The first grade program is dedicated to developing “The Total Child,” while instilling a love of learning in each student. Nurturing the natural curiosity and enthusiasm of our children, as well as the significant growth that occurs at this important time, we emphasize an integrated approach to learning, often through the use of themes. As part of our hands-on, experiential approach, we enhance the first grade experience through SMART Boards and iPad integration. Moreover, we seek to foster, within every child, a sense of caring, responsibility, cooperation, and respect for self and others.
- Language Arts
- Singapore Math
- Social Studies
- Global Education
- Character Education/Service Learning
- Buddy Program
Through readers’ theater, our first graders practice orating before an audience, in this way, developing their reading voice, fluency, and confidence. They further build upon their oral language skills by reciting rhythmic and phonetic poetry that includes their weekly spelling patterns. Focusing on analogies helps our students to make connections among words.
The language arts program highlights students’ ongoing development in oral communication, listening, and written expression. Teacher-directed and independent lessons, along with classroom discussions, help to enhance students’ speaking, vocabulary, and auditory comprehension. As their comfort with writing grows, they begin to express their thoughts using complete sentences, capitalization, and punctuation. They also internalize new spelling patterns through a structured linguistic and phonetic approach.
Our thematic curriculum provides many opportunities for students to develop their writing skills. Some examples of writing projects include: creating imaginative stories using descriptive words, writing reflections in science and math journals, and completing a variety of book reports. The first graders also write friendly letters to their global pen pals in China, sharing information about themselves and asking questions in turn. Finally, they develop, through interpretation and reflection, an appreciation for poetry, before attempting to pen their own short poems.
First grade students also participate in the Writers' Workshop program at least three times a week. The goal of the program is for children to write what they know by selecting topics that are personally meaningful and relevant to them. Through focused mini-lessons and individual conferences with the teacher, students enhance their craft as writers and become independent authors of a variety of literary pieces. At the conclusion of each instructional unit, students publish a piece of their work and share it in celebration with the rest of the class.
In the first grade, number bonds become the key to unlocking the door to more complex mathematics; they help children to understand how groups of tens can aid them in adding and subtracting. Students also begin to develop an understanding of part-to-part and part-to-whole relationships, to carry out higher-level computations, to calculate in their heads using mental math, and to create and solve story problems, choosing the correct operation. Through direct, hands-on interaction with manipulatives, such as number lines, base ten blocks, Unifix Cubes, counters, as well as analog and digital clocks, students gain important life skills. They also use technology, such as the SMART Board and iPads, to review math facts and to play interactive games. Finally, in math journals, the children are able to reflect on their work, paying particular attention to key vocabulary terms and to new concepts that have been presented in class.
The social studies curriculum focuses on family, neighborhood, community, and Los Angeles, as well as on basic geography and mapping. Each unit is also paired with our sister country China, learning about their family lives, traditions, and capital, Beijing. Students benefit from our interactive, online curriculum, full of rich stories, beautiful illustrations, and hands-on demonstration activities. Although first graders are still developmentally centered on the concept of 'self,' it is important that they be able to look outside of themselves too, to see the similarities and differences that distinguish them from others and make them unique.
In this vein, students are often asked to compare and contrast people and things while studying various social studies themes. As part of our community unit, the children share about their own neighborhood and build a collage, later comparing it to neighborhoods in our sister country. Students explore their own family heritage, their ancestors, and their family's countries of origin through the process of creating a family tree. To gain a deeper understanding of their family's heritage, students write letters to a special "grandpal" inquiring about the grandpal's cherished memories and experiences as a first grader. Finally, they compare this information to their own life experiences. The project culminates with a Thanksgiving Celebration and Friendship Feast.
Finally, our Buddy program fosters the children’s social/emotional growth and shows them just how much they are cared for. First grade students are lucky enough to be mentored by fifth graders, through meaningful social interactions, including special buddy picnics and desserts. What a treat!