The Kindergartners at Symonds School work and play together to build a community of learners where students feel safe, welcomed and successful throughout the year.

All areas of the curriculum are addressed through monthly themes.  Topic areas include trees, the world, Antarctica, healthy bodies and wood and paper.  A variety of learning styles are incorporated through the use of differentiated instruction and integration of the arts.

Literacy instruction is carried out using a variety of approaches including the Collins Writing Program, Four Blocks Literacy, and the Houghton Mifflin reading program.  Symonds School kindergartners read and write many predictable books, which foster their emergent reading skills and build their confidence as readers.

Kindergarten follows the Everyday Math Program.  It is a hands-on, problem solving and critical thinking skills program which provides children with a variety of ways to discover the world of math that surrounds them.

Every day each kindergarten class has an opportunity to visit one of the special area teachers.  They spend time with in music, physical education, art, library and computer lab.

Our kindergarten days are packed with many play-based learning experiences, along with indoor and outdoor play opportunities.  The skills that children learn and practice during playtime carry over and enhance their total learning experience.

Grade 1

The language arts curriculum includes reading, writing, spelling, listening and speaking.  The district-wide core reading program builds upon skills learned in kindergarten.  Literature is integrated throughout the day in all subject areas. 

The use of manipulatives is an important part of the math program, which includes addition and subtraction to 18, measurement, patterning, graphing, money, time, problem solving and place value.

Science and social studies topics include energy, weather, organisms and the study of Asia.

Social skills are developed through the Responsive Classroom approach.  Assisting children in developing independent work habits, encouraging their innate curiosity about the world, and developing positive self-esteem is the basis for a positive first grade experience.

Grade 2

In second grade our language arts focus is reading comprehension, decoding, and critical thinking skills.  Writing focuses on spelling, composition, and grammar.

In math, addition and subtraction facts through 18 are mastered with regrouping introduced.  Students practice telling time, using money, predicting, graphing, patterning, measurement, place value and spatial awareness skills.

Science and social studies are integrated with other areas of the curriculum.  Grade two topics include:  map and globe study, people in our history, soil and plants, geology, force and motion, balancing and weighing, and nutrition.

Parent/teacher conferences are scheduled three times a year, December, March, and June to discuss your child's growth and progress.

We incorporate the Responsive Classroom model in grade two.  Social and academic curricula are blended throughout the school day.

We strive to help students create a sense of community and belonging.

Grade 3

In third grade, students move from learning to read to reading to learn, with an emphasis on comprehension.  This shift is facilitated by a core Reading program, Literature Circles, and book projects.

In Spelling, the Cast-A-Spell program is continued which focuses on the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modalities to teach students the strategies required to learn how to spell.

Zaner-Bloser Handwriting is used to teach third graders cursive writing.  We spend an increasing amount of time developing and improving oral and written communication skills using The Collins Writing Program and Writer's Workshop.  These are integrated throughout the day.

In Math, multiplication and division are formally taught.  Other areas of focus include problem solving, geometry, fractions, number sense, and measurement.

Third graders are introduced to the geography and cultures of South America.  Additional Social Studies units are Pilgrims of Plymouth and the City of Keene.

The Science curriculum includes health and nutrition, animals (supplemented by the Harris Center), Solar System and Astronomy, Magnets and Electricity.

Grade 4

Fourth grade is another exciting year!  The goal is for each student to experience success at his or her level and to build self-esteem and a sense of community.  The academic program encourages thinking, problem solving and organizational/study skills.  The Everyday Mathematics Program emphasizes high expectations, multiple methods and strategies for problem solving, and collaborative learning.  Reading in fourth grade focuses on the continued development of comprehension skills, fluency, and reading for pleasure.  The Collins Writing Program is used to guide students in the various styles of writing:  informative, persuasive, narrative, and descriptive.  New Hampshire geography, history, law, government, and famous people are explored.  We also focus on current events, Australia, and the states and capitals of the U.S.A.  The students experience many hands on learning opportunities in science while we study Land and Water, the Human Body/Wellness, and Energy.

Highlights of the fourth grade experience include:


  • Quest Project (Empty Bowls)
  • Langdon Place Penpals
  • Career Unit
  • Bullyproof Unit

We go on several field trips that enhance our curriculum.  They include:


  • The Community Kitchen
  • Fort #4
  • State House/Supreme Court
  • Surry Dam
  • Montshire Museum

The fourth grade year is a rich and fulfilling experience!

Grade 5

The fifth grade is a year that the students have an opportunity to extend and expand upon many skills learned in fourth grade as well as continue to develop many skills needed for the increasing academic emphasis in the upper grades.  Many skills continue to be important such as organizational and study skills, critical thinking skills, time management, and the planning and completion of long term projects.  
Homework assignments are used to reinforce and enrich learning experiences, teach organization of time, and to help students accept responsibility for their work.
The Houghton Mifflin Reading Program and Literature Circles are the basis for reading instruction in fifth grade. The focus of reading is: reading to learn, becoming familiar with a variety of literature, self-selected reading, skill and vocabulary instruction, and reading to gather information as in the content areas.
Fifth grade uses the Collins Writing Program and Daily Oral Language for writing instruction, and Cast-A-Spell for spelling instruction.
The core math program is Every Day Math. Problem solving strategies, computation skills, fractions, decimals, number concepts, measurement, and geometry are some of the topics reviewed or introduced.
The major science units in fifth grade are animals and ecosystems, weather, and mater.  Social Studies units include geography, North America, American government, colonization and the Revolutionary War.

Reading Specialist

The key roles of the Reading Specialist at Symonds School include leadership, instruction, assessment, and motivation.  In addition to providing direct instruction to students, the Reading Specialist serves as a resource to the principal, classroom teachers, and other support staff, providing guidance for our literacy programs.  The Reading Specialist assists in the selection of instructional materials and facilitates training in the implementation and maintenance of the reading, writing, and spelling programs found at Symonds.  She administers a variety of assessments and assists teachers in interpreting assessment data.  The Reading Specialist promotes literacy development at all levels introducing students to a variety of reading incentive programs throughout the year.  She encourages students and staff to participate in positive and productive literacy activities.

Art Instruction

The aim of the Symonds Elementary Art Program is to provide a safe and caring environment where creativity can flourish and artistic confidence is gained.  Students in grades K-5 experience a wide variety of art forms including drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, collage, textiles, ceramics/clay and mixed media.  Students will learn about a variety of cultures, artists and styles of art through the use of art reproductions and aesthetic inquiries.

The 1st through 5th grades meet once every 6 days for an art class lasting 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Kindergarten has art twice in a six-day cycle with classes lasting 45 minutes.  The art program is designed to create a developmentally appropriate learning environment where students develop the skills necessary for self-expression.  Artistic creation is at the heart of each art class.

Physical Education

All students participate in Physical Education twice per six-day cycle.  In physical education classes all students learn the skills necessary to perform a wide variety of physical activities.  Students learn the social, emotional and physical benefits of physical activity.

The Physical Education Program is a developmentally appropriate, safe learning environment where each child feels free to explore new motor experiences and have multiple opportunities for skill practice and success.  We endeavor to teach so that children love to move, value physical fitness and are motivated to participate in daily physical activity.  For these reasons we do not have lines, human targets or elimination.  Movement experiences are in concept and practice fun, exciting and structured to motivate children to strive for personal improvement.

For safety, enjoyment and performance, students need arrive for class wearing securely tied, safe sneakers, and clothing appropriate for physical activity.

On occasion, PE classes under the supervision of the teacher will walk to Wheelock Park to utilize the adjacent facilities.

Adaptive physical education is available to children who will benefit from additional physical education sessions.

Students in grades 2-5 have the opportunity to participate in afterschool club programs, lead by various staff members including the physical education specialist.


The goal of music class at Symonds School is to help students to appreciate music and to provide a basic foundation for all present and future musical pursuits of our students.  As fostering the arts in our society requires willing participants, it is vital that the environment of a music room be an inclusive, constructive, and ultimately a fun environment.  We strive to create that environment.  All grades (K-5) sing, move, play instruments, and work on symbol recognition.  Every student is engaged at all times.  Even the passive listener is coached on how to listen to a classmate or piece of music.  Our basic routine includes an opening group song, an activity of the day which may include a dance or instrumental work, and a silent listening piece at the end of class.  We are fortunate to have the resources, space and time in our schedule to expose Symonds' students to arts and expressions from around the world.

Media Center

The Symonds' Media curriculum includes the library and the computer lab.  Every student spends 35 minutes in library and 35 minutes in computer lab each six-day cycle.  Our Media programs primary goal is to promote literacy among our staff and students.  We believe this includes understanding and enjoying the written word in many forms, including print, audio, video, and all the varieties offered through current technology.  Through this goal, our school community checks out around 1000 books per week, researches information through print and on-line sources, and practices using many types of technology tools.


Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade

In library classes, students concentrate on becoming familiar with well-known authors/illustrators and experiencing the fairy tales and folktales around the world.  As we study the variety of literature, we investigate the different cultures that are represented.  We also spend time learning to choose a "just right" book from the 15,000 volumes in our school library.  Learning how a library functions is another important job of the younger students.  In the computer lab, many themes studied in the classroom are reinforced with technology.  Students learn technical vocabulary and basic computer functions.  Our lab uses Microsoft Office software, as well as two different drawing/painting programs.  Using simple activities, we help the students become familiar with using the computer as a tool.


Third Grade, Fourth Grade, Fifth Grade

In the upper grades, library and computer classes are often combined to explore some area of classroom curriculum in detail.  The 3rd graders enhance their study of South America by each student studying in-depth one animal from the region.  Fourth graders work on two New Hampshire research projects and create a PowerPoint on an Australian animal.  Fifth graders participate in several small projects that bring together their many skills as well as one larger PowerPoint project that encourages their creativity.  At all grade levels we look for opportunities to collaborate with classroom teachers and these chances grow with the older students.  In addition to the many research projects we have in the upper grades, there is still emphasis on reading for pleasure and trying new types of books that will help students become life-long readers.

Intervention Services

Intervention Services is a program which provides supplemental help in reading, math, and/or language.  This program is available for Symonds School children in Kindergarten through fifth grade.

The children are referred by their classroom teacher. Standardized tests are used to determine eligibility. The child will receive extra help in reading, math, and/or language from a trained Instructional Associate, who works closely with the regular classroom teacher. It may take place in the classroom or in the Intervention Room. The instruction is always in small groups or one-on-one.

Parent involvement is extremely important and necessary. Communication with parents is instrumental throughout the school year. Three progress reports are sent to the parents during the school year. One parent conference is scheduled during the school year to share the child's performance and progress. Parents are also encouraged to visit and participate in the classroom throughout the year. Suggestions to parents on how to help provide and promote education in the home setting is emphasized and encouraged.

Near the end of the year, all children are given another Standardized Test to show the growth the child has made in reading, math, and/or language. The results are shared with the classroom teacher and the parent. This helps to determine the child's eligibility for services for the following school year.

Special Education

Since the early 1970's, many changes have been made in laws affecting the education of children with disabilities. This is known as special education. The Federal Laws are Public Law 94-142 (the Education for All Handicapped Children Act) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The state law in New Hampshire is RSA 186:C. Here, in brief, is what these changes mean for your child.

  • Your child between the ages of 3 and 21 with a disability is entitled to a free public education that is appropriate to meet his/her needs.
  • Your child should be educated as close to home as possible with children who do not have disabilities. (This is often referred to as education in the least restrictive environment).
  • Tests given to your child must not discriminate on the basis of disability, racial or cultural background.
  • You, as the parent or guardian, can participate in making decisions about your child's education.
  • You must be notified in writing when changes in your child's education are being considered.
  • You and the school are entitled to make use of an appeal when differences of opinion occur.
  • You have the right to see your child's school records, to have them explained and to obtain copies.

Learning Center

The Learning Center at Symonds School provides specialized services and programs for students with a disability.

Students may be referred to the Learning Center through the In-House Team, by parents, teachers, physicians, or others with knowledge of the child's ability and skills using the process outlined in section "Special Education." The Learning Center is staffed by a full-time certified special education teacher and two instructional associates.

The Symonds School Parenting Library

The Symonds School Parenting Library is a great resource specifically for parents! The Parenting Library contains a collection of new and used books covering a wide array of topic. Topics include


  • discipline
  • gender
  • divorce
  • self-esteem
  • sibling rivalry
  • development stages
  • peer pressure
  • single parenting

The Parenting Library collection is located in a room adjacent to the children's library. Feel free to browse and check out a book. You may find some practical approaches to meeting the challenges of raising children. A bibliography is available. The Parenting Library's managed by a committee of parent volunteers and Joan Murphy, Symonds School Counselor. In addition to purchasing books for the library, it organizes other parenting education information, such as a Fall/Spring newsletter, speakers and discussion groups. The committee meets once a month from September through May. Interested in joining? Call Joan Murphy at 352-3405.

Come see our collection!

The School Counseling Program

Symonds School offers a comprehensive school counseling program to all students. The purpose of the program is to support students' social, emotional, academic, career and wellness needs so children reach their full potential. The program achieves its goal by supporting academic curriculum and instructional processes and by delivering the follwing services:


  • Guidance curriculum in the areas of academic skills, personal and social development and career knowledge is presented to students. The counselor may teach, co-teach or act as a resource for other educators. Curriculum is developmental and based on student need.
  • Responsive services are provided in the form of counseling, consulting services or coordination of services to address a student's immediate needs. The counselor works directly with students, parents and staff, or as a link to community services and resources. The purpose of these services is to share information, problem solve and develop skills. Parental permission is requested for group or individual student counseling.
  • Individual student planning is provided to help students with academic needs and planning. The counselor helps students manage their learning and meet competencies.
  • System support provides counselors wit the opportunity to bring about positive change in the school by working with colleagues.

Symonds School Counseling Program is:


  • based on the American School Counseling Association's standards and NH Dept. Education standards
  • aligned with the mission of all SAU 29 school counseling programs.
  • managed by a certified school counselor who is a member of the SAU 29 K-12 School Counseling Team

Title IX Compliance Statement

This school district receives federal financial assistance. In order to continue receiving such federal assistance, this school district will not discriminate in their educational programs, activities, or employment practices on the basis of race, language, sex, age, or handicapping condition, under the provisions of Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Complaints regarding compliance with Title IX regulations should be submitted in writing to Mr. Paul Cooper, Title IX Liaison for School Administrative Unit #29, 193 Maple Ave, Keene, New Hampshire.

Complaints regarding compliance with Rehabilitation Act of 1973-Section 504 should be submitted to the Director of Special Education, 193 Maple Ave., Keene, New Hampshire.