Building a Strong Foundation
The best way to learn about the program at Hill is to talk to us and visit. If you would like to learn more we hope you will contact us, either through email or by calling the school to set up an appointment. We are proud of our program and eager to discuss it with you.
The components of our Language Arts program are intertwined and designed to build critical thinking skills as well as nurture a love of reading and writing. Reading Workshop provides children the chance to explore the world of print, make sense of it, and develop the habits of lifelong readers. The time is balanced between whole class lessons, small group work, individual practice, and buddy reading with classmates. In Writing Workshop children learn the craft of writing and grow as authors. Mini-lessons bring the children together as a community of authors and help them explore the characteristics of good writing. Word Study blends phonemic awareness, phonics, and spelling patterns. Instruction is based on where the child is developmentally. We use the Handwriting Without Tears program for formal Handwriting instruction.
The Investigations program provides a sequenced, developmentally appropriate math curriculum. Underlying fundamental concepts as well as computational skills are given equal importance. The children are encouraged to explore many ways to solve problems. They use blocks, cubes, shapes, and many other objects to visualize concepts. Then they try out different ways to represent their thinking on paper such as drawing pictures, using numbers and symbols, drawing a number line, and using words. The children share their techniques with each other and the teacher guides them toward finding efficient strategies. Many different games are played with the purpose of deepening concepts and building fluency with basic addition and subtraction facts. Math class is active, full of talk, sharing, trying new strategies, and learning how to represent ideas on paper.
The concepts of community and symbolism are integrated throughout the year. The children study some of the presidents of the United States, Virginia, mapping skills, and transportation. Our Community Service project is kicked-off by studying Martin Luther King Jr. in January and heeding the call to service that that federal holiday is beginning to embody. The children advertise, bake and sell a yummy treat, shop at the local grocery store with the proceeds and then stock a food pantry’s shelves. The study of pollinators is part of the Stewardship Initiative. The children raise and tag monarchs in the fall and learn about honeybees, native bees, and butterflies. They plant a pollinator garden next to the classroom. Social Studies also includes the yearly Culture Study when the whole school engages in learning about a different country.
Our curriculum includes an environmental science element with the homeroom teachers that focuses on the study of pollinators and care for the gardens directly outside the classroom. The study of bees and butterflies (and many other insects) is year-long and woven throughout all subject areas. Working directly with the science teacher, homeroom teachers emphasize generating curiosity through activities and cooperative projects. Beginning experimentation, making observations, and collecting data are introduced. The curriculum includes: the needs of living things, body systems, nutrition, the five senses, daily and seasonal cycles and life cycles, recycling and characteristics of different materials, and Dornin Science Center units on recycling paper and planting a pollinator garden.
Students are introduced to the Spanish language through small group activities, songs, and games. Lessons revolve around hearing the Spanish language. Basic vocabulary includes salutations, manners, colors, numbers, parts of the body, and animals. The Spanish program culminates in the spring in an all-school assembly.
The emphasis is on generating enthusiasm and enjoyment of the creative process, while developing basic art making skills. Students are exposed to a variety of materials and techniques throughout the year. Understanding basic design skills are included in each project while exploring art history, children’s literature, and a variety of cultures around the world.
Activities include singing, rhythm games and movement. Orff xylophones and other small percussion instruments are played with songs, clapping games, and rhymes. Emphasis is placed on the child establishing a steady beat, learning songs and rhythms by rote, and learning patterns on the xylophones. The children perform at the Thanksgiving Assembly, the Holiday Concert, and the Spring Sing concert.
The athletic department helps children develop positive habits of lifelong fitness and the desire to achieve their personal best in all endeavors. To achieve this, every child participates and competes in a variety of team and individual activities that promote sportsmanship, confidence, and competence in a physically and emotionally safe environment.
First graders meet with their 7th and 8th grade mentors on Fridays during the school year. Together they play math games, read and take nature walks. They also complete projects for Social Studies such as sewing pilgrim costumes. First graders and their mentors work together in teams for all school activities such as the Thanksgiving Program and Culture Study.
The theme for first grade is pollinators. First graders raise caterpillars and release butterflies during their study of monarch and swallowtail butterflies. In the spring first graders study honey bees and native bees and they plant a garden with plants that appeal to various pollinators.
Around the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the first grade gives back to the community by holding a bake sale to raise money for a food pantry. With their earnings, they shop at the local grocery store and then walk to the food pantry to stock the shelves.