Lower School Curriculum

The Lower School Schedule

In the Lower School, students follow a five-day schedule. Every Friday, Lower School students come together as a community during assemblies to partake in an interactive and interdisciplinary experience.
Grade 1Grade 2Grade 3Grade 4
8:00–8:05 a.m. Arrival
Morning Meeting Morning Meeting Class/Specials Class/Specials
9:10–9:25 a.m. Snack Class/Specials Class/Specials Class/Specials
Class/Specials Class/Specials Class/Specials 9:25–9:40 a.m. Snack
Class/Specials 10:15–10:30 a.m. Snack 10:15–10:30 a.m. Snack Class/Specials
11:00–11:30 a.m. Lunch Class/Specials Class/Specials Class/Specials
Recess 11:00–11:30 a.m. Lunch 11:00–11:30 a.m. Lunch 11:00–11:30 a.m. Lunch
Class/Specials Recess Recess Recess
Class/Specials Class/Specials Class/Specials Class/Specials
2:50–3:00 p.m. Dismissal

Highlights of Lower School

List of 5 items.

  • pre-kindergarten and kindergarten | Early Education Program

    Early Education at Ellis is a dynamic, multidisciplinary program that is taught through a combination of structured activities and free exploration. Our integrated approach incorporates literacy, math, science, and the arts into units creatively designed for group learning and social development. Passionate teachers support girls’ cognitive, emotional, and physical needs through a reassuring routine that bolsters learning, acceptance, inclusion, and confidence. Students flourish in this exploratory, all-girls environment where self-care, wellness, and kindness isn’t just the focus of an individual class, but approached as the foundation for long-term success. This emphasis on character education in tandem with developmentally-appropriate learning prepares our youngest learners to inquire thoughtfully and express themselves freely without fear of failure.
  • grade 1 | Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank Partnership

    Students in grade 1 learn about the importance of health, wellness, and nutrition through a partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Through classroom conversations, students realize that not everyone has food provided for them and that sometimes people need help to attain food for nutrition and overall well-being. Once this connection is made, students start a month-long fundraiser to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. This introduction to food insecurity, community needs, and overall well-being ignites students’ passion for service learning. By integrating crucial life lessons into the classroom curriculum, Ellis’ youngest students display compassion, kindness, and charity as they set the foundation for future community involvement and service.
  • grade 2 | Metropolitan Community

    During this project, students work in cooperative learning groups as architects, builders, city planners, and tour guides on a Metropolitan Community. Girls design and construct all aspects of a fictitious city while sustainability is at the forefront of their learning. As neighborhoods and services spring up, students position homes and make decisions about services in a Central Business District, weighing issues such as aesthetics, usage, space, noise, and environmental considerations. As girls design and build, they are visited by community experts and discover the power of teamwork. Innovative and intentional projects like Metropolitan Community take subject matter—such as mathematics, science, art, and history—off the page and into the real world.
  • grade 3 | Archaeological Dig

    In grade 3, students begin the year learning about how historians understand the past. They practice being archaeologists by making observations, examining debris, looking at the context of found artifacts, and forming inferences about human activity. Students excavate a single strata site, using a grid and authentic tools to discover artifacts and they sort, classify, and interpret artifacts to understand what happened at the site. In this culminating project, students use scientific studies to learn the mysteries of the past.
  • grade 4 | Rocket Launch

    In grade 4, budding engineers program robots and launch rockets. In small groups they work together to build their rockets, and in the process learn how to hypothesize, experiment, collect, and analyze data. Using the experimental method, students innovate and draw real-world conclusions under the guidance of experienced, caring faculty members. Designed to inspire the leaders of tomorrow in science, technology, engineering, and math, Launch Day is widely anticipated and watched by the entire Lower School community.

Ann Martino

Head of Lower School

Keenly aware of the social-emotional needs of young learners as well as the need for providing a program that is developmentally appropriate, the Lower School faculty create classroom environments that allow each girl to thrive. Ellis girls love school, form lasting friendships, take risks, and become creative and independent thinkers. Because the Lower School program is inquiry-based, essential questions drive the learning for our students. Questions and exploration lead to innovative solutions. We see the Arts and STEM subjects as interconnected, making our approach equally engaging and rigorous in the arts and sciences and allowing our students to make connections across subject areas. We focus on experiential projects that create deep understanding and have real relevance to girls’ lives. Through this framework, even our youngest students make comparisons, see relationships, and develop complex thinking. Our girls learn to work in teams, respect other ways of knowing, and learn to effectively use a variety of technology tools which enhance their learning and allow them to share what they know with others.

Lower School Faculty Directory