Middle Elementary

Ages 8-11

Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.
— William Butler Yeats

Monday - Friday  •  8:10am - 3:15pm


Math at Prairie School is unique because Math is not thought of as a list of skills to check off but as a tool for investigating the world around us.  Students construct the big ideas in math through experience and connection to daily life such as cooking units, collecting maple syrup and gardening.  Students have independent time to explore math concepts using classroom materials and are encouraged to develop their own projects such as designing their own games, writing math books or creating surveys to collect and display data.  This way, as we work on practicing our skills, the math not only makes sense but is fun at Prairie School!

The Middle Elementary students explore math concepts through daily mental math talks, mini-lessons and contextual tasks. Each child is working at their own pace and learning in small group, or one-on-one conferencing with their teacher. Students strengthen math concepts through math games, reflective notebooks and independent study. When problem solving students check for logic, while finding and connecting patterns in math. They are encouraged to model their ideas and identify useful tools to help them grow in mathematical thinking. Students are encouraged to communicate their ideas clearly and logically to support their mathematical solutions.


Authentic literacy is at the heart of what the student readers and writers experience at Prairie School of DuPage. The students flourish through individual choice, a supportive community of fellow readers and writers, and being immersed in the reading and writing processes. The students explore many forms of writing including narratives, dramas, poetry and research, and they have access to a rich choice of reading material in the classroom library. Students are expected to always have a book to read, nonfiction or fiction, that they are enjoying. In addition, they study mentor texts (rich examples of writing by critically acclaimed authors), grammar, vocabulary and spelling during their mini lessons and one-on-one time with their teacher. Middle Elementary students begin to self-assess their work in order to have an acute knowledge of their own learning process.  



Middle Elementary students expand their knowledge of the world and deepen their reading and writing skills as they explore how people lived and worked on the earth. During the 3-year Middle Elementary cycle, the students will study pre-history, ancient peoples, and the Middle Ages around the globe.  They work with timelines and geography to get an overarching view of world events and where they took place.  For a deeper immersion into the people and culture of the time, students study food, clothing, housing and recreation.  They also choose an area of interest to conduct research for their own edification and presentation to the school community.   


Prairie School of Dupage curriculum is deeply rooted in science and nature. The science of observing and recording the world around you, and having a true knowledge of the place where you live. We promote attentiveness and a sense of wonder. So, though the children will learn the scientific method, and how to set up a good experiment, how to hypothesize, and how to research and record results, they will also be learning how to watch, how to empathise, and how to observe beauty in the world around them. Through activities such as working in the garden, monitoring and recording data from various outdoor learning stations (weather, track trap, pond, etc) drawing and story-telling, and reading aloud from fellow nature observers. Middle Elementary science is both content and inquiry based.


Middle Elementary Spanish class is taught by a native speaking instructor in an immersive environment that emphasizes conversational Spanish and beginning writing. Spanish is offered 2 times a week.


The Fine Arts are valued as being an integral part of a child's holistic education, and are integrated into the daily academics. Formal instruction is also given during the week.

  • Formal Visual Arts instruction is taught in a 2.5 hour lab each week. Visual arts classes focus on the basic elements of design, and principles of composition. The students explore many different forms of visual arts such as drawing, painting, printing and sculpting. They also work with different techniques and materials within each form. The Middle Elementary students continue their journey through art history by exploring a timeline of art movements and discovering many different masters of art.
  • Orchestra is taught 2 times a week. Middle Elementary orchestra focuses on learning a string instrument of choice, music theory, notation and reading, and ensemble performance.


A formal movement class is offered twice a week, and varies throughout the year.  The children are exposed to yoga taught by a yoga instructor that is certified in both adult and children’s yoga. There are many physical and mental benefits of yoga for children, but the benefits specific to the classroom include increased attention span and ability to focus, reduced anxiety and emotional balance, and better work habits. The Middle Elementary class also participates in a tumbling class, and various games classes.


Our mission is to nurture an understanding of, and develop a deep relationship with the natural world. Some of things we will be doing are:

  • Daily observation hike
  • In-depth observation and exploration of local plants, birds, animals, geography and weather patterns
  • Identification, journaling, tracking and data keeping
  • Working in the school garden
  • Maple Tree Tapping

As the students enter the Middle Elementary program, they gain more responsibilities in the annual outdoor tasks, and they begin to mentor the Early Elementary students in those tasks as well. They also begin to link their data to Citizen Science projects.


The Middle Elementary continues outdoor education with real camping both on the school grounds and off-site. They will do cabin camping at MacKenzie Environmental Education Center in Poynette, WI in the winter, and tent camping at a student-chosen site in the spring. The students have an opportunity to use their nature studies knowledge and continue to learn outdoor skills such as:

  • fire building
  • orienteering
  • animal tracking
  • bird watching
  • shelter building,  tent set up and break down
  • slackline, team building and other outdoor skills

As the students gain mastery of their outdoor skills they gradually learn to take over in all areas of the camping trips such as planning, budgeting, gear inventory, assigning of duties, etc. 

Unit Studies

The Middle Elementary has unit studies two times a week and each unit runs for 6-12 weeks. The students work on units such as:

  • Woodworking
  • Theater
  • P4C (philosophy for children)
  • Handwork: learning to sew, knit, crochet, wet and needle felting technique