First Grade


First Grade

How Does Our Garden Grow?


Year-Long Essential Questions

  • In what ways are living things connected?
  • How do community members solve problems?
  • How does recognizing patterns help us learn new things?

The Linguistic Intelligence (Reading)

A primary focus of the first grade reading program is to help students develop as readers.  Children enter first grade demonstrating a wide-range of reading abilities, and through small group book clubs, teachers provide the appropriate instruction to meet the students’ needs.  Students concentrate on learning reading strategies for decoding, how to monitor their understanding, and how to look deeply into the text for comprehension.   During book clubs and through their independent reading, students explore various genres and notice different styles through author studies.  

By the end of first grade, students will be able to:

  • engage in the reading process and self-select appropriate books to read
  • develop decoding skills: use pictures clues, context clues, phonemic clues, determine what sounds right, and make the text make sense
  • make connections between the text and self and text and other texts
  • develop comprehension skills: predict outcomes, make inferences, answer “why” questions in a story
  • identify the main ideas and supporting details in non-fiction texts
  • demonstrate confidence in their abilities and a love and joy for reading

Linguistic Intelligence (Writing)

In first grade, the students explore writing through various genres, including poetry, letter writing, fiction, non-fiction, and personal narrative.   Through these explorations, they come to recognize that there are different types of writing and different purposes. A major focus of the writing program is to understand how to write a sentence and to recognize how sentences can be varied and complex.  But even more important, students become capable writers by learning to write non-fiction pieces, as well creative fairy tales and personal narratives. To support these efforts, students also practice their handwriting skills through a program called, Handwriting Without Tears

By the end of first grade, students will be able to:

  • understand and internalize writing through the process of planning, drafting, revising, reflecting, editing, and publishing
  • use correct ending punctuation and capitalization
  • demonstrate sentence fluency within writing by constructing sentences of varying types and lengths
  • use the traits of writing:  Ideas and Content, Voice, Sentence Fluency, Organization, and Word Choice
  • form letters and space words properly
  • consistently use graphic organizers to structure their writing
  • see themselves as writers.

Language and Spelling

The first grade spelling curriculum emphasizes word families and sight words.  Students practice skills and   understand concepts through center-based activities which utilize the Multiple Intelligences. Direct instruction of grammatical and spelling rules is provided in the form of mini-lessons.  In addition, individualized instruction is provided within the context of the students’ own writing pieces.

By the end of first grade, students will be able to:

  • use patterns within words to transition from temporary spelling to conventional spelling
  • recognize sounds represented by consonant blends and digraphs, long and short vowels, and vowel diphthongs
  • master the first grade sight words and spelling words
  • put words in alphabetical order
  • differentiate between antonyms, synonyms, homonyms, compound words, and contractions
  • identify the number of syllables in a word

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

The core of the first grade program is a thorough understanding of Number Sense.  Number bonds lay the foundation for addition and subtraction.  Children move from using manipulatives at the concrete level to assigning numbers and equations as a reflection of their abstract thinking.  Mental math furthers their concept of the Base Ten system.  Model-drawing is introduced as a spatial tool for solving word problems. Students are expected to communicate how they arrive at a particular answer. 

By the end of first grade, students will be able to:

Number Sense

  • recall addition and subtraction facts with speed and accuracy
  • understand place value to the hundreds place
  • see the connection between repeated addition and multiplication

Data Analysis

  • gather, collect, organize, and interpret data on various graphs


  • use tools to measure
  • tell time to the nearest hour and half hour
  • name coins, know values, and count money


  • identify names and attributes of shapes

Problem Solving

  • identify, choose, and use an appropriate strategy to solve and explain a problem
  • use model drawing to illustrate thinking process when problem solving


  • recognize and create patterns
  • identify unknowns in equations

Theme Studies

Through the yearlong theme, children develop a sense of autonomy, belonging, significance, and a joy of learning.  Throughout the year, children solve problems, work cooperatively, and set goals that allow them to contribute and be of service to others in their community.

Friendship Garden

  • develop the ability to compromise, cooperate, and communicate with others
  • perform service projects that benefit the class, the school, and the local community

Ants and Bees:

  • find similarities between insect communities and the classroom community
  • explore classification, adaptation, and  role of insects within the insect community

Productions of The Sneetches  and Peter Pan

  • recognize discrimination and stereotypes
  • use the Habits of Mind within the personal intelligences to create a successful play

The Natural Garden

  • explore the use of the scientific method in the study of plants
  • notice the connections and interdependence between worms, plants, and insects
  • transfer these connections and interrelationships within our school community

You’re invited to our Fall Open House!

Behind our red doors, New City students engage in hands-on, experiential learning, develop lasting friendships within a diverse group of peers, play hard, and dream big. Join us at our Fall Open House on Saturday, November 10, to learn more about our school. We promise New City School is unlike anywhere you’ve been before! RSVP by visiting

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