Building upon the strong foundation of the Kindergarten program, in 1st Grade the goal is for each child to become an independent reader: one who reads joyfully whether for pleasure or specific information. Themes continue to be the foundation upon which most of the day's lessons and activities are built. As the children grow in their decoding abilities, the focus broadens to include an emphasis on fluency, expression, comprehension, and analysis. The "center" approach to teaching and learning continues to provide the students opportunities to work in small, adult-guided groups whether it be to read a book, work on phonics skills, write, or create a project that ties into the theme.
Through the use of morning messages and a multitude of writing activities, the students begin to learn about the structure of our language: basic parts of speech, sentence composition, punctuation, and capitalization. They also grow in their ability to incorporate more conventional spelling into their work. Students are expected to learn weekly spelling lists in addition to mastering the spelling of the first hundred high frequency words. Handwriting also becomes more conventional. During the course of the year, the children move from writing a few simple sentences to writing paragraphs. They learn to edit their own work and, as the year draws to a close, they write and present an original fairy tale to their parents and classmates at a special "Literary Tea."
The students work in small group settings where they learn to think mathematically and to apply math concepts to everyday situations. Through the use of oral and written activities the students learn about a variety of mathematical concepts including the meaning and use of numbers, visual and numerical patterning, thermometers, linear measurement, time, number stories, fractions, money, geometry, and place value. While a strong emphasis is placed on critical thinking and problem solving, the children also learn and apply basic addition and subtraction facts through the number twenty. Games and manipulatives continue to provide the children opportunities for hands-on practice and reinforcement of all skills.
Social Studies and Science
The social studies program in 1st Grade was also developed based on our thematic approach to learning. The desert and Los Angeles units are studied with an emphasis placed on the environment, community, and the relationship between humans, land, and climate. As the students "journey" through the regions, they learn to compare and contrast the various features that make each area unique. Science lessons are developed that tie into their studies, and the students venture to the science lab for these special classes.