First Grade

The first grade curriculum continues to extend upon what students have mastered in kindergarten and cultivates in each child a growing ability and confidence to take initiative, learn independently, and contribute actively to classroom discussions. First grade is also the year in which many of the conventions of study and learning are introduced to help children internalize and take responsibility for their own academic skills such as editing their writing, using standard notation in math, following directions, and completing tasks in a timely manner.

Language Arts

A key goal of the BYDS reading program is for children to become independent readers who can choose appropriate books for themselves and employ comprehension strategies to derive meaning and enjoyment from a range of genres. Students develop their reading skills through direct instruction, individual practice, partner reading, teacher conferencing, shared reading, guided reading in small groups, sustained silent reading, and written or artistic reflections.

There is a balanced emphasis in first grade on learning decoding skills to increase children’s fluency and efficiency, as well as comprehension strategies to promote meaning-making and understanding. They also learn new vocabulary, as well as to stop and re-read when they don’t understand, to make predictions and check them, to ask questions of the text, reflect on them, retell the story, and read with expression.

The formal writing program in first grade takes place in a writing workshop in which children receive direct instruction, practice the skills they have been taught, edit and revise their writing, conference with a teacher, share their writing with other children, and publish their completed works in publishing parties. Among the skills children learn this year are spelling, punctuation, appropriate use of capital and lower case letters, writing full sentences, handwriting, choosing topics (including brainstorming and working with a partner when you get stuck), planning and sequencing, breaking topics into subcategories, using interesting details, and asking and answering essential questions.


As students transition into the BYDS first grade, the level of numeracy, mental math, algebraic, and geometric skills learned at the kindergarten level are reinforced as mathematical learning assumes a more formal approach and explores more complex models. By using real world, visual, and math manipulatives, teachers set the stage and the context for understanding standard math problem solving on paper. Significantly, the core of our Singapore Math program comes into play as algebraic functions on paper are taught in a systematic approach using the sequential and pictorial methods of the Singapore curriculum. Math is taught each day, in the scheduled math class time as well as during transition times and during segments of the day that yield teachable moments. The introduction to standardized measurements, experience with sequencing and patterns, and learning the storyboard approach to word problem solving are chief among the mathematical methods in the first grade curriculum.

Social Studies

The first grade Social Studies program focuses on the study of our families and our school community, map skills, directions, continents, oceans, the equator, and the seasons.


Our first graders are now comfortable in the science lab and continue to learn more about observation and classification of matter, measurement, recording and graphing, comparison, data analysis, and creative and logical thinking. Science concepts explored include habitat, magnetism, matter, and environmental issues.

Finally, towards the end of the year, students complete a unit on insects, learning about their anatomy and life cycle, and using them to understand the basics of taxonomy. A highlight of the insect study is a month-long project on the insect of their choice.

Through this extended study, students further develop their skills of observation, as well as sharpen their scientific recording and communication skills. In addition to a written research paper, students communicate what they have learned through discussions, dramatizations, and oral presentations, as well as in homework assignments, artistic representations, models, and poster displays that integrate the various specialist instructors and courses.



Focus is on learning where the keys are on the keyboard, finger placement and letter recognition.  1st-graders are pushed to use two-handed typing and they are asked to focus on keying the right letters versus speed.

File Management

Students are shown how to save, but files are saved and retrieved for them. There are those who feel more confident in retrieving and saving their files, but they are not yet consistent.

Digital Research

1st-grade students are introduced to digital research during their unit on insects. The culmination of this unit is an insect fair in which students display their knowledge and share what they have learned about their insect. Students are introduced to appropriate research sites and taught to use Google under heavy supervision.

Office Productivity Suite

1st-grade students are introduced to Word and Power Point. They use both frequently throughout the year during various class projects and assignments.

Hebrew and Judaic Studies

In first grade, students use “Reading and More,” reading centers and other materials to increase their spoken vocabulary, writing and comprehension skills.

First graders participate in and present as a group at Friday afternoon Shabbat services. They are eligible for Mensch of the Week awards during that service, and they take home the Shabbat box during the year.

Students participate in community service as part of the values-based program.

The highlight of the year in Judaic Studies is the Siddur Ceremony, at which each student receives the siddur he or she will use for morning services throughout the remaining years at BYDS. The siddur ceremony celebrates the completion of learning the Hebrew alphabet and consequent ability to read basic Hebrew by February of first grade.

Continue to second grade or visit the specialists page for information about art, music, library, computing, and physical education.

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