Learning the fundamentals of reading and writing is a cornerstone of first grade. First and second graders come together twice a week for reading comprehension instruction. Students learn the fundamentals of plot analysis as they identify character, setting, and sequence of events. Next, each reading group studies a particular author focusing on the author’s life and motivation for writing. Students compare and contrast the author’s books and draw connections to their personal lives. Each year, students read nonfiction texts for their individualized science research projects. They learn how to navigate nonfiction texts using table of contents, indexes, glossaries, and practice the skill of note taking and paraphrasing. At the end of the year, students enjoy book discussions with their peers as they read leveled chapter books.
To guide our first grade writing lessons we utilize Wilson’s Fundations program, a researched based curriculum that explicitly breaks down the rules and patterns of the English language for reading and writing. The 6+1 Traits of Writing program introduces the concept that strong writers brainstorm ideas, organize their thoughts, and choose words that reflect their voice. To explore the writing process, students write everything from creative stories to informative essays, all of which are published into books. One of the highlights of first grade writing is the Monday Slice, a journal entry that children compose at the beginning of each week, which provides a vehicle to integrate all of these skills and ideas.
Using our ThinkMath! Program, first graders solidify the basics of addition, subtraction and place value. Students explore critical thinking and problem solving strategies. To strengthen math competency, fluency, and understanding, students play games that demonstrate probability, practice place value, and reinforce fundamental skills.
Our first grade science curriculum provides students with the opportunity to participate in many hands on experiments. Every child identifies as a scientist as they learn to use their science journal and observe their world utilizing all their senses. Children delight in learning about weather systems in the fall – observing the changing of seasons and building their own weather tools. The unit culminates with individualized studies of weather systems and the creation of individual students reports about their weather system of choice using our green screen. Students relish in the opportunity to publish their first green screen work to EHS’s YouTube station.
In the Spring, first and second grade combine for a joint science unit, alternating every other year between “Biomes” and “Insects.” Using a variety of plants and vegetation, we build models of each biome we study. When studying insects, we observe live critters in ant farms, decomposing bananas and bee hives. Children participate in a second individualized study of an animal or insect, tying in non-fiction texts along with an art project. Finally, the children perform in an engaging musical that showcases their learning. The play and projects are often a highlight of first grade.
Our social studies work centers around building community. Children begin the year by considering rules for their classroom community. First graders also consider the qualities that make a good community member, identifying those qualities in themselves and their classmates. Finally, students consider the impact they want to have on their community, culminating in a “Let’s Help the World” project. First graders also learn the basics of economics, how to discern between wants and needs, goods and services, and how people make and spend money. This unit teaches children to continue thinking about how they relate to their community. Through play, students conceptualize these ideas as they create a functioning model city.
The TalAm curriculum is used to teach Hebrew reading and writing. The program provides stories, music, workbooks, and interactive SmartBoard activities and is supplemented with Israeli children’s books for creating stories and role playing. Students are encouraged to write simple stories based on these mentor texts. Some units of study include community workers, clothing, body parts, and animals.
The TalAm curriculum is used to teach multiple stories from the first book of the Torah. Stories are told in Hebrew using Godly Play, role playing, and puppets. The children create their own Torah book (parasha) in Hebrew with their favorite parts from the narrative. Selections from this book are read as a part of a year end program.
Students continue to learn the meanings of prayers from the morning service and create their own prayer books which include personal interpretations of the prayers. At the end of the year, the children have a special ceremony where they showcase their handmade prayer books and receive their own personal prayer book.
We learn about the holidays through the TalAm curriculum which includes vocabulary, a workbook, stories, and songs for each holiday. Students learn the history, symbols, and traditions associated with each holiday and experience them in school through different mitzvot. Students also create handmade projects coinciding with their holiday studies.
Students develop a meaningful relationship with Israel through personal connections with language, people, places, and events. As an ancient land and modern state, we teach our students that Israel is a home for diverse and vibrant expressions of Judaism. Through our cutting-edge Hebrew language curriculum, experiential programs, and Israeli young emissaries (Shinshinim), our students engage with Israel at all grade levels and feel a deep connection to their homeland.
The goal of our music program is for students to become skillful and enthusiastic music makers through music literacy, participation and performance. Through joyful discovery of classical and contemporary music, students cultivate musicality and knowledge. First grade students continue learning to sing in-tune with expression while gaining confidence on stage. Additionally, first graders begin learning to read music and play several instruments including xylophones, bells, and other percussion instruments. Music is integrated across the curriculum as students sing and perform to enhance understanding of subjects from social studies to Judaics.
Students work with a variety of drawing tools, paints, and papers. Students learn techniques for drawing, painting, weaving, printmaking, and collage. In first grade, students expand on their knowledge of elements of art such as line, shape, color, and texture. Emphasis is put on the creative process rather than the finished product. Throughout the year, art is integrated with units of study in the classroom as art helps children use visual content to understand subjects more clearly.
In first grade, students begin the year learning how to express emotions using facial expressions, gestures, and body language. Students demonstrate these abilities by taking turns acting out stories and creating mini-scenes of their own about everyday situations. During the second half of the year, students work towards a musical performance, practicing established skills while developing new ones. Students also gain experience working in an ensemble as well as taking personal responsibility for their own individual parts.
In physical education class, students are encouraged to participate in low and high energy activities with a focus on physical coordination, sportsmanship, and problem solving. Students learn the fundamentals and rules of major sports, as well as physical fitness, stretching, and agility. Units over the school year include soccer, flag football, basketball, handball, strategy games, and floor hockey. Using demonstration of skills, review of age appropriate rules and scrimmages, students learn new sports, the importance of physical fitness, respectful play with others, and how to engage in healthy competition.