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Curriculum guide - Kindergarten

The elementary school program is designed to develop students’ confidence in themselves as learners, to instill a love of learning, and to help them develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to communicate effectively, understand the world about them, and participate fully in a democratic society.

This web page outlines the major content areas and skills taught in the kindergarten grade level.

Students will engage in integrated study that requires them to read, write, analyze, share and present data and opinions as they pursue solutions and understandings. While all students will study at least the topics indicated here, there are also opportunities for students to choose other areas of study based on their interests and needs.

Parents can support their children’s school learning by using the vocabulary and discussing the concepts identified here as they share reading, discuss current events, or explore new places with their children.

Please click on any link below to learn more about that topic:

Early Childhood Philosophy
Language Arts
Social Studies
Library Media
Physical Education
Home-School Connection
Communication Overview


Early Childhood Philosophy

The Early Childhood educators in Guilderland Schools believe that the application of the following principles in the primary grades is critical in starting children toward a career of lifelong learning. It is essential to young children’s self-esteem and sense of competence that they learn to take risks, view errors as learning opportunities, and maintain their confidence that they can and will learn.

Young children learn best through discovery, exploration and active involvement in developmentally appropriate activities.

Our Kindergarten environment supports a natural approach to learning where children are encouraged to make inquiries, develop observation skills, make choices, interact positively with peers, make decisions, problem solve, take risks and enrich their understanding of the world around them.

The curriculum is integrated so that children’s learning in all areas occurs through a variety of instructional approaches whereby teachers plan with children’s interests and suggestions in mind. Teachers guide and enrich the learning experience by extending children’s ideas, responding to their questions, engaging them in conversation and challenging their thinking.

Art, music, movement, drama and dance (and opportunity for other physical activity) are integrated throughout each day. Such activities are needed for children to express themselves aesthetically and physically, and to express ideas and feelings.

Outdoor activity is planned frequently so children can develop large muscle skills, learn about outdoor environments and express themselves freely.

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Before children come to school, they learn about their world around them through play. Teachers build on this by providing the time and materials needed. There is an old adage: “Play is the work of children.” It is an essential component of an effective early childhood program. It is the process through which our curriculum is implemented. Play supports children’s growth and development in all areas of the curriculum.

The Kindergarten environment provides a rich selection of props and materials necessary for children’s play.
The classrooms are organized to support children’s play activities through various learning centers such as:
Classroom Library
Dramatic Play
Sand/Water Table
Word Study

It is through these centers and invaluable learning experiences that our curriculum becomes truly integrated.

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Language Arts

The Language Arts--reading literature and informational texts, writing, speaking, listening and language--are a major part of students’ elementary school program. The goal of Guilderland’s Language Arts program is to adhere to the K-12 Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and to develop literate students in the 21st century.

Students read and write every day for various purposes and receive frequent written and oral feedback from their teachers and peers. Instruction occurs individually, in small groups and in whole class settings.
Students are expected to read and understand more complex material and write and speak with more sophistication as they progress through the grades. Attention to Language Arts skills and strategies is integrated into student learning throughout the day.

The purpose of reading is to make meaning from written material. It is a highly complex act of communication requiring active involvement. The overall objective of reading instruction is to develop motivated readers who process written language efficiently and derive meaning from what they read.

In kindergarten, reading instruction focuses on:
Developing enthusiasm and motivation to read
Developing phonological and phonemic awareness
Identifying upper and lower case letters
Associating sounds with corresponding letters
Developing concept of letter and word
Following directionality of text: left to right and top to bottom
Identifying parts of a book: cover, title, front, back, title page, etc.
Beginning to understand and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words
Retelling familiar stories with details and support
Actively engaging in group reading activities with purpose and understanding
Asking and answering questions in order to seek help, get information or clarify something that is not understood
Speaking audibly and expressing thoughts, feelings and ideas clearly

Progress in reading is assessed formally and informally throughout the year.

The goal of Guilderland’s writing program is to develop students who can write competently and with confidence. Guilderland recognizes that writing is a complex process, and its writing program addresses the following student learning objectives:
Students need frequent opportunities to write and to receive a great deal of appropriate instruction and feedback
Students need to realize that their lives, ideas and interests are worth writing about
Students need to know that audience and purpose will influence decisions they make about their writing
Students need to know the qualities of good writing and how to evaluate their own work
Students need to increase writing stamina

In kindergarten, students will be immersed in writing such as:
The Writing Process (with emphasis on selecting and staying on a topic)
Informational writing with research
Opinion writing
Narrative writing
Informational writing with research
Writing for readers (moving towards conventional spelling, spacing between words, capitalization and punctuation)
Use digital tools with guidance and support to produce and publish writing

In kindergarten writing instruction focuses on:
Understanding that writing is a way of expressing ideas
Using a combination of pictures, letters and words to represent ideas
Writing from left to right and top to bottom
Exploring a variety of digital tools with guidance and support

 The Writing Process (with emphasis
on selecting and staying
on a topic)
• Informational writing with
• Opinion writing
• Narrative writing
• Writing for readers (moving
towards conventional spelling,
spacing between words, capitalization
and punctuation)
• Use digital tools with guidance
and support to produce and
publish writing

Students may be at different stages in their writing development: scribble writing, pictures, random letters, initial consonants, initial and ending consonants, writing a letter for each sound in a word. Students are expected to produce a variety of writing pieces throughout the year. Progress in writing is assessed through individual conferencing and review of the students’ writing folders with attention to specific areas of instruction.

In Kindergarten, students are expected to spell a growing number of words correctly and to use familiar
spelling patterns to help them write words. Students are encouraged to use word walls and other resources
to support spelling learning and accuracy. Students will engage in a word study approach that includes the development of phonics, spelling, word recognition and vocabulary.

Kindergarteners are introduced to the Zaner-Bloser handwriting model. Students will achieve functional pencil position, understand boundaries of top and bottom when printing letters and numbers, and build fine motor skills.
Write first and last name
Introduce formation of uppercase and lowercase letters
Practice handling writing tools (clay, sand, markers, finger paints, pencils)

In kindergarten, students will be immersed in writing such as:
The writing process (with emphasis on selecting and staying on topic)
Informational writing with research
Opinion and narrative writing
Writing for readers (moving towards conventional spelling, spacing between words, capitalization and punctuation)
Use digital tools with guidance and support to produce and publish writing

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The New York Common Core Standards for Mathematics became mandated in the 2012-13 school year. The purpose of these newly developed learning outcomes is to create math instruction that is much more focused and coherent for students. In essence, children become more deeply familiar with math skills and concepts with a projected goal of mastery. The sequence of the standards allows our students to become more competent math learners by applying their math knowledge to everyday, critical math topics. The long-term goal of the Common Core initiative is to better prepare all students for college and the opportunities they will face in the future.
At the kindergarten level, a stronger emphasis is put on the acquisition of number sense. Students at the primary grades will develop a solid foundation from which future math concepts and skills are built upon. Fact fluency expectations in kindergarten require that students master their addition and subtraction facts through the number five with automaticity.

Go Math! by Houghton Mifflin Hardcourt Publishing Company is specifically written to support the Common Core State Standards. The critical areas and mathematical practices outline in the New York state curriculum are integrated into Go Math! chapters. Student tools allow children to engage in context-based mathematical situations that build to more abstract problem solving. Students use models, manipulatives, quick pictures and symbols to build deeper mathematical understandings. Instructional methods focus on the use of literature and technology as well as encourage students to talk and write about math.

Mathematical Content
Kindergarten Common Core Standards are organized into the following domains:
Counting and Cardinality
Operations and Algebraic Thinking
Number and Operations in Base Ten
Measurement and Data

Pervasive throughout the domains are several key mathematical practices. These are:
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
Reason abstractly and quantitatively
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
Model with mathematics
Use appropriate tools strategically
Attend to precision
Look for and make use of structure
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

Required Fluencies in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
When it comes to measuring the full range of the Standards, usually the first things that come to mind are the mathematical practices, or perhaps the content standards that call for conceptual understanding. However, the Standards also address another aspect of mathematical attainment that is seldom measured at scale either: namely, whether students can perform calculations and solve problems quickly and accurately.

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In the 21st century a person must be armed with a science overview to adapt to the extraordinary changes that will occur, to be employed by the new industries that will emerge, and to participate in the decisions that society will make. The key is education and programs such as Science and Technology for Children (STC) and Full Option Science Systems (FOSS) to give every student science content and science process needed to develop scientific literacy.

Our elementary science program places an emphasis on acquiring skills, knowledge and attitudes toward science through active involvement in hands-on activities. The heart of the program is problem solving. Students are actively engaged in situations which begin with their questions and take them through the process of inquiry. Students gather information to help them find answers to their questions using the data they have collected.
Because many of the ideas being studied have direct relation to other disciplines, students are encouraged to make connections. We provide literature and other resources to foster such connections.

Teachers are encouraged to enrich science instruction with topics of interest to their students and themselves. The catalyst for such studies may be student-generated questions, teacher or parent interest or current events. Problem solving is the common thread which ties these topical studies to our core curriculum.
Teachers assess student progress by observing their development as observers, hypothesizers, careful data gatherers and generalizers and by watching them work, reviewing their journals, and assessing their written and oral responses.

Our core program includes a unit of study that includes hands-on activities, specific scientific skill development (observing, measuring, comparing, predicting, estimating, and describing), problem solving, and assessment.
In Kindergarten, children will expand their awareness of their natural environment through the study of trees throughout the seasons. Additionally, children will expand their awareness of solids and liquids. Their experiences introduce them to the following concepts, skills and attitudes:

Solids and liquids can be described by their properties.
Some properties of solids are color, shape, ability to roll or stack, hardness, magnetic attraction and whether they float or sink.
Some properties of liquids are color, tendency to flow, degree of viscosity or fluidity, whether they are miscible with water, and whether they float or sink in water.
Tests can be performed to investigate properties of solids and liquids that cannot otherwise be observed.
Observe, compare, and describe structures of trees throughout the seasons.

Observing and describing the properties of solids and liquids.
Conducting tests to investigate the properties of solids and liquids.
Sorting solids into groups on the basis of their properties.
Comparing similarities and differences among solids.
Comparing similarities and differences among liquids.
Applying tests to investigate new solids and liquids.
Comparing the properties of solids with the properties of liquids.
Communicating ideas, observations, and experiences through writing, drawing and discussion.
Comparing shapes, sizes and characteristics of trees and leaves.
Planting and caring for trees.
Describing observations using drawings and oral language.

Accepting that there is more than one way to describe solids and liquids.
Recognizing the importance of organizing information and results on charts.
Developing an interest in investigating the physical world.
Developing a curiosity of living things in our world.

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Social Studies

The ten key concept goals of the K-6 social studies curriculum are:

basic alterations in things, events, and ideas

membership in a community (school, state, nation...) with its accompanying behaviors, rights, and responsibilities

the way of living any society develops to meet its fundamental needs

the ability to understand others through being able to identify in one’s self responses similar to the experiences, behaviors, and responses of others

surroundings, including natural elements and elements created by humans

awareness of one’s own values, attitudes, and capabilities as an individual and a member of groups

reliance upon others in mutually beneficial interaction and exchange

a geographic/political organization uniting people by a common government

the conflict between unlimited needs and wants and limited natural and human resources

the tools and methods used by people to get what they need and want

social studies graphicThrough social studies experiences in the elementary grades, students will develop mental categories which provide a foundation for social studies learning in grades seven through twelve. As a result of participating in the social studies program, students should demonstrate steady growth in the following abilities and the skills which contribute to them:

The ability to obtain, organize, process and communicate accurate social studies information and ideas.

The ability to identify and investigate issues, generate and test hypotheses, and take and support positions persuasively.

The ability to make appropriate decisions, to identify and solve problems effectively and to initiate appropriate action.

The ability to form or acquire a set of standards and apply them to the evaluation of assumptions, sources, evidence, reasoning and arguments (critical thinking) and to the evaluation of beliefs, qualities and behaviors (valuing).

The ability to determine and understand their rights and responsibilities and decide how they should be exercised as contributing citizens (citizenship competency).

The social studies program at the Kindergarten level focuses on helping students develop awareness of themselves as growing individuals. Children’s unique qualities as well as similarities to others are stressed. Children learn about values, ideas, customs, and traditions through folktales, legends, music, and oral histories.
In addition, children’s relationships with others in the classroom and the school become sources for social studies learning. Social interaction skills are integral to the kindergarten program. Emphasis is placed on using content that is relevant and personally meaningful. A wide range of interdisciplinary activities can help children grow and develop and gain knowledge and skills. Children also begin to learn about their role as citizens by accepting rights and responsibilities in the classroom and by learning about rules and laws.


Myself and others
My physical self includes gender, ethnicity, and languages.
Each person has needs, wants, talents and abilities.
Each person has likes and dislikes.
Each person is unique and important.
People are alike and different in many ways.
All people need others.
All people need to learn and learn in different ways.
People change over time.
People use folktales, legends, music, and oral histories to teach values, ideas, and traditions.

My family and other families
My family and other families are alike and different.

My school and school community
What is a school?

My neighborhood
My neighborhood can be located on a map.
Different people live in my neighborhood.

Location of home, school, neighborhood, and community on maps and globes
Land and water masses can be located on maps and a globe.
The United States can be located on a map and a globe.

Basic human needs and wants
People define basic human needs and wants.
Families have needs and wants.

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Health is a condition of well-being that is required for the development of each individual and for society as a whole. Health instruction at the elementary level builds a strong foundation to promote the health and well-being of our students. The health education program works in partnership with the home, school, and the community. To support this partnership with the parents, a list of videos that may be used is posted on our district website, and, prior to instruction of any personal safety lesson or video, a parent notification letter is sent home with students.
The elementary program provides accurate, age-appropriate information and builds upon prior learning. The curriculum consists of six strands and is taught by the classroom teacher and sometimes the support of other school staff or guest speakers. The six strands are:
Personal Activity and Nutrition
Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drugs
Family Life and Maturity
Violence Prevention
Unintentional Injury Prevention

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The elementary art curriculum, which begins in Kindergarten, commences with a sequential learning process that exposes children to a variety of techniques, concepts, and skills in both the two-dimensional and three-dimensional arts. The Kindergarten visual art curriculum is aligned with the NYS Learning Standards in Art. It allows the art teacher to guide children through hands-on learning activities in a studio-like setting that integrates art history from both past and present cultures, art criticism, aesthetics, technology, visual and digital literacies and careers in art.

Elementary art teachers work closely with classroom teachers to promote a positive, exciting learning experience. Connections are made across subject areas while simultaneously allowing children to express themselves as unique individuals. Each learning experience includes both a process and/or a product that may conclude over a period of several classes. All students meet once/week in the art room for 40 minutes.

The Kindergarten artist is introduced to and will experiment with but not limited to the following content and skills; introduction to color theory, primary colors, author/illustrator, geometric/organic shapes, appropriate use and manipulation of basic materials and tools.

Children’s work is displayed throughout the classroom and building on a regular basis. An annual K-5 student art exhibition is held in the spring at the Guilderland Public Library.

*The K-12 Visual Art Sequential Curriculum is built upon the fundamental principle that the Arts assists in the development of the whole child as it supports the child’s emotional and intellectual growth through sensory experiences that promote creativity, imagination, innovation, problem solving, critical thinking and artistic expression.

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Library Media

The Library Media Program plays a vital role throughout all aspects of the curriculum. The mission of the Library Media Program ensures that all students and staff effectively generate questions, access resources and create and share their new knowledge. In addition to managing the book collection and library web page, the Library Media Specialist provides instruction for individuals, small groups and whole classes of students. Areas of instruction include library orientation and circulation, literature appreciation, information skills and utilizing technology and digital media. Our Kindergarten students are introduced to and participate in a variety of library experiences, such as:
Navigating the library, borrowing library materials and becoming good library citizens (Orientation and Circulation)
Learning the parts of a book, understanding roles of author and illustrator, distinguishing fiction from nonfiction (Literature Appreciation)
Choosing and evaluating “just right” books, finding books for various purposes (Information Skills)
Experiencing literature and information in different formats (Utilizing Technology and Digital Media)

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The purpose of the Guilderland music program is to advance the cognitive and cultural development of every student through active participation in music. Sequential class activities:
Promote critical thinking and listening skills.
Foster creativity through musical improvisation and composition.
Advance innate musical aptitude through class and public performances.
Encourage an understanding of world cultures.
Aid neural development of the brain benefiting literacy, spatial reasoning, verbal memory and problem solving skills.
Allow for a shared community experience by teaching music literacy (pattern structure recognition).

The elementary general music program is offered to students in grades K-5 twice a week for 30 minutes. The emphasis in music class is on the development of each child’s tonal, rhythmic and movement skills through a sound before sight approach. Similar to the way children acquire language skills, music is taught as an aural art. Students build a solid foundation of aural and performing skills through singing, rhythmic movement, and tonal and rhythm pattern instruction before being introduced to notation and music theory. The voice is a natural instrument for all children and emphasis is placed on the singing of a variety of songs from many cultures. Movement activities support dexterity, rhythm skill development, and beat coordination. Creativity, composition, and improvisation are encouraged at every level of music instruction. All students have opportunities to perform on classroom instruments including xylophones and rhythm instruments.

The curriculum utilizes Dr. Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory. Children are evaluated for music aptitude in both tonal (melodic) and rhythm skills. The movement portion of the curriculum is based on Phyllis Weikart’s Education through Movement developed as a result of her study of the body as the center of learning for children.
In Kindergarten, the essential elements of the curriculum focus on:
Vocal development & exploration.
Rhythmic movement in a variety of ways to develop beat readiness and awareness.
Imprinting beginning tonal & rhythm patterns, the building blocks of music.
Rote songs/chants.
Percussion instruments to explore timbre and rhythms.

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Physical Education

Guilderland Central School District begins Physical Education in kindergarten. Basic concept and skill development are the primary objectives of the K-4 program. At these grade levels much time is spent helping the learner become aware of and develop a working knowledge of the Elementary Physical Education Concepts:
Directionality – ex. left/right, up/down
Foot-Eye Coordination
Hand-Eye Coordination
Locomotor & Axial Movements
Physical Fitness
Reaction Time
Rhythm & Dance
Spatial Awareness

With these concepts the following attributes are emphasized:

Children in kindergarten are introduced to and experiment with movement concepts. This introductory period is designed to stimulate body and spatial awareness in many physical education settings. Locomotor movements (skipping, sliding, galloping, etc.) are introduced when students begin to demonstrate confidence and body control through space. Recognition of other students self space and safety are also main objectives of the Physical Education Curriculum. At this age most children love to move. We provide a safe and thoughtful environment for all children to explore and discover movement in a noncompetitive manner. The physical education department stresses the importance of being kind and considerate to classmates, often using conflict resolution skills during all activities, and believes in educating the whole child during Physical Education class.

Although fitness for all students is important, kindergarten students are introduced to healthy lifestyle choices, and are not formally assessed at this level. First grade is the first year that a student will be formally tested in physical fitness. The Physical Education program is designed, ultimately, to enhance each child’s development, and provide a foundation of knowledge and skills, to lead a healthy life.

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Home-School Connection

In Kindergarten, there is NOT a formal homework policy. However, teachers may occasionally ask parents to extend the curriculum at home through play-based activities and projects. Since parents are their children’s first teachers, we ask that they continue to encourage their children to:
Be curious about the world around them.
Ask questions.
Make lists.
Play games.
Read road signs and food packages.
Visit the library.
Make discoveries through spontaneous play activities.
The most important thing that parents can do at home is to read books aloud to their children from a variety of genres, and to model good reading practices and enjoyment, such as questioning, laughing out loud and relating the story to a personal experience. We value parents as our partners in learning as we continue on this journey together.

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Schedule for Kindergarten Program

Individual teachers may vary their schedule, and call areas different names - below is a schedule of what a typical day in Kindergarten might look like.

Morning Meeting:
Songs - music and movement
Shared Reading
Charts - poems, chants, finger rhymes
Big Books
Read Alouds
Writers Workshop
Readers Workshop
Language/Word Study
Center time:
Small guided groups
Play or choice time
Outside play (weather permitting)
Science/Social Studies

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Kindergarten/Parent Communication Overview

Open House: Share information regarding program/curriculum expectations

Parent-Student: Parents “Tell us about your Information Sheet child” (returned prior to November conference)

Parent Conference: Parents and teacher share information regarding social/ emotional growth and learning attitudes and behaviors. Review child’s work and set goals. Conference Notes with observations and goals sent home.

Parent Conference: Parents and teacher share observations and evidence of student growth and progress. Review work - compare to fall samples. Set goals. Conference Notes with observations and goals sent home.

End of year summary: Specific comments/observations/goals for each student.

Teacher or parent initiated conference re: behavior change, successes, or concerns.

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