Building, creating and exploring
Welcome to Abington Friends Lower School! Our students thrive in an atmosphere that is nurturing and challenging, where they are supported as they tackle increasingly complex academic tasks. Our learning space expands beyond the walls of Lower School and out into the wider world.
Curriculum is dynamic and while each grade has set themes of study, there is room for students to follow their interests. The opportunity to pursue avenues of interest is evident as you walk our halls. Intricate drawings make way for poetic stories. Intriguing puzzles demonstrate students’ mathematical thinking. Woodworking and sewing projects line the shelves. The work is varied and represents each student’s unique talents and interests.
“I love the chance to be able to work with students who are curious and can take a lesson and apply it in their creative ways.”
A fourth grader spoke these words in Meeting for Worship, “I am thinking about who I am and who I will become.” Her words encapsulate the essence of Lower School social and emotional growth. Reflection and mindfulness are important aspects of students’ lives and help them to be self-aware as they grow and mature. Our students develop a deep sense of community through the time we take to reflect and connect with each other.
We invite you to visit Lower School, to see the delight students and teachers take in delving deeper into new topics of study, to hear the classroom conversations and debates and to witness the creativity of students, who have freedom within the curriculum to build, create and explore.
Lower School Director
Kindergarten students are encouraged to joyfully explore the world around them. Teachers are attuned to students and identify where their areas of greatest interest lie. From students’ greatest interests curriculum is developed. In past years, emergent themes of study in kindergarten have included music, animals, the human body and modes of transportation. Early reading, writing and math skills are expertly adapted to be part of the topics studied.
A day in our kindergarten is comprised of lots of outdoor play as well as time to work individually and in small groups. Kindergarten students are encouraged to be reflective of each day’s activities, helping them to develop a stronger sense of who they are as individuals and who they are as members of a community.
First graders define themselves as “big kids.” They are ready to take on new academic challenges and the learning that accompanies those challenges. Through studies of Monarch butterflies, students explore themes of change and transformation, which is a perfect way to begin a year that is so transformational. Reading skills take off and practical applications for mathematical thinking present thrilling opportunities for first grade students to put their rapidly expanding skills to work.
First graders are profoundly invested in their community and what makes a community work. Through a study of heroes, students have the opportunity to determine what being a hero means to them. The awareness of heroic qualities helps students to think about their role as a community member and gives rise to important conversations about the impact we have on one another and the world around us.
Second grade is an exciting year of growth and learning. Students engage in studies of birds, ancient Egypt, storytelling and more. Nonfiction reading gives second grade students the opportunity to apply their reading skills to research tasks, which they tackle with enthusiasm. Students become “experts” through their research and delight in presenting at assemblies, family events and to younger students. In math, their ability to work with bigger numbers and apply a range of computation skills enables them to delve more deeply into multistep problem solving tasks.
During second grade we encourage students to take greater responsibility for their own learning. They see themselves as more independent and take pride in what they can accomplish as readers, writers and mathematicians. At the end of second grade, students share their work and reflect on their growth with their family and their teachers.
Exploration and invention are the hallmarks of third grade. Students explore Chinese culture and history from numerous vantage points. They learn about the history of an ancient civilization and how it has changed and adapted over time. The inventions rooted in Chinese culture serve as inspiration to students, who have numerous opportunities to create and construct throughout the year.
Third grade students use technology, writing and formal presentations as a means of sharing research and project work with others. They engage in increasingly mathematically complex problem solving activities in addition to mastering computation strategies. Third graders have the option of participating in Jr. Mathletes, where the emphasis is on applying creative strategies to unique math problems. Students are continually encouraged to be reflective and pursue their interests, strengthening their engagement and investment in all aspects of learning.
Students at this age are developmentally ready to grapple with history and contemplate it from multiple perspectives. The question of whether change is “good” guides fourth grade’s curricular exploration of Philadelphia history. Exploratory learning continues to be essential as students construct a wigwam, investigate colonial life through hands-on exploration and visit Philadelphia to learn about neighborhoods. Fourth graders master a wide range of mathematical skills and have the option of working with Upper School students in our Jr. Mathletes program.
Fourth grade students often describe themselves as leaders in the Lower School, an accurate and important distinction. Fourth graders take on greater responsibilities and further expand their level of independence. They serve as mentors to younger students and take great pride this role. Our hope is that students in fourth grade see themselves as capable individuals able to create change in the world, whose solutions to problems are based in the Quaker ideals of justice, equality and community.