First graders develop at their own individual rates. The curriculum plans provide for a variety of skill and interest levels within the classroom. Children of this age learn by touching, feeling, manipulating, and talking about the environment around them. Our classroom has many books, math manipulatives, and art supplies for the children to explore and use throughout the day.
Texts: Reading Street by Pearson, Phonics: Level A by Pearson, Handwriting: Grade 1 by Zaner-Bloser, and Sitton Spelling
The heart of the reading program in our classroom is children’s literature itself. Children are immersed in literature daily. Poetry and song are introduced several times a day. At first we use a lot of predictable stories and books in which the illustrations “carry” the meaning. We model many stories and create our own classroom books. This is called shared reading. We will continue to do this throughout the year. The classroom textbook will be taught using whole-group instruction. There are five reading textbooks in all. Word lists go home before we begin each book, and the children are able to take each book home to share it with their families when we finish reading it in class. (They must bring it back, of course!) Guided reading takes place in the classroom, based on need. During this time, the teacher calls together a small group of children to develop and practice reading strategies using leveled readers. Part of our time is also spent reading independently, where the teacher and aide listen to individual children read and give help as needed. The students’ comprehension is assessed through simple, written book reports and oral discussions of the leveled readers. We differentiate reading levels and teach to each child’s ability through the use of reading centers.
The children have the opportunity to take home a classroom library book every evening. I encourage them to share the book with you in some manner, whether they read it to you, you read it to them, or together you just look at the pictures. The books will be transported in their green book bag. When the bag and the book are returned, the child will be able to take another book home. SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) takes place every afternoon in which the children have 20 minutes to explore books within the classroom. On Fridays, we have SSR with friends!
Spelling is taught daily via the phonics and reading texts. We begin by reviewing the letter sounds introduced in kindergarten and work extensively with developing the children’s auditory discrimination skills. They learn to listen carefully to the words they wish to spell and write the letters in sequence to the sounds they hear. We have weekly spelling lists beginning the middle of September. A child’s spelling evolves in a fairly predictable pattern, and you will see great progress as the year goes on. Sitton Spelling is added to the curriculum in January. This is a list of 30 “no excuse words” that the children will be expected to use correctly in their daily writings.
Our first graders have the opportunity to write everyday. In Writing Workshop (which takes place at least 2-3 times a week), they choose their own topics and write and share their stories. The whole class “writes” the Daily News together each morning, where the teacher explicitly models the writing process. Once a week, the children use the Step Up to Writing format, encouraging the writing of simple paragraphs. Our grammar text teaches us about correct punctuation, nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Journal writing takes place daily starting in January. Books made by the whole class are always on display and ENJOYED by all!
Handwriting is also taught daily. The formation of the letters is reviewed during spelling and phonic lessons as well.
Text: Progress in Mathematics by Sadlier-Oxford
Our math program involves a lot of “hands-on” activities. The goal is to develop insight into the patterns of mathematics through the use of concrete materials. The activities are designed to help children “see” number concepts and relationships. Students make many discoveries using tiles, blocks, counters, unifix cubes, etc. They work with patterning, sorting and classifying, probability, geometry, problem solving, measuring, and graphing. We use lots of activities from the Math Their Way program. We also differentiate the teaching of math through the use of centers.
Beyond the daily math class, math skills and concepts are integrated throughout the school day. Our work with the calendar investigates number, order, patterns, and place value. We count, estimate, graph, and predict outcomes in a variety of classroom situations. Beginning in January, we have timed math facts tests (addition and subtraction to 12). In February, we celebrate our 100th day of school!
Texts: Blest Are We and Family Life by RCL Benziger
Our textbook helps the children see how God is present in their own personal lives. It has a strong foundation in Scripture as well. We enter into the liturgical seasons of the year within our classroom by a variety of experiences, prayer, and reflection. Parents are invited to share in prayer and celebrate with us several times throughout the year as we learn about God, Jesus, and His Family.
Social Studies and Science
Texts: Science by Harcourt School Publishers California Vistas by Macmillan/McGraw Hill
Many of the core concepts for first grade in these two curricular areas are presented and explored within the reading program. Many of the books we use teach us quite a bit about a variety of topics in these areas. We have six “big book” units in social studies which help us explore more about geography, community, patriotism, simple economics, and our own ancestors and cultures. The science text enables us to take a more direct and instructive approach to science through vocabulary and hands-on projects. Each week the students have the opportunity to visit the science lab with Mrs. Bennett where they conduct simple experiments under her guidance.
Art and Music
Again, both art and music are incorporated into the language arts program. We sing several times each day and listen to music frequently. Once a week, we have a more formal music class with our music teacher, Ms. Bayse. “Art Vista” is our school-wide art program that offers us a more directive and instructive approach to art. “Art Vista” is led by classroom parent volunteers.