Grade 1 Curriculum

The first grade curriculum continues to integrate academics and arts to explore themes and skills. Faculty build early literacy and math skills; developmentally appropriate activities extend students’ individual abilities through small and large group work. Students particularly enjoy filling specially-decorated book bags with “just right” books to read at home and celebrating the 100th day of school with games that emphasize counting, measuring and predicting. This is an exciting year of “firsts” as students experience lunch in Coolidge Hall, participate in our Field Day, learn in the woodworking studio and perform in a play—all for the first time.

Program Highlights

  • Robotics
  • Grades 1 and 2 class play
  • Book Bag program
  • Earth Week
  • eBook publishing
  • Native American studies
  • Lunch in the lunchroom
  • Weather forecasts
  • Field trip to Ecotarium
  • 100th Day of School celebration

Specialist Time

  • French once a week for 30 minutes
  • Art studio once a week for 45 minutes
  • Music once a week for 30 minutes
  • Theater arts once a week for 45 minutes
  • Woodworking once a week for 45 minutes
  • Physical education three times a week for 30 minutes
  • Library once a week for 30 minutes

Grade 1 Subjects

  • Language Arts
    A group of first graders work on a literacy activity

    Creating independent readers and instilling a love of reading and literature are primary goals in the first grade. The reading program focuses on explicit phonics instruction, learning to read sight words, increasing vocabulary, and improving comprehension using leveled texts. The students practice reading and spelling the sight words and are exposed to new vocabulary. Read-aloud books are used to make predictions, enjoy words, notice correlation between text and illustration, explore a variety of genres, and to share our admiration for authors and ideas.

    First grade students see themselves as authors who can write confidently and creatively. Writing workshops begin with mini-lessons on grammar, mechanics, or style. Students learn how to plan and draft a story, how to have a writing conference with a teacher, how to edit and revise, and how to produce a final piece of writing to be published both in a traditional book and electronic form. We use Handwriting Without Tears to encourage legibility, correct pencil grip, and efficient letter formation.


    Our first grade students will:

    • participate in shared reading activities
    • recognize sound-symbol correspondence
    • use multiple strategies to make sense of unfamiliar words (decoding, context clues, and sentence structure)
    • self-correct when reading does not make sense
    • recognize sight words in the environment and in text
    • retell information contained in text with accuracy and detail
    • organize and sequence story events
    • identify main ideas
    • predict and confirm outcomes
    • differentiate fact from opinion
    • compare and contrast information
    • understand story elements: setting, main characters, problems, solutions
    • sustain silent reading


    Our first grade students will:

    • develop early literacy concepts in the area of writing (spacing, directionality, and letter formation)
    • view themselves as authors
    • express themselves clearly and confidently through writing
    • understand that good writing is an ongoing process consisting of planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing
    • use the mechanics of writing (e.g., grammar, punctuation, usage, spelling) in order to construct meaning to expand vocabulary
    • contribute to class stories and shared writing
    • use known sight words in their writing
    • apply knowledge of sound-symbol correspondences to spell unknown words
    • write personal narrative, poetry, formal letters, and fiction
    • generate ideas
    • organize and sequence ideas for writing
    • share writing and receive feedback
    • incorporate suggestions from peers and teachers
    • create and publish an eBook

    Speaking and Listening

    Our first grade students will:

    • use active listening
    • listen for specific information
    • develop strategies for retaining oral information
    • follow verbal instructions: simple and multi-step directions
    • demonstrate clear and logical reasoning through oral expression
    • develop appropriate articulation and modulation
    • practice sharing ideas and work
    • develop appropriate ways to interact and communicate with others
    • demonstrate understanding of modes of verbal communication: question vs. answer, storytelling vs. instruction, etc.

  • Math

    First grade students appreciate the joy and power of mathematics and use it as a tool for reasoning and problem solving. The students learn a great deal about numbers this year. They are introduced to number models, number lines, and number grids as tools to help with the computation of addition and subtraction problems. The patterns on number grids are examined as the students find odd and even numbers, determine amount of change from one row to the next, and compare the digits in the ones and tens columns. Students are introduced to card games, dice games, and 100 Chart games to help them practice their addition facts. They also work with base-10 blocks to explore place value.

    The program moves the students beyond non-standard units of measure and introduces them to rulers to measure the length of objects and create line segments of specific lengths. They explore the concept of area using pattern blocks and compare the weight of different items using pan balances. First graders continue to expand their knowledge of time and money and the concepts of symmetry, fractions, and probability are also introduced.

    Our first grade students will:

    • develop and apply problem-solving strategies
    • learn to explain answers and solution processes
    • make mathematical connections to different topics, other curriculum areas, and everyday life
    • collect, organize, and describe data
    • create and interpret simple graphs and surveys with both pictorial and symbolic representations
    • read and write numbers up to three digits
    • understand and use whole number operations (+, -) both concretely and symbolically
    • explore simple multiple digit addition and subtraction using 100s grids, base-10 blocks, and manipulatives
    • explore basic grouping and place value concepts using 100s grids, base-10 blocks, and manipulatives
    • recognize and name common shapes and solve geometric problems
    • explore measurement concepts including length, weight, area, time, temperature, and money
    • measure length with a variety of standard and non-standard measurements
    • be introduced to telling time to the quarter hour
    • use number knowledge to estimate with increasing accuracy
    • interpret data on a graph

  • Social Studies

    The first grade social studies program emphasizes students’ connections to others in Massachusetts, the United States, and to the world at large. The students are introduced to our year long study of Massachusetts’ Native Americans, the Wampanoag people, as they lived over 400 years ago as well as how they live today. Throughout the year, the first grade focuses on the many Wampanoag beliefs, customs, and social structures. The students learn about the celebrations and holidays that we observe as citizens of the United States such as Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Earth Day, and Memorial Day. They focus on their role as members of a society and their responsibilities to their country and planet.

    Our first grade students will:

    • participate in social competency discussions
    • develop communication and interpersonal problem-solving skills
    • work cooperatively in group
    • develop a basic understanding of the Wampanoag society and culture
    • use mapping skills
    • understand growth and change in communities
    • appreciate, understand, and respect others
    • appreciate and participate in cultural, religious, and national observances (Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Veterans Day)
    • identify great leaders and the meaning of leadership
    • understand the meaning behind our national holidays

  • Science
    First graders conduct an experiment about clouds

    The first grade science curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, develops scientific skills, and fosters curiosity. The students begin the year by learning about the importance of healthy eating and making good lunch choices from the lunch room. They learn about the benefit of eating from the five food groups. Next they discover what happens to their food once they swallow and learn how to diagram and label the parts of the digestive system including: esophagus, epiglottis, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. The health and wellness curriculum extends the students understanding of the human body by exploring the human life cycle and gender.

    Weather and earth sciences captivate the students as they put their keen observation skills to work identifying types of cloud formations and studying rocks and minerals. After learning about clouds, wind, rain, snow, and storms, the first graders create a weather forecast with a partner. The first graders concentrate on describing and sorting the three types of rocks—metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary. They study the process of the rock cycle and how rocks and minerals are extracted from the earth. First grade students are avid users of technology and create and control robots using Legos and an appropriate programing tool.

    Our first grade students will:

    • understand growth and change in nature
    • learn about and make healthy food choices
    • identify five food groups
    • keep a food diary
    • understand the process of food digestion and the parts of the digestive system
    • increase their knowledge of weather and cloud formations
    • create weather forecasts
    • build and program simple robots
    • develop the ability to be thoughtful observers, predictors, and recorders of events and experiments
    • use science tools with confidence
    • actively problem solve

  • World Language

    At Belmont Day exposure to world languages begins in pre-kindergarten. The students have a variety of informal language experiences in the classroom based on languages spoken by members of the classroom community. Once a week, students are also introduced to French through puppets, songs, poems, and games. From pre-kindergarten to second grade, the emphasis is on developing oral skills.

    The topics are revisited and broadened each year, and include:

    • greetings and civilities
    • expressing moods, needs, and feelings
    • numbers
    • colors
    • shapes
    • foods
    • family members
    • animals
    • body parts
    • days, months, and seasons
    • weather expressions
    • prepositions
    • action verbs, including classroom directions
    • geography of France (three main towns, bordering countries)

    Students develop their aural skills and notice patterns, similarities, and grammar through learning songs and poems. They learn to play games as a group, then in partners, practicing their social skills in French.

  • Visual Arts
    A boy paints in the studio

    Students in first grade continue to explore a wide variety of materials and processes. As they engage in the world of visual expression, students learn about artistic concepts such as color, shape, texture, contrast, form, and pattern. They draw, sculpt, paint, print, and combine materials to create two and three-dimensional artworks. Self-expression and connections between visual art, nature, daily life, other artists, and cultures are explored as students design and develop their artworks.

    First grade artists create their own sketchbooks in which they draw from observation and their imagination. Art experiences include developing the techniques of productive thinking and creative problem solving, as well as manipulative and fine-motor abilities. As students become more accomplished, they explore increasingly challenging media and techniques and begin to refine their technical skills, develop visual perception, and strengthen sensory awareness.

    Past first grade art projects include:

    • story collage inspired by Eric Carle
    • leaf printing
    • pillows: dyeing, sewing (by hand and machine), and stuffing
    • clay sun faces
    • monochromatic self-portraits
    • handmade paper

  • Music
    Weekly music classes emphasize expressive singing, appreciation of master compsers’ works, and Orff instruments. Every first grader performs an instrumental overture and sings as part of the chorus in a musical play.

    First grade music begins the term preparing for their class play. Every student works on an instrumental overture and learns five songs. Each year different themes are chosen and past themes have included keyboards, guitars, recorders, and an assortment of musical instruments, along with preparing for the class play and singing in the December concert. All classes include a core period of group and solo singing.

    First grade students will:

    • begin to recognize letter names and treble staff notes
    • play and clap rhythmic pattern notation (using beginning notation such as quarter notes, quarter rests, eighth notes, half notes, and whole notes)
    • appreciate several master composers’ works
    • continue use of rhythmic instruments and begins using melody instruments to accompany songs

    Topics of study include:

    • beginning use of instrumental music
    • introduction and review of reading treble staff and rhythmic notation
    • works of master composers
    • expressively singing
    • Orff instruments
    • music for first and second grade play and December concert

  • Theater Arts
    A young actor in costume on stage-First graders are introduced to performance skills through drama games, creative movement, and by performing alongside second graders as the chorus in a musical production.

    In first grade students are introduced to the basics of theatricality. Students learn how to become confident risk takers in oration by practicing vocal projection as well as acquiring microphone techniques for assistance on the stage. Through the use of drama games, creative movement, choreography, puppetry, and poetry, they begin to form the base of performing arts skills that will lay the foundation for future years of dramatic exploration. In addition, students participate in the first and second grade musical production as the chorus. They are tasked to learn lines and lyrics, acquire choreography, and help with the creation of costumes and sets.

    First grade students will:

    • develop the ability to memorize
    • use their senses to illustrate performance
    • expand their theatrical vocabulary
    • become familiar with who William Shakespeare was and how he shaped the face of theater today
    • learn how to develop a character
    • become a confident orator and presenter

  • Woodworking
    A boy uses a hammer on his project in woodworking class

    First graders enter woodworking with the opportunity to learning and build upon many new skills throughout the year. First, they are taught the proper technique for using a handsaw and make many practice cuts for their frame design project. Next, use of a hammer is introduced through pounding nails into a wooden stump. More practice hammering comes with creating a signature nail design. This nail design allows for the creation of artistic expression using the new media of a wooden block and nails. The design and construction of a vehicle continues to reinforce sawing skills and introduces new tools of the miter box and hand drill. During the winter and spring students create a “hole in a box,” an animal, and a project of their own design. Construction involves accurate measurement, and use of both a miter saw and drill press. Emphasis is placed on cooperation, the ability to share tools and offer assistance to peers in the wood studio.

    First grade students will:

    • use tools to cut, measure, smooth, join, and finish projects
    • design, draw, and discuss plans for projects
    • recognize and use appropriate terminology

    Topics of study:

    • Basic hand tools identification
    • Proper use and care of tools
    • Measuring skills
    • Basic skills with project materials
    • Techniques for manipulating wood to achieve design choices
    • Understand the properties of wood
    • Safety habits

  • Physical Education

    In first grade physical education, students continue to refine key movement skills and principles. Students gain an understanding of how and why the body moves, moving safely alone as well as in a group, and perform manipulative skills both while moving and stationary. Students engage in various movement activities involving dribbling, striking, tossing, catching, parachute activities, obstacle courses, and group games.

    Our first grade students will:

    • develop an understanding of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle
    • explore new and challenging physical activities and engage in basic sports
    • demonstrate the ability to perform manipulative skills while moving or standing, including overhand throwing, dribbling, catching, kicking, underhand tossing, etc.
    • learn to work with other students towards a common goal
    • demonstrate the ability to perform locomotor and nonlocomotor skills such as running, jumping, climbing, rolling, twisting, bending, turning, etc.

  • Social Competency and Health and Wellness

    The social competency and health and wellness curriculum provides an opportunity for students to learn about structures and the importance of community, personal relationships, and healthy individual choices.

    Our first grade students will:

    • use the elements of positive social skills: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, self-control, and empathy
    • identify and respect similarities and differences in people in terms of needs, emotions, and cultures
    • respect and care for his/her body
    • respect all community members through the use of respectful language, actions, and attitudes

    Topics of study:

    Social Competency

    • Getting to know one another
    • Classroom rules
    • Building community
    • Discovering our commonalities
    • Being a good listener
    • Nonverbal signals
    • Body language
    • Calming down
    • What to do when you feel angry
    • Speaking up
    • Interviewing
    • Giving and receiving compliments
    • Including one another
    • Personal space
    • Cooperating with one another
    • When to tell a responsible adult
    • When to deal with situations yourself
    • Teasing
    • Making mistakes
    • Leadership skills
    • Role playing
    • Friendship
    • Showing respect for one another
    • Understanding feeling words

    Health & Wellness

    • Difference: gender roles, families, skin color, ancestry
    • Human life cycle: stages of growth
    • Families
    • Friendship

  • Information Literacy and Technology

    First graders begin to use technology more frequently, as evidenced in their building and programming of robots. Students also collaboratively plan and write stories, and then illustrate and record the narration for the stories on iPads, ultimately publishing epubs that can be shared with friends and family. In collaboration with the classroom teacher, the librarian works with students to consider the different sources of information both electronic and print-based to begin their research on types of food. Students then use the information they find to discover hands-on whether certain foods fit with the established definition. First grade students visit the library weekly to hear a story and borrow books to take home. The librarian works closely with the classroom teachers to reinforce reading and book care skills. Familiarity with the structure of the library, how to check out a book, and simple research skills are also reinforced and practiced.

    Our first grade students will:

    • follow the process for library checkout and returns
    • generate questions as an introduction to the research process
    • understand that one can gather information from several sources
    • identify beginning, middle, and end of a story
    • identify the library and librarian as resources to locate and use information
    • identify main characters and setting in stories
    • know that nonfiction books are organized by topic
    • recognize and choose picture, easy reading, and informational books
    • use terminology about parts of a book
    • use the library to explore personal interests

Our Teachers

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