Grade 1 Curriculum
Students are introduced to listening and speaking; re-telling the previous day’s story/lesson. An introduction to upper case (archetypal) letters through fairy tale stories and pictures, simple phonics and the writing of letter beautifully and eventually short sentences is made. Further assimilation to language through gross motor/whole body movement, gesture; sensory experiences with sand, paint and beeswax follows. There is also a daily recitation of poems, tongue twisters and songs which are seasonally or story based. Students write words, verses and songs they know, and ‘read’ them from their writing. Students also practice and perform a short choral play by heart, from a fairy tale, using clear speech. Reading together as a class from their own main lesson books is encouraged, while attention to pencil grip and sitting posture while writing is given by the teacher.
Students will learn a working knowledge of the four processes and symbols, working from the whole to the part. They will be taught the quality of numbers 1-12, roman numerals 1-10, Arabic numerals 1-100, counting forward and backward 1-100, number bonds up to 10 and differences between odd and even. Students are exposed to rhythmic stepping and clapping with emphases on different numbers; preparation for times tables. Students will begin to build their knowledge of times tables 1-12, with simple mental math in narrative form.
Students in the first two grades participate in regular nature walks where they learn about the complexities and richness of plant and animal life. In these early grades the students have experiences and hear stories that engender enthusiastic involvement and respect for the world around them-an important basis for later studies in biology, physics, chemistry and the other sciences.
Fairy tales and nature stories are told throughout the year. The former portrays archetypal truths and images of our humanity (such as good and evil, courage and perseverance), while the latter instructs, reaffirms and enlivens a first grader’s innate love for the natural world.
French & German
In Grades 1, 2 and 3 the foreign language teacher works strongly with the element of imitation. The French/German language is introduced through group recitation, singing, verses, finger games, movement, dances, and circle games. The content is understood through gestures, props and imitation and deals with weather, festivals, colors, numbers, parts of the body and clothing.
Much of the material is learned by heart and learning is very much a group activity. Individual children will gradually start speaking on their own as it reflects their comfort level with the new language. In the early Grades the emphasis is on having the children experience the sounds, gestures and mood of the foreign language.
In Grade 1, the children learn to sing songs with actions. They learn to echo rhythms, pitch and dynamics and to play simple songs on the pentatonic recorder. These songs are learned by rote, through imitation of the teacher.
The main Lesson teacher takes the class for one movement class per week, along with a nature walk for two periods a week. The classes are held outside unless the weather is extreme then the classroom is used. Activities and games are chosen that strengthen the students sense of movement in space, their sense of balance and their sense of others around them. Consideration is given to activities that engage their gross motor muscles in a coordinated way, and balancing games that improve fine motor movements. Each class consists of bean bag or ball work, a running/tag game, then a group/circle game, and skipping. In addition, Audrey McAllister’s Zoo Exercises are incorporated into the lesson depending on the needs of the students.
The presentation of activities and games in these grades is made vivid and alive with appropriate images, poems or even a story. A ‘walk through’ of the game is completed before the real play begins. Weaving nature, the seasons, animals, and fairy-tale themes in this way into the activities engages the students’ imagination and helps to keep them involved.
Students have access to free drawing with coloured beeswax crayons and the teacher models reverence for the task which the children imitate. The children are given the three primary colours with which to paint, out of which they will also experience the secondary colours. Students have an art class once per week with their class teacher doing wet-on-wet painting and reflecting the subject matter of the main lesson. They will then create main lesson books with beeswax crayons and/or coloured pencil crayons, before form is gradually introduced.
Practical Arts: Handwork
Introduction to knitting with wool – starting with potholder and then a recorder case; knitting with two needles – L and R hands work together; requires hand/eye coordination and aids brain development; power of concentration is awakened; math skills – ordering, patterning, problem solving, counting stitches and rows.
Students have weekly nature walks for 1 ½ hours on Friday afternoons. Other trips may include an apple orchard, pumpkin patch and donkey sanctuary.