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Curriculum

Nurturing students’ curiosity about God’s world and providing a strong foundation for future learning are at the core of DC’s Lower School curriculum. Students are encouraged to develop habits for lifelong learning through the exploration of rich content in Bible, history, math, science, language arts, and Greek and Latin roots - all taught from a biblical perspective. In addition to solid content knowledge, students are given opportunities to develop their skills and apply their learning as they work together to ask questions, solve problems, and make connections to the world. The result is a joyful environment in which students are encouraged to share ideas around meaningful work.

Students learn and grow at different rates and in different ways. At DC, instruction is planned to appeal to diverse learners. Through individual, small group, and whole group instruction, students experience various pathways to learning. Additionally, hands on, interactive activities help students experiment, take meaningful risks, and understand new concepts. Advanced math classes are available in grades 4 and 5 for those students who qualify.

To enhance the learning environment, enrichment is offered in art, music, physical education, Spanish, and library and technology. Each year students participate in local and regional competitions, such as Math Olympics, Speech Meet, Writing Contests, and the National Geography Bee. Additionally, STEM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are embedded into the school day. Through STEM studies, students collaborate as young scientists and engineers to solve real-world problems, using the design cycle.

Grade Level

Pre-K

Reading

The Pre-K Reading Readiness program focuses on the areas of oral language development, print awareness, alphabetic knowledge, phonemic awareness, writing/spelling, and vocabulary development, in order to prepare children to be successful readers and writers. Our comprehensive approach is sensitive to God’s design and developmental timing for each child, creating an environment that optimizes learning for every student. 

Math

Through hands-on learning and the use of manipulatives, students are exposed to a variety of topics and skills that are revisited regularly through activities and games. 

Science

Pre-K students delight in becoming scientists, using the tools (five senses) God gave them to explore the world around them. They gather information and make predictions; and they begin to perform simple investigations. In all of these hands-on experiences, they are provided with the opportunity to construct their knowledge of science and to use simple scientific vocabulary to describe observations. 

STEM

The goal of our Pre-K STEM instruction is to expose students to STEM concepts such as questioning, investigating, and building from a plan.  These skills are reinforced with STEM kits.

Bible

Helping children understand and respond to the Word of God through the teaching of basic Christian character qualities is the emphasis of our Pre-K Bible curriculum. 

Social Studies/History

Students learn about living in community, measures of time, passage of time (past, present, and future), simple maps, and basic geographic concepts - all while emphasizing God’s presence and care for His people through history.

Kindergarten

Science

Our kindergarten students experience an integrated theme-based curriculum that has science as its backbone as it seeks to increase awareness about God and His creation. Specifically, students become scientists using the tools (the five senses) God provided for exploring the world; they learn science concepts through investigating concrete examples; and they construct knowledge of science through many hands-on activities. 

STEM

Students are introduced to the design cycle by learning to ask questions, brainstorming and creating solutions, testing ideas, and improving their work.  Each month, students get to design and create a solution to a problem.

Math

Everyday Math instruction and activities explore a wide variety of mathematical content, including numeration; operations and computation; patterns, functions and algebra; geometry; measurement; and data and probability. 

Reading

Literacy development includes instruction in phonemic awareness, decoding and encoding, listening and speaking, and comprehending simple text - cracking open an exciting door of discovery for young students! 

Social Studies/History

In history and social studies, students learn about the seven continents, Native Americans, and United States Presidents - all within the backdrop of God’s providential directing of human history.

Bible

Our Bible curriculum consists of an overview of the lives of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph, and the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ birth, ministry, and resurrection. The year ends with a study of God’s mission in the world today and God’s provision for the church of Acts.

Spanish

Our youngest learners are exposed to Spanish vocabulary, music, and culture through developmentally appropriate activities.

1st Grade

Reading

First grade is an exciting year of literacy growth! Through our Reading Street curriculum, we equip each child with the necessary skills to decode and encode, comprehend various texts independently, and build skills in written expression. Because reading is a developmental skill, unfolding for each child at a different rate, developmentally appropriate practices and activities are used. 

Bible

Students learn that the written words of the Bible are one of the main ways God communicates with us. As they study Genesis through Ruth, they learn that the Bible is true, historical, and divinely inspired in its entirety and that there are lessons and relevant applications for us. 

Math

Our spiraled Everyday Math curriculum exposes students to a variety of topics and skills that are revisited regularly in order to ensure full concept development. 

Science

Our science studies are designed to increase the child’s awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of the Creator and His creation through unit studies of solids, liquids, and gases; weather; force; energy; keeping our bodies healthy; and the Earth. 

STEM

Students make predictions based on observations, recognize that all products and systems are subject to failure, and understand that many products and systems can be fixed. Using the design cycle as a creative process, students construct pyramids connected to our history curriculum.

Social Studies/History

History topics include Ancient Egypt, ancient civilizations of the Americas, the Revolutionary War, and early exploration of the American West. Students also study the culture and geography of Mexico.

Spanish

Introductory Spanish equips students to begin to engage a multicultural world, as they learn the pronunciation, basic vocabulary, and structures of Spanish through the method of Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS).

2nd Grade

Reading

The second grade reading curriculum has a two-fold purpose. First, we want our students to become proficient and thoughtful readers who can read accurately and with understanding. Second, and most importantly, we want our students to begin to think critically about literature in the light of God’s Word, the source of all truth. We use Reading Street curriculum as the backbone for teaching critical thinking and comprehension skills. Using various writing activities, students are trained to organize their ideas and to follow a logical and orderly sequence from brainstorming to publishing the finished written work. 

Bible

Second grade Bible provides an overview of the Old Testament and the prophecies leading to birth of Christ. Students then study Jesus’ life and teachings, the epistle of James, and the book of Revelation. 

Math

Through our Everyday Math curriculum, we address a variety of topics and skills that are revisited regularly in order to ensure full concept development. The course emphasizes frequent practice of basic skills through ongoing instruction, routines, and mathematical games. 

Science

The second grade science curriculum addresses topics from four strands of science. Our goal is for students to view science as an exciting avenue for learning more about God and His Creation.

STEM

 Students benefit from a weekly STEM class, where they engage in hands-on investigations in force, motion, and simple machines, related to launching a candy pumpkin in a “punkin chunkin” challenge.  Through the design process, students learn to apply a solution to solve a problem.

Social Studies/History

Our second grade history curriculum focuses on Early Asian civilizations, Ancient Greece, the Constitution, Westward Expansion, the Civil War, and Civil Rights, among other topics. Modern Japanese culture is also studied.

Spanish

Introductory Spanish equips students to begin to engage a multicultural world, as they learn the pronunciation, basic vocabulary, and structures of Spanish through the method of Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS).  

3rd Grade

Science

A study of monarch butterflies and a unit on hatching chick eggs are hallmarks of our third grade curriculum. Through these explorations, students learn about God’s intricate creation and how He provides for and equips various living creatures for their environments and survival. 

STEM

Students will demonstrate an understanding of how to connect science, technology, engineering, and mathematics content, practice, and processes while engaging in inquiry-based and project-based learning activities. In the unit, What Floats Your Boat? students will use the design cycle to solve real-world problems related to buoyancy. 

Social Studies/History

Our study of history includes units on Ancient Rome, the Vikings, and the Thirteen Colonies. Geography studies focus on world rivers, and studies in modern culture explore Canada.

Bible

The teachings of the Old Testament drive our Bible curriculum, beginning with selected portions of prophecy relating to Christ, and concluding with the early church. 

Math

In math, students are exposed to a variety of topics and skills which are revisited regularly in order to ensure full concept development. Emphasis is placed on problem-solving, an approach that seeks to develop critical thinking. 

English/Language Arts

Weekly writing assignments in language arts encourage students to sequence and organize thoughts to effectively communicate in written text. As part of Writing across the Curriculum, major writing assignments are built into the curriculum to give students the building blocks of basic research and report writing. 

Reading

Our reading program is designed to create lifelong, motivated readers who are able to discern an author’s intended message and then respond to what they have read. Titles include: The Big Bike Race, Hannah, Shoeshine Girl, A Mouse Called Wolf, Daughter of Liberty, Being Teddy Roosevelt, Spotlight on Cody, Mister and Me, Stone Fox, The Chalk Box Kid, A Doctor Like Papa, The King's Equal, School's Out, Earthquake in Third Grade, Spring Break, Lexi's Tale, Five Smooth Stones, The Night the Bells Rang, Pioneer Summer, The Sword in the Tree, I'll Meet You at the Cucumbers, and Stanley Flat Again.

Spanish

Introductory Spanish equips students to begin to engage a multicultural world, as they learn the pronunciation, basic vocabulary, and structures of Spanish through the method of Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS).  Music and culture are also important elements of our lower school Spanish instruction.

4th Grade

Science

Fourth grade science opens up a world of hypothesizing, testing, and exploring the creation around us as students are challenged to make conclusions based on evidence gathered through observation and experimentation, touching on four strands of science: life, physical, earth, and space and technology. 

STEM

Students will be able to independently demonstrate grade appropriate understanding of STEM content, make connections between STEM and real life, and work collaboratively to write a plan using the design cycle to solve complex problems related to building bridges and skyscrapers.

Math

Math emphasizes a real-world problem-solving approach that seeks to develop critical thinking in six mathematical content strands: numeration; operations and computation; patterns, functions and algebra; geometry; measurement; data analysis and probability. 

Reading

Our fourth grade reading curriculum equips students with the vocabulary, comprehension and interpretive skills necessary to read literature in the light of God’s Word – the Source of all truth. Literature titles include: The Cabin Faced West, This Island Isn't Big Enough for the Four of Us, William Shakespeare and the Globe, Old Ironsides Building a Fighting Ship, Liberty, Monsieur Eek, Number the Stars, Good-bye Marianne, Faraway Summer, The Revolutionary John Adams, My Brother Made Me Do It, The School Story, Young Abe Lincoln: Frontier Days 1809-1837, Harriet Tubman: A Woman of Courage, John F. Kennedy: The Making of a Leader, They're Off: Pony Express, The Amazing Impossible Ene Canal, All the Way Home, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Because of Winn Dixie, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, and Plain Girl, among others. 

Bible

In our study of the Bible, students are encouraged to develop God-honoring characteristics as revealed in the lives of biblical personalities, such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Joshua. 

English/Language Arts

In fourth grade, students increase their knowledge of the writing process, crafting pieces within a variety of genres so that they learn to organize their ideas and write in a clear and cohesive format consistent with their individual writing style. 

Social Studies/History

In social studies/history, we examine the Middle Ages, African Kingdoms, and China, in addition to the American Revolution and the history of Pennsylvania - including its geography, economy, and government, culminating in a field trip to Harrisburg.

Spanish

Introductory Spanish equips students to begin to engage a multicultural world, in keeping with DC’s mission to impact the world for Christ.  Students learn the pronunciation, basic vocabulary, and structures of Spanish through the method of Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS).

5th Grade

Science

Studying the sea shore ecosystem at Cape May and identifying and classifying rocks and minerals while camping are highlights of the 5th grade experience at DC. Centered around the genius of our creator God, these excursions and other explorations, such as handling specimens, participating in experiments, watching demonstrations, and discussing issues with fellow classmates all help to connect students’ learning to the real world.

STEM

Students will be able to independently demonstrate grade appropriate understanding of STEM content, make connections between STEM and real life, and use the design cycle to collaboratively design a “beat-the-heat” spacecraft.

History

DC fifth graders also explore America’s heritage. Distinct periods covered include colonization, events leading to a break with Great Britain, and the War for Independence. Students readily understand history not to be individual events in time, but the cause and effect of one event upon another. 

Bible

Our Bible curriculum investigates how godly choices are made, and examines that theme in a study of the lives of Ruth, Saul, and David. 

Math

In math, students practice all four operations with decimals and fractions, thinking critically and developing a variety of problem solving strategies. 

Reading

Our fifth grade reading program includes titles such as Among the Hidden, Lily’s Crossing, White Lilacs, I’m Not Who You Think I am, Danger Along the Ohio, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The Great Horned Spoon, Phantom Tollbooth, My Brother My Sister and I, The Bandit of Ashley Downs, A Boat to Nowhere, The Other Side of Truth, Dragon’s Gate, Gideon’s People, Fever 1793, Escape From Warsaw, and others. 

English/Language Arts

English/Language Arts emphasizes writing often and in a variety of situations so that students develop writing fluency and the ability to write for different purposes.

Spanish

Introductory Spanish equips students to begin to engage a multicultural world, as they learn the pronunciation, basic vocabulary, and structures of Spanish through the method of Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS).  Building on the skills of the earlier grade levels, students in fifth grade put their learning to work as they read short stories in Spanish.

SAIL

Schools for Applied and Innovative Learning

The Schools for Applied and Innovative Learning (SAIL) are designed to build on DC’s liberal arts educational framework. SAIL is comprised of three components: The School of Arts, the School of Humanities and Entrepreneurship, and the School of STEM.

Several exciting curricular experiences are in place at the Lower School which invite students to step into the world of SAIL’s interdisciplinary, collaborative, and product-oriented courses.

For example, in art class, our students study Leonardo daVinci’s masterpieces in science and art, learning how his liberal arts mind allowed him to revolutionize so many parts of daily life; they create artwork that reflects their experiences with nature in our beautiful outdoor classrooms.

Students enjoy weekly STEM classes that foster collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving as students work through the design cycle to create a product that meets a need. Our students are engaged with a breadth of problems, including a super hero unit during which they develop a glider for a super hero that will allow for quick getaways, design a helmet to protect their superhero’s head during the inevitable collisions that are occupational hazards of super heroes, and design a web to catch bad guys that is able to hold a given amount of weight. The excitement our students have about STEM is yielding benefits in all areas of their education. They are developing greater confidence, high-level thinking, and enthusiasm about learning.

We also get our families involved in this unique learning with Explore! Nights. These evenings provide our community with opportunities to explore topics within the Fine Arts, Humanities and STEM disciplines. Through discovery and hands on experiences, students and parents participate in fun evenings of learning together! Our inaugural Explore! Fine Arts Night included workshops on the art of mime, voice aerobics, and storytelling through dance that were led by high school students. Family field trips round out our Lower School SAIL opportunities, with excursions to a glass blowing studio, the Pennsylvania Farm Show, and The Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center. All of these learning experiences build on our Lower School students’ core learning in the liberal arts, creating a complementary program of learning that is relevant, engaging, and developmentally appropriate.

Contact Information

Joy Ludwig
Head of Lower School
610-353-6522 x1534
jludwig@dccs.org

Kevin McIntyre
Assistant Head of Lower School
610-353-6522 x1600
kmcintyre@dccs.org

Louisa Thompson
Administrative Assistant
Lower School Office
610-353-6522 x1514
lthompson@dccs.org

Stephanie Fitzgerald
Administrative Assistant
Lower School Office
610-353-6522 x1524
sfitzgerald@dccs.org