Students continue their work on the recorder and their musical pieces become more complicated, and involve two or more parts. In addition to recorder work, students can also expand their percussion repertoire and often incorporate additional instruments, such as African drums. The choral curriculum includes a variety of modes, including singing in parts, rounds, and a unit of vocal jazz.
Each year, the Upper Elementary class presents a musical theatre production. The class works collaboratively to cast the play, practice lines, develop scenery, and create costumes.
Upper Elementary physical education includes opportunities for individual physical fitness and group play to encourage the development of abilities and to work as part of a larger team. In addition to exposure to traditional fitness skills such as basketball, football, and soccer, instruction in dance, rock climbing, movement, circus and cooperative games are provided to allow the student to develop strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance. The goal is to create in each child an interest in the development of lifetime skills, along with the challenge of competing against oneself rather than against others. In addition to the physical activity involved, students develop important social skills, including sportsmanship, rule negotiation, and leadership.
The Art Studio is a choice-based environment in which students learn about print-making, set-building, weaving, transfer work, quilting, sculpture, fiber arts and work with many other media. The art program closely follows work the students are doing in Cultural Studies. For example students may design Egyptian masks when studying Ancient cultures. Another year they may sew a traditional American quilt block in conjunction with American History. A wide variety of artistic traditions and famous artist are also studied.
At this level, Upper Elementary students will begin to focus on grammar, verb conjugations, masculine and feminine, and continue with conversational French. Students learn about the various regions of France and about other French-speaking countries. When possible, at the end of the year, students enjoy lunch at a French speaking venue, where they will communicate entirely in French with the servers. To prepare for this experience, students study the menu and learn basic restaurant vocabulary, such as “may I have a napkin, please?” or “I would like the chocolate mousse, please.” These skills will come in handy when they visit Montreal as sixth graders!
Respect and compassion for others is translated into opportunities for community service, both at the classroom and school levels, and in the larger community as well. In the school and in the classroom, students continuously – and often spontaneously – reach out to lend a hand. Whether they are helping someone with academic work, sweeping the floor, emptying the compost, they are taking responsibility for their environment and the people in it.
Increasingly in our society, children are deprived of the opportunity to develop a connection with the natural world. Limited to structured athletic experiences, they don’t have the opportunity for free play and exploration of the natural environment. Research shows that time in nature is directly correlated with calmer and more centered students. In addition, students who understand nature and feel comfortable in it will be better able to respect the Earth and all its life.
In addition to working in the campus greenhouse and gardens, hiking on the Nature Trail, recycling and composting, students travel to the school’s 50-acre Land Laboratory. Here, they become more knowledgeable about, and comfortable in, the natural environment by participating in activities such as shelter building, compass use, animal track interpretation, wetland biology, maple sugaring, and beekeeping. They are also given time to sit quietly, reflect, and write in journals during their experience at the Land Lab.