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Achieve more from the very beginning.
Our youngest students are engaged and excited about school from the start. Lessons aren’t limited to classroom exercises on the Lower Campus. Learning also takes place in art museums, in public gardens and even the county courthouse. Each level from Pre-Primary through 3rd grade builds on itself as teachers customize each child’s learning plan to keep them continually challenged, engaged and reaching for more. The collective Lower Campus experience is designed to build academic skills, confidence, critical thinking, global awareness and personal integrity.
The Pre-Primary Program values the partnership between home and school. Family activities like yoga at the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden and reading during Loved One’s Day take place throughout the school year. These activities are designed to give our youngest students the opportunity to engage with their home and school family together.
Museum Partnership with Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens
The Lower Campus maintains a partnership with the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden, located next door to the school. The collaboration allows Primary students to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the work of sculptor Ann Norton and the collection of plants in the garden that bears her name. Students also gain early exposure to different artists and art styles as they explore the various exhibits on display throughout the year at the Sculpture Gardens. Opportunities for hands on explorations then take place as the Sculpture Gardens education coordinators visit in the classroom to complete several projects.
The Primary program plants and maintains a butterfly garden throughout the course of the school year. Students engage in all aspects of the process, from choosing plants that will attract caterpillars to monitoring and watering the plants. Students love observing the life cycle of the butterflies as they witness firsthand caterpillars creating chrysalises and then becoming butterflies!
The Primary students participate in a Harvest Festival which brings a bit of Fall to South Florida. Students choose pumpkins from a pumpkin patch, enjoy pumpkin inspired science activities and even go on wagon rides!
Teddy Bear Picnic
Each year, the Kindergarten classes spend September learning around the theme of teddy bears. At the end of the month, the Teddy Bear Picnic takes place. This long-standing tradition includes a “bear hunt” for lost teddy bears, music, stories and a picnic with the Kindergarten families.
Museum Partnership with the Norton Museum of Art
Since 2012, docents from the Museum and the Kindergarten teachers have collaborated to bring rich experiences based on fine art to our students. The partnership includes visits to PBDA from the Norton’s docents and trips to the Museum by our students. Thinking routines that originated at Harvard’s Project Zero are used to help students think more deeply about the role of museums as well as how to examine works of art.
Throughout the year, the Kindergarten classes plant and maintain garden beds. The students learn about the life cycle of plants, gardening responsibilities, and where their food comes from. They enjoy tasting the fruits of their labor throughout the year. The students also work to add compost, made out of waste from their snack and lunch to the garden. Through this process, they learn about compostable and biodegradable materials.
My Father’s Dragon
This study is a multi-disciplinary unit based on the book by Ruth Stiles Gannett. The story serves as a springboard into the concept of animal classifications/habitats. The students also utilize map, measurement and graph skills. They design, engineer and test an alternative method of travel from one island to another and complete several art projects including a “missing poster” designed using Microsoft Word and a diorama. The unit ends with each student researching and reporting on an individual animal.
Nocturnal Animal Unit
Students investigate owls, bats, and creepy-crawly arachnids through this study of nocturnal animals. They chart migration patterns, dissect owl pellets, expand their geographical knowledge, and learn about nonfiction reading and writing. The students showcase what they have learned in a comprehensive teaching book full of information, diagrams, and fun facts. The unit concludes with a trip to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, where the class enjoys seeing many of the animals they have studied, up close and personal.
Second Graders learn about different book genres throughout the school year. For this project, students select historical figures of interest to study. After reading a biographical chapter book about their chosen figure, each student dresses up as the person they have researched and presents what they’ve learned throughout their studies.
Flat Stanley Project
Inspired by Jeff Brown’s book Flat Stanley, this educational project is designed to facilitate the improvement of reading and writing skills, while promoting an interest in learning about different people and places around the world. Students are encouraged to share ideas and information with others while practicing letter writing skills.
This research project encompasses concepts related to animal camouflage. In connection with our nonfiction unit in Readers Workshop, students choose animals of high interest to study. Over several weeks, our Second Graders research their animals’ characteristics, habitats, predators, prey, and the ways in which camouflage is used for survival. Students choose a creative way to present and share their learning with others.
An exciting learning opportunity for Third Graders to work individually or in partnerships to create and sell a product. This project inspires entrepreneurship at an early age, exposing children to many aspects of business, marketing, and advertising. All proceeds from the project are donated to a charity chosen by our students.
This public speaking exercise aligns with our Entrepreneur Day event. Students each research a charity that has a mission close to their hearts. They then work to craft a convincing and well-developed speech about their charity of choice and present to the rest of the class. Classes vote on a charity to donate the proceeds from Entrepreneur Day to.
Wishes for Wheels Bike Drive
Students in Third Grade conducted a bike drive and collected close to 70 used bikes that were later fixed and donated to people within our own community. This project was in collaboration with a local bicycle charity called Jack the Bike Man. The call for action was inspired during a class meeting from one of our very own student’s curiosity and desire to help others.
Coral Reef Restoration Project
The Lower Campus teamed up with classes from the Upper Campus to partner with The Coral Restoration Foundation. This scientific collaboration is working to help save our planet’s coral reefs. Representatives from the Foundation work regularly with our students and develop hands on experiences for them to see the importance of our oceans and the role coral ecosystems play.
I can’t imagine a better, more caring school environment, not in Florida, not in New York City.James Patterson, "New York Times" Best Selling Author
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