Kindergarten Literacy

Snap words, multisyllabic words, and words that break all the rules don’t stand a chance against the Kindergarten Super Readers and their reading super powers! Based on the curriculum from the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project, from Columbia University, Kindergarteners learn from the very first day of Reader’s Workshop that they are all readers. From environmental print to old favorite storybooks, students learn to use what they already know about the world and pictures to make sense of words. Not long after, Super Readers learn that they have special reading powers they can activate to help them defeat tricky words. With special reading wands they build their pointer power, with the help of Mabel the elephant in phonics they workout their sound power and snap word power. As they try, try, and try again they build their perseverance power and become the strongest readers in all the land.

Kindergarten Garden Studies

With pockets full of acorns, lavender, rosemary, fava beans, and more kindergartners return from the Garden each week excited to share their treasures and stories about bunnies and chickens. From exploring the five senses to looking for evidence of nocturnal animals, kindergarten students attend outdoor science lessons each week where they explore their local ecosystems and make observations in the garden around them. Each week they record their observations and discoveries in their journal and help take care of the plants and animals.

Kindergarten World Languages

Hola! Bonjour! Ni Hao! Walk by a kindergarten world language class and you are sure to hear lots of singing, dancing, and joyful laughter. From the very first week of kindergarten, students are introduced to World Languages. Over the course of the year, kindergarten students participate in a trimester of Spanish, French, and Mandarin. Through song, dance, and games, students become familiar with greetings, colors, and numbers. They also learn about the country of origin and culture.

Kindergarten Math

Math Bunk Beds
Eight kids are at a sleepover with a bunk bed. There are four children on the top bunk and four children on the bottom bunk. The babysitter leaves the room to get the children a snack and returns to find only 3 children on the top and five children on the bottom. Has she lost a child?! Kindergartners investigate this question to discover the mathematical concepts of compensation and equivalence. Using hands-on manipulatives, the kindergarten mathematicians work to track the children’s movement and discover all the different possible arrangements the sleepover children can use to rearrange themselves on the bunk beds and trick the babysitter. They extend this work to find patterns and how to efficiently find the total number of arrangements, no matter how many children are at the party. It’s sneaky, good fun!

Kindergarten The Arts

Bentley School believes that a strong Visual and Performing Arts curriculum is an integral part of a balanced academic program.

In the Lower School, music classes take place twice each week and include instruction in singing, part-harmony, listening, theory, instruments, technology, drumming, and creative movement. Students perform several times a year in the annual Winter and Spring Concerts and assemblies. 

Visual Arts classes also convene two times per week. In addition to a yearly art show, there are rotating exhibits displayed throughout the Hiller Campus. Classes cover a comprehensive visual arts curriculum involving students in a wide range of 2-D and 3-D media. In addition, the arts specialists collaborate and create hands-on activities in conjunction with classroom curricula in literature, social studies, and science.

First Grade Writing

Bentley first graders are experts on a variety of things that they love: soccer, weather, even medieval history. So for one unit in first grade, Bentley students create illustrated “All About” books in which they use their expertise and then their presentation skills to teach their classmates and teachers about a passion of theirs. Through this endeavor, Bentley students research the topic to become even more well-versed in their chosen subjects, and teachers and parents who sit in on the presentations often find out new facts themselves!

First graders at Bentley use their natural curiosity about the world and language to create an art project that encourages self-expression as well as scientific understanding. They create paintings focused on the theme of weather, and use these works of art as inspiration to create poetry in a wide variety of styles. Haikus about heat waves? List poems about lightning? Acrostics about air pressure? All of these and more are presented by proud first graders during the poetry unit.

First Grade Math

Geometry is not just an area of study for Bentley students, but a new way for them to see the world and gather evidence for their own museum of shapes! After students are introduced to the basic geometric shapes, they are given the goal of finding these shapes in their own homes and on Bentley Campus, engaging in a Geometry Scavenger Hunt. Once students have found their assigned shapes, often in places they hardly expected, the students create a presentation for their classmates and enter their findings into the Shape Museum, where their discoveries are proudly displayed for the remainder of the year.

First Grade Theater

As part of the robust performing arts program at Bentley, 1st Grade students have weekly classes in music, dance, and theatre that help them to express themselves in a variety of ways and develop their talents. Additionally, throughout the year, students show what they’ve learned through singing and dancing performances for their classmates and teachers. In the Spring, they combine all of their skills in a play, complete with fully memorized lines, costumes, singing, and dancing that never fail to wow everyone in attendance.

First Grade Fitness & Wellness

At Bentley, we strive to enrich the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of every student during this tremendous time of maturity and growth. The curriculum develops muscular and aerobic fitness, promotes coordination and the enjoyment of physical activity for life-long fitness, and teaches skills required by individual and group athletic activities. 

The Lower School physical education program is designed to teach a variety of skills, while at the same time, promote physical fitness through a curriculum of developmentally appropriate activities. While the development of physical attributes is the unique focus of physical education, cognitive skills are also applied and refined, and class activities provide an important setting for the cultivation of effective social skills. The value of teamwork, sportsmanship, maintenance of a healthy self-image, and respect for others is stressed.

First Grade Science

The Science program promotes intellectual curiosity by involving students in hands-on, experiential learning. The program centers on the implementation of the scientific method. Students study the basic concepts of life, earth, and physical sciences through classroom activities and field trips, in order to discover, observe, predict, and formulate hypotheses. Students learn to record and analyze data, to collaborate in teams, and to discuss scientific phenomena using technical vocabulary. In first grade, the children study various topics in earth, life, and physical science. Students are provided with opportunities to carefully observe, record data, and ask meaningful questions. Students engage in activities pertaining to the life cycle of plants and frogs, habitats, volcanoes, rocks and minerals, dinosaurs, and the solar system. Students use a science journal to record observations. The students spend time focusing on environmental issues such as pollution, recycling, and reusing natural resources and work in the garden to practice measurement and observation. Science topics are taught by assessing prior knowledge, and by forming hypotheses, investigating, experimenting, and drawing conclusions. 

Second Grade Engineering Design

Second graders are natural engineers; they tinker, build, take things apart and put them back together. Whether the goal is to design an egg drop device, construct an efficient bird beak, or build a Rube Goldberg contraption to perform a task, second graders learn to use the steps of the engineering design process. Through these challenges students are inspired to ask, imagine, plan, create, test, and improve their innovative designs. Each trimester includes a study of the fundamentals of one of our three units of study; air and wind, birds of the salt marsh, and simple machines. Through first-hand experience during the trial and error period, second-grade engineers must think critically and soon learn that persistence and resilience are the keys to success. Students have a chance to practice their communication skills as they present their culminating projects. It is no wonder, then, that our young engineers’ creativity and ingenuity result in some truly remarkable projects.

Second Grade Math

Busy hands, inquiring minds and big ideas! Second grade mathematicians are eager to explore and discuss new concepts and learn new skills. Building on knowledge mastered in kindergarten and first grade, second graders are ready and excited to investigate numbers into the thousands. First, they listen to the book How Much, How Many, How Far, How Heavy, How Long, How Tall is 1,000? to help them understand that 1,000 can vary tremendously in appearance, depending on what you are counting and how you arrange it.
Over the course of a few weeks, students work in teams and use familiar objects such as popsicle sticks, unifix cubes, and paper clips to count, group, and regroup the items into bundles of 10’s, 100’s, and 1000’s. Together, they predict and estimate How many? How much? How long? and How far? They are thrilled to discover that neighboring teams may have extra items that can be combined with theirs to make even more tens or hundreds. As their collections come together, our young mathematicians are surprised to see how 1000 paper clips linked together in one long strand can stretch from the classroom all the way to the library door and looks very different from 1000 popsicle sticks arranged into ten bundles of one hundred.

Second Grade Writing

Superhero Writing
Pow! Zam! Wow! To kick off the school year, second graders show off their super creative writing powers as they craft their very own superhero stories. Through mentor texts and mini-lessons, students learn that every superhero must have incredible traits such as courage, moral character, and a fighting spirit. They begin to self-identify their own unique physical and character traits that they apply to imagine their superselves. In art class, students draw, sketch, paint, and sculpt to visualize their supersuits, sidekicks, arch enemies, and secret lairs. Students have fun experimenting with literary devices such as alliteration, onomatopoeia, similes, and metaphors to bring their stories to life. Using the steps of the writing process students soon compose their very first superhero stories that they proudly share in a publishing party.

Second Grade Social Studies

Why is the Bentley Lower School campus named the Hiller campus? Ask a second grader and they will tell you that it is named after Stanley Hiller, inventor of the co-axial helicopter who literally grew up at 1 Hiller Drive. Throughout the second grade year in social studies, students learn the stories of extraordinary people past and present in our own community and around the world who were guided by their personal interests and passions to institute change. What better way to start off the year then, than learning about Stanley Hiller. 

Students research Hiller’s many accomplishments and take a field trip to the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos. There they participate in a workshop where they build, test and modify balsa wood gliders. Then they take a tour of the museum and have a chance to see many of Hiller’s inventions such as the infamous XH-44 Hiller-copter and the Comet Gas-Powered Racing Tethered model car, that was produced in Hiller’s own back-yard shop. The unit ties in nicely with the air and wind investigations and the annual Egg Drop Engineering Design Challenge that students participate in during garden and science classes in the first trimester.  

Second grade social studies also includes learning about geography and practicing map reading skills. With copies of the architectural designs of the Hiller Estate in hand (originally published in the magazine, Architectural Digest, June 1937) students take a walk back in time comparing the existing buildings with those of Stanley Hiller’s childhood home. Learning that the “breezeway” was once called the loggia and that the current head’s office was once a guest room immediately adjacent to an indoor pond is truly awe-inspiring.

Second Grade Language Arts

Through whole class, small group, and one-on-one instruction in Readers’ Workshop, teachers model and teach skills to help students grow their independent reading practice in second grade. The reading curriculum starts with shared reading from books read aloud, allowing the opportunity to model reading comprehension strategies as a class before students practice in small groups and independently. Students practice reading and responding to literature in small groups, applying comprehension strategies in guided exercises and in independent written response. All group practices support readers toward self-identifying “just-right books,” and developing stamina for robust independent reading practice.

Writer’s Workshop also extends from the books that students read aloud, as the books become mentor texts to highlight the elements of craft that students practice in their own work. Workshop lessons begin with a mini-lesson that teaches a specific writing skill, often drawing upon the work of published authors to identify strategies on which students can model their own writing. Engaged, organized, and purposeful storytelling is the preeminent objective, whether writing reflections about literature, personal narratives, or inventing fictional stories. The endangered animal reports that students write are a multidisciplinary project involving reading for information, determining importance of facts, note-taking, organizing, drafting, and revising an original, expository text. The second grade spelling curriculum focuses upon spelling patterns and rules, and exceptions that fall outside those expectations for conventional spelling.