At Minnehaha's Lower School, learning to read and reading to learn are core components of a Minnehaha education. The skills learned by our earliest learners in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade are developed as students grow, culminating in a significant fourth grade state project and the capstone fifth grade family project.
On Finding the "Just Right Book"
Students learn how to find books that are "just right" for them - challenging enough that they grow as readers and learners, but not too challenging that they get frustrated.
There are three strategies we teach to find the "just right book:"
- Students are encouraged to read the book's description on the back cover to see if it seems interesting.
- Students can open the book to the middle and read a page out loud, checking to see how many words they know and how many they don't. This can help them determine if it is in their reading level.
- Putting the book to the mind picture test. Do students see a movie in their mind when they read a sample of the book? If not, the book might be too challenging.
Sharing Learning with Parents
At the curriculum showcase event, parents were able to see how readers progress throughout the Lower School - growing skills and building confidence.
In fourth grade, students use their skills to dive into an in-depth study of a state. This project includes research and creating dioramas. Students read to learn about their selected state, uncovering information and then determining the best way to present what they learned with others. Fourth graders shared their work with parents and also with their first grade buddies - answering questions and describing what they learned.
In fifth grade, students embark on the family project. "This capstone project is an opportunity for students to research THEIR story, from the roots of their family history, to the countries of their ancestors, to the stories and traditions unique to their family today," explained Lower School Faculty Nichole DeHaven. "Using their knowledge of informational text, students read to learn about a country significant to their family, demonstrating what they've learned through maps, travel brochures, graphs, and artistic displays."