Lower School

In Keystone’s K-4 Lower School, children embark on their educational adventure as we strive to nurture their emotional, social, and intellectual development.

Our accelerated academic program is aligned across subjects and builds upon itself over the years, with high standards and benchmarks established for each grade level and an integrated approach to technology. While our academic program is challenging, our teaching approach celebrates the joys of childhood with an eye on developmental stages and includes learning through play and experiences outside of the traditional classroom.

We care about the whole child. In addition to teaching children how to be good students, we want them to learn how to be good people.

With age-appropriate strategies and conversations, we encourage students to think about their actions as they progress academically, and we empower children to work out problems with each other whenever possible.

Our counselors oversee the Social and Emotional Learning program, and regularly visit classrooms and lead lessons in topics such as perseverance, good sportsmanship and mindfulness. We also recognize good character in a number of ways:

  • Recognizing individual students on a wall for outstanding positive actions
  • Cobra Badge stickers when students go out of their way to help other students
  • Giving students public recognition in Lower School assemblies

COMPASSION, COURAGE, CONNECTION AND CREATIVITY

We teach the 4 Cs of Compassion, Courage, Connection and Creativity. As educators, we strive to find opportunities in daily experiences to reinforce these qualities. We put them into practice every day with appropriate behavior on the playground. We offer Cobra Dos and Don’ts to emphasize appropriate behavior with others, how to avoid bullying and recognize it when it happens.  We value inclusivity and the importance of empathy.

When students’ behavior falls short of expectations, we incorporate “think sheets,” where students reflect on their actions, what they could have done differently and we ask them to talk with their parents to reinforce the character lessons they learned at school.

At Keystone, we practice the growth mindset and know that stumbles are necessary steps on the road to mastery. Author and educator Barney Saltzberg refers to a “Beautiful Oops,” and we see mistakes as moments that can be made into something beautiful, a learning moment or “oopertunity”.

In addition to Beautiful Oops, teachers read other stories to and with their students that connect them to something bigger than themselves.

  • Kindergarten students read about the lives of schoolchildren halfway around the world in Rain School
  • First graders explore rainforest conservation in The Great Kapok Tree
  • Second graders read the classic Charlotte’s Web.
  • Third grade students read and hear many stories about the Civil Rights movement, and make their own connections to their developing sense of justice and equity.
  • Fourth grade students read about World War II-era heroism in Number The Stars, as they are develop into more reflective young people, and experience literature as a catalyst for perspective.

We believe there is great power in literature and we do our best to harness that power for good and reiterate that our students are not too young to have an impact on and in our world.

LEADERSHIP

Leadership lessons begin in Lower School, because we believe that even our youngest students can be leaders.  There are many ways to lead others and we want our children to understand that they can be leaders for good.

In Lower School, fourth-grade leadership groups meet weekly to learn communications skills, problem solving, decision making and sharing responsibility with peers and adults. They make decisions that affect their peers and learn to assist school staff in their roles as carpool patrols, when parents pick up their children from school.

Leaders are encouraged to listen to and understand the needs in our school community act upon those needs. Past groups have:

  • Created a “Buddy Bench” for the playground
  • Created and shared iMovies on proper play on the playground
  • Renamed the soccer field to The Cobra Court so that it could be a more inclusive space to play
  • Collected canned goods to donate to the San Antonio Food Bank
  • Worked in partnership with the Upper School’s National Honor Society and Foreign Language Club on a clothing drive to benefit SAMMinistries
  • Run a book drive to benefit San Antonio Youth Literacy’s Book Buddies Program
  • Leadership students often speak at Lower School monthly assemblies about topics related to the Keystone community

The overall goals for kindergarten through second grade are to establish strong foundations of conceptual understanding and academic skill development that will enable students to build upon future learning experiences. Beginning in the early years, we assist students in becoming independent learners and workers.

Third and fourth grades bring deeper and more abstract connections to previously mastered concepts and skills, with the aim of developing greater independence as learners and the ability work cooperatively and resolve conflicts. Fourth grade builds on a student’s developing independence, organizational skills and study habits.    

Across all grade levels students practice critical thinking and conflict resolution as they learn to transition, work in groups, and be respectful of themselves and their peers.

READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS

K-4 students work with increasingly complex text as they move up the grade levels, building comprehension, vocabulary, and word knowledge along the way.

Kindergartners develop reading fluency as they learn to comprehend various text structures, master sight words, and recognize spelling patterns that assist them in decoding words. First graders deepen their comprehension skills reading increasingly longer text while continuing to work on word work. Second graders become more confident and fluent readers as they learn through novel studies which are read independently and by the teacher. Word work in second grade moves into structural analysis as readers encounter multisyllabic words and more irregular spelling patterns.

K-2 students journey through Writing Workshop, writing in genres that include narrative, informational, persuasive, and poetry and by experiencing writing as a recursive process.

Third and Fourth graders dive into extended novel studies, continuing the journey through  Writing Workshop with narrative writing, informational writing, persuasive writing and poetry with a deeper understanding of revision and editing and a developing fluidity between teacher and peer conferencing.  Students have the opportunity to use both print and cursive writing as well as keyboarding for written expression.

MATH

Grades K-2 utilize a hands-on, problem-solving approach to build understanding and reasoning skills in numeration and operations, patterns and relationships, geometry and spatial reasoning, measurement, and exploration of data and chance. Using manipulatives and number symbols, the program provides links between symbolic arithmetic statements and the concrete world. It develops a strong foundation in skills and concepts so that students learn to investigate, reason, explain, and apply mathematical ideas.

In grades 3-4, the program focuses on mastery of computation using the four operations and comparing and ordering fractions and decimals. Students perform complex computations, working with whole numbers, decimals, and fractions, and apply their skills to solve routine and non-routine problems.

Word problems are embedded in the program which give students the opportunity and challenge to demonstrate their skill proficiency and knowledge of concepts as well as their ability to think critically.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Social studies begin with placing children in the context of their families and communities in Kindergarten and broadens to first graders exploring the continents of the world and their impact in it.  In second grade students study the regions of the United States and have an introduction to economics.

In third grade social studies focuses on Texas, with units on the regions of the state, native tribes, the Spanish missions in San Antonio, the Texas Revolution, Texas as a nation and a state, life in Texas during the Civil War and Reconstruction, Texas during World War II, the Civil Rights Movement and Texas in the 21st century.

Fourth grade social studies emphasizes the history of the United States with units examining the First Americans of the Southwest, the Northwest coast, the Arctic, the Plains and the Eastern woodlands, exploration and early settlement; the colonization of the Americas, and the American Revolution.

Third and Fourth graders build on their knowledge and skills of note-taking, researching, summarizing and using charts and graphs.

SCIENCE

All grade levels use hands-on, project-based learning for Science units. Units of study include Scientific investigation and reasoning, life science, earth science and physical science.

Science progresses from units such as the five senses and exploring the solar system in kindergarten to layers of the earth in first grade, to exploring the water cycle and creating simple machines in second grade.

In third grade, students begin to dig into the scientific method, participate in Science Fair for the first time, and study rocks, minerals, biomes and the food chain.

In fourth grade science, students analyze and interpret data, plan and carry out investigations and engage in argument from evidence in units that include the human body, botany, engineering and weather/climate.

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION

We believe that learning technology should take place in the context of the curriculum and activities. Our goal is for students to be able to use appropriate technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. For example, students would use laptops and/or iPads to access Google Earth for a project on regions around the world and learn how to open, navigate and use a program, search within a program and save data, while learning the geography lessons.

Students learn keyboarding, principles of programming and robotics throughout their Lower School experience.

In age-appropriate lessons in K-4, students learn digital citizenship — how to be safe and behave appropriately while using technology or online spaces.

Lower School Specials

Throughout Lower School, students supplement their academics with enrichment opportunities that include theater, music, Spanish, studio art, library and physical education. Keystone also recognizes the need for unstructured play with young children, and so all lower school students have recess time daily. More >

In the Lower School, students broaden their academic lessons with activities that strengthen their creativity, inquisitiveness and physical abilities. The lessons students gain in these activities are every bit as important as the classroom academics.

ART

Students learn Elements of Art and Principles of Design by using different forms of media

READ MORE

LIBRARY

The library routine includes a lesson, independent time and book check-out, and silent reading

READ MORE

MUSIC

Students attend music twice a week and learn through group participation and experimentation

READ MORE

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Lower School students have P.E. daily for 30 minutes

READ MORE

SPANISH

Basic introduction to Spanish language

READ MORE

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION

An integral part of a classroom and important classroom tool

READ MORE

THEATRE

Provides students with a safe, supportive, inclusive and nurturing environment

READ MORE

ART

Lower School students attend art once a week for one 50-minute class once a week. We aim to build an appreciation of the art making process and a solid understanding of vocabulary, concepts, techniques, routines and procedures that will be built on as the child progresses through school. Students learn Elements of Art and Principles of Design by using different forms of media (drawing, painting, sculpting, printmaking mixed media and others).

Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade: Projects are normally completed in one to two class periods with a lot of guided practice. Students engage in exploration and imaginative play in the art-making process through experimentation and building skills through various forms of traditional and non-traditional media.

Third and Fourth Grade: Projects normally are completed between two and six class periods. Students apply knowledge of available resources, tools, and technologies to create more unique, personalized creations by elaborating on imaginative ideas and adding additional details to enhance emerging meaning, while using a variety of media and artistic processes. Students are given more freedom and choice during the creation process and selected subject matter to highlight each individual student’s voice, emerging identity and developing style. Lessons involve more advanced artistic techniques and concepts, core subject themes, art and art history, and the abstract. Peer critique, constructive criticism, and teacher evaluations are introduced to offer ways to improve or offer alternative approaches/and or ideas.

LIBRARY

Students in grades Kindergarten through fourth grade come to library once per week for sixty minutes. The library routine includes a lesson, independent time and book check-out, and silent reading.

In Kindergarten, students learn to:

  • find fiction and nonfiction books in the library
  • understand the process of checking out and returning books
  • log in to library laptops
  • use programs such as Tumblebooks and Starfall

In First Grade, students learn to:

  • find books on the fiction bridge shelves (short chapter books)
  • go to the Keystone Library website, log into databases, and locate Britannica and World Book

In Second Grade, students learn to:

  • locate books using the library catalog and write down call numbers
  • have a working understanding of the Dewey Decimal System
  • log into Keystone databases and locate and use Britannica Elementary, World Book Kids, Facts on File Geography and Culture, and CultureGrams States Edition

In Third Grade, students learn to:

  • locate books by their call numbers
  • log into Keystone databases and locate and use ProQuest SIRS and World Book Student

In Fourth Grade:

  • Students proficiently navigate the library website, using the catalog to locate books and the library databases for research.
  • All students are expected to follow library norms for quiet talk and silent reading.

Keystone’s library also hosts two Book Fairs each year and brings children’s authors to campus for readings, visits and activities.

MUSIC

Lower School students attend music twice a week and learn through group participation and experimentation. Beginning in Kindergarten and proceeding through Fourth Grade, students develop skills to:

  • Sing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music
    • Beginning in Kindergarten, students will sing independently on pitch and in rhythm, with appropriate timbre, diction, and posture, and maintaining a steady tempo.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will sing in groups, blend vocal timbres, match dynamic levels and respond to the cues of a conductor, and performing some songs from memory.
  • Perform on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will perform on pitch and in rhythm, with appropriate dynamics and timbre, and maintain a steady tempo.
    • By the end of 4th Grade students will perform independent instrumental parts while other students sing or play contrasting parts. Among the instruments they play: Xylophones, Tubanos, Ukuleles, Recorders
  • Improvise melodies, variations, and accompaniments
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will improvise “answers” in the same style given rhythmic and melodic phrases.
    • By the end of 4th Grade students will improvise short songs and instrumental pieces, using a variety of sound sources including traditional and nontraditional sounds available in the classroom, body sounds, and sounds produced by electronic means.
  • Compose and arrange music within specified guidelines
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will create and arrange music to accompany readings or dramatizations.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will use a variety of sound sources when composing.
  • Read and notate music
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will read whole, half, dotted half, quarter, and eighth notes and rests in 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 meter signatures.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will use standard symbols to notate meter, rhythm, pitch, and dynamics in simple patterns presented by the teacher.
  • Listen to, analyze and describe music
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will identify simple music forms when presented aurally.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will use appropriate terminology in explaining music, music notation, music instruments and voices, and music performances.
  • Evaluate music and music performances
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students devise criteria for evaluating performances and compositions.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will explain, using appropriate music terminology, their personal preferences for specific musical works and styles.
  • Identify relationships between music and other disciplines including those outside of the arts
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will identify similarities and differences in the meaning of common terms used in various art forms.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will identify ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with those of music.
  • Understand music in relation to history and culture
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will identify by genre or style aural examples of music from various historical periods and cultures.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will demonstrate audience behavior appropriate for the context and style of music performed.

Symphony Field trips begin in 2nd Grade and continue through 4th Grade.

All Lower School students perform annually at the Grandparents/friend Day (Fall) and Spring Fling.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Lower School students have P.E. daily for 30 minutes so students can:

  • Develop gross motor abilities, skills, and coordination.
  • Demonstrate responsibility and respect for themselves and others.
  • Maintain physical fitness for a healthy life.
  • Have a learning environment which supports growth, enthusiasm, and success for all students.
  • Actively participate and engage in individual and team activities.

Students in grades K-2 will learn: Jumping rope, basketball skills, soccer skills, volleyball skills, throwing and catching, running, jumping, landing, skipping, galloping, general and self-space. Students will also learn social skills and problem solving when taking part in cooperative activities and games.

Students in third and fourth grades take skills learned in K-2 and apply them in sports-related games. They also work on team concepts and engage in 3-week units of a given sport. We want P.E. to be a positive experience, regardless of individual athletic ability.

In the Spring, lower school students also participate in Lower School Field Day on campus. Students will be divided into teams with a designated team color, and travel throughout the school competing in numerous fun-filled activities.

SPANISH

The goal of Lower School Spanish is to introduce and practice basic Spanish language in a variety of ways during weekly sessions.

Kindergarten: Curricular activities consist of songs and rhymes as well as writing, reading, cutting, pasting, coloring and conversational units. Topics include:

  • Greetings (Hello and Goodbye)
  • Know how to ask What’s your name? Where are you? How are you? etc…
  • Numbers, Colors, Shapes, Days of the week, Months of the year, Opposites,
  • Weather, Body parts, some food items, Things around the classroom,
  • Things around the house, Clothes, Transportation, ABC’s, Animals, Feelings and more.

First Grade: By the end of 1st-grade students should be able to sing songs and recite easy phrases in Spanish. They will:

  • Recognize sound and pronunciation different from English.
  • To hear & respond to simple directions.
  • Receive an introduction to a Hispanic country. (Argentina)
  • To produce oral language by singing, reading poetry and acting out skits.
  • To respond orally with learned words and phrases.

Second Grade: By the end of 2nd grade students should be able to respond to simple questions and write, by sounding out, Spanish vocabulary words from their workbook. They will:

  • Receive an introduction to a Hispanic country. (Chile)
  • Review acquired skills by repetition.
  • Expand listening & responding skills to directions in Spanish.
  • To produce oral language by singing, reading and acting out skits.
  • Introduction to simple writing.
  • Interaction with peers using taught questions and answers.

Third Grade: By the end of 3rd grade students should be able to interact with peers by introducing themselves and others. They will:

  • Receive an introduction to a Hispanic country. (Venezuela)
  • Review acquired skills by repetition.
  • Expand listening & responding skills to directions in Spanish.
  • To produce oral language by singing, reading and acting out skits. Learning to describe oneself in the form of an oral presentation and writing the presentations as a short essay in Spanish.
  • Interaction with peers using acquired vocabulary by playing different types of games.

Fourth Grade: By the end of 4th grade, students should be able to understand basic Spanish grammar and apply it by way of writing and speaking. They will:

  • Receive an introduction to a Hispanic country. (Peru).
  • Review acquired skills by repetition.
  • Take on the responsibility of becoming independent learners by creating their own study notebooks.
  • Guiding students on foreign language note taking and study skills.
  • Interaction with peers using learned vocabulary, phrases and questions in Spanish.
  • Introduction to Spanish grammar such as infinitive verbs, conjugation, definite & indefinite articles, grammar definitions, numbers, dates, grammatical marks, gender and noun pluralization.

THEATRE

The Keystone theatre program provides students with a safe, supportive, inclusive and nurturing environment. Motivated students are encouraged to take creative risks and use their critical thinking skills as they develop into poised, confident, resilient, and empathetic leaders.

The number one expectation as the students create, work and perform in the classroom on and off stage or the play space is SAFETY FIRST. The students are reminded to practice physical and emotional safety for themselves and their peers as well as keeping the play space safe while exploring dramatic expression.

Grades 1-4: Students attend theatre once a week in the theatre loft for 50 minutes. Each grade level presents a play or musical at the end of the semester for families and friends. Whenever possible, theater instructors align the play themes and subjects with grade level curriculum.

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION

We believe that technology should not be taught in isolation. Therefore, in lieu of a weekly computer class, technology instruction will be planned for and then infused into the curriculum at all grade levels in classrooms and in the Lab. Technology is treated as an integral part of a classroom and an important classroom tool. The focus in each lesson or unit is the curriculum outcome, not the technology.

Equipment: Each grade level has a set of iPads and keyboards. The computer lab contains laptops, MacBooks, and robots.

Learning computer skills: Skills are taught and integrated in the context of core content/curriculum and activities. For example, as students are learning about regions around the world they will use laptops and/or iPads to access Google Earth. In the context of this lesson, they learn to open programs, how to search within a program, saving data, navigating and using a computer program.

Programming: At the appropriate age, students will use Scratch Jr., Scratch, Code.org and Dot & Dash Robots.

Keyboarding: In addition to integrated lessons, all 1st-4th students will also have access to a keyboarding program that teachers incorporate this into their weekly classroom instructional plans.

Digital Citizenship:  Students learn how to behave appropriately while using technology and/or using online spaces.

Culture & Community

We care about the whole child. In addition to teaching children how to be good students, we want them to learn how to be good people.

With age-appropriate strategies and conversations, we encourage students to think about their actions as they progress academically, and we empower children to work out problems with each other whenever possible.

Our counselors oversee the Social and Emotional Learning program, and regularly visit classrooms and lead lessons in topics such as perseverance, good sportsmanship and mindfulness. We also recognize good character in a number of ways:

  • Recognizing individual students on a wall for outstanding positive actions
  • Cobra Badge stickers when students go out of their way to help other students
  • Giving students public recognition in Lower School assemblies

COMPASSION, COURAGE, CONNECTION AND CREATIVITY

We teach the 4 Cs of Compassion, Courage, Connection and Creativity. As educators, we strive to find opportunities in daily experiences to reinforce these qualities. We put them into practice every day with appropriate behavior on the playground. We offer Cobra Dos and Don’ts to emphasize appropriate behavior with others, how to avoid bullying and recognize it when it happens.  We value inclusivity and the importance of empathy.

When students’ behavior falls short of expectations, we incorporate “think sheets,” where students reflect on their actions, what they could have done differently and we ask them to talk with their parents to reinforce the character lessons they learned at school.

At Keystone, we practice the growth mindset and know that stumbles are necessary steps on the road to mastery. Author and educator Barney Saltzberg refers to a “Beautiful Oops,” and we see mistakes as moments that can be made into something beautiful, a learning moment or “oopertunity”.

In addition to Beautiful Oops, teachers read other stories to and with their students that connect them to something bigger than themselves.

  • Kindergarten students read about the lives of schoolchildren halfway around the world in Rain School
  • First graders explore rainforest conservation in The Great Kapok Tree
  • Second graders read the classic Charlotte’s Web.
  • Third grade students read and hear many stories about the Civil Rights movement, and make their own connections to their developing sense of justice and equity.
  • Fourth grade students read about World War II-era heroism in Number The Stars, as they are develop into more reflective young people, and experience literature as a catalyst for perspective.

We believe there is great power in literature and we do our best to harness that power for good and reiterate that our students are not too young to have an impact on and in our world.

LEADERSHIP

Leadership lessons begin in Lower School, because we believe that even our youngest students can be leaders.  There are many ways to lead others and we want our children to understand that they can be leaders for good.

In Lower School, fourth-grade leadership groups meet weekly to learn communications skills, problem solving, decision making and sharing responsibility with peers and adults. They make decisions that affect their peers and learn to assist school staff in their roles as carpool patrols, when parents pick up their children from school.

Leaders are encouraged to listen to and understand the needs in our school community act upon those needs. Past groups have:

  • Created a “Buddy Bench” for the playground
  • Created and shared iMovies on proper play on the playground
  • Renamed the soccer field to The Cobra Court so that it could be a more inclusive space to play
  • Collected canned goods to donate to the San Antonio Food Bank
  • Worked in partnership with the Upper School’s National Honor Society and Foreign Language Club on a clothing drive to benefit SAMMinistries
  • Run a book drive to benefit San Antonio Youth Literacy’s Book Buddies Program
  • Leadership students often speak at Lower School monthly assemblies about topics related to the Keystone community
Academic Excellence

The overall goals for kindergarten through second grade are to establish strong foundations of conceptual understanding and academic skill development that will enable students to build upon future learning experiences. Beginning in the early years, we assist students in becoming independent learners and workers.

Third and fourth grades bring deeper and more abstract connections to previously mastered concepts and skills, with the aim of developing greater independence as learners and the ability work cooperatively and resolve conflicts. Fourth grade builds on a student’s developing independence, organizational skills and study habits.    

Across all grade levels students practice critical thinking and conflict resolution as they learn to transition, work in groups, and be respectful of themselves and their peers.

READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS

K-4 students work with increasingly complex text as they move up the grade levels, building comprehension, vocabulary, and word knowledge along the way.

Kindergartners develop reading fluency as they learn to comprehend various text structures, master sight words, and recognize spelling patterns that assist them in decoding words. First graders deepen their comprehension skills reading increasingly longer text while continuing to work on word work. Second graders become more confident and fluent readers as they learn through novel studies which are read independently and by the teacher. Word work in second grade moves into structural analysis as readers encounter multisyllabic words and more irregular spelling patterns.

K-2 students journey through Writing Workshop, writing in genres that include narrative, informational, persuasive, and poetry and by experiencing writing as a recursive process.

Third and Fourth graders dive into extended novel studies, continuing the journey through  Writing Workshop with narrative writing, informational writing, persuasive writing and poetry with a deeper understanding of revision and editing and a developing fluidity between teacher and peer conferencing.  Students have the opportunity to use both print and cursive writing as well as keyboarding for written expression.

MATH

Grades K-2 utilize a hands-on, problem-solving approach to build understanding and reasoning skills in numeration and operations, patterns and relationships, geometry and spatial reasoning, measurement, and exploration of data and chance. Using manipulatives and number symbols, the program provides links between symbolic arithmetic statements and the concrete world. It develops a strong foundation in skills and concepts so that students learn to investigate, reason, explain, and apply mathematical ideas.

In grades 3-4, the program focuses on mastery of computation using the four operations and comparing and ordering fractions and decimals. Students perform complex computations, working with whole numbers, decimals, and fractions, and apply their skills to solve routine and non-routine problems.

Word problems are embedded in the program which give students the opportunity and challenge to demonstrate their skill proficiency and knowledge of concepts as well as their ability to think critically.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Social studies begin with placing children in the context of their families and communities in Kindergarten and broadens to first graders exploring the continents of the world and their impact in it.  In second grade students study the regions of the United States and have an introduction to economics.

In third grade social studies focuses on Texas, with units on the regions of the state, native tribes, the Spanish missions in San Antonio, the Texas Revolution, Texas as a nation and a state, life in Texas during the Civil War and Reconstruction, Texas during World War II, the Civil Rights Movement and Texas in the 21st century.

Fourth grade social studies emphasizes the history of the United States with units examining the First Americans of the Southwest, the Northwest coast, the Arctic, the Plains and the Eastern woodlands, exploration and early settlement; the colonization of the Americas, and the American Revolution.

Third and Fourth graders build on their knowledge and skills of note-taking, researching, summarizing and using charts and graphs.

SCIENCE

All grade levels use hands-on, project-based learning for Science units. Units of study include Scientific investigation and reasoning, life science, earth science and physical science.

Science progresses from units such as the five senses and exploring the solar system in kindergarten to layers of the earth in first grade, to exploring the water cycle and creating simple machines in second grade.

In third grade, students begin to dig into the scientific method, participate in Science Fair for the first time, and study rocks, minerals, biomes and the food chain.

In fourth grade science, students analyze and interpret data, plan and carry out investigations and engage in argument from evidence in units that include the human body, botany, engineering and weather/climate.

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION

We believe that learning technology should take place in the context of the curriculum and activities. Our goal is for students to be able to use appropriate technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. For example, students would use laptops and/or iPads to access Google Earth for a project on regions around the world and learn how to open, navigate and use a program, search within a program and save data, while learning the geography lessons.

Students learn keyboarding, principles of programming and robotics throughout their Lower School experience.

In age-appropriate lessons in K-4, students learn digital citizenship — how to be safe and behave appropriately while using technology or online spaces.

Lower School Specials

Throughout Lower School, students supplement their academics with enrichment opportunities that include theater, music, Spanish, studio art, library and physical education. Keystone also recognizes the need for unstructured play with young children, and so all lower school students have recess time daily. More >

Lower School Specials

In the Lower School, students broaden their academic lessons with activities that strengthen their creativity, inquisitiveness and physical abilities. The lessons students gain in these activities are every bit as important as the classroom academics.

ART

Students learn Elements of Art and Principles of Design by using different forms of media

READ MORE

LIBRARY

The library routine includes a lesson, independent time and book check-out, and silent reading

READ MORE

MUSIC

Students attend music twice a week and learn through group participation and experimentation

READ MORE

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Lower School students have P.E. daily for 30 minutes

READ MORE

SPANISH

Basic introduction to Spanish language

READ MORE

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION

An integral part of a classroom and important classroom tool

READ MORE

THEATRE

Provides students with a safe, supportive, inclusive and nurturing environment

READ MORE

ART

Lower School students attend art once a week for one 50-minute class once a week. We aim to build an appreciation of the art making process and a solid understanding of vocabulary, concepts, techniques, routines and procedures that will be built on as the child progresses through school. Students learn Elements of Art and Principles of Design by using different forms of media (drawing, painting, sculpting, printmaking mixed media and others).

Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade: Projects are normally completed in one to two class periods with a lot of guided practice. Students engage in exploration and imaginative play in the art-making process through experimentation and building skills through various forms of traditional and non-traditional media.

Third and Fourth Grade: Projects normally are completed between two and six class periods. Students apply knowledge of available resources, tools, and technologies to create more unique, personalized creations by elaborating on imaginative ideas and adding additional details to enhance emerging meaning, while using a variety of media and artistic processes. Students are given more freedom and choice during the creation process and selected subject matter to highlight each individual student’s voice, emerging identity and developing style. Lessons involve more advanced artistic techniques and concepts, core subject themes, art and art history, and the abstract. Peer critique, constructive criticism, and teacher evaluations are introduced to offer ways to improve or offer alternative approaches/and or ideas.

LIBRARY

Students in grades Kindergarten through fourth grade come to library once per week for sixty minutes. The library routine includes a lesson, independent time and book check-out, and silent reading.

In Kindergarten, students learn to:

  • find fiction and nonfiction books in the library
  • understand the process of checking out and returning books
  • log in to library laptops
  • use programs such as Tumblebooks and Starfall

In First Grade, students learn to:

  • find books on the fiction bridge shelves (short chapter books)
  • go to the Keystone Library website, log into databases, and locate Britannica and World Book

In Second Grade, students learn to:

  • locate books using the library catalog and write down call numbers
  • have a working understanding of the Dewey Decimal System
  • log into Keystone databases and locate and use Britannica Elementary, World Book Kids, Facts on File Geography and Culture, and CultureGrams States Edition

In Third Grade, students learn to:

  • locate books by their call numbers
  • log into Keystone databases and locate and use ProQuest SIRS and World Book Student

In Fourth Grade:

  • Students proficiently navigate the library website, using the catalog to locate books and the library databases for research.
  • All students are expected to follow library norms for quiet talk and silent reading.

Keystone’s library also hosts two Book Fairs each year and brings children’s authors to campus for readings, visits and activities.

MUSIC

Lower School students attend music twice a week and learn through group participation and experimentation. Beginning in Kindergarten and proceeding through Fourth Grade, students develop skills to:

  • Sing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music
    • Beginning in Kindergarten, students will sing independently on pitch and in rhythm, with appropriate timbre, diction, and posture, and maintaining a steady tempo.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will sing in groups, blend vocal timbres, match dynamic levels and respond to the cues of a conductor, and performing some songs from memory.
  • Perform on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will perform on pitch and in rhythm, with appropriate dynamics and timbre, and maintain a steady tempo.
    • By the end of 4th Grade students will perform independent instrumental parts while other students sing or play contrasting parts. Among the instruments they play: Xylophones, Tubanos, Ukuleles, Recorders
  • Improvise melodies, variations, and accompaniments
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will improvise “answers” in the same style given rhythmic and melodic phrases.
    • By the end of 4th Grade students will improvise short songs and instrumental pieces, using a variety of sound sources including traditional and nontraditional sounds available in the classroom, body sounds, and sounds produced by electronic means.
  • Compose and arrange music within specified guidelines
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will create and arrange music to accompany readings or dramatizations.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will use a variety of sound sources when composing.
  • Read and notate music
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will read whole, half, dotted half, quarter, and eighth notes and rests in 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 meter signatures.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will use standard symbols to notate meter, rhythm, pitch, and dynamics in simple patterns presented by the teacher.
  • Listen to, analyze and describe music
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will identify simple music forms when presented aurally.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will use appropriate terminology in explaining music, music notation, music instruments and voices, and music performances.
  • Evaluate music and music performances
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students devise criteria for evaluating performances and compositions.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will explain, using appropriate music terminology, their personal preferences for specific musical works and styles.
  • Identify relationships between music and other disciplines including those outside of the arts
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will identify similarities and differences in the meaning of common terms used in various art forms.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will identify ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with those of music.
  • Understand music in relation to history and culture
    • Beginning in Kindergarten students will identify by genre or style aural examples of music from various historical periods and cultures.
    • By the end of 4th Grade, students will demonstrate audience behavior appropriate for the context and style of music performed.

Symphony Field trips begin in 2nd Grade and continue through 4th Grade.

All Lower School students perform annually at the Grandparents/friend Day (Fall) and Spring Fling.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Lower School students have P.E. daily for 30 minutes so students can:

  • Develop gross motor abilities, skills, and coordination.
  • Demonstrate responsibility and respect for themselves and others.
  • Maintain physical fitness for a healthy life.
  • Have a learning environment which supports growth, enthusiasm, and success for all students.
  • Actively participate and engage in individual and team activities.

Students in grades K-2 will learn: Jumping rope, basketball skills, soccer skills, volleyball skills, throwing and catching, running, jumping, landing, skipping, galloping, general and self-space. Students will also learn social skills and problem solving when taking part in cooperative activities and games.

Students in third and fourth grades take skills learned in K-2 and apply them in sports-related games. They also work on team concepts and engage in 3-week units of a given sport. We want P.E. to be a positive experience, regardless of individual athletic ability.

In the Spring, lower school students also participate in Lower School Field Day on campus. Students will be divided into teams with a designated team color, and travel throughout the school competing in numerous fun-filled activities.

SPANISH

The goal of Lower School Spanish is to introduce and practice basic Spanish language in a variety of ways during weekly sessions.

Kindergarten: Curricular activities consist of songs and rhymes as well as writing, reading, cutting, pasting, coloring and conversational units. Topics include:

  • Greetings (Hello and Goodbye)
  • Know how to ask What’s your name? Where are you? How are you? etc…
  • Numbers, Colors, Shapes, Days of the week, Months of the year, Opposites,
  • Weather, Body parts, some food items, Things around the classroom,
  • Things around the house, Clothes, Transportation, ABC’s, Animals, Feelings and more.

First Grade: By the end of 1st-grade students should be able to sing songs and recite easy phrases in Spanish. They will:

  • Recognize sound and pronunciation different from English.
  • To hear & respond to simple directions.
  • Receive an introduction to a Hispanic country. (Argentina)
  • To produce oral language by singing, reading poetry and acting out skits.
  • To respond orally with learned words and phrases.

Second Grade: By the end of 2nd grade students should be able to respond to simple questions and write, by sounding out, Spanish vocabulary words from their workbook. They will:

  • Receive an introduction to a Hispanic country. (Chile)
  • Review acquired skills by repetition.
  • Expand listening & responding skills to directions in Spanish.
  • To produce oral language by singing, reading and acting out skits.
  • Introduction to simple writing.
  • Interaction with peers using taught questions and answers.

Third Grade: By the end of 3rd grade students should be able to interact with peers by introducing themselves and others. They will:

  • Receive an introduction to a Hispanic country. (Venezuela)
  • Review acquired skills by repetition.
  • Expand listening & responding skills to directions in Spanish.
  • To produce oral language by singing, reading and acting out skits. Learning to describe oneself in the form of an oral presentation and writing the presentations as a short essay in Spanish.
  • Interaction with peers using acquired vocabulary by playing different types of games.

Fourth Grade: By the end of 4th grade, students should be able to understand basic Spanish grammar and apply it by way of writing and speaking. They will:

  • Receive an introduction to a Hispanic country. (Peru).
  • Review acquired skills by repetition.
  • Take on the responsibility of becoming independent learners by creating their own study notebooks.
  • Guiding students on foreign language note taking and study skills.
  • Interaction with peers using learned vocabulary, phrases and questions in Spanish.
  • Introduction to Spanish grammar such as infinitive verbs, conjugation, definite & indefinite articles, grammar definitions, numbers, dates, grammatical marks, gender and noun pluralization.

THEATRE

The Keystone theatre program provides students with a safe, supportive, inclusive and nurturing environment. Motivated students are encouraged to take creative risks and use their critical thinking skills as they develop into poised, confident, resilient, and empathetic leaders.

The number one expectation as the students create, work and perform in the classroom on and off stage or the play space is SAFETY FIRST. The students are reminded to practice physical and emotional safety for themselves and their peers as well as keeping the play space safe while exploring dramatic expression.

Grades 1-4: Students attend theatre once a week in the theatre loft for 50 minutes. Each grade level presents a play or musical at the end of the semester for families and friends. Whenever possible, theater instructors align the play themes and subjects with grade level curriculum.

TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION

We believe that technology should not be taught in isolation. Therefore, in lieu of a weekly computer class, technology instruction will be planned for and then infused into the curriculum at all grade levels in classrooms and in the Lab. Technology is treated as an integral part of a classroom and an important classroom tool. The focus in each lesson or unit is the curriculum outcome, not the technology.

Equipment: Each grade level has a set of iPads and keyboards. The computer lab contains laptops, MacBooks, and robots.

Learning computer skills: Skills are taught and integrated in the context of core content/curriculum and activities. For example, as students are learning about regions around the world they will use laptops and/or iPads to access Google Earth. In the context of this lesson, they learn to open programs, how to search within a program, saving data, navigating and using a computer program.

Programming: At the appropriate age, students will use Scratch Jr., Scratch, Code.org and Dot & Dash Robots.

Keyboarding: In addition to integrated lessons, all 1st-4th students will also have access to a keyboarding program that teachers incorporate this into their weekly classroom instructional plans.

Digital Citizenship:  Students learn how to behave appropriately while using technology and/or using online spaces.