Chicago Grammar School

Lower Elementary: Language Arts

Reading and Writing

Beginning in kindergarten and through third grade, reading and writing are taught through the Fundations Program from the Wilson Language Training Corporation. This is a highly structured, multi-sensory and phonetically based program presented through explicit and systematic instruction.

Comprehension Listening and Reading

Reading Comprehension begins in kindergarten with listening comprehension work. Once the children become independent readers, they begin the Making Connections Program for formalized reading comprehension study. This program provides explicit teaching of reading strategies.

The comprehension skills are applied to literature from the history topics studied. For example, as first grade studies Ancient Rome, CGS incorporates a Level 2 Reader on Romulus and Remus. As second grade explores Medieval Islam, they have Level 3 and 4 readers for 1001 Arabian Nights. Third grade reads the Stepping into Classics adaptation of The Three Musketeers while studying late Renaissance France. Fourth grade enjoys The Secret Garden from the Great Classics for Children series during their study of 19th Century England.  As the students progress to the upper elementary grades, their reading shifts from reading children’s versions of the classics to reading original and unabridged works – and their comprehension work increases in complexity. While they still need to be able to retell the “who”, “how” and “what” of a story, the salient question for them becomes “why?” For example, when reading The Iliad in fifth grade, the students must formulate a response to “Why was the Trojan War unworthy of Hector?” – a very different query than “Who was Hector and what happened to him?” which they answered in first grade.

Grammar and Composition

Writing instruction is integrated with grammar study through the Fundations program. Beginning in second grade, the children continue grammar through the G.U.M. Series.

Speaking Applications

Children are encouraged from the very beginning to express their ideas. They are asked open-ended questions about stories that are read to them. When a new topic is introduced, they are asked to formulate questions about what more they want to know. Classrooms work collaboratively in creating plays and vignettes to present knowledge they have learned. Children at CGS have explained their artwork at gallery openings showcasing their work; declaimed their lines during plays they wrote; exhibited and described their projects during science fairs. Through practice, critique and feedback, we provide the children with a variety of opportunities to develop and improve their public speaking and presentation skills.