St. Nicholas Elementary
Kindergarten through Grade Five

View Grades

We welcome you to come and observe our program in progress by attending our Open House or requesting a classroom observation. Check our Admissions Calendar for available dates. Our program provides a rich variety of experiences to develop the whole child.

Our primary grades offer a sound foundation for our students in all the core subjects. Our traditional school setting offers structure and discipline in a warm positive environment. Students are instructed utilizing all learning modes, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (hands on). Study skills are introduced through songs, rhymes, poems, and the use of flashcards. Good work habits are emphasized to encourage their full potential and prepare them for the intermediate grades, when they venture across campus into our two-story building.

Throughout the intermediate grades students learn study skills using various techniques; such as identifying main ideas by outlining, recalling information by creating flashcards, and identifying important facts through note-taking skills. Students also receive instruction on test taking skills. The skills learned from these classes help prepare students for Middle School and beyond.

The core subjects are described below. See Supplementary Courses for descriptions of all other classes included in the curriculum.


In kindergarten, the excitement of reading for the first time begins with the decoding skills introduced using letter books focusing on letter recognition, letter sound, penmanship, and listening skills. Math skills include number recognition, number sequence, identifying numbers in groups, and the concept of addition and subtraction is introduced. In science, students learn that many animals inhabit the Earth, which is composed of land, air and water. In social studies, they will cover the concepts of leadership, heroism, courage, individual responsibility, and interacting respectfully toward others.

Study skills are also introduced through the use of:

  • Rhymes
  • Songs
  • Memory games

First Grade

In first grade study skills continue to be reinforced through rhymes, songs, and memory games. Reading is an integral part of the first grade curriculum, the foundation for all learning. Decoding words and word recognition skills are emphasized to develop fluency in oral reading. Students will complete their first book reports as a part of the reading program. A strong focus on phonics helps to further develop word attack and spelling skills. Language Arts focuses on sentences, parts of sentences, punctuation and capitalization. The D'Neilian method of letter formation is taught and additionally practiced through journal writing.

Math includes recognizing number patterns and sequencing, telling time, counting money, using place value and the memorization of addition/subtraction facts to twelve. Through hands on activities and an inquiry-based approach to science, students will learn how plants and animals meet their needs in their environment. They will also be able to identify weather, the seasons, and the properties of matter. In social studies, students will study the concepts of rights and responsibilities, with an emphasis on the Golden Rule for respecting the rights and opinions of others. In addition, the students will learn the symbols, icons, and songs that reflect our country.

Second Grade

Second grade is a year of fine-tuning the skills taught in first grade while achieving a more challenging level of critical thinking skills. For example, students fine-tune their decoding skills to begin developing their reading comprehension skills through vocabulary, sequencing, drawing conclusions, making predictions, and problem solving. Phonics and word attack skills are fine-tuned through continued practice of phonetic and spelling concepts. Language Arts includes the recognition of complete sentences, verbs, nouns and adjectives. Daily journal writing helps develop sentence structure and encourages creative writing.

Math concepts include the memorizing of addition/subtraction facts, telling time, counting money, using place value to borrow and understanding the simple concepts of multiplication and fractions. Word problems are introduced using both addition and subtraction operations. Social Studies encompasses the study of ancestors, our country's symbols, and people who have made a difference in the world. Science is taught through inquiry-based hands on activities examining life cycles, minerals, rocks, and forces of nature.

The students expand their study skills by:

  • Making flashcards
  • Practicing memory games, rhymes, and songs

Third Grade

The third grade is a transitional year, marking the culmination of primary education. Reading comprehension is developed through vocabulary, including the mastery of synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, prefixes, and suffixes. Critical thinking skills include sequencing events, character study, problem solving, making predictions, and drawing conclusions. Language Arts includes writing a paragraph, which develops a central idea using clear and coherent sentences. Students practice the application of spelling and phonics concepts.

Math involves the mastery of multiplication/division facts, long division, and word problems using all operations. Students will estimate, convert measures, add same denominator fractions, and will solve for the unknown in simple pre-algebraic expressions. Social studies units include the study of topography, government, Native Americans, the arrival of immigrants, and map skills. Through scientific investigation and experimentation, students delve into the study of the solar system, land and water, properties of matter, elements, energy, and light.

Students continue to practice their study skills:

  • Making flashcards
  • Using memory games, rhymes, and songs
  • Create individual rhymes and songs to study

Fourth Grade

Reading comprehension and critical thinking skills are further developed in fourth grade through more challenging vocabulary, cause and effect, drawing conclusions, and the study of figurative language. Independent reading is required daily, culminating in written, artistic, or oral book reports. Language Arts expands on paragraph writing and grammar. Daily journal writing allows children to express their feelings and creativity. With the mastery of multiplication and division facts, students are ready to delve into concepts involving fractions and decimals, while practicing long division and multiplication with larger numbers. Fractions are added, subtracted and multiplied by the end of the year. Word problems become more challenging using all operations. In science we explore the solid earth, electricity, magnetism, food chains, matter and energy usage applying the scientific method. Students will formulate and justify their own predications through observation and the collection of data. Social studies includes California geography and history, from the days of the early Spanish settlers, through the Mexican-American War, the Gold Rush, and to the bustling metropolis of California today.

Fourth grade prepares students to become more independent. Students are taught study skills through:

  • Creating memory games
  • Making flashcards
  • Outlining to identify main ideas and important facts.

Fifth Grade

The fifth grade students are prepared for Middle School by learning organizational skills and further developing their critical thinking skills in all subjects. The introduction to Greek and Latin roots enhances and broadens their vocabulary and reading comprehension. Language Arts includes extensive practice with formation of multiple paragraph essays and reports. In math, students become familiar with variables and formulas, as they master the concepts of fractions and decimals while exploring percentages. Science involves the study of atoms, elements and compounds, along with learning about the water cycle and solar radiation. Students will also study biological systems in living organisms, including respiration and digestion providing a foundation to learn about genetics and cellular chemistry. Social Studies allows our students to examine the exploration of the New World, the Revolutionary War, the formation of the U.S., and learn specific information about each of the 50 states.

Study skills are taught through:

  • Memory games
  • Making flashcards
  • Writing more detailed outlines
  • Taking notes in class