First grade is a time for children to learn many fun and interesting things. This year your child will grow by leaps and bounds! Here is a closer look at the curriculum in first grade.
Reading: The largest growth your child will make this year is in reading. We use the Lucy Calkins Units of Study for our curriculum, integrated into a Reading Workshop structure. Through this program, the students will learn to decode, read fluently and comprehend both fiction and nonfiction stories. The students are involved in whole group mini-lessons, independent reading practice time, partner work, whole group sharing, and strategy reading groups to enhance their skills. We learn to read and talk about our books in a variety of ways.
In first grade, your child will learn to use decoding strategies, recognize familiar letter patterns, retell stories, focus on characters and their traits, read nonfiction to learn new information, compare and contrast books and themes, and discuss books with classmates. We use sticky notes and reading journals to track our thinking through books. Your child will bring home a book to read every night as their nightly homework. This book will always be at your child’s “independent” level and should be easy to read. This reading encourages confidence and provides essential practice.
Writing: Writing is another important area in first grade. We use the Lucy Calkins Units of Study for our curriculum. Each day, the students participate in a Writing Workshop that consists of a whole group lesson, independent writing time, partner work, and whole group sharing. We will learn to write small moment personal narratives, nonfiction pieces including How To’s and Informational Books, Persuasive/Opinion letters, and Poetry. We will also work with partners and learn how to effectively revise and edit our stories.
Spelling: We use the Rebecca Sitton Spelling Program. This is a program that introduces 5 new spelling words every two weeks. We learn to recognize these words in every day reading and learn how to use known words to spell even larger words. We look for patterns and chunks within our spelling words and learn to use them in our writing. In addition to this work, we integrate word study into our reading workshop time. Students are grouped based on their skill level and learn patterns and features of words to support both their reading and spelling skills.
Math: Our Math program is called Math Expressions. It focuses on learning core skills such as number recognition and counting. We learn how to visualize numbers in groups of fives and tens. Math Expressions encourages us to explain our math thinking, rather than simply “doing” it. We discuss and practice using different ways to solve equations. Homework is sent home frequently to reinforce the concepts that are learned in school.
Handwriting: Good penmanship is very important in first grade. We are still learning how to write b’s and d’s correctly and also how to write legibly so that others can read what we have written. We use the Handwriting Without Tears program. It focuses on 4 main strokes: big line, little line, big curve, little curve. With these four strokes, we can make every letter in the alphabet!
Science: We have so much fun with science experiments in first grade! We will be learning about Properties of Matter, Weather, Magnets, and Life Cycles. We will take a field trip is to the John Ball Zoo in order to learn more about Animals and Life Cycles.
Social Studies: The first grade focus is on “Me and My Family”. We learn about Citizenship, History, Economics, and Geography (our address). Our school also uses the Mind Up curriculum, a program which helps children learn strategies to self-regulate their social and emotional systems.
There will be lots of learning and many new changes happening during this year for your child. Most importantly, you are your child’s first and best teacher, so please continue to support your child’s learning at home!