First Grade

First Grade Curriculum

First Grade 

In First grade, students continue to expand upon their learning from Kindergarten as they explore abstract concepts and skills across their curriculum. They learn more about each of the nine STJES Success Traits and begin to take ownership of their own learning.


The Language Arts curriculum consists of reading, writing, grammar, spelling, listening, and speaking. Daily 5 provides students opportunities for independent reading, listening to reading, word work, writing, and individual time with the teacher.

Our goals in reading are to develop and expand phonetics, semantics, and decoding skills as well as to increase sight vocabulary. Students work in basal, as well as leveled readers, that gradually increase core sight and decoding vocabulary. Reading comprehension is developed through independent reading, small group work, and class Read Aloud activities. First graders have daily spelling assignments and weekly spelling tests.

Students have ample opportunities to engage in the writing process. Considerable time is focused on grammar and conventions of writing. Students broaden their formal writing skills throughout the year. Journaling is done throughout the week for student reflection. First grade students practice writing upper and lowercase letters using the D’Nealian method. 


First graders learn and develop their math skills with the Savvas Math program. This curriculum is structured to build students’ foundational skills through daily activities, problem-based learning, visual learning strategies, and interactive practice. Communication and reasoning about mathematics through sharing and explaining ideas and insights is an important part of each lesson.

Students learn strategies to add and subtract within 100. They study place value of two-digit numbers and learn to compare numbers. Students organize, represent, and interpret data. Students explore two- and three-dimensional shapes to develop basic skills in geometry and build a conceptual foundation for fractions. Other units include concepts of measurement and time.


First graders experience science through units that encompass the world around them. Each unit provides an understanding of different science concepts through exploration, discussion, and literature. Units include Living and Nonliving Things, Dental Health, Nutrition, and Exploring Matter.

Social Studies

First graders continue to develop their understanding of self within their community. Units include School Environment, Map Skills, Economics, Protecting the Earth. During the week of the International Festival, students are involved in a variety of activities as they explore the culture of China, Peru, or the Netherlands.

Field Trips

Students in the first grade enjoy at least two field trips each year. Students have the opportunity to visit Sharp’s Farm where they experience a day in the life of pilgrim and Wampanoag children. First grade also makes an annual trip to the Montgomery County Recycling Center to learn about the importance of recycling and caring for the Earth. 


In First Grade, students review the use of greetings, farewells, introductions, and other common everyday expressions. They practice pronunciation and writing of the Spanish alphabet. They learn colors, months, numbers (1-30), days of the week, seasons, weather, school and classroom objects, areas of a house, family, clothing, food, eating utensils, farm animals, pets, sports, body parts, transportation, places and people that work in the community and opposites. They are expected to be able to respond to teacher directions, commands and answer questions using not less than two words. 


In First Grade, students learn to recognize God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and His abiding love through Godly Play, a program of stories and hands-on experiences that support children in developing their connection to God on their own level.  


In First Grade, students explore four key areas of development; music performance, music literacy, music appreciation, and classroom and global connections. Students perform through singing, dancing, and playing of instruments. Students acquire and apply music literacy skills through development of musical vocabulary. To demonstrate these skills, each student participates in performances annually including the Festival of the Arts. 

Visual Art

In First Grade, students work in a variety of media including pencils, markers, pastels, watercolor, tempera etc. The curriculum provides the opportunity for children to learn and develop skills in drawing, painting, composition, and craft. Each student draws a self-portrait that becomes part of a collage for the yearly St. Johns Auction. 

Physical Education

In First Grade, students work to refine basic motor skills and coordination of the major muscle groups. An emphasis is placed on space, pathways, and changing direction quickly. Students are challenged to copy, remember and repeat simple skill actions with control and coordination. Flexibility is introduced and a greater emphasis is placed on kinesthetic awareness.  Students are encouraged to interact with others in groups of all sizes, as well as to work independently. A greater emphasis is placed on individual effort, cooperation, and social awareness as we encourage the students to emulate the traits for success. The children learn many games throughout the year and during holiday times that encourage teamwork, cooperation, following directions and rules, and playing safely.


In First Grade, students develop an age-appropriate understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations. By the end of first grade, we expect St. John’s technology students to be able to work independently in all software programs we use throughout the year, including operating the related peripherals, tools, and menus. Their experience includes the NETS (National Educational Technology Standards for Students) categories of creativity, communication and collaboration, and basic research and information fluency.


In First Grade, students learn that libraries are organized in a specific way and then use this knowledge to locate books of personal interest. Weekly library classes for students consist of a Read-Aloud time using age-appropriate classic picture and early reader chapter books followed by an opportunity for book selection. 

Global Education

Each year, Second graders participate in the International Festival. One week in the new year is devoted to the study of a country. During this time, children are immersed in the study of the selected country, with all classroom activities, literature, and projects centering on that country. Class and individual projects are displayed during the International Festival.