First Grade: The Child and the Curriculum
As a first grader, the child begins the exciting journey of leaving the safety of home to meet and explore the world. She carries with her a strong sense of wonder and has the budding ability to form rich inner imaginations. The first grader continues to learn through imitation but is also eager to be taught by the class teacher who stands before her.
First grade begins with an introduction to the idea that our world is composed of straight and curved lines. The lines are combined in various ways as forms and the children copy the movement needed to create them. The forms are walked by the children, drawn in the air with large arm movements and then finally drawn on paper as form drawing. This dynamic study of patterns and lines works deeply into the children’s senses of movement, spatial orientation and balance, laying the foundation for writing.
In the language arts, the children are immersed in the oral tradition of fairy tales and nature stories. Fairy tales from around the world deepen the sense of wonder that the students have while conveying profound truths about human nature, human life and the world. The letters of the alphabet are introduced through images from the stories. The students draw a simple picture for each letter that then transforms into a letter symbol. When sound and symbol relationships have been practiced, the students begin writing simple words and sentences; they write and then read what they have memorized.
In first grade, the child experiences the world as a whole, an oneness. The curriculum supports this experience by engaging the whole child, thinking, feeling and willing. In mathematics, for example, the children explore numbers through rhythmical movements (clapping, pacing and chanting), songs, stories, counting games and artistic activities, as well as mental math. The introduction to numbers begins with simple counting. The students next examine the quality of numbers, e.g. the body is one, an indivisible unity. Stories are told to develop a feeling for numbers and their connection to life. The four processes are presented pictorially as four imaginary characters and much practice is done manipulating piles of nuts or stones.
As the children come together as a class it is vital and central to the curriculum that healthy social relationships are promoted and nurtured. The class works hard in learning how to work together as a group and how to respect each other’s strengths and challenges. First graders are paired with eighth graders as buddies who offer special friendships that help make those first steps into the grade school world more comfortable.
Grade 1 Morning Lesson Blocks: Fairy Tales, Nature Stories, Introduction to the Alphabet, Formation of Capital Letters, Number Qualities, Four Math Processes, Straight and Curve Line through Form Drawing, Class Play
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