First Grade Curriculum
First-grade curriculum is built around central themes that change throughout the year. These themes create a variety of experiential-based programs that stimulate cross-curriculum learning. Examples of theme studies include:
· Birds: identify local Santa Barbara birds; understand the difference between shorebirds and backyard/trail birds; identify different bird adaptations and their purpose; research a bird of their choosing and “get to know it”; projects include bird walks, arts & crafts, and bird nest discovery; field trip
· Skyscrapers: learn what a skyscraper is and identify the tallest skyscrapers in the world; study the field of engineering and build a vocabulary of terms; understand measurements such as inch and foot; projects include working in small groups to build model skyscrapers of the world’s tallest buildings, and creating a fact sheet that includes details about their model
· Rainforest: identify layers of a rainforest; explain differences between living in a rainforest and living in Santa Barbara; name various animals, insects, and plants in a rainforest; explain what it means to conserve and protect a rainforest; projects include building each layer of a rainforest in the classroom
Throughout the year, parents will be invited to attend culmination presentations of each theme study.
Students grow as young readers throughout the year. Skills acquired include learning to match oral words to print; identify sounds, vowel combinations, spelling patterns, and rhyming words; compounding words and contractions; reading aloud with fluency; following simple written instructions; identification of plot, setting, and characters; Just Right books.
Written language skills emerge through lessons including writing brief narrative and expository pieces; contractions and singular possessives; punctuation and capitalization; spelling of grade-level sight words; book publication including plot mapping, writing, editing, revision, and illustration.
Listening and Speaking
Student maturity for listening and speaking are honed through lessons focusing on attentive listening; giving, restating, and following directions; staying on topic when speaking; use of descriptive words; retelling stories using basic story grammar and sequence; providing descriptions with sensory detail.
Mathematics concepts include operations on whole numbers up to 100, including place value, addition, subtraction, and mental calculation techniques; basic understanding of multiplication and division concepts, including repeated addition and dividing quantities into equal sized sets; basic concepts of measurement, to include length, mass, time and money; developing a basic understanding of geometry, to include description and classification of 2D and 3D shapes, and building and analysis of patterns; use of picture graphs to represent and analyze data.
First-grade science is inquiry-based. Students conduct tests, gather evidence, and develop explanations for the phenomena they are investigating. First-grade students discover answers to questions such as: “What happens when there is no light? What are some ways plants and animals meet their needs so that they can survive and grow? What objects are in the sky and how do they seem to move?” Students identify the relationship between sound and vibrating materials as well as between the availability of light and ability to see objects. Crane first graders learn how plants and animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs as well as how behaviors of parents and offspring help the offspring survive. Students observe, describe, and predict some patterns of the movement of objects in the sky. Culminations of units may include project construction in the design and engineering center.
Social Studies curriculum is built upon strengthening the classroom community, as well as establishing the student’s understanding of basic geography. Topics regarding community building include a focus on the elements of fair play and good sportsmanship, respecting the rights and opinions of others, and upholding “The Golden Rule.” Students will also explore the globe—locating continents and oceans, and locating California on a map—study location, weather, and physical environment and the impact these elements have on humans, and learn about sustainable practices and natural resources.
Computer curriculum at the first-grade level focuses on basic computer and iPad usage, including mouse, keyboard, and desktop use. Skills include identification and use of keyboard letters, numbers, symbols, shift, space bar, delete, and return keys; opening and closing applications; creating, saving, and opening files; basic sequence coding; and, basic troubleshooting techniques. Applications introduced and utilized by the students include KidPix, Microsoft Word, and PhotoBooth.
Students will continue to build their familiarity with a variety of books by listening and discussing stories, as well as the function of various parts of the book. They will also learn about circulation procedures and acquire the ability to search for books using the Dewey Decimal System.
Peaceful Partners explores concepts and values related to leading a positive and productive life through literature and picture books. Students will also learn to value and respect unique qualities in others. Emotional development is sharpened throughout the year, with learning strategies tackling topics like how to handle anger and resolve conflict.
Students take an active role in performing arts through singing, creative movement, participation in xylophone and ensemble percussion, and the Orff Schulwerk approach. The music curriculum focuses on pattern recognition, dance and song. The exploration of theater focuses on physical and vocal expression to create characters, exploring emotions and feelings, and story-making skills including characterization, dialogue and story sequencing.
An important component of performing arts curriculum is building a foundation for public speaking. To culminate the year of public speaking, students present for an all-school assembly about the world’s tallest skyscrapers. Students also participate in Lower School Winter Sing and have the option to participate in Music Hour and Friday Spotlights.
First-grade students are ambitious and motivated to learn through discovery and enjoy the process more than the outcome. With this in mind, students will learn to apply developmental and fundamental motor skills appropriate for their age group. A variety of skills including developmental movement, bodily and spatial awareness through cooperative games, and behavioral and social skills linked to team building will be improved. Positive encouragement and support help maintain an atmosphere of active, consistent participation, as well as a willingness to try new tasks. Foundations for healthy lifestyle and good sportsmanship are fostered through curriculum.
Spanish aims to incorporate the five C’s—communication, cultures, connections, comparison, and communities. Meeting for one class every cycle, the goal of first-grade Spanish is to continue the development of listening and speaking skills, enabling students to communicate their needs in greater detail. Students will begin to associate the spoken with the written word, and gradually, they will begin to read familiar material with comprehension. Working alongside core classroom curriculum, Spanish classes will read poetry related to birds, study geography in Spanish-speaking countries where rainforests exist, listen to Spanish fables, and read and write bilingual poetry. At times, Upper School students will join the students in cross-age activities such as reading Spanish poetry and literature.
First-grade artists will be encouraged to explore their great ideas through various media and creative processes. Artists will learn to work together to create and support a safe, cooperative, and engaging community space where all can thrive. Projects will continue to build fine motor skills, keen observation skills, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking skills. Students will be challenged to work with great craftsmanship, to consider the entire piece of art while creating, and to add detail to bring their visions to life. Students will study and be inspired by famous artists and illustrators, as well as various world cultures, and will learn to use art vocabulary to share ideas about their work. Artists will also further explore their core classroom study of birds and skyscrapers in the studio while creating pieces to celebrate these key first-grade units.