The early elementary years expand on the foundation built in our pre-kindergarten grades. Pre-Kindergarten through second grade have Spanish, Music, Computer, Library, and Physical Education in addition to their core classes. Third grade has Art, Spanish, Computer, Library, Music, and Physical Education in addition to their core classes.
There are two classes of first grade each having a full-time teacher and sharing a teacher assistant. Both classes use an interactive board to enhance learning. Students come to first grade as emerging readers, writers, and mathematicians.
- Spelling: In first grade, phonics skills are further developed with the mastery of double phonograms such as digraphs and vowel combinations. Students learn spelling rules that unlock helpful patterns in spelling. Each week first graders learn to read and spell a new set of high-frequency words.
- Grammar: Students learn sentence rules and basic parts of speech. First grade nurtures creative writing through journaling and a variety of both cooperative and independent writing projects. Students create stories and publish books.
- Reading: The reading program used is called “Super Kids”. Students are provided with a great variety of books and language arts activities. First grade meets the needs of readers and writers at all levels of ability.
- Math: Math is taught in a concrete way using number grids, manipulatives, and exploration. Math students learn concepts of addition, subtraction, time, money, geometry, fractions, and measurement through the Progress in Math and the Everyday Mathematics series. Through a variety of math games, students have while learning math and challenge their math skills.
- Science and Social Studies: The internet and our interactive boards are used extensively in science and social studies. Each Science unit is brought to life with experiments and discoveries. In Social Studies students learn good citizenship, map skills, and many aspects regarding the uniqueness of this great nation.
- Religion: Religion is taught daily with an emphasis on each child’s special qualities and God’s love and blessings that we receive each day.
- Reading and Spelling: Students in second-grade practice phonics skills and learn helpful spelling rules. The children read novels, and read from the classroom library, to develop fluency and reading comprehension. The teacher reads from children’s literature to model fluency, foster listening skills, develop an interest in reading, and build vocabulary. Each week, second-grade students demonstrate what they have learned with spelling, dictation, and reading comprehension tests. Second-grade students enjoy responding to literature with art projects and essays.
- Religion: Second and third graders focus on Catholic beliefs, Catholic prayers, morality, understanding the liturgical year, the Bible, memorizing verses, understanding the Holy Trinity, Women of Faith, and Jesus and the Apostles. The whole school attends Mass once a week and on Holy Days of Obligation. Students participate in Mass by doing the readings and singing in the choir. Second and third-graders work on a Saint report and have a Saint dress-up day. They also have several service projects throughout the year. Second grade is a pivotal year in the student’s faith development. Catholic students will make the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion for the first time. Here at St. Ambrose, your child will become part of our family; not just another student.
- Language Arts: Concentrates on nouns, simple & compound subjects, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, types of sentences, editing techniques, and parts of a sentence. Students also practice strategies for the five steps of the writing process. Students begin to learn and practice the formation of cursive letters in the second half of the year.
- Math: The Everyday Mathematics program is very hands-on with numerous manipulatives including individual tool kits with tape measurers, clocks, money, templates, and calculators. Students use slates throughout the year to demonstrate mastery of a concept. Many games are learned and used frequently to apply and practice the principles being taught. Addition, subtraction, and number patterns continue in second grade, and by the end of the year, four and five-digit problems are mastered, including borrowing in subtraction. We work into multiplication and use arrays, songs, rhymes, and the G.E.T. method to gain understanding. Of course, that leads to an easy transition into division. Other units that we concentrate on, are money, which includes setting up a store where students earn play money during the week and then can shop on Friday. If they are able to count out the sum correctly and make changes, they may keep the item(s). This really inspires students to learn how to make change correctly. Geometry, including finding perimeter and area, as well as learning about Fractions are just a few of the units we explore. Second grade also has “Exploration Days” where two or three new areas are addressed and hands-on activities are done in small groups to better understand these concepts. Some examples are using the balance and platform scales, sorting attribute blocks, clock making, and going on a fraction hunt around campus.
- Science: Science is a hands-on project-based curriculum. They work on biology, matter, dinosaurs, astronomy, and inventions. The second graders participate in a Science Fair.
- Social Studies: The students will work on map and geography skills. The children understand communities, which are defined as a collection of families and individuals who work, live, and play in a particular area. Other topics include rules and responsibility, history and time, presidents and patriots, American cultures and celebrations, government and citizenship, goods and services, money and market, and resources. The second-grade students will also focus on learning all the states and their locations on the map.
- Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth – is presented to qualifying students in grades second through eighth. John Hopkins conducts national and international talent searches to identify, assess, and recognize outstanding academic talent. The criteria for those students who are nominated are based on their achievement at the 95th percentile or higher on certain indicated subject areas of a nationally normed standardized test. The criteria indicate certain acceptable reasoning ability subtests and they also indicate which subtests are unacceptable. The nomination to the Johns Hopkins University Talent Search is an honor in that it recognizes a child’s outstanding academic talent.
On the third grade level, the four teachers “Team Teach” the students. Language Arts and Social Studies are taught by the same teacher to all these students; Math is taught by another; Religion and Science by one; and Reading and Spelling by the fourth. We are proud that our students are all prepared to meet and respond to the opportunities and challenges of the future as responsible, Christian members of society.
- Reading and Spelling: Students practice phonics skills and learn helpful spelling rules. The children read novels from the classroom library to develop fluency and reading comprehension. The teacher reads to the children from good children’s literature to model fluency, foster listening skills, develop an interest in reading, and build vocabulary. Each week, third-grade students demonstrate what they have learned with spelling, dictation, and reading comprehension tests. Third-grade students learn how to write sentences, paragraphs, work on poetry, and write simple reports in a clear and organized style. They respond to literature with art projects and essays. They work on Venn Diagrams, story elements, antonyms/synonyms, and reading comprehension. In spelling they concentrate on Short i, Short a, Double final f, l, s, Final n, ng, Short o, Final k spelled ck, Suffix “s”, Short e, Short u, Final i spelled y, Suffix “ing”, Suffix “ed”, Doubling Rule, er spelled ir, Long a-consonant-e, Long a spelled ai, Long i-consonant-e, Long o-consonant-e, Long o spelled ow, Long u-consonant-e, Dropping Rule. Third grade also performs a play from one of the novels they read in class and over the summer. On Fridays, third grade spends time on special projects designed to strengthen fine motor skills, to foster pride in workmanship, and share ideas and skills. During these class periods, children meet in small groups to work with the teacher on lessons not fully mastered.
- Language Arts: Concentrates on the parts of speech; especially nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, articles, and pronouns. The students also work on strategies for the five steps of the writing process. They use paragraphs to separate ideas, produce multiple drafts, elaborate on a central idea, and write with attention to the audience, word choice, and sentence variation. The children learn how to use reference materials, such as dictionaries and thesaurus to aid them in writing. The students also get a chance to have their essays entered in the University of St. Thomas yearly writing contest. The cursive writing that was started in second grade is developed and they begin to write their name in cursive.
- Math: Math focuses on extending place value from the millions to the thousandths. Students make a decimal place value booklet that they use to play math games and extend their addition and subtraction to seven digits. Multiplication facts up to the 12’s are developed with 90% of students mastering them before leaving third grade. There are level quizzes to challenge those students who can move faster than the average child. This is a self-paced program that Mrs. Velez has had success with in the past. In third grade students are introduced to division and at the end of the year are able to successfully answer long division problems with remainders. Pre-algebra concepts are introduced through number sentences with a focus on missing factors. One project in our Geometry unit consists of hunting for shapes around Houston and then documenting with a camera to create a display board. We work hard on creating a strong background in fractions with an emphasis on equivalent fractions and mixed numbers. We also write and illustrate a number of stories throughout the year. In the first half of the year we use addition and subtraction and then after Christmas, multiplication and division. The Everyday Mathematics program continues its hands-on approach including the use of manipulatives, money, tool kits, slates, Math Sharks, and “Exploration Days”.
- Social Studies: The children have mastered all the states and their locations in second grade and now they concentrate on the capitals and geography. They know how to read world maps; are able to find locations on the globe, and compare different parts of the United States (e.g., contrasting year-round climate of the various regions). They study topics relating to American history, such as Native Americans, the journey of the Mayflower, pilgrims, and the first settlers. They have fun exploring their creative side by becoming a historical figure in the form of a Wax Museum. The children study these people and portray them for the school.
- Science: Third grade works on Earth resources, biosystems and outer space, matter, energy, habitats, endangerment and extinction, and astronomy. They conduct experiments that test a hypothesis. They study research material and also learn with hands-on projects. They also participate in the Science Fair.
- Art is introduced in third through eighth grade. They work with different mediums.
- Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth – is presented to qualifying students in grades second through eighth. John Hopkins conducts national and international talent searches to identify, assess, and recognize outstanding academic talent. The criteria for those students who are nominated are based on their achievement at the 95th percentile or higher on certain indicated subject areas of a nationally normed standardized test. The criteria indicate certain acceptable reasoning ability subtests and they also indicate which subtests are unacceptable. The nomination to the Johns Hopkins University Talent Search is an honor in that it recognizes a child’s outstanding academic talent
- DeBusk Enrichment Center for Academically Talented Scholars (DECATS) – is presented to qualifying students in third through sixth grade. It offers a unique opportunity for high-ability students to participate in an intensive three-week summer adventure of challenging and enriching coursework, nurturing the whole learner and fostering the leaders of tomorrow. The program provides an enriched learning environment for students who demonstrate high intellectual ability, and the importance of humility and service.
The fourth and fifth-grade levels continue the Team Teaching approach with all the students. In addition to their core classes, students have Art, Spanish, Computer, Library, Music, and Physical Education in addition to their core classes.
- Reading: Students learn reading comprehension strategies and how to read with fluency and expression. Writing assignments are included on a weekly basis. Reading vocabulary words come from the students Reading textbooks and from the National Reading Vocabulary List. Students participate in a variety of reading activities including written book reports.
- Math: In our math program, “Everyday Mathematics”, our fourth-grade students enjoy hands-on activities and practice multiplication skills through games. Throughout the year our students work with partners and small groups as well as independently. Different methods of multiplication and division algorithms are investigated, place value and rounding large numbers are reviewed, fractions and decimals are introduced, and the students learn to use a compass, a protractor, and a transparent mirror.
- Social Studies: The Social Studies curriculum concentrates on learning about the United States and Texas History. The students also work on a multicultural project involving research, interviews, traditional costumes, and food appetizers from each country.
- Science: Fourth-grade students will begin to recognize the difference between expository writing and storytelling. They will learn to comprehend and organize scientific information. The subjects studied may include: Earth’s Land, Properties of Matter, Classifying Living Things, Magnetism and Electricity, and Weather and Climate. These subjects will be investigated through observations, research projects, cooperative learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
- Religion: The Religion program continues with the use of Faith First series, which encompasses a spiral curriculum design. Every grade level continues to learn about the creed, sacraments, morality, and prayer at an age-appropriate level. The series also has available an excellent website, integrating technology and religious beliefs. Our fourth graders are also invited to become Altar Servers for our church.
- Language Arts: Language Arts concentrates on expressive language using grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions. Skills practiced include using simple, compound, and complex sentences, the four kinds of sentences, and the writing process steps are incorporated into written compositions. The practice of cursive writing continues in fourth grade. The use of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, and negatives properly in written compositions is stressed. Diagramming of simple sentences is introduced.
- Fourth-grade students also participate in DUKE, JOHN HOPKINS, and DECATS.
- Reading: Students participate in a variety of reading activities including oral and written book reports, and perform plays based on Literature. They become authors and illustrators of Christmas books for young children. Writing assignments are included on a weekly basis, including the writing of personal narratives and speeches. Students are challenged to read books at a level higher than fifth grade.
- Math: In the Math program, “Everyday Mathematics”, our fifth-grade students enjoy hands-on activities, quick reviews of multiplication facts, and newly learned concepts are reinforced through games. Throughout the year St. Ambrose students work with partners, small groups as well as independently. Fractions, decimals, percents, exponents, negative numbers, coordinates, area volume, capacity, and Algebra concepts are our main focus in fifth grade.
- Religion: Fifth-grade Religion concentrates on the Parts of the Mass and all the sacraments. It expands on the pillars of the Catechism: Creed, Sacraments, Morality, and Prayer. Lessons from scripture study and the liturgical year are also included in the fifth-grade Religion class.
- Language Arts: Language Arts skills including multiple meanings, figurative language, sequence of events, parts of speech, word study, sentence structure, research papers that incorporate the writing process steps, oral book reports where the children dress up as their characters, graphic organizers, story maps, and diagramming sentences take place in fifth grade.
- Social Studies: American History is the focus of fifth-grade social studies, where the children also work on colony reports. The students also work on the Presidents and present oral reports to their classmates.
- Science: Fifth-grade students will continue to learn and practice comprehending and organizing expository writing as opposed to narratives. Scientific subjects that may be explored include: Systems of Living Things, The Solar System and Beyond, Matter and Energy, Populations and Ecosystems, The Solid Earth, and Light and sound. These subjects will be investigated through observations, research projects, cooperative learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
- Special Activities: Fifth grade also takes a wonderful four-day/three-night expedition to the School of Environmental Education in Plantersville. They work together, learn how to take care of the earth, and have a great time.
- In Music, our fifth graders devote themselves to being members of the SAS Bell Choir.
- Our fifth graders continue to serve as Altar Servers for our church.