Lower School Special Areas
Art, music, science lab, Spanish, Chinese, physical education, technology, chapel, and library activities are integrated into daily schedules, rounding out a curriculum that promotes independence, responsibility, moral character, and excellence in academics.
Lower School Art
Visual art in grades 1-4 teaches the students to celebrate multiple perspectives and that there is more than one solution to a problem. Studying the elements of art and the principles of design gives the children a vocabulary to talk about art. By analyzing a work of art, they become more in touch with their thoughts and feelings. They understand the use of symbols to make abstract connections. In are, it is judgment rather than rules that is ultimately more important. The students also look at the culture and historical context in which the art was created. Example: while studying Klimt and the effect the Industrial Revolution had on the art in Austria, we look at the quite different effect it had in America, one romanicized, the other, cold industry. Art in Lower School is also a great curriculum connector using music, dance, math, science, social studies, and language arts to layer learning in a fun way.
Lower School Music
The music curriculum is an interactive program involving singing, playing, listening, moving, and creating. Much of the music program is based on the teaching principles of Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly, who believed that music belongs to every child, and German composer Carl Orff who believed that children learn best while doing. In any given music class, students might be listening to the music of the Masters, playing Orff instruments, working on songs for their plays, creating movement and action for musical stories, improvising rhythm patterns and melodies on a variety of instruments, or playing note recognition games. Third graders begin an in-depth study of the instruments of the orchestra, which carries over into fourth grade, when they begin playing recorders. St. Andrew’s also enhances studies in social studies, history, literature, and art with appropriate musical offerings. Through this interactive program, children learn a great deal about music and have fun in the process. Read more >
Lower School Science
Lower School science is taught as an inquiry, hands-on, earth-based program. Children learn to work in groups on activities and projects, they research and explore concepts and ideas using the computers in the science lab, IPads, and resource books. All students are introduced to and expand on three main units during the first semester; the water cycle which included exploring the oceans, weather, and the atmosphere. Students explore how they are inter-related as well as how humans affect the water cycle. Our children explore Minerals and the Rock Cycle, as well as the earth's tectonic forces, dinosaurs, and volcanoes. They grow crystals, build examples of the layers of the earth, discover the different types of dinosaurs and other extinct animals through their fossils. The children end the semester by building their own volcanoes. The second semester begins with the exploration of the universe. Our first graders discover our closest star, the sun, while the second and thirst graders explore our solar system and our fourth graders discover the different types of galaxies in our universe. From space we zoom into biology, focusing on types of life, organ systems of the body, and life cycles of animals and plants. We conclude the year with forces, energy, and technology, which entails exploring of all types of energy and for fourth graders, the building and programming of Lego robots. Each grade level has its own discovery activities and experiments for the different units of study. The development for the experiments and activities are built on knowledge the students gained in previous years, creating a spiral approach to the wonders and excitement of science.
Lower School World Languages
Introducing Mandarin Chinese and continuing with Spanish in the Lower School, the World Languages program in the Lower School provides a fun-filled, positive learning environment in which students begin building a solid foundation in vocabulary, grammatical structures, and cultural appreciation. Students develop full competence including listening, speaking skills, and, as they enter third and fourth grades, beginning to read and write. Each year, students are provided the opportunity to develop a broad world view, awareness of interconnectedness and cross-cultural understanding. With integration of the core subjects, student acquire the knowledge placed in different contexts, which allow them to connect the knowledge to different disciplines and be able to use the target languages in the real world.
Mandarin Chinese: The class focuses on communicative competence through visual and audio aids. The lessons are learner-centered and highly interactive, which involves lots of games, songs, and the use of technology. Students acquire knowledge of both Chinese language and culture. Students learn how to greet and introduce themselves in Chinese and be able to say polite words in context. Various topics, including counting to 100, names of colors, family members, body parts, animals and Chinese food are introduced to the students. For the older students, some of the themes will be developed under the umbrella of global studies, for example, traveling abroad by airplane, learning the procedure of going through customs and getting onboard using their language. Through the introduction of Chinese Moon Festival and Chinese New Year, students become aware of the similarities and differences between Chinese and American cultures.
Spanish: Spanish classes are proficiency oriented placing greater focus on meaningful communication rather than on grammatical structure. Students first understand and then produce in the language. Throughout the lessons, Spanish is used as much as possible providing opportunities to interact in many ways in Spanish. Every lesson include performance activities, cultural integration activities, and thematic/linguistic topics. Scaffolding is developed by revisiting previous knowledge and adding new details, rigor, and breadth.
Lower School Library Activities
Students in first through fourth grade visit the library once a week to check out books for curriculum related work or pleasure reading. In addition to the regular visit, teachers may allow children to return individually for book selection, reading time, small group projects, or class activities. Each year, the Lower School library hosts a special guest author, illustrator, or storyteller who presents programs for all students with opportunities to purchase signed copies of their work.
Lower School Chapel
A chapel service based on the liturgy of the Episcopal Church is held every Friday morning at 8:15. The service includes music, the reading of Scripture, a brief homily by the school chaplain, and prayer. Fourth graders serve as acolytes and ensemble. All students attend chapel, and family members and friends are also welcome to attend.
Each week classes meet in the Lower School classroom, adjacent to the Jean Jones-Downey Chapel for "Little Chapel" Class. Modeled after the weekly chapel service held on Friday, LIttle Chapel is a chance for individual classes to learn, discuss, and share in a communal environment. We are always full of music and song, color and laughter.
The curriculum for grades 2 through4 is based around the yearly theme and the Liturgical Calendar of the Church. Students learn about major feasts, celebrations, and observances. They learn about the different "seasons" of the church calendar in which the observances occur, and why we observe them. In between calendar events, we use a theme for the year to take a broad look at elements such as Episcopal tradition, Biblical teachings, and ethical behavior. Our themes have included, "The Fruits of the Spirit", Who Is My Neighbor?", "The Saints", and "Service Learning: Serving Our Community and the World."
Lower School Fitness
The St. Andrew's physical education curriculum is based on the principles of wellness. Wellness is being at one’s best possible level of health in the body, in the mind, and in relationships with others. St. Andrew’s goal is for students to enjoy P.E. and to think of wellness as a life skill. Students in every grade level attend physical education classes twice a week. The first day focuses on games, which involve movement and improve motor skills, balance, and coordination. Students also learn the foundations of sports sanctioned by the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) of which St. Andrew’s is a member. The second day is devoted to improving the students’ general fitness and emphasizes strength, speed, endurance, and muscle balance. Most activities require the students to work in groups or teams; all activities emphasize good sportsmanship. Students learn to respect, support, and encourage one another regardless of their individual athletic abilities. Read more >
Lower School Technology
Students in first through fourth grade visit the computer lab once in a six day rotation. Students progress from basic computer use to introductory web research to independent nine-week projects. Students progress from basic computer use to introductory web research to larger independent projects. Students use a wide variety of technology including, PS's, SMART Boards, SMART Table, digital cameras, and iPads. Students learn digital safety as well as the skills required to be good citizens. Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making are emphasized through activities such as web-based games, beginning programming, and group projects. Very early, students learn keyboard basics and eventually begin working on their touch typing skills. At Lower School, the emphasis is on accuracy instead of speed. Students enhance their classroom curriculum by developing multimedia presentations, class blogs, and desktop publishing projects.