Kindergartens in Palo Alto schools are committed to maintaining students’ natural curiosity and confidence in themselves as learners while developing the student behaviors that will enable them to become active and focused learners in a classroom setting. The following summary of the instructional program provides an overview of the Kindergarten year. Expectations are, of course, modified or expanded to meet a child’s needs and abilities.  The Kindergarten program builds on skills and knowledge children learn at home or pre-school. The manner of instruction – motivation, grouping, pacing, reinforcing and reteaching – is determined by each teacher as he or she works to meet individual needs.

Curriculum standards are what all grade-level students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of a school year. Key standards of kindergarten education are highlighted below. All K-5 teachers will continue efforts to fully implement the California Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by making strategic instructional shifts in both English Language Arts and Mathematics. Instruction will be adjusted to best meet the needs of all students.

In Kindergarten, each student will . . .

Language Arts

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language Arts

As part of the shift to the Common Core State Standards, students will be working toward College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards (CCR) in language arts. These anchor standards describe the skills of graduating twelfth grade students, and are all included in the specific kindergarten through fifth grade standards at the appropriate developmental level for each grade. There are ten standards for reading, ten for writing, six in the area of listening and speaking, and six in language. These standards include reading closely for deeper meaning, analyzing details, interpreting and using evidence, integrating and evaluating content from various multimedia sources, writing routinely over extended time frames for different purposes using different forms of technology (including the internet), and more.  For a list of the specific 32 kindergarten through 5th grade language arts College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards.


  • identifies uppercase and lowercase letter names
  • identifies individual letter sounds
  • asks and answers questions about unknown words in text using meaning, structure, and visual cues
  • with prompting and support, retells familiar texts
  • with prompting and support, identifies basic similarities and differences between two texts
  • reads at grade level

Writing/Word Work

  • prints many uppercase and lowercase letters
  • capitalizes the first word in a sentence and the pronoun "I"
  • recognizes and names ending punctuation marks
  • uses a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to convey a message
  • understands that words are separated by spaces in print
  • refining use of phonetic spelling; some recognizable words


  • follows agreed-upon rules for discussions
  • speaks audibly and expresses thoughts and ideas clearly

The major shifts in mathematics education for all grade levels are the Standards for Mathematical Practice.  These standards are the same for kindergarten through 12th grade students.  The Standards for Mathematical Practice describe varieties of expertise that mathematics educators at all levels should focus on in developing their students. These practices rest on important “processes and proficiencies” with longstanding importance in mathematics education.  The 8 Math Practice Standards emphasize the importance of students’ ability to explain and apply mathematical concepts to solve a range of complex problems. The 8 Math Practice Standards also emphasize how to precisely construct viable arguments to support their own reasoning, and critique the reasoning of others.


Math Practice Standards

  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. Model with mathematics.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. Attend to precision.
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

For more information about the Common Core Math Practice standards visit


Counting and Cardinality

  • counts a number of objects (up to 20)
  • writes and represents numbers from 0-20
  • counts to 100 by ones and tens
  • names and represents a group of objects (up to 20)
  • compares two or more sets of objects (up to 10 objects in each group) and identifies which set is equal to, more than, or less than the other

Operations and Algebraic Thinking

  • fluently adds and subtracts within 5
  • identifies, describes, and extends simple patterns
  • represents addition and subtraction with objects, drawings, equations, etc.
  • uses concrete objects to solve addition and subtraction story problems (for two numbers that are each less than 10)

Number and Operations in Base Ten

  • composes and decomposes numbers 11-19 into tens and ones

Measurement and Data

  • compares length and weight of objects by making direct comparisons with reference objects and nonstandard tools
  • identifies, sorts, and classifies objects by attributes, and identifies objects that do not belong to a particular group


  • analyzes, compares, creates, and composes 2 and 3 dimensional shapes
  • identifies and describes common geometric objects (e.g., circle, triangle, square, rectangle, cube, sphere, cone)

In Science, PAUSD uses the Full Option Science System (FOSS) program K-5. The program features a life, earth, and physical science hands-on unit at each grade level.  Teachers strive to integrate reading, writing, and math within Science. By focusing on informational writing and non-fiction text Science aligns more closely with reading and writing.  California has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and PAUSD is currently exploring these new standards and how they will influence teaching and learning.


Life Science

Earth Science

Physical Science


Animals 2 x 2


Wood and Paper


Plants and Animals

Air and Weather

Solids and Liquids


Insects and Plants

Pebbles, Sand and Silt

Balance and Motion


Structures of Life/Baylands

Sun, Moon and Stars

Matter and Energy



Solid Earth

Magnetism and Electricity


Living Systems

Water Planets

Mixtures and Solutions


Scientific Process Skills

  • Observe common objects by using the five senses [Caution: Observational activities associated with tasting and smelling should be conducted only under parental supervision at home.]
  • Describe he properties of common objects
  • Compare and sort common objects by one physical attribute
  • Communicate observations orally and through drawings

Physical, Life, and Earth, Science standards encountered through participation in units of study:  Wood and Paper, Animals 2 X 2, and Trees

  • Recognize that objects can be described in terms of the materials they are made of (e.g., cloth, paper) and their physical properties (e.g., color, shape, texture)
  • Water can be a liquid or a solid and can be made to change back and forth from one form to the other
  • Observe and describe similarities and differences in the appearance and behavior of plants and animals (e.g., seed-bearing plants, birds, fish, insects)
  • Identify major structures of common plants and animals (e.g., stems, leaves, roots, arms, wings, legs)
  • Know changes in weather occur from day to day and across seasons, affecting Earth and its inhabitants
  • Identify resources from Earth that are used in everyday life and understand that many resources can be conserved


Social Studies

Palo Alto Unified School District adopted Social Studies Alive! by Teachers Curriculum Institute. This program is aligned with the California History Social Science Frameworks and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

This program truly engages students in learning. Student will be an active participant instead of a passive observer by experiencing history through imaginative teaching practices that include dramatic role playing, creative simulations, dynamic group projects, and writing from a historical perspective. Student’s program contains exciting lesson games, audio tools, and drawing activities, as well as an Interactive Student Notebook.

Social Studies Alive! Me and My World explores the relationships in students’ lives with their families, friends, teachers, and neighbors. Students learn that people live differently in different places and that they can help care for the world.

Visual & Performing Arts

Visual Arts

  • Recognize and describe simple patterns found in the environment and in works of art
  • Paint pictures expressing ideas about family and neighborhood
  • Look at and discuss works of art from a variety of times and places
  • Describe the literal and expressive content, in selected works of art

Music and the Performing Arts

  • Read, notate, listen to and describe music
  • Sing songs with accuracy and use hand percussion instruments to play rhythmic and melodic ostinatos
  • Sing and play songs from diverse cultures
  • Make judgments about the quality of a musical performance
  • Describe how music communicates ideas and moods
Physical Education
  • Improve in balance, locomotor, hand-eye coordination, ball skills
  • Increase body strength through physical activities
  • Develop body awareness in spatial relationships
  • Become aware of fair play practices and abide by group game rules
  • Demonstrate good health practices (e.g., nutrition, rest, health care)
Library Media Program
  • Information Literacy: Students learn to find, evaluate and use information in meaningful and responsible ways
  • Library and Information Usage: Students learn to practice ethical and responsible behavior
  • Literature Appreciation: Students learn to choose, enjoy and respond to a wide variety of literature