Prep-One provides a transitional year for those boys who would benefit from the time to develop social and emotional skills necessary for success in future grades. Hands-on exploration, outdoor experiences, and methods to build independence are integral parts of the program. Boys leave the Prep-One year better prepared to handle the challenges and academic elements of the school day.

In Prep-One, your son will learn:

Language Arts

Prep-One boys focus on a continuation of the reading comprehension strategies and phonemic awareness lessons of Kindergarten. They build fluency in reading through a variety of methods including leveled readers, Explode the Code, and Raz Kids. Boys build listening skills, predicting skills, and practice story-retelling. Prep-One boys complete research projects on bears, the rainforest, and the African savannah during the year.


The Prep-One curriculum builds on the Kindergarten program and emphasizes counting, skip-counting, sets/sorting, basic number theory, patterns, attributes, ordinal numbers, use of the number line, whole number computation, measurement, money, time, and problem-solving strategies. Games are often used to build collaborative and problem-solving skills.

Social Studies

Prep-One students focus on answering the question “Who am I?,” looking at relationships with self, family, and friends. How we work as a community is examined with emphasis on building character, resolving conflict, and recognizing qualities in others. Boys in Prep-One explore other communities and cultures through books, guest speakers, and hands-on projects. Specific units of study include bears, rainforest, the African savannah, and the outside habitat of Gilman School.


During the course of the year, Prep-One boys explore forces and motion, learn about trees and forests, the importance of recycling, adaptation and habitats, and boat building and buoyancy. They learn the scientific method of posing a question, forming and testing a hypothesis, collecting data, and developing a conclusion. Projects include building a car out of recycled materials, creating a snake that can adapt in sunlight, and making tinfoil boats.


The philosophy and work of Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967), Hungarian composer and music educator, provide the foundation for the lower school vocal program. The boys develop musical skill in pitch, rhythm, form, and harmony and learn a large repertoire of songs with an emphasis on American folk songs. They grow in competency as choral music performers and music readers, and they listen to classical and folk music from around the world. Folk dancing and children’s musical games are an important component of the lower school program.  Twice a year, all students highlight their performance skills in concerts that include singing, dancing, and instrumental playing.  In addition to their own personal skills and performance, all students are exposed yearly to a concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

The music curriculum in Prep-one builds upon the Kindergarten program and consists of songs, games, and dances to aid in the development of pitch, rhythm, and musical expression. Listening skills are enhanced by singing echo songs and repeat clapping. The boys are introduced to the musical “opposites” of tempo (fast/slow), dynamics (loud/soft), pitch (high/low), and rhythm (long/short). Students are also exposed to different styles of music and the families of instruments: brass, woodwinds, percussion, and strings.


The art program encourages the student to express himself creatively and explore the world from an artist’s vantage point. The lower school art program aims to foster the creative growth of each individual student while exposing him to a wide range of art styles and forms. Through engaging and fun instruction our students are exposed to many aspects of art.  Students learn to use art vocabulary, as well as respond to and  appreciate art. The art program Includes drawing, painting, collage, constructing, printmaking, and ceramics.

The Prep-One art program explores themes that correlate with classroom studies: for example, paper mache tropical snake sculptures correlate to classroom studies on rainforests. Students learn about French master painter, Claude Monet, by creating their own version of his famous water lilies series. They learn about clay sculpture while creating a colorful clay snake. Each year the Prep-One boys visit the Baltimore Museum of Art as part of their studies. “The Thinker” by sculptor Auguste Rodin is always a big hit!

Physical Education

The lower school physical education curriculum includes physical education, aquatics, and athletics. Aquatics instruction starts in the Prep-One year and continues through Fifth Grade. Kindergarten through Fifth Grade receive a spiraling program of individual and group experiences. Sportsmanship, cooperation, and skill development are given high priority in all elementary grades. Specific traits of the Gilman Five are reinforced such as humility, respect, and excellence.

Prep-one physical education classes meet eight days out of 10 for 45-minute sessions. Individual skill development and cooperative interaction are the main emphasis of the physical education program. The students explore and refine basic movement patterns and are exposed to exploratory and discovery experiences involving body awareness, spatial orientation, basic body actions, eye-hand and eye-foot coordination, and rhythmic movement. Boys also receive swimming lessons every four days.The aquatic component stresses water safety, coordination, and skill development.

French or Spanish

Prep-One boys learn greetings and basic commands, while being introduced to colors, numbers, weather words, holidays, animals, and the family. French or Spanish culture is explored through song, dance and games.


With over 18,000 books, and access to multiple databases and digital content the lower school library, also known as the William Passano Library, offers the boys a rich, global collection of contemporary materials to explore. Students enjoy the library daily, as a space to research and for reading. Weekly classes with the librarian allows the boys to delve into research, explore what makes an award winning story or illustration, and learn about genres that may expand their reading experiences. Additionally, the librarian collaborates with the classroom teachers to support and enrich studies covered throughout the academic year. Building curious, confident, and avid readers who love reading is the goal of the library program.

Prep-One boys identify the main elements of a story and offer verbal and written retellings, through their rich exposure to picture books. The students also routinely compare and contrast stories to grow their knowledge of different literary genres and authors.

Design & Woodworking

The Design and Woodworking program is designed to include hands-on instruction and learning. The objective of the program is to expose the students to the art of craftsmanship, teaching them how to use basic tools and follow a specific set of instructions to produce objects that are both useful and beautiful. Projects build sequentially based on students’ age and skill. As the ability to manipulate tools gets better, the projects increase in degree of difficulty. This program further builds skills such as perseverance and patience. Safety is a top priority and emphasized in every class.

The Design and Woodworking program is designed to include hands-on instruction and learning. The objective of the program is to expose the students to the art of craftsmanship, teaching them how to use basic tools and follow a specific set of instructions to produce objects that are both useful and beautiful.

Prep-One boys learn the basics of the shop, use of the saw, sandpaper and other abrasive tools. They learn to make the distinction between various types of tools. Shape and texture are explored through projects such as a measuring tool and server for spaghetti.

Special Events

A number of special events highlight the Prep-One experience, including:

  • Gilman Stony Run Stream Exploration
  • Senior/Prep-One Luncheon
  • Spring Art Show
  • Baltimore Zoo Field Trip
  • Lake Roland Habitat Walk
  • Grade Three Big Buddies
Stony Run Stream Exploration
Senior/Prep-One Luncheon
Senior/Prep-One Luncheon
Senior/Prep-One Luncheon
Senior/Prep-One Luncheon
Stony Run Stream Exploration
Student-Teacher Ratio  
Kindergarten 7-9:1
Prep-One 7-9:1
First 15-17:1
Second 15-17:1
Third 15-17:1
Fourth 15-17:1
Fifth 15-17:1