Curriculum Guide



Mission and Guiding principles


Teaching and learning at UNIS


Home Study


Term 1 Language arts and Humanities


Term 1 Mathematics


Term 1 Specialists


Term 2 Language arts and Humanities


Term 2 Mathematics


Term 2 Specialists


Term 3 Language arts and Humanities


Term 3 Mathematics


Term 3 Specialists




Library Program


UNIS Benchmarks


Mission & Guiding Principles


Under the auspices of the United Nations and guided by its ideals, UNIS provides an inclusive and diverse learning environment in which rigorous international programs foster academic excellence, innovation, creativity and cross ­cultural communication to educate and inspire its students to become an active force in shaping a better world: peaceful, compassionate, and sustainable.


Within this context we believe that:

UNIS students are committed to the spirit of the UN Charter by:                                                

●  Demonstrating respect for human rights

●  Demonstrating respect for the principle of equal rights irrespective of race, sex, language or religion

●  Developing skills for the peaceful resolution of conflict

●  Practicing tolerance and living together in peace

●  Understanding individual responsibilities within society

●  Understanding the relationship between rights and responsibilities

●  Acquiring knowledge of universal ethics

●  Providing leadership that demonstrates awareness of ethical and moral issues

UNIS students benefit from an international education whereby they:

●  Gain historic and contemporary knowledge and understanding of the world through intellectual endeavor

●  Acquire international understanding through interaction with the uniquely diverse school community and by studying and experiencing other cultures and belief systems

● Maintain the fluency of their mother tongue while valuing the acquisition of other languages

UNIS students strive for academic excellence by:

●  Learning how to learn

●  Discovering the joy of learning

●  Attaining depth and breadth of academic knowledge and understanding

●  Acquiring the skills that support intellectual endeavor and academic success

●  Solving problems independently and in cooperation with others

●  Acquiring aesthetic appreciation

●  Understanding modern technologies and using them wisely and effectively

●  Preparing themselves for the demands of higher education

UNIS students must be part of a caring community which encourages them by example to:

●  Share, cooperate, and contribute responsibly to a global society

●  Develop sensitivity to appropriate work and social relationships consistent with the principle of equal rights, including gender equality

●  Display sound decision ­making skills by reflecting on choices and consequences

●  Think and act critically, creatively, and independently

●  Lead a positive, healthy life

●  Care for others, as they would have others care for them

●  Share resources

●  Build understanding and trust

UNIS students, being individually and culturally diverse, appreciate the significance of

●  Developing personal values

●  Respecting the values of others

●  Valuing one’s own culture

●  Understanding and demonstrating respect for the culture of others

●  Understanding multi­culturalism within a global society

●  Being able to make a difference

Teaching and Learning at UNIS

Teaching and learning is at the heart of a school, and successful schools place the student at the heart of their learning environment.  Teachers systematically plan, use evidence to inform their practice and employ a range of teaching strategies and methods to support and improve student learning.  Learning involves students making sense of the world.  It is not simply about absorbing information, but it is an active process of constructing meaning.

At UNIS we recognize that students making sense of their learning will help them become independent learners.  UNIS’ learning targets and outcomes, and supportive inclusive environment, foster opportunities for students to develop a lifelong love of learning where skills in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and adaptability, are developed and honed as our students move continuously and seamlessly from Junior A through Tutorial House graduation.

Moreover, teaching and learning is most effective when there is commitment to continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and goal alignment.  As such, we believe that the learning experience at UNIS offers a unique opportunity for each child to engage in a coherent curriculum that is developmentally appropriate and has clear learning outcomes for each stage of the learning experience. Through integration, innovative and research-proven teaching strategies, modern learning technologies, and real world resources and contexts, the UNIS curriculum goals help students understand their place and role in their learning. Moreover, timely informative feedback on their learning helps students develop the skills, attitudes, and dispositions necessary to systematically improve the quality and understanding of their learning experience in an international context.

Teaching and Learning in the Junior School

From the very first year, the social, intellectual, aesthetic, emotional and physical needs of the student are central to the curriculum, so that the classroom becomes a world in which the acquisition of skills and conceptual understanding goes hand in hand with the freedom to inquire, explore and create. The integrated learning that characterizes school life in the early grades builds a deep understanding of who the children are as inquiring independent critical thinkers and learners in an international environment.

Every day our children have the opportunity of experiencing a safe and secure inclusive learning environment to work, learn and play with peers from different countries and cultures from around the world. The connections made between subjects, people, times and places, characterize the interdisciplinary nature of the Junior School curriculum.

Home Study

In the Junior School home study is a tool and process used to reinforce skills and concepts learned in the classroom.  We use home study to consolidate and extend knowledge of a subject area.  home study provides an opportunity for students to share with their parents what they have learned in class.

Weekday work:

The duration of time spent on home study assignments increases as a child progresses through the Junior School and is incorporated into the daily time allowed to home study by each grade level.

Project work may be increasingly a part of children’s classroom work as they move through the Junior School.

Weekend work:

While we recognize that home study is a valuable tool to implement the UNIS curriculum, we are also committed to developing the whole child. We view weekends as important time for children to be with their families developing other areas of interest and solidifying social skills through play and interaction.    

Home study during absence from school:

At times children are out from school either for illness or due to family circumstances.  During these absences, students are expected to read daily and write a travel or daily journal. Teachers will not create make-up work or home study packets for these time periods.

What does home study in JA look like?

Junior A students focus primarily on literacy skill reinforcement. Students focus on daily practice and reinforcement of reading skills.   In JA  there may be  additional practical tasks linked to literacy, math or unit for your child to complete with an adult from time to time.  In JA there is no written, worksheet, or French/Spanish home study.

Home study is assigned individually to students within their yellow home folders and is differentiated according to their needs and goals.  Instructions are given to students via this folder or via email.

JA home study will take a maximum of 20 minutes daily.

Module 1 September - December

Language Arts & Humanities

All About Me

Students in JA are brand new to UNIS. This module will give them an opportunity to talk about themselves and their families. It will provide a solid foundation for the year by exploring the classroom community in which they are apart. In addition to exploring the locality of the school they will explore New York and look at where they live in relation to the rest of the city.

Once they have a grasp of their school community the students will have the opportunity to compare and contrast with other communities they may be a part of in their lives and beyond. This will give the students an opportunity to develop their empathetic skills and value their peers opinions.


Language focus: Narrative

Specific UNIS focused benchmarks:

Retell personal experiences and imagined events or recounts through a mixture of drawing, writing, and oral telling

Draw or write about a personal experience with some attention to sequence

Write a series of loosely connected events or actions concluding with a simple ending

Use a capital letter for the start of their own names

Demonstrate an awareness that writing and drawing are different

Express ideas on paper

Show awareness of the basic structure of a simple sentence

Begin to recognize that they can use letter sounds to represent words

Use knowledge of letter sounds to represent a word

Show an awareness of and execute the base shapes to form letters

Use left to right, and show an awareness of top to bottom orientation of print

Begin to grip a pencil correctly and comfortably









Module 1 September - December


Mathematics focus: Counting and Comparing

Specific UNIS focused benchmarks:

Read, write, order and compare numbers to 20

Recognize odd and even numbers

Recognize and identify pennies, nickels and dimes

Mathematics focus: Addition

Specific UNIS focused benchmarks:

Add single digit numbers to 20

Group coins of the same value  - pennies and dimes

Use skip counting by 10 to 100

Module 1 September - December



Collage, tempera painting, and 3D paper and cardboard construction with a focus on basic skill building, and an introduction to design.


Start a repertoire of songs, singing games and  focus on developing healthy singing voices


Introduction to the Design Process, digital tools  skills acquisition (focused on iPads), and Robotics I (1)


Science experiences  in Autumn : leaves, seeds, wind


Core Movement Skills: Coordination & Balance, Body Expression and Awareness, Spatial Awareness, Motor Learning & Rhythm/Tempo


Greetings/Name/Age - Numbers & colors; Family & Pets; Food; Toys - Holiday cards


All about me, greetings: introducing ourselves, numbers (1-10), colors, classroom, UN (CLIL), my family, fall festivities, The Three Bears: House, sizes and opposites.

Module 2 January - March

Language Arts & Humanities

What We Do Affects Us All

All of the students in JA are apart of the school community. As learners conduct this investigation they will have to consider who else is in their community, the resources that are used there and the similarities and differences that they experience compared to other students in other places in the world.

During this module they will interview and collect data about many members of their school community. They will consider the need for cooperation and collaboration in order to exist within any community. They will also consider what materials are available to them and the impact of using these materials ineffectively both now and in the future. This module will provide opportunities for students to develop their skills of integrity by considering whether their choices are fair and consistent.


Language focus: Opinion

Specific UNIS focused benchmarks:

Draw, write, and identify some important things about a given topic

Express in drawing or writing a simple observation or comment

Attempt to write simple statements and questions

Plan by talking or drawing about their writing

Read their writing aloud to check that it makes sense

Recognize a complete sentence

Show an awareness of capital letters and periods

Begin to recognize that they can use letter sounds to represent words

Link letters with their sounds, sounding and naming each letter of the alphabet in lower and upper case

Use knowledge of letter sounds to represent a word

Show an awareness of plurals to show more than one

Show an awareness of and execute the base shapes to form letters

Use left to right, and show an awareness of top to bottom orientation of print

Leave a space between word-like clusters of letters

Begin to grip a pencil correctly and comfortably








Module 2 January - March


Mathematics focus: Addition

Specific UNIS focused benchmarks:

Add single digit numbers to 20

Group coins of the same value  - pennies and dimes

Use skip counting by 10 to 100

Mathematics focus: Patterns, Geometry and Measurement

Specific UNIS focused benchmarks:

Sort objects in a set by 2 or more attributes (size, shape, color, thickness, etc.)

Recognize, copy and produce a pattern with 3 elements (A, B, C)

Identify and use pattern blocks

Name and describe simple 2-dimensional shapes (square, circle, rectangle, triangle, rhombus, oval and hexagon)

Sort, draw and compare simple 2-dimensional shapes

Identify 3-dimensional shapes (sphere, cone, cube, cylinder rectangular prism and square based pyramid)

Module 2 January - March



The JA artists make a classic series of self-portraits ranging from face drawings to collagraph prints, and full body drawing/watercolor paintings.


Continue to expand our repertoire of songs, singing games and  focus on developing healthy singing voices. All students will perform in our: “ Spring Sing”


Design: Shoe Designer, Engineering: structures, digital tools  skills acquisition (focused on laptops), and Robotics I (2)


Winter science: temperature, animals in winter


Core Movement Skills: Coordination & Balance, Body Expression and Awareness, Spatial Awareness, Motor Learning & Rhythm/Tempo


Winter activities - body parts - clothing - farm animals


Winter festivities and toys (The Three Wise Men), my body, Weather: what clothes do I wear?

Module 3 April - June

Language Arts & Humanities

The Steps of Living Things

Learners in JA will explore living things in the natural environment around the world, through plants and animals in school and on location at farms, botanical gardens and zoos. They will inquire into the process that livings things go through and the things that they need to be successful. Through careful observations they will consider how changes in a living things environment will impact on it and the steps that are required to successfully help it grow.

Initially students will demonstrate their knowledge by considering what they see,think and wonder about living things. At the conclusion of the module students will build (a model of) their own habitat to demonstrate their understanding of the process required to support life.


Language focus:  Informational

Specific UNIS focused benchmarks:

Recognize the forms of narrative, informative, and persuasive text

Draw, write, and identify some important things about a given topic

Recognize that writing can be used to share information

Use words and labels correctly

Attempt to write simple statements and questions

Begin to recognize the importance of planning and organizing thoughts prior to writing

Read their writing aloud to check that it makes sense

Begin to be aware of the importance of word choice

Develop and use new vocabulary

Recognize a complete sentence

Show an awareness of capital letters and periods

Spell some familiar words in standard American spelling

Use knowledge of rhyme to identify families of rhyming consonant-vowel-consonant words

Recognize and begin to apply New Nelson precursive handwriting

Be aware that legible and neat handwriting is important so they are able to reread their own writing



Module 3 April - June


Mathematics focus: Operational Thinking

Specific UNIS focused benchmarks:

Read, write, order and compare numbers to 20

Solve simple word problems

Use appropriate mathematical vocabulary to explain thinking processes

Add single digit numbers to 20

Solve single digit subtraction to 10

Mathematics focus: Data Analysis and Measurement

Specific UNIS focused benchmarks:

Sort and organize data using concrete objects, pictures and numbers

Use simple data related to concrete objects, pictures and numbers to draw conclusions

Tell the time to the hour

Identify days and months sequentially

Use appropriate vocabulary for relative time (yesterday, today, tomorrow)

Measure and compare lengths using non-standard units

Compare the relative lightness and heaviness of an object

Module 3 April - June



3-D pop-up book format, narrative drawings that begin to tell a story. Characters, setting, and sequencing, linking basic literacy skills with descriptive line drawing. Introduction to clay.


Continue to expand our repertoire of songs, singing games and  focus on developing healthy singing voices. All students will perform in our: “ Spring Sing”


Design: Shoe Designer, Engineering: structures, digital tools  skills acquisition (focused on laptops), and Robotics I (2)


Spring and Summer Science: growing seeds, life cycles


Core Movement Skills: Coordination & Balance, Body Expression and Awareness, Spatial Awareness, Motor Learning & Rhythm/Tempo


Wild Animals – Spring & Spring Activities – Means of transport – Summer & vacation


What do we eat?, Which animals live in the farm and the wild?, the city.


The philosophy of the reading program in the UNIS Junior schools begins with a belief that reading is a key foundation to accessing the curriculum. Teachers at UNIS are committed to delivering the best possible differentiated instruction in reading based on the individual needs of the learners in their classrooms.

A JS teacher’s work with reading begins with a commitment to giving students large chunks of time engaged in reading books of their own choosing, when possible, and always ones that they can read with fluency, accuracy and comprehension.

Teachers begin the year by assessing their students to learn the level of text complexity that each child can handle (on an A-Z scale) and then channeling kids towards texts they can read. Students are able to select these books from the leveled library; which is set out in each of the Junior School classrooms. Students read in school and continue reading at home, carrying books between home and school. Home reading expectations are laid out in the UNIS Junior School Home Study document.

Junior School teachers spend time in class providing explicit instruction in the skills and strategies of proficient reading, following the gradual release of responsibility model. Time is divided into small group instruction, whole group mini-lessons, one-on-one instruction and read-aloud time.

Library Program

The Junior School Library fosters a community of learning and literacy that leads to high academic achievement, independent reading and learning, integration and collaboration.


The Library is a powerful intellectual and social space where students and teachers gather ideas, exchange points of view, and learn together. Under the guidance of certified school library media specialists, the Junior School Library promotes learning within and beyond the library walls by:


• provoking the intellectual, social and personal development of all students to become motivated and independent learners.


• providing physical and intellectual access to information, in a warm, stimulating, and safe environment.

• providing instruction, learning strategies, and practice in using ideas and information for effective learning. • integrating the library program throughout every student’s education through collaboration and advocacy.


Students from JA to J4 develop and employ information literacy, technology and critical thinking skills in integrated and collaboratively taught learning experiences. Students are engaged in independent reading and inquiry-based learning.


Junior A        


Students are introduced to the organization of the library and independent book selection. Students learn about the role of authors and illustrators and the difference between fiction and nonfiction. They begin to explore different genres with a particular focus on folk and fairytales.