Lower School Curriculum by Grade

List of 8 items.

  • Pre-Kindergarten 3

    The Pre-K3 program introduces children to the whole world that is around them. We help them develop their skills and abilities through a wide variety of activities.

    MOVEMENT AND COORDINATION: Our busy Pre-K3 students love to move. We help them further develop their motor and coordination skills. We use related movement activities that extend and develop body awareness and the body’s capabilities. In a group setting, children learn parameters of personal space while moving cooperatively with others. A variety of music and childhood games are utilized.

    AUTONOMY AND SOCIAL SKILLS: We focus on the development of emotional and social skills that enable a young child to function independently within a social setting. Children will learn interpersonal and social skills essential to interacting, such as showing respect for others and their property, the “give and take” of being part of a group, and the need to sometimes delay immediate desires. This also includes the ability to manage effective transitions between activities. These goals mark the beginning development of an individual who is independent and competent, able to assume responsibility for his or her own actions within the context of a group.

    WORK HABITS: The foundation on which children will later approach academic work is established, step by step, through the experiences and expectations that children encounter in play and activities. This area focuses on gently guiding children to develop a methodology for approaching different activities. These include memory skills, following directions, staying on task, and identifying the materials and steps needed to carry out an activity successfully.

    ORAL LANGUAGE: Our students learn to understand and use spoken language with purpose. This may include a verbal description of a person, object, or experience, sequencing events, giving directions, offering a personal opinion, or using imaginative language.

    LANGUAGE ARTS: By listening to a variety of stories, books, and poems children understand that the purpose of written language is to communicate. They are able to discuss personal experiences as they relate to a familiar book. Children also participate in group readings of repetitive phrases and rhyming words. In listening to and talking about stories that are read aloud, children build both listening and speaking skills. They are introduced to new vocabulary and formal written syntax. They also refine skills in narrating, predicting, and imagining.

    MATH: Math is integrated into our daily routine. Children are introduced to set matching, patterns, one to one correspondence, rote counting, and number identification. In addition, children are introduced to sorting by attributes, recognizing common shapes, and engaging in simple measurement exercises.
  • Pre-Kindergarten 4

    Our Pre-K 4 play-based curriculum provides opportunities to build a foundation of skills in a variety of areas including language, social-emotional awareness, self-regulation, and problem-solving.

    Each classroom has a lead teacher and an assistant teacher. The teachers nurture and guide students as they explore through play in our dynamic, center-based classrooms. Each week, the centers are transformed into new realms, such as a fire station, bakery, or doctor’s office.  They explore new roles and acquire new skills and vocabulary as they construct knowledge about their expanding worlds.

    Students explore the learning opportunities embedded in our thematic curriculum while they learn to play cooperatively, work collaboratively, and solve problems. As they move through the Pre-K 4 program, children become increasingly independent, curious, and creative.

    LANGUAGE ARTS: Letterland is a wonderful program that combines phonics with storytelling, letter shape, and sound recognition. It lays the foundations for reading, writing, and spelling with engaging characters and stories through a multi-sensory approach.

    HANDWRITING: Along with the Letterland program, we use the Handwriting Without Tears program to teach the proper formation of uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers. A variety of tools are used to maintain interest and to meet each child’s needs.

    MATH: Our math program is play-based and designed to engage children through the use of contextual themes, games, stories, mysteries, intriguing problems, manipulatives, and visual models. It is logically sequenced around well-researched developmental progressions to allow for depth and focus as children progress in knowledge and skills. 

    SCIENCE and SOCIAL STUDIES: Hands-on activities and experiments that help each child explore the world, both inside and outside of the classroom, enable students to develop basic scientific skills. The greenhouse provides an opportunity to observe the plant life-cycle, from planting seeds to watching plants grow. Additionally, each month focuses on a different animal group while we explore different continents and habitats. This focus allows us to begin early implementation of the project-based learning that will continue through the Lower School.
  • Kindergarten

    Diversified language experiences and regular exposure to quality children's literature provide a rich environment for oral expression and communication through our reading program. In addition, vocabulary development and the formulation and sequencing of ideas are promoted.

    Teachers assess students’ emerging literacy and provide appropriate developmental experiences. Students will begin using phonetic writing based on their developmental levels of sound-letter acquisition and will read what they have written. These experiences are all part of a balanced literacy approach that may occur during small and large group time, Reading and Writing Centers, and Literacy Centers.

    Kindergarten students learn math through hands-on activities with a wide variety of manipulatives as well as small group discussions. These activities provide a concrete foundation in basic mathematical skills such as computation, conceptual understanding, reasoning, and problem-solving. Students gain experience explaining their reasoning with pictures, words, manipulatives, and various mathematical symbols.

    Kindergarten students build their science knowledge through experiences and activities in which the children learn to use their five senses to collect information. They study the characteristics of insects, animals, and plants, as well as light and shadows and the three states of matter.

    Social Studies concepts, are integrated into our program daily. Respecting others, following classroom rules, and learning how to be good citizens are the beginning steps to becoming responsible members of society.

    Kindergartners also study the following topics in greater depth: an awareness and appreciation for diverse cultures through family relationships and responsibilities, environmental issues regarding the care of our earth, and how people adapt to the changing seasons. In the area of geography, the students will learn about simple maps.
  • First Grade

    We focus on developing first-grade students’ reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. We want our students to be lifelong readers and effective writers. Our curriculum provides explicit instruction in comprehension skills and strategies, word study, and grammar. Students learn writing skills through personal narratives, non-fiction writing, research reports, and realistic fiction. We apply the stages of the writing process: prewriting, revising, editing, and sharing through published works.

    We want our students to develop number sense and problem-solving skills using manipulatives, games, and technology. Students focus on addition and subtraction, whole number relationships and place value, measurement, and shapes and their attributes. Students solve word problems as they practice the application of their newly acquired mathematical and problem-solving skills.

    In the first grade Science classroom we utilize critical thinking skills as we learn to explore our surroundings. Through the use of Project Based Learning students are given an opportunity to take a deeper dive into curriculum content. Students have the freedom to conduct research, ask questions, and create projects regarding topics that are most interesting to them. Students investigate concepts using a variety of hands-on experiments, class activities, and discussions. They are introduced to a world of geology through the study of rocks and minerals, they become familiar with animal adaptations, and they explore the natural wonders of our planet from Earth’s inner core to the Moon and Stars. First Grade students also participate in a Lego Simple Machine unit exploring Inventors and Inventions before creating their own!

    In Social Studies, first graders investigate basic foundations for communities. Through discussions, research, and Project Based Learning, students understand that rules, safety, wants/needs, and goods/services are a part of every community. They will build a city together and decide what is wanted and needed. In addition, the students are introduced to inventors and their inventions that supply our demands today. The students will have a chance to invent items they think people would use.
  • Second Grade

    We move from learning to read to reading to learn. Second grade reading genres include realistic fiction, fantasy, folk tales, biographies, nonfiction articles, plays, and poetry. Throughout the year students focus on four main units of writing; narrative writing, lab reports and science books, writing about reading, and poetry. In addition to those four units, students learn to complete research and to write about their findings.

    In math, we continue to build our mathematical foundation through observations, communication, and application. We strive for student understanding of new concepts, a strong number sense, and quantitative reasoning. Students gain real-world knowledge of measurement, time, money, place value, addition, subtraction, early multiplication, and basic geometry.

    In our science and social studies curriculum students continue to develop their critical thinking and reasoning skills. We aim to make science a challenging and enjoyable subject by tapping into the natural interest and curiosity of the child. We draw on a variety of resources when introducing students to content, and students are then given opportunities to experiment, observe, interpret data. Students relate what they have learned to the world around them. Our curriculum lends itself to a project-based approach for both science and social studies. We focus on taking care of our planet, recycling, weather, life cycles, and the human body. We study geography and geographic representations, roles and responsibilities of citizens, and westward expansion.
  • Third Grade

    Students begin the year exploring strategies to build a firm foundation for a strong reading life. Identifying opportunities for goal-setting and forming partnerships with peer readers further develops students’ ability to make higher-level predictions, to understand figurative language, and to tackle difficult text using contextual clues. We dive into nonfiction reading strategies to grasp main ideas, distinguish our own opinion from that of the author, and refine our summarization abilities. An in-depth unit on character allows students to make predictions about a story using observations and theories about the characters. We wrap up our year focusing on reading for research purposes, identifying the various types of text structures used by informational writers, and learning various note-taking strategies based on these different mentor texts.

    In our writing units, we start the year by crafting true stories about tiny moments in our lives as we learn to draft and revise. We tackle the art of information writing, studying nonfiction mentor texts to influence our own writing. Students become the expert as they teach others about a topic with which they are familiar. We change the world with persuasive speeches and opinion writing, with special emphasis on connecting to our audience and using strong examples in our written work. We culminate our year with a fairy tale unit, using our many writing strategies to adapt a timeless fairy tale and then write an original piece.

    In math, we review addition and subtraction strategies and explore fractions, basic geometry, multiplication, and division. Students develop an understanding for these skills and concepts through a variety of hands-on activities. We further our understanding through observation, communication, and application.

    Our science and social studies skills concepts include food/nutrition, plants/animals, local and regional history, geography, entrepreneurship, local government and community structure and citizenship inspired by student inquiry. We explore questions and fuel conversation and learning through field experiences, hands on exploration, projects and guest experts. This project-based learning approach encourages students to dive deeper into the content areas and allows them to practice their skills in an authentic way.
  • Fourth Grade

    Students explore narrative, persuasive, and informational texts and writing, language, and reading skills are integrated throughout. Narrative writing enhances students’ creative writing ability. Persuasive writing allows students to develop their opinions and points of view by supporting reasons with evidence, and discerning fact versus opinion. Informational writing integrates topics such as main idea, comparing and contrasting, sequencing, and description. Each unit includes a formal writing piece for the students’ portfolios.

    In math, our students explore topics such as multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, customary units of measurement, rounding, and geometry. Higher order thinking and mathematical reasoning are fostered by learning a variety of strategies when approaching problems. Critical thinking skills are honed as students continue to face fun and challenging real-world problems and application.

    STEAM activities and units allow students to participate in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. Students apply their skills in hands-on labs and written reflections after observing and exploring the world around them. Some units of study include geology and electric circuits. In social studies, we tackle the history, geography, and government of North Carolina. We explore mapping skills, regions, economy, and tourism associated with our state. In the second half of the year, fourth graders complete an in-depth novel study incorporating one of North Carolina’s most historic landmarks.
  • Enrichment

    Art
    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. 

    Music
    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
    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.

    Spanish
    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.

    Library
    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.
The O’Neal Lower School provides a nurturing learning environment with a stimulating and challenging program which focuses on the development of the whole child. The Lower School curriculum reflects our dedication to academic excellence and to preparing students for the 21st Century. The Lucy Calkin’s Writer’s Workshop is a comprehensive language arts program we use in grades Kindergarten through eighth grade. This curriculum provides a spiraling, hands-on, workshop-style approach to writing that empowers students to develop their own authentic voice through three units of study: narrative, informative, and opinion.

Bridges in Mathematics curriculum is a thought-provoking, hands-on, process-oriented program that is used in kindergarten through fifth grade. Bridges encourage students to engage with mathematical concepts through application, exciting games, and manipulatives coupled with the whole group and individual investigations.

Project Based Learning (PBL) is often the vehicle we use to provide student-centered learning in science and social studies. When engaged in a PBL unit, our students are acquiring 21st Century skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration. This also provides a strong foundation for developing students as scientific thinkers and historians.

Art, music, Spanish, library, STEAM and physical education, as well as community service opportunities, field trips, and guest speakers,  help to construct a broad and deep foundation of skills and knowledge for the development of the whole child.

Students are taught by caring, creative, and highly knowledgeable teachers who strive to meet each student’s learning needs through a variety of instructional methods. Parent involvement is essential to the students’ success and is an integral component of the Lower School program. Balancing the academic program with the students’ social, emotional, and physical growth is important. Learning to be a kind, respectful, and responsible person is revered.

Assemblies and the Lower School’s Culture Council program help to recognize and remind students of the core values: Fairness, Accountability, Leadership, Cooperation, Ownership, Nurture, and Self-discipline. Independence in problem resolution is encouraged through a problem-solving script, which empowers students to resolve conflicts.

The O’Neal Lower School commits to providing a meaningful and memorable learning environment. It is the goal of the Lower School to provide all students with the skills and confidence to become successful life-long learners and socially responsible young citizens.
Serving Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Whispering Pines, Sanford, West End, Aberdeen, and areas surrounding Moore County, NC.


The O’Neal School
3300 Airport Road
Southern Pines, NC 28387
910.692.6920

Visit our private school Facebook for preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and high school photos.   Google+ offers a glimpse of private school life including preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school.   Follow Twitter to keep up with high school activities including athletic tournaments and sports scores.   Middle school students are prideful of postings on Instagram and become energetically engaged as a result.   Subscribe to YouTube for musical performances, convocations, commencements, and other events at The O'Neal School.