Kindergarten – 5th Grade
Kindergarten – 5th Grade
Nurturing students’ intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development
On any given day, WNS students are makers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, interpreters, observers, and investigators. At every developmental level, core academics blend seamlessly with specialized subjects, providing structure for ideation, creation, and collaboration. The foundation of our program is our approach to social-emotional learning and support. At WNS, every student is heard, seen, and known by their classmates, teachers, and community. Our custom-built social learning curriculum, along with Responsive Classroom and Developmental Designs, creates a supportive environment for students to reflect, grow, and develop as learners in the 21st century.
Welcome to the Elementary School
WNS is a warm, safe, and nurturing environment fueled by a dynamic atmosphere of collaboration. Our students have compassion and kindness for one another. WNS students understand that they are growing up in a wonderfully diverse and pluralistic world. I am inspired by what they bring through the doors every day!
Assistant Head of School, Grades K-4
The WNS academic program is continually evolving to prepare students for the world of tomorrow. Based on current brain-research, grounded in project-based experiential learning, and blending in traditional elements, our curriculum allows students the space, flexibility, and support to design and shape their own understanding of our global community. On any given day, WNS students are makers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, interpreters, observers, and investigators. At every developmental level, core academics blend seamlessly with specialized subjects, providing structure for ideation, creation, and collaboration.
The roadmap to academic excellence
The WNS elementary program for grades 1-5 includes the core academic subjects of reading, writing, mathematics, and social studies as well as specialized classes such as science, art, music, Spanish, physical education, and computer science. WNS utilizes a co-teaching model, with two credentialed teachers in each classroom, totaling four collaborative teachers per grade level. Social-emotional learning is integrated throughout the elementary curriculum. The co-teaching model allows for adaptations to be made to the curriculum to better serve student learning styles and achievement levels while keeping instructional goals consistent across the grade level.
Elementary school studies are grounded in a project-based learning approach that allows students to apply their learning in authentic ways. Student ideas and experiences create an innate desire to learn and practice core skills. Mathematical thinking, along with written and verbal communication becomes critical when first graders create businesses for WNSville. Precision and organization in narrative and persuasive writing are necessary as second graders determine what it means to be a Change Maker. Reading and research skills form the foundation of the westward movement in third grade and global studies and student PhDs (Project of Your Heart’s Desire) in fourth grade. Investigating historical artifacts becomes personal when fifth graders embark on an interdisciplinary study of their own family and personal identity and how they connect to historical events during the spring Cultural Fair. Learning is supported through differentiated instructional groups, using collaborative and individual practice to allow for growth and stretch at every level.
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In the early elementary years, students are exposed to a wide range of literature such as picture books, chapter books, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Students are guided through the integration of phonics, spelling, vocabulary, and comprehension, delving more deeply into texts and building reading stamina. Comprehension strategies include retelling, sequencing, making meaningful connections, elements of a story, and the author’s intent. Together, teachers and students develop goals that are both challenging and within reach with constant feedback on their progress.
In the upper elementary years, reading instruction is focused on building a lifelong love of reading. Students are encouraged to explore a variety of authors and genres and are taught to make connections between the texts and their own lives and the real world. Students are encouraged to take ownership of their reading. In a variety of groupings, students explore various themes through different reading genres. A workshop-based approach allows students to connect more deeply with their literary choices through discussion, written analysis, and projects. Students also enjoy teacher- and student-led book clubs.
In the early elementary years, students experience many different written genres such as personal narrative, persuasive reviews, nonfiction, poetry, informational pieces, and creative writing. They receive small group and individualized support focused on equipping them with the skills and strategies necessary to be confident and expressive writers. Students utilize the Writers’ Workshop model to work through drafting, revising, editing, and publishing work.
In the upper elementary grades, students grow and flourish as writers through the Writer’s Workshop model. They are taught to draw from their own experiences, to write engaging small moment narratives, informational texts, and persuasive speeches. Students understand that their “lives and thoughts are worth writing about.” Students use their writing notebooks to record mini-lessons on the conventions of writing and the writers’ craft. Students’ writing is published for a variety of authentic audiences.
In the early elementary years, students enjoy numerous interactive experiences that build their knowledge and understanding of math concepts. Students are guided using the Singapore Math approach, which places emphasis on learning through concrete, pictorial, and abstract experiences. Through differentiated small group instruction, students engage in real-world applications of number sense, geometry, time, money, and patterns. Mathematics is infused in many areas of the school day, and through experience children hone their investigative, problem-solving, and critical application skills to become lifelong mathematical thinkers.
The Singapore Math approach is used In the upper elementary grades, as students internalize how and why math is meaningful in their lives, moving beyond procedural knowledge to conceptual understanding. Students continue to employ concrete, visual, and abstract models to master the application of mathematical concepts. The curriculum is a project-based, interdisciplinary approach to the application of mathematical skills and concepts. Flexible groups are designed to meet all students’ needs, with emphasis placed on inquiry, problem-solving, and logical reasoning.
Social studies in the elementary program takes a thematic approach.
First Grade: Community. First graders create their own community, WNSville, in the spring.
Second Grade: Change Makers. Second graders study notable Americans and how students can impact the world around them.
Third Grade: Perspective Taking. Students learn about and engage in simulations that help them understand and internalize the experiences of Native Americans and pioneers.
Fourth Grade: Global Citizenship, The History of California.
Fifth Grade: The Formation of the United States, Family, and Personal Identity, How Individuals Connect to Historical Events.
In the early elementary years, students begin visiting the science lab, where they practice the skills needed to help them to make sense of the world around them and become literate in science, engineering, and technology. The science curriculum is inquiry and problem-based and includes planning and carrying out investigations, obtaining, evaluating, communicating information, and designing solutions for real-life problems.
The upper elementary science program continues to build on science and engineering skills. Students visit the science lab regularly to participate in authentic, project-based learning. Students develop and use models, engage in argument from evidence, and use mathematical and computational thinking.
The objective of the elementary Spanish program is to develop students’ awareness of the importance of the Spanish language and the richness and diversity of the Spanish culture around the world. Based on previous learning experiences, students reinforce and extend their foundation of the Spanish language and its culture. Units of study include greetings, introductions, engaging in conversations, colors, numbers, weather, family, clothing, and animals. The Spanish curriculum includes playful, fun, and engaging activities that develop four fundamental skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
The elementary physical education program places emphasis on learning skills sequentially while maintaining a safe, orderly atmosphere. The ultimate goal of the physical education curriculum throughout all grades is to introduce enjoyable activities and healthy concepts to promote lifelong fitness and optimal health.
Elementary grades develop locomotor, non-locomotor, and manipulative skills as well as body and space awareness through a variety of applications and activities. Dance, yoga, Capoeira, and gymnastics are among some of the units explored. The students also learn the form and function of their bodies through elementary anatomy and physiology units. In addition, sports skills and cooperative games are covered where teamwork and cooperation are emphasized.
Students in first through fourth grade take part in an active music program with a variety of musical enrichment opportunities. Highlights of the program incluse: World music, learning about instruments in and sections of the orchestra, proper singing technique and stage presence, great composers and musicians, understanding music theory, conducting with a baton and understanding rhythm, playing a variety of instruments including percussion auxiliary and drums, piano guitar and more, improvisation, lyric analysis, and dancing. In addition, students build upon essential character skills including kindness, respect for self, others and property, team work, tenacity, and determination.
Students at WNS experience theatre arts classes beginning in the fifth grade, developing rehearsal and performance skills but mainly by providing the opportunity for students to develop empathy, self-confidence, public speaking, communication, and collaboration skills.
The visual arts program values process, exploration, and problem-solving. Students learn through experimentation and discovery, and we encourage critical thinking and decision making.
Students in grades 2-5 meet with our Technology Specialist once a week in our Computer Science Center. Computer literacy skills, such as general computer use, typing, word processing, and safe Internet use, are taught in the class by the Technology Specialist. Students participate in STEM activities, including programming, coding, and robotics.