Thematic Study: Community
First Grade curriculum is constructed to meet the wide range of needs, knowledge and experiences of first grade learners. Students work to foster skills and values which will serve them their entire lives; love for learning, an openness to new experiences, a sense of confidence, and independence, and a respect for others. A primary goal in First Grade is to establish a community of learners in which children learn from one another as well as their teachers. Teachers aim to help children achieve a greater sense and appreciation of who they are as individuals and as members within a community. Through this exploration of themselves, children become aware of shared commonalities and unique differences between members of the classroom group. Thematic Study: Community
The concept of community is an integral component of early childhood education. First grade classes focus on the manner in which humans relate and rely on each other, animals and nature.
In the First Grade, students study the concept of community, with particular emphasis on the Shady Hill community, neighboring towns and community institutions. Guiding questions the class explores together include:
- What is a community?
- How are people the same in a community? How are they different?
- What are the basic needs of people? How do people in a community get their needs met?
- How do people that live in a community depend on each other? What jobs do people have in a community?
- How do we create safe and peaceful communities?
The use of various art media, authentic artifacts, literature, field trips, and guest speakers will support the children’s exploration of the concept of community.
Language Arts in Grade I
Speaking, writing, reading, and listening are all critical components of language development. Mastery of language exists on a continuum that extends over a number of years and happens for children at different ages. Early childhood learners can vary in their rates of langage development depending on their chronological age, developmental detail, experience, and language background. The reading and writing curriculum adapts to individual needs that range from emergent readers and writers to fluent readers and writers.
Mathematics In Grade I
The goal of the first grade program is to help children construct their own mathematical knowledge. Through meaningful learning experiences in which they solve problems, reason about their mathematical thinking, and communicate their ideas in written and oral form children make connections between mathematical ideas and real-life experiences. Students engage in high interest mathematics activities while building their confidence and strengthening their skills.
The ThinkMath! curriculum guides students' work in the math classroom. The curriculum focuses on specific experiences that are planned to help children understand the underlying structure of our number system. Children are introduced to new concepts through experiences with concrete materials such as Unifix cubes, pattern blocks, and Cuisenaire rods that help children make connections between concrete and abstract mathematical thinking. The content areas of mathematics covered during the year include number and operations, classification and comparison, measurement and data analysis, geometry and early algebra. We also focus on skills related to classification and comparison. Many experiences and lessons integrate several of these areas and there is an emphasis on children using multiple strategies when approaching problem solving.
Science In Grade I
Beginning in 2016-17, students travel to the new lower school science lab two times per cycle, but there also is science learning centered in the gradehead classrooms. Activities and projects encourage the students to explore and discover. Lessons serve to introduce new ideas, materials and procedures, and to provide opportunities to ask questions, set up experiments, solve problems, analyze data, and make inferences. Central to our work is learning how to communicate our ideas effectively through collaboration, discussions, drawing, and writing. Projects and activities are rooted in the Thematic Study of community and include: food growth and distribution, components of soil, beneficial insects, earthworms, composting, gardening, photosynthesis, pollination, cooking, chemistry, weather, and related engineering projects.
Library In Grade I
(One 45-minute class per cycle.)
Library is an extension of the classroom literacy program as students begin to read independently. First graders receive their first Shady Hill Library cards and begin to check out books for home and classroom use. Classes come to the library in half groups for one period per cycle. Group time is spent listening to and talking about stories and learning about the organization and contents of the Lower School library collection. The remainder of the period is used for browsing, reading, and checking out books. Through exposure to a variety of different books students learn to use the library and develop a love of reading.
Art In Grade I
Children participate in different art projects in their classrooms using a wide variety of materials. Students work with tempera paints, watercolors, collage materials, recycled materials, and many other art supplies. Art areas are set up in classrooms to allow students access to materials for exploration and experimentation. The first grade curriculum, along with students' individual passions, become the subject matter for much of their work. Through hands-on art experiences, classroom teachers help children develop a passion and respect for art.
Movement Education In Grade I
(Two 40-minute classes per cycle)
In first grade, students progress toward achieving mature form in more complex manipulative skills. Students continue to develop personal growth through exploration and repetition of basic motor skills including basic sports skills; this helps them learn the value of working hard and giving a full effort. As first graders mature cognitively, they begin to identify and perform movement concepts like spatial awareness, effort, and relationships to changing conditions and expectations. Our classes work with different forms of feedback as students learn to identify elements of correct technique for fundamental skills and use them in performance. We also begin our focus on nutrition and fitness in the first grade, with activities like Fitness Night. From there, we build upon students’ knowledge of the components of health-related fitness (e.g., cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility). Students develop and practice sportsmanship, and learn what it means to be a gracious winner and loser.
Music & Performing Arts In Grade I
(Two 40-minute classes per cycle)
First grade students continue their exploration of and immersion in a wide variety of musical experiences including singing, dancing, listening and playing age-appropriate rhythm instruments, among many others. Students continue to be exposed to the tremendous cultural diversity in music, learning more songs in different languages and listening to selections from different cultures. As the year progresses, students will become familiar and comfortable with new musical concepts and terms such as rising/falling, call/response, quarter, eighth, beat/rest, etc. For several weeks in the winter students participate in acting out The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky with costumes, props, and musical accompaniment. As in the other grades, repertoire is prepared for once-per-cycle Lower School assemblies as well as holidays and special events including Thanksgiving, Winter Holiday, Black History, May Day, and Closing Day.
Woodshop in Grade I
(One 60-minute class per cycle)
First graders come to the woodshop in groups of 6 for an hour per cycle for a quarter of the year. They are natural designers and determined workers. Each child creates an animal and works to bring it to life in wood. Students are introduced to a wide variety of hand tools and are taught to use tools safely, effectively, and confidently. They are guided in the construction of their creation and are encouraged to think spatially and to problem-solve.
Lower School Community in Grade I
The entire Lower School (Beginners to Grade IV) meets together in the Assembly Hall from 8:35 to 9:15 on Day 3. The music component of assemblies includes community singing, performances by Shady Hill students, and performances by outside musical groups. Music at the assembly extends the music curriculum and deepens students’ understanding of music as cultural expression. Classroom sharing is also an important aspect of assemblies. The emphasis is on sharing works-in-progress from all areas of the Lower School. Preparation for sharing is part of the learning process and sharing in front of a larger group in a safe, supportive environment helps children develop confidence in projecting their voices and effectively presenting their work. Sometimes assemblies are used for performances, such as class productions, Visiting Artist performances, or other outside performers or speakers. Outside presenters come from the arts, sciences, and humanities and make a connection to the wider world.