Aquarium art project

Cross-Curricular Learning

Each grade at St. Raphael School has an average of three Signature Units—topics that are covered in depth and cross-curriculum—each of which typically culminates with a field trip or an in-school presentation. These units spice up our traditional foundation of learning—which is language rich, math heavy, and includes a hands-on science approach.


Apples and Pumpkins

  • Unravel the mysteries of seed to harvest through stories , poems, music and artwork
  • Use measurement, weight, counting and estimation to determine size and amount
  • Take trip to the pumpkin patch—a thrill for all!


  • Look at professions in our community through Junior Achievement
  • Design stamps and mail letters in the classroom post office
  • Accomplish classroom jobs for pay, save at the classroom bank, spend at the classroom store

The Life Cycle of the Butterfly

  • Learn the tale of the butterfly through poems, stories, art and music
  • Observe caterpillars and the life cycle of a butterfly
  • Bring it all together with a trip to a nature center 
First Grade

Animal Habitats

  • Explore animal habitats
  • Make animal habitat dioramas
  • Create paper mache animals in art class
  • Take trip to the National Zoo

Folktales, Fables and Fairy Tales

  • Use puppets to bring dragons, knights, frogs and princesses to life
  • Learn about themes, styles and components; write creative fairy tales
  • Take trip to the Glen Echo Puppet Theater

Life on the Farm

  • Compare city life with life on the farm
  • Hatch chicks in the Science Lab (click here for slide show)
  • Observe and record information during incubation period
  • Assist and care for chicks
Second Grade

Writer’s Workshop

  • Develop dictionary, research, and proofreading skills
  • Strengthen creative writing

Black History Month

  • Appreciate equality and social justice
  • Research influential African Americans
  • Create the St. Raphael School Living Black History Museum
  • Visit the Smithsonian black history exhibit and theater production

Habitats of Sea Life

  • Analyze the differences between salt water and fresh water; study ocean food webs and how fish are unique
  • Use recycled plastic bottles to create classroom aquarium
  • Visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore
Third Grade


  • Read and share news items of interest
  • Research, edit and lay out a third-grade newspaper
  • Visit The Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Think Green

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Think globally, act locally, collect and enlighten within the school
  • Celebrate America Recycles Day and Earth Day

Super Saints

  • Research, write and share reports on the lives of saints
  • Examine individual life through reflection and meditation
  • Take a trip to the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg

Arts Tea

  • Re-create and exhibit art by historically significant artists
  • Formally present to attendees (parents and special guests) original poems about their artwork
Fourth Grade

Nobles, Knights and Serfs

  • Construct a three-dimensional view of a feudal manor
  • Design a coat of arms
  • Create costumes of the day
  • Host a medieval feast

Regions and Resources

  • Compare and contrast the geography of each region of the United States
  • Investigate how a region’s resources shape its industry
  • Survey art, music and literature of each region
  • Visit the oyster cannery at the Baltimore Museum of Industry

Our Maryland

  • Design brochures for the regions of Maryland
  • Develop a topographical map of our state
  • Research historical figures who influenced the development of our state
  • Tour Annapolis

Spanish Culture Experience

  • Dine out at local Hispanic restaurant while practicing Spanish conversation with servers and peers
Fifth Grade

Assateague Island

  • Explore the legends and myths about how the wild ponies came to Assateague Island
  • Read “Misty of Chincoteague,” the famous novel that recounts one legend
  • Discover the varied ecosystems and types of wildlife that thrive there
  • Visit Assateague to learn more about the thriving wildlife by surveying the beach and wading in the marsh

Explore the Stars

  • Learn about what a star is and how we identify stars
  • In Language Arts, read fiction and non-fiction stories that focus on stars
  • Create visual displays about the stars and be encouraged to visit a planetarium

Historical Perspectives

  • Do an in-depth study of the American Revolution and the Civil War
  • Make a book detailing the causes, events, people, battles, and results of the American Revolution
  • In Language Arts, read a historical fiction novel about the American Revolution
  • Learn about the formation of our government and the events that led to the Civil War
  • Culminate in a field trip to Gettysburg, Penn.
Sixth Grade

Greek and Roman Mythology

  • Take walking tour of Washington, D.C.
  • Identify Greek and Roman influences in architecture in the nation’s capitol
  • In Art class, study and draw Greek and Roman architectural focal points

Down on the Farm

  • Take overnight visit to Hard Bargain Farm in Accokeek
  • Investigate the watershed and record observed data
  • Identify and participate in daily farm chores

Poetry Unit

  • Cultivate a passion for poetry by exploring different types of poems and studying their literary elements
  • Culminate with a SRS Coffee House, where students recite for an audience famous works from memory
Seventh Grade

The Far East

  • Read “A Single Shard” by Linda Sue Park (Literature)
  • Explore east and southeast Asia (Social Studies)
  • Visit Asian collections at the Freer Gallery of Art (Visual Arts)
  • Enjoy lunch in Chinatown (Cuisine)

Culture and Catholicism in Maryland

  • Read "Red Kayak" by Priscilla Cummings (Literature)
  • Explore social and economic aspects of the Chesapeake Bay (Social Studies)
  • Take spiritual retreat to Southern Maryland (Religion)
  • Study history and impact of Catholicism in Maryland (Religion/Social Studies)


  • Read portions of play(s) by William Shakespeare (Literature)
  • Explore Elizabethan England (Social Studies)
  • Present in-class performances (Performing Arts)
Eighth Grade

Celebration of Our Catholic Life

  • School retreat—an examination of our life as a child of God
  • Confirmation—affirming our faith
  • Confirmation retreat
  • Reflection upon our spiritual, social, and intellectual growth

Celebration of Our School Life

  • Class trip—an overnight visit to Williamsburg and Busch Gardens, including a graveyard ghost tour
  • Graduation dinner—a celebration with school and families of our achievements
  • Graduation—a celebration of our past and future

Celebration of Service to Our Community

  • Commitment to serve
  • Cultivation of the desire to “Change the World”
  • Visits to Raphael House
  • The writing of monthly notes to parishioners

Note: The Signature Units above do not represent all of the curricula for the grades listed, but give an idea of some of the exciting areas of study each class will be exploring. Visit our Academics page for more information.