Lower Elementary

Students in Lower Elementary are organized into a first-grade classroom, which serves as a bridge between our Montessori and Classical programs, and a second-and-third-grade classroom, which provides the essential foundation for students’ Grammar stage education.

Language Arts

Language Arts provides the grammar for the Grammar stage, as children build a proper foundation for mastering language.  Since there is no other study that does not use language in some way, it is imperative that we construct a firm foundation here.  Therefore, reading is acquired by a systematic use of phonics; handwriting is reinforced by frequent copy work; grammatical components are named, studied, and practiced; spelling is learned by pattern and rule; and even the meaning of words is made systematically knowable by memorized Latin and Greek roots.  Students leave the Lower Elementary with a firm foundation for future studies.

1st Grade

  • Montessorimaterials on Phonograms, Word Studies, and Grammar
  • Primary Language Lessons by Emma Serl
  • Natural Speller by Kathryn Stout
  • Primary Phonics by Educators Publishing Service
  • Handwriting Without Tears: My Printing Book (1st Grade)

2nd Grade

  • Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl
  • Natural Speller by Kathryn Stout
  • Handwriting Without Tears: Printing Power (2nd Grade)
  • Handwriting Without Tears: Cursive Kickoff (2nd Grade)
  • The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spalding with Walter Spalding
  • English from the Roots Up

3rd Grade

  • Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl
  • Natural Speller by Kathryn Stout
  • Handwriting without Tears: Cursive Handwriting (3rd Grade)
  • The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spalding with Walter Spalding
  • English from the Roots Up


Students alternate between independent reading, which fosters personal reading skill, and teacher read aloud sessions, where Socratic discussion is introduced.  Stories serve to build a robust moral imagination in our students.  From the heroism of St. George (Hodges’s St. George and the Dragon), the thrift and economy of the Ingalls family (Little House), to the friendship of Rat and Mole (Wind in the Willows), literature both delights and instructs.

In the Lower Elementary, Literature is divided into three separate classes: Group Reading, giving students a chance to practice their reading skills while delving into a particular worthy book; Independent Reading, where students choose a book to read silently and on their own; and Read Aloud, with the teacher reading to the entire class. Additionally, in the Second and Third Grades, students cultivate the art of narration–of carefully retelling what they have heard–as well as thoughtful discussion.

1st Grade

  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  • The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter
  • Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  • Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
  • Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
  • Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
  • Popper’s Penguinsby Richard and Florence Atwater
  • Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Rideby George Selden
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Caleb’s Story by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Stuart Little by E. B. White
  • A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (Poetry)

2nd Grade

  • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Aesop’s Fables
  • The Little Mermaid & The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson
  • The Happy Prince & The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde
  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  • Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Schart Hyman
  • The Kitchen Knight by Margaret Hodges
  • Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
  • Treasury for Children by James Herriot
  • Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
  • Flower Faeries by Cicely Mary Barker (Poetry)
  • The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Bequist (Poetry)

3rd Grade

  • The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
  • The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
  • Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  • Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
  • Book of Norse Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
  • Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola
  • Mary, Mother of Jesus by Tomie dePaola
  • Francis, Poor Man of Assisi by Tomie dePaola
  • Christopher, the Holy Giant by Tomie dePaola
  • The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie dePaola
  • The Holy Twins by Kathleen Norris
  • The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Bequist (Poetry)


Students in the lower grades learn the story of their history as Americans. History at the young Grammar stage takes two forms: literary and geographic.  In first grade, students’ imaginations are populated with the rugged landscapes of the American frontier, stories of individual courage, and the biography of great American heroes.  In the second and third grades, students learn the Grammar of geography as they map their country, memorize the states and capitals, and read the story of regional histories through the rich prose of Holling C. Holling.

1st Grade

  • Early American History: A Literature Approach by Rea and Joshua Berg
  • Leif the Lucky by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
  • Columbus by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
  • Pocahontas by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
  • Jamestown, New World Adventure by James Knight
  • Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphrey
  • Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde R. Bulla
  • Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall
  • The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
  • The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds
  • Benjamin Franklin by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
  • George Washington by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
  • A More Perfect Union by Betsy and Giulio Maestro
  • Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry
  • George Washington’s Breakfast by Jean Fritz
  • Winter at Valley Forge by James Knight
  • The Fourth of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh
  • The Year of the Horseless Carriage 1801 by Genevieve Foster
  • Meet Abraham Lincoln by Barbara Cary
  • Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
  • Buffalo Bill by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

2nd Grade

  • Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling
  • Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling

3rd Grade

  • Tree in the Trail by Holling C. Holling
  • Seabird by Holling C. Holling
  • How Our Nation Began by Don Sharkey, Sister Margaret, and Msgr. Furlong


Students continue their participation in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at Joyful Child Atrium, where they enter the Level II Atrium. Elementary age catechesis centers around the image of Christ as the True Vine.  Children are taught about their life in Christ and his Church as they discover the parts of the Mass in the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist.

In the classroom,  Second Grade students prepare for the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion using the Saint Joseph’s booklet.  Students also produce an illustrated catechism journal with Scripture references, memorize prayers, and learn about the proper reception of the sacraments.  In Third Grade, students create an illustrated journal focusing on the lives of the Saints.

Science & Nature Study

Drawing from the world of science all around us, teachers lead students in a guided study of nature.  In First Grade, students form a broad basis of knowledge as they learn about the continents, rock and mineral formations, weather,  flora, fauna, food chains, and constellations.  In the Second and Third Grades, children take weekly nature hikes and keep detailed journals, with specimens drawn and labelled.  Particular focus is given to cross-disciplinary topics, such as the trumpeter swan while reading E. B. White’s Trumpet of the Swan or the cottonwood for the Tree in the Trail.


Our study of mathematics aims to give students mastery of concepts and skills. Rather than using a spiral system, we focus on single topics in-depth in order to truly understand  them before rushing on.  We gladly use repetition and practice in order to aid understanding, but not as an end in itself.   As in all studies, the grammar of mathematics–addition and subtraction, multiplication tables, number sense–must be firmly established before more complex topics are broached.  We use the Math Mammoth curriculum, as it best aligns with our goals. In First Grade, students develop this grammar of mathematics by practicing skills such as counting, addition, subtraction, and measuring; and by gaining a solid understanding of place value number sense.  In Second Grade, students gain an understanding of the base-ten system up to 1,000 and practice their skills of addition, subtraction, and regrouping within 100.  By Third Grade, students move on to multiplication and division, the multiplication tables, fractions, area, perimeter, and word problems.

Fine Arts

Art: Great artists are explored individually, as students are given time to absorb the style of the master they are studying.  Students also practice drawing and sketching, both illustrating the stories they have studied and reproducing the great artists they have encountered.

Music:  All students participate in the music program, as they learn musical notation and scales, and practice their voices on classical, folk, and liturgical songs.

Drama:  A drama club is offered as an elective, where students learn stage presence, projection, and the art of adopting a character on stage.