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Elementary Curriculum

Early Childhood Development

In the fall of 2003, Head Start and the Laurens Preschool became a shared program. Our rooms are in the west elementary wing of the Laurens Marathon School. Head Start guidelines and policies are still followed to meet the needs of our grant. Our program offers a center based program which means children attend a classroom five days a week, with tuition paying children having the option of attending the fifth day.

We use a variety of themes to keep children’s interests. Within these themes, literacy, math, social, health and nutrition goals are set for children. We use creative curriculum to assess the children 3-4 a times a year. This assessment tool fits in with literacy and No Child Left Behind. The Head Start portion of the Early Childhood Program has a policy council which acts as a school board. Each center in the Upper Des Moines Opportunity Inc. agency elects two people to represent them at policy council meetings. Parent meetings for each center are held six times a year.


We have a theme based curriculum. We introduce letters and sounds as they occur within the theme we are studying. For example, we talk about the letter B and its sound when we talk about bats, S for spider, etc. We use the Math Their Way Curriculum for a hands-on approach to learning math concepts. We cover science and social studies topics as part of our themes and not as a separate subject. 

We have a writer's workshop time where kids "write" in the manner that best suits their developmental level. Some write with pictures, others scribble, some write random letters, and some write in a conventional manner with sentences, CAPITAL LETTERS, s p a c e s between w o r d s, p.e.r.i.o.d.s., ?question marks?, or !exclamation marks!.

A variety of themes are covered: holidays, animals, animal habitats, characteristics of living things, different plant life cycles, weather, seasons, and camping. We end our year with a day camp at a local nature center.

First Grade

Reading: Our reading/language arts curriculum includes the following basic skills: reading, phonics, Word Wall Words (spelling), handwriting, Character Counts (grammar, capitals, punctuation) and creative writing. The following units are used to teach these skills: Mother Goose, Seeds, Bears, Pilgrims and Indians, Mittens and Weather, Farms (hatching chicks), Trains and Transportation, Reptiles, and Oceans.

Math: Our math curriculum includes the following basic skills: number concepts, number formation, patterns, odd/even, time, money, addition, subtraction, fractions and story problems.

Science: Our first semester curriculum implements the Growing Healthy program. Second semester curriculum includes: living and non-living things, reptiles, mammals, water cycle, weather concepts, hatching chicks, magnets, and the concept of working together as a team toward scientific discoveries.

Social Studies: Our social studies curriculum consists of map skills, globes, oceans, calendar skills (days, weeks, months), the concept of a community and community helpers, presidents and national leaders in the U. S., relating town, state and country, a study of the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan.

Extra Curricular: First grade students participate in art, music, P.E., guidance, and TAG. Title I reading, Title I math and special education services are available to students who qualify. Additional activities include book buddies with 3rd grade classes and the Partners In Education program.

Second Grade

In second grade reading students build on the word attack strategies they learned in first grade. They read trade books that increase in difficulty as the year progresses. Some science and social studies units are integrated in reading. Associated with reading is Writer's Workshop. Students select their own topics for writing where correct punctuation skills and spelling are reinforced during the editing process.

Students use manipulatives (Math Their Way) to understand math concepts. As the year progresses more paper and pencil activities are introduced. Students build their knowledge on the basic addition and subtraction facts they learned in first grade to addition and subtraction of 3-digit numbers.

Science includes units on living things, stars, color and light, solids, liquids and gasses, and dinosaurs. We also do Growing Healthy with an emphasis on the eyes and ears.

Map Skills include directions on a map. We study communities, Native Americans, laws and rules, transportation and communication, and more map skills in social studies.

Third Grade

Third grade teachers are very excited about teaching third grade. They are involved in the Partners in Education program that unites individual classrooms with businesses in the community.

Third grade is a very exciting year with the learning of cursive writing, multiplication facts, citizenship, president reports, and many interesting reading units such as: Beverly Cleary, The Chocolate Touch, and the Pioneer units. The teachers teach reading, math, language arts, social studies, science, growing healthy, and writing. Subjects taught by other teachers are P.E, art, music, Title 1 reading and math, talented and gifted, and computer. The students also have library time.

Fourth Grade

Fourth grade is an exciting place for learning. Our science units cover the following topics: plants, light, animals, sound, magnets, and electricity. We also study nutrition and the digestive system in Growing Healthy. We have a fourth grade electrical science fair every spring. It's always amazing to see the different projects and games!

We are busy reading every day. We read the book, Little House on the Prairie, and then we go to the Threshermen site by Albert City to have a real pioneer day. Other reading units we enjoy are animals, fairy tales, forest, Native American legends, and many other novels and stories.

Along with regular language and spelling work, we like to polish our skills while writing original pieces. We are very busy writing and publishing stories, poems, and reports in our daily writing workshop.

We partner up with Hy-Vee Pharmacy for Partners in Education. We usually decorate a Christmas tree for the festival of trees. We also decorate their store, and they come to our classroom to do other activities with us during the year.

Fifth Grade

The curriculum for fifth grade includes language arts, math, social studies, writing, science, and Iowa history.

The language arts curriculum includes an integrated program with some experience in poetry and other literacy pieces from a basal by Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and other literature such as Where the Red Fern Grows. The students have the opportunity to practice language skills such as grammar, sequencing, writing letters and newspaper articles plus other exercises that enhance their writing and communication skills. The fifth grade students use Roberta Sitton's approach to spelling.

The students are allowed to write in a manner comfortable to them. They are expected to have completed several edited pieces that are submitted in type form during the year.

In social studies they study American history from its very beginning to the present.

In science they study the environment, and also the human body.

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