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Lower School Core Curriculum

Students gain content knowledge in the following core areas, all while developing key competencies and skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, and empathy—traits transferable across subject areas and beyond the classroom walls.

Language Arts

Rowland Hall Lower School students are avid readers, aspiring authors and clear communicators.

The language arts curriculum in the Lower School focuses on three specific areas: oral language, reading, and writing. Oral language consists of speaking, listening, presenting and viewing skills. Reading consists of phonological and phonemic awareness skills; word study including spelling, fluency, vocabulary; and comprehension skills. Writing consists of writing in a variety of forms and genres for different audiences; writing clearly and effectively; using the writing process; and analyzing and evaluating one’s writing. In addition to the three areas of focus, we also incorporate listening and viewing/visual literacy into the curriculum.

First and Second Grades

The balanced literacy program in first and second grade consists of guided and independent reading and writing, and word study.

Reading: Students are taught both decoding and comprehension strategies in preparation for success as lifelong readers. Students participate in small and large groups, reading new and familiar, easy and challenging texts. Students read individually and in groups with teachers, parent volunteers, and with each other. Students analyze story formats as well as events, plot, and character. High frequency use words and spelling patterns are identified during word studies.

Writing: Emphasis is placed on expressing ideas in writing and illustration. Through the writing process, students are introduced to and practice story structure, revising, editing, parts of speech, and beginning punctuation. Students are taught manuscript handwriting.

Third Grade

Reading: Third graders make the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” They review and increase their usage of most frequently used words, spelling patterns, and rules. Strategies for word decoding and comprehension are taught through literature-based curriculum (novels, poetry, non-fiction, Cinderella stories from around the world, and biographies).

Writing: Emphasis is on clarity, editing, proofreading, fluency, content, and writing mechanics across a variety of genres. Students are introduced to the research process and are introduced to and develop cursive writing skills.

Fourth Grade

Reading: Literature-based curriculum develops the skills of inferring, comparing, contrasting, and drawing conclusions. Reading for understanding in fiction and non-fiction while learning to use a variety of research materials is a main focus.

Writing: Emphasis is on clarity, fluency, content, and writing mechanics using a variety of formats through the writing process with proofreading and editing skills reinforced. Consistent use of and refinement of cursive handwriting continues.

Fifth Grade

Reading: Literature-based curriculum includes multiple fiction and non-fiction selections. Students read material from a variety of sources and for different purposes. Comprehension and vocabulary skills are emphasized to develop and enhance oral and written communication.

Writing: Clarity, organization, content and mechanics using a variety of forms/genres are developed using the writing process. Emphasis is placed on all aspects of the research process including note-taking, outlining, composing, peer-editing, and publishing final drafts. Cursive and manuscript writing are used.

Social Studies

Our social studies curriculum offers young students a chance to explore their local and global communities, and more deeply consider their place within the world in a relevant way.

Students study social science themes through five main areas of focus: individual development and identity; civic ideals and practices of citizenship; culture and connections; place and environment; and economy and technology.

First Grade

First graders explore the greater school and neighborhood communities, cultural diversity, safety, cooperation and conflict resolution, the importance of rules, taking care of animals and how animals help people, and making and keeping friends.

Second Grade

Emphasis is on the study of people of the Salt Lake valley, immigrants, refugees, citizenship, city/county government, cultural traditions in Salt Lake valley, compass and mapping skills.

Third Grade

Students examine the seven continents with emphasis on history, culture, geography, economics, current events, oceans, mapping skills, and historical figures.

Fourth Grade

The study of Utah is highlighted through hands-on learning and multiple field studies focused on geography and topography. Students learn about democracy and the political process through exploration of contemporary state government.

Fifth Grade

Research skills are honed through comprehensive study of events leading up to and including the age of exploration, the colonial period, the Revolutionary War, and the origins of the Civil War. Geography and mapping skills continue to be developed.


We ask our students to think and act like scientists. Our young scientists apply their new knowledge and skills to identify and address real-world problems, incorporating components of technology, engineering, sustainability, and design.

Through selected topics infused with the process and analytical skills central to science, students learn question formation, observation, experimentation, measurement, analysis, inference and deduction, critical thought, and communication skills.

First Grade

Units include the structure, function, and seasonal changes of trees; rainforest habitat and biology; tools of measurement in science; forces and motion; amphibians; and Brassica rapa plant growth. Throughout the year, students design and conduct science experiments, record data and observations, and interpret and report results.

Second Grade

Units include the properties of sound and light, insect behavior and adaptation, weather, the structure and function of human cells, an introduction to human body systems, and earthworm study. Students design and conduct science investigations related to the topics of study.

Third Grade

Topics include animal diversity, habitats and behaviors of snails and spiders, food webs, biomes of the world, mosquitoes and malaria, bird diversity, and simple machines. Students design and conduct science investigations throughout the year.

Fourth Grade

Field studies connect the classroom to the Great Salt Lake and Wasatch Mountain environments. Units include geology and soil science, microbiology, properties of water, water systems’ quality and treatment, and global water awareness. Students design and conduct science investigations throughout the year, including independent projects and experiments of longer duration.

Fifth Grade

Students explore chemistry with an emphasis on the properties of gasses, select human organ systems, cellular and sub-cellular structure, flight, and motion. Skills related to design and experimentation are honed, with increased emphasis on identification and control of variables, use of more complex tools and equipment, and precision. Individual science projects highlight the year’s study.


Mathematics in the Lower School promotes a deep understanding of mathematical skills and concepts. The goal of our math program is authentic, hands-on, problem-based inquiry that enables students to construct knowledge and apply it in context. The Lower School employs a math specialist to appropriately challenge students in small groups, work with classroom teachers to differentiate lessons, develop the curriculum, and ensure best practices in math instruction.

First Grade

Students focus on addition and subtraction within 20, whole number relationships and place value, linear measurement in non-standard units, and reasoning with shapes and their attributes.

Second Grade

Students work on extending their understanding of base-ten notation, building fluency with addition and subtraction, using standard units of linear measurement, and describing and analyzing shapes.

Third Grade

Third graders focus intensively on developing their understanding of multiplication and division and strategies for multiplication and division within 100. They are developing their understanding of fractions, especially unit fractions (fractions with numerator 1). Additionally, they study the structure of rectangular arrays and of area and describe and analyze two-dimensional shapes.

Fourth Grade

Students develop understanding of and fluency with multi-digit multiplication, and understanding of dividing to find quotients involving multi-digit dividends. They study fraction equivalence, addition and subtraction of fractions with like denominators, and multiplication of fractions by whole numbers. They build their understanding that geometric figures can be analyzed and classified based on their properties, such as having parallel sides, perpendicular sides, particular angle measures, and symmetry.

Fifth Grade

Fifth graders focus on developing fluency with addition and subtraction of fractions, and increasing their understanding of the multiplication of fractions and of division of fractions in limited cases (unit fractions divided by whole numbers and whole numbers divided by unit fractions). They work on extending division to two-digit divisors, integrating decimal fractions into the place value system, developing understanding of operations with decimals to hundredths, and increasing fluency with whole number and decimal operations. They also focus on developing understanding of volume.

Appropriate technology is integrated into the curriculum to deepen and enhance the learning experience for Lower School math students. For example, educational iPad apps are used to promote math skills through engaging, challenging, and fun activities. 

Technology Literacy

We have created technology-literacy skills scope and sequence guidelines to ensure that basic fluency and digital-competency skills are taught in context within classrooms.

The material we cover in these classes and discussions grows across grade levels and divisions, but the five common themes woven throughout are:

  • T.H.I.N.K. before you post (is it thoughtful, helpful, inclusive, necessary, and kind?);
  • privacy and your digital footprint;
  • achieving real-life and digital balance;
  • ownership and copyright; and
  • ethical online behavior.

Personalized Attention

Our Lower School has an average class size of 17 students, compared to 24 in Utah's public elementary schools. Every child is well-known and supported in the ways that best meet their needs.

You Belong at Rowland Hall