Top Bar

SAR

It’s not just what you learn. It’s who you become.

Hero Image

Interior Navigation Container

Academy - Lower School

At the Lower School, grades 1-5, SAR’s open architecture promotes open thinking, boundless energy and a warm, inclusive atmosphere. We open our students’ minds to history, literature, math, science, tefillah, Gemara and Medinat Yisrael – all through the lens of Torah. In each grade, we follow a curriculum created by our own administrators and faculty, and accredited by the New York Association of Independent Schools. Our secular and Judaic curricula are both academically challenging and developmentally appropriate. We nurture in our children the understanding that Torah informs who we are in all of our interactions, and how we hold ourselves in the world.

First Grade

First Grade

In first grade, students begin to build the skills necessary for lifelong learning. Since this is their first year in SAR’s “Big Building,” they become part of a collaborative classroom community and connect to the greater school’s kehilla. It is also their first opportunity to participate fully in community-wide events and cross-grade learning.

Ivrit

In first grade, students gain the skills necessary for language proficiency. We first focus on learning how to read and write the alphabet in print and in script. Students also build their Hebrew vocabulary with words relating to the times of the year, school, and home life. Through games and activities, we begin to speak in Hebrew using short sentences and basic verb conjugations. We also meet in reading groups four times each week to strengthen comprehension, reading, and conversational skills.

The Ivrit curriculum is based on the “Tal Am” program. In order to foster natural acquisitions of Hebrew language patterns, each Tal Am unit focuses on specific language patterns that are introduced through a variety of modalities. Recognition and use of language patterns build in complexity in a spiral fashion through the introduction of vocabulary and language rules and are not learned or drilled out of context. The varied activities incorporated in Tal Am are geared to target the multiple intelligences so that all students experience success. In addition, emotional intelligence is fostered in the curriculum by having students focus on the feelings of characters that appear in the stories.

Skills:

  • Decoding Hebrew alphabet in print and in script
  • Reading and comprehending short stories in Hebrew
  • Conversing in Hebrew using short sentences
  • Transferring print letters to script letters
  • Writing with accuracy
  • Expanding Hebrew vocabulary

Parsha

In our Parshat haShavua studies, our goal is for students to go home each erev Shabbat prepared to discuss the content and values expressed in the parsha. Each week, students learn the basic story of each parsha with related vocabulary. Students also discuss the values to be gained and consider how they may demonstrate those values in their own lives. Students take home “Conversation Starters/Discussion Questions” to share with their families at the Shabbat table. Students also have the opportunity to hear a d'var Torah from Morah Sarah that brings to life the values imparted in that week’s portion with modern day stories and applications.

Skills:

  • Retelling the basic story of the parsha
  • Connecting the story to Torah values

Chagim and Shabbat

Students learn about each holiday’s practices, symbols, and related brachot and vocabulary. In order to build positive and meaningful connections to the rituals, we actively engage in each holiday’s practices. Some examples include: shaking the lulav and etrog on Chol HaMoed Sukkot, anticipating Shabbat’s arrival with songs and zemirot, and celebrating the miracle of Medinat Yisrael by joining the entire school in the singing of Hallel on Yom Ha’Atzmaut.

Skills:

  • Recognizing the symbols and mitzvot of each holiday
  • Developing and utilizing vocabulary related to each holiday
  • Practicing the rituals associated with each holiday
  • Singing the songs/tefillot that relate to the holidays

Reading and Literacy

Students develop their independent reading skills through daily, small-group instruction. Groups are designed to be flexible in order to meet the learning needs and styles of individual students. We read a variety of texts drawing from fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. To measure each student’s progress and guide our instruction, we administer the DIBELS (Diagnostic Inventory of Basic Literary Skills) assessment twice each year. Laying a strong foundation for literacy is a critical cornerstone of our first grade curriculum. To this end, we provide extensive opportunities for advancing literacy throughout the day. Through read-alouds and author studies we teach comprehension and analytical skills and the students glean lifelong lessons of value. During our science and social studies units, students gain exposure to varied nonfiction texts.

Our extensive classroom library provides a warm and comfortable environment where students have opportunities for partner reading, independent exploration of books, and for selecting appropriate books to take home.

Skills:

  • Decoding vowel sounds, digraphs, blends, magic e, and vowel teams
  • Expanding sight-word vocabulary
  • Distinguishing between fiction and nonfiction
  • Comprehending story and demonstrating understanding by making text-to-self connections, retelling the story, asking and answering questions, describing the characters and setting, and making predictions.

Writing

The goal of the first grade writing curriculum is to instill a strong foundation for the mechanics of writing while simultaneously encouraging writing as a creative outlet. Through the Judith Hochman’s Basic Writing Skills program, students learn to create complex sentences using conjunctions and question words for both expository and personal narrative assignments. Students apply these skills through all content areas, particularly in social studies.

Beyond just learning how to write, students also learn how to use writing as a tool for personal expression. Students engage in open-ended journaling and compose poetry both to demonstrate understanding of content and to find their unique, creative voices.

Skills:

  • Printing both upper- and lowercase letters
  • Using conventional spelling for words with common spelling patterns, spelling untaught words phonetically, and incorporating sight-word vocabulary
  • Identifying fragments and sentences and correcting fragments to make sure they include a subject and an action
  • Composing sentences and expanding them using the conjunctions “and,” “ but,” “because”

Integrated Social Studies & Science

Through an author study of Kevin Henkes, students begin the year by exploring such concepts as friendship, cooperation, and what it means to be part of classroom community of learners. We then segue into a unit on our school community: SAR Faces and Places, where we introduce the students to key figures and areas of the school through scavenger hunts, interviews and creativity. Through our Thanksgiving study, students learn about the historical narrative and compare and contrast their lives with those of the Pilgrims. In January, we launch our Ezra Jack Keats author study with the award-winning The Snowy Day. This study provides exposure to a variety of literary themes and styles of illustration.

We also introduce students to the world of nonfiction literature and scientific experimentation through three units of study: a Chanukah Potato Unit, a Tooth Study and an Exploration of Ocean Life.

Skills:

  • Using fiction and nonfiction texts to learn new information
  • Learning features of nonfiction books
  • Hypothesizing
  • Interpreting graphs and charts
  • Organizing facts and details from texts
  • Participating in collaborative conversations

Math

Through the “Math in Focus” curriculum, we emphasize conceptual understanding, skill development, problem-solving strategies, and meta-cognition. Each lesson and chapter follows the concrete to pictorial to abstract sequence of learning. We focus on conceptualizing numbers and their part/whole relationship through number bonds and a place value study for numbers 1 - 120.

Skills:

  • Comparing and ordering numbers 1 - 100
  • Selecting best strategies for adding and subtracting one and two-digit numbers
  • Solving word problems by choosing appropriate operation and strategy
  • Problem-solving using mental math strategies

Israel Curriculum

Beginning in first grade, students study the history and landscape of Israel through a new and innovative curriculum, Eretz Yisrael Throughout the Year, developed by the Lookstein Center. Structured around the themes of Asara B'Tevet, Tu BiShvat, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim, the curriculum provides four comprehensive lessons to be taught on or around each of these dates. The lessons bring the miracle of Israel to life and feature diaries, simulations, time-machines, moral dilemmas and debates. The specifics of each grade’s units of study can be found in the Judaic Studies section.

First Grade Israel Curriculum

  • Book #1: The Kotel
    • Listening to a story and participating in activities connected to the ancient temple, its celebrations, its loss and the modern return to the Kotel
  • Book #2: Stamps Teach us Israel
    • Learning about people, places and life in Israel through pictures of some of the most beautiful stamps in the world
  • Book #3: The Symbols of Israel
    • Learning how an oleh chadash adjusts to life in Israel and learns about the meaning behind the Hatikva, Israel’s flag and emblem
  • Book #4: The Gates of Jerusalem
    • Reading a story about how the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City all sought to help the Israeli soldiers in the Six-Day War

First Grade Highlights

  • Siddur Play
    • Students develop a close relationship with Hashem and the meaning of and how to recite tefillot. Studentscreate their own siddur covers and learn meaningful and joyous songs in preparation for this family celebration.
  • Math Fair
    • A celebration with students’ families of the math knowledge gained throughout the year. Students have the opportunity to teach games, share new skills, and create math experiences and “interactive” decorations that reflect their math learning.

Second Grade

Second Grade

Second graders build on the social, emotional, and cognitive foundations developed during their first year at the Academy. Children work collaboratively with their peers to explore new ideas or topics of study and learn from each other through rich discussions and hands-on investigations. We emphasize active listening, responding to others, and contributing positively to our classroom community in which each child feels valued.

Ivrit

In second grade, students continue to build language proficiency skills. Students learn how to conjugate verbs in the present tense. We practice learning basic sentence formats such as “I can/I want/I need” through games and other activities. Additionally, students build their Ivrit vocabulary connected to their homes, the classroom environment, and the seasons of the year. The Ivrit curriculum is based on the Tal Am program which integrates songs, pictures, and books into the learning. Reading groups meet four times each week to strengthen Hebrew language skills in a smaller group setting.

Skills:

  • Conjugating verbs in present tense - single/plural, masculine/feminine
  • Reading and comprehending short stories in Hebrew
  • Conversing in Hebrew utilizing new vocabulary
  • Writing sentences with five or more words
  • Constructing a simple paragraph

Chumash

In their first year of learning Chumash, students study three parshiyot - Bereshit, Noach and Lech Lecha. Using the Tal Am curriculum, students learn the main story of the pesukim and begin to recognize Chumash vocabulary. Students read the pesukim from the Chumash independently, and learn to find the perek and passuk in their own Chumashim. They work on identifying common roots of the Chumash vocabulary and differentiating between masculine and feminine verbs. We connect the pesukim to our daily lives and focus on infusing the Torah into every aspect of our existence.

In addition, we begin to learn about Gematria - translating numbers to Hebrew letters.

Skills:

  • Reading and comprehending pesukim
  • Finding a perek and passuk
  • Acquiring Chumash grammar and vocabulary
  • Identifying common roots of Chumash verbs
  • Differentiating masculine and feminine verbs

Chagim

Students learn about the mitzvot and minhagim of each chag. We learn when the chag occurs in the Hebrew calendar and the different names and meanings of the chag. We experience the story and messages of each chag through drama, iPad games and other interactive activities. The grammar and vocabulary that the students have learned in the Ivrit curriculum are reinforced in these activities. In addition, students read books relating to each chag.

Skills:

  • Utilizing vocabulary related to each chag
  • Singing songs/tefillot related to each chag

Parsha

In the Tal Am parsha curriculum, students learn the story of each parsha with related vocabulary using colorful posters depicting the story. We discuss how to integrate the values derived from the parsha into our own lives. We encourage students to share the parshat haShavua with their families during Shabbat. Students also have the opportunity hear a d'var Torah from Morah Sarah that brings to live the values imparted in that week’s portion with modern day stories and applications.

Skills:

  • Retelling the basic story of the parsha utilizing some new vocabulary
  • Connecting the story to Torah values

Reading and Literacy

Reading encompasses almost every part of our day. Whether through guided reading groups, class read-alouds of novels and short stories, research of nonfiction resources in social studies and science, or independent reading at D.E.A.R. time (Drop Everything and Read), students participate in a rich variety of engaging reading experiences. We continue to develop fluency and comprehension in second grade through daily small group instruction. Through the Houghton Mifflin Reading Program and literature related to our social studies curriculum, children develop their ability to analyze text and express clear and well-developed thoughts about characters and plot. Teacher-generated games and phonics activities as well as Readers’ Theater allow students to hone reading expression and decoding skills.

We again utilize the D.I.B.E.L.S. in second grade to assess each student’s progress and inform instruction.

Skills:

  • Making inferences
  • Predicting logic based on details of the story or personal experiences
  • Decoding based on phonics rules and patterns
  • Reading with accuracy and expression

Writing

Using the Basic Writing Skills program, we focus first on mastering proper sentence construction and introduce early paragraph-writing. Students write frequently and in all content areas in order to develop their expository skills. Students also have the opportunity to express personal thoughts and ideas in their journals and through creative writing projects.

Skills:

  • Expanding sentences using conjunctions and the five W’s
  • Generating sentences related to a topic
  • Identifying parts of speech within a sentence
  • Deconstructing and outlining a paragraph
  • Distinguishing topic sentence vs. supporting details in a paragraph
  • Proofreading and revising sentences and paragraphs

Integrated Social Studies and Science

Throughout the year, students gain an appreciation for the natural world, their local community, and famous heroes from history and develop important observation, reading, and critical thinking skills. After an initial scientific study of seashells, we explore the neighborhood and community of North Riverdale and learn about the roles of various workers and governing bodies in the community. In the spring, students become paleontologists driven by the question: “What can we learn about the lives of dinosaurs from their fossils?” Students next examine the lives of many important figures throughout history, starting with a unit on Civil Rights heroes. We then segue into a study of Helen Keller and other historical individuals who made a difference in our world. We emerge from the pre-historic past to investigate endangered animals in our current world. Our year concludes with an introspective autobiography project, applying the writing skills we have worked on all year.

Skills:

  • Identifying relevant information from a second grade nonfiction text
  • Communicating ideas, questions, and connections between topics both verbally and through writing
  • Applying information studied both verbally and through writing

Math

Continuing with the “Math in Focus” program, we aim to solidify number sense, build a deeper understanding and application of addition and subtraction, and develop problem-solving skills through a concrete to pictorial to abstract sequence of learning. Students develop a range of strategies for solving problems and grow accustomed to articulating their thought process.

Throughout the year, students also learn to identify U.S. currency coins and bills, how to tell time to five minutes and calculate elapsed time, and measure length in centimeters, meters, inches, and feet.

Skills:

  • Conceptualizing place value to 1,000
  • Adding and subtracting multi-digit numbers with and without regrouping, using mental math and the Bar Model
  • Representing multiplication as repeated addition with factors 2, 5, and 10
  • Dividing numbers into equal parts using factors 2, 5, and 10
  • Identifying and showing halves, thirds, and fourths within circles and rectangles and demonstrating their relationship to a whole
  • Strategizing to solve word problems
  • Explaining mathematical thinking

Israel Curriculum

Beginning in first grade, students study the history and landscape of Israel through a new and innovative curriculum, Eretz Yisrael Throughout the Year, developed by the Lookstein Center. Structured around the themes of Asara B'Tevet, Tu BiShvat, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim, the curriculum provides four comprehensive lessons to be taught on or around each of these dates. The lessons bring the miracle of Israel to life and feature diaries, simulations, time-machines, moral dilemmas and debates.

Second Grade Israel Curriculum

  • Book #1: The Four Holy Cities
    • Learning about the four "holy cities" and how they intend to uphold the traditions of Jerusalem during the exile and until the rebuilding of Jerusalem
  • Book #2: Rain, Water, and Sun
    • Following a raindrop through Israel in order to learn about the importance of rain, water, and sun for Israel
  • Book #3: The Pioneers/Chalutzim
    • Seeing three chalutzim (pioneers) and how their courage, hope, and determination helped build the foundations of today’s Israel
  • Book #4: In the Footsteps of Jerusalem
    • Learning about how Jerusalem has grown and changed throughout the ages and the secret of its strength

Second Grade Highlights

  • Chumash Play

    • Students experience their own “mini” Har Sinai as they receive their first and very own Chumash and as they become the next link in our Mesorah. As they prepare for this milestone, students learn many joyous and meaningful songs and create their own Chumash covers.
  • Dinosaur Exhibit at Natural History Museum

    • The second grade visits the Hall of Saurischian and Ornithischian Dinosaurs at The Museum of Natural History. This visit furthers our investigations into dinosaurs, fossils and paleontology. We continue to look for answers to the overarching question, What can we learn from bones and other fossilized remains? At the museum we observe both carnivores and herbivores and note the features on each fossil that indicate the diet and defenses of this fascinating and extinct species.
  • Bronx Zoo

    • Primates (gorilla study) - One of the favorite trips of second graders is our visit to the Gorilla Congo in the spring. The lessons of endangered animals come alive in the rainforest as we search for mountain gorillas in their habitat! Children see and hear first hand how they can support and protect our beautiful and delicate ecosystem by educating others and respecting the natural world in which we live.
  • Celebration of Reading

    • A year of advancing our reading skills is culminated with our much anticipated and hard earned Celebration of Reading evening. Leading up to the big night, parents read a teacher-selected book to their child at home, engendering a meaningful read-aloud experience over the course of several weeks. The evening is filled with performances, book talks, games and food as we send students off with the tools for a summer (and lifetime) that we hope will be filled with continued reading experiences!

Third Grade

Third Grade

In third grade, students grow academically and emotionally by developing their independence as they also continue to work collaboratively with others. Third graders grow more comfortable and confident over the course of the year as readers and writers of both Hebrew and English, as mathematicians, and as scholars of the Torah. We focus on helping students build the skills they need to thrive within our classroom, school, and home. We model and teach productive social skills such as respectful listening and assertive communication in order to foster a caring classroom and school community.

Ivrit

In third grade, we utilize the “Tal Am” curriculum for the study of Ivrit. Students continue to develop their skills in reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, and writing. Reading groups meet four times each week to strengthen Hebrew language skills in a smaller group setting.

Skills:

  • Reading fluently
  • Writing grammatically correct sentences in present and past tense
  • Listening to and comprehending songs and books read aloud
  • Expressing in conversation grammatically correct sentences in the present and past tenses

Chumash

Students study four parshiyot during the year: Vayeira, Chayei Sarah, Toldot, and Vayetze. Throughout the year, students build their skills as Torah learners by examining common roots of words, prefixes and suffixes. Students also identify and consider the morals and values implicit and explicit in each story and consider how these values relate to the present-day. Students also learn how to read Rashi script and practice that skill by studying select Rashi commentaries during Chumash class and Parshat haShavua lessons. While learning these commentaries, students begin to analyze the text utilizing higher order thinking skills by closely reading the pesukim and looking for unusual words, missing words, and/or extra words -- “think like Rashi.”

During the year, students also learn to recognize and properly sing the Ta’amei haMikra with Rabbi Krauss or Morah Dina Najman, who teach the class once a week for six months. By recognizing the notes, students become more careful and accurate readers of the Chumash text.

Skills:

  • Reading pesukim with fluency
  • Identifying morals and values in stories
  • Identifying common root words, prefixes, and suffixes
  • Reading Rashi script
  • Recognizing Ta’amei haMikra and singing each note properly

Parsha

Each week, students spend time learning a detailed summary of the parsha. In addition, they learn one of Rashi’s commentaries in depth as the weekly d’var Torah. Students are encouraged to share the Parshat haShavua with their families during Shabbat. Students also have the opportunity to hear a d’var Torah from Morah Sarah that brings to life the values imparted in that week’s portion with modern day stories and applications.

Skills:

  • Reinforcing reading of Rashi and critical analysis of a given pasuk .

Chagim

Students enter third grade with a familiarity of the rituals and celebrations of the chagim, and we thus focus our learning on the halachot (laws) and minhagim (customs) of each holiday. Students learn new vocabulary and read Hebrew stories related to the holidays and apply them both in projects and written activities.

Skills:

  • Applying new vocabulary and holiday concepts

Reading

In reading groups, third graders develop a more nuanced understanding of stories they read through discussions and activities. While a major focus continues to be reading with fluency and accuracy, students also begin to compare genres of stories, consider the intentions of different characters, and build general comprehension skills. Students primarily read stories from the Houghton Mifflin Reading Anthology that fall in many different genres, including “Adventure Stories,” “Voyagers,” “Biographies,” and “Poetry.” Students also read longer novels, including: Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater.

Skills:

  • Comparing and contrasting characters and plot
  • Identifying the topic, main ideas, details, and characters’ experiences through context clues
  • Identifying alternative solutions to problems in the text
  • Making inferences and drawing conclusions

Writing

We integrate writing across the third grade curriculum. Students continue their sentence skills by identifying and creating different sentence types (commands, questions, and exclamations) with appropriate punctuation. They also identify sentence fragments and become adept at changing them into complete sentences. In addition, students learn to expand and combine sentences beyond short “kernels” and use both initial and medial conjunctions.

Students also examine the structure of a single paragraph (topic sentence, details, and concluding sentence) and learn to create their own from a preliminary outline. They organize their thoughts sequentially and choose transition words between ideas. Students write expository paragraphs often based on nonfiction material they have studied as well as personal narratives and creative pieces.

Skills:

  • Combining short sentences with conjunctions
  • Expanding sentences by adding more details
  • Outlining ideas for paragraph writing
  • Incorporating dialogue
  • Identifying fragments and changing them into complete sentences
  • Revising based on teacher feedback and through self-editing

Social Studies

In social studies, students examine the natural world and cultures different from their own in order to begin to build an understanding of the context in which they currently live. They compare how people in different communities adapt to or modify the physical environment to meet their needs.

We begin the year with a study of maps -- examining different types, identifying common features, and creating our own. Children become familiar with the map of the United States as well as that of the world. They compare and contrast different features of the seven continents, and throughout the year, we refer back to the maps to locate places discussed. For example, while learning about the rainforest, students analyze the impact of living in the tropics and the resulting biodiversity of animal and plant life found there. When researching different Native American tribes, they compare how the natural resources of various geographical regions are used to meet basic needs. Finally, when studying the Age of Exploration, students identify routes of famous explorers on the world map and study the motivations behind their journeys. Students complete a number of group projects in order to develop their skills as collaborators and to learn from their peers.

Skills:

  • Reading and interpreting maps
  • Presenting using Prezi slideshows, Google slideshows, and group projects
  • Researching nonfiction texts related to topics studied by the class
  • Collaborating on group projects

Math

Students continue to work with the “Math in Focus” program in order to build confidence through problem-solving and mathematical thinking. Specifically, we focus on students’ conceptual understanding and skills in addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and measurement. This year, students work with numbers up to 10,000 using the four basic operations. Students also explore fractions, the use of money, bar graphs, and geometric measurements with two- and three-dimensional shapes.

Skills:

  • Representing numbers to 10,000 in different equivalent forms
  • Measuring length, distance, height, mass, and volume of two- and three-dimensional shapes using metric units
  • Representing multi-digit addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems using concrete, pictorial, and symbolic models
  • Comparing, adding, and subtracting like fractions

Science

In third grade, children have their first opportunity to explore science more formally with a designated science teacher. They are introduced to the methodology of experimentation, from the initial steps of research to experiment design and eventually to lab report writing. Units of study include Photosynthesis, Water, Animal Life, and The Properties of Matter. Students also complete projects that apply the facts and concepts studied to a creative piece of work.

Skills:

  • Analyzing new facts and concepts within each unit
  • Designing and applying studied material to new projects
  • Experimenting and observing chemical and physical changes, using dry ice to demonstrate sublimation, and flying solar balloons

Israel Curriculum

Beginning in first grade, students study the history and landscape of Israel through a new and innovative curriculum, Eretz Yisrael Throughout the Year, developed by the Lookstein Center. Structured around the themes of Asara B'Tevet, Tu BiShvat, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim, the curriculum provides four comprehensive lessons to be taught on or around each of these dates. The lessons bring the miracle of Israel to life and feature diaries, simulations, time-machines, moral dilemmas and debates.

Third Grade Israel Curriculum

Book #1: The Negev

  • Learning about the development of the Negev with a special focus on Ben Gurion, the city of Eilat, and Bedouin life

Book #2: The Four Stories

  • Reading famous Israeli stories about trees, including: A Person is Like a Tree in the Field, The Lonely Pine Tree, Herzl and the Cypress Tree, Choni and the Carob Tree, and The Legend of the Small Bush

Book #3: The War of Independence

  • Learning about how the War of Independence began and how it was won

Book #4: Jerusalem: Israel’s Capital

  • Touring Jerusalem, includes the Knesset, the Biblical Zoo, and the Old City

Third Grade Highlights

  • Wacky Wax Museum

    • Children dress up as historical figures about whom they have read a biography and completed a written report. In the museum, they freeze in position until a visitor performs an action to make them “come alive.” At that point, each character recites a speech to teach visitors about his or her life.
  • Building the Rainforest

    • After studying many aspects of the rainforest, students create animals out of recyclable materials during art. When completed, students create a rainforest display in the SAR atrium to highlight both the beauty and the importance of the rainforest.
  • Native American Day

    • Students meet a Cherokee Indian and a cultural anthropologist who teach about the Eastern Woodland Indians. The many workshops help shape students’ understanding of the role that the environment plays in shaping the Eastern Woodland culture. In addition to viewing many special objects that set up in a “museum,” students walk through a longhouse and play traditional Indian games.
  • Rashi Breakfast

    • Third graders teach their parents select commentaries of Rashi that were studied during the year at this celebratory breakfast. Students prepare for this event by learning about who Rashi was and the magnitude of his teaching.
  • Natural History Museum Visit

    • As part of the Native American study, students complete a scavenger hunt through three exhibits: the Eastern Woodland Indian, Plains Indian, and Northwest Indian. Students sketch the realistic exhibits of the Indians, view the artifacts, and learn more about the everyday items Native Americans needed to live.

Fourth Grade

Fourth Grade

In fourth grade, students develop greater responsibility and independence in all facets of their learning. Students continue to work collaboratively with their peers and are encouraged to voice their own opinions while respecting ideas and thoughts that may differ from their own. Long-term projects, strategies for reading and interpreting texts, and problem-solving techniques equip fourth graders with the necessary skills to become more mature, independent thinkers and learners.

Ivrit

In fourth grade, we utilize the “Tal Am” curriculum for the study of Ivrit . Tal Am 4 continues to develop the Hebrew environment surrounding the children in the classroom. The theme of fourth grade Ivrit is Hakita Hameuchedet (the Unified Class). Through this theme, students are encouraged to be inclusive and understanding of differences by learning alongside a virtual class of many different types of learners. We continue to focus on the acquisition of language, and students are introduced to the past and future tenses. Students read and analyze stories utilizing oral and written expression.

Skills:

  • Writing sentences and paragraphs using new vocabulary words
  • Conjugating verbs and applying other grammar rules
  • Speaking with new vocabulary and grammar skills

Chumash

Students learn five parshiyot during the year: Vayishlach, Vayashev, Mikaytz, Vayigash, and Vayechi, completing Sefer Bereishit. Through the Torah text, we examine the story of Yosef and his family’s descent to Egypt. Students continue to improve their reading and comprehension of the text and further hone their Rashi skills. Specifically, students anticipate the type of question Rashi may ask on a given pasuk and are able to read, understand, and explain Rashi’s answer to that question. By the end of fourth grade, we aim for students to be able to identify the various components of each pasuk, such as the subject, the object and who is speaking to whom. By utilizing these skills and their expanding vocabulary, students can understand the text with greater independence.

Skills:

  • Reading Chumash and Rashi text with fluency
  • Categorizing specific words and statements in pesukim
  • Translating independently
  • Developing analytical thinking skills

Navi

We begin our Navi studies with Sefer Yehoshua in which the Jewish people enter and conquer the Land of Israel. The skills that we develop during Chumash are utilized to read and understand this sefer. We particularly focus on understanding the plot and identifying the recurring themes of the sefer.

Skills:

  • Comparing and contrasting the stories and themes to others in Tanakh

Chagim

This year, we examine the laws and customs of each chag with greater depth and understanding. By delving into texts related to each holiday, students develop a greater appreciation for the nuances of the halachot and minhagim. Students also apply new knowledge in creative projects throughout the year.

Skills:

  • Learning the laws and customs of each chag

Parsha

In addition to our in-depth study of Torah during Chumash class, we also learn a summary of the parsha with a d'var Torah each week. These divrei Torah introduce students to various commentators and commentaries that they not have not yet studied in Chumash. Students are encouraged to share the Parshat haShavua with their families during Shabbat. Students also have the opportunity to hear a d'var Torah from Morah Sarah that brings to life the values imparted in that week’s portion with modern day stories and applications.

Skills:

  • Comparing and contrasting different commentators on a single pasuk or idea

Language Arts

Through a variety of texts, we continue to develop the skills necessary for understanding and analyzing literature. Children read novels and short stories throughout the year which are often related to our social studies curriculum in the context of guided reading groups. Games, partner activities, journal writing and dramatic readings also aid students’ development of vocabulary and comprehension skills. During class, we analyze many aspects of the text in order to build inferential skills.

Stories we read include: Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully, Yang the Youngest and his Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka, Marven of the Great North Woods by Katheryn Lasky, and Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting, Wingman by Daniel Manus Pinkwater, Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare, Toliver’s Secret by Esther Wood Brady, and In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord and Marc Simont.

Skills:

  • Identifying the plot, setting, and character traits
  • Comparing and contrasting the points of view from which a story is narrated, themes in different stories, and characters within a story
  • Drawing inferences from the text
  • Using context clues to define unfamiliar words
  • Drawing conclusions and using examples from the text to illustrate a point

Writing

Using the Basic Writing Skills program, students continue to develop their skills as writers. Students formulate more sophisticated sentences using appositive phrases, transition words, new vocabulary, and conjunctions. They also refine their outlining skills as an important part of the writing process for constructing clear paragraphs. We aim for students to gain proficiency in revising based on teacher feedback. Throughout the year, students also implement these skills in many creative assignments.

Skills:

  • Using a Quick Outline as a pre-writing tool
  • Introducing a topic clearly using a topic sentence
  • Reasoning -- using facts and details to support the main idea
  • Revising
  • Using rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, simile, metaphor, and sensory language in poetry

Social Studies

This year, we introduce the study of American history from the age of colonialism to the end of the Revolutionary War. We learn about Colonial America and why different groups of people chose to settle in the New World. We then compare and contrast their different lifestyles, including their clothing, religion, foods, and laws. Our study of Colonial America culminates in an exciting and enriching Colonial Day, described in further detail below.

Following this unit, we examine the American Revolution and engage in a number of creative projects as we analyze the events that led up to the war, as well as the many famous ‘firebrands’ who were leaders of the Revolution. Our third unit focuses on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Students learn about these important documents as products of the American Revolution and discuss their importance from a historical and contemporary standpoint.

In conjunction with these units of study, we visit: Museum Village in Monroe, NY, Philipsburg Manor in Tarrytown, NY, and Van Cortlandt Manor House Museum in the Bronx.

Skills:

  • Reading maps and charts
  • Reading nonfiction texts (both primary and secondary sources), finding the main idea, learning new vocabulary, and locating specific information
  • Synthesizing, organizing, and evaluating new information -- the causes and effects, key events, etc.
  • Ordering events chronologically

Math

In math, students study multiplication, division, graphing, fractions, geometry and place value through the millions. The year begins with a study of the meaning of multiplication and division. Students develop their number sense by studying basic multiplication and division math facts and then learn how to multiply and divide with two, three, and four-digit numbers. In the graphing unit, students learn how to read and create different types of graphs, including bar graphs, line graphs, pictographs, and line plots. Students also examine the purpose of each graph and what type of information is best displayed with each. In the place value unit, we introduce large numbers and learn how to write them numerically.

Science

In science, fourth graders study electricity and green energy, decomposition, tropisms, and bees and the pollination process. Within each unit, students conduct numerous experiments and gain knowledge through extensive observation and study. During the year, students build their own circuits, create a compost bin with red-worms to compare the decomposition process of organic and non-organic materials, and plant seeds and flowers that then are given a specified amount of water and light.

Skills:

  • Constructing their own experiments -- building a circuit, setting up a compost bin, etc.
  • Experimenting
  • Observing and recording findings

Israel Curriculum

Beginning in first grade, students study the history and landscape of Israel through a new and innovative curriculum, Eretz Yisrael Throughout the Year, developed by the Lookstein Center. Structured around the themes of Asara B'Tevet, Tu BiShvat, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim, the curriculum provides four comprehensive lessons to be taught on or around each of these dates. The lessons bring the miracle of Israel to life and feature diaries, simulations, time-machines, moral dilemmas and debates.

Fourth Grade Israel Curriulum

  • Book #1: The Northern Challenge
    • Learning about the Roman capture of Gamla, Pekiin's survival throughout the ages, Beit Alfa, Rosh Pina, and the Circassian culture
  • Book #2: The First Aliyah
    • Studying the First Aliyah through places and people, such as Bilu, Rishon LeZion, Baron Rothschild, Ness Ziona, emigrants from Russia, Eastern Europe and Yemen
  • Book #3: Coming Home
    • Reading about what it was like to make aliyah after the birth of Israel
  • Book #4: The Struggle for Jerusalem 1947-1967
    • Examining Jerusalem in 1947 and discovering how Jerusalemites lived under siege. Students learn about the brave fighters of the Lamed Heh, the fall of Gush Etzion, and the way in which Haganah fighters in the Old City surrendered, dividing the city in two.

Fourth Grade Highlights

  • Museum Village in Monroe, NY

    • This trip is an interactive experience to introduce students to daily life in colonial times. The museum includes a one-room school house, an original cabin from the 18th century, a printing press, a chandler, a broom make, and more (www.museumvillage.org).
  • Philipsburg Manor in Tarrytown, NY

    • This trip focuses on the industries and trades during colonial times. This manor had been a thriving farming, milling, and trade center in the 1750s and had been owned by the Philipses, a family of Anglo-Dutch merchants. Students tour the 300-year old manor house, learn about slavery, grind their own corn at the gristmill, and thresh wheat.
  • Van Cortlandt Manor House Museum in Bronx, NY

    • This trip, which occurs after the American Revolution unit, focuses on life during the Revolution, and, more specifically, the daily life of a soldier in the Continental Army. Students learn about many aspects including: battles, rations, hardships, camp followers, women’s roles, and more.
  • Colonial Day

    • This day is the culminating event of the students’ unit about the founding of our country and life in the Thirteen Colonies. Students perform colonial songs, present their writings and projects, and participate in crafts (for which they have completed extensive preparation) with their families.
  • Navi Celebration

    • To provide students with the context for studying Sefer Yehoshua, they learn the most famous “highlights” of the Chumash from the time that Yaakov went to Egypt until Yehoshua was appointed leader of the nation.
    • The celebration/play depicts events that occurred during this time period.

Fifth Grade

Fifth Grade

As veteran students in the elementary school, fifth graders develop their leadership skills and independence through various experiences and projects throughout the year. This year is students’ first opportunity to act as the teachers, rather than the students, in cross-grade learning and to lead their teams in color war. In addition, fifth graders progress from teacher-guided reading groups to student-led book clubs, as well as from teacher-led chumash study to independent chevrutot. As students become budding middle-schoolers and adolescents, we aim to provide the support and guidance students need to navigate both the intellectual and social challenges they inevitably face.

Ivrit

The overarching theme of fifth grade Ivrit is Ochel, Food. Utilizing the Chaverim B’Ivrit series, which we generously supplement with our own original materials, we organize lessons in vocabulary, grammar, writing, and special projects around our theme.

Skills:

  • Building vocabulary
  • Conjugating verbs in present and past tense
  • Writing expanded sentences that incorporate adjectives
  • Speaking with new grammar skills and vocabulary

Chumash

In Chumash, we help students build their skills for independent Torah study. This year, we learn Sefer Shemot, perakim 1 - 20. By mid-year, students learn daily with a chevruta. With the definitions of the most difficult words, students answer guiding questions as they learn each perek. One particular highlight of our Chumash curriculum is the unit in which the students learn the entire section of the makkot, the ten plagues, independently, with their study partners. This is a wonderful experience and is supplemented by review sessions in which the teachers point out relevant patterns and ideas they may have missed.

Skills:

  • Answering comprehension questions in Hebrew sentences orally and in writing
  • Identifying shorashim and the speaker within each pasuk
  • Differentiating between peshat and drash explanations of textual difficulties
  • Using Rashi to understand textual difficulties

Navi

Students study Sefer Shoftim, perakim 1 - 15. As students become more independent in Chumash, they apply the same skills to their study of Navi. As in Chumash, students aim to learn the text independently with a chevruta.

Skills:

  • Writing accurate summaries of perakim using supporting details
  • Comparing similar and repeating stories throughout the sefer
  • Completing a creative project, demonstrating an understanding of the perakim

Mishna

This is the year when our students are exposed for the first time to the treasures of the oral tradition, the Torah Shebe'al Peh. Since the interplay between the written and oral laws is key to any later study of Torah, our curriculum begins with an introduction to the whole concept of the oral law and to Mishnah in particular. Students then study the first five perakim of Masechet Brachot which focus on the Shema and Shemoneh Esrei.

Skills:

  • Locating a perek in the Mishna
  • Identifying different opinions and themes in Mishna
  • Analyzing repeating structure of individual mishnayot
  • Supporting analysis of mishnayot with proofs from various opinions in the Mishna

Parsha

Each week, students review the parsha using text, videos, and slideshows made by students, teachers, and other Torah study resources. Students learn specific commentaries related to the parsha to enhance their understanding and depth of study. Students also have the opportunity hear a d'var Torah from Morah Sarah that brings to live the values imparted in that week’s portion with modern day stories and applications.

Skills:

  • Summarizing weekly parsha based on multimedia presentations
  • Answering questions using commentaries
  • Applying knowledge of parsha to real-life situations through weekly divrei Torah

Chagim

In fifth grade, students approach the study of chagim with a greater level of sophistication and depth. They examine the important ideas and halachot of each holiday, sometimes using classical texts including the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, megillot, and the Haggadah Shel Pesach. Students complete projects on each chag, including creating their own Haggadah with a d'var Torah from each member of their class.

Skills:

  • Studying and analyzing original text of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch
  • Answering questions using textual evidence
  • Studying Megillot
  • Writing divrei Torah based on texts learned in class

Reading

Fifth graders develop their analytical thinking skills through the reading of fiction and nonfiction texts. In guided reading groups, students meet with a teacher to read and discuss novels. They begin to examine the author’s intentions within each narrative and deconstruct characters in order to understand their motivations and actions. Fifth grade novels include: The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, and Poppy by Avi.

Towards the end of the year, students have the opportunity to participate in independent book clubs. In these clubs, students manage their own calendar for reading by the assigned deadline, engage in conversation using guiding questions, define new vocabulary, and demonstrate their understanding of the text through a collaborative project. Some projects have included a movie trailer for the book, an interview with a character, and a comic strip of a book’s chapter.

Skills:

  • Identifying the main idea; figurative language, similes, metaphors; elements of plot
  • Inferencing based on context clues and textual nuance
  • Connecting the text to historical events, cultural perspectives, and personal events
  • Analyzing the author’s intentions within a text

Writing

Students solidify their expository skills through daily writing across the curriculum. They write and revise both paragraphs and essays with consistent and frequent teacher feedback. We emphasize writing with clarity, focusing on word choice, and using new vocabulary. From summaries of current events’ articles to creative responses to literature, students continue to learn how to express themselves through the written word in every subject.

Skills:

  • Expanding and combining sentences with conjunctions
  • Writing more concisely
  • Organizing paragraphs and essays using outlines
  • Using commas, apostrophes, elements of grammar and punctuation
  • Revising multiple drafts with teacher feedback to learn from mistakes and produce best work
  • Typing with proper fingering

Social Studies

In social studies, we delve into the study of America’s history, New York’s history, and our history. Our year begins with Westward Expansion. Students look at the growth of the United States’ political map and study the history through primary and secondary sources. Students also create a fictional pioneer journal that traces the journey west as we learn about real pioneers’ experiences.

We then transition into New York State history, specifically the building of the Erie Canal and the consequential expansion of commerce in the area. This unit leads into a study of the influx of immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Students interview family members and learn about their own histories of immigration to prepare for Intergenerational Day. Visits to the Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale throughout the year also complement these studies. We conclude the year with a study of modern New York City in which we examine how the city has shifted from 18th century immigration to today.

Skills:

  • Note-taking and highlighting nonfiction texts
  • Applying and synthesizing information read to written assignments and projects
  • Discussing historical events in a collaborative forum
  • Presenting independent and group projects

Math

In fifth grade, students focus on solidifying their number sense and developing problem-solving skills. Students begin the year with a unit on place value from thousandths through billions, using the four basic operations. In the geometry unit, students define geometric terms, name and measure angles and calculate the perimeter and area of quadrilaterals. Students also complete an extensive unit on fractions, including adding and subtracting, simplest form and converting improper fractions to mixed numbers.

The advanced fifth grade math group follows the fifth grade curriculum and emphasis is placed on higher order concept development and critical thinking skills. Each Friday, students learn problem-solving strategies and techniques relevant to SAR's participation in the national Mathematical Olympiad program.

Science

In science, fifth graders enhance their understanding of the scientific method through experimentation and lab report-writing. Students first study the physics of light and the properties of the sun, which then segues into a unit on the anatomy of the human eye. In the second half of the year, students study microbiology -- microbes, viruses, and animal and plant cells. Towards the end of the year, we introduce basic concepts of chemistry, including acids and bases, mixtures, solutions, and atoms.

Skills:

  • Researching
  • Applying the scientific method and facts studied to produce creative projects
  • Experimenting

Israel Curriculum

Beginning in first grade, students study the history and landscape of Israel through a new and innovative curriculum, Eretz Yisrael Throughout the Year, developed by the Lookstein Center. Structured around the themes of Asara B'Tevet, Tu BiShvat, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim, the curriculum provides four comprehensive lessons to be taught on or around each of these dates. The lessons bring the miracle of Israel to life and feature diaries, simulations, time-machines, moral dilemmas and debates. The specifics of each grade’s units of study can be found in the Judaic Studies section.

Fifth Grade Israel Curriculum

  • Book #1: The Valley and the Mountain
    • Exploring the history and locations within Judea and Samaria, including: Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, Beit-El, Shilo, Shechem, the Samaritans, Modiin, Dead Sea and the events at Masada in both ancient and modern contexts
  • Book #2: The Second Aliyah
    • Learning about the foundations of the future State during the Second Aliyah
    • Exploring the challenges of the Chalutzim through Rachel the poetess, Russian and Yemenite olim, A.D. Gordon, Ben Gurion, Hashomer and Trumpeldor, Dizengoff and others, as well as the institutions that were the forerunners of the government, the Jewish Agency, the Histadrut union, and the city of Tel Aviv
  • Book #3: A Tale of Two Wars (1967-1973)
    • Reading the story of two heroes: the Israeli spy, Eli Cohen, also known as Kamal Amin Ta'abet, the confidante of the highest ranks in the Syrian military, and Zvika Gringold, who stood alone on the Golan Heights for 20 hours against a whole battalion of Syrian tanks…and won
  • Book #4: Beyond the Walls (1850-1947)
    • Studying the history of the city of Jerusalem during the 100 years before Israel became a state and the Jews who were there at that time.

Fifth Grade Highlights

  • Melave Malka and Learning

    • Saturday evening, students and parents gather for learning, singing, and noshing together.
  • Overnight Camping Trip

    • Students participate in team building activities and environmental awareness learning at a nature center.
  • New York City Trip

    • Students visit the Top of the Rock to view Manhattan’s grid and the different neighborhoods they have studied. Students also take a tour bus around Midtown Manhattan to learn about and view historical buildings and parks.
  • Intergenerational Day

    • Parents, grandparents, and other special guests visit the fifth grade’s “Living Museum” filled with family heirlooms and other artifacts. Students and families participate in workshops given by parents and grandparents. The day provides an opportunity for students and their guests to learn about others’ family history.
  • Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale

    • Each class visits once a week for one month, getting to know residents and participating in activities with them.

Student Learning Center (SLC)

Student Learning Center (SLC)

In the lower school, SLC support has a push in/pull out model in order to optimize and meet the needs of all learners. Students are pulled out for small group work in reading and math. We use a parallel curriculum in order to build math skills, reading fluency and reading comprehension. SLC teachers push into the classroom to provide support through pre-teaching, previewing and breaking down assignments in writing and social studies. During Judaic studies, children in need join a small group for Chumash each day to help maximize their learning potential. Groups for other Hebrew subjects are formed on an as-needed basis. In addition, SLC teachers help students learn how to organize, plan, and navigate the learning process in order to become more independent learners. As the children advance through the grades, we emphasize higher level organization and executive functioning skills.