In addition to purposeful devotional times utilized by the teacher to instruct students in the truths of God’s word and how to apply it to their daily lives, first grade teachers follow a Bible curriculum that is designed to present the story of God and His people as true, in chronological order, and within a context of God’s love for His fallen people and His gift of redemption through Christ. Students study several Old Testament topics stretching from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to David and Solomon and the Psalms and Proverbs. Add in the New Testament Epistles and the Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter, and it is easy to see that the students are exposed to a wide range of Bible topics amp;#8212; always delivered in a first-grade-friendly manner. Lastly, students memorize morning prayers and several Scripture passages.
The language arts, including phonics, reading, spelling, grammar, and writing are treated as an integrated subject. First grade students master the sound/syllable relationships of 71 phonograms and employ knowledge during authentic reading and writing exercises. Improved fluency, speed, accuracy, and comprehension of reading materials are the main goals. Students engage in a variety of genres, including: poetry, folktales, fables, expository prose, and fiction. Writing experiences include taking dictation, writing original sentences, 2-point paragraphs, original paragraphs, and friendly letters. All of this hard work pays off when volunteers, parents, and teachers witness the beaming smiles of successful readers and writers! First grade is a dynamic language arts “workshop” of sorts led by teachers with expertise in literacy and language. Our students thrive in this uniquely challenging yet joy-filled atmosphere.
Working with the young child’s natural ability to memorize, math lessons include learning the basic addition and subtraction facts, counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s, as well as learning math vocabulary terms such as minuend and subtrahend. More complex activities include fractions, mixed numbers, making change for a $1.00, and exploring different graphs. Morning math meetings up front on the classroom rug include rhythm, chants, and songs to learn days of the week, months of the year, and more. Our math curriculum provides both a solid foundation in the basics with room for the above-average math learner to be challenged.
Trinity’s formal history scope and sequence begins in first grade when students study the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Inca and Aztecs, Greece, China and Japan. Contemporary cultural developments are also discussed, and map skills are integrated. Students are taught history using a variety of methods that include hands-on activities, crafts, games, stories, guest speakers, and more. In addition, first graders begin memorizing a school-wide-adopted “Grammar of History” timeline outlining 82 important world history events. Don’t worry; students have all of their lower school years to master this timeline which is accompanied by fun and lively motions!
Not surprising, science is one of the most popular subjects students experience in our lower school. First grade science has been engineered to foster an interest in God’s amazing creation and is navigated by teachers that count science among their “favorites to teach.” Whether it’s a field trip to their teacher’s farm, exploring our own beautiful property to identify micro habitats, or making “Borax blobs” to explore matter, this subject comes alive inside and outside the classroom. Cross-curricular activities are intentionally designed so that students are reading, writing and engaging in early rhetoric exercises all throughout their science studies.
Other than the intentional creative art activities woven throughout the first grader’s classroom days by their classroom teacher, students attend Art class once a week for formal instruction. By studying great works and artists of the past, students explore what is truly “good and beautiful.” Using the best of Art history as the back drop, students study: vertical and horizontal lines, geometric shapes, primary and secondary colors, patterns, and texture. Finished products include painting, printmaking, and three-dimensional projects.
Music is an area where our classical approach to learning is very apparent. Because we want even our youngest students to begin discerning what is “true, good, and beautiful,” students learn about history’s best composers, musical pieces, and hymns. Because the Kodaly music method is employed and involves singing, dancing, and game-playing, the students are learning about serious topics in an incredibly fun and engaging manner. In addition to the music history aspect of our program, students learn the rudiments of melody, rhythm, music reading and writing, steady beats, and performance preparation. Formal music instruction is offered twice a week.
Nutrition, fitness, and hygiene are coupled with character education to create a comprehensive physical education program for first graders. Students learn the proper techniques of throwing, catching, kicking, trapping, hand and foot dribbling, volley and striking, tumbling, and more. Taught by a loving and enthusiastic instructor, first grade students attend physical education twice a week. Each fall and spring, the PE teacher offers after-school running clubs to further enhance the student’s fitness options; parents and siblings often attend, also, and many choose to participate in a yearly 5K run on our very own campus.