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Our Elementary Program


Our Elementary Program 

(Grades 3rd - 5th) has a unique blend of farm, art, and forest concepts infused into a developmentally appropriate curriculum designed specifically for our 8 - 12-year-old students.  Each grade has its' own indoor homeroom space designed to lend itself to a variety of learning materials and tools, including an extensive grade-level library, project tables, spaces to work independently and in groups, art supplies, a writing center, appropriate-sized chairs, heating/cooling, natural light, spaces for each student to hang their backpacks and extra clothing & gear.

Focus & Skills

  • Heightened awareness and appreciation of the great outdoors

  • A budding knowledge of a variety of art forms 

  • A growing understanding of where their food comes from and its health benefits 

  • An accumulative growing comprehension of how to make numbers work together to aid in real life matters

  • A natural draw toward the written and spoken word for the purpose of communication and personal enjoyment 

  • A deeper understanding of the natural world through a variety of Social Studies and Science topics

  • A knowing of their unique place in the learning community

Students move forward through the grade levels as they demonstrate their readiness for the next set of grade-level skills.

Daily Subjects

Weekly Subjects

English Language Arts & Math Lessons
Mindfulness Practices
Unstructured Forest Time
Independent Responsibilities
Garden & Animal Care
Daily Reflections

*Outdoor Education 
*Physical Education  

The curriculum at WBNS is a hybrid design constructed and implemented through the creativity of the individual teachers by the teaching teams for each program. *See the About Us page to view the Teacher profiles.

Our English Language Arts Program
(Literature, Writing, and Reading) 

WBNS implements our version of the Units of Study for Reading and Writing Program, by Lucy Calkins and her Teachers College Reading and Writing Project coauthors from Columbia University. With this program as a guide, in addition to leveled phonics and formal grammar instruction, we aim to prepare students for any reading and writing task they will face and inspire life-long, confident readers and writers who display agency and independence.  WBNS elementary students engage in daily journaling and writing projects that they learn to edit and prepare for joyful celebrations of either performance or publishing.

Our Mathematics Program

For the elementary grades, WBNS has adopted Singapore Math which is known as a leading guide for all grade groups for implementing mental math strategies. Compared to a traditional U.S. math curriculum, Singapore math focuses on fewer topics but covers them in greater detail.  Each semester-level Singapore math textbook builds upon prior knowledge and skills, with students mastering them before moving on to the next grade. Students, therefore, need not re-learn these skills at the next grade level.  These concepts lend themselves perfectly to our hands-on group learning lessons. 

Our Outdoor Education Program

Our Agriculture Program

Our Agriculture Program incorporates the world of plants and animals in harmony. At WBNS we are a "teach" and "feed" site designed to guide students in the art of learning to feed oneself as a means to feed the entire community. We learn all about where our food comes from, how to grow it in a wide variety of spaces, how to harvest and prepare it for consumption, and share the bounty with our neighbors in need.  WBNS currently contributes 80% of the produce we grow onsite to Beacon of Hope, our local food bank.  There are several gardens at WBNS: the pumpkin patch, the elderberry patch, the school garden, and the student garden plots, with more to come! As a means to help students learn more about who they are, each student manages their own garden plot using personal choice from design, to planting, to daily maintenance, to harvest, to market, trade, and preservation. The animals we focus on in the elementary grades are the Chickens!

Our Art Program

In the spirit of the STEAM education approach, our Art Program complements all subjects through the practice of establishing pathways in creativity for solving real-world problems. Additionally, our students learn a plethora of art techniques as part of their daily studies including various painting forms, pottery, yarn and needlework, sculpture, paper-making, beading, collage, mosaic, and more. Our weekly art class sessions rotate with traditional hand-work in the fall, 2-dimensional drawing and painting in the spring, then 3-dimensional sculpture and building in our summer block.  You will find that art is embedded throughout the entire curriculum as hands-on creation and processing is the essential thread that brings it all together!

Mindfulness Practices

Through daily "Centering", communing with nature all over our magical property, reflections time at the close of the day, and topics in Conflict Resolution as a means to address typical behavior issues, students learn and practice matters of the social/emotional realm developing their character as individuals and as members of the learning community.   

Our Outdoor Education Program incorporates the concepts of environmentalism and conscious communing with the natural world.  We engage our students in thoughtful weekly activities ( often derived from Project Wild and Coyotes Guide to Connecting with Nature, as well as concepts from the Leopold Project ).  These activities happen throughout the "back 20" wooded campus acres that border the Pisgah National Forest and at various local trail sites in Madison County.  WBNS teaches the Leave No Trace methods and commits to its practices, on and off campus.

Our Science Program

Our Elementary General Science Lab Teacher presents engaging hands-on learning lessons weekly for 3rd-5th grades (based on the benchmarks for each of the grade levels). They explore exciting concepts including outer space, earth science, chemistry, biology, and more! 

Our Physical Education Program

Students are taught how to play a variety of sports such as Disc Golf, Soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, Cross-Country, Dodge-ball, and the ever-popular Thunder-ball!  Students are introduced to the fine art of creating games to broaden any subject. We team up and hold tournaments at the end of most units where students learn the art of setting goals for themselves through friendly competition where good sportsmanship is the central guiding force.  

Unstructured Forest Time

Aside from being outdoors as much as possible for our core curriculum subjects, and traversing the property throughout the day, students experience 1-1.5 hours each day of unstructured (but not unsupervised!) time in our woods, fields, trails, and creeks.   Here, we have witnessed students building natural shelters, creating games, constructing dams in the creek, and checking in on various habitats of the bugs, insects, birds, and wild animals who reside at Woodson Branch Nature School.  Some choose quieter independent activities like reading a book, writing in their journals, or drawing under a tree or umbrella when its raining.  The value and benefits of this daily practice is immeasurable, but evident in the level of creativity and success with projects during focus times.  Time in nature is a gift that we take very seriously in honoring at WBNS!

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