In first grade, our Five Pillars of Character are the foundation of our curriculum. Our goal is to teach students strategies to use in their daily lives that enable them to solve problems successfully and build positive peer relationships. We have organized lessons, which can include a sharing circle, answering a question, solving a problem, and role-playing. We teach and model examples of mindfulness, including Keeping Calm, and being our B.E.S.T (body language; eye contact; say nice things; tone of voice). Students are encouraged to use these strategies in their daily interactions throughout the school and beyond their FH experiences.
Grade 1 students focus on phonics and reading. Students learn to manage themselves and work independently. Grade 1 students follow a practice called Work Board. Work Board structure allows teachers to meet with individual and small groups of students to support and challenge their learning. Students are engaged in a variety of stations revolving around a particular phonics skill of the week. Once we have introduced our spelling curriculum, the phonics skill will be reflected in the students’ differentiated lists and independent work in the classroom. While students are working independently, teachers and students also meet for reading instruction. In these small groups, students are expected to respond to literature through journal writing, visual representation, and group discussion. Students are encouraged to apply these learned practices into their independent Work Board activities.
The Far Hills curriculum objectives guide our program with the support of Math In Focus as our main teaching tool. Our focus is to extend number sense, computation, and problem solving skills using practical, everyday situations. The first graders develop an understanding that mathematics is a way of organizing information and representing it with numeric symbols. They continue to expand their ability to communicate their mathematical thinking and to problem solve efficiently.
In Science class, first-graders explore elements of Life, Physical and Earth/Space sciences through inquiry and hands-on science investigations. The unit on Plant and Animal Superpowers help students develop the idea that every animal and plant has special parts and behaviors that help them to grow and meet their needs. The Light and Sound unit develops the idea that by exploring the properties of light and sound, human beings create fun and useful things. The Earth and Space science unit helps students develop the idea that the Sun, Moon and stars change position in the sky in ways that are fun to watch and predict. Students design and make an animal habitat model at the end of the year to support their multidisciplinary Australian or African Expo project. Students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, constructing explanations and designing solutions, and obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.
The overarching theme in Social Studies is Global Communities. The students learn to be aware of how people in our classroom, school, neighborhoods, and world communities are connected and how to be productive successful citizens. To support our community connections, students have the opportunity to take part in our Service Learning Project through our partnership with the Morristown Soup Kitchen.
The Lower School implements the writing program Write From the Beginning. The purpose of the program is for students to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for age-appropriate writing instruction and achievement. There will be several writing days within the week with specific goals for each student. Throughout the year, we will focus on specific types of writing. Through modeling, rubrics, mini-lessons and thinking maps students will develop an understanding of the writing process. The students will also have opportunities for low stakes writing sessions. These times allow students to develop a comfort for expressing their ideas, developing their thoughts through writing, and sharing. Using both Write From the Beginning and Low Stakes Writing techniques helps students to organize and express their thoughts in writing and to compose clear sentences and short paragraphs.
The First Grade Play, incorporates the music and arts curriculum by learning and performing a variety of songs and genres. Students practice public speaking and perform for the first time, as a class, on the stage in the Performing Arts Center.
Our Learning and Design curriculum serves as a foundation for students to organize and create the play. The fully participate in the design thinking process, and collaborate to choose a theme and relay a lesson to the audience. They do research and draft and edit the script.
Swinging Safari: A Day Down Under
Students locate the major physical features, landforms and water forms of a specific location in Australia.
During the course of the project, they learn that each continent is unique and contributes to the needs of the people that live there. They begin to understand how people impact each other and that there are many different cultures and ways of life on our planet.
First-graders use non-fiction sources for research purposes and organize information into a paragraph for their animal research paper. In science class, they build a habitat for that animal and create a clay structure of them in art class.
"Swinging Safari: A Day Down Under" Expo provide first grade students with skills in the following areas:
A Day in the Life...
There's something fun and new to learn each day in first grade! Our exploration of science, math, reading, writing and social studies is complemented by rotating special subjects like design thinking, both Spanish and Chinese language and culture, music and movement and visual arts.
Below is what a sample day could look like in our classrooms: