Core Knowledge


This tool was developed to empower families to have rich, meaningful conversations with their young scholars outside of school. Parent-partnerships are vital for students’ healthy, holistic development. By engaging students with thought-provoking academic topics beyond the formal classroom, family members can review knowledge, clarify understandings, and deepen students’ retention by transferring what they learned at school to a different setting.

AVA’s teachers will introduce these Essential Questions to students throughout the school year, according to each grade level’s month-by-month curriculum maps. Families are encouraged to use these questions as conversation-starters. The wonderful core knowledge content that students learn daily at AVA through history, science, music, art, technology, and literature has the potential to elevate the quality of your family life through dialogue at dinner-time, on a drive, or in those moments between activities when you have a chance to simply enjoying one another’s company.

Essential Questions are those which transcend time and location. They are essential to human nature in the pursuit of understanding regarding people, leadership, culture, the natural world, problem-solving, and ethics. These are questions that would have been as likely to engage ancient Greeks, medieval Germanics, or modern South Asians, as they do you and I today. Essential questions are questions that lead to more questions, deeper discussion, and which cause one to think more. We encourage you to avoid short, easy responses, think twice together about your initial reactions, and have fun with these!


August September October November December January February March April May
Where do we see shapes in everyday life? Where do colors come from?

How can you feel the beat?

How do you make colors?

How can instruments sound like animals?

How do certain colors convey certain feelings?

Why are teams important?

What is a pattern?

How do we know what to sing?

How do we make something 3-D?

How do you move to music?

How do we keep our hearts healthy? How do we approach something new that we have never done before? What does it mean to finish strong?


Why do we sing?

1st Grade

August September October November December January February March April May
How do elements combine to make a whole? How do we compose music?

What makes up a culture?

What is your theme song? How do we know what to sing?

How does learning new things enrich our lives?

How do traditions reveal values? How does attention to detail make the whole better? Why do we have performances?

Why should we keep our hearts healthy?

Why is a strong core important? How does music tell a story? How do we make something simple, fun?

2nd Grade

August September October November December January February March April May
How have patriots shaped our history? How can you make music?

What makes up a culture?

How do string instruments make music?

How is history related to art?

How do the lines, color, shapes, and space work together to make art? How does conflict reveal character? How does music set a mood? How is realism different from abstract art? How can teamwork make life better? How should we respond to failure? How can artists create perspective?

3rd Grade

August September October November December January February March April May
How do people organize information? What makes a good story? How does learning new things enrich our lives? How did the planets get their names? How does conflict reveal character? How do you create a 3 dimensional piece from a 2 dimensional image? What does it mean to have symmetry and balance in art? How can we learn from past experiences? How should we respond to failure? How do human brains work?

4th Grade

August September October November December January February March April May
What choices must a mason/sculptor make before building a castle? Are all changes good? What makes a change good? How can we change things to make them better? How does a sculptor see a form before sculpting it? How do regions change over time? How many designs can you make from one shape? How much of our identity does our face reveal? Why do we read words from left to right? Why does every society tell stories and pass them on? Why would you leave your home and move to another country?

5th Grade

August September October November December January February March April May
How does the past influence the present? How do patterns create unity? How do different people use symmetry (Mayan, Aztecs, Incas)? Why do some paintings (renaissance) look so real? Why do people classify things? How could the alphabet change the world? How do stories help us grow? How does conflict reveal character? How does your environment reflect who you are? How did your family decide to live in Colorado?

6th Grade

August September October November December January February March April May
What does it mean to be American? What inspires Inventors? Can art change the world?

How do our values influence the stories we tell?

What can a sculpture do that a painting cannot? What is the purpose of government? What makes a good leader? What causes revolutions? What is worth fighting for? Why are there so many different periods of art?

What control do you have over your own destiny?

Why do humans need to eat and breathe (scientifically)? What moves people to change (persuasion)?

7th Grade

August September October November December January February March April May
What are foundations? Why are foundations important in life?

Should powerful countries be held to a moral standard in their dealing with weaker countries?

Why would it be important to document you daily experiences?

How do choices we make create our reality?

What things can people actually control in their day-to-day lives?

How does conflict reveal character?

What happens to a dream deferred?

How much respect do we owe authority?

What is the best way to respond to change?

How can the language of literature help us dig deeper into texts?

What is the best way to manage our resources?

Why should people give credit to those who have helped them (citing sources)? What makes someone good, and what makes them evil?

When should you stand up for yourself and others?  When should you stay silent?

Why is poetry powerful?

What is courage?

How can we decipher poetry?

Which is more important beauty or intelligence?

Can you have both forgiveness and justice?

What shapes our perceptions of beauty and Intelligence?

8th Grade

August September October November December January February March April May
What can fiction teach us about ourselves?

How do we properly investigate the world?

What makes a rebellion successful?

How do you rebuild a country after rebellion?

Why do things move?

How do people’s experiences help them to learn right from wrong?

How does opposition affect our world? How do you change a culture?

How can good citizens promote justice?

What are the most effective means of protest? What causes waves and how are they used? What actions are justified by oppression and violence? How are living things dependent on each other to survive? What is the responsibility to those with power?

AVA’s strategic focus is to maximize the benefits of our unique K-8 program in order to deliver the mission and vision for which this distinct independent charter school was founded. AVA’s research-based ongoing strategic plan upholds a focus on developing and implementing guaranteed and viable curriculum. The resources below visualize and explain how AVA students benefit from a reverse-engineered, high-quality curriculum.

AVA’s Month-by-Month Curriculum Maps

AVA’s Curriculum Maps exist to protect teacher time, energy, and focus. While Core Knowledge topics and sequencing will not change, teachers have the opportunity to own the unit-planning in creative ways that grow the whole student. AVA teachers have broken down the Core Knowledge sequence month-by-month and outlined the order in which students will learn every topic so that by the end of each school year students have received all that our program is designed to deliver.

Students benefit when they experience alignment between home and school. Families are encouraged to print the curriculum map for your students’ grade each year. Consider posting it on your refrigerator, referring to it weekly, researching interesting topics in greater detail at home (for the joy of learning!), and allowing the rich content your student is learning to add value to the quality of family conversations. Toward this same end, we have created a family-friendly resource page called Conversation Starters, which lists the essential questions each grade level is considering in various subjects, each month of the year. We are a learning community – a lifetime is too short for us to fully plumb the depths of the goodness, beauty, and truth we can enjoy by studying these living ideas together.

Kindergarten Curriculum Map

1st Grade Curriculum Map

2nd Grade Curriculum Map

3rd Grade Curriculum Map

4th Grade Curriculum Map

5th Grade Curriculum Map

6th Grade Curriculum Map

7th Grade Curriculum Map

8th Grade Curriculum Map


Core Knowledge at a Glance

The premise of Core Knowledge (not to be confused with Common Core) is that the world’s future leaders must be equipped with a body of knowledge in order to be culturally literate. While at other schools accross the nation classic novels, science, and history have been pushed aside, the Core Knowledge approach includes a study of these subjects every day in every grade. AVA embraces the end goal of growing students to become culturally literate. AVA’s specialized subjects (like technology, art, music, and physical education) make connections to Core Knowledge concepts at each grade-level, providing students with opportunities to transfer and apply their understanding accross subjects.

Below is the Core Knolwedge sequence at a glance. This resource can be

Core Knowledge Sequence: Prek - 3rd Grade

Core Knowledge Sequence: 4th - 8th grade