The bodies, minds and social behavior of six-year-olds are changing dramatically. The Grade 1 program is designed to ignite a passion for learning in these imaginative and eager students in an atmosphere that both challenges and supports. Based on the International Baccelaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP), the curriculum provides a framework for inquiry-based learning that focuses on the development of the whole child, both in the classroom and in the world outside.
Grade 1 students gain a strong phonetic foundation in a program helps them read fluently and confidently by hearing, saying, seeing and writing words. In addition to designated reading books, students listen to Junior Great Book stories and participate in shared inquiry discussions. In the Guided Reading Program, they respond to comprehension questions and write reports, stories and personal narratives. Word study is an integral part of the students’ week as they discover word patterns, spelling strategies and vocabulary. When students begin reading simple texts confidently, teachers administer the Scholastic Reading Inventory, which helps parents and teachers support children’s reading comprehension, skill development and book selection.
Students experience problem-solving in everyday situations and are able to share ideas through discussion and develop skills through hands-on activities. Topics include money and value, telling time, weighing and measuring using standard and metric systems, fractions and geometry. Exercises using a variety of manipulatives reinforce concepts. Grade 1 students also hone their problem-solving skills.
The social studies curriculum is integrated into the grade level themes. Students are guided through investigations and inquiries into a variety of relevant topics that pose problems or raise questions. Through carefully constructed experiences as well as teacher responses to student interest and questions, students gain knowledge and skills, apply their learning to new situations and experiences, make connections, and determine personally relevant actions.
Grade 1 art lessons provide imaginative outlets and opportunities for creative expression, cultural exploration and experimentation with a variety of artistic techniques. Students continue to learn and build upon the basic elements and principles of art and design including line, shape, color, texture and form, using a variety of media including crayon, watercolor, color pencil, oil pastel, tempera painting, collage and clay. Activities may include artworks relating to academic classroom units of study and a look at artistic styles and artists.
Grade 1 students begin to use the computer as a learning resource and frequently use word processing and drawing applications. Technology lessons are integrated into the classroom curriculum. Students are expected to use proper terminology when communicating about technology and know the basic parts of the computer. In addition to learning multiple ways to open programs and to save, locate, open and close files on individual computers and the network, students learn basic functions within applications, such as copy and paste. Internet use is limited to specific sites and includes many programs to help strengthen academic skills.
Teachers recognize students’ unique learning styles and assist them in reaching their full potential by helping them develop strategies for success. Learning resources are also available from Learning Specialists, who provide both extra challenges and extra support with specific skill work as necessary. Social/emotional resources are also available from the Lower School Counselor, who offers parent education; meets with teachers, individual students, small groups and entire classes; and provides the social/emotional support that helps children feel secure, successful and happy.
Grade 1 goes to the library for read-aloud stories and books. During group story time, students enjoy listening to a wide range of books and discussing a range of topics, for example unfamiliar vocabulary and how a story relates to experiences in their own lives. During independent library time, students continue developing skills introduced in Kindergarten such as quiet library voices, caring gently for books and magazines, and using shelf markers to locate books on favorite subjects. As their reading skills develop, Grade 1 students also begin independently selecting "just right for me" books using a variety of strategies.
Grade 1 musicians continue to learn written music notation through reading, playing and singing as well as listening and writing. Students expand their knowledge of pitch by learning more of the Kodaly/Kurwin hand signs and pitch names and practice solo and group performance skills. Composition and improvisation as well as dancing and movement are integral parts of the music program. Orff instruments are used in the program from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade.
Grade 1 students continue to work on basic movement skills through various games and activities, as well as team play and sportsmanship. The program fosters adherence to rules of fair play through a variety of locomotor and non-locomotor activities. Students participate in a range of activities that develop muscular strength, proper body mechanics, flexibility, endurance and joy in physical activity.
The Grade 1 science curriculum focuses on using the Scientific Method as students observe, compare, contrast, predict and sort. As in the earlier grades, the program is inquiry-based with authentic lab work. Topics are woven into the students’ units of inquiry and include, for example, learning about balance during their circus unit, about different types of materials and waterproofing during their study of clothing, and the construction and understanding of circuits in the electricity unit.
In their Spanish classes twice a week, Grade 1 students engage in both whole and small group activities that give them opportunities to practice simple questions and responses in Spanish. Vocabulary is grouped thematically in categories such as animals, family and places. At the end of the year, the classroom unit of study about sea life is incorporated into Spanish, and students complete a short book describing various sea creatures while learning their names in Spanish.
The Grade 1 swim program is challenging and exciting. While many students learn new strokes such as the back crawl and increase their stamina for floating and for swimming longer distances using the crawl stroke, the program is designed to safely meet the needs of each individual. Water safety is the focus in the spring. After-school swim clubs are offered for Kindergarten through Grade Five.