Our Lower School academic program is carefully crafted and designed to meet and exceed the national standards, preparing our students for academic success in their Upper School years and beyond. The Lower School curriculum is accelerated to a year above most local public school systems. We strive to create a supportive learning environment that encourages creativity, critical thinking and self confidence where students are able to grow and thrive as lifelong learners.
Subject Specialization Teaching Model
Quarry Lane has determined that the benefits for students taught by teachers who specialize in one subject area - an area they are passionate about - are significant. Beginning in first grade, our Lower School utilizes a specialized teaching model with blocks of instructional time in literature, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies (engineering becomes a core class in grades 3-5). Throughout these blocks, students are taught by specialists who are dedicated to their area of expertise.
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Engineering & Technology
- World Languages
- Physical Education
At Quarry Lane, we believe that skills for reading, writing, communicating, and listening are essential for success in all other areas of learning. The Lower School language arts program is designed to maximize each child’s potential to cultivate articulate communicators and thoughtful, independent readers and writers.This strong foundation creates a seamless transition into the Upper School curriculum.
Beginning in Jr. Kindergarten and Kindergarten, the program incorporates reading, writing, spelling, phonics, grammar and vocabulary. Additionally, it introduces the process of creating written work that flows in sequence and conveys thoughts clearly. As our students progress through our program, they focus on both the skills and process of writing—learning to draft, revise, edit and proofread their work. By fourth grade, students compose narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive essays and are expected to apply their writing skills in literature analysis, compare and contrast pieces, as well as research papers for science and social studies.
Our goal is to develop lifelong readers who are able to demonstrate a proficiency in the interpretation and analysis of a wide variety of texts, authors and genres. Through these skills, we believe our students can better interpret the world around them while crafting their own unique voice as communicators.
At Quarry Lane, the goal of our mathematics department is to develop confident problem solvers that have a solid understanding of mathematical concepts. We accomplish this by teaching and supporting our students to think creatively and independently as they discover and explore mathematics, while ensuring our students’ mastery of each concept.
Our faculty employs strategies in the classroom that help students develop a curiosity, motivation and excitement for math. Our curriculum provides students with opportunities to engage in hands-on problem solving activities using manipulative pieces related to the concept that is taught. Students also participate in in-depth investigations of concepts using models and drawings, math talks and discussions, writing activities to explain mathematical thinking, and projects relevant to their interests, personalities, and levels of experience.
Beginning in Junior Kindergarten and continuing through fifth grade, students are taught mathematics skills and concepts a year above their grade level. From making tens in a variety of ways in Junior Kindergarten, to using the Distributive Property to solve equations in fifth grade, our students walk away with a strong foundation for Pre-Algebra and Algebra, allowing them to excel and pursue higher mathematics courses in the Upper School.
We believe students learn best by doing. The science program at Quarry Lane takes an experiential, hands-on approach, utilizing the Full Option Science System (FOSS). Developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science in conjunction with the University of California, Berkeley. FOSS was created specifically to provide students an opportunity to advance their scientific knowledge and understanding through observation and hands-on experiences.
The Lower School science curriculum encompasses a variety of units in the life, physical and earth sciences. Throughout these units, investigation, experimentation and analysis are interwoven into hands-on experiences. For example, during our Lower School’s Ocean Week, the curriculum is focused on marine biology and habitats. Throughout the week, students learn through creating three-dimensional models, conducting research reports, and beginning in third grade, performing dissections.
Field trips throughout the year, including an overnight field trip to the Pigeon Point Light House in the third grade, complement our science curriculum and provide our students with firsthand experiences in their areas of study. By actively participating and engaging with scientific concepts and materials, our Lower School students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sciences.
The social studies curriculum at Quarry Lane provides our students with a historical and current perspective about their local community, state, country, and other countries and cultures throughout the world. Our program strives to connect our students to the world around them and encourages them to be active and responsible global citizens.
Studies begin with a focus on communities, families and cultures from around the world, expanding our students' global view. In grade four, students focus their studies on the state of California, learning about the state's rich history, Native American culture, geography, government, and regions. Students in fifth grade explore the history and origins of the United States, from the native peoples of North America to the colonization of the thirteen colonies through the American Revolution.
We enrich our students' knowledge through engaging learning experiences and field trips including an overnight experience through the Coloma Outdoor School in fourth grade.
At Quarry Lane, we have developed a robust and challenging engineering and robotics program, spanning our Lower School grades (Jr. K through Grade 5) and Upper School grades (Grade 6 -12). Utilizing real-world, hands-on teaching models, our specialized engineering and robotics courses are weaved into our curriculum throughout our students' academic experience.
In our Lower School, engineering and technology is built into our curriculum beginning in Jr. Kindergarten; the goal being to create an excitement about engineering through the use of hands-on, practical lessons and application.
Jr. Kindergarten through Grade 2
- Scratch Jr. (Jr.K - Grade 1) and Scratch (Grade 2): Computer programming application developed out of MIT for young children, used on school-provided iPads and desktops
- GoMath: Modeling kits utilized in the daily math curriculum to foster kinesthetic learning and independent design
- Cubelets (Grade 1 & 2): Robot Blocks - modular robotics
Grade 3 through Grade 5
In grades 3 through 5, engineering becomes a core curricular class added to our students’ daily schedule.
- Scratch: Computer programming application developed out of MIT for young children, used on desktop computers in school computer lab
- EiE (Engineering is Elementary): Inquiry-based engineering curriculum program is implemented using a responsive teaching approach. EiE utilizes a five step engineering design process: ask, imagine, plan, create and improve.
- VEX Robotics Program (Grade 5): Optional elective class offered to fifth grade students at competitive and non-competitive levels. NOTE: The Quarry Lane team has competed and won at the state-level robotics championship.
Through both group and independent projects, students are challenged to use critical thinking skills to solve problems - building and learning both technical and interpersonal skills.
- Hard skills: simple circuits and principles of electricity, structural engineering, mechanical engineering and simple machines, sensors and interactive electronics, electromagnetism, motors and speakers, and material sciences
- Soft skills: design thinking, collaboration, time management, communication, and organization
We believe in the important role that art plays in the development of the mind and in training the mind to think creatively. Our comprehensive arts curriculum provides our students with the opportunity to develop their creative expression and learn how to express themselves through a variety of visual mediums.
Beginning in Jr. Kindergarten, students learn the basic principles and elements of design and begin building an artistic foundation through mediums, such as painting, sculpture and collage. In third through fifth grades, students begin to build upon their artistic foundation by applying real-world concepts as they begin projects in graphic design, industrial design, architectural design, and more.
The Lower School art program also takes an interdisciplinary approach - weaving in concepts from science, language arts, social studies, mathematics and engineering into their projects. Global and cultural learning are also incorporated into our students' art experiences as they are introduced to the work of many artists and cultures. Throughout the art curriculum, students are introduced to the works of influential artists and movements including, but not limited to, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Piet Mondrian, and Henri Matisse. Through this approach, students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the historical and social contexts of art and are able to extract meaning and context into their own work.
Music is an essential part of the Quarry Lane Lower School experience and is offered to all of our Lower School students. Students experience the world through music as they learn about different music genres, cultures and artists, and how to create music themselves. Students begin their exploration through listening, singing and movement. Beginning in first grade, each student learns to play the violin and as students advance through our program, other instruments, including the ukulele and recorder are introduced. The Lower School music program culminates in the fifth grade with students participating in the wind band, where they select and learn a wind instrument of their choice.
During the year, students have the opportunity to showcase their learning at select performances, including our annual Lower School musicals. Through these performances, students build self-confidence and learn important cooperation and communication skills.
We begin our world languages program in our Lower School because we believe that learning languages during a child's early years builds better language proficiency, as well as expands our students' global learning. Quarry Lane's engaging world languages curriculum includes the use of songs, games, and hands-on projects. Throughout the curriculum, students are assessed for their oral language proficiency and as they progress through the program, an emphasis is also placed on reading, writing, and grammar. Our world language curriculum is further enriched by teaching students about the culture, history and traditions of people and countries that speak the language, expanding their global knowledge and appreciation.
The world language curriculum also takes an interdisciplinary approach that reinforces topics and concepts covered in other subjects. For example, students learning about flora and fauna of a region in science will learn related terminology in their world language class. We believe this approach affords a deeper and more meaningful learning experience for our students.
At Quarry Lane, we believe that physical fitness and activity are essential components to our students' success and overall well-being. The Lower School physical education program offers students an opportunity to build and improve their athletic skills and physical health as well as gain valuable cognitive, emotional, and social skills, such as teamwork, collaboration, and sportsmanship. Utilizing Quarry Lane's gymnasium and outdoor playing field, students are introduced to a wide variety of individual and team sports. They learn important concepts and skills to improve their personal health and wellness.