PHSSA Curriculum Overview

The integrated curriculum at PHSSA is grounded in the Virginia state SOLs for science. All subjects, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and the Arts are linked through authentic connections to the science objective.

For example, in First Grade, students learn about parts of plants and more specifically the seed. This seed objective is worked into the following lessons:

  • Language Arts by reading a book like The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle, with skill lessons to follow.
  • Social Studies mapping standard, students may plot a garden. 
  • Math, students might make patterns with different types of seeds. 

Arts are woven throughout instruction as well. Rhythm instruments using seeds could be made and used by students to recite poetry. This integration of subject learning provides meaningful connections for students thus increasing student achievement.

Download our detailed curriculum by grade level:

Click to view sample lesson plans for grades Kindergarten, third and fifth

The proximity of the school to the James River and Forest Hill Parks will give students a unique place in which to study environmental science. Each grade is given an environmental  “Big Question” to study in a year-long project. The “Big Questions” by grade are:


Big Question:
What impact do we have on
the environment of……



our home and school?

Establish school-wide recycling


our neighborhood?

Plant and maintain an organic vegetable and flower garden


our local watershed and our city?

Collect and report weather data using rain gauges, thermometers, etc.


the James River and its watershed?

Collect and report data on the watershed including water samples, erosion observations, etc.


the Chesapeake Bay Watershed?

Establish school-wide composting for the garden.


our nation and the world?

Research and create informational films about environmental issues worldwide to be shared throughout the classes.

See how this was implemented for the second semester of the 2010-2011 school year.


PHSSA Gardens

The gardens will also be an important part of the curriculum. See how they further support the "Big Questions"

Each year will include a grade-specific project that brings together the knowledge and skills students have acquired throughout the term.  Each grade’s project is designed to encourage students to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility for their learning, with the aim of creating lifelong learners. 

Kindergarten "Recyclers" – Establish and maintain school-wide class recycling.
Orchard/Fruit Garden: Supports science standards relating to patterns and cycles, basic needs and life processes of plants as well as characteristics of matter such as color, shape and texture.

First Grade "Gardeners" – Plant and maintain an organic Vegetable Garden.
Vegetable Garden: Will plan, plant and cultivate an organic Vegetable Garden. They will explore methods to conserve soil and water resources and how these activities help their watershed.

Second Grade "Weather Reporters" – Collect and record weather data to be shared with school.
History Bayscape Garden: Will keep the History Bayscape Garden to correlate with their study of Native American cultures. These experiences will provide learning for water and life cycles, measurement, graphing and writing.

Third Grade "Creek Keepers" – From Reedy Creek and the James River, collect and record water quality data on the watershed.
Butterfly Bayscape Garden: Placement of Butterfly Bayscape gardens at multiple sites will facilitate learning in small groups, provide a highly visible Bayscape project for the community and bring life and color to the school.

Fourth Grade "Composters" – Establish and maintain school-wide composting.
Rain Garden: With focus on Virginia history and geographic regions revolving around the Chesapeake Bay, collecting storm water from impervious school parking lot and preventing it from entering Reedy Creek.

Fifth Grade "Documentary Creators" – Research and create informational movies about environmental issues.
Forest/Shade Garden: Will provide habitat study, lessons in erosion prevention and opportunities to understand plant adaptations. Students will also use their understanding of issues impacting the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay.

Garden illustrations


Additional information and resources for integrated curriculum can be found at the following websites: