Elementary (Grades 2-5)
Our unique classroom structure
Our elementary classrooms - Kindergarten/1st grade, 2nd/3rd grade, and 4th/5th grade - are each combined classrooms of approximately 30 students with two teachers, one for each grade level. Language arts and math are taught in small groups according to ability. Science and social science topics are on a two-year rotating schedule so that a student experiences all topics in the course of the two years in the classroom.
The multi-age classroom structure works well. It gives students regular opportunities to look up to older role models and to serve as role models for younger students. Children have multiple years to develop and can see themselves as progressive, successful learners. In addition to developing leadership skills and fostering a community feeling and spirit, these classrooms allow students to develop friendships with more than just the students in their actual grade. Since half the class changes each year, new students find it easy to fit in.
2nd grade/3rd grade
We begin each day with our Morning Meeting, followed by math - studying everything from basic math facts to practical uses of mathematics in our everyday lives.
As you look around the 2nd/3rd grade classroom you will see evidence of the variety of subjects we study, including creative writing compositions, science experiments, social studies simulations, U.S. geography, national government, and cultural studies. You can also see special projects from reading, writing, science, and social studies. We provide cross-curricular experiences to our students as they apply what they have learned in different subject areas.
We have great field trips ranging from performing arts at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts to learning history at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield. We also perform our American Revolution musical and take part in our hugely popular "Classroom City" economic simulation.
Considering all the work we do, it's no wonder that we take time each day to refresh ourselves with a morning snack, lunch break, and afternoon recess. We also enjoy PE every day, and we study a world language (either Spanish or Chinese), music, art and drama.
Over the years, alumni have often come back after going to college and said, "What I needed to know for college I learned at Countryside."
Cathie Webber, Founding Head of Countryside School
Highlights of the 2nd/3rd grade classroom
- Flexible learning environment
- Creating entrepreneurs with our "Classroom City" economic simulation
- Going West in our Louis and Clark simulation
- Field trips to Museum of the Grand Prairie, Krannert Center, and Children's Discovery Museum
- Exploring history with our American Revolution musical
- Writing, writing, writing in all subjects
4th and 5th grade at Countryside is a great time for students to continue to experience a love of learning and creativity, while developing organization skills, study habits, and life skills that can apply for years to come.
The Literature/Writing Workshop curriculum is organized into genre studies, in which students read, discuss, and synthesize information from mentor texts and then apply what they have learned to their own writing. Social studies and science classes integrate hands-on labs and simulations, while also giving students a firm background in notetaking, study skills, writing, and test-taking skills.
In math class, we build on students' prior conceptual understanding to explore new mathematical algorithms and apply them to more complex problems. We focus on depth over speed and know that the most beneficial experiences in math allow us to make connections and understand deeply.
Students continue to study either Spanish or Chinese and begin a two-year long study of Latin. They also are engaged in PE, music, visual art, and drama classes.
Within all subject areas, teachers encourage students to persevere through challenges and take risks, with an emphasis on the idea that good practice leads to increased skill and that mistakes help us to grow and learn.
Highlights of the 4th/5th grade classroom:
- Hiking the trails and bonding as a class at Turkey Run State Park
- Sharing an original skit (4th graders) or a monologue (5th graders) during our Living History performance
- Solving a crime in our Murder Mystery party
- Creating and building games based on electricity and magnetism
- Becoming a confident and accomplished communicator, both orally and in written form
- Developing increasing independence and taking on more personal responsibility