Our students become independent, critical thinkers and experience joy in reading and creative expression
Children in Kindergarten and 1st grade 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.
Countryside School's emphasis on writing begins in kindergarten and is broadened every year.Through the two year program, students are exposed to lessons in vocabulary and spelling. In addition to targeted language arts instruction about roots, prefixes, suffixes, spelling rules, and patterns, vocabulary study is integrated with every curricular area. Students learn vocabulary words in the context of what they are studying in science, social studies, math, world language, music, art, and physical education. Beginning in 1st grade, the students are exposed to a structured grammar program.
The language of math and thinking logically should become as natural as thinking in language
When our bakery is open for business, our Kindergarten and 1st graders become personal shoppers for the older students in the school. They also become the cashier utilizing skills of addition, subtraction, money, and figuring change. This project creates real life applications of the math they learn.
Through math assessments, each child's unique math level is known, and teachers work to recognize these differing abilities through individual and small group work. We utilize engaging 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 (Geometry and Algebra II). The math levels are not identified by grade as they are more challenging than traditional grade levels in math.
Teachers adjust the difficulty of the course according to each child's knowledge level. Kindergarten emphasizes number sense.
Sample Kindergarten math topics:
- Introduced to place value of whole numbers up to 100
- Strategies for solving single- and double-digit addition and subtraction problems
- Recognition of appropriate units of measurement in everyday life (time, length, temperature)
- Understanding fractions as equal parts of a whole (1/2, 1/3, and 1/4)
The 1st grade curriculum builds on the Kindergarten topics, extending place value and introducing additional skills which further develop the concepts learned in Kindergarten.
We encourage our students to be curious about the world around them
Sample science topics:
These topics rotate in a 2-year curriculum.
- Plants and plant growth
- Human body - 5 senses
- Rainforest ecosystem
- Ocean and ocean life
We integrate social science concepts into our units of study to promote a sense of exploration
The primary grades integrate various social studies concepts into their units of study to promote a sense of exploration.
Our Kindergarten/1st grade classroom brings learning to life through hands-on learning, experiences, and simulations. Using their creativity and imaginations, students travel back in time to explore an ancient Egyptian pyramid and re-enact life in the Middle Ages, complete with a jousting tournament and Grand Feast.
Social Science units covered in this exploration include geography, environmental studies, history, anthropology, trade, and government.
Sample Social Science topics include:
- Ancient Egypt
- Middle Ages
- Cultures and geographies of Africa
- Cities and states
- Countries and continents
- World Languages
- Visual Arts
- Moventures and Performing Arts
- Physical Education
- Character Education
Our students study either Chinese or Spanish beginning in Kindergarten
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®). It’s 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.
The focus in kindergarten and 1st grade is on developing informal conversation skills, acquiring vocabulary, and having fun with the language. Through the years the students develop, reinforce, and refine proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing as well as gain a basic understanding and appreciation of the diversity of cultures in the Spanish-speaking world.
The goals in kindergarten and 1st grade are:
- To develop an interest in another language for future language study
- To acquire basic words and phrases in another language
- To identify familiar nouns
- To develop listening skills
- To respond and react to commands, questions and verbal descriptions
- To compare and contrast sounds and cultural experiences in songs and chants
Music class begins with welcoming each other by singing or playing a song game. (This year during COVID, we are not singing.) We learn notation beginning in kindergarten by using ta’s (quarter notes), ti-ti’s (eighth notes), two’s (half notes), and four (whole notes).
The students learn about different instrument families and begin to play on hand bells, frame drums, and glockenspiels. Keyboards are also introduced. We work toward performing in The Fine Arts Show, our K-5th grade performance on the “big” stage featuring songs and stories for our families and friends.
In the K/1 room, art focuses on line, shape and color
Class begins with the reading of an illustrated children's book which helps to stimulate each child's individual creativity. Throughout the year, we move on to discussing art history and artists to inspire their work as well.
The lessons are inspired by what the students have been learning in social studies or science. We introduce multi-step lessons and separate each step by day so that the students can learn to build upon their ideas.
The Great Kapok Tree
Based on the book with the same title by Lynne Cherry, the children have individual roles in the play. They create their own costumes and memorize their lines. The familiar environment of our very own Kapok Tree (and classroom rainforest) is the "stage" for the play!
Early elementary students practice their performance skills in classroom presentations that are related to units of study such as space, the ocean, or the rain forest. These performances are coordinated by their classroom teachers and take place in the comfort of their classroom. (Due to COVID, class performances are on hold this year.)
The students learn the basics of what it takes to put on a performance. They experience creating a set, making costumes, following a script, and performing roles. Emphasis is also placed on being a good member of the audience.
In addition the students meet weekly with their Moventures teacher. Moventures is a combination of dramatic arts, movement, art, and music. The students play acting games – acting out stories or scenarios. Art movement activities include games such as creating their own symbol and creating an action or movement to go with the symbol.
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.
We believe that students should be active now and throughout their lives
We focus on joy in learning, comfort in participation, and confidence in playing. We emphasize developing overall good health and teaching children how to work together as a team.
Our Physical Education program teaches sportsmanship and skill development as well as physical fitness including muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardio-respiratory endurance.
There are also opportunities to develop motor and locomotor skills that develop positive body image and confidence as well as participation in rhythmic activities that develop coordination, self-expression, creativity, and endurance. Our goal for each class is that every student is engaged and active in a controlled and safe environment as the children explore sports and activities that they can enjoy for life.
Sample Kindergarten & 1st grade PE skills:
- Following rules and procedures
- Body awareness
- Cooperating with classmates
- Motor and locomotor skills
- Fulfilling the urge to play
Scooterville - Welcome to “Scooterville”, where students are given cars (scooters) and can visit places including the mini golf park, car wash, bowling alley, fitness center, dance studio, and McScooters. It is always the highlight of the year for our elementary students.
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