaking, reading and writing by participating in a variety of activities. Their language development is evident as students express needs and emotions using basic words and simple phrases. The students’ ability to understand written and spoken language increasingly develops as demonstrated when they present the “report of the day,” which gives important daily information, entirely in español.
Music classes present hands-on experiences for students to discuss and experience the following musical concepts through songs, games, poetry, technology and instrumental music: beat vs. rhythm, the pentatonic scale, notation and pitch on the treble clef staff and vocal tone production. Students delve into the singing, movement and instrumental traditions of China. This year also begins their study of the soprano recorder.
Library and Technology
Students become more mature in their thinking, approach to learning, and care for each other at this developmental stage. They are given a safe space to enjoy learning and reach the height of their intellectual, emotional, and social potential. Third graders work on their listening and speaking skills, and learn to take responsibility for their words and actions. They also are expected to grow in following directions, working independently and organizing their materials.
Language Arts Language skills are solidified through a variety of formats including narrative, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writing. Students continue to build research skills as a means of developing idea and they practice writing descriptively to communicate their thoughts effectively. Third graders also build decoding skills in conjunction with their fluency and learn to read more expressively. Brainstorm ideas independently | Edit for spelling, punctuation and grammar | Effectively express ideas in writing | Apply decoding skills | Consistently utilize comprehension strategies | Generate thoughtful written responses to literature | Read with sustained focus
Third graders explore the library and are encouraged to try new genres and authors. Students utilize technology skills to create videos and content development skills for digital presentations and podcasts. Students learn to match the right technology tool to the information being conveyed, as they transition from learning to use technology to the application of technology to enhance their learning.
This is a year for students to explore the connection between culture and art and use their studio time to deepen their understanding of the artistic process. The students are introduced to complex ideas about creating a balanced composition, visual harmony and using contrast to emphasize ideas in their work.
Third grade students participate in many cooperative games to help them learn to work together toward an outcome. Physical education emphasizes the development of individual skills like throwing, catching, dribbling and running, which are then transferred to more competitive game situations. The third grade program helps students engage in good sportsmanship, fair play, and supporting teammates.
Engineering is the highlight of third grade science, where students have the opportunity to learn about the principles of structurally sound building and design bridges. At the headwaters of the creek on campus, third graders engage in macro invertebrate studies, chemical stream testing and animal tracking. Space and earth science are also components of the curriculum. Complementing the study of China, students raise silkworms, plant rice and study moon phases. They also participate in an “Invention Convention” with several other schools, in which the students design inventions using elements of simple machines and circuit technology.
Abington Friends School Freedom to Flourish.
Throughout all of fourth grade math, there is a focus on practicing computation, problem-solving and communication of mathematical thinking. Students become more adept with utilizing estimation, number theory and analyzing data. Strong emphasis is placed on how to solve problems using previously acquired concepts and strategies to strengthen math fluency. Memorization of multiplication facts and corresponding division facts | Determine area and perimeter of compound shapes | Long multiplication and division | Addition and subtraction of fractions | Addition and subtraction of decimals | Identification and extension of numerical patterns | Problem solving of multi-step equations
The fourth grade study of Philadelphia focuses on the essential questions of “Is change good?” Our work includes an extensive look at the Lenape way of life and their interactions with European colonists. Students learn about the beginning of Quakerism and William Penn’s founding of Pennsylvania. The students research colonial trades and present them at a Colonial Trade Fair. They also learn about slavery and the Abolition Movement with an emphasis on the active participants in the Philadelphia and Tri-State area between the 18th and 19th centuries. The year concludes with an exploration of the Industrial Revolution and modern Philadelphia. Take notes during class discussions | Apply prior knowledge to new concepts | Convey research clearly and in own words | Understand history from differing perspectives | Determine salient facts when researching
Fourth graders continue to refine their Spanish language learning skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing through a variety of activities including: crossword puzzles, role-playing, PowerPoint presentations, YouTube videos, skits, and games. The students’ language development continues to strengthen and is witnessed as they express some needs using basic words and simple phrases. Fourth graders research Spanish-speaking countries and convey what they learn at Lower School assembly through the game of Dónde vamos hoy? - Where are we going today?
Students gain understanding of melody, solfege, rhythmic notation, time signatures, modern music notation, note placement on the treble clef staff, major scale, minor scale and pentatonic scale. There is a continued focus on world music traditions. Fourth graders participate in an introductory strings program where they begin to learn violin, viola or cello. Students gain experience working within an ensemble, increase their music literacy and also continue their study of soprano recorder.
Library and Technology The interdisciplinary curriculum of fourth grade is designed to further develop active, responsible learners. It encourages students to engage in lively exploration of the world through story, literature, art, mathematical investigations, science experiences, trips, discussions, music, and ongoing questioning. Students develop responsibility for their work by meeting expectations, raising questions, pursuing areas of curiosity in greater depth, and building on their strengths as learners.
Language Arts Fourth graders solidify their language arts skills through a variety of formats including narrative, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writing. Students learn to research as a means of developing ideas, and they practice writing descriptively to communicate their thoughts more effectively. They build decoding skills in conjunction with their fluency and learn to read more expressively. Students read from a variety of genres including nonfiction, realistic fiction, and historical fiction. Brainstorm ideas independently | Express ideas effectively in writing | Edit for spelling, punctuation and grammar | Fluency and expression in reading | Understand and apply decoding skills | Retain important story ideas and information | Make valid predictions and inferences | Respond to literature thoughtfully
Students are able to identify the technological tool that best supports the purpose of the moment. Students develop stories by researching information through books, interviewing people and researching on the Internet. This gives them the opportunity to develop and practice their questioning strategies, note-taking skills, and identifying accurate information Fourth graders check out a wide variety of books and continue to enjoy read-aloud.
Fourth grade students are able to make independent decisions about their artwork and clearly articulate their artistic process. Students learn more sophisticated and complex artistic techniques, such as building clay vessels and carving linoleum blocks for printmaking. There is also a study of artists from Pennsylvania.
Fourth graders learn handball, softball, tennis and the “omnikin ball” for cooperative activities. In handball, the students work on the individual skills required for the sport: dribbling, passing, shooting and goal-tending, before playing full games. They also engage in cooperative games, low-organization games and other activities that encourage working together and emphasize different elements of fitness such as stamina, speed and agility.
Science begins with a study of the shore in connection to an annual fourth grade shore trip. Students study watersheds, wetlands, tide pools and ocean environments. In connection with the study of Colonial Philadelphia, students explore the physics, engineering and chemistry of colonial trades. Students also participate in the Delaware Valley Mold Symposium. They design an experiment in which they utilize the Scientific Method to gather data and form conclusions about their experiment. This is an opportunity for students to take part in a real science symposium by presenting their work in a formal setting to students from other schools.
AFS is a coeducational, college-preparatory school for students from age 3 through Grade 12, deeply rooted in Quaker values. 575 Washington Lane, Jenkintown, PA 19046 215.886.4350 www.abingtonfriends.net