- Explorations of self and family
- Learning to discuss history as students begin to solidify the concept of “long ago” by using timelines
- In-depth study of fairy tales
- Brainstorming and building a model town from the ground up.
- Increasing independence with homework, daily assignments, tasks at school, and organization of materials
- Many celebrations of lost teeth
- Industrious and enthusiastic workers.
- Growing independent work skills.
- Learning to “think in their heads” and so, as they develop these inner-thinking skills, a quiet hum in the learning environment can often be heard as children coach themselves through tasks.
- Developing a more logical approach to the world.
- More accepting of multiple points of view.
- Increasingly attentive to the quality of presentation of their work.
- Lovers of being read to.
- Very caring and sensitive.
- Better able to describe feelings and solutions for problems, though still in need of adult support to sort them out.
The goal of the first grade English language arts program is to create a learning environment which will enable each child to grow in all aspects of language use and appreciation. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are integrated within a richly literate environment appropriate to the interests of the child. Above all, we strive to foster in each child a genuine love of reading and writing in several genres.
Tuxedo Park School uses a research-based reading and writing curriculum developed by Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is a research and staff development organization housed at Teachers College, Columbia University. The teacher-educators who staff the Project are involved in long-lasting collaborations with teachers across the world. The Project has a lasting and deep affiliation with six hundred schools and develops ideas that are foundational to literacy instruction across the globe. While this program is the foundation of our curriculum, we believe thoughtful educators adapt and enrich the curriculum to meet students’ unique learning abilities.
Children love to share their experiences orally, and, as they do, the teacher guides them to do so more effectively. The day is structured to provide opportunities for all children to be acknowledged and to have different types of verbal participation. Children have chances to lead activities; share opinions, writing, and objects of interest; answer questions; and ask their own. Morning meetings provide a time for the class to greet each other, share news, plan the day, discuss problems, and play games to practice listening skills and to help develop self control. Lessons and discussions provide further opportunities each day. Respectful listening skills are modeled and reinforced by the teacher and often appear in classroom rules generated by the children. Purposeful class discussion, poetry recitation, and dramatization of literature occur regularly. We emphasize taking turns and listening to others. It is a goal for the children to not only value the information provided by their teachers, but also the input of their peers. Children engage in public speaking when they participate in group science presentations, parent presentations after the Culture Study performance, and in the class performance.
The mathematics program in the primary school is designed to build strong thinkers and problem solvers who are proficient in a broad range of mathematical skills and possess a deep understanding of mathematical concepts. The core of our curriculum is TERC Investigations 3.0.
The Investigations curriculum is designed to support students to make sense of mathematics and to learn that they can be mathematical thinkers. A focus on computational fluency with whole numbers is a major goal throughout the elementary grades. Students work individually, in pairs, and in small groups. They learn to express their mathematical ideas as they explore each concept. The goal is for children to learn mathematical content and develop fluency and skill that is well grounded in meaning. Students learn that they are capable of having mathematical ideas, applying what they know to new situations, and thinking and reasoning about unfamiliar problems. A majority of instructional time in kindergarten is focused on representing, relating, and operating with whole numbers and describing shapes and space.
Investigations Mathematical Practices
- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
- Reason abstractly and quantitatively
- Construct viable arguments – verbally explain mathematical reasoning
- Model with Mathematics – Apply the math you know to solve real life problems
- Use appropriate tools strategically
- Attend to precision
- Look for and make use of structure and patterns
- Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning: look for general methods and for shortcuts
The social studies program is strongly tied to literature and the first hand experience of the child. We begin the year by setting up a classroom community of learners. With guidance from the teacher, children generate the rules for their room. Classroom rules are then compared to family rules. Children at this age learn best when they begin with what they know and expand upon that with new information. The family is the main focus during the early part of the fall. By looking at their own families, children develop a definition of what a family is. The children use their own experience and information gained from literature to broaden their knowledge of families. We examine similarities and differences in families, contributions of different family members, and changes in families over time. The children use literature to compare their lives with examples of family life around the world.
In addition, children learn that all people have important needs and wants. Everyone needs food, clothing, shelter, and love to survive. As we look at different aspects of our own families, we use a combination of non-fiction and historical fiction to compare the differences between our lives today with life in the past.
Once the children have a clear definition of what a family is and the importance of people’s roles within a family, we use the information to begin to examine history. Using simple timelines to help make the difference between past and present more concrete, students begin with the experience of the pilgrim families that colonized Massachusetts. The children look at the motivations behind the exploration, life on The Mayflower and at the early stages of the colony. The children examine the great differences between the pilgrims’ lives back then and their own lives today. Students use historical fiction and other resources to see what their daily roles would have been had they lived at that time.
During November and December the children participate in the interdisciplinary Cultural Study that involves all the co-curricular teachers and culminates with a concert and class celebration. Each year, the class studies a different country. Recent countries have included:
The Culture Study incorporates the information that the children have learned about families as they make comparisons between family life in city and rural areas in another country and their own lives. During this time students engage in a variety of activities and practice many skills such as:
- completing maps;
- learning about geographical features;
- recording non-fiction information;
- discriminating between fiction and non-fiction as well as fact and opinion;
- looking at climate, native animals and vegetation;
- discovering places of interest;
- learning vocabulary in the native language;
- looking at cultural celebrations and national holidays;
- listening to native folklore.
Winter social studies begins with lessons about map skills. Students take time to look at the different purposes of maps. Children learn how to read and draw simple maps. They apply this information as they begin to study communities. The class revisits the idea needs and wants and learns about goods and services. Students work cooperatively to plan, design, and build a community of their own. A series of town meetings foster practice with active listening, as students share ideas about layout for an effective community. The units culminates with a mapping project to depict the completed town.
In spring the class studies the changes in communication through time. The inquiry begins by developing a class definition of what communication is and what types of communication people use. Whether it is language or the devices used to share information, communication is constantly evolving. Throughout history people have developed spoken and written languages and created inventions or tools that allow them to share information. The class gradually builds a timeline showing these changes and developments starting long, long ago and working forward to the many options available to us today. The children experiment with some of the languages and tools used over time.
Geography is tied into the curriculum whenever possible. Children have a natural curiosity about maps. We begin with identifying the state and town that each child is from. We move next to the world map as we chart the pilgrim journey. We begin with a look at the countries of North America and then return to the world map as we learn about a new land during the Culture Study. As the year progresses, the children begin reading simple community maps and making some of their own. Throughout the year, literature, holidays, and travel lead us to our large wall maps, to the globe, and to online sources for interactive maps and video as we investigate different locations. Continents, oceans, and directions (north, south, east, and west) are introduced and reinforced throughout the year. The children compare different land features. During our Culture Study, the children create a large wall map of their country. During the community study, the class designs and constructs a 3D model of their own town.
Fiction, non-fiction, biography, historical fiction, and multicultural literature provide essential information throughout the program.
Literature for First Grade Social Studies (partial list):
Charlie Needs a Cloak, DiPaola
Sarah Morton's Day, Waters
Samuel Eaton's Day, Waters
The Story of Ruby Bridges, Coles
Three Young Pilgrims, Harness
Uncle Jed's Barbershop, Mitchell
Pioneer Girl, Anderson
Maps and Globes, Knowlton
As the Crow Flies, Hartman
Where Do I Live?, Chesanow
Coming to America, Maestro
Brothers and Sisters, Senisi
All About Things People Do, Rice
Follow the Dream, Sis
Throughout first grade, students observe changes in organisms and watch interactions within ecosystems. Once they observe changes, the goal of their inquiry is to discover what causes these changes. This theme of change can be seen in the topics explored throughout the year. The students make observations and predictions, take measurements, and show cause and effect. They begin by asking how many seasons there are, why they occur, and what the characteristics of each are. For the fall, students make predictions about temperature, precipitation, wind, and light. This leads seamlessly into a study of how animals change with the seasons. Students study migrations, hibernation, and changing coats. This is linked to how different plants change or do not change with the seasons as well. As seasons change, these topics are further discussed, observed and measured at the appropriate times throughout the rest of the school year.
Physical states of matter and the behavior of atoms are the central themes for the next unit of study. Students discover characteristics of solids, liquids, and gases, addressing each state’s characteristic physical properties. The students learn to use tools to measure each, using the proper SI units and discovering how matter can change from one state to another. They also begin to explore engineering as they design and build insulated structures to prevent ice from melting, and then test their designs. Predicting, observing, explaining cause and effect, and drawing conclusions are important science process skills in this unit.
Students then transition to an emphasis on life science. This unit centers around differentiating between living and nonliving matter. While comparing and contrasting oceans, forests, and deserts, students research and explore a variety of habitats and biomes.
Following spring break, the students embark on an in-depth study of birds and their habitats. As a class, students research bird anatomy and adaptations. Then each student researches a bird of his or choice and its habitat, sharing discoveries at the class science celebration.
The year concludes with a look back at the changes they have observed throughout the year, paying particular attention to the seasons, animals and plants, and how they themselves have changed.
The first grade French program builds upon the language learned in Kindergarten. Children participate in activities that enhance the skills of listening, comprehension, and producing simple responses. They begin each class with greetings, expressions of well being, the date, and a discussion of the weather in French. Through literature, poetry, rhymes, music, and games, the teacher models appropriate pronunciation and inspires the children to listen and respond individually and as a group. As a precursor to reading French, students also practice word recognition, and they learn to identify cognates. In the spring, the class embarks on a project related to their science curriculum. During this time, they hear and discuss stories, learn the thematic vocabulary, and perform songs for the topic in French.
First grade students mix shades and tints both to understand how to create pastels and darker color shades and as a way to reinforce their knowledge of their primary and secondary colors. First grade students have many opportunities for drawing as an observational skill and as part of the imaginative process. Students explore the concept of three dimensions through creating pop-up illustrations, working with clay and papier-mache. Many of their art projects are interdisciplinary. Examples of past connections include:
- making masks during Mardi Gras in collaboration with the French curriculum;
- creating paper and crafting a book;
- visiting the Storm King Art Center to view geometric shapes as an extension of math class.
|First grade students build on Kindergarten music concepts. They begin to name rhythmic and melodic elements through the means of rhythm names and solfege. First graders are presented with the elements: ta, ti-ti, rest, sol, mi, la, and 2-beat meter. First graders also begin notating music on the 5-line staff. Dalcroze Eurythmics are used as a movement component, allowing students to not only count rhythms and pat beat, but feel the meter and rhythms in their bodies.
Vocal development continues to be the major focus, as students continue to learn to match pitch, sing in tune, and explore a wide vocal range while singing. The students continue to learn music history through storytelling. The music teacher tells stories of composers and musicians in ten-minute installments at the end of each class. Once the students are acquainted with the individual composers, they are more eager to listen to and learn about their music. When appropriate, students learn music that is connected to the social studies curriculum, providing an interdisciplinary unit.
The first grade program builds on the basic movement skills learned in Kindergarten. Students develop more difficult locomotor skills, which include galloping, sliding, leaping, and skipping. Concepts such as speed, levels, time, force, and space are then introduced. Students continue to move safely and efficiently through space both in indoor and outdoor environments during play. They learn proper rolling techniques and identify and use a variety of relationships with objects, such as over/under, beside, alongside, and through. Their manipulative skills incorporate throwing and catching of balls of various sizes with the hands. Other manipulative skills include bouncing and catching with two hands, striking skills using hand or implement, and kicking a stationary ball with a dominant foot. Health related fitness concepts such as strength, flexibility, and "heart healthy" are used to introduce personal fitness awareness. Cooperation continues to be a focus with positive ways to respond to conflicts.