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Young Minds

Brookside Lower School opens the door to a journey filled with wonder, challenge, adventure, and excitement about learning. These critical early experiences are the building blocks that form the foundational base required for the exceptional education that continues through the middle and upper schools at Cranbrook. While our comprehensive academic program is challenging for students at all levels, it is the spirit of Brookside that makes this such a special place.
From vaulted ceilings of the art room where creativity can be limitless, to hands-on science experiments that have students clamoring to be novice scientists, we offer an educational environment that stimulates each student’s creative and academic interests, encouraging an early love of learning.
"I am amazed that our kids are taught to have a point of view at a very early age. Cranbrook yields kids who are curious-minded, willing and able to take a position, and make a difference in the world."


Before and After School

Because we know your family schedule varies, we provide before-school supervision at no charge. 

Lower School aftercare encompasses senior kindergarten through fifth grade, and there are a variety of pick-up times available to meet the demands of your schedule.

Explore Our Curriculum

Sample Specialist Classes

List of 7 items.

  • Art

    The art program at Brookside blends self-expression, the development of creative thinking, and an appreciation for art history. These elements are the foundation for the development of children’s ability to visually express their ideas. Our goals are to reinforce their deeply rooted creative impulses without inhibition, and to help them build confidence in their expression. The art program encourages children to gain an understanding of the unique contributions the arts make to everyone’s experience with, and understanding of, the world. As children grow, these elements will continue to reinforce their imagination and originality, observation and visualization, and awareness of space, color, line and pattern in man-made forms and in nature.
    An important part of the Brookside Studio art experience includes exposure to Cranbrook’s artistic heritage and resources.  The children visit the Cranbrook Art Museum and Saarinen House, draw in the Oriental and Brookside Gardens, and study the sculpture and architecture on campus. The fifth grade students work with an artist-in-residence who is a second year graduate student at the Cranbrook Art Academy.  This artist-in-residence works along with the studio teacher and the children in their area of artistic expertise.
    The art program can be divided into the following areas of investigation at every grade level: drawing, painting, printmaking, forming and constructing.
  • Educational Drama

    Educational drama at Brookside allows children to take risks in a creatively responsive and safe environment.  Throughout the year, students create, role-play, innovate and make decisions. They are encouraged to use their imaginations to the fullest. Positive reinforcement also plays an important role in the drama classes in helping to promote a healthy sense of self-esteem and confidence in each child.
    The drama curriculum is an integration of academic curriculum themes with drama skills. Literature themes and social studies issues become the groundwork for story drama, storytelling, puppetry, and improvisation. Through theatre games, improvisation, voice and sensory exploration, choral reading, theatre history and scene study, our students develop confidence, decision-making, problem-solving and group skills.
  • General & Instrumental Music

    General Music
    The General Music Program at Brookside is built upon Orff-Schulwerk and Music Learning Theory. These philosophies include ways to teach and learn music. Natural childhood inclinations form the basis of activities, including songs, chants, rhymes, dances, movement, and developing beat awareness and competency. These instincts are directed into learning music by hearing and making music first - then reading and writing it later.
    At Brookside, music happens in a non-competitive atmosphere where one of the rewards is the pleasure of making good music with others. The special Orff barred instruments include wooden xylophones, metal glockenspiels and metallophones. The melodic instrument used is the recorder.

    Many performances highlight the musical life at Brookside. These include a Grandparents’ Program in November, grade level performances for grades one through five, and a Spring Festival of the Arts.

    Instrumental Music
    Instrumental music is offered in the curriculum to every student in the fourth and fifth grades. At the end of the third grade, all students are introduced to the standard instruments traditionally found in a band or orchestra. A student’s placement in instrumental music is based on: recommendations from the instrumental and general music teachers, balanced instrumentation numbers within each ensemble, and parent decision. Classes meet twice each six-day cycle. Fourth graders meet once a cycle by instrument and once a cycle by homeroom. Fifth grade classes meet twice a cycle by homeroom. An annual performance occurs each year in April at the Performing Arts Center. For the concert, groups are combined as a 4th/5th Grade Band and a 4th/5th Grade String Ensemble. Students may elect to continue with their chosen instrument in the Middle and Upper School Instrumental Program. Private music lessons are also available after school hours for all students and are scheduled by the private music faculty. A separate contract is required for this additional private instruction.
  • Library, Media & Technology

    The media, innovation, and technology team has integrated their areas of instruction to create multi-disciplinary classes for Brookside students in grades one through five. The focus of this class is to enhance Brookside’s curriculum through the use of current and evolving technology and problem-solving skills.  The instruction team works closely with the classroom teachers to integrate skills with numerous aspects of grade level curriculum.
    The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards are one of the guidelines used for curriculum planning and implementation. Computer and technology skills are needed to access, utilize, communicate and present information. Internet safety and digital citizenship are covered at each grade level. Media skills allow the student to become knowledge producers and critical information consumers. Students will also be immersed in visual literacy. As wise consumers and creators of the visual medium, they will deconstruct images and media messages and learn how to create their own.
    Critical thinking and problem solving are crucial as students develop as innovators. Students will use design thinking and engineering to collaborate in developing solutions to complex problems. To discover how technology can aid in this process, students will also use Computational Thinking, an aspect of computer science that provides context to coding skills. Tinkering and Making also allows students to explore how to use a rich variety of materials combined with digital fabrication techniques to create unique engineering solutions.
    The following computer application software is used in grades 1-5 in the media arts program:  KidPix, Scratch and Scratch Jr., Google Apps for Education, TinkerCAD and Adobe Premiere.
  • Physical Education

    The Brookside physical education curriculum is a balance of skills, games, dance, and sports experiences designed to enhance the cognitive, motor, affective, and physical fitness development of every child. Under the guidance of four physical education teachers, students in Pre-kindergarten through fifth grade follow a developmentally appropriate progression of instruction. Children are provided with frequent and meaningful age-appropriate opportunities that enable individuals to develop an understanding of movement concepts (body awareness, space awareness, effort and relationships), and build competence and confidence in their ability to perform a variety of motor skills, sport skills and modified team games (locomotor, non-locomotor, and manipulative).
    In Pre-Kindergarten, Junior, and Senior Kindergarten, time is divided among teacher-directed movement, game experiences, and activities the children choose themselves. The senior kindergarten children are exposed to a water safety program that includes a week-long class at the Williams Natatorium. In grades one through three, the emphasis is on individual skill development and cooperative group play. Team lead-up activities introduce the skills associated with football, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, etc., and emphasize cooperation, sportsmanship and fair play. In grades four and five fitness and sport skill remain a focus. These students continue to develop basic skills, individually, with partners, and in teams by participating in modified games associated with the sport of study. Units of study include: football, basketball, lacrosse, baseball/softball, gymnastics, volleyball, and soccer.
    In addition to an outstanding indoor facility and a wide range of equipment, the spacious Cranbrook grounds and athletic facilities are used for a variety of activities.
  • Science

    Grade One: First graders participate in a science program that emphasizes a “hands-on” approach to learning.  The students have an opportunity to observe their environment, formulate questions, make predictions, manipulate materials, arrive at some conclusions, and learn ways to communicate and record their findings.  By experiencing the scientific process first-hand through a large variety of classroom experiences, the learning becomes more meaningful and concepts are internalized. 
    Grade Two: Second grade science focuses on basic concepts in the areas of earth, life and physical science through “hands-on” active participation of the students.  The children experience the scientific method of inquiry through observation, questioning, hypothesizing, predicting, experimenting, recording, classifying and making inferences about the world around them.
    Grade Three: Third grade students extend their understanding of concepts they studied in previous years.  In life science they begin to explore characteristics of seed plants.  They use this knowledge to explain how these characteristics help plants survive in their environments.  Finally, students describe the positive and negative effects of humans on the environment.  In physical science, they explore, build, and use simple machines.  The earth and space science strand focus on the solar system and beyond. 
    Grade Four:  Students meet with the science teacher three times in a six-day cycle.  They begin the year by learning about characteristics of ecosystems.  Then, students examine the Earth, Moon, and Sun relationship, focusing on the geological, hydrological, atmospheric, and magnetic traits of the Earth. The remainder of the year is spent studying physical science.  Students learn about energy and its forms and examine how energy interacts with matter.  Next, students learn about the properties of forces and how they can influence motion.  Basic information is introduced, which will serve as a foundation for further study of forces in fifth grade.  Students are evaluated based on class discussion and participation, lab activities, homework, and unit quizzes.
    Grade Five:  Students meet with the science teacher three times in a six-day cycle.  Genes and traits are introduced in life science and made concrete through the study of the effects of environment and heredity on the evolution of groups of organisms.  In physical science, students expand their competency in measuring the distance, area, volume, mass, and density of various objects and substances. Students use these skills to demonstrate and explain how to control the motions of objects and measure forces such as gravity, friction, buoyant force, and electromagnetic forces. Students are evaluated based on class discussion and participation, lab activities, homework, and unit quizzes. 
  • Spanish

    Spanish instruction at Brookside begins in junior kindergarten and continues through fifth grade. Classes are taught almost entirely in Spanish. Brookside’s Spanish program is called FLEX (FOREIGN LANGUAGE EXPOSURE). The FLEX program provides opportunity for early exposure to a second language so children can understand language concepts more thoroughly, helping them in learning both foreign languages and their mother language. Children begin to master the sound system and correct pronunciation of Spanish and develop a feeling of confidence. In the program, language participation in class activities is of primary importance. Paired activities, small group work, short films, games and songs (all in Spanish) develop skills in simple communication. Students are also encouraged to make connections and comparisons between their language and culture, and the language and culture of Spain and Latin America. Students in the fourth and fifth grade use the text Descubre el Español con Santillana  to support and extend their learning. An online component of this curriculum allows for rich home school connections.
    The program is designed to help students feel comfortable verbalizing the Spanish language with an introduction to reading and writing in Spanish, provide a life-long interest in foreign language learning, expose students to selected Hispanic festivities and create a foundation for language study in the middle school.
    Globalization is part of our daily lives. The ability to speak several languages plays a major role. The world speaks more than one language, and Brookside students are a part of this global trend.