Primary School (Grades K-2)

The Primary School offers a safe, supportive place for students to learn, grow, and build curiosity for life. Children learn best through hands-on experiences and our caring faculty know how to deliver! They engage the children with technology, creative problem solving, cooking, building, the use of “manipulatives” and create community by sharing these hands-on activities together.  A strong academic foundation is supported by opportunities for self-expression, lively performances and enriching service-learning projects, as well as programs, field trips, and classroom activities to promote social and emotional growth as we guide students along their path to Intermediate School.
 
As you walk through our halls, you will see children joyfully engaged in learning—counting in Spanish, singing math facts, painting at the easel, writing a book on the computer, creating props for Readers’ Theatre, or examining a sunflower.  Come, experience our School as we lay the foundation for future learning!

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  • Overview & Philosophy

    Primary School is a friendly, dynamic, flexible environment for children.  Students are encouraged to learn and grow by being curious, asking questions, and thinking outside of the box. They explore together, gathering experiences that build their repertoire in the areas of oral speaking, concept building, problem solving, negotiation, and character development.
     
    Old Trail School’s curriculum includes a strong academic foundation supported by an array of opportunities for self-expression through music, art, Spanish and technology.  Children learn together in their classrooms and also in the library, science labs, art studios, computer labs, gymnasiums and outdoor settings.
     
    Students benefit from enriching opportunities through participation in service learning projects, field trips and problem based learning that are directly related to the curriculum.  We integrate the curriculum in the classroom so students can make meaningful connections in reading, math, art, social studies and science.
     
    Formal and informal assessments take place throughout the year.  These assessments and documentation of each student’s work help school professionals create a complete picture of each child’s growth. Children are thoughtfully transitioned from grade to grade, building upon their skills as academic, interpersonal, and organizational expectations increase.
     
    Teachers encourage and support each child to grow to his or her fullest potential in the academic areas while providing a variety of authentic, interdisciplinary learning opportunities. They create a child-centered environment that encourages working with others in small groups, stimulating students’ interests and supporting children as they develop independence and resilience.

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  • Explore Kindergarten - Highlights and Curriculum

    • Experience farming through planting flowers and vegetables in our on-campus organic garden and individual classroom raised beds and by hatching eggs and observing chicks.
    • Explore Japan in an in-depth cultural learning experience.
    • Acquire and enhance math and technology skills with many hands-on manipulative materials and appropriate online applications.
    • Find their voices as authors in their personal journals and by writing, illustrating and publishing books in Writing Workshop.
    • Collaborate and partner with Fifth Grade Buddies in our year-long mentorship program.
    • Pursue outside-the-classroom learning opportunities in Spanish, visual arts, technology, music, science, library, physical education and swim.
    Language Arts
    Through our Language Arts and Reading program, students gain the strong foundational skills necessary to develop into strong readers and writers. Each student is assessed individually and continually in order for teachers to provide various levels of differentiated instruction.  Students learn to recognize sight words, letter and word sounds and syllables. They practice reading aloud with fluency and participate in conversations that build comprehension, as well as develop speaking and listening skills. Through Writing Workshop, students are Introduced to grammar, punctuation and spelling. They write and illustrate non-fiction texts and personal small moment stories. Students also dedicate time to handwriting, working on proper letter and number formation.

    Math
    In addition to basic counting and computation, our students are exposed to age-appropriate algebra and geometry, measurement, data analysis and reasoning skills. Students use models, graphs, words, shapes and tangible “manipulative” items to gain understanding of both simple and challenging mathematical concepts.  Students will explore number sentences, classify and organize data, and utilize online resources such as McGrievy Math, a proprietary program created by one of our teachers. Students gain reasoning and analyzation skills and apply them to real-world problem solving. Students express mathematical ideas verbally and in written form, providing greater proficiency and retention and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

    Performing Arts
    Students identify rhythm, melody, form, texture and timbre with many participatory activities. They learn to identify notes, phrases and rhythm patterns and use pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments to demonstrate this knowledge. Students sing verse and refrain songs and practice in-tune singing (pitch matching) with a variety of folk songs from the United Stated and other cultures. Students differentiate between rhythm and beat and practice performance skills in seasonal concerts for parents and peers.  

    Physical Education & Swimming
    Expanding mental, physical and social capabilities through activity and interaction, students participate in skill building activities in both our gym and swim courses. In classes designed to maximize participation, curriculum covers recreation, fitness and a range of creative pursuits. Red Cross Learn to Swim Program from Level I – III which covers primary skills, stroke readiness and stroke development. Students learn front and back floating and swimming in the process. There is also an emphasis placed on self-guided discovery and water games/play. At Old Trail, our swimming classes are tailored to the needs of each child, so that he or she can progress at a comfortable pace. The overall focus is for children to be happy and safe in and around the water.

    Science
    Students experience science through play, nature walks, games and other activities. This curriculum is designed to foster an appreciation of the natural world while learning to explain how living and nonliving things work. Throughout the year students participate in walks on the school campus to observe environmental changes that occur during the different season. On these walks students identify local plants and animals and develop an understanding of why these habitats undergo seasonal changes. A fieldtrip to a farm presents a comparison of the domesticated farm animals and the wild animals seen and discussed on our walks.

    Additional science units include a study of color where students mix primary colors to make secondary colors and separate color back out with paper chromatography. The water cycle and five senses units provide opportunities for experiments in sinking and floating, buoyancy, surface tension, optical illusions, and anatomy lessons.    

    Social Studies
    Students begin their study of the bigger world through a fun, me-centered self-study. They have the opportunity to share favorite collections, stories and picture boards. Expanding that universe to include family and community, students study diversity and participate in service learning projects that benefit the school community. In American History, students compare and contrast the lifestyles of the Wampanoag Tribe and American Pilgrims. In an extensive unit on Japan, students research culture, people, landmarks, sports, and other class-generated topics of interest. They learn to count and write their names in Japanese and experience a day in the life of a Japanese child. In conjunction with their farm studies, students apply economic principles to farming—including the environmental impact on the value and cost of crops.

    Spanish
    In addition to reciting the alphabet, learning phrases and building sentences, our kindergarten Spanish students gain a deeper understanding of the Spanish language and culture. Students hear stories, learn and sing songs, perform skits with role playing and props, recreate holiday celebrations and sample global cuisines. Lessons focus on basic greetings and casual conversation, meals, nature and the Guatemalan culture. Students practice proper pronunciation, respond to directions given in Spanish, and use symbol cards to construct sentences.

    Technology
    Students use a wide variety of the latest technology resources to enhance their classroom activities.  Each student is assigned an Apple iPad as part of the Primary School One-to-One (1:1) program.  The iPads improve classroom learning with technologies like virtual fields trips that take students beyond the classroom using virtual reality and 3D design and printing to enhance imagination.  The iPads give students access to programs for drawing, introduction to computer science with drag and drop coding, and parents a window into student learning with electronic portfolios.  Students learn how to use logins and passwords for various programs and websites for school and home use.  Students perform internet searches, learn how to be safe online, and how to be good digital citizens. Each classroom has an interactive board, document camera, and AppleTV to support learning and collaboration.

    Students have access to the Makerspace DIY space which includes robotics and LEGO Education.  Basic keyboarding awareness, introductory robotics and camera use, are also introduced and used at this grade level.

    Visual Arts
    Visual arts lessons are planned so that students obtain a richer understanding of class work by completing related studio art projects. These include self-portraits and family portraits and seasonal tree paintings, plus folk tale dragons, origami penguins and kites as an extension of the Japan study. Students are introduced to painting, collage and sculpture, utilizing a variety of techniques and processes. Students create “Wonderful World” projects inspired by books and songs. They are able to display their explorations of texture, line and shape in a variety of mediums including crayon, marker, tempera, watercolor, wood, wire and clay.
  • Explore Grade 1 - Highlights and Curriculum

    • Participate in hands-on, project-based learning units featuring wetlands, insects and birds.
    • Experiment with environmental learning in our on-site greenhouse. 
    • Expand creative opportunities through enriching activities such as Writing Workshop, a Fourth Grade Reading Pals Program and Friday Premiers, a public speaking initiative.
    • Integrate growing, preparing and enjoying healthy food into memorable hands-on experiences with Edible Education lessons that include a maple tree sap harvest, beekeeping, making pumpkin butter and more. 
    • Contribute to the community through a unique service learning partnership with Medina Raptor Center that allows students to provide supplies to this non profit organization.
    • Pursue outside-the-classroom learning opportunities in Spanish, visual arts, technology, music, science lab, library, physical education and swim.
    Language Arts
    Students become strong, independent readers, writers and oral communicators with the enriching opportunities our program provides . With the introduction of a variety of authors and reading concepts in our reading curriculum students will interact, read independently and compare and explore texts. Through spelling, grammar and handwriting units, students gain tools for success. They navigate the writing process—from idea through edit to final copy—in our Writing Workshop. Students complete a personal narrative, research paper and persuasive paragraphs. With poetry sharing and Friday Premiers, our scheduled speaking presentations, students are able to develop skills and gain confidence in front of an audience.

    Math
    Students learn and build upon a wide range of mathematical concepts beginning with numbers and operations, then counting and calculation. They advance their study to include money, time, estimation, geometry, measurement, reasoning and proof, and data analysis. Students cover addition and subtraction, and begin to understand multiplication and division. They utilize technology to represent data in pictorial models, charts and graphs—allowing them to visualize and add meaning to the numbers. By implementing enriching hands-on activities, our student mathematicians are able to explore mathematical thinking and express, share and apply these ideas to solve real-world problems.

    Performing Arts
    Students identify rhythm, melody, form, texture and timbre with many participatory activities including using pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments and vocal performances. Students learn to identify notes and phrases using folk music from the United States and other cultures as exemplars, compose their own rhythm and melodic patterns, sing on pitch (pitch matching) and perform with confidence.  
     
    Physical Education & Swimming
    With a wide variety of age-appropriate gym and swim activities, students build skills, and expand their mental, physical and social capabilities. In addition to basic fitness and recreation, students are introduced to cooperative play, tumbling and outdoor activities that help them gain flexibility and endurance. Students participate in many interactive group games designed to keep all of the students interested and engaged. Our swim program follows the Red Cross Learn to Swim Program from Level I – III which covers primary skills, stroke readiness and stroke development.   Water safety and water games are also a developmentally important portion of the swimming lessons at Old Trail. Water Safety incorporates the Red Cross WHALE Tales theme and practice sessions that encourage safe rescue/terminology and fitness activities.

    Science
    Investigations in science expand beyond the classroom to include learning experiences in the science lab, greenhouse and outdoor living classroom. With a focus on birds and insects students explore the natural world learning about local biodiversity in wetlands on and near our campus. Highlights of this study include bug hunts, nature walks, a visit from the raptor center and making bird calls. The study of forces and motion and light round out the physical science units. Student continue with hands-on experiences making and testing marble roller coasters and popsicle stick snowboarders, building and using kaleidoscopes and exploring chemical luminescence. Sustainability lessons are woven throughout the curriculum using the living machine and biomimicry as highlights.

    Social Studies
    Students explore worlds both inside and outside the classroom in our Social Studies program. They visit local wetlands in different seasons. With hands-on learning stations and edible education lessons, students learn about food choice and the impact on the environment, community and personal health. They explore economics by developing product ideas, and participating in sales and marketing. Through our unit in cultural diversity, students interview friends, family and community members about cultural celebrations and share their findings. Students also work on developing social skills through discussions of friendship, tolerance, boundaries and bullying.

    Spanish
    Students investigate many aspects of the Spanish language. Beginning with basics, students learn and recite the alphabet and memorize useful vocabulary words such as colors, clothing items, transportation and animals. Students build sentences with symbol cards and participate in class discussions.  In addition, our students gain a deeper understanding of the Spanish language and culture through  stories, songs, poems and performing skits with role playing and props. Students also recreate holiday celebrations and sample global cuisines to enrich their language experience.

    Technology
    Students use a wide variety of the latest technology resources to enhance their classroom activities.  Each student is assigned an Apple iPad as part of the Primary School One-to-One (1:1) program.  The iPads improve classroom learning with technologies like virtual fields trips that take students beyond the classroom using virtual reality and 3D design and printing to enhance imagination.  The iPads give students access to programs for drawing, introduction to computer science with drag and drop coding, and parents a window into student learning with electronic portfolios.  Students learn how to use logins and passwords for various programs and websites for school and home use.  Students perform internet searches, learn how to be safe online, and how to be good digital citizens. Each classroom has an interactive board, document camera, and AppleTV to support learning and collaboration.

    Students have access to the Makerspace DIY space which includes robotics and LEGO Education.  Basic keyboarding awareness, QR Codes, introductory robotics and camera use, are also introduced and used at this grade level.

    Visual Arts
    With projects designed to enhance their classroom learning, students draw interesting insects and sculpt their own imaginative versions out of wire and beads. They explore wetland environments in cut paper collage and paint landscapes in watercolor. They try their hand at life drawing by observing classmates as models.  Studying the works of famous artists and book illustrators, students observe and recreate works by interpreting their unique styles. In addition, they explore weaving and clay sculpture.
  • Explore Grade 2 - Highlights and Curriculum

    • Magnificent Things:  The students will explore inventions and inventors of the past and how this work has a direct impact on what we are using today.
    • Inventors Showcases:  Three showcases will take place throughout the school year at which time the students will be able to share what was learned throughout the Magnificent Things curriculum.
    • Book Character Hour:  Through an extensive study of a favorite book character, students share their learning with family and friends by bringing their book character to life!
    • Mathematicians flourish as math fact fluency increases and they apply this knowledge to bar models and real-life word problems.
    • Hands-On experimentation in our Outdoor Classroom and science lab as students learn about water conservation and treatment, hydroponics and organic gardening and solar power.
    Language Arts
    Students learn to identify and explain the main idea and other important story elements both while reading and in discussion.  They learn to decode, spell and define challenging vocabulary. In our Writing Workshops, students learn the art of writing. They create personal narratives, research reports on topics of interest, poetry and realistic fiction. Armed with knowledge of the parts of speech, sentence structure, and punctuation, student writers are able to edit and improve their writing to share with a variety of audiences.

    Math
    Using enriched teaching methods including visual models, apps, collaborative work, hands-on activities, and gameplay, students are able to build on and master challenging math concepts.  Students develop solid conceptual understanding through a focus on problem solving. Through the use of concrete-to-pictorial-to-abstract development of concepts, students use model drawings to connect visual representation to problem solving and algebra. They explore patterns, addition, subtraction, fractions, money, measurement, multiplication and division.  In Geometry, students learn to identify both two and three dimensional shapes and their properties. Real world word problems included in every chapter apply the concepts and skills. Consolidation of the concepts and skills is reinforced by practice, activities, math journals, and homework.
     
    Performing Arts
    As their understanding of basic music concepts evolves, students identify notes, rests, verses and refrains. They read, sing and sign musical patterns and melodies. They explore meter through various styles of music and have the opportunity to create and improvise. Students are introduced to the Orchestra—learning about brass, woodwind, string and percussion sections through experiences and written tests. Connecting to their global studies, students are introduced to musical styles and instruments from around the world. 
    Physical Education & Swimming
    With a varied mix of sports and activities, students enjoy the social interaction and self-expression our classes provide. From jumping, throwing, catching and kicking to learning how to play team sports with strategy, students activate their minds and bodies in new ways. They play soccer, team handball, floor hockey, basketball and gymnastics. Instructors also utilize obstacle courses and our climbing wall to build skills in balance and coordination. In our Red Cross swim program, students progress between Levels II to IV. They improve their strokes, kicks and turns and continue to learn water safety—from proper diving and jumping to various ways to tread water.  At this stage students are also challenged with an endurance swim, many completing a one-mile swim over the course of multiple classes.

    Science
    Students engage in scientific explorations in the science lab, living classroom, and outdoors on the school’s campus and beautiful surrounding Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Through in-depth studies of environmental issues students explore a variety topics including plants, seeds, the water cycle and water conservation, and the sun and its alternative energy possibilities. Science extends into physical science units that include sound, simple machines, engineering, and robotics. Highlights of the year include building hydroponic gardens from recycled materials,  taking walks on campus to identify the wide diversity of trees, preparing and examining dry mount slides under a microscope to observe leaf structures, wiring circuits and connecting solar batteries to power several toys, making musical instruments and analyzing sounds using a virtual oscilloscope, and a series of robotic and engineering challenges.

    Social Studies
    Social Studies and Science curriculums are integrated and experienced through a year long unit titled, “Magnificent Things”.  We learn about inventors and inventions from the past and how their creations have a direct impact on your lives today. The driving question is, “What problems do inventors solve?”  The students will study the history of transportation (cars), the history of flight, famous buildings around the world, and the history of toys. At the end of each unit of study, parents are invited to the student lead showcase where all students will have the opportunity to share their learning and be the ‘experts’.  The products created through both collaboration and individual work follows each step of the Engineering Design Process.

    Spanish
    Students advance their learning of the language by constructing basic sentences with and without symbol cards. They continue extending their vocabulary, conjugating verbs, identifying feminine and masculine words, and exploring proper uses of possession and identifying places. Students also practice correct intonation and syllable accents by participating in class conversations. With songs, skits, interactive maps and stories, students learn about the journey from Spain to the New World. They also study Pablo Picasso in conjunction with their art classes. Upon completion of this year, students will be able to recite numbers from 1-50 and create and share a technology presentation in Spanish.  

    Technology
    Students use a wide variety of the latest technology tools to enhance their classroom study.  The children have access to desktop computers, interactive whiteboards, document cameras and a computer lab. Second graders use iPads in a 1:1 setting in the classroom.  Students use technology programs for drawing, drag and drop programming and coding, and computer-aided design (CAD). They learn to log in to their school accounts and cloud-based file storage and access and use logins and passwords for various programs and websites for school and home use. Students use word processing, age-appropriate websites, map creation programs and Google Earth. They perform internet search techniques, learn how to be safe online and how to be good digital citizens.   Basic keyboarding skills, QR Codes, introductory robotics, presentation creation, camera use, and movie and book creation are also introduced and used at this grade level.

    Visual Arts
    Students gain a deeper understanding of their global studies with related artistic project ideas. Students explore geometric shapes, parallel lines and hot and cold colors through drawing, cut paper and weavings. Students imagine and create their own place where the inhabitants live in harmony, then reflect on their creation in a written summary. These Peaceable Kingdoms and Queendoms are based on literature and global culture.  Through artwork, students also explore Polar scenes, city skylines, and self-portraits in sculpture, cut-paper collage, clay and printmaking. In conjunction with a visit to The Cleveland Museum of Art, students compose still life drawings using a crayon-resist and watercolor technique as part of a project based learning in Spanish and Art.

Explore wide spaces

Old Trail School is an independent day school (toddler through grade eight) located in the heart of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.