Manzano Day School

Joy in Learning® Since 1938

Core Curriculum


Our curriculum is built around essential academic and communication skills. The core areas of reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, and science are included at every grade level. We encourage curiosity, independent thought, and action, guided by the school’s core values of respect, responsibility, integrity, and striving for excellence.

At Manzano Day School, children receive a strong academic foundation for lifelong learning. Starting in pre-kindergarten and continuing through fifth grade, we set high expectations within a nurturing environment to prepare students for the next step and beyond.

Below is an overview of the core curriculum that students will experience throughout their time at Manzano Day School.

Language Arts

The Language Arts program includes reading, writing, listening and speaking. Classroom teachers at each grade level facilitate the instruction of reading and writing through direct instruction, with the incorporation of skills in content areas. 

Manzano Day School’s reading instruction begins with foundations for literacy in the lower school grades, including the sound-symbol relationship, rhyming, sight word recognition, and phonological awareness at the word level. These concepts and skills are rooted in multi-sensory instruction aligned with the Orton-Gillingham model, and are applied on a daily basis in reading, spelling, and writing. As students progress through lower school grades, their studies extend to increasingly complex phonetic structures within words, and apply students’ growing knowledge of skills to language at the sentence level. As students transition into the upper school grades, instruction shifts to focus on morphology, including affixes as well as Greek and Latin bases. The Orton-Gillingham model establishes a solid foundation upon which students build other skills needed to be critical thinkers and lifetime readers. This foundation is built upon by the study of quality literature in various formats including genre studies, readers' workshops and literature circles.  

Writing instruction is based upon developing students’ writing skills through the study and enhancement of their own written work. Students learn about types of writing (narrative, persuasive, and expository) while discovering and honing their personal author’s voice, learning and applying conventions, and expanding vocabulary usage.

Additionally, students learn valuable speaking and listening skills through many opportunities to present for their peers and community as well as being an audience for their peers’ presentations. Examples include project- and curriculum-based presentations, recording public service announcements for our campus community, performances such as chorus concerts and Voces Poeticas, and speaking as student ambassadors during our annual new family orientation.

Our Language Arts curriculum provides our students with a rich learning experience that meets or exceeds the Common Core Standards and national standards established by the National Council of Teachers of English.


Children are expected to learn basic computational skills and to show competence in defining a problem, choosing appropriate strategies for solving it, and analyzing the solution process using differing questioning techniques. A part of every classroom instruction is open-ended questioning and discussions promoting critical thinking skills. Every attempt is made to integrate mathematics into all content areas.

Math instruction is facilitated using Math Expressions, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. This program is written to meet the demands and expectations of the Common Core State Standards and includes an online component for teachers and students. Math Expressions guides children through developing an understanding of basic concepts and their application in solving problems in everyday life. The program also provides a consistent instructional format and design that creates a strong math foundation upon which any student can be successful. The program provides opportunities for teachers to address different ability levels and learning styles. A variety of assessment strategies to measure student progress are embedded..Students learn math skills through a variety of modalities including math dialogues as well as manipulatives, games, and puzzles. Lessons in math are integrated with other curricular areas including science, technology, and language arts. Emphasis is placed both on gaining a firm foundation of basic skills and applying higher order thinking to problem solving. For more information please visit Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Social Studies

The Social Studies curriculum utilizes a variety of curricular resources and instructional techniques with frequent opportunity for collaborative learning. Thematic units that integrate other subject areas in the curriculum are used whenever practical. Opportunities are present for many talents to emerge through projects and activities in this core content area. Children study cultures (past and present) focusing on geography, history, government, notable people and their significant contributions, economics, social structures, and religious beliefs. An understanding of the importance of the past’s contribution to our society is interwoven through grade level units. Further, the development of an appreciation for a global perspective through our social studies curriculum helps to prepare our students for life in the twenty-first century. Classroom activities are enriched with literature, research projects, visits to nearby museums and monuments, and exposure to the diverse cultures within our own community.


Our science curriculum emphasizes the use of inquiry and the scientific method of questioning. Critical and reflective thinking skills are the main components for student learning in all science classes. Problem solving is encouraged through inquiry-oriented discussions, observation, data recording, and vocabulary development. Skills from all subject areas are integrated into science lessons in order to enhance the understanding of the scientific principles and concepts covered in our curriculum. Science projects and activities in each grade level assist students to learn how to search for answers to specific science problems. Students must plan experiments, find and record information related to the problem, and organize the data collected to find the answer to the problem. These projects are assigned throughout the year in each of the topics of the science curriculum, and are presented to the class in various formats.

The Bernitsky Science Lab provides a stimulating environment for exploration and experimentation of science topics. This lab was specifically designed to reinforce and enhance science instruction for all students. Our science coordinator assists with developing activities and finding resources for classroom and lab instruction. Additionally, extra-curricular science clubs are available to students with a special interest in scientific topics. Field trips, speakers, videos, and technology are also used to engage students in science learning. The Fenton Environmental Program is closely integrated with the science curriculum and provides additional enrichment for our science curriculum.


“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”

Carl Jung