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First Grade Curriculum

Language Arts:

First grade is an amazing time for greater acquisition of reading skills.  Students can deepen their understanding and enjoyment of language.  Utilizing The Reading and Writing Project from Columbia University emphasizes the interaction between readers and text.  Students learn to ask questions, make connections with prior knowledge and previously read texts.  Various authors and genres are presented as students progress from simple to more complex readings.  The first grade series of the program is designed for children who are just tapping into their burgeoning talents as writers and readers.  First graders write small moment stories, non-fiction chapter books, and persuasive reviews.  These units of study provide opportunities for individualized learning and enable students to become highly proficient writers while also supporting students who may need additional support as they develop the skills.

The Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System provides an assessment tool to monitor the growth of each student and match reading levels to readers to support individualized learning.  The Words Their Way and Jolly Phonics programs are used to teach phonics, word analysis and spelling skills. The Handwriting without Tears program continues to develop the small motor and printing skills of the students. 


The Everyday Mathematics program in first grade builds on mastery of early mathematics skills.  Multiple learning strategies are implemented, and instruction is built upon prior knowledge.  Students learn through cooperative learning opportunities, inquiry, manipulatives, mental math, discussion and direct instruction.  Ongoing formative and summative assessments provide a balanced and complete picture of each child.  Key learning subject areas include addition and subtraction, number concepts, patterns, story problems, place value, measurement, time, money, fractions, geometry and problem solving.  Students who have demonstrated mastery of first-grade math concepts at the start of the school year have the opportunity to take accelerated math coursework.


In first grade, students’ natural curiosity and interest in learning provide a guiding base for scientific study.  Students learn to ask questions, investigate, predict, problem solve, evaluate and communicate.  Scientific inquiry and science journaling provide an application strategy for learning.  Lessons of investigation are included in the following themes: the study of the sun, desert characteristics, habitats, plants, insects, animals, fire safety and environmental awareness.

Social Studies:

First-grade students continue to explore their world, their communities and their Jewish traditions and holidays.  Students have now widened their understanding of past and present as they study the United States.  Students learn about the country’s symbols, facts and historical events, map and globe skills, careers and types of communities.  Additionally, students learn key information related to Arizona.  Students learn to explore multiples sources of information and make connections to their lives.  First graders also look forward to the annual Thanksgiving play in which they retell the story of Thanksgiving.

Jewish Studies:

The theme of first grade Jewish Studies is B’tzelem Eloheim; we are all created in the image of God. Students learn that God created us to be a partner in taking care of the world. Torah stories from Bereshit (Genesis) such as Avraham and Sarah and the visitors (Vayera); Rivka at the well (Chayei Sarah) and Jewish holidays (chagim) such as Tu B’Shevat; birthday of the trees all relate to our responsibility to make the world a better place.

Weekly, students enjoy celebrating Kabbalat Shabbat as well as the monthly celebration of Rosh Chodesh (the first of the month on the Jewish calendar). Connections to God, Jewish symbols in the synagogue and home, and the land and people of Israel are a sampling of units covered.

Each week the Parashah (Torah portion) is discussed in English, focusing on major themes and making them relevant to first graders. Students learn a selection of stories from the Book of Genesis and explore various Jewish values and lessons from the stories. Additionally, they study mitzvot

Tefillot addresses children’s natural curiosity about God and the world. Through activities and discussions, we strive to communicate the meaning of the prayers on a first-grade level. Students are given the opportunity to create their own prayers. They begin the year by following tefillot orally, and by the end of the year they are able to read prayers from the Siddur (prayerbook). Prayers learned in first grade include Modeh Ani, Barechu, blessings surrounding the Shema, and the beginning of the Amidah. A highlight of first grade is the Siddur Ceremony, a milestone event during which students receive their first prayer book.


Our Hebrew program, Tal Am, is based on the notion that the best learning environment for children is one in which knowledge is acquired through a variety of activities, using each of the five senses. In addition to studying from textbooks, students use music, games, and visual aids to acquire Hebrew proficiency. By the end of first grade, students should be able to identify letters and vowels in print and script. Additionally, they should be able to decode words of multiple syllables and read and comprehend sentences of up to three words using vocabulary learned in class. Students learn to write sentences of three to four words and begin to follow basic classroom instructions and stories in Hebrew.