First Grade

First grade students develop the social and communication skills needed to successfully work together, resolve conflicts, and become responsible citizens.


1st GradeBuilding trust, empathy, and tolerance creates a safe learning environment. Engaging, multidisciplinary activities integrate a variety of teaching strategies. They also strengthen important academic skills while allowing for a wide range of student responses and creative choices. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves and support each other as learners, recognizing that “no brain is the same” and “no brain is the best.”


Character education includes both individual and community goals: how to transition smoothly, persist with difficult tasks, produce quality work on one’s own, and how to share tasks, clean up, and assist others in the community. Cooperative learning activities promote the development of appropriate social skills, as students learn strategies to meet their needs and the needs of others with fairness. Citizenship emphasizes caring for the community and planet in ways appropriate for children, such as separating recycling and compost from garbage and working to restore Meridian Park.

Literacy integrates reading, writing, listening, and speaking throughout the curriculum. Students observe audience behavior and identify traits of good listeners, speak in front of their classmates in discussions, and carefully prepare for presentations to the entire school. First grade focuses on the reading process through the Daily Five framework, which develops phonics, decoding, sight words, fluency, and comprehension skills. Writers also practice a variety of skills through a variety of writing processes, such as fiction and nonfiction writing, creating informational posters, preparing work for Writers’ Walks, and writing letters to international penpals. The goal of fluid, legible writing drives lessons in handwriting through the Handwriting Without Tears program.

Math draws upon a variety of strategies to work with the basic strands of mathematics. The first grade Bridges in Mathematics and Number Corner curriculum emphasizes numeracy to 100, including rote and skip counting, odd and even numbers, and addition and subtraction using objects, drawings, and numbers. Students work on sorting and categorizing objects, collecting and displaying survey results, estimation, measuring and ordering length, and identifying patterns and geometric shapes.

Social Studies: Our integrated social studies units provide many opportunities for hands-on learning. We learn important map skills and geography concepts such as map features and cardinality. Guest teachers from The Mountaineers facilitate learning about ecozones and animals of Mount Rainier, leading into our inquiries about other landforms around the world. Our yearlong theme , “Many Hands Make Light Work” helps us to take action to help fulfill the needs of others. Whether it’s coordinating with the City of Seattle to repaint the sculptures of Meridian Park to volunteering with a local non-profit like Food Lifeline, first graders are able to see firsthand what a tremendous impact their hands can have on the world around them.

Life Science: Channeling the natural curiosity of young children is a core foundation of the integrated life science curriculum. In our organisms units, students learn and explore the idea of “What does it mean to be living?” Students continue to deepen their observational skills by caring for and looking after organisms such as plants, snails, slugs, pill bugs, and other creatures found in and around Meridian Park. We have many discussions about how animals and plants are alike and how they are different. Students carefully observe and write like scientists (and model the scientific method) by making predictions, asking questions, drawing, and labeling what they see.

Earth & Space Sciences: Students learn many things can be seen in the sky. Using a variety of tools, students observe and discuss the changes in the moon and the sun in relationship to the earth. In our moon unit students learn, “How does the night sky change yet also stay the same?” Students learn that objects in the sky have patterns of movement. The observable shape of the moon changes through eight different phases, and the cycle lasts about a month. Students present their learning to the class through a differentiated choice board, demonstrating their understanding of the moon, earth, or sun.

Physical Science: Engaging in activities that explore force and motion, our Balls and Ramps unit provides students with opportunities to investigate the properties and characteristics of balls. Students observe, use, and compare different balls noting the difference in materials, size, and weight. Students collaborate, use thinking and communication skills, and creatively problem solve through the design and presentation of a Rube Goldberg Project at our annual Family Science Night.

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