Lower School (K-5)
The goals of the Lower School are to nurture each child's strengths and sense of competence, to help develop a sensitivity to others, and to encourage each child to take pleasure in being a member of the community. The curriculum fosters self-reliance and self-esteem; stimulates curiosity, creativity, and a love for learning; and builds enthusiasm for excellence and achievement. Academic areas emphasized in the Lower School include reading, writing, math, and social studies, complemented by instruction in science, engineering, Spanish, art, drama, music, computer and library skills, and physical education. By integrating related activities in various fields of study, students begin to make and appreciate valuable cross-disciplinary connections while broadening their knowledge and experience of the world. The objective is to create responsible, independent students who work well together and are excited about learning.
- Morning Meeting
- Silent Sustained Reading (SSR)
- Community Service
- Peaceful Partners
- Winter Sing
- Spring Study Week
- Milk & Cookies
Each grade in the Lower School starts the day with Morning Meeting. The purpose of Morning Meeting is to build a strong sense of a classroom community through four components: greeting, sharing, group activity, and morning message. The sense of belonging and the skills of attention, listening, expression, and cooperative interaction developed in Morning Meeting are a foundation for every lesson, every transition time, and every handling of conflict and resolution. It is a microcosm of the way we want our school to be—a community full of learning, safety and respect, and challenging for all.
Crane values the importance of community service, from giving back to our own school community, to aiding those in need locally, regionally, and globally. Beginning in kindergarten, the entire Lower School participates in different programming throughout the year. Students in different grades may participate in the following activities: writing thank you notes to community members; campus-wide trash cleanup; conservation and sustainability efforts; projects at places including Direct Relief International, the Food Bank, and Friendship Center for seniors; writing letters to politicians concerning environmental concerns; and, raising support for micro-loans. As leaders of the Lower School, fifth graders have the added responsibility of collecting and removing recyclable materials for the entire school campus.
Once a six-day cycle, each Lower School class meets for Peaceful Partners class that focuses on social-emotional learning. It provides students with skills to be respectful and contributing members of the school community. For grade-specific curriculum, be sure to explore the guide provided for each Lower School grade below.
During the last week before winter break, the entire Lower School participates in the Winter Sing. Programming includes a medley of choreographed songs, including holiday favorites. Students prepare for this show during regular music classes following the Thanksgiving holiday. The program is shared twice—during school hours for the Upper School and Staffulty, and at an evening performance for parents.
Each year during the last week before Spring Break, the Lower School devotes an entire week to an in-depth study of a theme, culture, or time period. It is a time of tremendous creativity, hands-on learning, and excitement. Traditional instruction is replaced by experiential opportunities for students to gain knowledge and learn a variety of skills while working in cross-age groups.
Topics from past years have included Italy, storytelling, Japan, the Wild West, tropical rain forests, deserts, water, and space: the final frontier, and national parks. Once a topic is selected, our faculty members devise creative workshops to give insight to this particular region, time period, or aspect of our world. Active and product oriented, these workshops combine students from all Lower School grades.
Childhood is full of wonders! In kindergarten, we explore a variety of themed units that address each student’s innate curiosity, while developing foundational skills in reading, writing, and math. By allowing kindergartners to discover the wonders around them through hands-on activities, we help foster a lifelong desire to learn.
Kindergarten is one class comprised of 15 – 20 students. The classroom utilizes a team-teaching approach, with two full-time teachers in the classroom. The teachers forge a cohesive group of students through specific programming throughout the year. The kindergarten classroom is a student’s first home at Crane and therefore was thoughtfully designed to be house-like—it includes a front yard, porch swing, and a playground, in addition to separate instruction areas.
To explore theme-study units in kindergarten, check out Day & Night and Ocean Studies:
First grade students greatly expand their reading and writing vocabulary in first grade. They become adept at recognizing number relationships and patterns, and they apply what they know to problem solving. First graders take pride in accomplishing tasks with growing independence.
To explore theme-study units in first grade, check out Skyscrapers and Birds:
Second grade is an exciting year of growth for students as they expand their knowledge base, develop their reading, writing, and math skills and, most importantly, become independent learners. Themes often explored in second grade include units on celebrating community and friendship, leadership and businesses, people and places in our country, biographies, and inventions. These units are woven throughout the curriculum listed below.
To explore theme-study units in second grade, check out Immigration and Communities:
Third grade is a year of enthusiastic learning. Students are characteristically ready to take risks and eager to learn. Students have mastered the fundamentals of reading and are now ready to build fluency and comprehension. Learners will expand their vocabularies as they explore fiction and non-fiction texts, using reference tools to clarify the meaning of newly discovered words. They will also delve into the nuances of figurative language in prose and poetry. They will conduct independent research to learn about topics in our social studies curriculum as well as the subjects that interest them. They will become an integral part of a learning community as they refine the art of asking good questions in order to generate rich discussions with peers and teachers. Throughout the curriculum students will demonstrate their thinking, supporting their ideas with text evidence and opinions.
To explore theme-study units in third grade, check out the Chumash and California Ranchos:
Fourth grade is a year where students gain independence and become self-reliant learners as they pair the tools acquired during the primary grades with skills needed to successfully complete the upper grades. Students learn to question, research, and solve problems both as individuals and members of a cooperative group. The focus is on the class as a community of learners where each individual achievement contributes to the class as a whole. A primary objective is to develop a commitment to producing high quality work—careful, thoughtful, and complete.
To explore theme-study units in fourth grade, check out Mountain Men and Gold Rush:
Fifth grade is a year of transition as students gain the skills and habits necessary to be successful as they matriculate from the Lower School into the Upper School for their middle school years. During the fifth-grade year, in addition to learning the content of the year’s instruction, students make great strides in managing their homework assignments, managing their time on multi-day and multi-week projects, and on becoming independent learners and problem solvers. In short, students learn to play a bigger role in being in charge of their own learning.
To explore theme-study units in fifth grade, check out Famous Americans and Boston Trip Week: