Core curriculum in first grade is pictorial and phonetic introduction to letters; reading approached through writing; letter blends and word families; qualities of numbers; introduction of the four processes in arithmetic; multiplication tables; and form drawing. Beyond the core curriculum carried by the class teacher, first graders also receive instruction in Spanish, German, handwork, eurythmy, games and movement, and music.
The motif of the first grade is fairytales and nature stories. We begin the first grade by bringing the form of the individual letters to the children through imaginative storytelling. Traditional tales are chosen from a variety of multicultural sources. The teacher tells stories to foster the children’s auditory memory, their capacity to create mental images, the development of a rich vocabulary, and a love of spoken and written language.
The students retell the stories through speech, drama, art, and as the year progresses, writing. Stories are the vehicle for the teaching of language arts.
When they are well-acquainted with the letters and their sounds, the children begin to write words, sentences, and verses in their main lesson books. The content comes from the stories they have heard, or from experiences they have shared, such as walks in nature. Students read aloud what they have written, together at first and later individually.
Our campus offers ample opportunities for nature study at every age. Students take walks regularly and observe the change of seasons. We acknowledge these changes by celebrating seasonal festivals and collecting nature objects for their nature table and crafts. In this way the children experience the rhythm of earth, stars, and planets as an integral part of life. This wealth of sensory experiences develops capacities for scientific observation and theories. When the teacher tells first graders simple stories that convey the world of nature, the physics, chemistry, biology, and other sciences that will be taught in the upper grades are introduced through imaginative images. The students’ exposure to the use and conservation of our natural resources lays a foundation for later environmental and ecological study.
In math, images and stories encourage a love of numbers, enhanced by rhythmic and counting activities. Multiplication is learned in rhythmic sequence, based on song and movement activities. The children learn all four operational processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) with emphasis on the relationship between the processes, presented in a story form that includes problem solving. The approach is multi-sensory, and the children are led through imaginative pictures and practical applications, including manipulatives, in the exploration of mathematics.