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1st Grade

First Grade focuses on building students’ skills, particularly in literacy and math. Engaging activities allow students to develop these skills at a developmentally appropriate pace. The school’s Judaic ethos is an integral part of community building in the classroom.
  • Art 1

    Students explore elements of color, practice brushstrokes, explore the art element of line and create paintings using paint. Children mix primary colors with black and white tempera paint to explore light and dark colors and create a monochromatic painting. Another element of the painting unit integrates the grade’s study of markets as students render their favorite fruit with watercolors. During the year, students use clay to sculpt dogs modeled after their study of the famous dog sculptures of Colima, Mexico, and do Louise Nevelson inspired wood assemblages. In addition, students create a collage of the Upper West Side that integrates with their classroom social studies curriculum.
  • Hebrew 1

    Vocabulary taught builds on students’ existing knowledge. It highlights the letters in authentic context and continues to remain part of the classroom’s daily routine as students announce the month and year in Hebrew during morning meeting time. Oral activities such as Hebrew snack time and the singing of songs in Hebrew strengthen students’ understanding of the language and help instill a love of it. Students learn to read and write individual letters and vowels and to build and read syllables.
  • Jewish Studies 1

    The theme of the year, derech eretz (proper behavior, literally the “law of the land”), helps to define the First Grade experience. Jewish Studies is integrated into the daily life of the classroom even as students come together at the beginning of the year to decide upon what class rules are “right” for their classroom and why.  Students discuss various mitzvot and why they might be important. The class also learns early Torah stories and gleans ethical lessons from them as well. Students participate in interactive activities  connected to Jewish Studies. Highlights have included performing a Chanukah play and creating their own Haggadot. Students celebrate Kabbalat Shabbat each week where they participate in the service, generate their own questions and interact with the clergy.
  • Language Arts 1

    Through constant interaction with the spoken and written word, children's skills continuously progress. As they teach listening skills throughout the day, teachers emphasize forming questions to clarify understanding. Students engage daily in class discussions and activities in which they present information and respond to comments and questions from peers and teachers.

    Reading instruction incorporates elements of good literature and the essentials of word study. A variety of components practiced throughout the day help students create a love of reading. Children read shared text as a whole class and also meet in small instructional reading groups. During independent reading times, students become engrossed in literature as they learn to select books that will help them to build fluency and become better over-all readers.  

    Writing focuses on the process of developing a variety of written pieces. Writing sessions often begin with mini-lessons in which teachers model new skills which students have the opportunity to practice in their individual work. Students are also encouraged simply to enjoy writing and to see that writers continuously improve their writing by revisiting and revising their work on an ongoing basis. Individual writing conferences help students address specific writing concepts.

    Students participate in a comprehensive word study program that includes phonics, reading fluency and handwriting. When writing independently or in the initial stages of writing, students are encouraged to sound out words phonetically in order to capture their ideas. At the same time, throughout the year, students build their sight word vocabulary, take dictations to tests targeted words and begin to generalize applying spelling rules in written work across the curriculum. Through mini-lessons and writing conferences, students learn the conventions of punctuation and grammar and begin to apply these to their written work. Children practice their handwriting in order to better execute upper and lowercase letters.  
  • Library 1

    Students visit the library weekly where they internalize the routines of listening to stories and learn to browse for their own books. Students’ understanding of basic story grammar and author style enhances their enjoyment of books chosen from a variety of different genres.
  • Mathematics 1

    In First Grade, students develop their understanding of numbers and number relationships. Students can sequence and write numbers to 120, identify the ones and tens digits to 50, and understand the relationship between addition and subtraction and counting on and counting back. When computing, students use many different methods, including manipulatives, number lines, mental computation, estimation, and paper and pencil. Students sort, analyze, make inferences, and generate their own questions based on data. Students become familiar with a variety of standard and non-standard measurements: they can tell time to the half hour, measure in inches and recognize benchmark fractions and the values of a penny, nickel, dime and quarter. Students understand basic algebraic concepts such as inequalities. Students can recognize, name, draw, and compare basic geometric shapes, and can sort into sets based on common features. Students develop their understanding of addition and subtraction including learning the commutative property of addition, the use of doubles and the relationships of fact families.
  • Music 1

    Students experience singing, movement, games, composition, notation and playing instruments. Using call and response in songs and movement games, children learn to respond individually and chorally. They verbally identify rhythm and demonstrate these rhythms with their bodies and on percussion instruments. In addition, students explore the melodic instruments of a symphony orchestra.
  • Physical Education 1

    The physical education program helps students develop physical competence, confidence and the ability to be physically active for a lifetime. Students focus on movement awareness. They develop skills to move safely in personal and shared space. This includes the development of spatial and directional concepts, exploring levels, directions and pathways and various loco-motor and non-loco-motor movements.  In addition, students are involved in many gross motor and cooperative learning activities, which emphasize teamwork and fair play.
  • Science 1

    Students use the process of scientific inquiry to conduct investigations and expand their skills through cooperative learning. The year begins with a study of plants in which children examine seeds, roots, stems, leaves and flowers. Students then move on to study phases of matter: solids, liquids and gases. Children explore the three phases by observing crystals and powder through a microscope, dissolving solids into liquids and observing differing densities of liquids. Students also learn laboratory safety guidelines as they wear goggles and gloves for their experiments.
  • Social Studies 1

    Students begin the year with an explicit unit on social emotional issues common to First Grade and their relationship to living an ethical Jewish life. They explore the world around them through a concentration on the Upper West Side of Manhattan which includes field trips and walking tours of local points of interest such as Congregation Shearith Israel, Columbus Circle, Lincoln Center, and Hayden Planetarium. Throughout the year, students learn basic mapping skills, which they apply to both paper and digital maps. Students learn about communities that are different from our urban environment and study various kinds of farms, including kibbutzim in Israel. They also learn about types of markets that sell the produce of these farms. The year culminates in a First Grade market where students sell various products while raising funds for charitable organizations such as Heifer International.