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Houston Private Elementary School

The Banff Lower School provides a challenging, exciting curriculum in a positive and nurturing atmosphere for students, starting in Kindergarten through to 5th grade.

Lower School Curriculum (K-5)

Students in our Houston private elementary school have a home room teacher with whom they spend the majority of their time. Our grade teachers work in conjunction with our specialist subject teaching staff which enhances the core curriculum with enrichment subjects including; art, music, languages, technology, physical education, and science.

The Banff School Kindergarten program promotes academic excellence through an innovative curriculum that nurtures and cultivates the potential of each child. It provides opportunities for children to explore their world in a safe, nurturing, and engaging environment, where they can touch, examine, feel, manipulate, pick up and poke everything around them! Students continue to enjoy opportunities for exploration as well as an exceptional literacy and math program. Students continue to enjoy opportunities for exploration as well as an exceptional literacy and math program.

The Kindergarten reading program is filled with the tools necessary for leading students down the path of literacy by combining reading and writing into a creative, positive and successful experience. Understanding the need for, as well as the appreciation of, literature is the primary goal. A balance of freedom and guidance enables students to develop their own cognitive reasoning skills and creative insight. They will be taught phonics, word skill, attack skills, and do sight words to develop reading. Additionally, songs and rhymes are used to develop oral expression.

Exploring science is another important aspect of Kindergarten. The world around us is filled with tremendous wonders, which the students need to explore in order to understand. Experiments and hands-on activities provide great opportunities for discovery.

The Mathematics program uses a variety of manipulatives in order to enhance the learning process. Reproducing, sorting, clarifying, geometric shapes, number operations and extended patterns are some of the many basic themes covered. In order to stimulate interest and excitement, games and other group activities are frequently used.

Our students have a weekly "Challenge Masters" program that teaches 21st-century skills and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) principles through creative and collaborative problem-solving challenges. Students will experience the creative process from imagination to innovation to learn skills needed to succeed in school, career and life, including teamwork, communication, leadership, perseverance, creative and critical thinking, and self-confidence.  Lessons on character education will be incorporated as well.

As part of our school's mission to "educate the whole child," all students participate in both Performing as well as Visual Arts programs. Weekly Performing Arts classes in our rehearsal studio culminate in two mainstage theatre productions each year. A robust Visual Arts program explores the use of diverse media and various sources from photographs to famous paintings to the student's own environment - ending with the students' work displayed at our annual spring Visual Arts Showcase.

A full curriculum is taught that includes skill-building, hand/eye coordination and motor skill refinements. Students will be taught to utilize agility, endurance and teamwork by participating in exercise drills and sports games. Healthy lifestyles in and out of the school gym are encouraged and supported.

Our Lower School students utilize a mobile Apple iPad cart, stocked with iPad Air 2s. With enough iPads for every student in the class, teachers are able to utilize all of the exciting educational opportunities the iPad provides...from thousands of enrichment "apps" designed exclusively for the elementary classroom, to "outside the box" teaching methods taking the iPads on the go, around our campus.

First graders make connections in reading with social studies, in math with science, and in the Fine Arts with our outstanding curriculum. Discovery is an important part of first grade and teachers have designed experiences that allow our students to see, touch, feel, read, write, count, and think about what is happening in the world around them. First grade is filled with joy as students discover that letters make words, words turn into sentences, and sentences transform into stories!

The major objectives of the Language program are literacy appreciation, vocabulary development, critical and creative thinking, reading comprehension, and application of reading and writing skills. Speaking skills are also emphasized at the elementary level. Students will use phonetic reasoning and the six syllables of the English language and enjoy entertaining others with stories, poems and through other dramatic venues. First Graders begin to use their growing language skills by writing personal narratives, friendly letters, descriptive essays, short stories and poetry. By frequently using their writing skills, students will learn the writing process and grammar.

The Mathematics program explores a variety of concepts including logical reasoning, problem-solving, number sense, geometry, time and money. In the First Grade, students are introduced to fact families, graphing patterns, logic, and basic mathematical concepts through the use of manipulatives, creative games and practicing the fundamentals.

Lower School students begin to learn about the world of science in the First Grade by studying plant life, animals, weather, matter, magnets and nutrition.

Social Studies is an important area of study for all Banff Lower School students because it provides the children with a greater understanding of the world in which they live. First Graders begin with the basics by gaining an awareness of their families, neighborhoods, and country. They will learn about citizenship, economics, and map skills. They also acquire a broadened perspective by observing the customs of other families in different parts of the world, including their special holidays and celebrations. All Lower School students supplement their understanding of Social Studies by reading non-fiction books and novels, both as a group in class and individually, that compliment the topics they are studying in class.

Our students have a weekly "Challenge Masters" program that teaches 21st-century skills and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) principles through creative and collaborative problem-solving challenges. Students will experience the creative process from imagination to innovation to learn skills needed to succeed in school, career and life, including teamwork, communication, leadership, perseverance, creative and critical thinking, and self-confidence.  Lessons on character education will be incorporated as well.

Our Lower School students study Spanish with students being taught basic vocabulary and greeting skills as well as more complex skills such as verb usage and tenses. Students are encouraged to converse in Spanish with other students in order to build an even greater understanding of the language. Tools such as literature, music and video are also used to enhance learning.

As part of our school's mission to "educate the whole child," all students participate in both Performing as well as Visual Arts programs. Weekly Performing Arts classes in our rehearsal studio culminate in two mainstage theatre productions each year. A robust Visual Arts program explores the use of diverse media and various sources from photographs to famous paintings to the student's own environment - ending with the students' work displayed at our annual spring Visual Arts Showcase.

A full curriculum is taught that includes skill-building, hand/eye coordination and motor skill refinements. Students will be taught to utilize agility, endurance and teamwork by participating in exercise drills and sports games. Healthy lifestyles in and out of the school gym are encouraged and supported.

Our Lower School students utilize a mobile Apple iPad cart, stocked with iPad Air 2s. With enough iPads for every student in the class, teachers are able to utilize all of the exciting educational opportunities the iPad provides...from thousands of enrichment "apps" designed exclusively for the elementary classroom, to "outside the box" teaching methods taking the iPads on the go, around our campus.

Second graders are growing in their sense of independence and their ability to read and write on their own. They attack more complicated math problems and develop their own style of writing. Second graders are interested in broad themes that integrate many aspects of a common topic. Students continue to develop organizational skills and take pride in their work.

The major objectives of the Language program are literacy appreciation, vocabulary development, critical and creative thinking, reading comprehension, and application of reading and writing skills. Speaking skills are also emphasized at the elementary level. Students will use phonetic reasoning and the six syllables of the English language and enjoy entertaining others with stories, poems and through other dramatic venues.

Second Graders begin to use their growing language skills by writing personal narratives, friendly letters, descriptive essays, short stories and poetry. Students will engage in activities that build on their prior knowledge and skills in order to strengthen their reading, writing and oral language skills.

Second Grade is to develop numeracy in addition and subtraction in all its varied forms from working solely with numbers to telling time and understanding measurements of distance, weight and volume, leading to multiplication and division. Problem-solving is also an important part of the course because it teaches students how to practically apply their mathematical skills. Second Grade students are also developing an understanding of the base-ten place value system, comparing and ordering whole numbers, applying addition and subtraction and using measurement processes.

By the Second Grade, our students are ready to learn the scientific method of experimentation and recording data, and they begin to apply this knowledge to plant and animal life, properties of matter, different forms of energy and our solar system. They are also addressing the major concepts and vocabulary of science.

In the Second Grade, students explore communities from their local neighborhoods to the wider world and are introduced to topics such as mapping, geography, government and history. In this class, students are also developing the concepts of time and chronology.

Our students have a weekly "Challenge Masters" program that teaches 21st-century skills and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) principles through creative and collaborative problem-solving challenges. Students will experience the creative process from imagination to innovation to learn skills needed to succeed in school, career and life, including teamwork, communication, leadership, perseverance, creative and critical thinking, and self-confidence.  Lessons on character education will be incorporated as well.

Our Lower School students study Spanish with students being taught basic vocabulary and greeting skills as well as more complex skills such as verb usage and tenses. Students are encouraged to converse in Spanish with other students in order to build an even greater understanding of the language. Tools such as literature, music and video are also used to enhance learning.

As part of our school's mission to "educate the whole child," all students participate in both Performing as well as Visual Arts programs. Weekly Performing Arts classes in our rehearsal studio culminate in two mainstage theatre productions each year. A robust Visual Arts program explores the use of diverse media and various sources from photographs to famous paintings to the student's own environment - ending with the students' work displayed at our annual spring Visual Arts Showcase.

A full curriculum is taught that includes skill-building, hand/eye coordination and motor skill refinements. Students will be taught to utilize agility, endurance and teamwork by participating in exercise drills and sports games. Healthy lifestyles in and out of the school gym are encouraged and supported.

Our Lower School students utilize a mobile Apple iPad cart, stocked with iPad Air 2s. With enough iPads for every student in the class, teachers are able to utilize all of the exciting educational opportunities the iPad provides...from thousands of enrichment "apps" designed exclusively for the elementary classroom, to "outside the box" teaching methods taking the iPads on the go, around our campus.

Third grade is all about students becoming independent, responsible learners who are ready for long-term projects. Students enjoy non-fiction information and are given opportunities to show their oral and written communication skills. Increased use of technology enhances projects and decreases time spent completing a task. Overall skills in the classroom improve dramatically.

Third Grade Language students focus on improving skills in grammar, reading comprehension and writing using basal and novel based reading programs.

By the Third Grade, students master addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables. They study weights and measures, time and money and learn to purchase items, stay within a budget and give back correct change. Third Graders also learn to collect and record data, compare fractions and add and subtract decimals.

In third grade science, students conduct weekly experiments and investigations as they explore the world around them. In conjunction with the Science Fusion curriculum and using the Engineering Process and the Scientific Method, students learn about properties of matter, energy, forces and work, the Earth’s surface, people and resources, water and weather, space, ecosystems, and how living things grow and change. There are many opportunities for STEM challenges, virtual online labs, and real, hands-on learning.

In 3rd grade social studies, students learn about communities in fun and interactive ways. Using the Studies Weekly curriculum, each student has his or her own online account from which he or she may watch bonus videos, review class lessons, and create a home for their social studies avatar. To further develop their understanding of communities, students engage in cooperative learning, perform skits, and conduct research. 3rd-grade social studies students learn all about healthy communities, geography, map skills, the founding of our nation, explorers, good citizenship, the history of transportation, heroes, business, markets, and American Ideals.

3rd-grade students have a twice-weekly STEAM class, designed to strengthen and motivate students across the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math areas. This class provides students with modern-day skills and the opportunity to explore and develop interests from a young age that they might not otherwise have. Students learn above-level concepts, in math and computer science, and develop good analytical skills while at the same time using their creativity. SNAP Circuits kits are used to build exciting electronics projects, while Physical Computing and Scratch programming (developed by MIT) are taught on Raspberry Pi's (fully-functional, credit-card sized computers).

Our Lower School students study Spanish with students being taught basic vocabulary and greeting skills as well as more complex skills such as verb usage and tenses. Students are encouraged to converse in Spanish with other students in order to build an even greater understanding of the language. Tools such as literature, music and video are also used to enhance learning.

As part of our school's mission to "educate the whole child," all students participate in both Performing as well as Visual Arts programs. Weekly Performing Arts classes in our rehearsal studio culminate in two mainstage theatre productions each year. A robust Visual Arts program explores the use of diverse media and various sources from photographs to famous paintings to the student's own environment - ending with the students' work displayed at our annual spring Visual Arts Showcase.

A full curriculum is taught that includes skill-building, hand/eye coordination and motor skill refinements. Students will be taught to utilize agility, endurance and teamwork by participating in exercise drills and sports games. Healthy lifestyles in and out of the school gym are encouraged and supported.

Our Lower School students utilize a mobile Apple iPad cart, stocked with iPad Air 2s. With enough iPads for every student in the class, teachers are able to utilize all of the exciting educational opportunities the iPad provides...from thousands of enrichment "apps" designed exclusively for the elementary classroom, to "outside the box" teaching methods taking the iPads on the go, around our campus.

Fourth grade is a year when students integrate all their skills more fully and demonstrate high levels of responsibility. They know which strategies work for them and are eager to develop a routine for work.

Fourth Graders at The Banff School journey on exciting adventures through reading award-winning stories and novels. They expand their writing skills by practicing comparison and contrast essays, how-to and descriptive paragraphs and research reports.

Fourth Graders enhance the math skills they have attained by practicing more challenging problems. They also increase their knowledge of vocabulary as it relates to mathematics.

4th-grade science students further develop their knowledge of matter, forms of energy, electricity and circuits, forces and motion, the Earth’s surface, the water cycle and weather, patterns in the sky, organisms and their environments, and plants and animals. As part of the Science Fusion curriculum, students use research skills, the Engineering Process, and the Scientific Method as they build on their inquiry skills and engage in cooperative learning. As part of our STEAM program, students conduct weekly experiments and investigations, from virtual online labs to real, hands-on activities and other challenges.

In 4th grade social studies, students learn about Texas History. From prehistoric people to Texas Independence to modern times, students learn about important people, places, eras, and events that shape Texas history. They further develop note-taking skills and research strategies using the Studies Weekly curriculum, which has resources available online for students as well. Students may dress up as historical figures, write and perform skits to share their understanding of topics, and learn how to conduct debates.

Students have a twice-weekly STEAM class, designed to strengthen and motivate students across the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math areas. This class provides students with modern-day skills and the opportunity to explore and develop interests from a young age that they might not otherwise have. Students learn above-level concepts, in math and computer science, and develop good analytical skills while at the same time using their creativity. SNAP Circuits kits are used to build exciting electronics projects, while Physical Computing and Scratch programming (developed by MIT) and Python programming are taught on Raspberry Pi's (fully-functional, credit-card sized computers).

Our Lower School students study Spanish with students being taught basic vocabulary and greeting skills as well as more complex skills such as verb usage and tenses. Students are encouraged to converse in Spanish with other students in order to build an even greater understanding of the language. Tools such as literature, music and video are also used to enhance learning.

As part of our school's mission to "educate the whole child," all students participate in both Performing as well as Visual Arts programs. Weekly Performing Arts classes in our rehearsal studio culminate in two mainstage theatre productions each year. A robust Visual Arts program explores the use of diverse media and various sources from photographs to famous paintings to the student's own environment - ending with the students' work displayed at our annual spring Visual Arts Showcase.

A full curriculum is taught that includes skill-building, hand/eye coordination and motor skill refinements. Students will be taught to utilize agility, endurance and teamwork by participating in exercise drills and sports games. Healthy lifestyles in and out of the school gym are encouraged and supported.

Our Lower School students utilize a mobile Apple iPad cart, stocked with iPad Air 2s. With enough iPads for every student in the class, teachers are able to utilize all of the exciting educational opportunities the iPad provides...from thousands of enrichment "apps" designed exclusively for the elementary classroom, to "outside the box" teaching methods taking the iPads on the go, around our campus.

Having established this foundation of skills and knowledge on our lower grades, our fifth graders are ready to develop more abstract thinking skills. They are allowed to work more independently to encourage self-reliance and in small groups to develop collaboration skills. Our teachers work to foster personal confidence and a true sense of family among our students.

Fifth-grade students continue to expand their creative writing skills, learn to write expository essays, comparison and contrast essays, and book and research reports. They visit our library frequently and read daily for information and for pleasure.

By the time our students reach the Fifth Grade, they are using problem-solving skills to solve expressions and equations, practice graphing, probability and statistics, ratio, proportions, percentages, and geometry, all of which reinforce the basic skills they have acquired from previous grades.

In 5th-grade science, students continue to implement the Scientific Method and Engineering Process as they conduct inquiry-based experiments and investigations. By 5th grade, students conduct their own experiments and investigations with partners or small groups and share their data in meaningful ways. They strengthen their knowledge of matter, forces and motion, forms of energy including light and sound, changes to Earth’s surface, natural resources, weather and climate, the Earth, sun, and moon system, energy and ecosystems, and heredity and adaptations. In conjunction with our STEAM program, students conduct weekly, hands-on experiments, investigations, and challenging activities. There are also resources available online with the Science Fusion curriculum.

5th graders use the Studies Weekly curriculum as they learn U.S. History. They begin the year with an in-depth study of Spanish colonization in the Americas followed by researching the Revolutionary War and Civil War. They discover how the United States developed and came to be what it is today. Students further develop note-taking skills, research strategies, and their knowledge of historical information as they use online sources and the weekly newspaper as part of our U.S. Studies Weekly curriculum. Projects are presented, skits performed, and debates conducted as students exhibit higher-level thinking skills.

Students have a twice-weekly STEAM class, designed to strengthen and motivate students across the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math areas. This class provides students with modern-day skills and the opportunity to explore and develop interests from a young age that they might not otherwise have. Students learn above-level concepts, in math and computer science, and develop good analytical skills while at the same time using their creativity. SNAP Circuits kits are used to build exciting electronics projects, while Physical Computing and Scratch programming (developed by MIT) and Python programming are taught on Raspberry Pi's (fully-functional, credit-card sized computers).

Our Lower School students study Spanish with students being taught basic vocabulary and greeting skills as well as more complex skills such as verb usage and tenses. Students are encouraged to converse in Spanish with other students in order to build an even greater understanding of the language. Tools such as literature, music and video are also used to enhance learning.

As part of our school's mission to "educate the whole child," all students participate in both Performing as well as Visual Arts programs. Weekly Performing Arts classes in our rehearsal studio culminate in two mainstage theatre productions each year. A robust Visual Arts program explores the use of diverse media and various sources from photographs to famous paintings to the student's own environment - ending with the students' work displayed at our annual spring Visual Arts Showcase.

A full curriculum is taught that includes skill-building, hand/eye coordination and motor skill refinements. Students will be taught to utilize agility, endurance and teamwork by participating in exercise drills and sports games. Healthy lifestyles in and out of the school gym are encouraged and supported.

Our Lower School students utilize a mobile Apple iPad cart, stocked with iPad Air 2s. With enough iPads for every student in the class, teachers are able to utilize all of the exciting educational opportunities the iPad provides...from thousands of enrichment "apps" designed exclusively for the elementary classroom, to "outside the box" teaching methods taking the iPads on the go, around our campus.

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