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Lower School Academics: Grades 1-3

Your child’s early lower school education at the Academy will lead him/her gently through a rigorous academic curriculum, within a nurturing small school community that ensures plenty of opportunities for one-on-one attention.

The academic aspects of school life complement the school’s strong values and focus on character. Your child will learn how to work diligently, discover talents, persevere through challenges, and cooperate with others. The classroom and daily schedule provide an orderly learning process with the flexibility to ensure your child finds his/her voice, empowers his/her imagination, drives his/her curiosity, and has fun.

The Academy’s early lower school program combines over 150 years of tradition with the latest innovations, including interactive Star Board technology in many classrooms. At the Academy, your child will blossom in a learning environment that promotes academic excellence in a low-stress, caring environment.


1st Grade

The First Grade Religion curriculum uses the book, We Believe: God Loves Us, published by Sadlier. It exposes students to the Catholic faith and its importance in our NDA community.  Students learn about God's love, Jesus' followers, religious holidays and sacraments and their significance in the church as well as the structure of the Catholic church. Students also gain an understanding of service and compassion for those around us. Through reading, discussion and hands on activities students gain a deeper understanding of Catholicism.  

2nd Grade

The Second Grade Religion curriculum uses the book, We Believe: Jesus Shares God’s Life, published by Sadlier. It exposes students to the Catholic faith and its importance in our NDA community.  Students learn that the Sacraments are a sign of God’s love, becoming a member of the Church community, Forgiveness, Liturgy and parts of the Mass, Caring for others, and the First Eucharist. Even though students receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in their own Parish, second grade students celebrate together with a First Communion Mass in the spring. Through reading, discussion and hands on activities students gain a deeper understanding of Catholicism.  

3rd Grade

Students will be presented with a clear presentation of what  Catholics believe, live, and teach.  Students will learn that faith is a gift to be cherished and relevant to their everyday lives.  The Our Life with Jesus text by Ignatius Press has beautiful and inspiring religious artwork to help students to recognize that art is a valuable learning tool.  Students will write in a Prayer Journal to reflect on what is learned.


1st-3rd Grade

The first grade though the third grade math curriculum develops students’ abilities to become creative and critical thinkers through improving computation skills, problem- solving techniques, concept development, and mental math skills. Activities are concrete, relevant and have everyday-life applications. Topics include: Basic Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division, Place Value, Regrouping, Time and Money, Fractions and Probability, Measurement, and Geometry.

English Language Arts

1st-2nd Grade

The Grades 1-2 English Language Arts curriculum takes a multi-sensory, multi-skills, kinesthetic approach to reading and writing. The program is phonics-based, and presents basic skills through repetition, exposure and modeling. It is structured to provide students with a developmental and integrative skills approach to beginning reading and writing and uses the Scott Foresman Reading Street program and the Loyola Press Voyages in English program. All four communication skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing – are mutually reinforced. This multi-faceted approach gives students the frequent exposure to the reading and writing process necessary for successful language acquisition. This method ensures student success in reading fluency and comprehension in literature-based reading programs.

3rd Grade

The Grade 3 Language Arts curriculum includes reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary and handwriting. The Houghton-Mifflin Journeys series is used as the reading text. This anthology introduces children to an in depth study of many literary genres. Vocabulary and spelling skills are integrated into the ELA program, and grammar skills will be used in collaboration with formal writing pieces. The writing curriculum includes student models, teacher models and published works to assist students with their writing. Genres for writing include information, persuasive, opinion, narrative, how-to, and informal writing. Cursive handwriting skills will continue in all areas of the curriculum. The Zaner-Bloser Handwriting curriculum is  used in Grade 3. Additionally, Voyages in English, by Loyola Press with be used as a supplemental text for grammar and writing.


1st Grade

First grade science explores concepts through Seeing Science in a Whole New Light by Scott Foresman. Instruction is broken down into four units covering Life Science, Earth Science, Physical Science and Space and Technology.    Life science covers living and nonliving, habitats, life cycles and food chains,   Earth Science delves into land, water and air and their importance in our daily lives. Physical Science discusses matter, movement, sound and energy. Space and Technology introduces how science shapes the world around us. Students learn through hands on interactions with the material presented.

2nd Grade

The second grade curriculum uses the textbook Scott Foresman Science See Learning in a Whole New Light . Students will explore four modules. The first module is about the habitats of living things and how they grow and adapt. The second module talks about changes over time marked by the study of dinosaurs, fossils,and other extinct or endangered animals. The third module explores the properties of force, motion, magnetism, machines, and work. In the fourth module, the sun, stars, planets, and constellations are introduced, as is a continuation of earth’s air, land, and water. We will be doing simple experiments in school and some take home projects to reinforce the concepts being taught.

3rd Grade

Third Grade students will be using the textbook Seeing Science in a Whole New Light by Scott Foresman. Students will begin their study in the area of physical science. Emphasis in this area will be on matter and its properties and how matter can change, forces and motion, what energy is and the different forms of energy, and what causes sound and how sound travels. We will then turn our attention to the study of space and technology. Under this topic we will learn about the patterns in the sky and what technology is and how it affects our lives.

Social Studies

The social studies curriculum for grades 1-3 emphasizes your child’s place in this community, state, nation, and as a member of a global community. Through reading, writing, projects, group activities and cooperative learning opportunities, your child will learn about government, citizenship, our Earth, people past and present, careers, map skills, and Massachusetts history. Graphs and economics are also introduced. Community-building is promoted through cooperative learning experiences.

Grade 1

State poster project identifying key facts on an assigned state. Textbooks include: Harcourt About My World.

Grade 2

Souvenir Suitcase Project in which students will research various countries around the world, learning about their culture, heritage, and customs.  Textbooks include:  Harcourt About My Community.

Grade 3

Geography and map skills include map keys, map grids, physical maps, product maps and weather maps. Grade 3 will  also research Native American tribes from different regions of the United States. Students will design a tribal mask that represents a tribal culture. In addition they will complete a study on the Pilgrims and the American Revolution. Text books include  Harcourt- Communities, and Evan Moor Daily Geography.

World Languages

Children will be exposed to both French and Spanish to build a foundation in world language skills through weekly special classes. See more about the Academy's World Language Program.

Come see for yourself what is going on in the 1st-3rd grade classrooms. Contact the Admissions Office to set up a personal tour.

Learn more about Student Life, Athletics and Guidance, as well as our Enrichment Programs and our Extended Day Program that runs until 6 P.M. on school days.