Lower School Curriculum

Kindergarten, Prefirst – Grade 5

The St. James Academy Lower School curriculum is filled with stimulating, challenging and creative educational experiences. A host of yearlong enrichment activities supplement the SJA curriculum, including Faith-in-Action, Community Service, class assemblies, and so much more!

“We were both amazed by the unique philosophy of the school and dynamic programs offered to such young students.” -Parent

The curriculum consists of:


The Art program at St. James Academy seeks to build the students’ visual knowledge of themselves and the world around them.

This program strives for a sequence of instruction based on the study of aesthetics, art criticism, art history, and, most importantly, art production that is relevant to students at each grade level. Whenever possible, activities are selected to make an interdisciplinary connection with other subject areas and/or school initiatives.

Self-expression is encouraged while showing sensitivity to each child’s needs and abilities. Art activities are designed to develop problem-solving skills while giving the child a feeling of confidence, security, and self-satisfaction in completing a task. The program provides a global perspective of art, presenting expressions representative of diverse cultures. Connections are made between values, ideas, experiences, and expressions of artists and individual students.

Goals: Kindergarten – Grade Five

Students will:

  • Strengthen the ability to perceive, discriminate, interpret, understand, and evaluate experiences in the visual arts;
  • Learn appropriate technical and artistic use of materials, tools, and processes and develop requisite skills;
  • Develop the ability to effectively understand ideas and values in the language of imagery;
  • Learn to constructively assess the value of their own works, as well as the work of others. Making such decisions helps them to understand preferences in clothing, architecture, and all the visual aspects of the environment. By developing the ability to identify, analyze, and apply criteria for making such judgments, the leaner becomes more able to make informed choices for themselves and their society;
  • Understand that every civilization has conceived, produced, and cherished its own forms of art as an embodiment of values and beliefs;
  • Continue to develop global awareness as they gain knowledge and insight about diverse coexistent cultural heritage.

*Goals for SJA students in Grades Kindergarten through Five are aligned with the National Standards for the Arts and the Maryland Essential Learner Outcomes for the Visual Arts. Students’ knowledge, skills, global awareness, and attitudes will be strengthened through the goals of the SJA Art program.

Information Technology

Participation in Technology classes is based on a flexible schedule. Classroom teachers and the Information Technology Coordinator collaborate to integrate technology activities that develop subject area concepts, as well as technology skills.

Since technology skills are taught in correlation with the classroom curriculum to enhance teacher and student productivity, efficiency, creative expression, communication, and access to information, class schedules vary based on units of instruction.

noname-1Information technologies rapidly influence our society and the way in which we work, study, and play. The education environment at St. James Academy requires students to learn actively by accessing information resources to a degree that was almost unimaginable only a few years ago.

The St. James Academy Mission Statement affirms the development of the whole child by providing a place to grow intellectually, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially. The technology curriculum attempts to foster this mission by providing technology resources to prepare our children for productive, creative, and responsible living in the twenty-first century.

Goals: Kindergarten – Grade Five

Students will:

  • Demonstrate ethical behavior and proper use of technologies;
  • Apply strategies for solving routine hardware and software problems with iPadsa dn computers;
  • Locate, access, digest, and organize information;
  • Evaluate information in terms of accuracy, relevance, appropriateness, and bias;
  • Collaborate to investigate curriculum related issues and to identify solutions;
  • Effectively communicate ideas and curriculum concepts using a board range of skills;
  • Develop keyboarding skills;
  • Demonstrate the ability to constructively critique individual and group projects using pre-established rubrics.

Language Arts

The Language Arts curriculum at St. James Academy encourages students to become confident listeners, speakers, readers, writers, and thinkers through an integrated program combining reading/literature, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and composition. In the primary grades, skills are modeled which address varied learning styles. Through phonology, sight-reading, and context clue skills, students develop their reading potential.

As students gain confidence in their reading ability, less time is dedicated to the specific instruction of reading. Students are no longer learning to read, but rather reading to learn. Students read across the curriculum and often use trade books related to their study in Social Studies or Science.

Writing skills are essential for all students to develop. Students write frequently and receive teacher and peer review of their writing assignments. Students are exposed to traditional spelling, vocabulary, and grammar instruction. Handwriting skills are practiced in Grades Kindergarten through Four. The skills developed in these classes provide necessary tools for effective communication.

The Language Arts curriculum is structured to build confidence in each student’s understanding of the writing process and his/her ability to communicate. St. James Academy encourages each student to become an enthusiastic lifelong reader and contributing member of our world.

Goals: Kindergarten – Grade Five

Students will:

  • Build reading skills, confidence, independence, critical thinking, and curiosity;
  • Read for recreation, research, personal growth, and awareness;
  • Read and evaluate a variety of formats including; books, computer accessed information, periodicals, and newspapers;
  • Develop critical thinking skills and problem solving strategies by responding to literature in both written and oral formats;
  • Apply a variety of comprehension skills, phonological awareness, sight-reading, and context clues to develop fluency and understanding;
  • Communicate effectively using receptive and expressive language;
  • Identify a variety of literary genres;
  • Develop abstract thinking skills through the examination of literature.


Students will:

  • Become familiar with and analyze the sound-symbol relationship and structural characteristics of the English language;
  • Apply spelling rules and correctly spell exceptions across the curriculum;
  • Incorporate spelling/vocabulary lists as part of daily activities;
  • Demonstrate dictionary skills;
  • Develop and apply proof-reading skills;
  • Derive the meaning of vocabulary words from related readings at appropriate levels.


Students will:

  • Apply grammar understanding to develop strong written language at appropriate levels;
  • Develop an appreciation of the importance of words as the basic building blocks of language structure;
  • Learn and incorporate grammar rules for usage in written and oral communication both academically (formally) and personally (informally);
  • Develop confidence in receptive and expressive communication skills in varied settings.


Students will:

  • Develop an understanding of the writing process;
  • Participate in teacher directed and independent writing exercises;
  • Learn and continue to demonstrate editing and revising skills;
  • Share work with classmates for peer evaluation;
  • Submit writing exercises for teacher evaluation.


Library instruction at St. James Academy emphasizes the appreciation of literature and reading and the development of skills that allow students to become effective users of ideas and information. Students are encouraged to make use of resources for recreational purposes and academic needs. The program integrates with the classroom curriculum and provides enrichment activities that include author visits, media production, interactive smartboard lessons, and participation in Maryland state award programs.

Teachers schedule additional time in the newly renovated media center to facilitate classroom instruction and cross-curricular support and/or enrichment, as needed.

Goals: Kindergarten – Grade Five

Students will:

  • Develop an appreciation for literature;
  • Develop lifelong reading, listening, and viewing habits;
  • Select reading material to support individual interests and classroom assignments;
  • Access print and electronic resources;
  • Demonstrate effective and ethical use of print and non-print resources;
  • Evaluate and select media for a specific need;
  • Retrieve and organize information from a variety of sources;
  • Communicate information through print and non-print media.


The Mathematics curriculum at St. James Academy seeks to develop the full potential of each student through an integrated program stressing basic skills, application, critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving. The curriculum is differentiated by homogeneous grouping to allow students to be presented increasingly complex mathematical challenges to develop an understanding of the order and structure of mathematics. Emphasis is placed on number sense, problem solving, computation skills, and data-analysis using drill and practice as well as projects and word problems. Developmentally appropriate uses of technology and estimation strategies are stressed. Students are expected to communicate mathematically to explain their thinking.

The St. James Academy Mission Statement affirms the development of the whole child by providing a place to grow intellectually, socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The Mathematics curriculum attempts to foster this mission by providing differentiated programs to prepare our children for the demands of higher education and to become a contributing member of our world.

Goals: Kindergarten – Grade Five

Students will:

  • Represent, model, analyze, and solve real-world problems involving patterns and relationships;
  • Apply the properties of one, two, and three dimensional geometric figures to reason, describe, and solve problems;
  • Identify and apply a variety of formulae, tools, and methods for determining measurements in various systems of measurement;
  • Collect, organize, display, analyze, and interpret real life data to make decisions and predictions;
  • Make predictions and solve problems using probability;
  • Identify, describe, and represent numbers and their relationships and estimate and compute using paper/pencil, mental strategies, and technology;
  • Utilize traditional techniques, current strategies, and technology to critically analyze increasingly complex mathematical challenges and/or problems;
  • Solve a broad range of problems using inductive and deductive reasoning to justify and draw conclusions;
  • Reason mathematically and critically evaluate mathematical situations.

Performing Arts: Voice, Instrumental Music & Drama

Underlying every objective and activity in the St. James Academy Music curriculum is the Academy’s mission statement.


The Drama curriculum at St. James Academy is designed to help students learn the skills necessary to communicate with an audience. Each Fifth Grade student works as crew on one play and elects to have a speaking or non-speaking role in another. Grades Six through Eight take drama for one half of the year. Sixth grade emphasizes performance and perspective; Seventh transforms a known story into dialogue first for the stage, and then
for film; and each Eighth grade student writes a monologue based on a familiar character, performs a monologue written by another student, and directs the performance of his or her own dialogue. Stressing group effort and tolerance, each student is encouraged to discover his or her individual talents and interests through positive risk taking in a safe environment.


Students will:

  • Take part in class exercises intended to increase the student’s sensitivity to and awareness of him/herself and others;
  • Explore the physical elements of theatre;
  • Explore the spiritual element of theatre;
  • Learn the language of the theatre;
  • Learn the elements of story-telling;
  • Present theatrical productions for students and parents, as well as oral presentations in class;
  • Begin the lifelong goal of discovering and gaining mastery over senses, imaginations, bodies, speech, emotions, and intellect;
  • Develop an ability to work as a team;
  • Begin to overcome unproductive self-consciousness.

Vocal Music

Grades One through Four learn the basic songs essential to an understanding of Western Music and are also exposed to a variety of music from diverse cultures. In the process of internalizing these songs each student learns to hear and maintain a steady beat; match pitch; recognize melodic directions; recognize melodic accompaniment and harmonic rhythm patterns; and recognize and use dynamic and tempo markings.

Grade Five through Middle School students build upon previously learned music concepts to develop music appreciation and literacy through singing two and three part songs; listening and responding to music from a variety of ancient and modern cultures; and moving to music and creating dances. Student’s original compositions are often included in Drama programs, songs for Grandparents Day, Christmas, Celebrate Arts Night, and Graduation.

Chapel Choir

Fourth and Fifth Grade students are invited to join the St. James Academy Chapel Choir that meets before school on Tuesday mornings. This choir sings at the Wednesday Academy Chapel Service twice a month.

Solo Performances

Students in all grades are encouraged to share their individual instrumental or vocal talents at Forum, Chapel, or other special school events.

Instrumental Music

Like Vocal Music our overall goal for Instrumental Music is to instill a love of music, especially ensemble participation, in every student, as well as, to teach each student to read music to the best of his/her ability.

Grade Three, Four, and Five students develop their sight reading abilities through learning to use the recorder in Third Grade; exploring trumpet, violin, and guitar in the Fourth Grade; and continuing with their choice of instrument for one trimester in the Fifth Grade elective class; and continuing with instrumental opportunities in the Fifth Grade Performing Arts period.

All middle school students elect to either sing in chorus, or play in the Middle School Band for the entire academic year. All students also take general music for one half of the academic year. A wide variety of instruments (pianos, recorders, guitars, hand-bells, African drums, and other percussion instruments) are incorporated into the music lessons, as well as folk dances from a variety of cultures.

Goals: Kindergarten – Grade Eight

Students will:

  • Develop an appreciation for choral and instrumental ensemble music;
  • Perform vocal and instrumental music whenever possible;
  • Become familiar with the building blocks of rhythm, melody, and harmony;
  • Become musically literate;
  • Develop the skills to sing and play with thoughtful control;
  • Explore the history of music;
  • Develop and appreciation for basic music theory;
  • Explore music from various cultures.

Physical Education

A well-developed physical education program encourages skill acquisition, training, and fitness. Sportsmanship and individual performance are emphasized throughout the physical education program. Each student is expected to cooperate and encourage others to participate at the highest level of his/her ability.

The students in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade develop the basic skills that are needed to advance to competitive play. The athletic program provides an opportunity for students to enhance basic skill development, develop team concepts, understand team strategies, experience lifetime leisure activities, as well as building self-confidence.

Lower school students participate in the following activities: Tag games, Soccer, Floor hockey, Scooter hockey, Rope jumping, Gymnastics, Volleyball, Kickball, Running and Fitness activities, Ultimate frisbee, Scoops, Speedball, Capture the flag, and Basketball. An all school Field Day is planned each spring to celebrate student growth, development, teamwork, and sportsmanship.

Goals: Kindergarten – Grade Five

Students will:

  • Build self-confidence and self-esteem;
  • Develop physical fitness awareness and information;
  • Develop positive social interactions;
  • Utilize fundamentals of teamwork, support, communication, sportsmanship, and camaraderie;
  • Expand their knowledge and performance of basic skills;
  • Increase loco motor and psychomotor skills;
  • Become knowledgeable of the basic rules for a variety of sports;
  • Learn the importance of good physical conditioning.


The Science curriculum at St. James Academy is delivered in two basic formats; lecture and experimentation using multi-sensory learning approaches. Success at varying ability levels encourages positive attitudes and interest toward science. Science experiences are designed to increase awareness of self and surroundings through a discovery approach.

Students at all levels work in cooperative groups to model real life scientific experiences that are both activity and inquiry based to solve problems, promote interaction, and develop socialization skills. Students explore the relationship between science and technology and the effect of both on our society as a whole. Computer software is utilized at all levels to facilitate project-based learning.

By encouraging exploration and open-ended investigation, students develop research skills, problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making, while covering grade level content and concepts. Integration of outside specialists and utilization of existing physical plant and landscape facilities enhance global awareness, environmental responsibility, and encourage a belief in the relevance of scientific study to daily life.

Goals: Kindergarten – Grade Five

Students will:

  • Demonstrate their acquisition and integration of major concepts and unifying themes from the life, physical, and earth/space sciences;
  • Demonstrate the ability to interpret and explain information generated by their exploration of scientific phenomena;
  • Demonstrate ways of thinking and acting inherent in the practice of science;
  • Demonstrate positive attitudes and confidence toward science and new technologies and their relevance to the individual, society, and the environment;
  • Demonstrate the ability to employ the language, instruments, computers, methods and materials of science for collecting, organizing, interpreting, and communicating information;
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply science in solving problems and making personal decisions about issues affecting the individual, society, and the environment;
  • Develop and use creative and critical thinking with a science application.

Social Studies

Social Studies at St. James Academy involves the study of people as individuals and as members of a global society. This knowledge enables students to develop an awareness of themselves as individuals and as members of a widening array of communities. Their journey moves from a study of self to an examination of their role as members of a family and community. Finally, students explore their role as a citizen of a state, a nation, and the world.

In the primary grades students study the family unit and their role in that unit. They also explore their roles in the St. James community and their neighborhood. A study of various cultures allows students to be introduced to diversity of cultures and become aware of the commonalities that exist among cultures.

Students through the grades develop an understanding of geographic concepts and an ability to utilize map skills to enhance their knowledge of the world around them and its influence upon peoples and their culture. Knowledge is extended through research, map study, and experiential exercises.

Political systems, past and present, are analyzed to develop an awareness of the principles of government and the various governmental institutions, which have developed throughout history. In intermediate grades, the students study the U.S. Constitution and the American system of government.

Current events are a continuous part of the Social Studies curriculum. Students learn to examine their place in the world and the influence of events on their lives. Utilizing technology students are able to learn beyond the walls of the classroom.

In the course of study, students develop and extend their writing abilities. Research skills are introduced at age appropriate levels and research results are organized and presented in written and oral reports. The development of these skills is extended throughout the years and expository writing is continually developed.

Overall, the Social Studies curriculum at St. James Academy aims to develop in students a knowledge and global awareness of others, which will allow them to live a humane and compassionate life.

Goals: Kindergarten – Grade Five

Students will:

  • Develop an understanding of chronological events in the study of American and World history;
  • Develop global awareness with an understanding and appreciation of the differences and similarities among cultures;
  • Develop pride in American heritage through the teaching of the democratic process and the social and political development of the United States;
  • Prepare to be active citizens in our democracy;
  • Develop the ability to analyze and draw conclusion from the study of historical events;
  • Develop an awareness and appreciation of current events;
  • Openly express views in written and oral communication;
  • Demonstrate the ability to write a well-organized, comprehensive essay;
  • Demonstrate an ability to read road maps, topographic maps, geographical maps, thematic maps, and globes;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of major geographical concepts and terms;
  • Develop the ability to use technology to enhance learning.

World Language

In the French/Spanish curriculum at St. James Academy students are introduced to a listening and speaking vocabulary structured in four – six units, which begin in Kindergarten. Vocabulary attributes include: colors; numbers; animals; clothing; food; body parts; classroom objects; and weather. Vocabulary is sequentially developed and reviewed each year. Students learn basic conversational phrases, songs, culture, as well as customs and holidays.

The Introduction to the World Language curriculum is divided into one half year of French and one half year of Spanish. Each semester begins with a concentration on conversation. Vocabulary is reinforced using a variety of instructional techniques, activities, and games.

Goals: Kindergarten – Grade Five

Students will:

  • Explore and acquire an introductory knowledge and appreciation of the French and Spanish cultures, as well as, recognize elements of the languages and cultures that have influenced the United States and the world;
  • Develop an introductory listening and speaking vocabulary;
  • Be able to participate in simple conversations involving basic questions and answers;
  • Build a repertoire of French and Spanish songs
  • Foster global minded thinkers;
  • Develop an open-minded approach to experiencing all cultures.