Our students become independent, critical thinkers and experience joy in reading and creative expression
Children in grades K-3 learn to read individually and in small peer groups of three to eight children. These reading groups are based on each child's instructional level. Children are exposed to both the phonetic approach and to whole language as they learn to read using literature books.
The 2nd and 3rd grade Reading Writing Workshop incorporates skills in spelling, reading, writing, and grammar. Reading concentrates on comprehension strategies and combines guided book groups and independent work. Writing emphasizes the writing process and styles of writing including opinion, persuasive, narrative, and poetry among others. Grammar work incorporates types of sentences, parts of speech, conjunctions, verb tenses, and subject-verb agreement.
The 4th and 5th grade Literature Writing Workshop curriculum is organized into genre studies, which allow students to read, discuss, and synthesize information from mentor texts and then apply what they have learned to their own writing. Some genres covered over the rotating two-year curriculum include mysteries, poetry, biographies, adventure fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, myths, and journals/diaries.
Living History Museum
Biography is the only genre repeated each year in our rotating 4th and 5th grade Literature Writing Workshop curriculum. The highlight of the biography unit is performing in our Living History Museum. Our 4th graders write their own skit based on a biography they read and our 5th graders perform a monologue.
The language of math and thinking logically should become as natural as thinking in language
The program is structured so that each student will be challenged at his or her current level of performance with fun, relevant, practical, and appealing activities that tap into the remarkable cognitive potential of each child. Teachers strive to instill a positive attitude about math and to ensure that each child will experience success in his or her math level.
Countryside offers math levels A through G, Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Advanced Math. The math levels are not identified by grade as they are more challenging than traditional grade levels in math.
Instruction occurs in small groups of 6-20 students. Children are grouped by instructional level for mathematics and may participate in a group at a higher grade level.
Elementary math runs from Level C through F. Level C topics include:
- Place value and number sense
- Addition and subtraction with regroupings
- Area & perimeter, geometry, and measurement
- Basic multiplication, division, and estimation
Topics progress from Level C through F. Level F topics include:
- Exponents and scientific notation
- "Order of Operations" rules to solve problems
- Adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing whole numbers, decimals, and fractions
- Converting between fractions, decimals, and percent representation of a number
- Deriving and solving word problems involving multiple operations
- Using variables to represent unknowns in equations
- Solving problems related to area, volume, and capacity using U.S. customary units and metric units.
Reinforcing Math Concepts through Games
Our 3rd grade math students play Hungry Hungry Hippos to practice their skills with fractions. The “hippos” collect balloon fractions with various denominators and then order them from least to greatest using the least common denominator. Critical thinking and collaboration, and fun all at play during this joyful activity.
We encourage our students to be curious about the world around them
Our science program is a minds-on, hands-on curriculum that motivates them to be independent science learners outside of the classroom.
Our program, a spiraling model that reintroduces topics multiple times with increasing difficulty, combines factual knowledge with real-life applications. Rather than being textbook-based, our curriculum has been designed to use books as resources and lab-based exploration as the norm.
While we do teach topic-based units, we also put great emphasis on experimentation, problem solving and science process skills. In addition to our basic curriculum, we teach our students the logical relationship between science and technology.
Our program rotates on a two-year cycle covering several topics. Some of the highlights include:
2nd/3rd grade topics
- Body Systems
- Animal Classifications
- Animal Adaptations
- Simple Machines and Forces & Energy
- Scientific Method
- States of Matter
- Water Cycle and Weather
4th/5th grade topics
- Living Organisms
- Weather & erosion
- Earth’s spheres
- Natural Resources
- Matter & Its Interactions
- Engineering Design
Our emphasis is on learning about many different cultures
American Revolution musical
Our Hamiltonesque exploration of American history – A previous 2nd/3rd grade class wrote the script, and our students create the props and choreograph the musical.
Our 2nd grade/3rd grade class utilizes Exploration/Inquiry-based learning - always posing a question the students are trying to answer. We also learn through simulations, like our Louis and Clark simulation. Our curriculum is a rotating two-year plan with one year covering history and civics including the Age of Exploration, the American Revolution, and U.S. Westward expansion. In the other year, we cover geography including map skills and regions of the world as well as the United States and Illinois. This year also introduces the concepts of governmental structures and economic systems including our ever-popular Classroom City economic simulation.
Our 4th/5th grade class studies comparative government and economies, the Industrial Revolution, immigration and citizenship, 20th century U.S history from World War I through the Civil Rights Movement, and U.S and World geography. 4th and 5th grade skills learned include:
- Analyzing primary source documents
- Synthesizing non-fiction texts
- Civil discourse
- Supporting claims with evidence
- Making connections between past and present events
- Interpreting maps
- World Languages
- Fine Arts
- Moventures and Performing Arts
- Computer Programming
- Physical Education
- Character Education
Our students study either Chinese and Spanish beginning in Kindergarten and add Latin in 4th grade
Our Chinese program is for students with little or no prior Chinese knowledge. Students are introduced to common Chinese words and phrases while also learning simplified Chinese characters. The characters are used in conjunction with Pinyin to integrate their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. In addition, Chinese cultural knowledge is introduced and embedded in the curriculum in alignment with the Chinese holidays.
From kindergarten to 3rd grade, the Chinese curriculum is based on Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS). We utilize songs, games, and group activities to help students remember weekly vocabulary. We strive to build a solid foundation in Mandarin and to help students become confident and comfortable speaking and using Chinese in their daily lives.
We promote the overall appreciation of Chinese culture too. We celebrate Chinese New Year with performances at school and the Champaign Public Library as well as present our oral performance and dances in class.
Spanish classes at Countryside are not your traditional world language classes. We use a method called “Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling” (TPRS®) with compelling comprehensible input. It is basically story-based immersion presented with compelling comprehensive input focusing the instruction on the student’s acquisition of language. Acquisition is an effortless, involuntary process, which results in long-term memory. With this approach, the students are listening before speaking and learning vocabulary and grammar in context by example and usage. It is an exciting way to help students develop true proficiency.
The focus in 2nd and 3rd grade is on developing informal conversation skills, acquiring vocabulary and having fun with the language. The 4th and 5th grade curriculum adds more development of reading and writing skills along with strengthening oral communication skills and listening comprehension.
The goals in 2nd-5th grade include:
- To develop an understanding of and an appreciation for other languages and cultures
- To develop real usable listening comprehension skills
- To develop verbal proficiency in Spanish
- To build a vocabulary base, which will enable the learner to communicate about a variety of frequently discussed topics
- To develop solid language skills in the four modes of language: listening, speaking, reading and writing
Latin is introduced in 4th grade when students take both Latin and their primary world language for two years. In 6th grade students may choose which of the three languages to continue in middle school.
Our Latin program begins with students learning basic concepts of Latin grammar and developing an understanding of Roman culture. They learn to translate simple Latin prose and begin building their Latin vocabulary.
The students are introduced to subject and direct object forms in the singular and plural. They learn three different verb tenses and the forms of each of these. They are introduced to prepositional phrases as well as subject/verb agreement.
Each class learns about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the daily life of the Romans, gladiators, and the Roman army. The students are also introduced to Latin and Greek roots, suffixes, and prefixes to help develop vocabulary building strategies.
By 5th grade, our students understand musical notation and are able to read music
Each music class begins with welcoming each other by singing or playing a song game. (During Covid, our classes are not singing.) Students learn about the different instrument families and progress to identifying these instruments in recordings. Learning notation starts in kindergarten and by 5th grade the goal is for students to understand musical notation and be able to read music.
Performing begins in kindergarten on frame drums and glockenspiels and through 2nd and 3rd grade progresses to playing Orff instruments (xylophones and metallophones). Third graders learn how to appropriately play the recorder while reading music and composing, and 5th graders begin the ukulele and learn how to pick out melodies and learn basic chords. All grades work on keyboards at varying levels of difficulty.
Each spring our elementary students perform in The Fine Arts Show – a wonderful evening event on the Cathie Webber stage featuring both solo and ensemble performances showcasing our kindergarten through 5th grade students.
In 2nd and 3rd grade, the students learn to create more complicated artwork using line, shape, and color. For example, instead of basic patterns, they learn how to create details and texture using zentangles. We incorporate various artists and cultures into the lessons. Projects may include emoticons, treasure maps, landscapes, zentangle leaves, and kente cloth inspired paper weavings.
The projects become longer in 4th and 5th grade, requiring more steps, details, and/or various materials. For instance, the students develop a mixed media piece where they create their own potted plants using model magic, watercolor, and oil pastels. Students also create their own comic book page. In 4th grade they create a multi-media space-themed project while 5th grade might learn radial symmetry/circle weaving.
With our Moventures teacher, our 2nd and 3rd graders play drama games. Moventures is a combination of dramatic arts, movement, art, and music. In 2nd grade, the students play acting games – acting out stories or scenarios. They create “living Mad Libs” by filling in the words in a story and acting it out. Art movement activities include games such as creating their own symbol and creating an action or movement to go with the symbol.
Over the course of a trimester, the 3rd graders create their own skit as a class. They create the theme, characters, plot, setting, scenes, and lines. When the story is complete, the students make the props and sound effects. They record themselves acting out the scenes, and the teacher edits the “movie” to watch as a class.
The 4th and 5th graders explore theatre games that focus on creativity and collaboration. Through group warm-up games, students learn the importance of eye contact, listening, and connecting as an ensemble. Through mime and creative movement games, they use their imaginations to express themselves individually. As the school year progresses, we explore emotion and expression in storytelling. In a typical (non-pandemic) year, we work to develop confidence and stage presence through rehearsal and performance on our stage.
Each spring (non-pandemic year), the K – 5th grade students work with the music and performing arts teachers to present a musical production on the main stage for their family and friends.
In 2nd and 3rd grade, our students spend time each week learning about how computers work and how to program them. They complete lessons on digital citizenship, sequencing, binary, loops, conditionals, events, and data.
Throughout the year, they have opportunities to express their creativity through their work, such as programming the choreography for a dance performance or designing a game.
Enjoy this Dance Party programmed by one of our 3rd graders
We strive for our students to find physical activities they can enjoy doing for the rest of their lives
In P.E. class we learn basic skills and rules of various games. The lower elementary classes accomplish this through different types of station work. The upper elementary classes build off of that and spend more time on mini games. The goal is for all students is to get exercise and to have fun. We strive for every student to find one or more activities that they enjoy and can continue doing for the rest of their lives.
We learn to play:
- Floor Hockey
- Frisbee Games
We emphasize cooperation, perseverance, sportsmanship, hard work, and goal setting. Each month we also spend time going over a specific health-related topic.
This year due to COVID, our P.E. sports shift to more individual and socially distanced activities including disc golf, yard games, and fitness drumming.
- Golf – Our First Tee Golf Program introduces elementary students to the basic skills of golf using modified equipment. Each lesson also focuses on 1 of 9 main core values and 9 health habits.
- Roller Skating - Starting in 2nd grade, students participate in a two-week roller skating unit each fall. We learn how to put on the skates properly, to stand up and stop, and even skate backward. Following the unit, we have a family skating event at Skateland.
Character development is one of the most fundamental aspects of any child's education
The principles instilled during childhood influence the type of citizen, parent or leader a student will become. Our Character Building program helps model appropriate behavior. We strive to nurture the growth of these ideals in our students' social and emotional development.
Our Character Building Qualities include:
- Good Judgment