By Subject

Social Studies

Our social studies program is grounded in explorations of identity, culture, and global citizenship. At each grade level, students engage in thematic studies that are framed by essential questions. Our approach provides rich opportunities for in-depth investigations and for consideration of critical issues. Our curriculum is informed by the standards established by the National Council for the Social Studies as well as professional guidelines in history, civics, economics, and geography, the Common Core State Standards, and the resources and expertise of our faculty.

The Foote School’s developmental approach to teaching is visible in the topics and questions at the core of each grade’s social studies curriculum. Our youngest children explore issues related to themselves, their friendships, their families, local communities, the roles of individuals and groups, and the ways in which people are the same and different. As they get older, students expand their understanding of these notions to include the historical, social, geographic, political, and economic factors that have affected the experiences of people around the world.

In Lower School, social studies themes often serve as the basis for thematic instruction. Literature selections, art experiences, field trips, classroom visitors, stories and traditions from their home lives, and lively activities are blended into cultural explorations to enrich children’s growing knowledge about themselves and the world. As students learn to read for information, they become more adept at extracting important ideas from resources. Their environmental studies in science provide context for understanding the impact of climate and natural resources on civilizations. Math units about graphs, charts, and statistics become opportunities to investigate populations, distances, and historical time.


Essential Questions:

  • Who am I?

  • Who are you?

  • How does each of us make a difference?

  • What is a community?

Discovery of self and other are the essential themes of Kindergarten. At Foote, children begin their studies of societies and groups by learning and practicing ways to describe themselves and the people they know best.

Within the first weeks of school, colorful self-portraits appear on the classroom walls. As the year progresses, children continue to learn about feelings, interests, their bodies, physical attributes, hopes, and dreams shape an ongoing unit called “All About Me.”

Friendships are nurtured and children learn about each other through shared experiences, stories, and activities. The school’s values, known as Falco’s PRIDE, are embedded into lessons about taking care of ourselves, our friends, and our classroom. Families play an important part in the kindergarten program through visits and objects from home, which help to explain important celebrations and traditions.

As children map the campus, they gain a sense of themselves as members of a special kind of community. They meet and learn about the responsibilities of the adults who work at our school and become familiar with the rhythm of the year. One of the highlights of this endeavor is the children’s participation in our maple sugaring project, tapping the sugar maple trees around campus and celebrating their harvest with a pancake breakfast.

First and Second Grades

Essential Questions: These four questions drive all of the social studies units for a two-year looping curriculum that introduces children to cultural and historic study of people in different times and places.

  • How do we meet our needs (in our school, in this time, or in this place)?

  • How do we adapt to our environment (in our school, in this time, or in this place)?

  • How do we build a community (in our school, in this time, or in this place)?

  • What makes us alike and different (in our school, in this time, or in this place)?

The year begins with an expansion of the local community study that began in kindergarten. Children consider the ways that they can meet their needs, adapt to their environment, and build a community at the Foote School. They continue to identify ways in which they are alike and different, and they embrace their roles as contributors to the larger community outside their classroom.

Students’ concept of “community” soon expands to include the New Haven area, with local treks and explorations to investigate the features of our city. Standing at the top of East Rock on a fall day, they consider the view of our city while also thinking about how the location might have looked in the past. Their aerial perspective helps to inform the beginnings of their studies of maps, distances, and landforms.

With this foundation, the children embark on a comprehensive cultural or historic study. In alternating years, the focus is either an African community or the indigenous people of the northeast woodlands. Embedded in these units are lessons and activities related to geography, family structure, social roles, natural resources, and the environment.

Third Grade

Essential Questions:

  • How do we study the past?

  • What questions are important to ask about the past?

  • How was life in the past different from and similar to today?

  • How do cultures change over time?

Perspective-taking provides the framework for the third grade social studies program. In the first half of the year, students immerse themselves in the life of 19th century New England, with a focus on the local history of Connecticut. Oral histories, visual arts, and hands-on exploration of artifactsoffer the opportunity for students to learn from, and make interpretations about, primary sources.

Moving from local to far away, the class embarks on a comprehensive study of Australia. Students consider the ways that geography shapes the experience and culture of a place. Historical and environmental factors, the indigenous people of the continent, the Great Barrier Reef, and contemporary life in Australia are all incorporated into a lively exploration.

Third graders continue to build social competency through exercises in team-building, cooperation, and collaboration. The year ends with a biographical research unit about inventors, focusing on the ways in which innovation has impacted people’s lives.

Fourth Grade

Essential Questions:

  • How are groups of people alike or different?

  • How was life in the past similar to and different from today?

  • Why do people move?

  • How am I different from and similar to others?

  • How am I changing, in personal and physical ways, over time?

  • How are regions and states defined?

  • How did America grow?

  • What does it mean to be an American?

Places and changes, both global and personal, are at the heart of the fourth grade social studies program. The year begins with an investigation of the immigrant experience, focusing on the conditions people faced and the challenges they overcame in uprooting their lives by relocating to America.

A second major exploration in fourth grade involves the physical and social changes our students experience as they move into puberty. As our students recognize their own emerging strengths, skills, and abilities, they also study biographies of influential people as they consider the impact that individual people can have on the greater world.

Independence and joy in learning frame much of the year in fourth grade. These qualities are especially visible during the study of US geography. Students take responsibility for a substantial research project about one of the states, culminating in a celebratory exposition of their work. The State Fair, hosted in the spring, provides a showcase for their accomplishments and their new knowledge.

Fifth Grade

Essential Questions:

  • What are the physical and human characteristics of place?

  • How do people change the environment, and how does the environment influence human activity?

  • What is community life? What are community ideals?

  • How do cultures change over time?

  • What are the rights and responsibilities of people in a group and of those in authority?

  • What values of past societies should we seek to learn from today?

The significance of place—as a habitat, as a cultural foundation, and as a basis for stewardship—grounds the fifth grade curriculum. Fifth grade students take responsibility for the classroom recycling program across the campus as they consider the ways that individuals can impact their community. The year begins with ecological studies, highlighted by an overnight environmental study. The trip serves as a cornerstone for science and social studies, while also forging deeper connections among the students and their teachers.

With these experiences as a foundation, the class spends the rest of the year considering the factors that contribute to cultures and societies. In-depth units about ancient Egypt and Greece provide the framework for thoughtful conversations about rights, the common good, power, authority, and government. Students investigate artifacts and analyze myths to decipher cultural values. They write and perform plays based on the mythological themes and characters. They consider laws and social practices that continue to influence civilizations today, gaining a historical perspective on contemporary issues.


The Foote science program seeks to promote and enhance the joy of exploring the natural and material world by guiding an inquiry-based educational experience for our students.  


Children are naturally curious and observant.  Our program encourages them to ask questions prompted by their direct observations and to arrive at answers using evidence they have generated. The experience values creativity and independent thinking.  Students have opportunities to design their own experiments and to choose projects that match their interests. We also value collaboration and understand that science is a social enterprise.  Students learn from one another as they work together and share their findings. In addition, they learn to disagree productively, using empirical evidence to support their claims.  


Central to our philosophy is the idea that children learn by doing. At all levels we encourage interaction with the natural world as we also facilitate the manipulation of tools and materials. Rigorous experimental and analytical methods are developed over time. Our program builds on the children’s existing knowledge, incorporates emerging technologies and leads to new and more sophisticated questions.  It mirrors as closely as possible the enterprise of doing real science.

We emphasize the fundamentally human nature of science and its universal application.  The accomplishments of scientists from a variety of countries and cultures are featured, and restrictive notions of who can engage in scientific work are explored and challenged. We are confident in our students’ abilities and celebrate their differences. At Foote, each child, regardless of background, is empowered to be a scientist.


Children's fascination with the world around them provides the basis for the topics of study in the kindergarten science program. Investigations of the environment are connected to the scientific process through observation, data collecting, recording, and sharing. Students explore the classroom and outdoors through field trips, visits from members of the New Haven community, cooking, building, planting, and experimenting. They consult books and use scientific tools to enhance their explorations. A highlight of the Kindergarten year occurs in the early spring, when children learn to tap the sugar maple trees around our campus. From the watery sap that drips into the buckets through the rich syrup that emerges from the final boil, the maple sugaring experience provides one of many opportunities for our students to engage with the world.

First and Second Grades

First and second grade children approach the world through a multicultural and multidisciplinary lens, with the science and social studies programs providing the structure around which writing, art, music, drama, and literature are developed in the classroom. Reading and mathematical skills are integrated into the curriculum, and field trips are arranged to coincide with units of study. Science and social studies are often organized in parallel.  Specific science topics include organisms and their habitats, air and weather, soils, liquids and solids, and balance and motion. Individual and group research projects occur frequently. Classroom investigations and local ecological explorations develop the children's abilities to observe, classify, question, experiment, record, and analyze, as well as to increase their environmental awareness. 

Third Grade

In third grade, students investigate motion and design, earth science, and the oceans. These content areas present the students with problems whose solutions require hypothesizing, predicting, experimenting, observing, manipulating variables, handling equipment, recording and graphing data, and communicating with peers. The earth science unit includes the study of the age, origin, and structure of the earth as well as plate theory and the correlation between continental drift and earthquakes and volcanoes. Methods of observation and classification are practiced through a study of rocks. Students perform basic testing methods for identifying minerals. The oceans unit focuses on the structure of aquatic environments, marine plants and animals, and their special adaptations. The students perform experiments and travel to Mystic Aquarium. During the study of motion and design, students explore concepts related to the physics of motion and apply those concepts to technological design.


Fourth Grade

Fourth graders meet three periods per six-day cycle with a science teacher in the lower school discovery room. Using a hands-on inquiry-based approach, the fourth grade science program focuses on basic science skills needed for students to conduct experimental investigations. Inquiry based learning engages our students in exploring and manipulating materials, generating original, testable questions, and sharing results with each other to further their understanding of scientific concepts. Students engage in measurement, observation, prediction, hypothesis testing, and experimentation. They keep science journals and learn to document their experiments. During the fall, students investigate basic properties of solids, liquids, and gases, with a special emphasis on the water cycle. Fourth grade projects include designing a process to separate an unknown mixture, and designing and building a thermos. In the spring, the curriculum focuses on force, air, and water pressure, the physics of sound, and flight. Students design and build model cars, gliders, rockets, hovercrafts, and parachutes. 


Fifth Grade

Fifth graders meet three periods per six-day cycle with a science teacher in the Lower School discovery room. During the fall, student activities revolve around ecology; the interactions among living organisms and between organisms and their physical environment. The curriculum supports and expands science and social studies topics led by the fifth grade teachers in the classroom, as well as those that take place on field trips to a salt marsh and at the three-day trip to Deer Lake.

Using a hands-on inquiry approach, students explore basic concepts and methods in environmental field and lab science. The role of light in photosynthesis and the energy flow of ecosystems serve as key concepts that connect units of study during the first term. Most investigations begin with the observation and manipulation of materials and the generation of testable questions. Some examples of student activities include making observations of interactions between living and non-living things, and of the interactions of plants and animals. Fifth graders gain first-hand knowledge about identification, ecology, and life cycles of trees through a close study of the trees on the Foote campus. Field and lab work includes a tree census, tree ring analysis, viewing extracted tree core with a microscope, and estimating heights. Indoors and outside, students explore leaf and cell structure, organelles and choroplasts. They experiment with chromatography after extracting chlorophyll and other pigments from leaves. We also discuss and examine the critical role of plants in the carbon cycle and the impact of deforestation and climate change.

During the second term, major topics include energy changes, light, heat, and electromagnetism. The transmission, reflection, and refraction of light are explored through inquiry and a series of hands-on investigations. Students generate questions, isolate and manipulate variables, and then analyze and compare their data. Activities include generating electricity by friction, generators, and photovoltaic cells. The year culminates with students designing and building solar ovens. This project incorporates many STEM skills and allows students to be both imaginative and systematic as they engineer environmentally friendly ways of heating and cooking food, keeping detailed written records of their work. 


Our math program is grounded in a strong set of foundational skills, which provide the necessary tools for students to engage in complex mathematical thinking and abstract reasoning. Instruction is designed for students to achieve computational fluency, efficiency and clarity in approaching mathematical challenges, and accuracy in solutions to problems. Our curriculum is informed by the standards established by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Common Core State Standards, and the resources and expertise of our faculty.

From the earliest grades, students are challenged to solve problems, apply concepts, and consider multiple strategies. Individual needs are recognized and accommodated through in-class enrichment, additional out-of-class support and instruction, and uniquely designed provisions. Mathematical experiences at the Foote School help students gain self-confidence, independence, and competence in communicating their understanding through vocabulary, language, representations, and symbols. Technology tools, simulations, and data-gathering exercises are integrated throughout the curriculum. These experiences offer additional opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and to participate in authentic mathematical practice.

In Lower School, mathematics instruction addresses all five of the major themes recommended by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (Number & Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis & Probability). Our pacing guides provide clarity and continuity within and between grades as students gain competence in numeracy and computation, mathematical reasoning, spatial relationships, measurement, and data-driven operations. Flexible grouping, which begins in Kindergarten, allows teachers to adjust instruction in response to student needs. Teachers receive guidance and support for their instruction during regular meetings with the math specialist and through presentations, on-site workshops, and a range of professional development experiences.

In Lower School, students are welcomed into the study of mathematics through investigations of numbers, operations, shapes, and relationships. Our Lower School classrooms offer rich opportunities for children to
● explore the relationships between and among numbers
● practice and internalize basic operations and algorithms
● identify, construct, and extend patterns
● compare quantities, sizes, and attributes
● apply their emerging mathematical understanding to real-world experiences and novel
● experiment with different approaches to solving mathematical challenges

As children progress through the elementary grades, new skills are introduced in a systematic manner to build on previous experiences. Our program is grounded in a deep appreciation for children’s cognitive development; concepts are presented through concrete, hands-on activities and progress toward more abstract and complex approaches to problem-solving.

We recognize that our students arrive in school with a wide variety of mathematical experiences and knowledge. Pre-assessments at the beginning of each unit help the teachers plan activities and work centers to guide instruction appropriately. We strive to accommodate these individual differences by organizing flexible groups based upon children’s need ands interests. Differentiation strategies and multiple teaching approaches are incorporated throughout the Lower School.


Familiarity and comfort with numbers are principal goals of mathematics in Kindergarten. Children engage in daily conversations and activities using calendars, mathematical vocabulary (the names of numbers, words for different kinds of measurement, time, and comparisons). They gain proficiency in counting, recognizing patterns and geometric shapes, and grouping items based on attributes. The concept of quantity is a significant focus in Kindergarten, as children begin to understand the processes of addition and subtraction.

First Grade

First graders continue to build on the foundational numeracy skills introduced in Kindergarten. In order to make the math “come alive,” our curriculum includes many opportunities for children to handle materials, manipulate shapes and objects, and observe mathematics in daily activities. They work with increasingly complex patterns and begin to explore numerical sequences. Students begin to develop problem-solving strategies for accurately and efficiently recalling basic addition and subtraction facts. As they gain comfort with quantities, our first graders investigate “big numbers” with place values through the hundreds and apply their work with basic facts to compute double-digit addition and subtraction problems without regrouping. First graders begin to learn to tell time to the nearest hour and half hour, count collections of coins less than a dollar, and explore 2- and 3-dimensional shapes.

Second Grade

Second graders extend their understanding of place value to numbers into the thousands. They compute with 3- and 4-digit numbers with and without regrouping and begin to perform mental computations. One of the goals of second grade math is comfort and familiarity with common patterns, facts, and operations; we achieve this goal through lively activities to encourage automatic recall and to reinforce the fun of math. Students explore early notions of the concept of multiplication as repeated addition and of division as repeated subtraction. Students learn to tell time to the nearest 15-minute interval and begin to use fractions to name parts of a whole, as set, or a line. As their reading and literacy skills increase, mathematics becomes more of a language for them to decipher. Second graders begin to explore the earliest processes of algebraic thinking and the “grammar” of mathematical symbols. Two- and three-dimensional shapes become the basis for investigating geometry, generating definitions, classifying attributes, and critical thinking.

Third Grade

Third graders expand their mathematical abilities as they explore increasingly abstract processes and expressions including place value, decimals, fractions, division, multiplication, measurement, geometry, probability, data, and graphing. Throughout the year, the class is divided into smaller groups for focused investigations in many types of mathematics. Children measure, record, and calculate sizes of objects using standard and metric units. They practice recall of basic facts while exploring the relationships of numbers in a variety of contexts. Algebraic skills are expanded and reinforced through problem-solving, logic puzzles, and operations involving multiple steps and multi-digit numbers.


Fourth Grade

With a foundation in all four basic arithmetic operations, fourth graders apply mathematical reasoning to challenges in a wide range of areas. Students explore, measure, and calculate geometric concepts such as perimeter and area. They expand their understanding of multiplication to include factors and multiples, they learn to construct and solve long division and multi-digit multiplication problems, add and subtract decimals, and explain their understanding using mathematical language.They learn the meaning of measures of central tendency and calculate these values with different types of data sets; they graph number pairs using Cartesian coordinates; they determine elapsed time and solve word problems using a variety of operations. Many of these mathematical areas are incorporated into cross-disciplinary projects and thematic activities.


Fifth Grade

In fifth grade, students solidify their understanding of operational procedures and whole number values. A focal point of the curriculum centers on ensuring that answers are reasonable; students engage in estimation and critical thinking to determine whether their solutions make sense. Problems are frequently based on real-world situations, in order to give students a greater sense of the connection between the skills they are learning and their daily lives. Much of the year is spent working with values beyond whole numbers, as students gain facility in manipulating decimals and fractions. They also solve problems with positive and negative integers and bases other than 10. Computational problems often involve multiple types of arithmetic, challenging students to remember the order of operations and to keep their work organized. In connection with their studies of ancient cultures, our fifth graders learn about Greek, Roman, and Egyptian number systems and the ways that early civilizations used math. Geometric explorations include two- and three-dimensional figures, measurements, and formulas for calculating lengths, areas, and sizes. Students analyze and depict data and learn how to show relationships among numbers in multiple graphic forms.




English/Language Arts

The Foote School English/Language Arts curriculum is designed to nurture a love of literature while leading students to understand the world. The program helps students develop empathy for a full range of human experiences and refine the skills of communication, expression, and critical thinking needed by citizens of a global community.

The language arts consist of skills in four broad areas: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Although these skills develop gradually, we also know that even our youngest children can participate in rich experiences with language, stories, and texts. We provide a learning environment that is focused on building that students’ proficiency in all aspects of the language through

• Sufficient opportunities to practice their craft over time
• Common language, explicit instruction, and guided practice
• Authentic experiences that are mindful of purpose and audience
• Engagement in a writing process that involves direct instruction, modeling, a clear sequence, and thorough feedback
• Thoughtful exchanges with peers and teachers
• Purposeful integration of technology
• Focused research and inquiry.

Reading instruction is a significant focus in the primary grades. Children are supported through a carefully sequenced program that includes phonics, authentic literature, early writing, and oral communication practice. In every grade, teachers balance specific instruction with excellent books and stories. Small group instruction ensures that every child is learning at a “just-right” level. Many of the books we read are chosen because of their rich connections to topics and themes in other areas of the curriculum. From their earliest days in our classrooms, children explore a variety of genres, styles, and literary formats. As they develop proficiency and fluency in reading, the curriculum shifts toward comprehension, writing process, genre study, and analysis.


Developing communication skills is an integral part of kindergarten. Language arts experiences take place throughout the day and are integrated throughout the curriculum. We read stories aloud every day in a warm and nurturing setting that encourages everyone to share ideas and observations. Favorite authors,
illustrators, and award-winning books are showcased frequently, giving our students a sense of the joys of reading, writing, and appreciating literature. Children are introduced to letter recognition, letter writing, and letter-sound correspondence. Individual and small reading group activities reinforce children's growing knowledge and use of letter sounds, early reading, and handwriting. In their writing, kindergartners use dictation and phonetic spelling to encode their own ideas as authors and to reinforce their knowledge of sound-symbol relationships. The children are exposed to the editing process as they prepare their pieces for an authentic audience. “Author Days” are special events in the Kindergarten classrooms, offering children and adults the chance to share the excitement of learning.

First Grade

Oral and written language arts continue to be a major focus of instruction throughout the day in our first grade classrooms. During morning meetings, children talk together about ideas, thoughts, feelings, and plans for the day's work, or about events taking place in and out of school. One of the highlights of our
language arts program in first and second grades is a focus on visual literacy. Using beautiful images from the Yale Center for British Art, our students consider the ways in which a picture can really “paint a thousand words.” Read-aloud time is an important daily activity in each classroom. Reading instruction occurs in both individual and small group formats. Teachers make careful choices to help the children gain independence in reading “just-right” books. All the children have a daily quiet book time, and silent reading is encouraged. Children write and share stories based on their interests and personal experiences. They explore a variety of genres in their writing, including personal narratives, short stories, poetry, and informational writing. We encourage children to employ a variety of words in their writing; at this age, unfamiliar words are often spelled phonetically as the students gradually learn conventional spelling rules. Their editing focuses on basic sentence structure, correct punctuation, upper and lower case letters, and correct spelling.

Second Grade

In second grade, students gain a great deal of independence in their reading. While continuing to reinforce decoding and phonics skills, our classes focus on comprehension and meaning. We continue with small reading groups that balance skill instruction and oral expression. One of the components of our language arts program, begun in first grade, is a focus on visual literacy. Using beautiful images from the Yale Center for British Art, our students consider the ways in which a picture can really “paint a thousand words.” Reading groups focus on comprehension skills through sharing ideas and making connections to their own lives. Read-alouds often include longer chapter books that are shared over many days, an experience that helps build stamina and memory strategies. Children’s writing also extends for longer periods and includes more opportunities for revision and editing. In second grade, students use non-fiction books for research and prepare reports to share what they have learned from these investigations. Vocabulary and word choices become even more sophisticated, as teachers encourage the children to use words they have learned from books and content-area lessons. Folk tales and traditional literature are
highlights of the curriculum, offering the children a chance to explore literary elements as well as cultural themes.


Third Grade

Literature forms the basis for the language arts program in third grade. Many of the books we choose are connected to themes and content in other parts of the curriculum. Children learn about colonial New England and hear stories about people of the times. They study Australian culture, and listen to folk tales about “Dreamtime.” Read-aloud time continues from the primary grades. This practice serves to foster students' enjoyment of a variety of literary genres, aids them in choosing books for reading, develops their sensitivity to written expression, and helps them generate topics for their writing. Direct instruction includes lessons in the mechanics of writing, including capitalization and punctuation, spelling and cursive writing.
 Novels and nonfiction books are used for daily oral and silent reading practice, individually, in small groups, and by the entire class. The students share and discuss their book selections and their writing. In reading, students develop fluency, consolidate word recognition and decoding skills, and develop literal and abstract comprehension skills. They make connections among texts, predict outcomes, summarize content and structure, and infer meanings. Students write about topics of their own choosing as well as assigned topics related to all areas of the curriculum. They conference with their peers and teachers to edit their own work, to share their work with the class, and to respond to the work of others.

Fourth Grade

The emphasis in fourth grade language arts is on building skills and confidence in reading, writing, listening and speaking. Silent reading and/or oral reading take place on a daily basis. The teachers read aloud to the students frequently. Reading comprehension exercises emphasize recalling details, identifying and explaining the main idea, and language appreciation. In fourth grade, students read longer books related to the themes of their social studies content: immigration stories and books about the Chinese experience in building the transcontinental railroad are some examples. Fourth grade is also a year to explore the way chapter books are organized. As children read beloved books like From the Mixed-Up-Files of Mrs. Basil E. Franweiler or Maniac Magee, they analyze the structure of the stories and the elements of the books. Students keep personal reading journals on their independent reading books. Daily involvement in the writing process, with both teacher and peer feedback, guides the students toward greater clarity, more specific detail, and an increased awareness of spelling and grammar. One of the highlights of the fourth grade year is the picture book project, in which each student writes and illustrates a story that is bound into a beautiful finished product to share.

Fifth Grade

Reading and writing represent the core of the entire fifth grade program and integrate with all areas of study. Formal and individualized instruction in mechanics includes use of capitals, complete sentences, and paragraphing. Spelling, vocabulary, and grammar programs complement the English curriculum. A great deal of time is devoted to helping children experience both the written and spoken word with a sense of adventure, excitement, appreciation, and comfort. Two books are always in motion. One is read aloud and leads to extensive discussions of detail, style, and theme. The other is undertaken as a class book. A variety of comprehension activities encourage reading with a purpose, interpretation, and clarity of detail in student responses. Students are involved with writing on a daily basis. While some of the process writing of earlier grades is continued, more time is devoted to the refinement of individual style through a variety of approaches that differ in scope, duration, and length. Emphasis is placed on rewriting entire stories to improve fluidity, dialogue, setting and character development, as well as the overall plot. Students experiment with a number of literary genres including poetry, drama and fiction. During the ancient cultures unit, students write their own myths, incorporating elements of that classic style into their work. Students learn how to express their opinions using persuasive writing. Most writing is shared in class and discussed.



Fine Arts

The Foote School’s arts programs provide students with an understanding of the beauty and range of the human experience. One of the primary goals of arts instruction at the Foote School is to develop and expand children's natural abilities of perception, interpretation, and appreciation of the forms, sounds, and language of creativity. Our curriculum is designed to encourage a positive attitude and, perhaps, a lifelong interest in the arts. By participating in active experiences, working collaboratively with classmates and teachers, and presenting their work to the larger community, our students gain the technical and aesthetic foundation to be culturally literate citizens of the world.

All the arts disciplines--visual, musical, and dramatic, take a hands-on approach to learning; it is the nature of art to learn as one goes along. There is a performance component as well: sometimes in class with small projects, sometimes in public settings. Visual art teaches children to make good judgements about qualitative relationships. Students are presented with a set of “tools”- technique, examples, history and supplies. They create an art piece that expresses what they have learned and who they are. In drama, small performances in class and larger roles in school plays give the students the opportunity to explore by acting, working on the “running crew,” and operating the lighting and sound boards. In music, the children are given the opportunity to sing alone and in small groups. 


The Foote School’s Drama Program provides students with an understanding of the importance of drama as an expression of the human experience, as well as with an appreciation of the role of the many forms of theater in cultural literacy.Drama fosters creativity, giving students the opportunity to improvise, act on a stage and write plays, as well as participate in the technical aspects of the theater. Learning the discipline and craft necessary for this constructive creation builds numerous skills, among those the crucial abilities to reason, make important decisions, and solve problems.

The drama program provides students with tools for critical assessment of what they read, see, and hear, with models and standards of excellence, and with a sense of the emotional power of theater — its ability to stir and inspire an audience. Finally, and of paramount importance, because theater illuminates the constancy of the human condition, its study furthers the students’ understanding of themselves.

Lower School drama allows children to make discoveries about themselves and others through games, focused exercises, and fun activities. Primary grades classes focus on facial expressions to show emotions, using body parts to represent objects or action, vocal control, methods for performing in the role of a human or non-human character, and ways of using props and sets. In third through fifth grade, students explore characters in more depth. They practice methods for making actions seem real, and they learn more about the process of making a play come to life on stage.

Visual Arts

The Foote School Art Department strives to cultivate within its students a lifelong love and appreciation for art. The K-9 curriculum is designed to teach students developmentally appropriate skills and techniques that build on one another to enhance aesthetic sensibilities, deepen critical thinking, and instill confidence to create works of art that are true representations of their ideas and their talent.

The process begins by creating an inviting and inspiring classroom environment designed to spark students’ imaginations and put their creativity to work through hands-on lessons that build confidence and skills and cater to their individual learning styles. Students are encouraged to ask questions, engage in positive dialogue about their work and the work of their peers. Students also learn the forms, techniques and languages of art by being exposed to art history and the work of renowned artists the world over and apply these lessons to their own work. Many projects are designed to be interdisciplinary, tied to the curricula of other learning departments, from math and science to language arts and history. The Art Department is proud to display all or our students’ artwork on a regular basis through exhibitions as well as through publication in print and online.

Primary grades classes (Kindergarten through second grade) focus on young children’s natural abilities to perceive, create, and appreciate the visual arts, while developing a positive attitude, and perhaps, a lifelong interest in art. Painting, collage, ceramics, drawing, sculpture, and fiber art projects often relate to the themes that the children are studying in other areas of their curriculum. Clay owls, brightly painted monsters, three-dimensional action figures, mosaic tiles, and Native American dolls are a few of the creations that emerge from these lively classes. The children’s work is often displayed in hallways and galleries around the school.

Students in third through fifth grade continue to build foundational skills using a variety of media. Most of their projects are designed to complement the curriculum in science, literature, and social studies: inventor sculptures, arabesque pillows, clay candle houses (a highlight of the fourth grade!) environmental painting and representations of the natural world, Egyptian and Greek arts are a few of the beautiful works our students produce during these years.


One of the primary goals of music education at the Foote School is to foster a love of music in each student. By participating in active music-making experiences, children are led to discover musical elements and develop musical skills, leading to another primary goal: musical literacy. During large assemblies, children perform with their classes in singing, playing instruments and showing their compositions as appropriate. 

Music in the Lower School is based on the Kodály Concept, a comprehensive, sequential, experience-based program used to develop basic musical skills and to teach the reading and writing of music. From lullabies, childhood chants, folk songs, singing games and dances, to the art music of master composers, students sing, move, listen, and respond to an ever-increasing repertoire of music, from which musical elements and concepts to be learned are derived. All students are taught to play the soprano recorder beginning in fourth grade.

Physical Education

At Foote, we believe in nurturing our students’ physical health and growth as well as their academic progress. With that philosophy as a guiding force, our physical education program is designed to support students’ self-image, build sportsmanship, and provide a basis for a healthy lifelong attitude toward fitness. Our curriculum is carefully sequenced to match the stages of physical, social, and emotional development from year to year. In addition to athletic skills, our program encourages creative expression, builds social concepts such as sportsmanship, cooperation, and fair play, offers opportunities for leadership, encourages children to take risks, and fosters a sense of well-being in a non-competitive setting.

All children at Foote School are members of either the Maroon or Grey sports teams. Spirit is high on our annual Field Day, when students participate in a variety of fun and competitive events between the Maroon and the Grey. Kindergarteners take part only in the morning, competing in a fun run, a scoop relay, and a shuttle relay. All the other students participate in a full day of events, culminating in an all-school relay race around the entire field, featuring the day’s winners of the 80-yard dash from each grade. 

The Lower School physical education program provides opportunities for students to express themselves through movement. In the primary grades, classes focus on fine and gross motor skills, balance, spatial awareness, flexibility, endurance, strength and coordination. Activities are lively and fun, making use of a wide variety of equipment, ranging from bean bags to beach balls, whiffle bats, scoops, and foam paddles. 

Competition is kept to a minimum and cooperative games are included in most lessons. The 3rd-5th grade program encourages students to build endurance through a gradually increasing running challenge, which culminates in a one-mile run. Also in these later elementary grades, team sports are introduced, along with the concept of rules and sport-specific skills.

In Kindergarten through fifth grade, all three sections of the class participate in gym together, allowing the teachers to divide the group into different configurations. Kindergarteners have gym three times in each six-day cycle; 1st and 2nd graders three times; and third through fifth have gym four times in each cycle. 

World Language

Language study is at the heart of the Foote School’s mission to value difference and challenge prejudice, and to explore the world with joy and purpose. Our curriculum includes both modern and classical language through a rigorous program that in many ways distinguishes the Foote experience from any other. 

Our language program is designed to extend well beyond our students’ capacity to understand vocabulary and grammar. We prepare students to engage in the global community; to make sense of their own language, culture, and perceptions; and to consider the meaning and context of communication in many forms. Language study enhances academic performance as well as abstract and creative thinking skills. It is no wonder, then, that the Foote community values language study so highly. 

Foote students build their familiarity with other cultures as they begin learning modern languages in kindergarten. Students explore French, Spanish, and Chinese in their first three years, then choose one of the three languages to study as they enter third grade. Most of the emphasis in early grades is on the sounds and rhythms of language, building a foundation that helps students build auditory and literacy skills across the curriculum.


Kindergarten: French

For our youngest students, language instruction focuses on listening and speaking. Our emphasis on oral communication encourages children to distinguish and replicate sounds. Kindergarten students are introduced to the sounds and patterns of French through nursery rhymes, puppets, songs, stories and games. Some of the topics covered in class are salutations, numbers, house, family and letters.

Popular French cartoon character Barbapapa and his family are presented to the students and have become favorite figures of their Kindergarten year. Some of the children’s most beloved songs include “Pomme de Reinette”, “Frère Jacques”, “Le Grand Cerf” and “La Barbichette”.  Additionally, students learn about French culture through a wonderful pop-up book, Frenchy the Frog, where they visit Paris and learn about “La Tour Eiffel”, “Notre Dame, and “Le Louvre”, “Mona Lisa”, “Les Champs-Élysées” and more!  Special projects include celebrating the Lemon Festival, which takes place in the south of France, and in-class Baguette making.



First Grade: Spanish


In first grade, children are introduced to Spanish, with emphasis on listening and pronunciation as the keystones of language study. Students learn vocabulary and culture by exploring Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico, Bolivia and Spain.  In each country, children discover new things and look at maps and photographs. In Mexico, for example, students may learn about the art of Frida Kahlo and El Parque Chapultepec. Students learn about family and birthday traditions in Mexico and make comparisons to their own traditional celebrations in the United States. In Bolivia, students learn about El Gran Mercado and Carnaval and discuss traditional clothing and colors. They talk about living in a city or town and make connections to their own living arrangements incorporating vocabulary related to the house. In Spain, students visit Madrid and learn about and dance the Flamenco. They hear the guitarra seis and play an authentic cajón drum.  Nursery rhymes, songs, stories, role-playing, art projects and games are also used to teach elementary vocabulary such as days of the week, animals, family, seasons, weather and numbers. Children are encouraged to speak in full sentences, and are exposed to simple grammar.


Second Grade: Chinese

In second grade, children are introduced to the sounds of Mandarin Chinese experientially, just as native-speaker children naturally acquire their first words. Chinese classes are often full of rhymes and kinesthetic activities that require children to understand and produce the language orally. During the course of the year, children learn to greet others, introduce themselves, and learn about everyday topics such as numbers, family, colors, sports, body parts and fruit. The goal is for children to use vocabulary words from each thematic unit in meaningful sentences. 


Writing of Chinese characters is introduced in order for students to experience the unique Chinese writing system.

Major Chinese holidays are celebrated through hands-on activities that are a part of traditional Chinese culture.

Third Grade: Chinese

In third grade, children learn to communicate about everyday topics such as their families, pets, hobbies, and body parts in greater detail. They ask and answer simple questions using basic linguistic structures. While listening and speaking remain integral to the third-grade curriculum, reading and writing are introduced during third grade. Pinyin, the pronunciation system, is not explicitly taught, but at times is used to assist with students’ acquisition of new sounds. Instruction continues to be highly interactive. 

Writing exercises are implemented in an age-appropriate manner. The writing objectives include being able to follow stroke orders, and write numbers, single pictographs, radicals, and some of the most commonly used characters to communicate meaning.

In addition to celebrating traditional Chinese holidays with hands-on activities, third-grade students experience a STEM unit at the end of spring. The STEM lessons for the third graders are math oriented. Students are asked to do math facts in Chinese.

Online resources are provided for those who would like to reinforce classroom learning at home.


Third Grade: French

Our program is grounded in oral and aural acquisition. We present the students with vocabulary, structures and situations that are relevant to their personal lives. They are then motivated to use French to play a game, solve a puzzle, or participate in an activity with a friend. Lessons are supplemented by videos, dialogues, games, and songs. Topics include numbers and age, family, colors, feelings, classroom materials, buildings, the weather, months, likes and dislikes, telling time, prepositions and simple descriptive adjectives. 


Children play board games, engage in an ongoing exploration of Paris, and celebrate Mardi Gras with crepes and mask making. Other projects include "The Lemon Festival" from the south of France.


Third Grade: Spanish

In third grade, students continue to learn Spanish as they explore Spanish-speaking countries such as Argentina, Peru and Columbia. Students navigate the geography of South America, illustrate Iguazu Falls in Argentina and recite a poem they memorize about the waterfall. In Lima, Peru, students visit the Plaza de Armas and compare the city square with their own town or city center.  As they tour Colombia, students learn about pets, animals at the zoo, farm animals and animals in the jungle. This unit of study is always a favorite with the children! They gain additional vocabulary to speak about the places, people, and experiences of their daily lives. Units include the home, the community, school life and after school activities. Children learn to describe friends and family members, to discuss food, the senses, body parts, and healthy habits. By the end of the year they can name the months of the year, and engage in simple conversations about the weather and the seasons. Special projects include a Hispanic Day of the Dead project and a Columbian salsa dance lesson.


Fourth Grade: Chinese

In fourth-grade Chinese class, children learn about topics such as clothing, colors, fruits, snacks, drinks, toys, school supplies and shopping. The beginning of the year is marked by an autumn colors walk around our beautiful campus, after which the children make a short video about the different colors of leaves and flowers. The walk is followed by a leaf-rubbing project that tells us each student’s favorite colors in Chinese. Each thematic unit is closely related to students’ own lives, and each unit culminates in a project that incorporates the students’ learning. The emphasis of this class is on listening, speaking, reading and writing. 

In addition to partner work, children in fourth grade Chinese class are encouraged to present about the topics they learn.

The goal at this stage continues to be for the students to speak with correct tones and pronunciation through modeling after the teacher. Although pinyin is introduced, students will work primarily with Chinese characters, so they do not grow overly reliant on pinyin. The purpose of writing Chinese character continues to be experiential. The writing objectives include following stroke orders, and write some of the most commonly used characters to communicate meaning. Online resources are provided for those who would like to reinforce classroom learning at home.

Fourth Grade: French

Continuing the concentration with listening and speaking abilities that began in third grade, students acquire more vocabulary and grammatical structures as a natural by-product of their desire to communicate in French, whether it be playing a game, solving a puzzle or participating in an activity with a friend. While the main emphasis in this program remains aural/oral, there is a written component as well. Activities are supplemented by nursery rhymes, videos, dialogues, puppets and songs. Topics include sports, professions, days of the week, animals, numbers, adjectives, the verbs "Avoir" and "être", and simple negation.  A popular card game in France called “Jeu des Sept Familles” is played in class to reinforce vocabulary. Special projects include celebrating Mardis Gras, the  “Galette des Rois” (King’s Day) and hand-sewing a “beret” and making their own board game.


Fourth Grade: Spanish

Within the context of the contemporary Spanish-speaking world, students continue to work toward proficiency in the four language skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Lessons include the present tense of regular and certain commonly used irregular verbs as well as stem-changing verbs, possessive and descriptive adjectives, noun-adjective agreement, comparatives, interrogatives and contractions. These grammatical concepts are presented within the context of situational dialogues and DVDs that depict the daily activities of young people from a variety of Spanish-speaking countries and cultures. Vocabulary exercises expand the students' fluency as they facilitate the gradual transition toward reading and writing. Special projects may include creating a poster on the family, presenting short skits, and cooking quesadillas and cocadas


Fifth Grade: Chinese

In fifth-grade Chinese class, listening and speaking continue to be emphasized, but reading and writing now play an equally important part in class meetings. Many activities and games are designed for students to use the four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing). Vocabulary and units of study focus on communities. Students learn to talk about professions, place of residence, physical appearance, rooms and furniture. Students are expected to present for others in class, and learn from each other in group activities. Quizlets and the SmartBoard are frequently used to facilitate instruction and provide student-centered in-class activities.

A STEM unit is typically incorporated into the fifth grade. It usually includes a survey, and students express their results in the form of a chart. The unit wraps up in a bar graph project, with the students graphing their findings.


Students are expected to know the basics of writing Chinese characters. They also learn about the etymology of many Chinese characters to help with their sight word recognition. 

Pinyin is now used more consistently to aid students’ learning or pronunciation and tones. Online resources are provided for those who would like to reinforce classroom learning at home.

Fifth Grade: French

Continuing the aural/oral training begun in fourth grade, students acquire more vocabulary and grammatical structures as a natural extension of their desire to communicate in French, whether through a game, solving a puzzle or participating in an activity with a friend. While the main emphasis in this program remains aura/oral, there is a written component as well. Activities are supplemented by nursery rhymes, videos, dialogues, puppets and songs. Topics include sports, professions, days of the week, animals, numbers, adjectives, the verbs "Avoir" and "être", and simple negation. Special projects include baguette making and celebrating Mardi Gras.

Fifth Grade: Spanish

The fifth grade Spanish course makes use of the Descubre el Español series. Students learn Spanish through conversation, cultural activities, and games. Workbook exercises parallel aural/oral activities as writing increases in importance. Topics can include greetings and introductions, descriptions, the verb ser, cognates, gender/number agreement, clothing, colors, sports and activities, shopping, places and activities in the community, the verb estar, school and classes, telling time, days of the week, months of the year, and question words. Students learn about the culture of several Spanish-speaking countries, including Bolivia, Spain and Mexico. Cultural activities can include making maps, writing postcards, and making masks for the Day of the Dead.