Integrated Curriculum in LS

Emily Miller, Head of Lower School
One of the hallmarks of the Lower School program is its integrated curriculum. Through this multidisciplinary approach, students draw on their prior knowledge, build new knowledge and skills, tap into their curiosities about particular topics or themes, and explore topics in greater depth and detail. The different disciplines, including reading, writing, social studies, creative arts, and more are focused around a central idea or essential question, thus allowing students to make connections across disciplines and build a more robust understanding of a topic. While this integrated approach is ongoing throughout the year, over the past few weeks, we have seen a number of multidisciplinary, integrated projects come to fruition.
We excitedly joined our Pre-K students for a Food Truck Festival. The Pre-K curriculum is organized around several thematic studies that tap into the interests of young learners. Some of these themes are determined prior to the start of the school year, as they are developmentally based, while others develop organically in response to a particular group of students or a particular fascination they have.
While Pre-K wrapped up the theme of community, Ms. Wolf led a drama lesson based on the book Mama Provi and The Pot of Rice. One student informed her, “We’re not learning about community anymore. We’re learning about transportation.” This led Ms. Wolf to explore books like Food Trucks! and Food Truck Fest which offered “a perfect segue from Mama Provi’s community of food-sharing neighbors to a community of food-sharing transportation,” but it also allowed students to consider the connection between the transportation and community. As Ms. Wolf is inclined to do, she responded to the students’ enthusiasm and interest and began collaborating with the classroom teachers and the creative arts team. Wouldn’t it be great if students could design and build their own food trucks, create their own custom-designed chefs’ hats, and learn a rhythmic chant and movement that mirrored the text from the Food Truck Fest? And that is exactly what they did!
Quite serendipitously, the ice cream truck visited the Lower School. Pre-K students were able to see a real-life example of what they were learning, and they were excited to talk to John, the driver of the ice cream truck, before they even began imagining and building their own food trucks. They learned where the ice cream comes from and that John’s favorite part of his job is “meeting people and making them happy.” Pre-K students also learned about Fresh Food Generation and how it and food trucks not only transport food from one place to another, but they also bring communities together. This wonderful cross-collaborative mini-unit tapped into the interests and imaginations of our youngest students who learn best when they are doing and when they are experiencing a curriculum that is relevant and meaningful to them.
Pre-K students were excited to imagine their food truck designs, curate their individual menus, and with paint and ornamentation, transform their recycled cardboard boxes into custom food trucks. When I visited the Festival, I was treated to some unique varieties of ice cream, a host of food combinations I had never imagined possible, and a group of excited, smiling, and knowledgeable Pre-K students. During their parade and food truck sales, they created a wonderful sense of community among the students and faculty who were able to swing by the event. Ms. Rosenbaum shared, “It has been magical watching students grasp the concept of one another’s trucks and hearing them compliment one another on their hard work.”
As an inclusive community, Brimmer welcomes students who will increase the diversity of our school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or any other characteristic protected from discrimination under state or federal law, in the administration of our educational policies, admissions practices, financial aid decisions, and athletic and other school-administered programs.