The block program provides the foundation for social studies in the 6s. The 6s are developing an understanding of themselves and the world around them through their work in the blocks. There is a planning discussion each Monday. Throughout the week there are further discussions either as a whole group or in smaller groups as needs arise. The 6s are usually expected to work with a partner and build a single, reality-based building for a week or longer. Other times, the whole Group works together on a specific block scheme. They are working towards a scaled, representational construction that reflects their growing store of knowledge. In addition, because each individual building is part of the greater block city, children are expected to work together toward a common end, resolve conflicts, make compromises and recognize each other's needs and abilities.
The subject of study in the 6s includes the neighborhood and, over the course of the year, the larger community. Research skills are developed through trips, use of the Library and general inquiry. The 6s take many trips in order to further their studies, including research on the subjects of transportation and the many businesses and jobs found in New York City.
Because City and Country is located in close proximity to the Hudson River, the 6s’ neighborhood study often culminates naturally with a study of the Hudson River, and its role in city life. Children delve into scientific aspects of the river, such as where it begins and ends, what a river is, and the plant and animal life found in the river.
The social studies curriculum integrates many other aspects of the program as well. Math, geography, language arts, science, woodworking, art and Rhythms work are natural outcomes of block work and the city curriculum.
Paint, Clay and Paper: 6s use all six colors (red, yellow, blue, white, black and turquoise) to paint both in a representational and an abstract style. In the 6s, children are also introduced to mural painting. Here the expectation is to work together toward a common end in a painting. Often the murals reflect a social studies theme, thereby enriching the Group’s studies; they give the Group a chance to explore different ideas with a cooperative goal in mind. The 6s also work with the Art teacher in the Art room on a regular basis.
Clay is a tactile, creative experience for the 6s. The children use the material to make representational objects as well as to engage in dramatic play. In addition to using their hands to manipulate the clay, the children use clay sticks as tools to cut or form details. During their time in the Art room, children are given opportunities to use additional clay tools, and to fire their work in the kiln.
6s use paper as another form of creative expression. They have time to draw at different points in the school day, and over time their drawings become increasingly representational and detailed. They may use crayons, colored pencils, pencils and oil pastels. Paper may also be used for details for block work. As the children develop increased fine motor control, this medium becomes more accessible and satisfying to them, allowing for exacting and elaborate additions to their social studies work.
The 6s language arts program focuses on strengthening alphabetic confidence and phonemic awareness in order to build a solid base of early reading and writing skills. The program is designed so that each child receives appropriate work based on his or her own needs. It concentrates on letter/sound correspondence, word families, rhyming, blending, word patterns, word endings, sight words (frequently used words), comprehension and reading strategies. This work is accomplished through reading games, whole-group language experiences, small-group activities, reading with a teacher and independent reading. Types of writing experiences include story writing, poetry, journals and social studies- and science-based writing. Sound-spelling is encouraged for independence and fluency; dictionary spellings are introduced when appropriate. The ability to independently find the spelling of words through the use of print in the classroom, books and from peers is encouraged. Children practice handwriting using the multi-sensory program “Handwriting Without Tears.”
Through the meetings and cooperative learning situations that are a natural part of each school day, children are consistently expected to express their thinking and listen and respond to others.