First Grade

In first grade we integrate our core subjects of language skills, mathematics, social studies, and science, with the specialty areas of computer studies, Spanish, French, music and art in order to enrich and maximize learning experiences. Through these experiences, we develop our children’s independence and encourage them to find their own voices - they become better readers, stronger writers and creative problem solvers.

During first grade, particular focus is placed on developing our children’s sense of confidence as they begin to express themselves more clearly both verbally and in written formats. Throughout the year, our children have multiple opportunities to present their creative written work to their classmates to increase their confidence in speaking publically. Highlights of the year include our famous people reports, when each student shares his or her report with their classmates and Arthur Day, when each member of the class presents on his or her favorite “Arthur” book.

In math, a strong foundation of skills continues to be built. As we work to ensure all our students are engaged in and understanding core math concepts, we also start to introduce the identification of patterns and problem-solving games. Money, time, fractions, charts and graphs are all part of the first grade curriculum.

Our life science unit helps our children to understand the world around them, and the impact it has on them, and that they have on it. Our first graders find science magical, and we take their natural interest in this area and harness it. Throughout the year we look at many different topics, but a highlight of our curriculum is always the “forces and factors” topic, which culminates in the creation of simple machines.

In social studies the children focus on several famous people, working to understand what made them famous, and highlighting key characteristics and qualities that we hope to inspire in our children. Our students love this topic area, and enjoy carrying out reading and research on these people, and their own choice of famous person too.

Field trips are linked to the curriculum. The class goes apple picking during the fall as we are working on Johnny Appleseed and we visit the Philadelphia Zoo after we have competed the relevant life science units. The class also attends a performance at the Prince theatre to enable our children to see live performance before their play.

Our first graders are particularly proud of their service projects - we organize “Food for Fridays”, a weekly collection of food that is given to local, needy families, and throughout the year the class collects used eyeglasses to benefit people who are in need of glasses, but cannot afford to purchase them. We also take part in Quaker Fridays, and form a unique relationship with the eighth grade class who are our “Journal Buddies” throughout the year.

At the end of our year, we gain special pleasure from seeing how our first graders minds have grown, personalities have developed and sense of community spirit and responsibility has increased.

First Grade Curriculum Overview:

Reading/Language Arts

  • Instruction focus on vowel sounds, letter-sound patterns, sight word recognition, and reading fluency.
  • Reading comprehension, language mechanics, grammar usage, sentence structure and elements of story are developed.
  • Writing creativity is encouraged through creative journal writing, poetry and sentence making.
  • Verb and adjective identification, recognition and usage practiced.
  • Punctuation, use of capitals and complete sentence structure developed.
  • Oral presentation skills developed through class presentations and school play.


  • Addition and subtraction through to double digits, fact families and place value through to 99 covered.
  • Identification of patterns and problem solving.
  • Development of math vocabulary - spends and earns, greater and less, etc.
  • Money introduced in detail along with counting strategies.
  • Two and three-dimensional shapes explored.
  • Fractions explored more fully using shapes divided into equal parts.


  • Earth’s composition and structure.
  • Seasons reviewed.
  • Stars and constellations introduced, linked to exploration of heat and light.
  • Forces and factors introduced, building learning around simple machine concepts.
  • Life science; life cycle concepts covered (frog and bee); plant growth mapped.

Social Studies

    Famous faces covered in each quarter:
  • Benjamin Franklin - ingenuity and creativity.
  • Helen Keller - determination in overcoming disabilities.
  • Johnny Appleseed - value of his contribution to the American West.
  • Neal Armstrong - vision and overcoming challenges to achieve a goal.
  • Susan B. Anthony - strength of character and determination to create equality.
  • Jacques Cousteau - inquisitive mind and passion for science.