Foundational Skills / Core Knowledge

Core Knowledge

The Core Knowledge sequence is premised on the proven method that education is more effective when students learn a specified body of common content in a coordinated, grade-by-grade sequence that permits them to build on prior knowledge without repetition or gaps.  The Core Knowledge sequence promotes equality by not assuming that students will learn needed information from sources outside school.

In each grade, students are exposed to a broad range of historical, scientific, and cultural topics that build on one another to prepare for later educational success.  This wide range of subject matter not only develops cultural literacy but also builds the strong vocabulary necessary for reading comprehension.

Instructors teach the subject matter in the manner most effective for them, but the content is specified and builds from year to year.  Following are examples of specific content requirements for each grade (this is not an all-inclusive list):






  1. Computation
  2. Geometry
  3. Money
  1. Human body
  2. Magnetism
  3. Seasons and weather
  1. Native Americans
  2. Early exploration
  3. Presidents


  1. Addition, subtraction, equations
  2. Linear, weight, capacity
  1. Germs, disease
  2. Electricity
  3. Geographical features
  1. Ancient Egypt, early Mesopotamia
  2. Maya, Inca, Aztec civilizations
  3. American Revolution


  1. Fractions
  2. Multiplication
  3. Temperature
  1. Digestive and excretory systems
  2. Simple machines
  3. Life cycles
  1. Asia: India and China
  2. Ancient Greece
  3. Civil War and Civil Rights


  1. Decimals
  2. Division
  3. Mass and volume
  1. Muscular, skeletal and nervous systems
  2. Light and optics
  3. Ecology
  1. Ancient Rome
  2. The Vikings
  3. American Colonies and pre-revolution


  1. Multiply 3-digit numbers
  2. Geometric formulas
  3. Polygons and quadrilaterals
  1. Circulatory and respiratory systems
  2. Atoms and chemical solutions
  3. Meteorology
  1. Europe in the Middle Ages
  2. Early and medieval African Kingdoms
  3. China: dynasties and conquerors


  1. Ratio and percent
  2. Probability
  3. Pre-algebra
  1. Reproductive system
  2. Atoms, molecules, and change
  3. Vascular and non-vascular plants
  1. Meso-America
  2. Russia
  3. Feudal Japan
Language Arts:  Language Arts emphasizes phonemic awareness and decoding so that mastery of these skills is achieved by grade 3.  All grades emphasize vocabulary building and comprehension, primarily through literature such as:
  • Mother Goose, Fairy Tales, and Aesop’s Fables in Kindergarten
  • Alice in Wonderland, Norse Mythology, Iroquois Legends in Grade 3
  • Don Quixote, Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Chief Joseph and Frederick Douglass speeches in Grade 5
  • Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky short stories, Maya Angelou poetry, and Martin Luther King Jr’s essays and speeches in Grade 8.
  • Greek and Latin roots and foreign phrases commonly used in English are also studied to enhance vocabulary comprehension.

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