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Elementary (1st through 5th grades)
Elementary teachers at Ann Arbor Christian School have developed innovative and engaging ways for children to learn through an integrated approach to the curriculum. While we follow state benchmarks, teachers organize the learning targets into units that integrate Biblical truth and connect various subject areas. In grades 1-2, teachers help students build a solid academic foundation, learn to love Jesus, and learn to care for others. In grades 3-5, students continue to grow in their academic skills and their discipleship and are expected to assume more responsibility for learning. We strive to provide a strong academic experience while infusing it with genuine and meaningful Christian faith integration.
In each subject area, our teachers strive to meet our School-Wide Learner Goals. One of these goals is “Engaged Learners.” With a philosophy centered on engaging learners actively, students engage deeply with content, collaborate with their classmates, build connections, and develop a Christian worldview in a nurturing classroom and school community.
Language is a gift from God and should glorify and serve Him. Our language arts program balances both reading skills and literature, creating life-long readers, confident researchers, and writers who can communicate clearly for a variety of purposes. The goal for all of our language arts curriculum is to develop effective communicators who are also wise decision makers, who can interpret what they read, and communicate their ideas effectively with others.
In early elementary, our approach (based on the science of reading) enables students to develop a strong foundation based on phonics. We use the CRSuccess program which includes a systematic, multi-sensory method for teaching reading and spelling using phonological (sound) and orthographic (symbol) processing for students of all abilities.
As students progress into upper elementary, the emphasis moves to developing strong comprehension and fluency by directly teaching reading strategies and providing ample opportunity to practice reading at the student’s instructional level. A mixture of independent reading and whole class novels allows students to practice skills, explore themes from a Christian worldview, and be exposed to high quality literature.
Spelling is based on understanding key phonetic patterns and generalizations that demystify the English language. In fourth and fifth grade, students focus on Latin and Greek roots as well as affixes that develop higher level spelling, decoding, and vocabulary understanding.
Writing instruction happens through meaningful projects that allow students to apply skills into purposeful tasks. Grammar and editing skills are embedded into writing projects as well as explored through mentor texts in the Patterns of Power program.
Mathematics is one tool by which we better understand the way that God designed the universe. Students come to value God’s sense of order and precision as they learn to think mathematically. They are encouraged to be mathematical problem solvers while developing skills in numbers and operations, patterning, geometry, measurement, probability, and algebraic thinking.
Elementary math instruction utilizes the Singapore Math Approach which emphasizes conceptual understanding and focuses on mastery through a carefully sequenced program which develops problem solving skills based on applying understanding and using logical thinking. By following the concrete, pictorial, abstract approach, students interact with mathematical materials and develop models to visualize abstract concepts. The early grades emphasize strong number sense, laying a foundation for future mathematical learning.
In grades 3-5, students are challenged to build number fluency and application of concepts to solve problems.
Teachers use hands-on activities and technology in new and innovative ways, and integrate reading and writing projects to reinforce the scientific concepts being presented. For example, while students are learning about insects in a second grade science unit, they are also conducting research on individual insects and creating Google Slides presentations to share their learning. Within our unit framework, children are encouraged to compare and contrast, engage with, and explore the relationships between subjects.
Elementary science units include in life, earth and physical science including animals, plants, materials, motion, earth and space, water, solids and liquids, energy and environments. We use the FOSS science modules as the core of our curriculum, which meets Next Generation Science Standards and builds science process skills.
An annual school Science Fair celebrates science inquiry and gives students an opportunity to participate in the scientific process.
The curriculum is designed to start with the familiar and expand beyond that each year. Therefore, students learn how a classroom, school, and family function before exploring how a community functions. Students then learn about different communities, the state of Michigan, and eventually key aspects of U.S. history in fifth grade. Classroom teachers seek to find opportunities to practice citizenship and work together to seek the common good to solve issues in the classroom, thus preparing students to participate in their communities later in life.
Through the systematic study of God’s Word and through devotional practices, students are encouraged to grow in learning how to read Scripture and apply it to their lives. The elementary curriculum uses concrete experiences for children to understand and interact with biblical concepts and truths. Developmentally appropriate instruction is designed to capture each student’s heart, mind, and hands as they understand their place in God’s story.
Specials are classes that meet once or twice a week to help our elementary students have a well-rounded education including exposure to the fine arts and world languages, as well as physical education.
Music education at our school centers around a desire for the passion of music to touch the hearts of God’s people. Music class meets twice per week and our students are taught basic music history and theory, as well as the role of music in worship and in biblical history. Elementary students experience the power of music through song and making music on a variety of instruments, including xylophones, recorders, and ukuleles, which prepare students to participate in introductory band when they get to middle school.
Careful music selections are made to include music that is both distinctly Christian as well as general music that is fitting in a Christian school environment. Students experience the joy of creating music and learn to share that joy with others through annual performances during Grandparents’ Day, Christmas Concert, and Spring Fine Arts Program. Through each grade, students come to recognize music as a means to glorify and praise God.
While we value concrete, hands-on experiences for elementary students, we also recognize the need to develop 21st century skills and believe technology can be an incredible learning tool.. In all elementary grades, students have the opportunity to use technology to enhance their learning. Students in Grade 1 use classroom computers to practice skills or explore themes taught in class. Beginning in Grades 2 -5, students have Chromebooks in a one to one ratio and computers are incrementally used more frequently as learning tools.
Students learn to use curated resources to conduct research and use Google tools to present their learning in written reports, stories and slide presentations. Various practice and assessment platforms are used to help monitor learning such as Accelerated Reader and adaptive math practice. A keyboarding curriculum is used in Grades 3-5 to develop strong habits in typing and keyboard use. Computer safety and skills are introduced in all grades as students learn what it means to develop repsonsible digital citizenship.
While each classroom will have its own structure and rhythm, there is a typical flow to the day:
- Class devotions to begin each day in prayer
- Academic classes, intentionally balancing quiet and active instructional techniques
- Mid-morning snack and 15 minute recess
- Academic classes continue
- Lunch at 12:00 p.m. in the classroom with the teacher; usually the class has a group conversation or listens to the teacher reading from a literature selection while they eat
- 30 minute recess after lunch
- Afternoon classes; younger grades may have opportunities for free play or quiet times
- Class jobs and independent organizational skills as the students pack up to be dismissed at 3:15 p.m.
After School Options
AACS offers a high quality Extended School Program from 3:15-5:30 p.m. Students will have time and space to participate in enjoyable and enriching activities and to accomplish important tasks. For 5th grade and up, a specific Homework Support program is also offered during this time from 3:15-4:15 p.m. Learn more about After School Options