When students enter the 1st Grade they experience a significant transition between the Early Childhood classes (or other Kindergarten programs) and the Grade School. First grade provides a strong framework for classroom dynamics, desk-based work, group interactions. The curriculum introduces daily routines, methods and exercises from which academic, communicative and social skills develop.
The first graders are introduced to the letters of the alphabet. Via both oral and visual traditions of storytelling the teachers move the children’s exposure through a transformation from pictures to symbols. In their storytelling, letters become familiar characters that the students relate to (rather than trying to conceive of them as abstract symbols). Sound and symbol relationships are practiced and students begin writing short sentences that they have memorized. These activities prepare children for the transition into reading as another form of narrative and constructing meaning.
To develop numeracy skills, students first experience numbers through stories that identify their qualities and root them in a comprehensible world for the first grader. The students begin with the operation of division. Students are then introduced to the four primary mathematical operations as four characters in a story. Math is supported experientially through rhythmic movements and lively counting and sequencing work as well as through movement. After considerable practice with manipulatives and mental math, the written symbols for the four arithmetic operations and the equal sign are introduced.
In addition to letters and math, the curriculum explores the natural sciences, ancient legends, handwork, music, painting, drawing and modeling. An awareness of history is explored through various folk tales. And finally first graders are exposed to foreign language instruction in Spanish.
Main Learning Objectives
- Main Lesson Skills: Learning and modeling classroom behaviors, Listening and speaking in constructive ways, Experiencing stories and texts and repeating and reflecting on their themes, situations and outcomes
- Language Arts: Writing is taught first, then ABC letter & sound symbols, pre-reading skills taught through storytelling
- Mathematics: Introduced through division, the four math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) are introduced simultaneously and integrated into stories demonstrating the themes and functional interactions of these operations
- Sciences: Nature stories
- Exercise: Students have multiple recesses, games classes, and frequent field trips to energize their bodies and activate their minds in social play, group dynamics, and exploration of the physical environment.
- Art: Beeswax Modeling
- Painting & Drawing: Form Drawings and Wet-on-Wet Painting for developmental (rather than artistic) exploration and assessment
- Foreign Language: Spanish
- Handwork: Knitting (for coordination skills)
- Music: Singing
- Games: Establishing Timing, Coordination and Spatial Awareness