Curriculum Overview

A holistic and cumulative experience begins in the student’s earliest years when she is part of a close and nurturing environment that fosters learning and friendship. In the lower school, natural curiousity transforms into a desire for knowledge. Emphasis is placed on basic academic skills as well as the student’s moral, spiritual, physical, and social development.

Cultivate the wish to learn rather than the wish to be taught. - Janet Erskine Stuart

Lower School Language Arts

The Lower School language arts program emphasizes the strong link between reading and writing. Substantial reading and writing make our students proficient readers who develop independent analytical minds. Our program incorporates the following elements: a phonics and word identification program for decoding, comprehension strategy and reading skills instruction, discussion of various genres of literature, independent and oral reading, teacher and student read aloud time, and creative and purposeful writing endeavors.

Spelling, vocabulary, handwriting, grammar, and the mechanics of writing are incorporated into daily lessons through large and small group instruction and writing activities. Vocabulary and challenge spelling words are taken from the readings to build vocabulary knowledge while helping the students to recognize the connection between the reading and writing activities. Spelling and grammar rules are examined and students apply these skills to their writing assignments. The D'Nealian handwriting program employs an approach which provides a smooth transition from manuscript in grades one and two to cursive in grades three and four.

Public speaking is emphasized throughout the Lower School. Beginning in Kindergarten, students are encouraged to practice speaking to an audience and to develop effective oral communication skills. Weekly presentations help our students learn to present their ideas in an organized and logical sequence, improve their verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and to become confident speakers.

Lower School Mathematics

The Sadlier mathematics series is used in the Lower School. Our mathematics program is based on the premise that young children gain a better understanding of math if they move from the concrete, to the symbolic, to the abstract when exploring math concepts. Using a variety of manipulatives, our students gain an intuitive understanding of math and are able to apply these skills to situations in their daily lives. A strong emphasis is placed on problem solving and the retention of the basic facts. Enrichment activities help students with critical thinking processes. Through repeated practice in the classroom and use of the FUNDATIONS online program, our students strengthen their addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and problem solving skills. Having a strong foundation in the basic math principles helps our students to move onto more challenging concepts with ease.

Lower School Science

Science class meets three times over the six-day cycle. Our young science students learn through discovery and:

  • observe objects and event
  • think about how to relate to what they already know
  • test ideas in logical ways
  • generate explanations that integrate the new information
  • gain proficiency of the natural and designed worlds
  • apply new knowledge to solve real-world problems just as a career scientist would

Our girls actively learn through investigations that engage and lead to a deeper understanding of the world around them experiencing an inquiry-based approach like real world engineers.

Curriculum designed using FOSS (Full Option Science System) in alignment with NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards). Hands-on lessons will explore:

  • Life Science
  • Physical Science

Lower School Social Studies

Social studies class meets three times over the six-day cycle. The Gibbs Smith social studies textbook series is used in Grade Four and the Harcourt Brace textbook series is used in grades one through three. Topics include American history, Pennsylvania, and the study of local and global communities, neighborhoods, and families. Cultures are explored through seasonal activities and projects.

Each year grades one through four participate in the scheduled Women of Achievement assemblies. Each student selects a woman who they feel they are inspired by and who has made an impact on society. She then completes research and prepares an oral report to present to the lower school students and guests. These assemblies are always a highlight of the year and help our students to inform an audience while practicing their research and oral presentation skills.

Lower School Religion

Religion class meets three times over the six-day cycle. The Sadlier Religion series along with a selection of spiritual resources are used during instruction. Classes focus on developing a sense of God who cherishes each of “His children.” Students learn that God’s love is transforming and powerful and to follow in His footsteps of love, care, and concern for others and the world. Roman Catholic doctrine is taught following the Archdiocese Guidelines. Grade Two prepares for and receives the sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Holy Eucharist. Prayer services, communion services, reflection time, service activities, and First Friday liturgies encourage spiritually among members of the Sacred Heart community.

Second and sixth grade Sacrament Buddies work together several times a year building special bonds as they support and encourage each other during their sacramental preparation. Service and community building activities reinforce Goal One: Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to a personal and active faith in God.

Lower School Guidance

Guidance class meets one time over the six-day cycle. The developmental program, Second Step is used during weekly lessons with the guidance counselor. The students learn to express their feelings and concerns in a positive manner. Each class incorporates role-playing, hands-on activities and whole group instruction with follow-up discussions. Students learn about empathy and how to incorporate it in their daily lives. Emotion management and problem solving strategies are also addressed. Lessons are designed to help students grow into individuals who respect and value others, share, cooperate, show confidence, develop healthy friendships, and use conflict resolution skills.

Lower School Art

Art class meets for a double period once over the six-day cycle. Lower School is the first place that creativity flows boundlessly with collective innocence, confidence and pride. Every child has a natural sense of what they want to convey visually and often are willing to inform the teacher of an idea that they feel is in need of being expressed; every Lower School student is a Picasso at “The Heart! “ Thus, to inspire the students’ individual imaginations the Lower School art curriculum embraces the Disciplined Based Art approach; the elements and principles of art are taught in combination with art history and technical skill development. The students experience a variety of book readings, print and/or movie visuals, artists’ biographies and technique demonstrations (drawing, painting, printmaking, pastel and clay demonstrations) in preparation for each topical lesson. While every project includes a variety of goals, the children’s artistic interpretations are always distinctive and delightful. Their work demonstrates an understanding of line, color, texture, emotion, and an appreciation for art. Artists include but are not limited to: Cassatt, Homer, Matisse, Monet, O’Keeffe, Picasso, and Van Gogh. On alternating years Grades three and four visit the Barnes Foundation and The Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Lower School French

French class meets one time over the six-day cycle. The main objective of the foreign language program is to develop oral and auditory skills in a setting where the learning of French is exciting and fun. Lessons are constructed to help students develop an ear for the language and to engage the students in conversation using the introduced structures and vocabulary. During class students use visual aids, write stories, perform skits and sing songs to reinforce and learn the language of French while learning to appreciate another culture.

Lower School Music

Kindergarten music class meets two times over the six-day cycle. Students learn a wide variety of songs that are geared to their interest and ability level. Attention is given to accurate pitch production and singing accompanied by movement.

Music class for students in grades one through four meets three times over the six-day cycle: one class for violin instruction, one class for voice instruction, and one class for Lower School Chorus. Instruction of melody, harmony, rhythm, form, and music reading are the components of music classes. Musical activities develop vocal ability (accurate pitch production) with the introduction of syncopated rhythms and simple parts singing. Violin instruction focuses on note reading, note values, and different musical symbols.

Students in grades three and four are invited to participate in Les Petites Voix, an afterschool school choir club that includes students from grades three through twelve.

Lower School Physical Education


The students meet for physical education 2x a cycle for 40 minute periods.

Locomotor, and non-locomotor activities are introduced to the student through a variety of games. In addition to the activities performed, the girls experience comradery with each other, sportsmanship, the ability to develop teamwork, the importance of safety, and overall excitement promoting an atmosphere of enjoyment for physical activity in the beginning years.

First and Second Grades

The students meet for physical education 2x a cycle for 40 minute periods.

Students work to further develop fundamental skills that will lead them into playing team sports. The curriculum is designed to build on skills learned during Pre-k and kindergarten. A strong emphasis is placed on safety, sportsmanship and understanding the value of fair play. The concept of team work and resolving conflict are introduced.

Third and Fourth Grades

The students meet for physical education 2x a cycle for 40 minute periods.

During third and fourth grade students are exposed to field hockey, basketball, paddle ball and soccer as team sports. Emphasis is placed on skill improvement, field positions, and concepts of the game. The goal is to build skills and knowledge to prepare students for our middle school teams. Continued emphasis is placed on safety and sportsmanship.

Learning Through Discovery

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