The First Grade Curriculum
In first grade the goal is for each child to become a life-long reader. By presenting first graders with a strong word making foundation, they become independent readers. As the children grow in their decoding abilities, the focus broadens to include an emphasis on fluency, expression, comprehension and analysis. The approach to teaching and learning includes an opportunity to work in small adult-guided groups, peer one on one, or small peer groups, whether it is to read in the basal reader or work on phonics skills. The children are introduced to different literature genres, including fables, folk tales, fiction and nonfiction. Additionally, first graders are given time to participate in individual silent reading.
Through a variety of writing activities, the students learn the structure of our language, which includes basic parts of speech, sentence structure, punctuation and capitalization. The children engage in non-structured writing activities in their journals as well as structured writing activities which include exposure to and use of editing marks. Additionally, first graders create class and individual books and poems based on pattern writing from published stories and poems.
The Penmanship curriculum encourages children to learn how to hold a writing instrument correctly and to use the proper spacing between words in all that they write. Students focus on deciphering between upper and lower case letters and writing them using correct form. Additionally, students learn how to correctly print punctuation marks, words and sentences in relation to the lines on a printed page.
First graders develop creative writing skills by participating in structured and non-structured writing activities which include: journal writing, poetry, patterned writing, and classroom and individual generated nonfiction and fiction books and stories. As a result, they are able to communicate their ideas through writing in addition to orally presenting ideas with clarity. Additionally, students learn correct sentence structure, tense and punctuation. Through the use of oral and written activities, students learn about a variety of writing tools including: parts of speech, contractions, alphabetizing, dictionary usage, editing, and letter writing.
The spelling program in first grade focuses on familiarizing the children with spelling pattern rules that will help them identify new words with similar patterns and build their sight word vocabulary. The ultimate goal is for the children to use the rules in their daily reading and writing activities. Students also grow in their ability to incorporate more conventional spelling into their work as well as inventive spelling in more informal writing. Students are expected to take bi-weekly spelling tests and complete spelling homework contracts which include multi-sensory activities.
The mathematics program in first grade aims to develop mental math skills enabling students to use math strategies and techniques effectively. The curriculum focuses on the following concepts: single, double and triple digit addition and subtraction, measurement, place value, counting, number patterns, money, time, problem solving, estimation, probability, and an introduction to fractions. Games and manipulatives in combination with traditional oral and written activities are used to help students understand the mathematical concepts.
The social studies curriculum in first grade is thematic based. The children learn through an integrated and multi-sensory approach. Each unit incorporates graphing, creative writing, art, math, literature and, when applicable, cooking. The children engage in a variety of hands on activities whether as a whole class, small groups or in pairs. A field trip or an at school presenter is usually a culminating activity for each unit. Some of the units covered in First Grade include: bears, Native Americans, international celebrations, dinosaurs, and the Amazon Rain Forest.
In the first grade, the children are encouraged to be independent problem solvers in all aspects of the curriculum. They grow as creative thinkers through a variety of writing assignments including daily journal writing. The curriculum emphasizes developing time management. Additionally, listening and participation skills are reinforced on a daily basis.