First Grade

About First Grade

Can your six year old do mental math? Build a house out of sugar cubes and it can happen. Want to comprehend base tens, then obsess over the 100th day of school, enumerating everything in your path for a couple of weeks, and it happens without your even knowing it. First grade is chock full of clever teaching tricks, and first grade teachers will tell anyone that they live for the light bulb. That inevitable day when the light bulb turns on in its individual way…magic! First grade is something special at The Lexington School. Four sections of 12 students, first grade curriculum is horizontally aligned, which means for each teacher, you get four teacher brains. Meeting regularly to plan and brainstorm, teachers work to differentiate curriculum, providing an individualized approach for each student. Increasingly academic, the focus continues to be on teaching skills in creative, hands-on ways, and providing plenty of movement and stimulation for these young, curious, and active minds. Risk taking is part of the first grade philosophy, and it comes in a variety of forms depending on the child. From reading aloud to the class, or writing the first page for Writer’s Guild book; from performing on Grandparents Day to jumping to the next, more challenging math concept, first graders take bold steps each day. They know it is okay to try new things; after all, they know their teachers love them, and if at first they don’t succeed, they have their teachers right there to pick them up, brush them off, give them a big pat on the back, and help them try again. It is through this careful, individualized approach that first graders develop the appropriate skills and confidence they need for the next step in their Lexington School journey…on to second grade!

1st Grade

In Unit 6 of Open Court Reading, the students enjoy the Big Book Journeys.  The children fasten their seatbelts and allow these stories to take them on adventures across the world. They practice recognizing, comparing, and responding to narrative and expository texts.  In addition, students use comprehension strategies to comprehend and decode new information.

Keep Trying is the theme of Unit 7, allowing students to experience perseverance through the characters in these selections.  Students use prior knowledge and experiences to make predictions and comprehend more difficult texts.  They begin to understand simple story structure and uncover literary elements such as plot, characterization, and theme.

In Unit 8, the theme Games allows students to explore the world of games through literature. Through play, children develop physical skills, cognitive strategies, and a wide range of insights. These stories expose the students to many types of games, allowing them to experience their importance first-hand.  During this process, students live through the difficulties and triumphs of each story’s characters, helping them understand the complex ideas of cooperation, competition, and rule following.

Unit 9 demonstrates that Being Afraid is a powerful and universal experience for people of all ages.  Through reading about the fears of others, students are able to examine different fears at arm’s length and in a safe environment to determine which fears they feel are rational versus just plain silly.  Students analyze the thoughts, feelings, actions, and relationships of the different characters. They also begin to identify problems and find solutions in story plots. 

In Unit 10, Homes, students compare their meaning of “home” to homes of different people, cultures, and animals all over the world.  They find similarities and differences among each type, and discuss possibilities for why they are alike or different.  This final unit introduces the structural features of expository prose and gives continued practice with identifying, interpreting, and comprehending a variety of texts. 

In Everyday Mathematics, the main focus of Unit 6 is developing “fact power”, providing frequent practice to help children gain quick recall of simple addition facts.  Students are introduced to the addition/subtraction facts table and learn to use this tool in conjunction with fact families.  Students begin using My Reference Book, as they discover the various ways it can be helpful.   

Unit 7 introduces students to geometry and attributes.  Children learn to sort attribute blocks according to attribute rules.  They gain more practice with polygons and investigate their similarities and differences.  Students also learn to identify 3-dimensional shapes such as pyramids, cones, cubes, spheres, cylinders, and rectangular prisms.  First graders explore symmetry by studying existing symmetrical shapes and by creating some of their own designs.

In Unit 8, the students extend their work with money to include dollars. They also reinforce the skills associated with counting and exchanging coins.  Students gain more practice with place value and extend the place value concepts to include hundreds.  Finally, students use their basic understanding of fractional parts of a whole to find fractional parts of a collection and write the unit fraction notation.

Place value and fractions are reinforced and extended in Unit 9.  Students gain more practice with fractions by working to compare and find equivalent fractions.  Students become more familiar with the number grid and begin using it to develop proficiency with adding and subtracting by tens.  Students also begin to practice adding and subtracting two digit numbers. 

The final unit, Unit 10, is filled with culminating activities and assessments.  Students are given extra practice with each skill introduced throughout the year, and required skills are checked for mastery.  This unit provides a perfect spring board into summer and second grade. 


The last term of the year is packed with activities for the first graders.  After February break they start a unit on three-dimensional art.  During this unit the students work with paper maché.  This year the students created bats with water bottles.  The bats were hung from simulated stalactites in the arts wing.  In March the students, inspired by, Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Sunflowers” create a tissue paper collage of this famous painting.  April is a time to look at impressionist artists such as Claude Monet.  Finally the students do some observational drawings.  Bicycles are one of the first grades favorite still life objects to draw.  In May first grade students work on Spring Sing props and try to help create a festive tone for the concert.


The first grade students continue to do an outstanding job in computer class. They are extensively using the keyboarding program, Typing Instructor. This program has skill-building lessons which create a foundation for proper keyboarding.  The students are excited to see how their typing skills are improving. In computer class they research their zoo animals and use MaxWrites to recreate a scene from their trip to the zoo using graphic art. The first grade students’ computer skills have increased as the year has progressesed and have been a joy to teach.


Spring Sing is the capstone experience for third term.  Students put together the skills of singing, movement, and playing instruments to make this concert a lovely experience for themselves as well as the audience.   Vocally, the first graders feel comfortable performing rounds as well as singing beautiful contemporary song repertoire.  Beginning music notation study and composer study will continue in second grade. Parents and students both enjoy looking at the individual student music folders, which reflect some of the music projects from the year.  First graders just keep getting better and better!


The first graders push it to the limit in PE during the final term.  Uits cover some of the students' favorite sports such as gymnastics, dance, bowling, fitness, and base games. The students grow both individually and as a group as they learn team building skills. During  team bowl-a-rama students work cooperatively learning basic team-building skills of communication, reliability, and trust. Throughout the months of April and May students finess their mile times as compare them with fall times to measure improvement over the course of the year.

Throughout May students play a variety of base games such as kick ball, aerobic tee ball, and whiffle ball. These are some of the best times of the year. The year in PE finishes with a first grade kickball game.

Throughout the year students will be brushing up on their Spanish in PE as well. Each month adds two new body parts, and the first graders will reach twenty before the year ends. Students continue to work on counting, locomotors, and commands in Spanish.  ¡Tenga un buen verano y nos vemos el año siguiente!


The first graders begin the third term by completing a unit on Dinosaurs and Paleontology.  They learn about the process of fossilization by using clay and plaster to create molds and casts of their very own fossils.  They also learn where Paleontologists look for dinosaur fossils and how they excavate them for analysis in a museum.  After dinosaurs comes a journey into space and the solar system.  Students start off with Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars by comparing their size, atmosphere, and distance from the Sun.  They first graders examine the asteroid belt and look at other interplanetary bodies like meteors and comets.  Students eventually make their way out to the gas giants and then put it all together with a giant poster of the entire solar system.


Throughout the third term, first grade Spanish students “travel” to Cuba to learn a little bit about Celia Cruz, the “Queen of Salsa”. Students work on generating simple sentences expressing Celias's likes and learn vocaulary associated with Cuba. Students then read ¡Azúcar! and complete a project illustrating and labeling common things found in Cuba, Celia’s beloved native country. First graders continue to explore Cuban culture with the telling of the Cuban Folktale Martina the Beautiful Cockroach. Incorporating vocabulary from the story, including family members and animals, students find out how Martina, la cucaracha (the cockroach) takes the advice of her abuela (grandmother) and sets out to find the perfect suitor by seeing if they can pass The Coffee Test. Will it be don Gallo (the rooster), don Cerdo (the pig), don Lagarto (the lizard) or el ratoncito (the little mouse) that proves worthy to be el amor de Martina (Martina’s love)?  Students add new songs to their repertoire, including La víbora de la mar (The Sea Serpent).

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