First Grade Curriculum Overview
First grade students use the foundational skills learned in Kindergarten to continue to build and practice independence throughout their first year in the Lower School. First graders grow as readers and writers by developing strategies for comprehending books and crafting stories of their own. Our approach to educating the whole child sees students beginning to participate in community-building activities to support their social and emotional growth. Technology and Physical Education are added to the schedule as students expand their specialized studies beyond Spanish, Art and Music.
Explore what your child will learn in each of the following subject areas:
- Social Studies
- Social-Emotional Learning
- Specials Classes
- Homework and Assessments
Students begin the year building a love for reading by developing reading routines and strategies that lay the foundation for decoding and comprehension skills. First graders gather for lessons with targeted teaching points that they can apply to their books during independent and small group reading times. Teachers confer with children during this time to support individual needs. Students also meet in differentiated small groups to work on specific decoding, word attack strategies, and various comprehension skills, such as making connections, retelling, inferring, predicting, understanding the author’s purpose and asking questions. Shared reading activities are utilized to reinforce phonics, fluency, and sight word recognition skills. Irregular spelling patterns, phonics rules, and sight words are focused upon during word study and students are encouraged to apply these skills to their texts while reading.
Our writing workshop model includes a mini lesson, modeling, independent writing, writing conferences, and skills and strategy small group work. Students learn to plan, draft, revise, edit and publish their work. Families are invited to Publishing Parties to celebrate students’ writing accomplishments throughout the year. There is a focus on developing each student’s writing stamina and individual voice. Handwriting is practiced weekly using the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum.
Focus Areas of Instruction:
- Word Attack Skills
- Word Study/Sight Words
- Language Conventions and Mechanics
- Reading Stamina
- Writing Across Genres
- Stages of the Writing Process
- Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing and Publishing
- Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing and Publishing
In 1st grade, students continue the Singapore Math program and engage in a rigorous curriculum focused on critical thinking and developing multiple strategies for solving problems. Mastery of these skills is achieved through intentional sequencing of concepts. The approach includes the CPA (Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract) progression, number bonds, bar modeling and mental math.
Students learn to think mathematically, use models of representation and draw on the depth of knowledge fostered in previous lessons. Students continue to strengthen their understanding of number sense: using and understanding numbers, knowing the relative value of numbers, using numbers in flexible ways while adding and subtracting, and knowing how to use various strategies when counting and solving real-world problems.
- Graphing and data collection
- Adding and subtracting
- Understanding the relative value of numbers
- Using numbers in flexible ways
- Manipulating numbers
- Solving word problems
- Number sense and place value
- Addition and subtraction
In 1st grade, students learn about scientific inquiry, hypotheses, experimentation and the evaluation of data. They are given opportunities to take part in practical experiments, pose questions, make observations and record their findings. Science learning is focused on air, weather and the moon, nutrition, body systems and life cycles. Students follow the egg-to-chick life cycle, tracking the real-life development and growth of chicks they hatch and raise in their classrooms.
- Scientific method
- Make observations
- Conduct experiments
- Make predictions
- Evaluate findings
- Form hypotheses
- Food and nutrition and the body system
- Life cycle
- Egg-to-chick study
In social studies, students focus on the different elements of a community. Units of study explore the crucial components (“needs”) and recreational desires (“wants”) of a community, as well as the complex ways its members interact and depend on each other. Students delve into the various institutions and systems that make up a neighborhood and study how these systems may differ between urban, suburban, and rural environments. Our block study supports these explorations. As first graders develop their understanding through creating realistic features and details of a neighborhood, they begin to explore the systems that support the community’s health and wellbeing, like food and transportation.
- Systems within communities
- Needs, wants, interactions and complexities of a neighborhood
- Urban, suburban and rural environments
- Cultural study
- Visual and written recording
- Mapping skills
- Creating and building realistic models
- Transportation study
- Community institution study
- Food systems study
- Urban, suburban, rural
In 1st grade, students practice being community members, learners and caring friends. We explore feelings, friendship, problem-solving skills, and more to help foster social and emotional growth. Our first graders learn about identity, diversity, justice and action. A range of topics are covered, including anti-bias,multicultural and social justice issues that are tailored to our students' needs.
First grade topics include:
- Active Listening
In 1st grade music, students build on their established understanding of musical expression and artistic concepts. Students apply previous learning in order to to develop their musical literacy, aural analysis skills and the level of expression in their own performances.
Unit 1: Kindergarten Review
Unit 2: Quarter and Eighth Notes
Unit 3: Sol-Mi
Unit 4: Quarter Note Rest
Unit 5: La
Unit 6: Duple Meter
In 1st grade, we build and expand on students’ exploration of art media and skills. Using a variety of materials, students express their reflections on self and community. Artmaking offers students a visual language to show their learning and understanding of themes like the local neighborhood, identity, the five senses, vehicles of transportation, and ideas like symmetry and body proportions.
Units of Study
- Collage mural
- Self-portraits (symmetry)
- Texture painting
- Clay sculptures
- Paper making and book binding
- Proportion of the figure
In 1st grade, students continue their development of the Spanish language. They take a deeper dive into culture and engage with the language through interactive experiences. They learn vocabulary and grammar through the unit studies of greetings, seasons and weather, clothing and school. They are motivated to express themselves through simple words, phrases and small conversations. Students are immersed in Spanish twice a cycle for 30 minutes.
In the youngest grades, assessment of young children's progress and achievements is ongoing, purposeful, strategic, and reflective. Observation, documentation of learning moments, and conferencing with children individually offers them opportunities to engage in meaningful experiences where they are able to apply their knowledge and skills and share their thinking.
In addition to local neighborhood walks to transportation hubs like the light rail, PATH station, Citi Bike hubs, and train and bus station, we also take walking trips to nearby stores. During the third trimester, students take community field trips to venues such as Chelsea Market, Alstede Farms and New York City Theaters.