The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Primary School

Grade One

Grade One

The goal of grade one is to continue to foster children’s intellectual, social, and emotional growth. A major focus of the first grade curriculum is on reading and writing, and students participate in daily activities—in whole groups, in small groups, and one-on-one—to develop foundational phonetic skills and become competent readers and writers. As students become more familiar with the routines and expectations of a formal school setting, they face developmentally appropriate challenges that require them to problem solve, think critically, and work collaboratively with others. Classroom teachers encourage first graders to become more independent and self-reliant as students, and classroom activities continue to focus on building community, developing friendships, and communicating effectively with others.

List of 11 items.

  • Mathematics

    Grade one expands upon the goals and objectives of Kindergarten mathematics with a continued focus on mathematical content and processes, including basic addition and subtraction facts, and improved estimation and problem-solving skills. Through hands-on activities and work with manipulatives, students discover patterns in numbers and develop critical thinking skills. Students also develop their mathematical thinking in the following areas: number and operations, algebraic thinking, geometry, measurement, data analysis, and probability.

    Students who successfully complete the grade one mathematics program will be able to fundamental understanding of topics in the following categories:
    Number and Operations
    • Counting whole numbers (including skip counting)
    • Adding and subtracting whole numbers
    • Identifying and applying place value concepts
    • Applying estimation strategies
    • Understanding the relationship between number and quantity
    Fractions, Decimals, Percents
    • Representing and comparing one-half and one whole through pictures
    • Measuring using standard (centimeters and inches) and non-standard units
    • Telling time to the hour and half hour
    • Identifying coins and their values
    • Comparing quantities of objects
    • Identifying, analyzing, and comparing two- and three-dimensional shapes
    • Sorting and classifying shapes according to their attributes
    Data Analysis & Probability
    • Collecting, analyzing, and graphing data
    • Discussing events related to likely and unlikely
    Algebraic Thinking
    • Devising mental math solutions
    • Solving single- and basic multi-step problems
    • Completing, analyzing, & identifying repeating and growing patterns
  • Language Arts

    In grade one, the goal is to foster a love of reading. Through whole group lessons, small reading groups, and individual instruction, students explore concepts and participate in activities to help them become confident, independent readers. They learn basic phonetic rules, strengthen phonemic awareness skills, and bolster their ability to recognize and spell many high-frequency words. In small groups, students practice new skills and review previously learned skills by reading appropriately leveled texts. First graders also read regularly from their independent book bags, which contain literature at each child’s reading level. Within these levels, students have exposure to a wide variety of fiction, nonfiction and poetry selections. Reading teachers meet regularly with each student to monitor and assess progress, focusing on decoding strategies, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary development. 
    The goal of the grade one writing program is to improve students’ overall communication skills. At the beginning of the year, first graders review the formation of uppercase letters and learn the lowercase letters. Next, students learn basic capitalization and punctuation rules. As these skills develop and students become more comfortable with the writing process, they practice incorporating more detail into their writing. Later in the year, students create a rubric to help them assess their work, which reminds them to check for proper capitalization and punctuation, spacing between words, correct spelling of high-frequency words, and descriptive detail. With this introduction to editing, students begin to learn the importance of reviewing and revising their writing. To improve listening skills and to cultivate an appreciation of the written word, teachers read to the children daily from a range of literature, including picture books, chapter books, nonfiction, and poetry. As part of their language arts activities, first graders also present a musical play. Over the course of the production, the children learn their lines, create the scenery, learn songs, and practice choreography. This is the students’ first foray into public speaking at Fay, and it is a highlight of the year.

    Students continue to build on word skills and habits of mind introduced in Kindergarten. They begin the year reviewing consonant and vowel sounds and then learn phonetic concepts such as digraphs, blends, vowel teams, and open and closed syllables. Appropriately-leveled high-frequency words enrich each student’s lexicon as reading skills expand. These spelling rules are explicitly taught in sequence to the whole group and then reviewed and practiced in small groups in reading and writing. Utilizing a spiraling phonics curriculum, first grade students can master, retain, and apply the skills to both their reading and writing assignments. 
  • Social Studies

    The first grade social studies curriculum continues to focus on community, geography, history, and culture. Students continue to recognize and respect diversity within communities, build interpersonal skills, develop self awareness and responsibility, and strengthen communication skills. Focusing on the geography, history and culture of the town of Southborough, students explore how Southborough became the community it is today while focusing on differences as strengths and contributing to the community. Students who successfully complete the grade one social studies program will be able to:
    • Appreciate past events and historical figures of Southborough and their connection to the present day
    • Identify and use basic map features focusing on the town of Southborough and the surrounding area that makes up the Metrowest region of Massachusetts.
  • Science

    The Primary School science curriculum is inquiry-based and project-based. Its practices have been adopted from the National Research Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Students who demonstrate success in primary school science courses will be able to:
    • Ask questions that encourage further investigation
    • Record observations and ideas using pictures, numbers, and writing
    • Share observations and ideas with peers
    • Compare and sort objects according to similarities and differences
    • Follow oral instructions for explorations
    • Recognize that scientists work in groups
    • Use tools appropriately to observe, draw, and describe objects
    In grade one, students explore how humans use their senses to make observations about the natural world. In the fall, students observe local trees and compare and contrast their characteristics. During the winter term, students research penguins and learn about their adaptations. In the spring, students investigate honey bees. Using science notebooks, students record observations, make predictions, and summarize results.
  • World Languages: Spanish and French

    Fay’s Primary School World Language program is based on the F.L.E.X. (Foreign Language Experience) approach. Students study both French and Spanish, each for half of the school year.

    For both French and Spanish classes, first graders review basic colors, numbers (1-20), and simple daily expressions that can be used to communicate their needs and desires in the classroom. The curriculum focuses on high-frequency and seasonal vocabulary related to topics such as the date, weather, clothes, and family. Children learn vocabulary through hands-on activities, games, songs, nursery rhymes, poems, and age-appropriate literature. Authentic foreign-language children’s books are used to generate discussions, reinforce vocabulary, and engage the children in learning about Francophone and Hispanic cultures. The study of culture continues to play a significant part in the curriculum, and students create projects focused on specific traditions and celebrations.

  • Music

    The music curriculum in grade one is based on the philosophy of Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály. Through singing, movement, listening, and games, children learn about the many characteristics of music. In grade one, students review all Kindergarten concepts. New first grade skills include reading and writing basic rhythmic notation (quarter notes, quarter rests, eighth note pairs); recognizing and notating two-beat meter (including measure, bar line, double bar line, repeat sign, and simplified time signature); and reading and writing melodic notation (solfege) for so, mi, la, and do on a five-line staff. Students are also exposed to a variety of musical styles, from folk songs to masterworks.

  • Art

    The goal of the grade one art program is to develop an appreciation for visual art as a creative means of expressing knowledge and ideas. Students learn to use and maintain high quality tools and materials. Class projects emphasize craftsmanship, and students evaluate their own work through both individual and group assessments. Students are encouraged to develop unique solutions to each assignment and develop skills at their own pace. In grade one, students are introduced to a variety of artists and artistic styles and begin to develop the vocabulary necessary to describe and interpret works of art.

    Students who successfully complete the first grade art program can:
    • Follow oral instructions for projects
    • Use materials and tools appropriately
    • Interpret project directions
    • Complete class work
    • Explore the use of line, shape, pattern, color and texture
    • Use art terms correctly to discuss artwork or techniques
  • Creativity and Design

    Creativity and Design is integrated throughout the program in Primary School. Focusing on the Design Process (Find, Define, Ideate, Make, Evaluate), students develop a foundational design vocabulary, engage in productive struggle, and collaborate with peers and teachers. Students in grade one focus on “How do designers build quality structures?” Students learn to identify different types of structures; describe how different materials are used to build a structure; apply their understanding of the properties of different materials and structures to ideate solutions to a problem; and construct, test, and evaluate their solutions.

  • Library

    In their library classes, first graders explore language through books, stories, poetry, and song. Lively group read-alouds bring stories to life as students experience the feeling of connectedness to a community of readers. First graders explore self-expression as they write poems and stories, and they participate in creative hands-on projects and art experiences in response to the books and ideas that they share. The library is not only a place where students discover the great ideas of others; it is also where they have time and space to create their own.

  • Physical Education

    First graders have P.E. four times out of a six-day rotation. Through activities and games, students continue to develop motor skills, a sense of self in personal and general space, coordination, and cooperation with others. Teachers emphasize positive sportsmanship and leadership in all activities. Students also practice basic sports skills, such as throwing and catching, and they continue to learn that physical activity is a lifelong practice that can be fun and satisfying.

  • Wellness

    In first grade, the goal of the wellness program is for students to learn about themselves as how they relate to others. During homeroom time, as well as during scheduled Wellness classes with members of the Wellness Department, students address important topics such as sharing, advocating for one’s needs, conflict resolution, and accepting others’ differences. Teachers provide students with a structured, safe, and consistent environment in which students can develop communication, self-control, and interpersonal problem-solving skills. Children begin to practice mindfulness by identifying and talking about their feelings, and by practicing self-calming techniques. First graders will continue to develop the following skills:
    • Sharing needs and feelings with adults when necessary
    • Understanding and identifying others’ feelings, and responding appropriately
    • Understanding the concepts of inclusion and exclusion and demonstrating a willingness to include others in activities
    • Using mindfulness strategies to recognize one’s own feelings and emotions and to calm one’s body and mind when upset
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