O’Neal’s Lower School art promotes confidence, creativity, communication, and collaboration by exploring a wide variety of artistic ideas and methods. Through a variety of projects students gain an understanding of and appreciation for art and art history. Beginning as young as Pre-K, students are introduced to the principles of art and the elements of design, including: Line, Color, Shape, Form, Value, Space, Texture, Emphasis, Pattern, Balance, and Rhythm. Students become comfortable using different media, such as pencil, ink, tempera, acrylics, pastels, and clay to create different works of drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Art develops students’ individual points of view and encourages self-expression. The study of art history fosters this individual growth and inspires students to find their own creative voice. Art is an important part of an O’Neal education and not simply an extra class. Curiosity and personal expression are emphasized throughout the curriculum and students frequently integrate their academic growth in this class.
At the O’Neal School, music begins at the pre-kindergarten 3 level with bi-weekly music classes. Students explore music through song, movement, and play. Students at all grade levels are exposed to different genres of music from around the world as they sing, listen, and perform on a variety of tonal and rhythmic instruments. Creativity of music is inspired through improvisation and composition at all grade levels as they are exposed to learning the elements of music. The spiral music curriculum is influenced by Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory and Orff Schulwerk, and the materials used are through the Jump Right IN teaching series. In addition, students sing, move, and perform developmentally appropriate songs in four concerts throughout the year. In 3rd grade, students fine-tune their rhythmic skill through bucket drumming. In fourth grade, students learn how to play recorder through the Recorder Karate series and develop their note reading skills as they perform on their instrument at nine different musical levels. The O’Nealers is an after-school choir for students in the 2nd through 4th grade. Students perform in musical concerts and special presentations throughout the year. The O’Nealers also have an opportunity to perform in the Middle and Upper School Spring Musical.
Physical Education at O'Neal focuses on developing our students from a health and fitness standpoint. Emphasis is placed on gross and fine motor skills (running, jumping, throwing/catching, starting/stopping, etc) and introducing a variety of sports. The goal of each unit is to teach the students the skills required for each sport, how to follow the rules and work as a team, how to understand and cope with winning/losing, and character development. Swimming is a part of the physical education curriculum starting in Kindergarten.
Falcon Fit is an addition to the Physical Education curriculum. Here, teachers zone in on developing each student from a strength, speed, and agility standpoint. Through Falcon Fit (and Physical Education) teachers emphasize functional fitness and give the students tools that they will be able to carry with them to stay healthy and fit.
Our students begin their study of Spanish in our Pre-K classes. From Pre-K through 1st grade, students are introduced to Spanish vocabulary through songs, games, books, and movement. Students are exposed to a wide range of vocabulary such as classroom commands, animals, numbers, greetings, colors, alphabet, calendar, weather, seasons, and shapes.
In 2nd through 4th grade, students increase their vocabulary through a variety of methods including books and dialogues. Students learn basic components of Spanish grammar. Each grade will hone their speaking and writing skills that are appropriate for their current level of Spanish.
Lower School library classes foster a life-long love of reading and support the literacy work of the classrooms. Listening to stories at every age extends the students’ oral language enhances vocabulary and generates discussion. A wide variety of different genres are introduced along with various authors and illustrators. All students are encouraged to find books for their outside reading that are appropriate for their individual reading level.
In Kindergarten students begin to learn about the structure of a story, from the beginning, middle, and an end to characters and plot. As they are beginning to read and write their own stories in the classroom, the library provides picture books, easy readers, and early chapter books for them to read and draw examples from. In 1st grade, students continue to explore language and literature as they become more independent readers and writers. Students are encouraged to find books for checkout that are appropriate for their individual reading level. In 2nd through 4th grade, students learn about the organization of the library and use the online catalog as well as the Dewey Decimal System so that they can independently find the materials they need. Students in 3rd and 4th grades continue to use the library resources to assist in their class research projects.