Lower School

3 years—Grade 5


Lower Schoolers at Lincoln eagerly explore, question, and reflect. They might collect and examine sea life along the shores of Narragansett Bay, or problem-solve through a engineering design challenge. Later, they might analyze issues of social justice, hearing from a Holocaust survivor as a guest speaker. Experiences like these create critical and passionate thinkers who possess solid foundational skills. Our students learn to face and embrace problems, to be leaders, and to act as caring and cooperative classmates.

Along the way, we support children's needs and encourage their strengths by getting to know them as individuals and partnering with their parents. We celebrate their accomplishments through school-wide gatherings, fostering a sense of community and pride. Our ultimate goal is to help students become engaged, enthusiastic, and confident learners.

Maureen Devlin | Lower School Director | mdevlin@lincolnschool.org


Early Childhood
Nursery: Oak Room
Pre-Kindergarten: Ginkgo Room

The early childhood program consists of two coed classrooms: the Oak room for three- and four-year-olds, and the Ginkgo room for four- and five-year-olds. Our approach is influenced by the internationally renowned Reggio Emilia concept of early childhood teaching and learning. Through an evolving, emergent curriculum shaped by each child’s cognitive social and physical development, children come to view school as a place of exploration and discovery.

Reggio Emilia

Since 1996, Lincoln School faculty and administration have been developing programming influenced by pre-schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. With funding from the Rhode Island Foundation, Lincoln School began researching the Reggio Emilia approach through visiting existing Reggio Emilia programs in the United States. Additional professional development for faculty was supported by Lincoln School, allowing them to attend delegation days at the St. Louis Collaborative, to view the 100 Languages of Children Exhibit and to visit the schools of Reggio Emilia. Since these early beginnings, Lincoln has transformed its environment, built a collaborative atmosphere where teachers can pursue research projects within their classrooms, added staff and created a studio. Lincoln School has been a visiting site for the New England Kindergarten Conference, and has hosted educators from all over the world. As part of our ongoing community outreach, we participate in the North American Reggio Emilia Association.

Guiding Principles

[From Bringing Reggio Home by Louise Cadwell, Teacher College Press, 1997]

• The child as a protagonist. Children are curious and interested in constructing their learning, negotiating with everything their environment brings to them;

• The child as a collaborator. Education focuses on each child in relation to other children, the family, the teachers and the community, rather than each child in isolation;

• The environment as a third teacher. The design and use of space encourages encounters, communication, and relationships;

• The teacher as a researcher. Teachers document their work with children, whom they also consider researchers;

• The parent as a partner. The exchange of our collective wisdom broadens our understanding of each child.

The Environment

In Lincoln School’s early childhood classrooms, plants, mirrors and light set the tone in each space. Children’s work may be in many stages of completion because we understand that children need to revisit projects and think deeply about the process. We also believe that a child’s work holds theories that explain their interpretations of events. You will notice teachers taking notes as their students draw, or paint, or talk. Teachers gather data, such as the effect of small group learning on social dynamics, which in turn informs instruction. We are challenged to stretch our understanding of young children and how they view the world. In 1998 a studio teacher was added to the early childhood faculty. Studio space began as a corner of a classroom but within a year occupied its own space. The schedule is designed to allow for small group work both in the classrooms and in the studio. Today, no more than eight children work in the studio at one time. We also made the decision to use materials from the natural world such as paint and clay, in addition to recycled materials. The children use authentic tools and carefully store materials so that they are able to revisit projects often. Collaborative works, such as sculpture, mobiles and collage are very much part of the environment.

Image of the Child through Documentation

Documentation is a way of making listening and thinking visible. For teachers, documentation is a way to re-listen, re-see and re-visit the work of children. This act of reflection is central for professional and program development. For children, it offers an opportunity for reflection, self assessment, socio-assessment and remembering. For parents, it provides a window into how children learn and view the world.

Language & Literacy

In both the Oak and Ginkgo Rooms each child is exposed to written and oral language experiences through print, visual cues, symbols, poems, singing, and chanting. We create a literate environment that fosters curiosity and a love of reading and writing.

Mathematical and Scientific Thinking

Children extend their understanding of mathematics through a wide range of experiences. Mathematical concepts of number, data collection, geometry, problem solving, and measurement are embedded in activities such as cooking, building, and creating designs.

The Studio

The Early Childhood Studio is a place of discovery and exploration for the Oak, Ginkgo and Kindergarten children who visit weekly in small, carefully configured learning groups.  The Studio experience may potentially be a three- year journey for a child spanning the years of ages three to six.  Our days together may be spent in several different contexts including the Studio itself, the Edible Garden, the Lower School Outdoor Classroom and in our neighboring Blackstone Park. Work in the Studio offers children countless opportunities to express themselves creatively through materials and to learn about their world in the context of a group setting.
Materials include a variety of art media as well as found objects from nature and those ready to be recycled and repurposed. Experiences involve discussions as well as individual explorations and collaborative investigations and projects.  Projects take place over time so as to allow for in-depth learning and the scaffolding of ideas.   


Children become familiar with the affordances and constraints of materials through the frequent revisiting of them and of past experiences. Over time, children learn to use materials and tools in developmentally appropriate ways and with care and respect. This in turn allows for the children to use the materials in ways that expand their knowledge.


The Studio serves many purposes, and essentially, it is where children can be supported in all areas of their own, unique development.  Children learn what it means to be a positive and cooperative member of a group as we create a community together, ever mindful of our Quaker testimonies. Listening, participating thoughtfully in discussions and being respectful of ideas shared by others are valued, taught and encouraged. The Studio is a place where a joy of learning is cultivated through an appreciation for the aesthetic and through artistic and scientific inquiry. 

Performing Arts

The goal of musical exploration is to provide a foundation for joyful, creative, and confident musical expression throughout childhood and beyond. Music learning occurs in a play-based environment and children explore their singing voices, rhythm instruments, and creative and beat-centered movement.

Physical Education

The Early Childhood Physical Education program is designed to develop both physical potential and positive social interaction at each grade level. Beginning in nursery, each student is encouraged to participate fully, try new skills, listen and follow teacher direction, work cooperatively with peers, and experience the enjoyment and benefits of physical activity. The students start with the development of locomotor skills such as skipping, galloping, running, hopping, jumping, and learn movement efficiency and body control. They progress to more advanced physical movement through participation in cooperative and musical games, physical fitness activities, tumbling, jump rope, introduction to sports skills, and age appropriate game play.

Emergent Languages

Inspired by how easily young children acquire language, the objectives of the Emergent Language Program revolve around children’s innate confidence to recognize and mimic sounds and language patterns. The children enrolled in Lincoln School’s Early Childhood and The Little School have instruction twice a week by a French teacher and twice a week by a Spanish teacher. The foreign language teachers speak the target language as they sing, do art projects, read books, play games, and participate in the daily life and activities of the class with the children. The teachers take the role of a member of the “family” who doesn’t necessarily speak English, but interacts with the children in a warm and playful way. They create a bond with the students which enables the young learners to take risks in using French and Spanish.

Kindergarten–Grade 5

The Academic Program in Kindergarten through Grade 5 engages girls in active exploration of the world around them. Our curriculum is designed to reflect their interests and broaden their experiences. As they ask questions and seek answers, they are encouraged to see themselves as life-long learners.

Language & Literacy

The goal of our literacy program is to develop active, critical, and enthusiastic readers and writers. The girls study and read a range of fiction and non-fiction, learning about characteristics of genres and authors as well as structure of texts. They develop an appreciation of the range of literature, widen their perspectives, and engage in the research process multiple times each year. Reading and writing occur daily across curricular areas. Whether explaining a mathematical process, arguing persuasively, or writing creatively, the girls focus on the goal of effective communication through development of their own voices and style.



Lower School uses the Math In Focus (Singapore Math) program as its foundation. The program balances mastery of basic skills with conceptual understanding. Students develop number sense through explicit instruction in mental math strategies, problem solving strategies, and the mathematical properties that underlie algorithms and strategies. We emphasize reasoning and communication of ideas throughout the program.


STEAM in the Lower School is messy, creative, and infused with engineering. While learning our science content through observation and experimentation, every class has a chance to tinker, design, and engineer. Through it all, our Lower School Scientists are finding out that science usually doesn’t get it right the first time. Finishing an experiment isn’t the ending—it’s just the beginning of asking more questions!

The overall goal for the science program in Lower School is to teach students the habits of mind of a scientist.Students are exposed to a wide variety of topics in science, aiming to cover the main branches of science in every grade level (physical, earth, and life). 

Our partnership with Save the Bay acts as a springboard for our biology and marine science curriculum in each grade level; students have numerous field experiences throughout the year, focusing on the biology and ecology of Narragansett Bay. The partnership continues to offer our girls authentic, hands-on, and place-based learning experiences that connect our classroom to the larger world.



Lower School Library 

The Lower School Library serves Nursery through Fifth Grade with formal classes that take place once a week. The Library also holds classes for the “young three” classroom and the toddlers from the Little School once a week. Classes for all grades involve the reading and enjoyment of quality literature.

The Library is also open to classes for research. Teachers can arrange to bring their classes into the library when they are working on a special project. The librarian co-teaches research skills with the classroom teachers, including:  teach research skills, support classroom teachers, assist students in decision making and locating appropriate materials, and is a continual reference for students and teachers providing them with a successful library experience.

Lower School Library Goals

●  To instill a life-long love of books and reading

●  To develop the ability to analyze literature

●  To teach how books are created and evaluated

●  To enable students to be independent library users

●  To help students understand the organization of a library and locate books and other materials using the online catalog

●  To teach students to use reference materials effectively

●  To familiarize students with methods of searching online information sources such as the internet

Lower School Library Teaching Methods…

●  We select literature that is compelling and well written, that may reinforce classroom topics, that is representative of the diversity in our world.

●  We present stories in a variety of ways, such as reading aloud, storytelling, video, books on CD/tape, etc..

●  We offer enrichment programs such as book groups, poetry programs and structured book games with other schools in order to instill a love of reading and literature.

●  We engage in games which reinforce understanding of the library (such as board games, card games, relay races, treasure hunts and others).

●  We encourage students to search the online database whenever needed.

●  We help students to search the Internet to find material to support classroom projects.

Level and Program


Reading aloud, storytelling, activities connected with books and stories. Rhymes, care of books, categories and Library layout. Parts of a book: title, author, and illustrator.

Grade One

Reading aloud, storytelling, rhymes, activities connected with books and stories. Continuation of Kindergarten skills. Distinguishing Fiction from Nonfiction. Parts of a book: spine and call number, Library organization.

Grade Two

Reading aloud, storytelling, activities connected with books and stories. Continuation of 1st grade skills. Parts of a book: publisher and title page. Using call numbers to find books. Research resources: alphabetical order, guide words, keywords, encyclopedias, note taking and bibliographies. The study of book awards. Making their own Caldecott Awards!

Grade Three

Reading aloud, storytelling, activities connected with books and stories. Continuation of 2nd grade skills. Categories of materials: reference, periodicals, AV, fiction. The study of how a book is made, continuation of book awards and reader’s theater.

Grade Four

Reading aloud and storytelling. Battle of the Books! Continuation of 3rd grade skills. Parts of a book: contents, copyright date, place of publication, glossary, bibliography, preface, forward, introduction, appendix. Order of Nonfiction on shelves. Dewey Decimal System, reference resources and online catalog.

Grade Five

Reading aloud and storytelling. The Rhode Island Children’s Book Award and the Rooster Games! Continuation of 4th grade skills.

Categories of materials, Dewey Decimal System, reference resources and online catalog.

Technology & The Makerspace

Technology is integrated directly into the classroom. The students work with our Chromebooks, iPads, and robots in order to enhance their curriculum. Technology projects are be based on subject areas introduced in the classroom or in other specialist areas. Keyboarding is practiced in Grades 2-5 and Google Drive is used on a regular basis (3-5). In Ginkgo and K, students participate in technology activities once a week.

Tech-based projects bring creativity, innovation, communication, and collaboration into the Lower School.

Goals for Integrating Technology:

Students are actively engaged

Students become responsible digital citizens Students become comfortable using technology Students use creativity to explain their knowledge

Students use technology tools to benefit their own learning styles

The Makerspace

The Makerspace in the Lower School is a space dedicated to generating ideas, creating, and tinkering. The space is available for all teachers to utilize, bringing a level of project-based learning to their classroom units. The Makerspace is filled with a variety of supplies and technology tools that allow students to put together new and exciting inventions and creations. LittleBits, Snap Circuits, Makey Makeys, Lego WeDo Robots, and Mac computers are some of the supplies the students can use to experiment and build.


Project Examples Include:

Rube Goldberg machines Wampanoag Wetus Egyptian toys

Genius Hour inventions

Interactive, programmable Colonial diorama


Design Workshop (City X): Students in Grades 3-5 spend one semester participating in a design thinking workshop. The City X project introduces key 21st century skills, including emotional literacy, empathy, design thinking, creative problem solving, and social literacy using hands-on engagement with 3D printing and modeling technologies. By the end, children ideate, prototype and test to turn their ideas for solving real-world problems into real, physical objects.

Performing Arts

An arts curriculum is cyclical in nature. Students revisit fundamental concepts and experiences at each grade level, spiraling higher in their understanding, deepening their awareness and broadening their skills. Kindergarten through Grade Five content areas include:

Presentation Skills:

At an age-appropriate level, students practice vocal projection, articulation, vocal timbre, pacing, body language and ‘delivery’, both extemporaneous and planned.

Musical Elements:

Steady beat and beat subdivision, meter, pitch, in-tune singing, timbre and form in music. Mathematical and musical intelligences are closely correlated.

Vocal and Instrumental Skills:

All Grades: Solfeggio hand signs and syllables, playing pitched and unpitched percussion, drums, xylophones.

Grade Three: Penny whistle, soprano recorder Grades Four and Five: Ukulele, soprano recorder

Musical Literacy:

Grades K--Two: Pre-literacy skills. Building a visual and kinesthetic context for symbols representing pitch and rhythm.

Grade Three: Introduction to standard western musical notation in the treble clef.

Grades Four and Five: Increasing complexity in reading, writing and performing musical notation. More experienced students work at an appropriate level.

Musical Appreciation: At each grade level, exposure to a broad array of music listening experiences, with a focus on traditional folk music and dance from around the world.

Physical Education


Through exposure to a broad variety of activities, each student in the Lincoln School Physical Education program will develop an appreciation for physical fitness and will be encouraged to build her physical, mental and cooperation potential. The goal is to instill in each student competency in basic skills, an ability to interact positively with peers, an interest in physical fitness, an understanding of and appreciation for a variety of team and individual sports, and the confidence and desire to participate in physical activities throughout life.

The Lower School Physical Education program is designed to develop both physical potential and positive social interaction at each grade level. Beginning in Kindergarten and continuing through the Lower School, each student is encouraged to participate fully and try new skills. Key aspects to appreciating fitness activities, and being competent in them, means starting from the building blocks and exploring movement education framework. In movement education, 1st graders explore body awareness (personal space and general space), the actions of the body and their body parts (running, skipping, galloping, bending, balancing jumping and hopping, twisting, curling).

World Languages (Spanish & French)

World Languages

Lower School: Our main goals are to refine pronunciation through repetition and exposure to the specific sounds of the language, to gain cultural awareness about the people and places where the target language is spoken, and to reinforce the students’ knowledge of other subject areas, such as math and social studies, through integrated activities and tasks. Evidence of understanding is demonstrated by each individual's ability to complete a task at her own pace successfully rather than by grade level objectives.

In grades 1 through 5 oral and aural communication are emphasized with a steady increase of exposure to the skills of reading and writing in the target language. To maintain these goals, there is no set curriculum per grade, but rather the teacher builds and expands the vocabulary, communicative functions and embedded structures in new contexts so that the students can reinforce their understanding of the target language while being presented with a variety of topics. 5th Grade students will visit the language lab in the Middle School building to reinforce their listening comprehension skills.

Visual Arts

 In an environment that allows students to unlock their own creative potential, students expand their visual arts-language, their critical-thinking skills, and their creative problem-solving abilities through the exploration of the following areas:

Kindergarten Explorations

  • Art Elements Concepts: color, line, and shape
  • Learning basic scissor and gluing skills
  • Nature Drawing
  • Self-portraits
  • Printmaking, Painting, Drawing, Sculpture
  • How to examine and investigate existing art
  • Self-reflections & Peer Reviews
  • How to examine and investigate existing art

Grade 1 Explorations

  • Art Elements Concepts: color, line, shape, and space
  • Cultural Art:  with an emphasis on Egypt
  • Design-based Projects
  • Nature Drawing
  • Self-portraits
  • Printmaking, Painting, Drawing, Sculpture
  • Self-reflections & Peer Reviews
  • How to examine and investigate existing art

Grade 2 Explorations

  • Art Elements Concepts: color, line, shape, space, form, value
  • Cultural Art:  with an emphasis on Japan & Africa
  • Design-based Projects
  • Nature Drawing
  • Self-portraits
  • Printmaking, Painting, Drawing, Sculpture
  • Self-reflections & Peer Reviews
  • How to examine and investigate existing art

Grade 3 Explorations

  • Art Elements Concepts: color, line, shape, space, form, value
  • Cultural Art: with an emphasis on Indigenous Native Nations of North America 
  • Design-based Projects
  • Nature Drawing
  • Self-portraits
  • Printmaking, Painting, Drawing, Sculpture
  • Self-reflections & Peer Reviews
  • How to examine and investigate existing art

Grade 4 Explorations

  • Art Elements Concepts: color, line, shape, space, form, value
  • Cultural Art: with an emphasis on Mexico 
  • Design-based Projects
  • Nature Drawing
  • Self-portraits
  • Printmaking, Painting, Drawing, Sculpture
  • Self-reflections & Peer Reviews
  • How to examine and investigate existing art
  • Inquiry-based Science/Art projects 

Grade 5 Explorations

  • Art Elements Concepts: color, line, shape, space, form, value
  • Cultural Art with an emphasis on Social Justice
  • Design-based Projects
  • Nature Drawing
  • Self-portraits
  • Printmaking, Painting, Drawing, Sculpture
  • Self-reflections & Peer Reviews
  • How to examine and investigate existing art

Social Studies

Our social studies program encompasses three areas: the study of peoples across time and places, current events, and service learning. Girls deepen their knowledge of the world by studying cultures and civilizations both present and past and grapple with social justice issues though current event issue and each class’ service project. Field trips and guest speakers complement the girls’ classroom work.

Lower School LIfe

Daisy Sing and Share

One morning a week at 8:10 a.m., students and faculty from K–Grade 5 convene in the Lower School Library for Daisy Sing & Share. Each week, one grade has a turn leading their friends in song, announcements, and a presentation on a recent classroom topic or event. Parents are always welcome to join. 

Silent Meeting

Each week, students in all divisions of Lincoln–from early childhood through Upper School–attend a silent meeting, where they reflect and build community together in silence. The structure of these meetings varies by age group to ensure that students can experience and understand the practice in age-appropriate ways. For students and faculty alike, silent meeting is a priceless opportunity to slow down, unplug, and be present in the midst of their fast-paced days.


Lincoln’s educational philosophy and practices incorporate the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, Service & Stewardship of the Earth into daily life in our community.

Before and After School

Lower School students may arrive at school beginning at 7:30 a.m. They are welcome to join their friends in the Lower School Library under the supervision of two Lincoln faculty members. Morning Extended Day is available from 7:30–8:00 a.m., and is free of charge.

Lincoln School offers a diverse and engaging after-school program every afternoon from 3:05–5:30 p.m. Click HERE for more information.



Lower School News


Navajo Nation Poet Laureate Laura Tohe on Code Talkers, Culture, and Celebrating Female Role Models

Laura Tohe, Navajo Nation Poet Laureate, librettist, and an award-winning author, visited Lincoln School to speak with the greater community and Upper, Middle, and Lower School students this week. She spoke about what it means to be Diné, told stories of her father and his compatriots who played an instrumental part in fighting World War II, honored the women who came before her and acted as leaders, and much more.

Read More about Navajo Nation Poet Laureate Laura Tohe on Code Talkers, Culture, and Celebrating Female Role Models