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First Grade Curriculum

Language Arts

The language arts program utilizes a balanced approach to literacy. Within the language arts block are the components of reading workshop, writing workshop, grammar, phonics, and spelling..


Using a balanced literacy approach, reading instruction includes guided reading, shared reading, independent reading, and interactive read-alouds. Teachers assess each child in order to determine their instructional reading level throughout the year and meet with students one on one and in small groups to differentiate instruction. Our reading workshop course of study is based on the Units of Study developed by Lucy Calkins and Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. This approach to reading instruction gives our students the tools they need to become independent and lifelong readers.

  • Students will learn to recognize and understand important words, plot points, and patterns presented within various texts—both in those read aloud and those read independently. The development of good listening skills parallels and reinforces the development of good reading skills. Students learn to draw on a wide variety of strategies to interpret and analyze a range of texts, both fiction and nonfiction.
  • Students will learn to use context clues to determine the meaning of a word or phrase in a text read aloud and choose the correct definition or synonym.
  • Students will learn to identify explicit details from a passage read aloud or independently, summarize them, and provide answers to “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, “why”, and “how” questions about the text.
  • Students will learn to use implicit information to make inferences about a character’s feelings.
  • Students will learn to draw connections between and among various kinds of texts and life as well as synthesize explicit and implicit information to make predictions or draw conclusions.
  • Students will learn to use their developing productive language skills to describe the main idea and supporting ideas.

Systematic vocabulary development is essential for a student’s reading fluency, as is building grapho-phonic knowledge. It is important for students to match their growing understanding of the sound structure of language to the letter patterns they’re learning in order to help them not only recognize familiar words but to decode unfamiliar ones.

  • Students will learn to recognize common words that are vital to reading fluency, especially those that do not follow basic rules of sound-letter correspondence.
  • Students will learn to recognize vowel and consonant sounds and blends in varying positions within a word (initial, medial, and final).
  • Students learn to recognize compound words.
  • Students learn to understand the correct use of contractions and what they mean.
  • Students will understand the root/base word with the appropriate inflectional ending in the context of a sentence.


Writing is an integral part of our language arts program. We foster a love and understanding through “Units of Study in Primary Writing” by Lucy Calkins and Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. After the mini-lesson, the teacher conferences with the students to further develop their skills. Our young authors enjoy presenting their work to their friends at the end of class during share time.

Our students learn to observe, collect, draft, revise, edit and publish well-crafted writing pieces. In addition, they are exposed to examples of fine literature and poetry throughout the day that can be used as mentor texts. Genre studies include: fiction, non- fiction, personal narrative, author inquiry studies, poetry and fiction writing.

  • Students begin to recognize and apply correct capitalization of proper nouns and the first word of a sentence to their work.
  • Students learn use proper punctuation, including proper use of periods, question marks, and apostrophes in contractions.
  • Students begin to apply the rules of English diction and grammar to their writing, specifically the correct use of pronouns, correct verb form and tense, including subject-verb agreement.

Phonics  and Spelling 

The Project Read phonics curriculum is a total language arts program putting phonics into action by integrating phonics with reading comprehension and written expression. Sound/symbol knowledge is critical, as it is the foundation of our spoken and written language. Project Read uses four principles of instruction: direct concept teaching, sequencing concepts in dependent order, targeted multi-sensory strategies, and application. The Project Read program arms students with independent skills and strategies in order to develop active, thoughtful, purposeful readers and writers who interact with text.


Students in first grade practice correct letter formation and are encouraged to use appropriate spacing between words.


In first grade, the objective of our mathematics program is to develop thinking skills, build proficiency, and produce confidence while promoting a love of mathematics. Math manipulatives are frequently used to provide concrete and visual reinforcement of math concepts. Students are encouraged to be active problem solvers and to use multiple strategies to arrive at solutions. Each child learns to express their thinking both verbally and on paper. They move from representing their thinking with pictures to using numbers and symbols. Math activities are created to increase student knowledge in counting and ordering numbers, number combinations and facts, addition and subtraction, place value, money, measurement, time, graphs, geometry, and fractions. Curriculum is further enhanced each day during calendar activities. Teachers frequently monitor progress, which provides critical feedback that helps guide instruction for remediation, intervention, and enrichment. Placement tests, topic tests, benchmark tests, basic timed fact tests, daily review, free response evaluations, and daily interaction are tools used to meet the students' needs. It is our expectation that the students end the year with a firm grasp of their addition and subtraction facts. Pearson's enVisionMATH, technology, including XtraMath, and IXL, and a variety of other resources are used to enhance each child's understanding, as well as help develop fluency.

Students will engage in problem solving, communicating, reasoning and connecting to the following:

Number Sense and Operations with Whole Numbers

  • Use place value, including how to read, write, and compare whole numbers to the thousands place
  • Use models to represent numbers, and write three-digit numbers in standard and expanded form
  • Add and subtract two-digit whole numbers
  • Compute basic math facts quickly and accurately
  • Use estimation to solve addition and subtraction problems


The science curriculum in first grade provides a balance of exciting discovery, through hands-on activities, and engaging theory that supports developing understanding. Our goal is to continue to 
develop the steps required for effective scientific inquiry and move students from guided inquiry, which is active investigation in search of answers, toward self-directed inquiry. Basic processes 
such as questioning, observing, predicting, measuring, comparing, organizing and communicating lead to complex processes such as inferring, controlling variables, hypothesizing, applying, and 
designing investigations. Students are introduced to the knowledge, methods, skills, and attitudes of scientists. Science is integrated in the curriculum with math and language arts, and held in the 
classroom, with STEM education occurring each week in the innovation lab.

The first grade science program is designed to provide children with experiences in life, earth, and physical science while developing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Units of study include:

  • States of matter: States of matter, properties of solids, liquids and gases, properties of magnetism
  • Animal diversity: Needs of organisms, structure and function of animals, behavior and senses of animals, heredity, and environmental interactions
  • Earth and space: Properties of objects in the sky, patterns in day and night, weather 
  • LEGO engineering

Social Studies

The purpose of the social studies program is to build a strong classroom community and to expand the children’s interest in their world. Students explore the importance of relationships at home and at school. They learn to take responsibility for their own actions and develop respect for themselves, each other, and the environment. Topics taught in first grade include:

  • All About Me, My Family, My School.
  • Introduction to Geography: spatial terms, places and regions, different types of maps, world map, continents & oceans.
  • National holidays and famous people.

Foreign Language

This program is intended to develop listening comprehension and verbal skills in young children. Total Physical Response (TPR) Storytelling is an instructional strategy developed by Blaine Ray, which is based on Stephen D. Kristen and Tracy D. Terrell’s work in developing the Natural Approach and James Asher’s work in developing Total Physical Response. The goal of both of these strategies is to allow students to learn a second language in much the same manner as they learned their first language—through the senses and comprehensible sensory input.

TPR Storytelling provides students with the following:

  • Active language learning which is meaningful and context-driven
  • TPR (Total Physical Response) cues which allow for immediate comprehension
  • Appealing stories rich in comprehensible input which is easy to internalize
  • Multiple opportunities to prove comprehension and to feel successful
  • Long-term retention of language

In first grade students will:

  • Begin to tell short stories using the vocabulary learned.
  • Realize that cognate words (Spanish words sound almost the same as English) enhance comprehension and can add more details to their short stories.
  • Continue refining their pronunciation and knowledge in the language

Topics covered in first grade Spanish include:

  • Numbers 21-50
  • Days of the week
  • Food 
  • Family
  • Weather
  • Months of the year
  • Nationalities/Countries
  • Time
  • Clothing
  • Transportation


The art curriculum is based around a framework that allows students to investigate, create, and critique artwork in meaningful ways.

Through practice with different media, art students learn to manage, master, and refine simple and then more complex skills and techniques. The program provides a balance between guided instruction, where students learn to master a skill, and independent practice, where students apply new skills and techniques in creative ways and learn to become innovative thinkers. The creation of innovative thinkers is part of the mission of the Community School of Naples, as stated in our mission statement.

By looking at the work of famous artists and artists from other cultures, students gain an understanding of how the arts document historical and cultural trends and foster an appreciation for differences between our culture and other cultures.

In first grade the students attend art two times each week and build on previous knowledge and continue to learn about and/or implement:

  • Developing fine motor skills through drawing, cutting, threading, coloring, and sorting/placing objects onto artwork, and weaving with needles and yarn
  • Self portraiture
  • Knowledge and understanding of the eight basic shapes and using them to create more complicated shapes through independent and guided practice
  • Art related vocabulary (line, texture, space, color, shape, pattern, balance, value, form)
  • Primary, secondary, and tertiary colors and color-mixing
  • Art connections to science (scientific illustration, the weather)
  • 3-D projects
  • Reinforcement of primary classroom topics with related art projects
  • Artist’s recognition and appreciation (Picasso, Monet, et al)
  • Mixed media and watercolor resist
  • Forming an opinion about personal works of art, the works of peers, and the works of famous artists
  • Recognize and appreciate art from other cultures (Mexico, Native Americans)
  • Recycling to create artwork


Physical Education

The physical education program provides a variety of learning experiences by offering an array of age-appropriate activities aligned with the NASPE standards. The goal of the physical education program is to help each student reach his or her optimal physical, mental, emotional, and social development.

Proficiency in movement skills is developed through a variety of activities in which the emphasis is on experimentation, discovery, practice, and decision-making about enjoyable activities. Physical activity will provide opportunities for self-expression, social interaction, enjoyment, challenge and fun. As a result of active participation, students will begin to actively pursue lifelong physical activities that meet their needs. The more activities students are exposed to and experience, the greater chance they will discover activities of high interest and better the chance of remaining active throughout their lifetime.

The physical education activities can vary widely from basic locomotor movements such as walking, running, skipping, hopping, jumping, leaping, galloping and sliding, to non-locomotor movements such as bending, swinging, turning, twisting, pushing, pulling, chasing, and tagging. Manipulative activities such as throwing, catching, kicking and striking are also introduced. Emphasis is placed on having a positive experience.

Students will be introduced to a series of age appropriate movements, emphasizing, flexibility, muscular strength, and muscular endurance. These class activities will focus on interactive, enjoyable group games with the ability to discover and imagine.


The performing arts program seeks to inspire creativity in order to illustrate the importance and the relevance of the arts in everyday life. The program is based on the belief that music/drama can be a perfect vehicle for building self-esteem and confidence in young children, while encouraging them to explore, to develop and to celebrate their own skills and imaginations.

First grade students build on skills and concepts learned in kindergarten with additional layers of complexity. Students focus on new song and instrumental literature, matching pitches, reading melodic and rhythmic patterns and practicing performance skills. The role of music in various cultures and traditions is explored through songs, instruments and listening selections.


The first grade curriculum is enhanced by the use of iPads. Students experiment with these multimedia tools, and using a variety of apps, work collaboratively to problem solve, practice math skills and share their work.

The first grade digital citizenship curriculum is designed to teach the students:

  • The similarities between staying safe in the real world and the online world. 
  • How to recognize whether a website is a good site for us to use, one to use with caution, or one to avoid.
  • The importance of asking for an adult’s permission before going online.
  • The meaning of and permanence of a digital footprint: the information about you on the Internet.
  • Appropriate vs. inappropriate information to put on the Internet
  • What constitutes bullying and how it can make people feel.
  • The kind of cyberbullying that can take place online
  • The four rules to STOP cyberbullying: STOP using the computer until it is safe, TELL an adult you trust, Go ONLINE only when a trusted adult says it’s okay, and PLAY online with only nice friends.

*Programs such as NeuroNet facilitate learning through movement by creating and strengthening neural networks. Participation in such programs allow our students to make important connections across all disciplines.

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