Grade School

What is the day? 

Main Lesson is a time of focused exploration that begins each morning. After a song, a verse, or mental math, the class spends nearly two hours on a single subject like botany, ancient civilizations, or geometry.  About every month, the block changes.  Through the day, there is instruction in music, movement, eurythmy, outdoor education, handwork, and Spanish and Mandarin. 

What is the difference? 

Visit a classroom and you’ll see students strive for more than just the right answer - students who create beautiful work and try their hands at everything.  You’ll meet teachers who stay with a class through the grades, building a deep understanding of each student, and subject teachers who share expertise in their fields. The curriculum, carefully considered, inspires students through each grade and each stage of development.  

Explore by grade

Grade 1

The journey begins! Children create their first writing and arithmetic books, and practice mental math and movement.  There are folk and fairy tales, songs, poetry, and a class play production. 

Language Arts

  • Pictorial introduction of the alphabet
  • Handwriting: upper and lower case letters
  • Oral storytelling
  • Recitation of poetry and verse
  • Class play: group choral form

Mathematics

  • Hindu-Arabic numerals from 1 to 100 (counting forwards and backwards, writing)
  • Roman Numerals from I to XII
  • Times tables: 2, 3, 5, 10
  • Odd and even numbers
  • Four mathematical processes: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division

Science

  • Stories of the seasons and the natural world
  • Exploration of nature
  • Gardening: tending a plot, growth cycles of plants, and gardening stories

Social Studies

  • Mythologies of global cultures and folk tales from around the world
  • Descriptions of different cultures and environments through oral storytelling

Form Drawing

  • Straight and curved lines
  • Standing forms
  • Running forms

Spanish

  • Immersion through speech; presentation of vocabulary through stories
  • Recitation of poetry, songs, and stories; and accompanying movement and gestures
  • Comprehension and speech practiced: size, color, number, how many, what is it, I have, and identifying commands

Mandarin

  • Immersion through speech; presentation of vocabulary through stories
  • Recitation of poetry, songs, and stories; and accompany movement and gestures

Grade 2

Second graders  are drawn to stories of the saints and legends of noble people with purpose. They identify with animal characters from Aesop’s Fables, Jataka Tales, and Native American and African Legends.   They learn cursive writing and mathematics - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. 

Language Arts

  • Introduction to the parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs
  • Spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, capitalization
  • Beginning composition
  • Stories, poetry, verse
  • Class play: group choral form
  • Cursive writing

Mathematics

  • Practice with four processes: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
  • Algorithms of column addition and subtraction
  • Place value: units, tens, and hundreds
  • Borrowing or "taking"
  • Times tables
  • Mental math

Social Studies

  • Mythologies of global cultures and folks tales from around the world
  • Descriptions of different cultures and environments through oral storytelling
  • Comprehensive through recitation and artistic representation

Science

  • Stories of the seasons and the natural world
  • Exploration of nature
  • Gardening: tending a plot, growth cycle of plants, and gardening stories

Form Drawing

  • vertical and horizontal symmetry
  • forms through four quadrants in sequence
  • inward and outward spirals
  • Immersion through speech; presentation of vocabulary through stories
  • Recitation of poetry, songs, and stories; and accompanying movement and gestures
  • Comprehension and speech practiced: size, color, number, how many, what is it, I have, and identifying commands

Spanish

  • Immersion through speech; presentation of vocabulary through stories
  • Recitation of poetry, songs, and stories; and accompanying movement and gestures
  • Comprehension and speech practiced: size, color, number, how many, what is it, I have, and identifying commands

Mandarin

  • Language immersion and recitation of poetry, songs, and stories, folklore; and accompany movement and gestures
  • Language learning focus on themes of nature, seasons, holidays, and families
  • Drawing lays foundation for characters

Handwork

  • Purling, adding and reducing stitches, correcting mistakes
  • Knit a doll
  • Music written in the mood of the fifth: open fifth as basic melodic element

Music

  • Songs in unison
  • Melodies taught through imitation
  • Instruments: klangspiels, pentatonic lyres, and pentatonic flutes

Eurythmy

  • Movement for the vowels and consonants
  • Deepening of elements of pitch and rhythm
  • Exercises to build balance, agility, coordination, and fine motor skills

Games and Gym

  • Themed games based on nature and historical games from around the world.
  • Parachute games, relay races, beginning ball games, handing and swinging apparatus, basic rock and rope climbing skills
  • Spatial Dynamic exercises, jumping and vaulting, jump ropes and hula hoops, self-control games, beginning tumbling, balancing and rhythm activities.

Grade 3

With an emerging sense of their place in the world, third graders grow vegetables, build shelters, and learn about time, measurements, and money. They work with their hands outside the classroom and explore the fundamentals of grammar and mathematics inside the classroom. 

Language Arts

  • Basic parts of speech, punctuation, and simple tenses of verbs
  • Reading comprehension and writing practice
  • Stories of ancient and indigenous people

Mathematics

  • Long division and multiplication introduced
  • Practice with addition and subtraction and expanded use of place value
  • Weights and measurements
  • Monetary calculations

Science

  • Study of farming, agriculture, including cultivation of grain, cycles of composting, crop rotation, and animal husbandry
  • Study of local natural resources

Social Studies

  • Introduction to an historical timeline through stories of Hebrew Bible
  • Geography introduced with question of how human beings learn to life on the earth.
  • Study of shelters through time and around the world with attention to indigenous people and to the natural resources of the immediate environment
  • Study of farming and agriculture
  • Systems of money and time explored

Spanish

  • Verses, songs, and oral lessons strengthen comprehension and speaking
  • Understanding of complex commands
  • Use of complex vocabulary and in complete sentences

Mandarin

  • Introduction to the origin and evolution of Chinese characters using paintings and pictograms.
  • Introduce the concept of Chinese radicals as the foundation of other more complex Chinese characters.

Handwork

  • Crochet: chain stitch, single and double stiches, and crochet in the round
  • Continued practice hand sewing

Music

  • Introduction of the interval of the third and diatonic scale
  • Musical notation introduced
  • Exploration of instrument families, and singing in parts

Eurythmy

  • Movements for vowels and consonants practiced in conjunction with spatial forms
  • Scale of C-major and the interval of the third introduced

Games and Gym

  • Historical games from around the world; tagging games; relay races; handball games; free and imitation movement activities; parachute games
  • Spatial Dynamic exercise and Bothmer Gymnastics; circus art activities; self-control games

Grade 4

Fourth graders California geography and history. They are ready to take up an instrument and begin to play together as a class orchestra. The class explores the animal kingdom, works with fractions, and hears stories of heroes, tricksters, and epic tales from Norse Mythology.

Humanities

  • Introduction to the parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs
  • Spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, capitalization
  • Beginning composition
  • Stories, poetry, verse
  • Class play: group choral form
  • Cursive writing

Mathematics

  • Fractions: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; reduce and expand; improper fractions to mixed number fractions. Emphasis on creating parts from a whole with experiential lessons.
  • Prime numbers and square number; exploration of factoring patterns.
  • Long multiplication and long division
  • Times tables table practice, in and out of sequences
  • Word or situation problem followed-by practice problems

Science

  • Comparative zoology: exploration of physical forms of humans and the animal kingdom.
  • Observation of characteristics, writing, and artistic rendering of animals. Archetypal animals explored:keen-eyed eagle, fiery lion, and powerful bull.

Social Studies

  • Local geography: mapping of the classroom, school, neighborhood, home, city, and state
  • California history: Native American studies, Spanish explorers, the Gold Rush, and the ranchero period.
  • Geography and sciences are linked in the study of animals, plants, and minerals.
  • Reading, writing, and grammatical concepts are introduced in the transition from spoken word of earlier grades.

Spanish

  • Verb conjugations and syntax introduced; vocabulary expands
  • Oral language practice continues: simple questions and answers to complete sentences; individual recounting of a story
  • Students develop simple sentences in short compositions; read and report on several topics

Mandarin

  • Introduction of Zhuyin alphabet system
  • Language focus on animals and local culture; use of animals as pictograms to introduce Chinese characters
  • Development of skills in reading and writing Chinese characters
  • Further emphasis in correct methods of writing Chinese characters through the use of “word squares” (to learn character structure) and “rainbow words” (to learn stroke order).
  • Taiwan Aborigines culture and folklore

Form Drawing

  • Mastery of braided and knotted forms
  • Painting and drawing compositional work expands and reflects the curriculum

Handwork

  • Embroidery is introduced in handwork; stiches inspired by other parts of the world
  • Continued lessons in sewing, including cross-stitch; practice in design symmetry
  • Deepening practice with sculpture
  • Crafts of other culture explored, such as Native American pouches and basketry
  • Exploration of gestures and the movement qualities of the animal kingdom (complements zoology)

Eurythmy

  • Work with alliterative poems with strong steps and gestures
  • Musical phrasing and mood between major and minor is experienced, tone gestures are practiced
  • Continued practice with geometry forms to develop spatial and social awareness within a group
  • Themed games based on Norse Mythology and Native American culture

Games and Gym

  • Social and cooperative games; tagging games; relay races; ball games; throwing skills
  • Basic rock and rope-climbing skills
  • Spatial Dynamics and Bother Gymnastics
  • Circus art such as jumping, vaulting, unicycle, jugging, and balancing activities

Grade 5

Fifth graders explore the physical characteristics of the earth and the plant life that grows on its surface. They practice fractions and decimals, ratios and proportions. They journey to the dawn of human civilization in India, Persia, Egypt, and Greece, exploring stories, art, music and mythology.

Language Arts

  • Grammatical practice, including the role of conditional sentences
  • Independent readers, including historical fiction and biographies
  • Class Play
  • Curriculum projects on selected topic: research, report, artistic project, and presentation skills

Mathematics

  • Abstract formulas introduced
  • Business math: banking and investment, taxes, commissions
  • Geometry: geometric drawings, terminology, relationship of circles, triangles, and polygons
  • Pythagorean Theorem and applications
  • Study of Plato, Aristotle, Thales, Pythagoras, Eratosthenes, and Archimedes
  • Golden Proportion and Fibonnaci series

Science

  • Physics: acoustics, thermodynamics, magnetism, mechanics, astronomy
  • Geology: California's geologic diversity; types of rock formations with particular emphasis on igneous rocks; role of water cycles and erosion

Social Studies

  • Geography: Europe and the cultural areas around the Mediterranean
  • The story of The Aeneid, Ancient Rome, Middle Ages in Europe and Asia

Spanish

  • Reading fluidity and comprehension; written story summaries
  • Poetry recitation
  • Grammar and syntax: mastery of regular and some irregular verb conjugations in present text; sentence agreement
  • Conversational practice: asking questions and describing situations

Mandarin

  • Focus on reading more complex Chinese characters
  • Introduction to basic grammar and simple grammatical structures
  • Learn to use Chinese / English dictionary to look up unfamiliar words
  • Introduction to Chinese calligraphy
  • Development of Chinese culture through the Qin Dynasty, the unification of ancient China, currency and trade, Terra Cotta warriors, and the Great Wall of China
  • Use rocks/minerals as the theme to introduce more Chinese radicals and characters

Music

  • Music becomes rhythmically challenging and diverse
  • Harmonious and noble music of Classical composers: Mozart, Haydn, Gluck
  • Unmetered music of Gregorian chants
  • Playing and singing in triple meter

Handwork

  • Creation of sewn stuffed animal: bear, big cat, or elephant. 
  • Drawing and clay sculpture of form
  • Precision in pattern making, fabric cutting, and hand sewing

Woodwork

  • Practice with tools: saws, rasps, gouge and mallet, spoke shave, draw knife, drills, and carving knife, finishing techniques
  • Creation of spoons, bowls, simple propellers, and small boxes

Eurythmy

  • Movement in geometric patterns complement math lessons
  • Classical meters
  • Three basic elements explored: rhythm, pitch, and beat
  • Increasingly complex forms develop spatial and social awareness
  • Exercises with copper rods introduced to support posture

Games and Gym

  • Themed games based on Medieval and Ancient Roman times
  • Ball games, wide field games, and races
  • Vaulting, balancing, and tumbling skills
  • Spatial Dynamic exercises and Bothmer Gymnastics
  • Beginning self-defense and basic fitness training
  • Global Games event training

Grade 6

Upper Grades (middle school) begins. Students take on independent research, sports teams, and focus on the study of one language: Mandarin or Spanish. They study laws of the universe in Astronomy, the structure and composition of the earth in Geology, the practical nature of Business Math,  the history of the Roman Empire, and the rules of grammar.

Language Arts

  • Grammatical practice, including the role of conditional sentences
  • Independent readers, including historical fiction and biographies
  • Class Play
  • Curriculum projects on selected topic: research, report, artistic project, and presentation skills

Mathematics

  • Abstract formulas introduced
  • Business math: banking and investment, taxes, commissions
  • Geometry: geometric drawings, terminology, relationship of circles, triangles, and polygons, Pythagorean Theorem
  • Pythagorean Theorem and applications
  • Study of Plato, Aristotle, Thales, Pythagoras, Eratosthenes, and Archimedes

Science

  • Physics: acoustics, optics, thermodynamics, magnetism, and static electricity
  • Astronomy: observation from a geocentric point of view, star, sun and moon
  • Geology: California's geologic diversity; types of rock formations with particular emphasis on igneous rocks; role of water cycles and erosion

Social Studies

  • Geography: Physical geography of the world
  • The story of The Aeneid, Ancient Rome, Middle Ages in Europe and Asia

Spanish

  • Reading fluidity and comprehension; written story summaries
  • Poetry recitation
  • Grammar and syntax: mastery of regular and some irregular verb conjugations in present text; sentence agreement
  • Conversational practice: asking questions and describing situation

Mandarin

  • Focus on reading more complex Chinese characters
  • Introduction to basic grammar and simple grammatical structuresLearn to use Chinese / English dictionary to look up unfamiliar words
  • Introduction to Chinese calligraphy
  • Development of Chinese culture through the Qin Dynasty, the unification of ancient China, currency and trade, Terra Cotta warriors, and the Great Wall of China
  • Use rocks/minerals as the theme to introduce more Chinese radicals and characters

Music

  • Music becomes rhythmically challenging and diverse
  • Harmonious and noble music of Classical composers: Mozart, Haydn, Gluck
  • Unmetered music of Gregorian chants
  • Playing and singing in triple meter

Handwork

  • Creation of sewn stuffed animal: bear, big cat, or elephant.
  • Begin with drawing and clay sculpture of form
  • Precision in pattern making, fabric cutting, and hand sewing

Woodwork

  • Practice with tools: saws, rasps, gouge and mallet, spoke shave, draw knife, drills, and carving knife, finishing techniques
  • Creation of spoons, bowls, simple propellers, and small boxes

Eurythmy

  • Movement in geometric patterns complement math lessons
  • Classical meters
  • Three basic elements explored: rhythm, pitch, and beat
  • Increasingly complex forms develop spatial and social awareness
  • Exercises with copper rods introduced to support posture

Games and Gym

  • Themed games based on Medieval and Ancient Roman times
  • Ball games, wide field games, and races
  • Vaulting, balancing, and tumbling skills
  • Spatial Dynamic exercises and Bothmer Gymnastics
  • Beginning self-defense and basic fitness training
  • Global Games event training

Grade 7

With emerging capacities for abstract and conceptual thinking, seventh graders are introduced to algebra and plane geometry; the interrelationship of chemical properties; and physical laws of refraction, reflection, heat, and electricity. They study the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Exploration, anatomy and physiology, and health and nutrition.

Language Arts

  • Grammatical foundations
  • Creative writing; techniques for composition, reports, poetry
  • Class play
  • Class readers, including historical fiction and biographies
  • Curriculum projects on selected topic: research, report, artistic project, and presentation skills

Mathematics

  • Algebra: order of operations; steps for solving simple equations
  • Signed numbers and powers
  • Four operations in relation to positive/negative numbers
  • Golden Proportion and Fibonacci series
  • Geometry: Centers of a triangle; the circle, pi, circumference, and area

Science

  • Physics:  mechanics, electricity, and optics
  • Astronomy: heliocentric astronomy, discoveries of major astronomers of the Renaissance
  • Chemistry: combustion, acids and bases, the carbon cycle and the lime cycle
  • Anatomy and Physiology: systems of the human body; health and nutrition; human sexuality and reproduction

Social Studies

  • Geography: Cultural geography of the world
  • History: Renaissance, Reformation, Age of Exploration

Music

  • Individuation in music, including strong and differentiated tones qualities and harmonies
  • Class orchestra and opportunities for solo performance pieces

Spanish

  • Students select either Mandarin or Spanish for concentration of study
  • Speaking: provide descriptions of people, places, likes and dislikes, food. Ten minute oral presentation about a reading or topic.
  • Oral comprehensive: Understanding of topics and vocabulary.
  • Reading: Independent reading of short stories. Comprehension through written responses.
  • Writing: Summary or essay. Emphasis on accuracy and beauty of Spanish books, including the presentation of cultural and geographic topics.
  • Grammar & Syntax: Conjugation of present test of most common irregular verbs; simple past teste (preterito). Comprehension of reflexive verbs.

Mandarin

  • Student select either Mandarin or Spanish for concentration of study. 
  • Review both Zhuyin and Pinyin alphabet systems.
  • Focus on reading more complex Chinese characters
  • Practice more advanced grammar and grammatical structures.
  • Use human anatomy as the theme to introduce more Chinese radicals and characters
  • Conversation practice amongst students and teachers
  • Creative writing exercises; writing whole paragraphs by combining different sentence structures
  • Short story reading and comprehension
  • Practice in use of Chinese / English dictionary to look up unfamiliar words
  • Chinese culture through ancient Chinese Dynasties / History and Chinese poems
  • Practice of Chinese calligraphy

Handwork

  • Wet-felted wool slippers: transformation of un-spun wool into custom fitted slippers with stitched-on leather soles. Use of carding machine.

Woodwork

  • Creation of spoons, bowls, simple propellers, and small boxes

Eurythmy

  • Large group forms, which develop sense of self and bring awareness of the individual within the whole
  • Wide variety of musical forms; gestures for each interval
  • Practice with copper rod exercises and various geometric forms

Games and Gym

  • Themed games from the Renaissance period and cultures around the world
  • Relay races, cross country running, wide field games
  • Archery, basic orienteering
  • Parkour games and challenges
  • Explorer Event training

Grade 8

Eighth graders study U.S. History, world events, and people who helped define our time. They discover the mechanical principles that led to the development of our technological society, study organic chemistry, and construct the five Platonic solids in geometry.  They take on new responsibilities for class projects,  performances, research, writing, and presentation.

Language Arts

  • Strengthen understanding of grammatical foundations
  • Development of techniques in various forms of written expression, including composition, reports, poetry, and letter writing
  • Class Play
  • Creative writing
  • Biographies and other class readers
  • Curriculum Project on topic of interest: research, written report, artistic project, and community presentation.

Mathematics

  • Algebra I: linear equations graphed on a coordinate plan, algebraic expressions simplified, equations with two unknowns
  • Reexamination of properties of numbers: commutative, associative and distributive laws
  • Geometry:  study of the five platonic solids using the Pythagorean Theorem
  • Volume and surface area of more complex shapes: cylinder, cone, pyramid, prism, and sphere.

Science

  • Physics: hydraulics, electromagnetism, and acoustics
  • Meteorology: aerodynamics
  • Chemistry: organic chemistry, focusing on processes by which substances are formed and transformed
  • Anatomy and Physiology

Social Studies

  • Geography of Africa and Asia
  • American, French, and Russian Revolutions
  • Industrial Revolution to Modern history

Spanish

  • Report and oral presentation
  • Conversational skills: descriptions or people, places, likes and dislikes
  • Reading comprehension and ability to freely re-tell passages in present tense and beginning use of past tense
  • Use of reflexive verbs, demonstrative and possessive adjectives and present progressive
  • Recitation of poetry
  • Reading comprehensive: short stories
  • Written story summaries; create own stories
  • Presentation of cultural topics

Mandarin

  • Review both Zhuyin and Pinyin alphabet systems
  • Focus on reading more complex Chinese characters
  • Practice more advanced grammar and grammatical structures
  • Use human anatomy as the theme to introduce more Chinese radicals and characters
  • Conversation practice amongst students and teachers
  • Creative writing exercises; writing whole paragraphs by combining different sentence structures
  • Short story reading and comprehension
  • Practice in use of Chinese / English dictionary to look up unfamiliar words
  • Chinese culture through ancient Chinese Dynasties / History and Chinese poems
  • Practice of Chinese calligraphy

Music

  • Singing in harmonies; playing, and singing music in triple meter
  • Class orchestra and opportunities for solo performance

Handwork

  • Machine sewing pajamas: shopping for flannels; directional prints; use of grain lines
  • Straight and curved stitch lines, controlled reverse and zig-zag stitching, elastic casing, hems, and pockets

Woodwork

  • Construction of a simple, four-legged stool

Eurythmy

  • Instruction from the High School Eurythmy Teacher
  • Movement to poetry and exploration of spoken word with consonants, vowels, gestures, character, and mood
  • Study of a musical piece – pitch, intervals, rhythm, and tones

Games and Gym

  • Themed games from cultures around the modern and urban games
  • Spatial Dynamics and Bothmer Gymnastics
  • Parkour games and challenges, fitness training, track meet training
  • Warm up exercises, skill development activities, and stretching

Inside upper grades

Voices of our community

Geometry main lesson, a student illustration.

“When I look at the work of these young people - the exquisite lesson books, the dazzling pastel paintings, the crocheted hats and knitted socks, the museum quality three-legged stools - when I hear their chamber music, catch them rapping, in Mandarin when they think no one is listening... I think, how very talented are every one of their teachers.”

Hands of a child kitting

Oberlin College
The Presidio Graduate School

“When I think about my education, I always come back to the knitting. It is a metaphor for building an interconnected web. It uses the hands, but takes focus and intelligence. A meeting of cognitive skill and physical dexterity - it's gotta be good for the brain!" Read more

Karin Narita in cap and gown in front of the sign of Queen Mary, University of Longon

London School of Economics and Political Science
PhD Candidate, Queen Mary, University of London

“In grade school, my teacher inspired in me and my classmates a love of learning and a wonder at the workings of the world around us. These are both things I carry with me.”  Read more

Children draw forms on the chalkboard.

“Children learn to draw these incredibly intricate and beautiful patterns called Form Drawings. The teacher explained that these are a connection to writing, reading, geometry, and so on. It was hard to understand at the time, but now that our child is in high school, we see the impact.”  

Olivia Skyaasen stands in front of a Red Cross vehicle during a humanitarian mission.

International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva
London School of Economics and Political Science

"The teachers know you and recognize something in you... the person that you might become.  My teacher identified, correctly and early on, that justice and fairness were essential to me."  Read more

    

Teacher Alyssa Stellar in front of the class during main lesson

“The most spectacular parts of teaching are seeing the children blossom and learning from the rich experiences of my colleagues. I am constantly grateful for their dedication to this movement and our school. They are world-class models of how to educate and prepare children to meet the world.”