Grades K-5

A Balanced Curriculum

The Elementary Program at Island Pacific Academy (IPA) provides a balanced curriculum. First, we emphasize the development of concepts, knowledge, skills, attitudes, and self-initiated action in students. We then meet the needs of our young learners. Our faculty also provides opportunities for students to build meaning and refine understanding principally through structured inquiry. They seek to educate students on the difference between knowing something and truly understanding it.

Our curriculum is student-centered. It is founded on the belief that learning occurs when students and teachers build on their prior knowledge, then engage in activities that help them construct meaning and new understandings. Most of all, this process involves continuous self-reflection, the freedom to ask questions, the motivation to take risks, and the desire to take action based on what students have learned.

At IPA, we are a community of learners who believe that learning is a life-long endeavor. Each classroom is a multi-sensorial learning environment where children are encouraged to face challenges, learn through experimentation, and think critically in order to become imaginative, independent and self-reliant individuals.

Language Arts Curriculum

The Language Arts Curriculum is structured around broad, transferable ideas, conceptual understandings, that all students need to be confident, creative, and effective communicators. The curriculum uses an integration approach, giving students purposeful, real world, meaningful opportunities and experiences to use language. Direct instruction for reading and writing is used when necessary. Language Arts covers the following learning continuums at every grade level:

  • Reading: The process of reading is interactive and involves the reader’s purpose for reading, application, the reader’s prior knowledge and experience, and the text itself.
    • The reading strands are:
      • Skills and Strategies
      • Comprehension and Response, and
      • Literature and Informational Text
  • Writing: In writing children are encouraged to express themselves and reveal their own voice, developing a variety of structures, strategies and literary techniques (spelling, grammar, plot, character, punctuation, voice), and applying them with increasing skill and effectiveness
    • The writing strands are:
      • Conventions
      • Planning and Evaluation
      • Organization
      • Presentation and Design
      • Expression, and
      • Style and Genre
  • Oral language: Oral language encompasses listening and speaking. Listening and speaking skills are taught meaningfully in real world contexts.

Math Curriculum

Elementary students acquire mathematical understanding by constructing meaning through ever-increasing levels of abstraction. They start with exploring their own personal experiences, understanding and knowledge. Math is taught in relevant, real-life contexts that provides the possibilities to interact with manipulatives and to engage in conversations with others. When they construct their ideas about a mathematical concept they transfer this understanding into symbols. Symbolic notation can take the form of pictures, diagrams, modeling with concrete objects and, ultimately, mathematical notation. This is accomplished through a range of authentic activities including practical hands-on problem-solving activities and realistic situations. The curriculum provides students the opportunity to demonstrate mathematical thinking through presentation or recorded formats. In this way, children can apply their understanding of mathematical concepts as well as utilize mathematical skills and knowledge.

There are five strands in our math program:

  • Numbers and Operation
  • Measurement
  • Shape and Space
  • Pattern and Function
  • Data handling

Science and Social Studies Curriculum

Science and social studies are concept driven and integrates with the Units of Inquiry. The Units of Inquiry guide students toward a deeper understanding of themselves and others, and of their place in an increasingly global society. It provides opportunities for students to look at and think about human behavior and activity realistically, objectively, and with sensitivity.

At various grade levels students explore biological, chemical and physical aspects of the natural world, and the relationships between them. Students participate in hands-on activities and initiate inquiries as they explore different themes: living things, earth and space, materials and matter, and forces and energy.

 Specialized Classes

Elementary students at IPA enjoy an enriched curriculum that includes meeting regularly with special teachers that focus on the following curriculum areas:

Science, Environment, Engineering & Design (SEED)

This special is a unique curriculum that takes science, environment, engineering, and design and puts them together to allow students to learn, plan and create outcomes to a variety of problems. Furthermore, each unit has a story from around the world that introduces the concepts being taught and presents the problem. These concepts often integrate with classroom Units of Inquiry. Using the “Engineering Design Process”, students gain knowledge of the concept. Then, through hands-on exploration, students ask questions, imagine solutions, plan their response, create their plan and then evaluate it for possible improvement. Even though we call it, “Engineering & Design”, it is truly an interdisciplinary class. Each unit also involves science, geography, language, math, and teamwork.


Art provides students with a wide range of opportunities and means to respond to their experiences and express themselves. Appreciation as well as the opportunity to produce works of art in a wide variety of media is the core of the art program in the elementary grades. Students become aware of the characteristics of specific artists and artistic styles. They also have the opportunity to create art in media that range from clay to watercolor to collage and multi-media. While working to make projects relevant to grade-level thematic Units of Inquiry, students will engage in a variety of historical, social and cultural perspectives.


General music, self-expression and participation are important parts of the music curriculum in the elementary grades. In addition, students in Grades K-2 use a variety of rhythm instruments as they learn to be attentive listeners and to play as part of a musical ensemble. Then Grade 3 students also learn to play the recorder as an introduction to wind instruments and note reading. Finally in Grades 4 and 5, the ukulele is used to introduce students to stringed instrumental music.


The technology program focuses on using technology as a tool to apply in real-life and meaningful situations, and often integrates with learning happening in the classrooms. Being a responsible digital citizen and digital literacy are also essential to the program.

World Cultures and Language

IPA’s World Cultures and Language program strives to bring in varied exposure of cultures to our students through different languages. It is our goal to have students develop an internationally-minded respect towards various peoples, traditions, and nations of the world.

First, our Kindergarten students explore the Hawaiian language and culture. Then Grades 1-3 students learn Spanish. Grade 4 students learn Japanese. Finally Grade 5 students learn a half year of Spanish and a half year of Japanese. The Grade 5 year helps students transition into our Middle Years Programme during which they choose to study Spanish or Japanese. In addition, Grade 2-5 learn the native language of Hawaii, ‘Olelo, through conversational and written practice.

Physical Education

An emphasis on healthy living and making positive health choices is our main focus and supports activities appropriate to each grade level. Exercise and good nutrition are important to physical as well as intellectual development. The elementary PE program seeks to engage students in activities that will lead to continuing physical activity and participation in sports during their Secondary years. Also, healthy eating and basic knowledge about how active bodies function are also part of the curriculum.