Language Arts in first grade builds upon the language skills that children acquired in PreK and kindergarten. Student proficiency is maximized in all areas of reading and writing. Using phonics lessons and children’s literature, students grow into problem-solvers, thinkers, and readers. Writing activities focus on creative expression and elementary skills of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Class-produced books and journals document the adventures that our first graders enjoy on field trips, classroom experiences, and visitation days by parents and professionals.
Through the use of enVision math videos, manipulatives, and small group work, students learn the fundamental arithmetical operations of addition and subtraction. Simultaneously, precursors for higher-level thinking are exercised so that problem solving and reasoning support the topics covered in first grade include patterning, fractions, estimation, place value, time and calendar, money, numbers 1 to 100, double-digit numbers, making predictions, plane and solid figures, symmetry, and measurement.
In first grade, students continue their scientific journey as they learn more about science through cross-curricular thematic studies. Children move to the science lab twice a week. Thematic units taught include animal adaptations, temperature, kitchen science, and insects. Science concepts are also explored as students learn about the early American settlers and Africa in social studies.
Students enjoy teacher-designed interdisciplinary units on various themes, including Thanksgiving, holiday customs around the world, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Africa. Within each theme, students explore cultures, traditions, and similarities and differences among people of the world. Writing is incorporated in many aspects of these units, and creative illustrations complement their work.
In first grade, students continue to work with new and exciting artistic mediums two days a week during the eight-day cycle. The art room allows them to experiment with a variety of expressive styles and techniques. First graders begin focusing on art appreciation, pulling inspiration and building a foundation in art through a study of both historical and contemporary artists. Students start to apply the elements of design to their own work and identify them in famous artist's work.
Visiting the library twice a week during an eight-day cycle in first grade, students take a journey around the world using folklore. Students track geographic progress on maps in the library. They also begin to explore more sections of the library and are formally introduced to call numbers and their functions. A classroom library is well stocked by our librarian according to themes covered in the social studies, reading, mathematics and science curriculum.
In first grade, students enjoy music class three times during the eight-day cycle. The focus of the class is on developing a positive experience in musical expression. Students move to the steady beat, create and use rhythm patterns, use hand signs with tone-matching activities, use Orff and percussion instruments, and learn about music symbols. The children study songs, chapel hymns, and traditional African music. Students also work on laptop computers using music-training software series “Music Ace” for a portion of their class periods.
First-grade students attend P.E. four times a week during the eight-day cycle. In addition to building on skills learned in kindergarten, first graders are introduced to the concepts of physical fitness such as strength, endurance, flexibility and aerobic exercise through cooperative activities and games. Students experience their first all-school Red and Gold Games and are exposed to the FitnessGram fitness assessment. Specific skills, including but not limited to, throwing, catching, dribbling, rope jumping, parachute activities and striking skills, are broken down into critical elements for correct technique and proper practice. Holidays, math week and international week are incorporated into the P.E. curriculum. Interdisciplinary concepts are integrated into games and skills where appropriate. First graders learn proper social aspects of participation in physical activities and good sportsmanship. Proper socialization in activities that introduce low levels of competition, such as relay races and Sports Day, take place. Emphasis is placed on personal improvement and development of skills, regardless of skill level.
In first grade, students have Spanish class every day for fifteen minutes. The Lower School Spanish teacher comes to the classroom, and children sing songs, play games, color pictures, watch videos, and engage in lessons that are delivered in the target language, Spanish. Curriculum content includes counting to fifty, learning the alphabet, family members, classroom items, meeting and greeting, colors, weather, geometric shapes, and animal names. Culture is embedded into the daily learning as our teacher offers exposure to food, dance, and traditions.