Grade 1 Overview

First Grade Curriculum Overview

This overview has been written to inform you about the academic program, skills, and concepts being studied in first grade. It is intended to give you a broad overview of the core subjects, instructional goals and learning expectations your child will experience. Newington has a strong comprehensive curriculum, which includes sequential instruction at every grade in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, the arts, and wellness.

Language Arts

The purpose of the Language Arts Curriculum is to develop all aspects of language (reading, writing, speaking, listening and viewing), so students are able to communicate effectively in a technological, ever-changing world. We seek meaningful ways to guide our students to apply their knowledge of the language arts across content areas and in realistic situations through a balanced literacy program, including reader's workshop and the Harcourt Trophies reading program.

The first grade reading program includes reading aloud, where teachers read aloud quality literature for enjoyment and to develop literacy skills; shared reading, in which teachers demonstrate reading skills and engage students in the reading process; guided reading, in which the teacher reinforces skills while the child reads; and independent reading, when students read books they have chosen.

First grade students also spend time with the writing process. The students engage in independent writing activities where the child begins to apply the conventions of writing. Throughout the year, students develop increasing independence as readers and writers.

Students will:

  • use a variety of decoding strategies to read unknown words

  • identify and read short and long vowels

  • read high-frequency words

  • use story meaning, story language, and visual information (Does it make sense, sound right, and look right?)

  • read grade level text with fluency

  • retell a story, include story elements, and sequence events

  • identify the central idea of text

  • know and use text features

  • use capital letter at the beginning of a sentence and proper punctuation at the end of a sentence

  • write narratives using events, details, and closure

  • write opinion pieces with supporting reasons and closure

  • write informational pieces with a topic, facts, and closure

  • apply spelling strategies in writing

  • write legible, forming letters correctly and spacing appropriately

  • follow classroom rules for discussion

  • ask and answer questions about key details on a topic

  • describe topics clearly using relevant details



The goal of the first grade math curriculum is to establish a solid foundation of concepts and skills. Students participate in specific units of study to further their understanding through meaningful and challenging tasks. The curriculum is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, which define what students should know and be able to do in their study of mathematics.

The first grade mathematics program includes direct instruction, where teachers target specific skills and concepts; guided math, in which the teacher reinforces and builds on skills with small groups based on individual progress; independent practice; and collaborative learning, where students have the opportunity to communicate their reasoning, cooperate, and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Through activities, labs, daily practice and problems, and games, students will:

  • represent a number of objects with a written numeral through 120

  • demonstrate an understanding of place value for ones and tens

  • demonstrate fluency with addition facts within 10

  • demonstrate fluency with subtraction facts within 10

  • apply strategies to add numbers within 100

  • apply strategies to subtract numbers that are multiples of 10

  • demonstrate use of strategies to solve a variety of word problems with numbers within 20

  • build 2 and 3-dimensional shapes to demonstrate understanding of attributes

  • draws 2-dimensional shapes to demonstrate understanding of attributes

  • tell and write time to the hour and half hour

  • measure length using nonstandard units

  • order and compare lengths of objects

  • make sense of problems and persevere in solving them

  • communicate mathematical thinking clearly and precisely



First grade students are encouraged to explore and discover new ideas in science. The students make observations and predictions, ask questions, and seek information. They present new found knowledge in words, drawings, and graphs. Students explore how the sun appears to move across the sky, in the same way, every day, but its path changes gradually over the seasons. They note how the length and direction of shadows changes over the course of a day. The needs of living things are investigated as the students learn that humans, animals, and plants need and must obtain air, water, and food to survive. Additionally, they learn that some organisms, such as frogs and butterflies, undergo metamorphosis during their life cycles. Finally, the first grade students use standard and non-standard measuring tools to describe the properties of different materials and organisms.



All students in Newington are encouraged to appreciate and demonstrate respect, responsibility, and empathy. The goal of our health program is for students to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Students practice making healthy and appropriate decisions throughout each school year. First graders learn that they must take care of their bodies by choosing healthy snacks, brushing and flossing to keep their teeth and gums healthy, and following indoor and outdoor safety rules. Students learn that germs can make them sick, so they, therefore, must work to prevent germs from spreading. In first grade, students begin to discuss why tobacco and drugs are dangerous. Finally, first graders learn how to appreciate good friends, and how to say no to friends who are urging them to make poor choices.


Social Studies

In first grade, students explore their place in the world around them building on their work in kindergarten and expanding perspective beyond themselves.  Through comparison of family, school, and community, students will explore multiple perspectives from the past and today. The study of how students fit into society requires that students generate and research compelling questions such as:

  • Why should I be a global citizen?

  • What makes a community successful?

  • What do maps tell us about the communities we belong to?

  • How is someone’s life different based on where they live?

  • How do the decisions I make impact my community?


Educational Technology

The technology education program provides students with direct instruction and practice in technology skills on a graduated basis.  Students acquire a working knowledge and understanding of various devices, using a mouse, and features on a keyboard. Students demonstrate mastery of skills by completing grade-appropriate activities and projects.


Art education promotes the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well as self-awareness, self-expression, and well-being. Art education also offers unique, creative experiences that help build self-esteem. The elementary art program promotes interdisciplinary experiences that aid students in the integration of ideas, concepts and processes, and in a holistic perception of their world. It promotes an understanding of the diverse cultures in society as reflected in the arts.

Students will:

  • learn about a variety of artists and art forms, and be introduced to the art criticism process

  • create original art based familiar themes using a variety of media

  • identify geometric and freeform shapes in artwork and in the environment

  • become more proficient in drawing free-form shapes, buildings, animals, vehicles, and people

  • begin to learn about the principles of design and elements of art

  • increase art vocabulary and begin to express opinions about their own and others' artwork


Music education enhances learning, communication, creativity, teamwork, discipline, cultural awareness, respect for others and self-esteem through personal accomplishment. The elementary music program develops these skills in children to help them succeed in school, society, and in life.

Students will:

  • build upon literacy readiness from kindergarten by exploring/identifying various tonal and rhythm patterns

  • continue to develop their vocal skills by using a "singing" voice and singing "in-tune"

  • continue movement exploration with steady beat and body percussion as part of rhymes and songs, circle games and folk dances

  • further develop their knowledge of classroom instruments by playing steady beat patterns on these instruments

  • continue with their exploration of pitch, tempo, dynamics, and form, adding round-singing to their repertoire


The Wellness program in first grade is based upon movement concepts and skill themes. It is a child-centered movement program designed for young children. The program provides planned experiences concerned with what the body can do, how the body can move and where it can go. As the children learn these skills, the skills are then placed into the components of educational dance, educational gymnastics, and educational games.

Students will learn:

  • basic body control

  • space awareness

  • direction and speed

  • fitness appreciation