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The Sundance School - established 1977

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The Sea Room


A note from The Primary Language Arts Anchor

I believe in creating a classroom environment where all children feel happy, special, and safe. Meeting individual needs provides opportunities for all children to be successful so their confidence will grow, and they will be excited to learn!

-Diane DiBella

Primary Language Arts Anchor

Language Arts

Our program embraces a balanced approach to Language Arts education. This approach incorporates phonics, guided reading, and both reader’s and writer’s workshop. This curriculum enables us to target each child’s unique ability and help him/her reach their goals. Many of the Language Arts lessons encompass the Sundance School theme(s) for the year and include studies in the areas of Science and Social Studies.


  • Alphabet recognition
  • Letter/sound (phonemic) awareness Rhyming and syllable guidance
  • Decoding and encoding:
    • Initial and final consonants
    • CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words
    • Short vowels (A,I,O,U, E)

Reader's Workshop

  • Recognizing the main idea
    • Identify details
    • Recall sequence
  • Summarizing and re-tell the beginning, middle, and end
  • Distinguishing between fiction and non- fiction
  • Understanding cause and effect
  • Partner reading
  • Book discussions

Guided Reading

  • Tracking print from left to right
  • Word solving strategies:
    • Using picture cues
    • Beginning sounds
  • Recognizing and reading sight words within a line of print
  • Comprehension:
    • Making predictions
    • Anticipating forthcoming events
    • Relating text to personal experiences
    • Predicting and working to confirm or disprove ideas

Writer's Workshop

  • Writing stories through thinking, drawing, drafting, and revising
  • Using personal experiences to craft stories
  • Inventive spelling
  • Using high frequency words within writing


  • Sentence structure
  • Appropriate use of capital and lowercase letters
  • Practice of spacing words within sentences
  • Punctuation - periods, questions marks, exclamation marks


  • Three point pencil grip
  • Proper writing position and posture
  • Top to bottom and left to right sequence


It is our philosophy in the Primary that learning should be fun, relevant to the children, and individualized to meet each child's needs. To this end, our math program is an eclectic blend of traditional programs and customized, teacher-created materials. Our units of study are presented in a logical sequence that fosters a natural progression of concept development as well as the scaffolding of students' knowledge.

All concept presentations begin on a concrete level with manipulative based lessons which progress to the pictorial and abstract levels as dictated by the students' level of understanding.

Our low teacher:student ratio coupled with teaching methods that provide tactile, visual and kinetic learning experiences ensure that the individual needs of all our students are met.

A myriad of classroom characters like Fredricka the Frog, Pattern Pete, Al and Ali; our hungry alligator friends, and Alien Frog greet the students every day and enhance our lessons with their crazy antics. Our Primary math program is highlighted by our 100th Day of School celebration.

Numbers & Numeration

  • Recognize 1 to 30
  • Count to 100
  • Counting from a given number
  • Write 1 to 30
  • Sequencing 1-30
  • Concept of more/less/few/same as
  • Ordinal 1 to 10
  • Count by 10s
  • Addition: Concrete, pictorial, abstract (Vertical and horizontal formats)
  • Subtraction: Concrete, pictorial, abstract (Vertical and horizontal formats)  Concept of ‘0’
  • +, - facts to 10 (fluent to 5)
  • Estimation
  • Place Value - compose and decompose numbers (tens and ones)


  • Identify whole, halves, thirds, and fourths
  • Identify shaded half of an object (pictorial)
  • Identify equal parts: 1/2, 1/3, 1/4
  • Equal vs unequal parts
  • Writing fractions

Data Analysis & Probability

  • Patterns: patterns repeat, identify, reproduce and design a pattern - simple color / shape / size / direction patterns
  • Identify what comes next in a pattern
  • Identify pattern unit


  • Describe objects in the environment using shapes and spatial vocabulary to describe relative position: above, behind, under, etc.
  • Identify 2 and 3 dimensional shapes
  • Name and draw the basic shapes regardless of size & orientation
  • Attributes of shapes

Measurement, Time, & Money

  • Name the number of days in a week
  • Name the 12 months of the year
  • Tell time by the hour
  • Name different parts of a clock
  • Understand on a conceptual level: 24 hours in a day.
  • Difference between ‘today, yesterday and tomorrow’
  • Use words to describe difference in ‘temperature’
  • Use words to describe difference in weights
  • Identify penny, nickel, dime & quarter and their values  Count pennies and dimes together
  • Count pennies and nickels together
  • Use the cent and dollar signs correctly
  • Use a ruler, yardstick, meter stick to measure
  • Volume: full, empty, 1/2 full, more, less
  • Describe several measurable attributes of a single object

Data Analysis & Probability

  • Classifying objects by various attributes of the objects  Introduction to a bar graph, a pictograph
  • Collect data
  • Create a simple graph
  • Interpret a simple graph

Problem Solving

  • Addition: use stories for problem solving
  • Subtraction: Use stories for problem solving


The Primary Science Curriculum is designed to build upon the curiosity of children. The children gather knowledge and skills through hands-on activities that are designed to engage them on many levels. The children are encouraged to explore their indoor and outdoor environments, interpret their findings and communicate their ideas.

The curriculum is divided into four Core Competencies: Life Science, Physical Science, Earth Science, and Human Biology. All the children in the Primary have a weekly science class. Special visitors to the school and events such as the annual 'Happenings' add interest and reinforce the lesson plans.

Life Science

  • The Children will develop a healthy respect and appreciation for the diversity of life and the world around them. They will gain awareness of the diversity of life by observing and recording information on a variety of animals and plants. They will also develop sensitivity to the needs of living things through observation and maintenance of living things.
    • Learn to distinguish between living and non-living things
    • Understand the diversity of living things and classify them
    • Identify the basic needs of living things
    • Identify the characteristics of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, and insects
    • Explore the different parts of animals and plants and understand their basic functions
    • Develop an awareness of diversity and similarities of plants and animals

Physical Science

  • While working on this unit, the students will gain a deeper understanding of the physical and chemical world of science. The children will experience shape, color, size, weight, and temperature as it pertains to science and the natural world. They will also explore the differences between solids, liquids, and gasses.
    • Explore and understand the various states of matter
    • Understand the meaning of matter, mass, property, temperature
    • Investigate measurement and its importance to science
    • Predict and explore the effects of force and energy on matter
    • Understand a physical and a chemical change
    • Investigate the properties of light and color

Earth Science

  • This unit introduces children to the earth as a planet. They will gain a deeper understanding of the solar system and the sun. The students will also be introduced to the base sequences and cycles that occur here on earth. They will explore the seasons, the water cycle, night and day, the cycles of the moon, and weather. They will also explore the earth's composition. What are rocks and minerals? What are fossils and why are they important? They will be introduced to the forces that shape the land and develop an understanding of how to preserve our earth.
    • Identify and describe the daily changes in the sky
    • Develop an understanding of the earth as a planet and its place in the universe
    • Explore the diversity of the earth's surface
    • Explore the properties of the moon's surface
    • Understand the characteristics of various materials on Earth
    • Understand the concept of weather and its effect on the environment
    • Investigate the water cycle
    • Develop an understanding of how pollution and conservation of resources relate to the quality of life

Human Biology

  • The children will be introduced to the human body using examples, pictures, models, and art projects. They will also be introduced to the skeletal, cardio vascular, and digestive system as well the brain and skin.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the five senses
    • Identify the major organs of the human body
    • Explore the various systems in the human body
    • Understand how proper nutrition and good hygiene are important for personal growth and development
Creative activity, beyond its value to the individual plays a role in human affairs. Society owes its progress to the contributions of those who have dared to think and to act differently READ 1966


The primary goal of the workshop is to foster a love of art and encourage creative self expression. Many studies have shown that art can and should play a role in the education of young children. Art projects are usually related to the theme at Sundance, seasons, show time or can be tined into that activities that are occurring in the Language Arts and Math departments. The workshop tries to expose children to many mediums from painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture. "Free Art" is always encouraged and many different materials are readily available. The children are also introduced to the world of fine art with our 'Artist of the Month' projects. These projects expose children to fine art and art history while encouraging them to explore their own creativity!

The children are exposed to a more 'formal' drawing class where the basic elements of shape are introduced. The children are encouraged to draw using various mediums; including pencil, crayon, charcoal, and pastel. They are introduced to line, texture, composition, rhythm, and color. Gentle guidance and encouragement result in drawings that express confidence!

Dramatics & Dance

Every child at Sundance participates once a week in a dance and dramatics class. Children's natural love of movement, music and dramatic play in a group setting is celebrated and extended under the direction of a trained professional teacher. A sense of community is strengthened, individual self image and self esteem grows and positive, physical, emotional and social skills are enhanced.


  • Acting out stories with or without props.
  • Moving to music with or without props.
  • Performing plays and dances in a "show".

Skills Developed

  • Sequential memory
  • Spatial awareness
  • Rhythm
  • Coordination
  • Cooperation and teamwork
  • Body image
  • Self esteem
  • Creative expression & imagination
  • Language and public speaking skills
  • Listening skills

Children are gradually introduced to the stage in group experiences in a way that is appropriate with their developmental and chronological age. Shyer children are encouraged to work with a more outgoing partner. No child is judged; rather each child is encouraged to work at his or her level of comfort and strength. Small challenges are continually presented in a non-threatening format. Each effort is applauded. Children are encouraged to participate but are never coerced. Children take turns being “performers” and “audience”.

Physical Education

The Physical Education program is designed for the purpose of enhancing psychomotor, cognitive, and physical development through physical body movement. Physical Education offers opportunities to develop independence, goal-setting, leadership, teamwork and sportsmanship. We hope to help children choose a lifelong commitment to their own physical fitness. Children are encouraged to do their “personal best,” recording their first efforts and focusing on steady improvement. All activities are presented in a fun and organized but active way. Teamwork and good sportsmanship is stressed.



  • To continue developing enthusiasm and eagerness to communicate in another language
  • To be actively involved and willing to participate in class
  • To speak, interact and sing only in Spanish
  • To enlarge vocabulary and improve writing and reading skills
  • To share and learn more about other cultures and traditions

Topics Covered

  • Greetings and social interactions

  • Reinforcement of basic topics with every theme (colors, numbers)

  • Use of short commands in Spanish to follow directions

  • My school – building – people who work here – study rooms

  • A Visit to the pet store– description of each animals

  • My body - Visit to the Doctor

  • The clowns and use of new descriptive adjectives

  • Let’s go to the Circus

  • Let’s sing the Spanish Alphabet

  • Let’s go to the market and buy delicious fresh food!     (Likes/dislikes)

  • A World of Science (school theme of the year)

  • Let’s learn about Mexico and Celebrate International Holidays


  • Complete Resource Program including Flashcards, Puppets, real or simulated objects, images, Books, posters and CD Conversations
  • Dialogues, skits and constant role-playing         
  • Simple and repetitive dramatization with new phrases
  • Songs related to every topic using its rhythms to emphasize the correct pronunciation using full sentences
  • Stories read to the class, poems to recite
  • Games with fun and interactive use of new topics
  • Worksheets and simple quizzes
  • Individual Projects to begin reading and writing in Spanish
  • Manual activities   - Touching and naming objects
  • Group and partner work   - Cooperative learning
  • Constant repetition of previously covered materials 
  • Use of Spanish language through Math, Art, Music and Sciences
  • Classes conducted almost exclusively in Spanish
  • Focus on all the children