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Curriculum Highlights

Pre Kindergarten 3 year and 4 year old Curriculum

Montessori-based Curriculum and Method of Instruction

 Saint Mary, Star of the Sea School began a Montessori curriculum and approach for the Pre-Kindergarten program for the 3 and 4 year old children in 2017.  Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was a faithful Catholic woman with a brilliant mind.  She was the first Italian woman to achieve a medical degree and went on to study and observe children and their developmental and educational needs.  In her life and work, she discovered that young children absorb everything in their environment like sponges.  If introduced to materials that are developmentally appropriate in an environment of order, peace, and concentration, children flourish and take joy in learning.  A Montessori approach to education guides children towards joyful learning, independence, freedom, and self-discipline.

The Montessori classroom at Saint Mary´s has five categories of materials:  Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, and Cultural (which includes geography and science).  The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Curriculum uses the Montessori approach to introduce children to prayer, the life of Jesus, the Mass and Liturgy, the Parables of the Kingdom, especially the Good Shepherd, Baptism, the Paschal Mysteries, and the geography of Israel and the city of of Jerusalem. At the beginning of the year, we lay a groundwork of grace & courtesy that teaches the children how to respect their teachers, friends, and materials. We practice self-control, patience, and good manners that allow the children to peacefully learn together.  The children are free to choose materials once they have been introduced through a lesson by the teacher.

The Montessori approach recognizes that each child is a unique child of God, worthy of respect and dignity, bearing unique gifts and talents.  Children are capable of great depths and heights of learning and thought and prayer.  We are excited to begin this new program with the youngest children at St. Mary’s!

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Religious  Curriculum and Method of Instruction 

CGS was developed by Sofia Cavalletti, an Italian Hebrew scripture scholar. Cavelletti built on the work and methods of Maria Montessori and provided a Catechesis that gives children guidance and vocabulary to foster an awareness of their relationship with God and to give expression to it. With the Catechesis, each child is encouraged to continue to grow in their love for God and one another in community.

•The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to religious formation developed by Sofia Cavelletti in the 1950s. In sixty years, it has become widely-used and spread to 37 countries.

• As a child-centered approach, the curriculum and method of instruction appeals to the nature and needs of the child to introduce the child into the life of the Church. A unique aspect of the method focused on the child entering the Church through the atrium, the sacred space of receiving instruction that is solidly founded on Scripture and the Liturgy, addressing the moral formation of the young child. The curriculum and method of instruction situates the child’s living relationship with God within the broader picture of the history of God’s Kingdom.

• Catechesis of the Good Shepherd provides an essential piece that provides age-appropriate religious instruction. Its primary goal is not to impart information, but to build a lasting relationship between the child and God.

Kindergarten Curriculum

In addition to the subject areas of Religion, Mathematics, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies, the Kindergarten curriculum also includes daily enrichment classes including Library, Music, Physical Education, Spanish and Fine Arts.


The God Made Everything series is a comprehensive early childhood program designed to nurture and enrich the faith and spiritual lives of kindergarten students. Each developmentally appropriate lesson is carefully planned so that, at completion, the children are ready to continue their faith journey into first grade and beyond. Kindergarten uses the God Loves Us textbook from this series. A variety of methods and techniques assure that the Good News is conveyed in ways suited to various learning styles. This series is authored by the Sisters of Notre Dame and published by Loyola Press.

Additionally, our religious program is further enriched with a school-wide Virtues program as well as age-appropriate religious videos, art activities, puppet play and other hands-on activities.


Progress in Mathematics, published by Sadlier-Oxford, is the basis of our math curriculum. The students are taught problem solving strategies, reasoning and logic, numeration, computational skills, estimation, measurement, graphing, and other mathematical components. All skills taught contribute to a full understanding of the basic general nature and uses of mathematics.

Many lessons are further complemented with hands-on manipulatives and applications to fully demonstrate the concepts being taught.

Language Arts

The Superkids Reading Program, authored by the Rowland Reading Foundation, is a comprehensive reading and language arts program with phonics at its core. Extensive research has overwhelmingly validated the importance of systematic, phonics-based instruction for the primary grades. As Superkids builds strong phonics and decoding skills, it simultaneously integrates instruction in comprehension, vocabulary and fluency. The program also develops students’ skills in writing, spelling, grammar, usage and mechanics.

Science/Social Studies

The Nancy Larson Science curriculum is an inquiry-based program in which science content is selected and adapted through a variety of sources in order to meet the interests, knowledge, understanding, abilities and experiences of the students. Included in the curriculum is: earth and space science, life science, physical science, environmental science and marine science. Marine Science and the waterfront classroom are also part of the curriculum.

In addition to the historical perspective, science and social studies are taught from many perspectives including personal, social, ethical and moral perspectives. In social studies, emphasis is also placed on cultural and sociopolitical knowledge, civic values and basic knowledge in our constitutional heritage/national identity.

First Grade Curriculum

The core subjects of first grade are Religion, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Handwriting. Spanish, Technology, Music, Physical Education, and Fine Arts are also part of the first grade curriculum.

The following sections describe the textbooks used and some of the general objectives for Religion, Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

Religion: Christ Our Life, Loyola Press

  • Pray formally and spontaneously as an integral part of the day.
  • Identify God as Father, Jesus as God’s Son, and Spirit as God’s Love.
  • Recognize Mary as Jesus’ Mother, and the Church as the people of God.
  • Recognize that God’s people celebrate together as a community.
  • Recognize and practice four different types of prayer.

Language Arts:
Reading and Grammar: Superkids, Rowland Reading Foundation
Spelling: Word Journeys, Guilford Publications, Inc

  • Identify consonants, vowels, blends and digraphs.
  • Recognize sight vocabulary and high frequency words.
  • Identify rhyming words. Demonstrate ability to blend and decode.
  • Identify main idea, character and setting.
  • Demonstrate correct formation of all upper and lower case letters.
  • Demonstrate correct use of capitals, ending punctuation, and spacing within simple sentences.
  • Predict outcome, answer questions, retell stories, and draw conclusions.
  • Recognize and use nouns, verbs, and adjectives in sentences.
  • Write stories with a problem-solution plot.

Math: Progress in Mathematics, Sadlier-Oxford

  • Count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s.
  • Count backwards from 100.
  • Compare numbers using greater than, less than, and equal to.
  • Read and write ordinals to tenth.
  • Add and subtract facts to 20 (horizontally and vertically).
  • Add and subtract two 2-digit numbers without regrouping.
  • Mentally recall facts.
  • Identify odd and even numbers.
  • Identify place value of 2-digit numbers.
  • Order, count, and write numbers to 100.
  • Estimate to the nearest 10.
  • Count through 99 cents using pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.
  • Tell time to the hour and half-hour with digital and analog clocks.

Science: Nancy Larson Science 1, Nancy Larson Publishers

  • Explain how seasonal changes and weather affect plants, animals, and people.
  • Classify animals according to one or more properties and learn about their habitats.
  • Identify the parts of a plant and their functions.
  • Conduct experiments using the scientific method: make predictions, conduct experiment, record observations, and draw conclusions.
  • Describe physical qualities of solids, liquids, and gases.
  • Experiment with the force of magnetism.
  • Identify the six simple machines and how they help us.
  • Identify natural resources and learn how to best use and conserve them.
  • Identify parts of the human body and the functions of the skeletal, digestive, and respiratory systems
  • Examine the characteristics and life cycles of insects

Social Studies: Virginia Social Studies: My Country – Yesterday and Today, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

  • Illustrate responsibilities of good citizenship and respect for country.
  • Identify the world’s oceans and continents.
  • Learn how to read a map; understand cardinal directions, map symbols, and the map key.
  • Understand the difference between goods and services and the need to save money.
  • Appreciate the cultural diversity of America, and learn how various cultures have contributed to the development of the United States.
  • Understand the history of holidays and celebrations.
  • Identify national landmarks.
  • Recognize America as a democracy, and learn about the first colonies and America’s fight for independence from England.