First grade is an exciting year of new beginnings. Children grow academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. They also become more autonomous and engaged as learners, and positive members of our classroom community. During the year, students continue on their path to reading and writing proficiency, expand their math skills, and explore our physical and social worlds through integrated units of study.
Our job as teachers and parents is to encourage independence, creativity, curiosity, and academic and social responsibility.
The first grade curriculum begins with the origins of art and continues with a look at ancient and world cultures. We explore the art of Asia, Africa, and Mexico. Throughout the school year, students are introduced to the elements of art; line, texture, pattern, and color. And through these and other projects, they learn about holidays and other topics covered in general studies. Each unit allows for a variety of mediums in both two and three dimensions.
Hebrew is taught in 1st grade to give students a foundation in the language and to be able to read Jewish texts as well as to lay the groundwork for their relationships with Israel, its citizens, and culture. The 1st grade theme is shalom – hello – which focuses on three units dealing with everyday life at school and at home: shalom bakitah (shalom in the classroom), shalom babayit uvachutz (shalom at home and outdoors), and chagim (Jewish holidays). Over the course of the school year, students are encouraged to become proficient (not necessarily fluent) in the following areas:
Reading: We begin the year by teaching letters and vowels, working towards reading with fluency and comprehension by the end of the school year.
Vocabulary: Vocabulary is taught through special units such as the calendar, the weather, colors, and body parts. We work in a spiral method to reinforce and expand vocabulary, collecting new words from textbooks and conversation.
Speaking: By the end of 1st grade, the students can hold basic conversations using the vocabulary acquired in class. This vocabulary includes words carried over from kindergarten, as well those learned in 1st grade. Students are able to say simple sentences about the weather, their school, and themselves.
Comprehension: When the school year comes to a close, students should be able to understand the Hebrew taught in class, as well as follow instructions given in Hebrew.
Talmud Torah (text study)
First graders start at the beginning of the Hebrew nation with Abraham, the patriarchs and matriarchs. They talk about issues in our ancestors families, explore Jacob’s dream, and relate it to their ideas of dreams in their own lives. They also learn about the Tribes of Israel, and choose the one to which they want to belong.
In 1st grade, students learn prayers in preparation for the ceremony in which they receive their own siddurs. Prayers include Modeh Ani, Hallelujah,Yotzer Or, Shma, and more. To help students understand the prayers, Mr. Dictionary comes to work with them on vocabulary; they also learn through art, music, and dance. Students also participate in the school’s weekly rituals of Monday Havdalah, Thursday Tefillah, and Friday Kabalat Shabbat.
The symbols, traditions, and blessings of the chaggim are studied in preparation for the holidays. For example, students study light in Hanukkah – its meanings, uses, and role in Jewish life. In addition, they learn concepts related to the holidays, such as protecting the environment during Tu B’shvat and freedom during Pesach.
Mitzvot (commandments and value concepts)
Tzedakah (giving justly), ma’achil re’evim (feeding the hungry), bikur cholim (visiting the sick), and hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests) are a few of the mitzvot students focus on during the year. They participate in Hausner’s community service days and activities. Other times, they bring these mitzvot to life at home with their families. With each mitzvah students explore, they learn the textual basis for the commandment that helps put the value into action.
First graders learn about Israel through stories, photographs, family histories, and holidays. For example, special lessons are taught around Yom HaAtzmaout so that students understand what that day means to Israelis. They also participate in school events and celebrations focused on important dates for Israel and its history.
Working with a local rabbi, 1st graders and their families become familiar with the siddur in preparation for the ceremony in which they receive their own copies.
The goals of our 1st grade language arts program are simple:
•To help students learn to use language (reading, writing, spelling) as a tool for communicating for different purposes and audiences
•To encourage students to become lifelong readers and writers
•To encourage students to continually interact with the written word, ask questions, and make connections with texts, their own lives, and the world around them.
In 1st grade, as children learn and/or enhance their ability to read, we encourage them to develop a love of literature and reading for both pleasure and information. Our reading program is individualized and phonics-based. We use a variety of literature, to meet the needs of each developing reader, including the Reader’s Workshop (based on the Lucy Calkins Reading and Writing Project from Teachers College at Columbia University), Kevin Henkes Author Study, Bill Peet Author Study, leveled guided reading books and various books related to our curricular units.
As emerging writers, 1st graders develop their handwriting skills through the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting program. Additionally, we begin to establish good writing habits through Writer’s Workshop, as well as shared writing experiences during our integrated unit studies.
Our goal is to help 1st graders begin to develop an intuition and understanding about math. They learn about:
• Every day uses of numbers
• Patterns and counting
• Measurement and basic math facts
• Place value and number stories
• Geometry and attributes
• Money and fractions
• Number sense and place value to 100
• Identifying and create patterns
• Telling time to the half hour
• Adding and subtracting numbers
• Fact families
• Identifying shapes
• Identifying and count money
• Measuring centimeters and inches
• Greater than/less than relationships
• Double digit relationships
In 1st grade, students learn more advanced concepts of music, building on those previously discovered in kindergarten. Students use instruments, dance, and their voices in a variety of ways to learn about different varieties of music. They also have a “sound” unit that challenges students to think about the sounds around them and the difference between sound and music. They begin to develop ear-training skills by identifying sounds in their world, including musical instruments. First grade is an exciting time for music exploration and fun!
First graders practice skills that focus on locomotor development (galloping, hopping, jumping, leaping, running, skipping, sliding, and walking), as well as flexibility and movement exploration (dance and gymnastics). Students strengthen hand-to-eye coordination and spatial awareness by learning skills such as striking an object with precision, overhand/underhand throwing, catching and/or striking a moving object with their hands.
To help with all this development, students participate in a variety of sports, including baseball, basketball, bowling, soccer, and street hockey.
Continuing their science studies from kindergarten, students participate in hands-on activities that stimulate curiosity and motivate them to learn. We integrate social studies lessons into our science curriculum to give it relevancy and meaning.
First graders have in-depth units of study including coral reefs, the solar system, sound, and the rain forest. Some key lessons students learn include that all living organisms have adaptations that make them well suited for survival in their habitat/environment; that humans interact with – and have an impact on – the physical and natural world; and that scientists work in systematic ways, collecting, recording, interpreting, and analyzing information to understand the natural world.
In 1st grade, our interdisciplinary units allow students to delve more deeply into their common history and place in the world. We look at environments, places, and people in the process, including diverse topics such as coral reefs, the Mayflower, maps and globes, Mexico, the rainforest, and space. In the process, they try to answer some key questions:
How does the world consist of interacting communities and diverse cultures?
How do environments and their resources shape people’s lifestyles, habits, stories, traditions and value?
How does human interaction have an impact of the physical and natural world?
While many 1st graders already are using technology at home – to play games, communicate, etc. – our technology class helps them understand the basics and begin to hone their skills. In addition to giving them an overview of technology – what it can do, what role it plays in our world – we help them start to develop skills in programming and using software to express themselves and to learn.
First graders technology classes include:
Learning to program with The Foos and Kodable
Learning to program with Scratch
Programming to learn other subjects with Scratch
Storytelling with movies and pictures
Programming Sphero robots and Bee-Bots
Using the Book Creator app to support Writer’s Workshop