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Grade 1

In first grade, students continue to expand upon their learning from Kindergarten as they explore abstract concepts and skills across their curriculum. They learn more about each of the nine STJES Success Traits and begin to take ownership of their own learning. Students learn to develop a growth mindset so that they may see mistakes as ways to learn, embrace challenges, and demonstrate persistence.


Students develop and expand phonetics, semantics, and decoding skills as well as to increase sight vocabulary. Reading comprehension is developed through independent reading, small group work, and class Read Aloud activities. Reading activities are enhanced through the Language Arts curriculum.

Language Arts (Grammar, Writing and Spelling)

The Language Arts curriculum consists of grammar, writing, spelling and handwriting. Daily 5 provides students opportunities for independent reading, listening to reading, word work, writing, and individual time with the teacher. Students have daily spelling assignments and weekly spelling tests. 

Students have ample opportunities to engage in the writing process. Considerable time is focused on grammar and conventions of writing. Students broaden their formal writing skills throughout the year. Journaling is done throughout the week for student reflection. First grade students are instructed in the proper formation of upper and lowercase letters using the D’Nealian method. 

Students learn and develop their math skills with the Savvas Math program. The curriculum consists of lessons in operations and algebra, numbers and computation, measurement and data, and geometry. This curriculum is structured to build students’ foundational skills through daily activities, problem-based learning, visual learning strategies, and interactive practice. Communication and reasoning about mathematics through sharing and explaining ideas and insights is an important part of each lesson.

Students study the relationship between sound and vibrating materials as well as between the availability of light and ability to see objects. The idea that light travels from place to place can be understood by students at this level through determining the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light. Students also develop an understanding of how plants and animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs as well as how behaviors of parents and offspring help the offspring survive. They begin to  understand that young plants and animals are alike, but not exactly the same as their parents. Students are able to observe, describe, and predict some patterns of the movements of objects in the sky. 

Students continue to develop their understanding of self within their community. Units include Community, Economics, and Culture and History. During the week of the International Festival, students are involved in a variety of activities as they explore the culture of China, Peru, or the Netherlands. They are immersed in the study of the selected country, with all classroom activities, literature, and projects centering on that country. Class and individual projects are displayed during the International Festival.

In First Grade, students learn about the use of greetings, and other basic expressions. They practice pronunciation and writing of the Spanish alphabet. They learn colors, months, numbers (1-20), days of the week, seasons, weather, school and classroom objects, family, clothing, food, eating utensils, farm animals, pets, and body parts. They are expected to be able to respond to teacher directions, and answer basic questions.

In first grade, students develop an age-appropriate understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations. By the end of first grade, we expect St. John’s technology students to be able to work independently in all programs we use throughout the year including operating the related peripherals, tools, and menus on their Chromebooks.  Units often compliment what is being taught in the classroom to reinforce different language arts and mathematical concepts.  Units in keyboarding skills and coding are also taught.    

In first grade, students learn that libraries are organized in a specific way and then use this knowledge to locate books of personal interest. Weekly library classes for students consist of a Read-Aloud time using age-appropriate picture and early reader chapter books followed by an extension activity.  All students then have an opportunity for book selection. 

First Grade artists continue their exploration of different artistic mediums including pencils, markers, pastels, watercolors, tempera, etc. Students learn and further develop their technical skills and fine motor control in drawing, painting, and composition. Process demonstrations, group work, and verbal check-ins are given to students to assist in their understanding of project guidelines and the artistic processes.

In Lower School, students explore four key areas of development: music performance, music literacy, music appreciation, and classroom and global connections.  Students sing, dance, and play instruments in their performances, and acquire and apply music literacy skills through development of musical vocabulary.  They listen and respond to music from a variety of cultural and historical sources as well as make connections between music, their world, and the greater global community through their singing, dancing, listening, and playing. Students have many opportunities to connect to and demonstrate the Traits of Success particularly Courage, Persistence, Positive Attitude, and Attentiveness as they study and perform music.  

In First Grade, students learn to recognize God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and His abiding love through Godly Play, a program of Biblical stories and hands-on experiences that support children in developing their connection to God on their own level.  They are greeted at the door on their level. They open with a song in English, Spanish and Sign Language.  They hear and respond to a Bible story using manipulatives and art. They participate in a discussion surrounding “wonder” questions which stimulate critical thinking. 

In First Grade, students work to refine basic motor skills and coordination of the major muscle groups. An emphasis is placed on space, pathways, and changing direction quickly. Students are challenged to copy, remember and repeat simple skill actions with control and coordination. Flexibility is introduced and a greater emphasis is placed on kinesthetic awareness.  Students are encouraged to interact with others in groups of all sizes, as well as to work independently. A greater emphasis is placed on individual effort, cooperation, and social awareness as we encourage the students to emulate the traits for success. The children learn many games throughout the year and during holiday times that encourage teamwork, cooperation, following directions and rules, and playing safely.