A World of Ideas
Third-graders are building sailboats in science, models to race along an indoor water course. Kindergartners are picking vegetables from the organic garden. First-graders are having a French lesson. And in a fourth grade, students are learning about a noted author they will meet through a visiting artists program called Imagine the Possibilities.
Wherever you turn, a world of ideas is coming alive. This is a wonderful place to begin a career in learning, a supportive and stimulating setting where curiosity is continually rewarded. Young students learn to love school and experience the respect and responsibility inherent to our community.
For us the essential ingredients are:
- Devotion to academic and character development with careful assessments of progress.
- Small classes and superb teachers with time to focus on each child's growth.
- A solid core curriculum enriched by physical education, languages, music, theater and visual arts.
- Regular communication between teachers and parents.
Princeton Day School Literacy Program from Kelsh Wilson Design on Vimeo.
Excursions & Adventures
Life in lower school is filled with experiences children will never forget.
What lives in the bottom of the pond? How can we find out? Science is about hands-on investigation. In the Pond Study, PDS fourth grades explore a data-rich ecosystem right on our campus. Keeping a journal throughout the seasons, connecting with literature, and just enjoying a quiet moment on the edge of a pond enriches our students' outdoor experiences.
Whether you enjoy a sweet strawberry or the spiciness of herbs, you’ll find a treasure trove of flavors in our school garden. All lower school students are involved from seed to harvest as they prepare the soil through composting, plant the seeds, care for them and finally bring them to harvest. Root cellars, compost bins, and beehives add to our students' experiences as they prepare salads, soups, and provide our kitchen with fresh produce.
Imagine the Possibilities
This wonderful program brings students into close contact with inspiring role models—nationally known writers, poets, and illustrators, including winners of the Pulitzer and Caldecott prizes, who come to campus to share their insights. For weeks in advance, students learn the works of the artist who will visit. When the time comes for questions, they reveal a level of understanding and preparation always impressive to their guests.
The Fourth Grade Operetta
One year it was a musical spoof of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf ” that the students named “Much Ado About Mutton.” Another year it was “Looking for Peanuts,” featuring Charlie Brown and friends. Whatever the theme, the operetta brings together an original story, borrowed pop and Broadway melodies, and as many starring roles as children. As one teacher explains, “We write the play so that every student has a place to shine.”
Create a Culture
What would we wear if we lived in the Arctic? What would we eat? What kind of pictures would we draw—and what would we use to draw them? Before second graders study the Inuit (or the Hopi or Lenape) they ask nd answer questions like this, inventing a people and a way of life from the facts of their environment. This approach brings a real level of understanding to the year’s social studies theme: “How does the land affect the people? How do the people affect the land?”
Whether it’s with blocks, rods, or colored chips, our teachers introduce new ideas in math with tangible objects before moving to paper and pencil. They employ an investigative approach that emphasizes problem-solving with math facts and engages higher mathematical thought. Their aim is to help students develop “number sense” and build real understanding.
PDS offers children a wonderful opportunity to develop their mental powers through chess, learning to concentrate and to think spatially, strategically, and sequentially. Each week, in kindergarten and first grade, children gather to learn and to play, with an intensity and delight that would inspire older masters. Chess is also offered as an after-school course for all lower schoolers.