Upper Elementary Classroom - Students Ages 8 to 10
Students in the upper elementary classroom are seeking meaningful work. They are leaving behind the blind enthusiasm of the previous stage and becoming more concerned with understanding why something is important before they will wholeheartedly commit to it. They are strongly motivated by the discovery of connections across subjects and time precisely because the concepts of intention, meaning, and purpose are, increasingly, becoming a focus of their lives.
Children of this age can be either balky or mischievious to work with if their teacher is not clever enough to engage with them at their level. Woe to the humorless task-master! Children in this stage will not tolerate dry, rote instruction that doesn’t make time for nuanced explanations, thoughtful tangents, and an endless repertoire of cringe-worthy puns dropped at regular intervals.
Children at this age are fascinated by an instructional style that regularly circles back to events and concepts they first learned at a younger age in order to present them with a greater depth of understanding the second time around. They love to look at prior knowledge in a new light. The classical teacher of this age possibly needs to be the widest read and the most diversely qualified out of all the faculty. These children don’t want a narrow specialist–they are hungry for knowledge about everything. The wise and well-prepared teacher has a deep working knowledge of the content the students were taught in previous years as well as the content they will need to master in future years so that he or she can use this stage as a bridge between those developmental stages.
The following is an overview of the skills and topics students in our Upper Elementary classroom will cover over a three-year time span. As a supplemental program we partner with homeschooling families so instruction on topics not presented below is provided at home.
Categories and Topics of Learning
Sundial Classical Farmstead, in the classical tradition, is committed to the formation of the whole child: body, mind, and soul. It organizes its curriculum and programming into three broad categories that answer these key questions. What should we know? What should we do? How should we live?
- Liberal Arts & Sciences - areas of study, a) for developing the ability to identify the basic elements (or, grammar) of a discipline and then, b) how to manipulate those elements into a cohesive, true understanding of the world
- Arts & Trades - activities that teach the appreciation and practice of the good and the beautiful
- Virtues & Habits - practices that promote healthy social, spiritual, scholarly, and physical habits
For children ages 8 to 10 our Upper Elementary classroom covers the following topics and skills over a three-year span.
Liberal Arts & Sciences - identification and application of elements to build a true understanding of how the world works
- Language - fluent oral reading, spelling and grammar rules, original written compositions, cursive penmanship, extemporaneous and prepared spoken responses, further development of speech articulation and vocabulary
- Literature - fiction and nonfiction for pleasure and study of a topic, both the study of classical poetry and plays as well as the composition of original works by the student
- Latin - vocabulary development and accuracy in pronunciation to begin reading original works in Latin
- Mathematics: fluency with all four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) to any place value, application of decimals, fractions, and percents, introduction to early concepts of algebra and geometry, introduction to data representation and statistics
- History - continue their study of world history by beginning a new three-year cycle with a focus on depth of experience through high-quality literature, re-enactments through dramas, and constructing aesthetically pleasing physical models while learning about key events from that time period. Recite from memory important lists such as all of the US Presidents, the dates of key historical events, etc.
- Year One: 1640-1780
- Year Two: 1780-1914
- Year Three: 1914-1990; ancient
- Geography - be able to free-hand draw maps of each continent they are studying, be able to fill in the political boundaries and names of major countries and their capitals as well as key landforms such as lakes, mountains and rivers, be able to draw a map of the US, be able to list from memory all 50 states and their capitals.
- Science - nature study, lessons in botany, biology and geology, begin an exploration of how agricultural practices (including forestry, fisheries, etc.) have shaped societies throughout time
Arts & Trades - appreciation and practice of the good and the beautiful
- Music - communal singing in the classroom, instrumental lessons, introduction to two composers each year through listening and biographies
- Drawing and Painting - sketching and painting lessons, introduction to two artists each year through picture study and biographies
- Sculpture - introduction to a variety of media and techniques
Performing Arts (a key component of practicing these arts is the opportunity to perform before an audience in order to develop confidence, articulation, and an awareness of one’s presence):
- Dance - folk dances from the historical era and location they are studying in history
- Choral Singing - participation in a children’s choir
- Theater - participating in one performance each year as actor, musician, or backstage hand
- Domestic Arts - cleaning the classroom, meal planning and preparation, baking, quilting, textile arts
- Gardening - from soil preparation to harvest, begin to manage season-extending growing techniques such greenhouses
- Carpentry, Masonry and Metalwork - plan and create independent projects that solve a problem they have identified as part of their charitable giving plan
- Animal Husbandry - care for classroom pets or farm animals
Virtues & Habits - social, spiritual, scholarly, and physical practices
- Social - begin developing leadership skills such as conflict resolution, planning and management, and communication strategies; demonstrate an awareness of charitable giving by developing a plan to meet a need they have identified
- Spiritual - thoughtful application of the seven virtues, participation in liturgical readings, begin a personal study of sacred art and music, begin developing personal daily meditation/prayer practices
- Scholarly - with support from teachers plan some independent learning activities, be accountable for habits of sustained attentiveness and memorization, be comfortable with planned and extemporaneous written and spoken narration, practice self-assessment of mastery regularly
- Physical - develop their own plan for daily exercise, nutrition, and hygiene