The art curriculum adheres to the tenets of Discipline Based Art Education, which has four components: Art History, Art Criticism, Aesthetics and Practice. Students learn about each of these components as they produce their own art using various media and techniques. These include drawing, painting, ceramics, printmaking, assemblage, collage, sculpture, photography in grade 4, architecture, weaving, sewing, and puppetry. Sketchbooks are created annually and kept in the art room for the duration of the year as a tool for planning larger artworks and recording visual data. Field trips and computer technology often enhance the curriculum. As famous artists and their works are studied, students have the opportunity to create art in the styles of these artists and reflect upon these styles and media. Art projects are often connected with the topics the students study in their other courses, and the art projects enrich those experiences. Each student’s creativity reveals itself in the production of original artworks. We strive to reserve time and energy for assessment and reflection. Every student is an innovator and creative artist as well as a student of art history.
Elements of art are introduced in Kindergarten with a focus on line, color, and texture in both two dimensional and three-dimensional projects. The Art History timeline begins with cave paintings with stops in ancient Mexico for ceramics, the Middle Ages for mosaics, the Renaissance for stained glass, and painting and drawing in the Modern Era.
Color relationships are formalized with the color wheel; primary and secondary colors as well as warm and cool colors are discovered. Line, value, shape, and pattern are identified and integrated into projects. The Art History timeline includes nature paintings inspired by Henri Rousseau, assemblage sculpture, and coiled pottery.
Shape and form are added to line, color, value and texture in the identification of the elements of art; observations of nature and the environment include still life drawing and weather painting. The Art History timeline stops in a primal rainforest where birds and animals inhabit original landscapes. Impressionism, Cubism, and Realism are identified as modern art styles through the study of Monet, Picasso, and Homer.
Line, color, value, texture, shape, and form are explored more deeply. The concept and practice of space in two-dimensional and three-dimensional projects is introduced along with the principles of design of balance and emphasis. Projects include the building of medieval castles, African textile weavings, and self-portraits.
Asymmetrical and radial balance, complex patterns, proportion and movement are implemented as principles of design in two and three-dimensional projects. One-point perspective is introduced as well as digital photography. Some project themes covered are visual symbols and contour drawing. The Art History timeline sweeps through ancient Mayan and Incan culture with a special mask-making project, and into the twentieth century with wire mobiles inspired by Alexander Calder.
The Lower School Drama program is strategically designed to promote the lifelong, fundamental skills of self-expression, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking in each student. The curriculum for each grade level is grounded in the principles of the National Core Arts Standards, which are adjusted to reflect age and skill appropriate goals.
Each grade level will explore physical and vocal storytelling, technical theatre, international theatre history, and the devised theatre process using developmentally scaffolded materials. These experiences prepare students to present original talent nights throughout the year with various different themes.
Fourth graders will additionally perform in a fully produced musical at the end of the year, representing the culmination of their drama education at Stuart thus far. Throughout the scope of the lower school drama experience, students will celebrate both process and product, and develop the skills of teamwork, empathy, and leadership.
The Lower School Music program is centered on musical exploration at an age appropriate level with increasing amounts of student directed learning experiences and cross curricular integration. The music curriculum adheres to the tenets of the National Core Arts Standards, which has four components: Creating, Performing, Responding, and Connecting. Students begin their musical study with the exploration of singing collaboratively and individually, improvising vocally and instrumentally, and preparing for concerts and performances throughout the year. Students learn age and skill appropriate music theory including treble and bass clef notation as well as rhythmic and melodic composition. Each grade focuses on music literacy through learning an instrument.
- Kindergarten and Grade 1 use one octave xylophones
- Grade 2 uses portable piano keyboards
- Grades 3 & 4 participate in formal chorus classes and ukulele study.
The Lower School participates in the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s Bravo! Program, which includes hosting instrumental assemblies at Stuart and attending an orchestra performance at Princeton University.
The Lower School STEM program encourages students to ask questions and to identify those areas of personal interest that will launch them into a lifelong appreciation for science, technology, engineering, and math. For one student, it is finding organisms under rocks that takes her to a deeper understanding of ecology. For another, it is musing about the planets that stirs her fascination with the cosmos. Students apply science process skills by thinking innovatively, formulating hypotheses, designing experiments, drawing conclusions and taking risks. Science process skills are based on a series of discoveries. The core curriculum is a student-centered, problem-solving approach to learning. In STEM, working in a collaborative, cooperative manner is emphasized. Students understand that there are many solutions to any given challenge or problem, and all members of the group are encouraged to share their ideas.
Stuart’s Kindergarten STEM program utilizes and builds upon the strategies of the Think Math! program by incorporating the project based learning approach in math, science, engineering and technology. Working with calculators, cash registers,money, and banking insures real world application.
Working in our Kinder Garden is a theme throughout the year and includes rich experiences in nature, with water, insects animals and working with the tools of the lab. Special focus is given to recording observations, scientific thinking, questioning, exploration and documentation.
Technology is seamlessly integrated throughout the day, reinforcing movement, cooperation, projects, information gathering, writing and digital citizenship. Students are expected to be comfortable using everything from cd players to ipads to the desktop and Smartboard.
Engineering is incorporated into the daily life of a Kindergartner though blocks, legos, manipulatives, and crafts. Special focus is given towards concepts of solving engineering challenges with focus on balance, scale and representational drawing.
Life, earth, and physical science concepts are introduced utilizing a variety of resources including the program Engineering is Elementary. Engineering is integrated with science and math. Engineering units are correlated with science concepts and themes. Math is used to gather and analyze data. Engaging students in authentic experiences enriches math, science, engineering and technology content. The STEM curriculum in grades 1-4 fosters problem-solving skills and encompasses project-based learning. The inventor/maker mindset is an important component of the STEM program. Children are fascinated with building and taking things apart. The active learner is at the center of the learning process.
The Lower School Spanish program takes students on a cultural adventure! Students explore language and culture through the explicit presentation and integration of the five C’s: Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons and Communities. The K-4 grade levels introduce two characters from the United States who travel through Spanish-speaking countries. Culture is the backdrop of the curriculum. Cultural activities are presented with the goal of integrating students and identifying common features in different cultural traditions. This helps students to derive extended value from the activities as they learn about language, culture and tradition by role-playing situations similar to those encountered by the characters. In all grade levels, including Early Childhood and Junior Kindergarten, we follow a natural developmental pattern of first language acquisition using a multi-sensory approach that stimulates a child’s natural learning style. Students will be:
- Singing: Music triggers memory. Songs and rhymes are an integral part of the language process.
- Moving: Movement encourages the hands-on learning children enjoy.
- Playing: Games foster excitement and cooperation. A variety of action based games reinforces the target vocabulary.
- Creating: Crafts and hands-on activities give children a sense of accomplishment and provide an opportunity to reinforce vocabulary.
- Listening: Storytelling opens the door to different cultures.
- Acting: Role playing different scenarios allows students to use their Spanish, and acquire new perspectives by stepping into the shoes of another.
- Touching: Handling artisan objects from different countries brings the world into the classroom.
Lower School Spanish students have instruction two times per week. The overall goal of the program is communicative competence in Spanish by means of cultural awareness activities that focus on the gradual development of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills at each level. The curriculum spirals and repeats in accumulating depth through the grades. The specific objectives are to foster a positive attitude towards language learning, and to provide a solid foundation for basic communication skills. Unique experiences include a visit from “Reyes Magos” at Epiphany, a candlelit “Novena de Aguinaldos” Christmas tradition from Colombia, and a Skype relationship with Lower School students from school in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Academic Support Center provides long and short term interventions, resources and supports in a variety of ways to ensure that our foundational skills and concepts are mastered prior to students moving on into Middle School. The Academic Support Specialist provides a holistic, diagnostic approach to serving all students throughout Lower School. This support system enables us to fluidly “meet students where they are developmentally" and provide individualized instruction across grade levels. Our program specializes in phonetic based approaches to close reading fluency gaps and provides instruction in Orton-Gillingham, Wilson Reading program, and TC Reading and Writing Project from Columbia University. Our specialist is trained and well-versed in the Investigations Math program and curriculum.
Through a push-in/pull-out approach, the Academic Support Specialist provides some of the following services:
- Student accommodations/modifications
- Academic supports for home
- Small group work/instruction
- Individualized plans with classroom teachers
- Assist with facilitating testing recommendations and accommodations
- Enrichment for more advanced students