K - 5 Experience

Omidyar K – 1 Neighborhood

Grades 2 – 5

Students in grades two through five enjoy an educational journey that encompasses hands-on thematic, inquiry-based units connected with the ever-changing world around them. These units include outdoor education, scientific exploration, gardening, drama, the arts, physical education, languages, field trips and technology geared to help students understand their world.

Technology is a continually changing area for our students. A one-to-one iPad initiative begins in second grade, and students in grades three through five use a mixture of iPads and laptops. Currently, the Laptop Program begins in fourth grade. Access to technology supports our increasingly individualized learning experience and curriculum.

To address the rapid changes in technology and the world around us, Punahou has undertaken a major initiative to re-conceptualize what education should be for students in grades 2 - 5. This includes a curriculum to support the personalized learning needs and interests of students through the use of inquiry. It involves students to make their own choices and to give them a voice in goal-setting, planning, managing and assessing their own learning. New understanding of neurology and technology are being incorporated in the design of new spaces to facilitate the learning preferences of our students and create a learning experience to support them. It is an exciting time for the students and faculty in grades 2 - 5.

K – 5 Academics


The art program, under the guidance of art specialists, is based on exploration experiences which solve visual and tactile problems using two- and three-dimensional media. Design problems often evolve into a sequence of experiences developing children’s visual literacy and conceptual growth. Basic art principles and elements are practiced through experimentation with and evaluation of work involving line, repeat patterns, clay, color exploration, geometric shapes, light and photographic images. There is an emphasis on the growth of each child’s ability through ongoing assessment and discussion. Children’s work is often displayed during the year, either in the cases near the Winne office or in Kirsch Gallery.


The K – 5 mathematics program’s emphasis include mathematics that is centered in a rich context which allows individuals at various levels to approach and solve problems in unique ways and a developmental progression of skills and concepts used to support and guide growth. Students engage in self-discovery of mathematical patterns and concepts and are able to effectively communicate their thinking with others. Multiple approaches are used to assess students’ understanding.


Through a careful sequence of activities focused primarily on five elements of music – rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre and form – children learn to read, write, perform, analyze and create music through active participation with a music specialist. Speech (poems, sayings and stories), song, movement and instruments allow the children to explore music in a variety of ways, resulting in a feeling of pride and joy in creating and performing music together while expressing verbal and non-verbal ideas.

In grade 5, the opportunity is available to take beginning group instruction in all wind, string and percussion instruments, as well as to sing in the choir.

Outdoor Education

The Outdoor Education program includes first grade nature hikes, second grade night trip to the Honolulu Zoo, third grade Hawaiian studies at Kualoa Beach Park, a fourth grade two-day exploration experience, fifth grade coastal hike, sixth grade week-long camp experience, seventh grade homeroom activity day, and eighth grade values education retreats at Camp Mokuleia.
All experiences are designed to enhance the curriculum, aid individual growth by creating an understanding for and concern about our natural environment, challenge the body and mind, and build self-confidence and independence under the guidance of a specialist in this area.

Physical Education

Emphasis is placed on individual skill building, sportsmanship, physical fitness and fun through the gradual development of gross and fine motor skills in the physical education program. K – grade 2 classes meet two to three times a cycle and include basic movement skills (hopping, jumping and skipping), sports skills (throwing, catching, kicking and dribbling), modified team games and individual sports (gymnastics, track and rope jumping). Grades 3 – 4 meet three times a cycle for one-half hour and grade 5 meets for 45 minutes three times a cycle. The primary children also receive instruction in creative movement, while swimming is added for grades 3 – 5. The elementary section has a separate indoor facility for physical education and also shares the swimming pool, gymnastics room, racquetball courts, dance pavilion and outdoor fields as they are needed in the program.

Reading and Language Arts

The reading and language arts program is an area of major emphasis in the lower grades. Realizing that a child’s attitude toward reading may determine how he or she regards learning in general, we strive to make reading enjoyable and interesting.

Appropriate materials are selected by the teacher to support the language arts program. The major focus is on reading for meaning; comprehension skills are taught throughout the program, beginning at the earliest levels. Decoding skills (phonics) receive appropriate emphasis, and a sight word vocabulary is also established. The children read many types of literature – stories, plays, non-fiction, poems, essays, and novels. Teachers and the librarian help promote the selection of good literature through many avenues.

In the course of learning to read, children also learn related language skills – writing, spelling, speaking, listening and grammar. In both oral and written composition, attention is given to presenting significant details, developing logical sequences and teaching literary techniques. These elements are incorporated into the composition of creative and expository writing. Using computers for word processing makes proofreading, revision and editing more enjoyable tasks. Opportunities for speaking before a group occur throughout the school year.

Students in grade 5 meet regularly with Bishop Learning Center librarians for book talks, reading enrichment and instruction, which enables them to use the facility with increasing independence.


The K – 4 science program is built upon the belief that students learn science by actively engaging in inquiries that are interesting and important to them. In learning science, students describe objects and events, ask questions, acquire knowledge, construct explanations of natural phenomena, test those explanations in many different ways and communicate their ideas to others. The experiences include learning physical science, life science, earth and space science, and science and technology.

In grade 5, the science course is concerned with investigations in the fields of geomorphology, space exploration, and FOSS units studying the human body and simple machines.

Social Studies

Seven broad themes provide structure for the social studies program: diversity, interdependence, power, identity, socialization, choices and change. The major social studies skills taught are study skills, map and globe skills, graphic aid skills and time-related skills. Thinking skills emphasize recalling ideas and information, using ideas and information, using learned ideas in new contexts, analyzing ideas and information, inventing solutions and evaluating ideas. A citizenship program involves social skills and teaching such characteristics as getting along with others, respecting laws and people’s rights, and appreciating the ideals of democracy.

A foreign language experience program gives students the opportunity for cultural activities in grades 1 – 3. There is Mandarin Chinese in grade 1, Japanese in grade 2 and Hawaiian in grade 3.


Beginning in grade 1, children receive instruction and gain practical experience using computers as tools for learning. Keyboarding skills within the children’s developmental abilities are taught at every level.

The Damon Multimedia Room computer lab and classrooms are presently equipped with Apple computers and are connected to the Internet. All levels, 1 – 5, have supervised use of the Internet.

A variety of software programs permit students to write, present, communicate, organize, research, manipulate data, analyze, create and think more effectively. Grades 4 and 5 students are able to strengthen their technology skills through our One-to-One laptop program, utilizing technology throughout their curriculum.