Oakbrook embraces the philosophy of the English educator, Charlotte Mason. Miss Mason’s work is founded on scripture; she saw God, the Holy Spirit, as the supreme educator of all mankind. Miss Mason saw no separation between the intellectual and spiritual life of children. Her academic emphases were to put children in touch with nature and the classics in literature, art and music. She saw the elementary years as a time for sampling and experimenting; Oakbrook teachers devise a rich curriculum in order to give children opportunities to make their own connections with knowledge and experiences.
Cow Heart Dissection: In this life science unit, fourth graders see firsthand, the path of blood throughout the chambers of the heart. As students touch and feel arteries, chambers of the heart, and even plaque buildup, they gain a much deeper understanding of how the heart works. As they learn what “plaque” is and what it can do to our bodies, conversations often gravitate to the importance of keeping our bodies healthy throughout our lives. Investigation of a cow’s heart is one example of how a Charlotte Mason education helps students explore beyond paper and pencil.
Wax Museum: Disguised as well-known dignitaries, such as past presidents, athletes, musicians, and other leaders, Oakbrook fourth graders share their life accomplishments with museum guests. In this history unit, students read biographies, write a report, create timelines, and dress as a famous American. Oakbrook’s halls are turned into a wax museum as guests meet each wax figure in timeline order and gain greater perspective on the shaping of our country. The OPS Wax Museum truly provides an opportunity for young and old to learn together and puts the student in the role of teacher.
The Poetry Café: Third graders study poetic devices and use these devices to write original poems. They also choose a poem to memorize from their favorite author. At the conclusion of this ELA unit of study, the children exhibit their knowledge through a DVD explaining “The Top Ten Poetic Devices” played at the café. The classroom is transformed into a café complete with hot chocolate, tea and snacks. Parents are invited to become audience members as students recite their selection from one of their favorite poets as well as their own original masterpiece. The audience shows their appreciation in true beatnik style by snapping their fingers at the end of each recitation.
Robotics: During this physical science unit of study, students research a topic in the computer lab and interview expert guest speakers about the “topic of study.” The students then replicate the “topic of study” with legos using a simple machine, and a mechanical device that moves. Students learn to work in teams, use gracious professionalism, and design a unique Lego creation. They must prepare to answer judges’ questions and present their Lego model in a creative manner. Lego robotics is one of the many Charlotte Mason examples where students move beyond learning basic information and engage directly with the properties of a subject.
Coming to America Day: During this social studies unit, students learn concepts of American History, geography, immigration, and citizenship. Students develop an appreciation for the courage and struggles experienced during the 1890’s by people settling in America. Through narrative, biography, poetry, videos, and a re-enactment, students understand that many people come to this country for many different reasons. At the conclusion of the study, the Primary Building is transformed into a day at Ellis Island with many parents taking on the roles of the officials. The children arrive by boat and must be documented to gain the experience of life as newcomers to America. The day is concluded with a celebration of citizenship.
Under the Sea: This fun life science unit consists of a day of special activities to help students learn about the ocean. Topics of study include geography, the water cycle, tides, formations on the ocean floor, the food chain, the relationship of the ocean and weather, ocean pollution, and ocean animals. In the classroom, students complete projects and activities that reinforce the ocean concepts. The day concludes with outside games and activities. Under the Sea Day is a highlight of the first grade year.
Prairie Day: Using Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books as source material, students learn about westward expansion during the 19th century, covered wagon travel, pioneer life, and the prairie habitat in this social studies unit. At the conclusion of this unit of study, kindergarteners enjoy an outdoor day of pioneer activities. They learn 19th century dances and crafts, visit a general store, participate in sack races, horse shoes, and tug-o-war, visit the "Indian Territory" to search for beads, do chores the prairie way, and enjoy an authentic lunch around the fire.
Thanksgiving Feast: During this social studies unit, students learn about family traditions, reasons to give thanks, and why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Lessons about the role Pilgrims and Indians played in our history are discussed. The children gain a better understanding about what life might have been like for Pilgrim and Indian boys and girls. Students paint an Indian costume with Indian symbols, make a beaded necklace to work on fine motor skills, and create a drum and headdress with Indian symbols. The children wear their creations at the Thanksgiving Feast hosted by the parents. Students give thanks, tell what they are thankful for, and sing songs for their family.