Special Subjects


At PJS, special subjects are aligned with transdisciplinary units of inquiry and core subject areas including math, language arts, and social studies whenever possible.  Special subjects provide opportunities to support and expand the exploration of the central ideas being investigated in the classroom in addition to examining subject-specific knowledge, concepts and skills.  In this way, there are opportunities for learning within and beyond the PJS Program of Inquiry.

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Learning Through Landscapes (LTL) at Princeton Junior School is an experiential, “place based” program that taps into children’s natural interest in the world around them and enables them to form meaningful connections from their specific community and natural environment to all areas of learning.  The LTL Program shows students that we live in a world of interconnected parts and, by exploring these relationships through work and play, we can understand how the world functions.

When students look at our local landscape from a “systems” perspective, their understanding of the relationship between place and process becomes more apparent as they observe the changes in seasons, cycles and relationships through the lens of our outdoor spaces.  When they experience our campus as a context for inquiry and action, our students deepen their understanding of sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Like the IB PYP, Learning Through Landscapes fosters the development of skills (inquiry, exploration, observation, self awareness, self management) and habits of mind (appreciation, cooperation, empathy, responsibility).  The six trandsdisciplinary themes naturally integrate the larger concepts and principles of sustainability into the PJS Program of Inquiry, the heart of our curriculum, and virtually all of the central ideas can be examined through the lens of sustainability.  In collaboration with classroom teachers and specialists, LTL reinforces and extends learning across disciplines and engages students in contributing to the sustainability of their communities while nurturing a sense of wonder, creativity and empathy for the natural world and developing an understanding that the world is interconnected, and we all depend on each other.

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If I had influence with the good fairy, I would ask that her gift to each child be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.
— Rachel Carson

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In our library, Windows to the World, PJS students explore what it means to be internationally minded through a lens of multicultural children’s literature. The books in our growing collection provide both windows and mirrors for children, allowing them to reflect on their own experiences but also imagine global experiences beyond their own. By venturing into the world of stories, our students gain insights into multiple ways of thinking, living, and being as well as an increased awareness and appreciation for their own cultural identities and the cultural identities of others.

The Windows to the World Library Collection:

* helps students to define what it means to be an internationally minded person
* promotes a deep understanding of the IB Learner Profile and Attitudes through children's literature
* introduces students to a variety of genres
* supports exploration of classroom units of inquiry
* promotes love and appreciation of language and stories
* encourages action to create a better and more just world

Feel free to visit the Windows to the World website for your "window" into what PJS students are reading and what is happening in our PJS library.

Technology Integration

The Technology Integrationist collaborates with teachers to support inquiry and enhance student learning with technology and empowers teachers to teach with technology that is integrated into the curriculum. Technology integration encompasses a wide range of digital tools and media for teaching, learning and assessing. As students use technology in the context of the Units of Inquiry, they develop a deeper understanding of its relevance and significance in our everyday lives. This collaborative model enhances student learning while providing meaningful opportunities for professional development within the classroom environment. By learning how to navigate and use a set of innovative web tools and iPad applications, technology supports and amplifies the learning of teachers and students, connecting learners, providing an additional "voice" to students in their learning and supporting reflective practice.

Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience.
— Rudine Sims Bishop

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Multilingual and cultural perspective

At PJS we embrace the diversity of languages, cultures and perspectives that our students and their families bring to our learning community, and we believe that exposing students to Spanish and in a positive and supportive learning environment will:

  • provide students with basic interpersonal communicative skills
  • provide a foundation that will lead to lifelong language learning
  • promote an increased awareness of the world and intercultural perspectives
  • nurture empathy toward other cultures
  • strengthen students’ confidence and willingness to take risks
  • increase students’ appreciation and understanding of their native languages

Language Learning

Language learning, multilingualism and the development of critical literacy are considered important factors in promoting intercultural awareness and international-mindedness, which are integral to the missions of both the International Baccalaureate Organization and Princeton Junior School. All PJS students have the opportunity to study Spanish.

In language classes, the focus is on communication as opposed to how to say or write something in isolation without a meaningful context.  By connecting language classes to the school’s program of inquiry when possible and communicating through real life situations that require collaboration with others, language instruction becomes more meaningful and more integrated into the school day.  Students not only learn the language, but also content and culture.

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Learning through the arts is an organic process at Princeton Junior School, and our academic curriculum is seamlessly integrated into the art, drama, and music programs. Whether through singing, drawing, acting, or studying the history and theory of art, PJS fosters and sustains the innate creativity of each student, while developing an appreciation of the arts from many cultures. Students’ self-awareness, self-expression, and confidence grow tremendously through their participation in the arts at PJS.


Art is a powerful mode of communication through which PJS students explore and construct a sense of self and develop an understanding of the world around them. Not all learning can be supported solely through language, and visual art as a medium of inquiry provides opportunities for learning, communication and self expression. Learning about and through arts is fundamental to the development of the whole child, promoting creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving skills and social interactions.

At Princeton Junior School, art is relevant throughout the curriculum and promotes attitudes such as empathy and appreciation, and skills such as analysis, that help us to see the uniqueness of each person as well as explore the commonalities that connect us.  Art is a way of conveying meaning, sharing culture, developing one’s sense of self, and expanding knowledge. Through engaging with and creating artworks, learners are encouraged to reconsider familiar concepts and think about issues of culture and identity.

Throughout their schooling at PJS, students will explore:

  • tools and techniques in the art studio
  • elements of art and principles of design
  • a variety of materials, both purchased and repurposed
  • the "Hundred Languages” of children
  • an artist’s vocabulary
  • the importance of experimentation
  • “close looking” at the world around them
  • “reading a painting”
  • art in nature
  • the reciprocal relationship between art and language
  • their connection to well known artists through the artist's childhood stories, self-portraits, and correspondence

As part of the art curriculum, all students K-5 will create their own sketch book to support, document and reflect on their creative process.


The Toddler and Preschool music classes at PJS use the internationally-recognized Music Together Program.  This program encourages our youngest students to experience music in a fun and lively way.  Creative movement, comprehension of rhythm and beat and an awareness of musical instruments are all cultivated.

Kindergarten-Grade 3 students focus on the development of healthy singing voices and habits by exploring pitch, beat, rhythm and tempo.  Various instruments are used to advance existing skills as well as create new ones.  Through imaginative play, improvisation, storytelling and literature-based explorations, students enhance their listening skills and creativity.  Grades 4-5 students investigate a diverse selection of music styles.  Students learn to read music through recorder lessons.  Drama and performance opportunities are explored throughout the school year across all grade levels.  Each class presents at least one all-school performance during the school year. 

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Physical Education

Physical Education extends beyond student participation in sports and games.  Its goal is to develop a combination of transferable skills promoting physical, intellectual, emotional and social development, so opportunities are provided for learning about movement and through movement in a range of contexts.  These may include playground games, team games, and adventure challenges.

Personal and Social Education

The development of a student's wellbeing is addressed through all areas of the Primary Years Program curriculum.  Therefore, students' social, personal and emotional development is the shared responsibility of all teachers at Princeton Junior School.  Our teachers provide guidance to help children develop positive attitudes and behaviors in order to meet challenges, make healthy lifestyle choices, and become successful learners.