Lower School

The Lower School consists of Jr. Kindergarten through Grade 4. The school day is from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The curriculum insures continuity and allows a smooth transition from one grade to the next. Each scholar is encouraged to develop independence and a sense of responsibility. The acquisition of these abilities helps foster a positive self-image and set the foundation of learning as a lifelong endeavor. The academic program concentrates on the development of basic skills and good work habits. The scholars learn and refine the skills that they will rely upon and hone for the rest of their academic career.

Lower School classes utilize the Balanced Literacy approach to teaching reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Scholars learn skills, strategies, and develop attitudes and habits about learning that will help them be successful learners. In addition to the core curriculum, classes in music, studio art, Spanish, life skills, physical education, athletics (participation in an after-school sports league beginning in fourth grade that includes basketball, volleyball, and track), and religious education are all part of the St. James education.

Classroom activities, assemblies, field trips and 4th Grade athletics represent concrete opportunities for the Lower School students to grow both individually and as members of a group. Teachers integrate authentic literature related to topics taught in Science and Central Theme. The combination of literature and reading skills taught through guided reading and writing enables scholars to learn transference by practicing with content for which they are being held responsible.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Junior Kindergarten is a systemic program which recognizes that research and early successes are proving that JK is a strong component in a child’s early development and growth. The Junior-Kindergarten curriculum considers the whole scholar in a developmentally appropriate manner. Research shows us that certain behaviors, language, and intellectual abilities are typically characteristic of and associated with a specific chronological age. Junior Kindergarten is designed to provide scholars with adequate time to acquire the fine motor skills necessary for writing, the attention span to remain seated and focused, and the social skills necessary to interact in the structured environment of the classroom.
Adjusting to the routines of a kindergarten school day is an essential skill for children entering SJES Lower School. In this program, scholars have Junior Kindergarten and kindergarten-level learning experiences in reading, writing, and math that are presented using the outside world as a learning environment. Every lesson focuses on active learning, oral language, and continuing to apply the Spalding Phonics concepts to provide strong phonemic awareness as the foundation for reading and writing. This classroom provides scholars with a strong focus on:

  • Following multi-step instructions
  • Finding multiple ways to solve problems
  • Organizing work
  • Controlling impulses and sustaining attention

JK is a safe, play-based, quality early learning program that includes activities such as:

  • Movement, dancing, singing, and playing

  • Creativity, curiosity and critical thinking
  • Hands-on/experiential centers
  • Reading both quietly and aloud
  • Exploring technology
  • Participating in small and large group activities
  • Experiencing outdoor and inside activities
  • Arts and crafts
  • Developing listening and social skills
  • Healthy snacks and nutrition

The use of the Elements of Depth and Complexity encourages higher order thinking as scholars ponder, experience, and learn from the world around them. Scholarly behaviors help Junior-Kindergarten scholars develop behaviors that increase learning. Individualized instruction is realized as learning opportunities are developed using Multiple Intelligences.
Junior Kindergarten scholars are taught to continue to look at the world through the Global Theme lens of Order. Through literature, conversations, and learning activities, scholars develop an understanding of the following essential, conceptual truths (generalizations):

  • Order has a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Order demands respect and cooperation.
  • Order provides structure and safety.
  • Order follows rules.
  • Order allows for predictions.
  • Order brings about change.

Junior Kindergarten scholars continue to learn and acquire the skills introduced in early education in Movement and Coordination and Social and Emotional Development. The Junior Kindergarten Curriculum cycles through the skills learned in Pre-Kindergarten with an emphasis on mastery of the initial skills and introduction of basic Kindergarten skills. The primary goal is for scholars to have a strong understanding of oral and written language development, math processes, and the organizational skills need to have a strong foundation entering Kindergarten.

Movement and Coordination

The basic goal of the Junior Kindergarten program asks the scholars to control their bodies in order to stop and start movement according to a signal, maintain balance, move through space, throw and kick objects, and move cooperatively with others.
Physical Attention and Relaxation

  • Order has a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Order demands respect and cooperation.
  • Order provides structure and safety.
  • Order follows rules.
  • Order allows for predictions.
  • Order brings about change.

Gross Motor Skills

  • Maintain balance while walking forward, backwards, and sideways.
  • Move through space using various movements.
  • Move through space by completing a circuit or obstacle course


  • Throw or kick an object with increasing accuracy at identified targets.
  • Play catch using a large ball.
  • Ride a tricycle.
  • Maintain momentum on a swing by pumping

Group Games

  • Play group games.
  • Interact cooperatively.

Using the Body Expressively

  • Act out a nursery rhyme, poem, or fingerplay.
  • Mimic actions and follow cues

Social and Emotional Development

The basic goals for social and emotional development focus on skills that enable the Junior Kinder scholar to function independently within the social setting of the class group.

  • Draw a dimensional picture of a person.
  • Care for personal needs by dressing independently.
  • Identify and label emotions.
  • Use acceptable methods of expressing anger.

Work Habits

  • Memorize address, phone number and date of birth.
  • Carry out multi-step oral directions.
  • Choose and use a toy or do an activity independently.
  • Organize and plan what is needed to carry out a project or task.
  • Describe and evaluate one’s own work.

Social Skills

  • Recognize and call school personnel by name.
  • Ask adult for help appropriately.
  • Demonstrate observable listening behaviors.
  • Identify and follow classroom rules.
  • Offer assistance to another scholar.
  • Carry out certain chores that contribute to the group.
  • Respect the personal belongings and property of others.
  • Share and take turns.
  • Follow rules for simple games.
  • Ignore inappropriate peer behavior.
  • Accept consequences of actions.
  • Use words to solve problems and conflicts.
  • Complete an activity or project in conjunction with another scholar or small group.


In terms of language development, the primary focus during the Junior Kindergarten is on oral language development, phonemic awareness, writing skills, vocabulary development, and continuing to stress and build the foundation for written language development. This development is stimulated through the following areas:
Oral Language, Nursery Rhymes, Poems, Fingerplays, and Songs, Storybook Reading and Storytelling, Emerging Literacy Skills in Reading and Writing
Quarter 1 Objectives

  • Identify and express physical sensations, mental states, and emotional feelings.
  • Show understanding of temporal words/Use temporal words
  • Use increasingly precise verbs related to eating, movement, and the five senses
  • Point to a circle, square, triangle, and rectangle
  • Predict events in a story, i.e., what will happen next.
  • Predict a story ending consistent with other given story events.
  • Use a simplified illustrated schedule of activities to indicate which activity preceded and which will follow an activity
  • Dictate a description to accompany one’s drawing of people, objects, events, or activities, derived from one’s experience or imagination.
  • Follow simple, illustrated recipe.
  • Represent “in written form,” following an actual experience: diagonal line, zigzag line, circle, spiral, moon, cross, cane, hook, bowl, bridge, wave, x, star.
  • Write one’s first name, using upper- and lowercase letters appropriately.
  • Copy letter formation of CVC words.
  • Use invented spelling
  • Understand print has meaning
  • Identify initial letter sound.
  • Match rhyming sounds
  • Author study: Patricia Pollaco, Stephen Kellogg, Mother Goose

Quarter 2 Objectives

  • Describe an event that has already taken place outside the immediate place and time.
  • Use the future tense verb
  • Sequence and describe three to give images of events or phrases of a single event that has been experienced.
  • Assume a different role or perspective and express different possibilities, imaginary or realistic
  • Name opposites, big/little, cold/hot, dry/wet, fast/slow, rough/smooth, full/empty, hard/soft, large/small, loud/quiet, on/off, open/close, tall/short, yes/no
  • Using familiar rhymes, poems, or songs, finish a recitation that has begun with the correct rhyming word.
  • “Read”/tell a story based on the illustrations of a book with text that has not been read aloud previously.
  • *Answer who, what, where, when, and why questions about a read-aloud
  • Associate spoken and written language by matching written labels with spoken words.
  • Point to words as distance units on a page of print.
  • Segment a spoken sentence into separate distinct words
  • Draw and use motifs: horizontal line, vertical line, diagonal line, zigzag line, circle, spiral, moon, cross, cane, hook, bowl, bridge, wave, star, etc.

Quarter 3 Objectives

  • Storytelling sequence: recite beginning, middle, and end.
  • Identify author and illustrator, setting, characters, plot
  • Develop understanding of how print works within a book, print represents words that can be read; identify print in signs, letters, price tags. Create a print rich environment allowing optimal print exposure; print goes from left to right, identify top, bottom and middle of the page.
  • Learn the meanings and appropriate uses of the sayings and phrases for alliteration, figurative, literal, proverb, repetition
  • Write the letters of the alphabet/utilize word walls and print environment in order to make words during writer workshop/understanding difference between p,q,b,d / u,n / w,m / r,n,h

Quarter 4 Objectives

  • Scholars will learn words are made up of a sequence of smaller, individual sounds. Words consists of unique sequences of phonemes; words are distinguished from one another by their phonemes; Some words begin or end with the same sounds; Individual letters and letter combinations represent specific sounds; Sounds and syllables can be blended to make words; Words can be broken up, or segmented, into sound segments; Groups of letters can be combined to form specific letter-sound patterns
  • Mother Goose and other traditional poems contain rhyming words, or words that end with the same sounds.
  • Listen for rhythm or a pattern of sound
  • Scholars will learn that stories are a kind of fiction, or narrative that comes from a writer’s imagination, and stories can be folktales, fairy tales, myths, legends, or trickster tales


Mathematical thinking is developed through concrete objects and then pictures. Junior Kindergarten scholars move from concrete experience, developing a deep understanding of number sense and number properties, and moving to symbolic representation of the major strands of mathematics. Scholars begin development of problem solving techniques and math study through the following areas of application of math skills:
Patterns and Classification, Geometry and Measurement, Numbers and Number Sense, Computation, Money
Quarter 1 Objectives

  • Verbally label the single common attribute or characteristic of a group of objects or pictures.
  • Verbally label the difference or criteria used for classification of several groups of objects or pictures
  • Given a sample object/ pictures and verbal description of the selection criteria, sort objects/pictures according to a single
  • Criterion: sort by size(small, medium, large)
  • Classify by size
  • Classify by function
  • Classify by other conceptual categories.
  • Count groups of objects with up to ten items per group
  • Given an oral number, create a group with the correct number of objects, up to ten objects.
  • Practice zero as an empty set.
  • Practice writing numbers to ten
  • Compare quantity to symbol using tactile strengths

Quarter 2 Objectives

  • Compare pairs of objects: mass: heavy-light
  • Compare pairs of objects: temperature: hot-cold
  • Use an arbitrary tool of measurement to compare the length and height of objects using comparative vocabulary (longer-taller-shorter).
  • Compare pairs of objects: large-small, thick-thin, wide-narrow
  • Organize and read quantitative data in simple bar graphs.
  • Identify and count up to 20 pennies.
  • Count groups of objects with up to five items per group.
  • Use Rekenrek to identify quantity to number relation
  • Practice writing numbers to 20
  • Place value ones, tens, and hundreds

Quarter 3 Objectives

  • Compare concrete objects and pictorial representations in sets: same as, equal to, more than, less than, most, lease
  • Count forward from 1-31 first beginning with 1 and later from any given number; backward from 10; from 1-10 by twos; by fives and tens to 50
  • Recognize and write numbers 1-31 (with special attention to the difference between certain written symbols, such as 6,9,2,5,1,7,12,21, etc.
  • Count and write the numbers of objects in a set
  • Given a number, identify one more, one less
  • Identify ordinal position, first through sixth, and pairs
  • Interpret simple pictorial graphs
  • Identify ½ as one of two equal parts of a region or object, and find ½ of a set of a concrete objects
  • Place value ones, tens, hundreds, thousands

Quarter 4 Objectives

  • Identify pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and the one dollar bill
  • Identify the dollar sign and the cent sign
  • Write money amounts using the cent signs
  • Add and subtract to 10, using concrete objects
  • Recognize the meaning of the plus sign
  • Subtraction is the concept of taking away
  • Recognize the meaning of the minus sign
  • Identify familiar instruments of measurement: ruler, scale, thermometer
  • Compare objects according to linear measure, weight, capacity, temperature, and time.
  • Identify left and right hand, identify top, middle, and bottom
  • User terms of orientation and relative position
  • Identify and sort basic plane figures, square, triangle, rectangle, circle
  • Identify basic shapes in common objects

History and Geography

The basic goals of the Junior Kindergarten program is to develop a sense of time and an orientation as it relates to self, family, school, the community and the world around us. Scholars are asked to consider time in terms of days, months, and years, as well as past, present, and future. The development of a sense of orientation in space provides a context and vocabulary for instruction in geometry and geography. The following areas of study promote understanding and application of space and time.
Orientation in Time -Vocabulary, Measures of Time, Passage of Time Orientation in Space-Vocabulary, Actual and Representational Space, Simple Maps, Basic Concepts
Quarter 1 Objectives

  • Intro to time, days of the week/months of the year
  • Introduce Casey Jones (tall tales)
  • Sayings and phrases
  • Halloween
  • Directionality: Left/Right, N.S.E.W

Quarter 2 Objectives

  • Use a monthly calendar to locate birthday and day of the week.
  • Reproduce a design represented on a pattern card, parquetry block and three dimensional patterns.
  • Introduce Hemisphere map and locate seven continents.
  • Identify North America as our continent.
  • Introduce North American object box for tactile exploration.
  • Identify flags of Canada, United States, Mexico, and Greenland.
  • Introduce South American continent and object box.
  • Seasons of the year
  • Personal time lines
  • Thanksgiving
  • Introduction to the clock, telling time to the hour.
  • Discover holidays around the world, Christmas, Martin Luther King, black history, pilgrims, mayflower, democracy.

Quarter 3 Objectives

  • Use a schedule to help navigate the daily routine
  • Tell time to the hour
  • Reproduce a design represented on a pattern card, parquetry block and three dimensional patterns
  • Find subsets using attribute blocks, using a vin diagram arrange attribute blocks
  • Introduce Africa, Antarctica, Asia maps.
  • Introduce the object boxes associated with each continent.
  • Identify flags for Africa, Antarctica, and Asia.
  • Introduce attributes of an isthmus/strait.
  • Fossils and Egyptian archaeology discovery.
  • Celebrate Texas (our state), Presidents’ Day, Valentine’s Day

Quarter 4 Objectives

  • Identify what maps and globes represent and how they are used.
  • Identify the location of all major oceans
  • Understand the meaning of some basic terms of spatial orientation necessary for working with maps
  • Introduce Australia and oceans
  • Easter, Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and teddy bear day


Science in the Junior Kindergarten year continues to encourage scholars to use a systematic way of looking at, describing and explaining the world around them. This systematic approach may be summarized as: (1) reflect and ask questions, (2) plan an activity and predict what will happen, (3) carry out the activity and observe what happens, and (4) report findings (words, drawings, displays, photos, etc.) and reflect on other related questions. This is the beginning of application of the scientific method in the following areas:
Human Characteristics, Needs, and Development, Animal Characteristics, Needs, and Development, Plant Characteristics, Needs, and Development, Physical Elements-Air, Water, Light, Introduction to Magnetism, Seasons and Weather, Taking Care of the Earth, Scientific Tools
Quarter 1 Objectives

  • Identify and describe basic needs: food and drink.
  • Identify and describe basic needs: shelter and protection from temperature and weather.
  • Nail, join wood: hammer: select and use appropriate tool to complete a task.
  • Verbally label the Solar System
  • Label parts of the earth
  • Identify living and non-living things.
  • Use images to understand nutrition/health
  • Plants/Animals
  • Skeleton
  • Observation, Classification, Magnetism
  • Solid/Liquid/Gas
  • Sink/Float

Quarter 2 Objectives

  • Plant care, and record basic properties of light, its presence, and effects in the physical world.
  • Dig a hole: trowel, shovel: Select and use appropriate tools to complete a task
  • Identify parts of a tree, leaf identification,
  • Discover fish, amphibians and reptiles: parts of, habitats, classification
  • Weights and temperature as a form of measurement.
  • Compare heavy-light using a scale.
  • Diffusion/color mix

Quarter 3 Objectives

  • Excavation, plotting points on a grid, locating point of excavation: use of tools, chisel, dirt brush, soft ice pick, sifter
  • Dinosaurs, prehistoric mammals
  • Discovery of mammals/Armadillo
  • Care of teeth, function of heart and location
  • Growing seeds, roots, and stems, ornithology
  • Fossils (excavation of and assembling)
  • Astronomy/Constellations, phases of the moon
  • Rocks and crystals
  • Diffusion/Color Mix, Measurement, Dilution

Quarter 4 Objectives

  • Discover flowers (parts of) and insects.
  • Follow the life cycle of a butterfly, frog, and chicks. Identify basic differences between vertebrate/invertebrate; oviparous/viviparous
  • Study chemical reactions, recycle paper, discover electricity
  • Study the lives and scientific achievements of: Albert Einstein, George Washington Carver, Jacques Cousteau, Wilber and Orville Wright, Jane Goodall

Visual Arts

The basic goal of the visual arts program is to encourage scholars to attend to visual details, as well as to create, examine, and discuss art in the following ways:
Attention to Visual Detail, Exploration and Creation, Art Appreciation
Quarter 1 Objectives

  • Identify from memory the color of objects from nature, when not in view.
  • Demonstrate memory of visual details by playing “Concentration” type memory games
  • Examine a work of art by a known artist and create a work “in the style of …” O’Keeffe, Monet
  • Cut: Use Various tools and techniques in completing art projects

Quarter 2 Objectives

  • Identify the colors in a rainbow.
  • Demonstrate memory of visual details by playing concentration type memory games using still life, portrait and landscape art representations.
  • Examine a work of art by a known artist and create a work of are in the style of: Jackson Pollock, Frank Lloyd Wright, Di Vinci.
  • Create Christmas project.

Quarter 3 Objectives

  • Arrange paper in the style of Japanese origami.
  • Scholars will locate artists by region and match art to artists.
  • Examine work by a known artist and create a work of art in the style of: Di Vinci, Hokusai, Van Gogh
  • Create Spring Fling art project to be sold at auction.

Quarter 4 Objectives

  • Create art murals in the style of aboriginal dot art.
  • Examine works by Paul Klee and Alexander Calder


The basic goals of the Junior Kindergarten music program asks scholars to listen to, identify, and imitate sounds, sing songs individually and with others, and move interpretatively to music through application in the following areas:
Attention to Differences in Sound, Imitate and Produce Sound, Listen to and Sing Songs, Listen to and Move to Music
Quarter 1 Objectives

  • Listen to environmental sounds presented sequentially as a “sound story” and describe the events in context in which they are occurring.
  • Use musical instruments or other objects to imitate a sequence of three or more sounds made by more than one instrument
  • Examine music by: Beethoven, Bach

Quarter 2 Objectives

  • Listen to “sound story” and identify mood/emotion.
  • Use musical instruments or other objects to imitate a sequence of three or more sounds.
  • Play bells using color cards.
  • Examine music by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Joplin

Quarter 3 Objectives

  • Listen to music and tune.
  • Match sounds
  • Examine music by: Louis Armstrong, Sergei Prokofiev

Quarter 4 Objectives

  • Listen to music by Mozart and Duke Ellington