First Grade Experience
Curriculum at a Glance
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- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Physical Education
- Modern Languages
- Design Lab
- Fine Arts
Using a workshop model, teachers build classroom communities of readers and writers who love books and see purpose in their reading and writing. Classrooms are full of high-quality literature, and students explore a variety of genres, topics, and audiences in both reading and writing. Explicit, systematic instruction also focuses on phonological awareness, word recognition, phonics and decoding, spelling, and grammar. In both disciplines, teachers model the skills and strategies that skilled readers and writers use. Language arts instruction is highly differentiated with students working in small groups, partnerships, and 1:1 with teachers.
Units of Study in Writing
- Narrative—writing with focus, detail, and dialogue
- Opinion (writing reviews)
- Nonfiction—writing how-to books and chapter books
- Poetry—making words sing
- Fiction Series—writing with imagination, precision, and consistency
Units of Study in Reading
- Building Good Reading Habits
- Solving Words
- Reading Nonfiction
- Fluency, Phonics, and Comprehension
- Characters and Story Elements
Country Day’s math program is designed to build fluent mathematicians, skilled and perseverant problem solvers, and creative thinkers. Our teaching is based on the Math in Focus curriculum, and the core focus in the Lower School is on building a deep understanding of number sense, operations, and computation. Our students learn not just how to solve rote problems, but how to think mathematically and tackle real-world, rigorous mathematical problems.
Skills and Concepts
Counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s forward and backward to 100
Identifying and relating coin values
Describing and extending patterns
Reading, writing, and explaining expressions and number sentences
Fluently adding and subtracting to 10
Adding and subtracting 2-digit numbers
Identifying, describing, sorting, and classifying 2-and 3- dimensional shapes
Measuring and comparing length and weight
Interpreting data in charts and graphs
Telling time to the half hour
The Lower School social studies program focuses on the study of people in relation to their past, present, and future, their environment, and their society. Our curriculum encourages curiosity and helps students develop an understanding of a rapidly changing world. Students become aware of their personal and cultural identities, and they acquire the skills and knowledge needed to actively participate in their classroom, school, community, and world.
Units of Study
- Unit 1: Family History
- Unit 2: Economic Choices
- Unit 3: Roles in Our Community & Citizenship
- Unit 4: Urban, Suburban, and Rural Geography
Lower School science focuses on engaging in investigation and discovery through the scientific method in Country Day’s state-of-the-art science lab. An integrated STEM program brings together engineering and inquisitive minds to design innovative, sustainable solutions to real world problems.
In first grade, students practice observing, predicting, inferring, data collection and analysis, and the design process. They explore the physical, life, and earth sciences, specifically properties of light, animal anatomy, and adaptations, water cycle and weather, and the ocean.
The physical education curriculum focuses on the physical, mental, and social emotional growth of our students. The curriculum focuses on developing and maintaining a physically active and healthy lifestyle in addition to developing gross motor, body control, and spatial awareness skills.
Students pursue personal fitness goals and an understanding of skills, strategies, and rules of individual and team sports and activities. Problem-solving strategies and sportsmanship are developed through an environment of cooperative learning.
Our goals in Lower School are to expose students to language and culture, instill a love for the language, develop an appreciation for the larger world, and build cultural competencies. Students are exposed to French and Spanish in JK through first grade. In second grade, students choose one target language with the goal of developing a Novice Low proficiency level (based on ACTFL Standards) by the end of fourth grade.
All first-grade students are exposed to the language and culture of both French and Spanish. They practice basic words and phrases, respond to simple commands in both languages, and explore the culture of people who speak French and Spanish around the world. Children start to participate with oral and reading skills using words and short sentences.
Technology is a tool used to help students deepen their learning and go from consumers of information to creators. Students gain a solid foundation of skills and habits of mind that are transferable between devices and programs. They also learn how to be critical consumers of online information and good online citizens.
In first grade, students use Mac computers and iPads as they start to learn how to share their understanding of topics through text, pictures, and voice recordings. Basic keyboarding and word processing, aligned with the language arts skills of capitalization, spacing, and punctuation, are introduced and practiced.
The Design Lab supplements our curriculum by allowing students to engage in age-appropriate problem-solving, collaboration, and design thinking. Students take ownership of their learning in a very genuine way to design and build solutions to real-world problems.
Through the library curriculum, we strive to instill the joy and value of reading, provide access to diverse information and ideas, and equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to access, evaluate, and apply new learning in both personal and academic pursuits. Students receive whole-class, small-group, and one-on-one instruction and practice their skills through authentic activities and research.
In first grade, students learn about book care, location and organization of materials in the library, how to select a “just right” book, how to read call numbers, the process for independently checking out books, how to use age-appropriate databases for learning, how to conduct basic research, the features of non-fiction literature, and strategies to use for reading comprehension.
First grade artists build on their foundation of the elements of art: line, shape, pattern, and color. Design concepts of emphasis, contrast, and balance give students visual structures to express ideas. Techniques such as painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture enable students to build creative confidence and experience the joy of hands-on materials.
In first grade, students are introduced to the concept of working as an ensemble and experience supporting and encouraging one another. In addition to process-based learning in drama class, students also practice performance bravery while learning choreography, memorizing lines as a whole-class, and singing songs for the annual Country Day Thanksgiving Parade play which features fun characters such as fall leaves, cranberries, and of course, turkeys!
First grade students explore music by practicing steady beat, repeating rhythm patterns, singing solfege patterns, composing rhythms, playing unpitched percussion and Orff instruments, learning music theory, and singing fun songs!
In This Section
First Grade Highlights
- Tour Uptown Charlotte.
- Introduce "Mystery Readers."
- Participate in family artifact sharing.
- Learn how to write reviews.
- Perform in the first grade play.
- Conduct student interviews.