School Curriculum

Curriculum is the central scaffold on which teachers build the plans for learning in each classroom. Curriculum gives consistency and structure to the educational process and it encourages creative and innovative teaching within its framework. As our body of academic knowledge changes, and as our knowledge of the learning behavior of children changes, so must curriculum change. The Belmont Public Schools provides for that ongoing review and possible change through its Seven-Year-Plan for Curriculum Development and Improvement. Parents and staff work together on curriculum steering committees, during the seven-year-cycle which includes a needs assessment, program evaluation, and development of a plan of action and any necessary piloting of materials or training of staff. This process assures that curriculum continues to be well matched to children and the society in which they will function.

For the most up-to-date information on K-4 curriculum in the Belmont schools, please visit BPS Benchmarks web page. 

The Belmont elementary school curriculum is based on the Massachusetts State Frameworks and the Belmont Benchmarks.  All students receive instruction in:

  • Language Arts 
  • Mathematics 
  • Science 
  • Social Studies 
  • Physical Education

The integration of learning across disciplines is a central feature of the elementary program.  Overviews of the individual discipline curricula, the Massachusetts State Frameworks, and the Belmont Benchmarks are available from the Burbank school office and the Belmont Department of Education website.

Children have the opportunity to participate in the instrumental music program in grades 4. Lessons are held during the morning one day per week and again on Saturday morning. Saturday morning lessons are optional and are fee based. For more information visit Saturday Morning Music School web page.

The music department informs all families of these offerings in September.

For more information visit Visual and Performing Art website

The elementary school language arts program includes instruction in reading, writing, listening, speaking, and thinking. Instruction in these key areas is integrated with all other areas of the curriculum. The program’s goal is for all students to develop to their fullest potential the language arts skills so central to success in school and fulfillment in life. An effective reading and writing program depends upon specific teaching in the following areas: 

(a) developing an awareness of the processes of reading and writing; 

(b) increasing knowledge of the print-sound code and standard writing conventions; 

(c) understanding the purposes and genres used in text; 

(d) developing habits of lifelong readers and writers. 

Teachers guide students as they master new strategies in different contexts and gradually release responsibility to students as they practice these strategies independently. Instruction takes place throughout the day in a variety of grouping patterns (whole group, small group, individual) and in a variety of situations: 

  • a read aloud,
  • shared reading,
  • interactive writing,
  • guided reading and writing,
  • independent reading and writing, and
  • reading and writing across the content areas

Read more about Language Arts Curriculum

The elementary school mathematics program provides students with an enriched experience, utilizing a combination of differentiated curriculum materials, manipulatives, and games that support classroom teaching.  Through a spiraled approach to acquiring proficiency by learning and revisiting topics in a widening, deepening sequence, students gain competence in the following content strands:

  • Number Sense and Operations;
  • Geometry, Measurement;
  • Patterns, Relations, and Algebra;
  • Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability. 

Students gain access to these content areas via a well-defined set of process standards:

  • Problem Solving;
  • Reasoning and Proof;
  • Communication;
  • Connections; and
  • Representation.

Read more about Math Curriculum

Students in the elementary grades, kindergarten through grade four, have a rich curriculum that provides learning experiences that allow students to build understanding of science processes skills and content knowledge through active involvement with materials and equipment in hands-on activities.  These skills start with age appropriate observations made through measuring, questioning, and recording. They then examine the patterns that exist in those observations, and build understanding of how those patterns lead to scientific principles or “Big Ideas” in science. Understanding science requires that an individual integrates many types of knowledge including: The fundamental principles of science, the interconnectedness between these principles, the use of these principles to explain and predict natural phenomena, and ways to transfer this knowledge to other related situations.

Students study processes such as the inquiry nature of science, and concepts in the domains of physical science, life science, earth and space science, and technology. 

In kindergarten there are two life science units. Students learn to compare and contrast characteristics of themselves and others in Myself and Others. In The Senses they learn how to make observations and collect data using their five senses.

In grade 1 physical science unit, Sound & Lights, science students investigate these essential questions:

  • What makes sound?
  • What affects can sound have on different materials?
  • How can sound be used to communicate in different ways?
  • How does light interact with different materials?
  • How does a shadow form? 

Students explore the unit Insects in the Life Science Strand. What do insects need to survive? How do parts of insects and insect behaviors help them survive and grow? How are the life cycles of insects alike/different? How are plants and insects dependent on one another? They also investigate the properties of air and what makes weather in the unit Air and Weather in the Earth/Space strand.

In grade 2, Physical Science strand, science students investigate different types of materials and how and why things balance in Balancing and Weighing unit. In Plant Interactions in the World, they look at seeds and the life cycle of a plant in the Life Science unit, Reading the Landscape.   

  • Where and in what form can water be found on our planet?
  • What types of landforms make up our planet?
  • How can we communicate the types of landforms and bodies of water there are in a given area?
  • How does water and wind affect the shape of our land?
  • How can humans reduce the impact of wind and water on our land? 

In grade 3, students investigate electric current and construct circuits, switches, and fuses in the Circuits and Pathways unit of the Physical Science strand.  In the Life Science strand students study the behaviors and habitat of the crayfish in Animal Adaptations: Crayfish.  Students study the properties of water in all of its phases in the Water unit of the Earth Science strand. Students may participate in an astronomy program, StarLab.

In grade 4, in the Physical Science unit, Sound, students explore pitch, volume, frequency and amplitude of sounds made on instruments they make in the classroom.  Students investigate what makes plants grow and do Experiments with Fast Plants in the Life Science strand.  Students study Landforms and Earth Materials in the Earth Science strand as they engage in inquiry-based activities to investigate earth materials, rocks and minerals, and the processes of erosion and deposition.

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The goal of a history and social science curriculum is to enable students to acquire the knowledge, skill and judgment necessary to continue to learn for themselves; to participate intelligently, justly, and responsibly in civic life; to deliberate about local, national and international issues; and to avail themselves of historical and cultural resources such as historic sites, museums, parks, libraries, and multimedia information sources wherever they may live or travel.

To achieve this goal, the Massachusetts History and Social Science Frameworks focus on a content-based curriculum revolving around the disciplines of History, Geography, Economics, Civics and Government.

  • At the Kindergarten level, learning in history and social studies is built on children’s experiences. The picture books chosen for reading aloud, the stories told, and the songs they hear or learn are basic components of the curriculum.  Multidisciplinary units on the Farm and Medieval society introduce students to exciting stories of life in other times.
  • In first grade, children listen to folk tales and true stories from America and from around the world. As students study concepts in the disciplines of geography, civics, economics and history, they also learn about each other’s families and about the achievements of different people living in different times and places.
    A multidisciplinary unit on the Rainforest provides a supplement to the concepts and skills prescribed for grade 1.
  • In Grade 2 students explore people, achievements, customs, events, places and landmarks from here and now. The content basis for grade 2 includes the units of Belmont, Alaska and Kenya.
  • In grade 3, students study the history of Massachusetts beginning with the time of the arrival of the Pilgrims, including their interactions with the Wampanoags. The history of early Boston, including the Puritan settlement of Massachusetts Bay Colony and the growth of towns and cities in Massachusetts, along with important political and economic developments leading to the American Revolution, provides the structure for this course of study.
  • In grade 4, students study the geography and people of the United States today.  Students learn geography by addressing standards that embed five major concepts: location, place, human interaction with the environment, movement and regions.  In addition, they learn about the geography and people of contemporary Mexico and Canada.

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A sound physical education program progresses from simple to more advanced learning experiences related to the interests and abilities of the students.  The Belmont Physical Education Program is structured in such a way that the duration, intensity, and frequency of activities not only motivate students but also meet their individual needs. When appropriate, students participate in the selection of activities from all activity areas. Each and every student is given an equal opportunity to participate in a balanced physical education program.

At the elementary level students are exposed to experiences that encourage them to enjoy physical activity. Through effective practices students will learn to value the effects of physical activity and its roll on positive lifelong health and well-being. Students will be encouraged to explore, take risks, exhibit curiosity, work with others cooperatively and achieve a personal health enhancing level of physical fitness. The elementary physical education program is well balanced. Every student is provided with an opportunity to develop decision making and problem solving skills. The program embraces differences in students' interests, potential and cultures.

Finally, the development of personal skills is an essential part of the elementary physical education program. To this end, students will be given opportunities to develop basic social skills, including teamwork, problem solving, leadership and effective communication. 

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