Maimonides Elementary School

Curriculum Guide תוכנית הלימודים


Art–All Grades

The Fine Arts curriculum at the Elementary School level begins with the study of the elements of art: line, color, form/shape, space, and texture. Students explore these elements using a variety of media including drawing, painting, printing, clay, and fibers. The use of different outlets allows each student to stretch their creativity and enhances the opportunity for success.

• Helping the student learn and understand the elements of art.
• Developing in students the art of imagination and creativity.
• Teaching students to be creative problem solvers.
• Improving skills in the use of and a variety of art materials and processes.
• Assisting students to become appreciators of art.
• Promoting self-worth and understanding ones own abilities.
• Working with classroom teachers to support their curriculum with art.
• Creating projects based on a variety of Jewish holidays (Sukkot, Chanukah, Tu B’ Shevat, Purim) as well as the annual Chagigat HaSiddur and Chagigat HaChumash.
• Including art history in a variety of projects.

• Line: pattern making (all grades)
- Vertical, horizontal, and diagonal
- Tesselations
• Color: painting with specific motivation (all grades)
- Mouse-paint
- Magen David color wheel
- Flowers (Georgia O’Keefe)
- Butterfly painting
- Sunset painting with tree
- Insect painting
• Form: portraits (all grades)
- Mask-making (Purim) all grades
- Clay
• Shape:
- Print-making (all grades)
- Collage/montage (all grades)
- Positive and negative shapes
• Space: concept of distance (all grades)
- Big/small
- Near/far
- Foreground/middle ground/background
- One and two point perspective
• Texture
- Weaving (all grades)
- Printing, thumb, shapes, leaf (Gr. K-1)
- Styrofoam etching (Gr. 2-3)
- Softoleum, cutting and printing (Gr. 4-6)


Chorus–Grades 1 & 2

Chorus is an optional class that meets during lunch. The 1st and 2nd Grade Chorus meets during lunch on Wednesdays and is open to anyone who would like to join. Students will learn to sing in both unison and harmony, and feel comfortable with both.

Chorus–Grades 3, 4, 5

Chorus is an optional class that meets during lunch. The 3rd-5th Grade Chamber Chorus is an audition-only group, meeting during lunch on Mondays. Students will learn to sing in both unison and harmony, and feel comfortable with both.

Chumash–All Grades

In Kindergarten and Gr. 1, study focuses on Parshat HaShavuah. Students should be able to recall Parsha stories and makes connections between Parshiot.

In Gr. 1-4, we use the Tal Am curriculum which integrates Chumash with holidays and daily life.

Beginning in Gr. 2, students starts a more in-depth study of particular Parshiot. Second grade students learn Lech Lecha and Va-Yeira. A highlight of this year is the Chagigat HaChumash.

In Gr. 3, students work with Chayyei Sarah, Toldedot, and Va-Yishlach and start to read Rashi's script. Pupils should be able to state Rashi's questions and answers.

Fourth grade continues with Va-Yeishev, Mi-Keitz and Va-Yigash while students in Gr. 5 study Shemot, Va-Eira,Bo, Be-Shalach and Yitro.

General Music–Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

General Music is a great way for students to explore music in a variety of ways. We use songs, instruments, and our bodies to learn about music. With a focus on rhythm, intonation, and eventually music reading, students will become comfortable with reading, writing, and listening to music.

Halacha–All Grades

The study of Chagin and Dinim starts with our youngest students. In K, students learn the Hebrew names for ritual objects and learn basic laws and customs of the Chagim as well as appropriate Brachot.Grades 1-4, utilizing the Tal Am curriculum, continue to learn the laws and customs of the Chagim and the meaning behind them.Gr. 5 students use the text Darkenu to study Chagim and learn how to read the text and then, how to apply it to their daily lives.

Hebrew Language (Ivrit)–Grade K

Hebrew instruction begins in our Kindergarten classes. The students become familiar with the Alef-Bet letters, sing songs and listen to stories told by both their Limudei Kodesh teachers and Ivrit enrichment teacher. New words are introduced and reviewed throughout the year. Students engage in many creative projects around the alef bet and Hebrew Vocabulary.

Hebrew language (Ivrit)–Grade 1

Maimonides School is proud to utilize the Tal Am curriculum. This exciting program, created by Tova Shimon and her staff in Montreal, Canada, and generously funded by the Avi Chai Foundation, integrates the Hebrew language curriculum and Limudei Kodesh; it is taught “Ivrit B'ivrit”, in Hebrew. Students devote much time to acquiring the four basic literacy skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. The program utilizes a variety of creative and colorful media to engage students in learning. Educational songs and melodies play a prominent role in the students’ week.A highlight of the year is the Chagigat Hasiddur, during which students and their families celebrate as the children receive their Siddurim and give a beautiful performance in Hebrew. The performance focuses upon themes of the importance of tefillah and how tefillah connects us with Hashem and with Israel. The Chagiga is a life-changing event that helps forge connections with previous generations and with the Mesorah.

Hebrew Language (Ivrit)–Grade 2

Second-graders continue their , Limudei Kodesh studies with Tal Am II, the continuation of the Grade 1 curriculum. As in first grade, the second grade curriculum is taught “Ivrit B'ivrit” (in Hebrew) and integrates the various subjects: Chumash, Parashat Hashavua, Ivrit, and Dinim. Students learn Parashot Hashavua in Hebrew and read texts from beautifully illustrated and carefully constructed chovrot. They learn many new songs and discuss the weather, learn about the Jewish calendar and, of course, learn much about the chagim, Jewish Holidays. Each day each class has a “morning circle” during which discussing both the academics and as well as social/ emotional learning take place. This discussion is also conducted in Hebrew. An important part of the second grade curriculum is reading books and writing book reports. We have added to the Tal Am curriculum additional lessons about the history of the Land of Israel and the State of Israel, from the Biblical times until today. A major event in the lives of our students and their families is the Chagigat HaChumash, receiving of their Chumashim. Students perform cantata in Hebrew that focuses upon the importance of the Torah and Torah study in our lives. As in the first grade, this event helps connect our students and their families in a very powerful way to the Mesorah.

Hebrew language (Ivrit)–Grade 3

Students continue their Limudei Kodesh studies with the Tal Am III program. As with the first two years of the program, Tal Am III integrates the Limudei Kodesh and Hebrew language subjects in a way that is age-appropriate. As in first and second grade, students learn “Ivrit B'ivrit” (in Hebrew). The program regularly uses Hebrew songs and a variety of Hebrew texts. By third grade, students have greatly strengthened their Hebrew language skills.

Hebrew language (Ivrit)–Grade 4

In the fourth grade we use the Chaverim Bivrit curriculum. The program has different levels of colorful and engaging workbooks that match our Hebrew groups. The grade is divided into three different levels in fourth grade. Each level studies Hebrew in a different pace. There is much flexibility in this grouping and students can move easily between levels according to their level of proficiency. Each book from the Chaverim Bivrit series has a different topic; the entire semester focuses upon this subject. Three different themes are focused upon in fourth grade: family photos, after school programs and special artifacts from home. Students read Hebrew texts and answer comprehension questions both orally and in writing. They also write short paragraphs while using correct grammar and spelling. In the fourth grade there are four periods of Ivrit weekly.

Hebrew language (Ivrit)–Grade 5

In fifth grade we continue the Chaverim Bivrit curriculum that we began in fourth grade. Depending on the level, students learn between 2-3 books in Chaverim Bivrit curriculum. In fifth grade, Ivrit is taught for four periods weekly. Students are asked to write paragraphs of greater complexity and length than in previous years, compose songs and poems, read and write newspaper “advertisements” and, of course, speak only in Hebrew. As in previous years, students read at home on a daily basis in order to practice their reading skills. Students have discussions about food and nutrition, hear stories about food and restaurants, and prepare menus for their class restaurant. In the restaurant, students actually order and serve foods as well as dine in the restaurant (all in Hebrew). This is an enjoyable activity that is remembered by Maimonides students for years. It leaves a joyful and satisfying “taste” of Hebrew language with them.

Library and Technology K-5–All Grades

All of our students have regular access to Steg library to take out books and use reference materials. Students in Gr. 3-5 have scheduled time in the computer lab to learn how to access information, conduct research, locate books and find appropriate information on the internet.

Mathematics–Grade K

Essential Elements:

  • Introduction to mathematics vocabulary
  • Identify numbers 0–10
  • Begin to identify numbers 11–31
  • Recognize, copy, and create patterns
  • Rote count by 1’s to 110
  • Count using one-to-one correspondence
  • Skip count by 10’s and 5’s to 50
  • Introduction to number line 
  • Introduction to estimation
  • Introduction to concepts of addition and subtraction 
  • Solve basic addition and subtraction facts using manipulatives
  • Begin to choose and explain strategies for problem-solving
  • Sort objects according to attributes 
  • Create and interpret real and picture graphs
  • Experiences with non-standard measurement
  • Explore standard measurement tools
  • Introduction to time and purpose of clocks, watches
  • Introduction to calendar uses and vocabulary
  • Coin identification and values of penny, nickel, dime
  • Identify basic shapes
  • Recognize the use of numerals in school, home, community
  • Numeral writing 0–9

Mathematics–Grade 1

Essential Elements:

  • Build mathematics vocabulary
  • Identify numbers 11–31
  • Begin to identify numbers 32–110
  • Recognize, copy, and create patterns
  • Rote count by 10’s and 5’s to 110
  • Rote count by 2’s to 20
  • Identify equivalence, greater, less
  • Introduction to odd and even 
  • Experiences with estimation
  • Introduction to place value
  • Addition and subtraction with manipulatives
  • Introduction to addition and subtraction fact families to 18
  • Mastery of addition and subtraction facts to 10
  • Use number line to skip count, add, and subtract
  • Addition with three addends
  • Investigate beginning concept of fractions
  • Select and explain problem-solving strategies
  • Sort according to attributes
  • Tally by 5’s
  • Create and interpret real, picture, and symbolic bar graphs
  • Introduction to standard measurement
  • Time to hour & half hour—analog and digital
  • Expand calendar skills
  • Coin identification and value of quarter, half dollar
  • Count coins to $1.00
  • Make exchanges with coins
  • Shapes and their relationships
  • Investigate beginning concept of probability
  • Recognize the use of numbers and mathematics in school, home, community
  • Introduction to calculator
  • Numeral writing to 110

Mathematics–Grade 2

Essential Elements:

  • Increase mathematics vocabulary
  • Skip count forward and backward by 10’s, 5’s, and 2’s
  • Number relationships through use of hundreds chart
  • Equivalent number names
  • Mastery of odd and even
  • Expand estimation skills
  • Assess reasonableness of answers
  • Master concept of place value through three digits
  • Addition and subtraction with regrouping
  • Mastery of addition and subtraction facts to 18
  • Relationships of basic fractions
  • Devise and explain problem-solving strategies
  • Appreciate the problem-solving strategies of peers
  • Create and interpret symbolic bar graphs
  • Experiences with standard measurement
  • Time to quarter hour and five minute intervals—analog and digital
  • Mastery of basic calendar skills
  • Calculations and relationships using time and calendar
  • Count coins and paper money
  • Expand understanding of shapes and their relationships
  • Introduction to angles, congruency
  • Experiences with prediction and probability
  • Refine calculator skills

Mathematics–Grade 3

Essential Elements:

  • Increase mathematics vocabulary
  • Master concept of place value through four digit numbers
  • Skip count forward and backward by 10’s, 100’s, 1,000’s from a given number
  • Expand use of hundreds chart
  • Addition and subtraction with regrouping of four-digit numbers
  • Decimals to the hundredths place
  • Addition and subtraction of decimals
  • Understand concepts of and relationship between multiplication and division
  • Mastery of multiplication facts to 5’s
  • Multiplication with one-digit multiplier and regrouping
  • Division with single-digit divisor
  • Solve and devise word problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication
  • Devise and explain problem-solving strategies
  • Assess reasonableness of answers
  • Appreciate the problem-solving strategies of peers
  • Rounding to nearest thousand
  • Explore doubling and halving
  • Refine estimation skills
  • Make change from any combination of bills and coins
  • Tell time to minute—analog and digital
  • Calculations and relationships using time and calendar
  • Experiences with standard measurement
  • Create and interpret symbolic bar and line graphs
  • Expand understanding of shapes and their relationships
  • Refine understanding of relationships between fractions
  • Experiences with prediction and probability
  • Refine calculator skills

Mathematics–Grade 4

Essential Elements:

  • Increase mathematics vocabulary
  • Master concept of place value through nine digit numbers
  • Addition and subtraction with regrouping of six-digit numbers
  • Subtraction and trading with consecutive zeros
  • Addition and subtraction of decimals
  • Compare and order decimals
  • Rounding of decimals
  • Fraction terminology
  • Fraction and decimal equivalence
  • Comparing, ordering, reducing fractions
  • Addition and subtraction of fractions and mixed numbers with like denominators
  • Master concept of relationship between multiplication and division
  • Mastery of multiplication facts to 12’s
  • Multiplication with two-digit multiplier and regrouping
  • Mastery of division facts to 5’s
  • Division with two-digit divisor
  • Solve and devise word problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
  • Devise and explain problem-solving strategies
  • Assess reasonableness of answers
  • Appreciate the problem-solving strategies of peers
  • Using multiples to solve problems
  • Rounding to nearest million
  • Refine estimation skills
  • Calculations and relationships using money, time, and calendar
  • Measurement and negative numbers
  • Create and interpret graphs
  • Expand understanding of shapes, lines, line segments and their relationships
  • Experiences with prediction, statistics, and probability
  • Refine calculator skills

Mathematics–Grade 5

Essential Elements:

  • Increase mathematics vocabulary
  • Mastery of operations with whole numbers
  • Operations with decimals
  • Mastery of division facts to 12’s
  • Mastery of long division
  • Data analysis and statistics
  • Fractions and number theory
  • Operations with fractions
  • Integers and rational numbers
  • Expressions and equations
  • Experiences with ratio, proportion, and percent
  • Solve and devise word problems
  • Devise and explain problem-solving strategies
  • Assess reasonableness of answers
  • Appreciate the problem-solving strategies of peers
  • Multiples
  • Explore doubling and halving
  • Refine estimation skills
  • Geometry and plane figures
  • Geometry and measurement
  • Refine understanding of relationships between fractions
  • Statistics and probability
  • Coordinate graphing, equations, and integers
  • Refine calculator skills

Navi (Prophets)–Grades 4 & 5

Grade 4—Yehoshua The study of Navi begins in the fourth grade with the book of Joshua. The emphasis is upon the storyline, textual skills, and making connections between themes in the Chumash and the Navi, and application to the students' daily lives. The key stories are covered in depth. The lists of conquests are learned in summary. There is extensive use of maps and other visual aids.Grade 5—Shoftim The Book of Judges continues several of the themes of the book of Joshua. One of those themes, which becomes even more prominent in the Book of Judges and represents the major theme of the book is the cycle of sin, punishment, teshuva, sinning again. Teachers focus on this cycle throughout our study of the book. In addition, students further develop textual skills, and teachers and students extensively discuss philosophical issues dealing with sin and punishment and other themes. Students also study traditional commentaries, and utilize archaeological and other modern resources. There is an emphasis upon personal application of the lessons learned. The fifth grade, as well as the Elementary School Limudei Kodesh experience, culminates with a special siyum at the conclusion of this book.

Physical Education–All Grades

Physical Education is an important part of the Maimonides Elementary School curicullum.Instruction for students in K-Gr. 2, focuses on general skills and movement. Activities include: hula hoops, bowling, volleyball, track, kickball, soccer, dance, pillo polo and basketball. Sportsmanship, cooperation and teamwork are emphasized throughout all activities.Students in Gr. 3-5 learn new games/sports in multi-week units which include: soccer, speedball, basketball, floor hockey and pillo polo. Each unit focuses on skill development as well as an emphasis on teamwork and strategy. A highlight of the program is the end-of-the-year Color War event.

Reading & Language Arts–All Grades

In the early years, the seeds for successful learning are planted. Through the Elementary School’s reading and language arts program, we endeavor to give children not only the foundation they need, but also to inspire them. Our dual goal is to teach students solid skills in reading, writing, and speaking, as well as to produce readers, writers, and speakers who joyfully express themselves and understand and appreciate the ideas of others.

Children learn to read in different ways and at their own pace. The reading curriculum at Maimonides School is designed to respond to those individual differences using a variety of creative strategies in a balanced literacy program. Phonics and comprehension are both emphasized, along with oral fluency and the building of vocabulary. Students may work in flexible small groups, with partners, or in large group activities. They enjoy reading a wide range of materials from many genres including fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. In the primary grades, a reading specialist supports the classes as they build reading skills. In the intermediate grades, reading activities are often integrated with the social studies or science curriculum. When possible, students at all age levels are offered opportunities to make choices about reading materials and about their responses to them. Overall, the goal of the Elementary School reading curriculum is to promote a love of reading, as well as the confidence to use reading to learn independently.

Writing/Spelling/Vocabulary/Oral Language/Listening
Students develop writing skills through journal writing, crafting original books and poems, and other open-ended activities. Some pieces are edited and students learn to use standard spelling and punctuation. Research and report writing are introduced in Grade 3, and these skills are refined in subsequent grades through regular responses to books and through social studies and science projects. By Grade 5, students begin to develop their own voice and can recognize the elements of good writing. Spelling and vocabulary skills are acquired and strengthened through explicit instruction, as well as through student reading and writing. Frequent opportunities are provided to share ideas orally, helping students gain confidence in expressing themselves. Attention is also given to developing students as respectful, active listeners to the ideas of peers and adults.

Systematic handwriting instruction is provided to help students learn and refine these skills. The Handwriting Without Tears method is used in Kindergarten to introduce the letters, and Zaner-Bloser materials are used for instruction in the other elementary grades. Both cursive writing and keyboarding skills are introduced in Grade 3, providing students with the tools to express their ideas. These skills are polished and fluency is attained through regular use, for meaningful writing, in the upper intermediate grades.

Introduction to English for Speakers of Other Languages
Maimonides School is a diverse and vibrant community. As the oldest and largest Jewish day school in Boston, we have nearly 70 years of experience in helping students acquire English language skills. Teachers are able provide a variety of creative materials and activities to immerse children in English, while at the same time celebrating the languages spoken in students’ homes. Most of all, Maimonides faculty and students are welcoming and encouraging to students who are newer speakers of English, providing a climate which promotes rapid and sustained language learning.

Science–Grades 3, 4, 5

The Maimonides elementary science curriculum incorporates the eight categories of the National Science Education Standards—unifying concepts and processes in science, science as inquiry, physical science, life science, earth and space science, science and technology, science in personal and social perspectives, and history and nature of science. At all grade levels, the program of study is designed to help students gain understanding through inquiry. By generating questions, and then working together to seek answers, students are engaged in learning science in a way that reflects how science actually works. Collaboration and teamwork are an integral part of the Maimonides hands-on science experience. As students pose questions about the natural world and investigate phenomena together, they develop an excitement about science. They also broaden their skills in observing and recording data, and in making predictions and drawing conclusions. This combination of excitement and content knowledge creates a strong foundation for future science learning.

Most science learning in the Elementary School is thematic. Where appropriate, science learning is integrated with other subject areas such as Limudei Kodesh,mathematics, social studies, or writing. As Kindergarteners learn about the life cycle of frogs, they read many books, write in journals, sing songs, and do art activities, all related to tadpoles and frogs. In science, grades 3-5 have a circular curriculum: each grade learns topics that are related to one another, but build on their prior knowledge of that topic. In grades 3-5, everyone learns about weather, forms of energy, and living things and our environment. This provides students with an opportunity to become experts in these three specific areas instead of just knowing a little from many areas.

  • Weather (September): The third grade focuses on the water cycle where they conduct several experiments on precipitation, evaporation and condensation. Students create clouds with dry ice, make their own rain gauges, and compare the evaporation rate of different liquids. Fourth grade students learn about weather instrumentsm and begin thinking like meteorologists. They learn about the different tools used to measure temperature, air pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction. Students conduct their own daily observation of the weather using thermometers, barometers, sling psychrometers, anemometers and weather vane. The fifth grade focuses on severe weather: warm and cold fronts and the weather each brings, hurricanes and tornadoes and the causes of both.
  • Forms of Energy (January): The third grade begins to study light and sound. Students find out how light bounces, perform several experiments with mirrors, and create their own periscope! Students also find out how light bends in order for white light to be divided into color -- experimenting with prisms, kaleidoscopes and sunlight. Lastly, they explore the colors of light in detail, construct a color wheel to observe how light colors combine, and compare the color properties of light with pigment. The fourth grade begins to study electrical energy through static electricity and circuits. They learn about neutral, positive and negative charges and test several materials to see which ones create charges. They also use static electricity to separate salt from pepper, light neon lights, and make rice krispies jump! After static electricity, students focus on electricity through building open, closed, parallel and series circuits. The fifth grade begins to learn about the six simple machines (lever, wheel and axle, pulley, inclined plane, screw and wedge), using everyday materials to build levers, pulleys, and wheel-and-axles. Students see how levers make work easier by using a spring scale and testing out the force and distance of first, second, and third class levers. Towards the end of the unit, students put together their own machine/invention using several simple machines.
  • Living Things and our Environment (April): The third grade begins to learn about plants. They plant seeds from different types of plants that have varying height, color and hairiness, then measure, graph, name and describe their own unique plants. They also discover that plants need the proper amount of nutrition to be healthy, and are introduced to the fascinating world of hydroponics. The fourth grade begins to learn about soil and decomposers through hands-on explorations about the different layers of soil, the different textures and the different uses. They investigate organic decomposition, scavengers, fungi, and bacteria through a unit called "Nature’s Recyclers." The fifth grade has six sessions exploring rocketry with George Kirby. They build their own rockets and understand how rockets work through the study of aerodynamics. The remaining class time is devoted to studying animals and their food chains. Students analyze animal remains to determine food chains and energy flow. Later, they apply their knowledge by constructing an ecological pyramid based on the foods they themselves eat.

Science Fair
In addition to our regular curriculum, grades 3-5 are responsible for developing a science fair project. Each year, the science fair has a different theme, which creates a focused environment. Students design experimental projects in school which they will later test and report back on the results. The science fair is held in school for parents and students to see the students’ hard work.

Science Lab
The Elementary School is fortunate to have a dedicated, state-of-the-art science lab for use by Grades 3-6. Younger students also visit the lab a few times each year. Equipped with SMARTBoard interactive computer technology, the lab has live animals, special plant grow-lights, and a myriad of other equipment and materials designed to enhance student experiences.

Talmud–Grade 5

Grade 5 Students use the first year of the “Vishanantam” curriculum, as developed in Israel by Rabbi Pinchas Hayman. This curriculum includes an introduction to the ”Chain of Tradition” with great emphasis on the historical background of each of the periods leading up to and including the Talmudic period. Teachers explain key foundational concepts in Talmud study. Students learn and memorize selected mishnayot, and analyze them in terms of the historical elements and content. Students use the “Bonayich” website to further enhance their knowledge of the mishnayot and the historical background.