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1st Grade Team Page

First graders walking in the meadow
First graders study meadow habitats.


English Language Arts

The English Language Arts program at Marion Cross School seeks to create a community of learners immersed in reading, writing, speaking and listening throughout the curriculum. Through engagement with a variety of developmentally appropriate literature, students develop fluency, exercise analytical skills, build vocabulary, practice comprehension strategies, and make meaning. Across grade levels, ongoing writing instruction and practice provides opportunities for students to develop confidence and skills as they generate ideas, draft, revise, and edit original works in a wide range of genres. Discussion-based classrooms, project based learning, and presentation opportunities, within and beyond the classroom, encourage students to develop and hone communication skills, promoting active participation in the school community and larger society.

The first grade English/Language Arts program uses a balanced literacy approach. Foundational skills are taught directly using the Fundations Program which enables children to spell and read using a phonics based approach. Students begin reading in small groups using phonetic readers. After reaching competency, groups read a variety of leveled trade books across many genres. Students develop writing skills by writing daily. Writing is integrated into the curriculum through science journals, research reports, thank you letters, poetry and fiction. Students write narratively to practice retelling a personal story. In addition, children are challenged to write to a prompt. Once a piece is finished children revise and edit with adult support. Reading comprehension skills are addressed during reading groups as well as during read aloud times. Both fiction and non-fiction books complement our units of study. First graders enjoy many books including the works of Kevin Henkes and Bill Peet and Vermont Red Clover Books.


Numbers and Numeration

• Read and write symbols (=, +, -)
• Understand “add, subtract, sum, difference, total, more, less, pattern, equal, odd, and even”
• Count by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, 10’s to 100
• Use ordinal numbers
• Match and write numerals for sets of tens and ones
• Compare non-equivalent sets by using “greater than” or “less than” and their signs < and >
• Arrange five numbers that are out of order, each less than 100, in proper sequence
• Develop an understanding of zero
• Identify fractional parts (halves, thirds, fourths) using manipulatives

Computation and Estimation

• Know sums and differences up to 10 with and without manipulatives
• Add and subtract numbers over 10 without regrouping
• Do mixed operations on a page with facts to 10
• Use concrete objects to show addition and subtraction equations to 18
• Create an oral story problem as an explanation of a numerical equation
• Decide whether it is reasonable to estimate and answer or necessary to do the precise calculation
• Estimate answers to computational problems, then complete the computation


• Make simple comparisons of volume, length, weight, area • Apply measurement concepts in context of concrete problem solving situations
• Estimate and measure real objects using standard and non-standard units
• Compare size and weight of objects
• Use a balance
• Choose an appropriate measuring tool
• Name days of the week and seasons
• Use a calendar
• Recognize hours and half-hours on the clock
• Recognize penny, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar and match with value. Begin interchangeability
• Add coins to $1.00


• Recognize and name triangle, square, rectangle, circle, hexagon, rhombus, trapezoid, octagon, decagon
• Sort geometric shapes by attributes
• Explore the ways shapes combine into other figures
• Understand and demonstrate symmetry

Data Collection and Analysis

• Gather, organize and interpret simple data
• Know how to read and make bar graphs
• Explore probability through activities

Problem Solving, Reasoning and Communication

• Use problem-solving approaches to investigate and understand mathematical content
• Evaluate the reasonableness of answers
• Develop and apply strategies to solve a variety of problems
• Recognize multiple solutions as well as strategies and approaches
• Classify and sort objects, using one or more attributes

Patterns, Functions and Algebra

• Identify, verbalize, and extend a pattern in a sequence of objects
• Identify odd and even numbers
• Identify patterns on a number line



Meadow Habitat

• Understand the concept of habitat
• Observe diversity of species in a meadow
• Understand that organisms have basic survival needs
• Understand the concept of interdependence
• Observe and read about insects and the life cycle of a butterfly


Show an understanding of the following:
• The earth looked very different at the time of dinosaurs.
• Dinosaurs lived for approximately 180 million years and are now extinct.
• Dinosaurs can be classified by period, size, and diet.
• A paleontologist is a scientist who studies dinosaur fossils.

Overview of Human Body

• Basic introduction to the skeletal, digestive, and circulatory systems
• Discussion of healthy habits

Social Studies


  • Discuss community helpers and their roles in our lives
  • Learn what services are necessary and helpful to have in our community
  • Make a model of a community


  • Understand cultural similarities and differences
  • Learn about different geographical features
  • Read about the lives of young children
  • Research and write about an animal in Africa
  • Compare life in the U.S. to children’s lives in other countries

Social Skills

  • Follow directions
  • Follow safety rules
  • Take responsibility for personal belongings
  • Show respect for self and others
  • Take turns
  • Include others
  • Control impulsive behavior
  • Consider consequences of behavior
  • Know when to ask for help


The aim of the art program at the Marion Cross School is to provide children with specific skills and varied media, at every grade level and every ability level, to enable them to express their unique responses, ideas and reactions within a basic artistic framework. Art education does not stand alone. It blends with, augments and enriches the total school curriculum.

First grade, as every year, starts with an all-school collaborative art project that celebrates our gathering together and highlights how, together, we become a community. In first grade, students go on to learn about the Elements of Art of line, shape, color, composition, proportion, texture and pattern. They do a variety of projects including the following: clay sculptures (zoo animals, dinosaurs), self-portraits (which are saved until 6th grade), painted gardens, leaf prints on fabric, radial designs, paper and print making, stitchery on burlap, paper weaving, paper mache dinosaur eggs, sock characters, paper bag houses, wind socks for May Fest, ArtStart (volunteer masterpiece art program), and LEEEP art books (meadow).


The school counselor, Katie Cormier, visits each first grade classroom weekly. In first grade, we also use the Second Step Social Emotional Learning Program to increase students’ school success and decrease problem behaviors by promoting social emotional competence and self-regulation skills. There are four units in the curriculum: skills for learning, empathy, emotion management and friendship skills and problem solving. The first grade lessons go into skills at a deeper level to allow students for a broader understanding. In addition to Second Step, our amazing local resource, WISE, comes in to conduct Care for Kids lessons, which is a health-based early childhood healthy sexuality and abuse prevention curriculum. Mr. Minelli, MCS’s technology teacher, also comes in to co-teach for two lessons with Katie on internet safety based on common sense media’s digital citizenship program. There are also supplemental lessons focused on kindness, being an upstander (anti-bullying). Puppets, songs, and movement are all used to help practice these skills.

Information Technology

Best practices in education indicate that technology is best incorporated into a student’s education as an embedded “tool” used to support learning in the major curricular fields. This means that tech isn’t something just to “do” for students; rather it is used where appropriate to help students succeed in their other subject areas.

Toward those goals, 1st grade students at MCS regularly use the iPads for various learning opportunities, including as a literacy station in their classroom. This includes several different apps that help with phonics and improving reading skills. MCS uses the assessment software, Track My Progress, and 1st grade students are testing in Math and ELA using a computer adaptive test that can help teachers and parents understand the student’s strengths in various areas of these subjects. 1st grade students also are using Symphony Math to help improve their math concepts and understanding and are given subscriptions to iXL mathematics to improve their math skills. Along with Katie Cormier, our school counselor, we also use a select group of lessons with 1st grade students about the topic of safe computer use. These include such areas as computer safety, privacy, and the prevention of Cyberbullying. The lessons come from the highly regarded I.S. site, Common Sense Media.

Library Skills

The main objectives of the library program in 1st Grade are to:

  • review how to take care of library books
  • review how books are organized in the library and why this is important
  • develop a clearer understanding of the difference between fiction and non fiction books and where these are located within the library
  • know where to find books on general non fiction topics such as pets, dinosaurs, sports, drawing, etc.
  • practice putting books in alphabetical order by the author’s last name
  • appreciate literature by listening to and discussing stories related to classroom topics, holidays, seasonal, folktales, humorous and other quality literature


The Marion Cross community sings. We sing silly songs and mundane songs, great classics and new “pop” songs with surprisingly profound meanings, songs written by the students and songs in other languages from across the world, and just about everything in between.

MCS students learn all about music in other ways, too. They listen to it, talk about it, write about it, move to it, and dance to it. They learn it “by ear,” they read it on the staff, and they write a fair bit of it on their own, too. They learn to play instruments in the school’s chamber orchestra, band, and electives.

Music in First Grade

The students and I spend most of our music time learning new songs, exploring their budding voices, dancing, and playing circle games set to music. They learn to sing, but they also to express themselves in music and be part of a musical community. Along the way they learn to read a five or six rhythm patterns and how to use Curwen hand signs to sing do, re, mi, sol, and la, their first five notes.


First graders students start the week with a joyous Sing-Along held by our multi-talented principal Mr. Bill.

Dinosaur Extravaganza

Each year the kids (with the help of their teachers) put on a Dinosaur Extravaganza. It includes poetry, music, dance, and drama. In music classes they write an original dinosaur song.


The main objective of the physical education program for grade 1 is to encourage all children to enjoy and participate in physical activities by building on the interest and enthusiasm created in kindergarten. First and second grade activities expand upon all of the activities explored in kindergarten. Games and activities become more organized or challenging, skill work is introduced, classes become more formal and organized but follow the same specific objectives.