Grades 1-8

The curriculum for Grades 1 through 8 has been selected and carefully developed to provide the students with a rigorous but balanced academic program.  It makes the most of a wide variety of resources, including special visitors, informative and engaging texts, and audio and video materials.

DSC 9936.NEF 1The teachers are continuously trained to ensure that their methods of instruction are effective and that they meet the specific needs of each child.  The content of the program is transmitted directly by the teachers and explored by the students themselves in projects, presentations, class discussions and activities, regular homework, and tests.  Manipulatives are used to advantage in subjects such as Science and Mathematics and are especially useful in helping the primary students to grasp concepts.  

The children are taught to think critically and to ask questions and have ample opportunity to express themselves.  They are encouraged to pay attention to facts, as well as to their own impressions and the deeper meanings of what is studied.

Reading is a very important skill, and it is used in all other subjects.  Besides developing practical skills such as comprehension, spelling, sentence structure, vocabulary, logical reasoning, and other analytical skills, reading is the key to a vast treasury of enjoyment and learning.

Our reading program:

  • Enkindles the imagination
  • Inspires through the examples of heroic and virtuous characters
  • Teaches us a moral and helps to form us as persons—we learn from the experiences of the characters and see the consequences of good and evil
  • Delights in its humour, entertains usIs thought-provoking: making us think about important themes, truths, and subjects
  • Gives us a glimpse of different times and places—both imaginary and historical
  • Enchants us with beautiful language and well-crafted sentences, providing us with a model for our own writing
  • Tells us a great tale with colourful characters, settings, and plots

A person who enjoys reading is a very rich person indeed—someone (whether young or old) who can find good company in a good book.

Texts to be read in class are chosen by the teacher from short stories, poetry, novels, and plays.  Some authors include C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Robert Louis Stevenson, William Shakespeare, and Christina Rosetti.

Short Stories:  For Grades 1–4, the Houghton-Mifflin Literary Reader provides the main selection of short stories read in class.  For Grades 5–8, short stories may be selected from the readers or from other sources.

Poetry:  The study of poetry is an integral part of our curriculum.  In the older grades, poems are studied formally, as well as memorized, and include literary works, together with more fun poems, all of which should be chosen with care so that they are age appropriate.  The children have regular opportunities throughout the year to recite poetry before the other students, but they should memorize far more than they need to recite, in order to acquire an interior treasury of beauty and inspiration.

Novels and Plays:  The study of classic novels and plays develops a child’s ability to follow and appreciate more complex stories.  Longer works of literature allow themes to develop and introduce the study of characterization and literary analysis such as plot, setting, and atmosphere.  Novel studies usually begin in Grade 3.  Sections from plays can be read aloud and also memorized and acted out.

Our formal reading program is supported by a “Book Bag” program in the younger grades, by a Reading Buddies program, and by ample silent reading opportunities for the students.

Writing is an essential skill for all students to develop, and our students are provided with abundant opportunities to practise.  In the primary grades the students are given the opportunity for directed writing in their journals.  In all grades, the Spelling program provides the students to develop their vocabulary through writing practice sentences and longer compositions.  The Reading program too provides the students with opportunities to use their imaginations and express their opinions in longer pieces of writing.  But at the core of teaching the students to write lies our Writing class, which provides the students with instruction and practice in a variety of creative and expository writing forms.

By means of our spelling program we are trying to equip the children to the best of our ability with good spelling skills and a developed vocabulary which they can apply in all their written work.  Our Spelling classes are only one of the means we use to impart proper spelling skills.  The spelling mark on the report card is based not only on the student’s achievements on the weekly spelling tests and exercises, but also on the integration of these spelling skills in other subjects.

For our students in Grade 1 and Grade 2, our phonics program provides additional support for novice readers, with abundant practice and review provided by the classic Modern Curriculum Press "Plaid" Phonics.

The skills which the students develop through the Writing and Spelling programs are further reinforced from Grade 2 onwards with the formal study of English grammar.  In addition to learning to identify parts of speech, the students study syntax and are provided with detailed exercises to practise their analytical skills and to learn English writing conventions.

In addition to their readers, the primary students are fortunate to participate in a special literature program which exposes them to some of the great literary children’s classics which are read aloud to them or played on dramatic audio recordings.  Some authors include Oscar Wilde, Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, and Aesop.  Through the dramatization and illustration of famous poems, nursery rhymes, stories and fables, the students sharpen their listening skills, increase their vocabulary and truly delight in good stories.  They are given an opportunity to mime these, to act them out to the recordings, and to illustrate their favourite parts.  There are vocabulary games at the beginning of each class to increase their treasury of interesting words to be used in their own stories. This program is designed to truly “enkindle the imagination” and to inspire a love of reading and of good literature in our students.

Regular instruction to develop solid handwriting skills is provided through our Printing & Cursive Writing classes which feature ongoing instruction and thorough drill and practice.

Every Math class begins with a review and with some math drills.  For the primary students a review might include:

  • Number identification:  point to a chart and quickly identify numbers randomly
  • Rote counting by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, 20’s, 100’s (use charts sometimes)
  • Mental math drills:  children problem solve, add and subtract mentally without the use of pencil and paper.  They learn to do these tasks quickly and efficiently.

For older students, reviews might concentrate on:

  • Addition and subtraction
  • Multiplication tables
  • Division facts
  • Geometric formulas, e.g., the area of a rectangle

These drills are meant to be quick in order to keep the children sharp and on their toes and to help them have certain basic facts memorized.  They are sometimes done in the format of a game.

When new concepts are introduced in the lesson, the students are provided with group and individual instruction, as needed.   Manipulatives, models, and other real-life examples are given when possible to help the children understand the concepts concretely.

Abundant drill and practice is provided to help reinforce the new material.  A variety of mathematical games, puzzles, and critical-thinking activities are also used as incentives and challenges for students who would benefit from them.

To help the students acquire the necessary skills to perform arithmetic calculations mentally, the use of calculators is not permitted until Grade 9.

In order to understand the physical world around them, to be exposed to the beauty of nature, and to learn basic biology, chemistry, and physics the students are introduced in Grade 1 to the study of Science.

Through hands-on activities, formal lessons and textbook work, and formal science labs in Grades 5 to 8, the students are introduced to a number of themes and scientific topics, including among others simple machines, the human body, the solar system, the mechanics of flight, life cycles of different animals, and the structure of plant and animal cells.

By Grade 7 and Grade 8, the students are introduced to the use of laboratory equipment as they conduct labs and learn to complete formal lab reports.

In the younger grades the students are introduced to the study of history and to the geography of the Earth through a study of themes, beginning with their family history and an introduction to the study of their country.  In subsequent grades the students study ancient and modern cultures and the countries of the world, learn to read maps and use atlases, and are introduced to the study of Civics.

Starting in Grade 7 and Grade 8, the study of History and Geography are separated into two different subjects.  In History class, the students study the history of Canada from the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th century down to the Statute of Westminster.  In Geography class, the disciplines of physical and human geography are introduced.

Formation in faith is essential to the definition of education at Mary, Mother of God School. Drawing from the riches of the Catholic tradition, staff and students join in daily prayer (including the Rosary), weekly Mass, and monthly Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and celebrate the annual cycles of the liturgical calendar.

This communal life of prayer is supported too by a systematic exposure to the riches of the Catholic Faith through the two components of our Religion program, Faith & Life and Faith In Action

The Faith & Life component is at its heart formal catechesis using the Faith & Life series published by Ignatius Press.  This is supplemented by an exposure of the beauty of the Faith through music, drama, mimes, and art in the Faith In Action component which helps the students bring to life the stories of the Bible and of the lives of the Saints.

Beginning in Grade 1 the students are exposed to Canada’s second official language through songs, chants, and dialogues, gaining exposure to the sound of French and learning how to make new sounds to speak with a good accent.  More formal study of the language begins in Grade 5, and by Grade 7 the students are learning the formalities of French grammar, complementing their study of English grammar.

The students are first exposed to the formal study of Latin in Grade 5.  For the first two years, there is an emphasis on learning common Catholic prayers in Latin, highlighting the importance of the language in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, and on learning common Latin phrases and mottos, highlighting the importance of the language in the history of western European civilization.  The study of Latin vocabulary, grammar, and syntax is introduced in Grade 7, complementing the students’ study of English and French.

Music has a central place in our school life, and this is supported by a music program which introduces the students to music appreciation through listening to classical music and learning about famous composers, to music theory through beginning the practice of playing the recorder in Grade 5, and to singing folk music, rounds, and harmony through the singing component of the program.  By the senior elementary years, the students are comfortable singing in parts, which we put to use to enrich our life of prayer in song.

In their weekly Art class, the students are introduced to working in a variety of mediums from clay to charcoal and water colours.  Each year, the students’ creativity is highlighted at the annual Art Show.

In our Physical Education classes, the students are provided the opportunity for fun, active games and skills development, helping them grow in fitness, teamwork, and good sportsmanship.

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