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Lower School (Primary - 3rd Grade)

1st - 3rd Grade

Welcome to 1st - 3rd Grade

The Lower School is comprised of a dedicated 1st grade class and two mixed-age 2nd/3rd grade classes. At a crucial time in students’ academic and personal development, our first grade program enables students to receive focused instruction while also developing their critical thinking skills and creating meaningful connections with their peers. Moving into mixed-age classrooms in our 2nd/3rd program allows second and third graders to receive grade-specific instruction in math and language arts while also developing leadership and social-emotional skills in combined academic and co-curricular groups.

Program Elements

List of 4 items.

  • Language Arts

    We use Reader's Workshop, a methodology developed by Lucy Calkins in the Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. Our curriculum focuses on giving each child an opportunity to read a "just right" book at his/her reading level. During reading time, teachers hold mini conferences with each child. This program fosters a love for reading at a young age while helping students to build confidence as readers.
  • Social Studies

    The first grade social studies program focuses on North America with a study of the continent's native peoples, specifically the Coast Miwok, the original inhabitants of Marin County. Students gain a deep understanding of what life was like for the Miwok through studying their stories and literature, exploring the science behind the ecosystem and weather patterns of the area, and taking fieldbtrips to important sites throughout Marin.

    Through studies of South America and Africa, second and third grade students learn about the physical and political geography, anthropology and flora and fauna of both continents. Learning to ask critical questions helps students develop a sense of themselves as global citizens while fostering an awareness of their place in the world. Research and presentation skills are practiced and developed within this unit of study.
  • Science

    The first grade's science curriculum is driven by three questions: What do seeds, people, and animals need to survive? The curriculum covers topics such as botany, nutrition, vertebrates, invertebrates, recycling, and includes hands-on physical science experiments.

    Second and third grade students are guided through science experiments to form hypotheses, predict outcomes, use observation techniques, and record data for self discovery of natural phenomena. The sciences are often integrated into the cultural unit being studied at the time.
  • Math

    Teachers use a variety of math materials that support each child's learning needs and styles. The Math In Focus curriculum is a concept-based methodology that moves from visual to pictorial to abstract, and ends with a mastery of skill that encourages deep dives into math concepts. The curriculum complements and enhances our project-based approach to teaching math.

Inventor Presentations

One of the highlights of the 2 -year cycle of 2nd/3rd is the Inventors Project. After researching a chosen inventor, students become that person, going so far as to create replicas of their famous inventions. Students present to parents in character, portraying people such as Thomas Edison, Eli Whitney, and Marie Curie. This curriculum builds design engineering, public speaking, research, and writing skills.

Specialist Program

Library: once a week, 30 minutes

Art: twice a week, 1.5-2 hours total

Spanish: twice a week, 1-1.5 hours total

PE: three times a week, 1.5 hours total

Music: two-three times a week, 1-1.5 hours total

Author's Chair

Every year as a culminating project, 1st grade students write and illustrate their own books. They get to show off their masterpieces and reinforce their public speaking skills by reading their book aloud during the final presentation.

Current Parent

Of course we expected the school to have a very strong academic program, but we were thrilled with the way our daughter is becoming a caring, confident and a wonderful human being...

Lower School Videos

1st–3rd Grade Faculty

    • Evan Duffy-Ledbetter

      Teaching Assistant, 3rd

    • Cara Huttinger

      Teacher, 2nd

    • Julia Ripperton

      Teacher, 1st

    • Kathryn Starke

      Teaching Assistant, 2nd

    • Courtney Tindall

      Teaching Assistant, 1st

    • Allison Zimmerman

      Teacher, 3rd

Non-discrimination policy: We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, gender identification, disability or other category protected by law.