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A Day in the Life of Lower School: Part 1

We spent a couple of days shadowing Oakhill’s first and second grades as they navigated through two days full of classes and activities. We wanted to get a glimpse of what makes these two years of learning so special. What we witnessed were teachers expertly executing their lessons while students utilized their critical thinking skills along with a little creativity to as they navigated through their day. Here’a peek at what we saw!

Math with Mrs. Pearce

Our first stop was Mrs. Pearce’s second-grade classroom for a math lesson. One of the hardest math lessons to teach (and to learn) in the second grade is borrowing while subtracting or regrouping. Lucky us, this was the lesson we observed!

Mrs. Pearce's class learns how to subtract using borrowing by regrouping numbers.

To introduce the concept, Mrs. Pearce told a story about baking a cake that went a little something like this:

Mrs. Pearce was baking a cake but didn’t have any sugar. Everyone in her family left the house with their cars, so she had no way to buy more! What should she do?

One student suggested she ask a neighbor next door if she could borrow a little sugar, which is what she did!

How does Mrs. Pearce’s missing sugar connect with subtraction? When trying to subtract a more significant number from a smaller number in the one's column, you have to borrow from Mr. Ten next door! A fun phrase to help the kids remember this regrouping rule is:

“When there’s more on the floor, you’ve got to go next door!”

Students use Mrs. Pearce's story about baking a cake to understand why they need to borrow while subtracting.

Mrs. Pearce explained that when the number above the equal line, or on the floor, in an equation is bigger than the number on top of it, you have to borrow a ten from the number next door. The single ten regroups into ten ones for the one's column, making the subtraction possible.

After the lesson and group practice, these students picked up the skill of regrouping very quickly and were able to answer harder subtraction problems on their own!

Lessons in Figure Drawing with Mrs. Hyatt

Because the early childhood curriculum is predominantly art based, kindergarten is the first year that Oakhill students have a formal art class. During our visit to first-grade art, Mrs. Hyatt demonstrated basic art technique by helping students draw lines and shapes before moving on to more complicated figure drawing.

First grade students are able to use basic techniques taught in Kindergarten to create more complicated figures.

The first-grade teachers and I watched as each student attentively followed along with a demonstration video on how to draw a bird. With little additional assistance, lines quickly formed shapes that eventually became identifiable figures. Taking the lesson one step further, Mrs. Hyatt had each student draw a bird based from pictures on the overhead projector screen or in their imaginations. These drawings showed an early understanding of the skills taught in the step-by-step tutorial. Mrs. Hyatt lastly guided the students through art technique like perspective and shading, giving the students a better understanding of how to improve their drawings.

Mrs. Hyatt works individually with students to give them tips on how to improve.

Second Grade Readers

The final class we observed was a combined second-grade reading lesson. The lesson of the day was all about schema, more simply, making connections while reading. There are three connections the students attempted to build throughout the lesson: text to self, text to text, and text to world.

Mrs. Pearce reads a book while using her projector. This gives each student the ability to not only connect with the story itself, but with the illustrations as well.

Mrs. Pearce read a book about Thanksgiving. As she read, students were asked to write down the connections they were able to make from the text into their notebooks, using prompts such as “that reminds me of”, “I remember”, “I have a connection to”, “I have schema for”, and “I can relate to.” Connections made by students throughout the book included food the characters ate, the feeling of sitting with their peers and the act of spilling food on a table. After Mrs. Pearce completed the story, each student shared their connections with their group, then with the class as a whole. Listening to each other's relationships to the story helped the students form new connections they missed during the original story read!

Students write down the connections they are making to the story in their writer's notebooks.

It is incredible to see how quickly students grasp seemingly complex concepts within the first few months of their first and second-grade year. Skills learned through these lessons are often repeated and built upon in the years following second grade. The opportunity to see and experience our first and second grade students learning first hand provided a tangible example of not only how wonderful our teachers are, but the gifts of our students.

Want to see more? Join us for our Lower School Open House on Saturday, November 17 from 10 am - 12 pm. Learn more at or email to schedule a visit!

Posted by in Lower School, Classroom on Tuesday November, 13, 2018


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Oakhill Day School
Oakhill Day School
7019 N. Cherry Street Gladstone, MO 64118
Phone: 816.436.6228
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