Worcester’s premier college-preparatory co-ed day school serving students from Central MA and MetroWest, Pre-K–Grade 12

Grade 1

First grade is a time for students to develop and expand their independence, responsibility, and excitement for learning.

Click on the subjects below for a summary of the Grade 1 curriculum.


A 90-minute literacy block is scheduled daily in Grades 1 through 5. Reading instruction is an integral component of literacy. Our goal is first and foremost to foster a love of reading. Research data indicates that in order for students to develop as readers, they must be afforded ample time to read. Therefore, we are committed to providing large periods of time for students to immerse themselves in reading books of their choosing as much as possible. We steer children toward books that they can read with fluency, accuracy, and comprehension. Our approach supports the five essential foundational pillars of reading:

  • Phonemic awareness,
  • Phonics,
  • Fluency,
  • Vocabulary, and
  • Comprehension.
Reading Workshop

The Reading Workshop approach provides a consistent framework and continuum of literacy progression through the Lower School grades. Each child's performance assessments provide the basis for informed decisions to plan and individualize instruction through a gradual release of responsibility model. Students receive explicit instruction to build skills and strategies that promote reading automaticity, and stamina, helping them learn to become engaged, strategic readers. Comprehension strategies are taught through mini-lessons, modeling, read-alouds, discussion, small group instruction, and one-on-one conversations/conferences with the teacher.

Phonics, Spelling, Vocabulary and Word Study

In Grades K – 2, the Fountas and Pinnell program serves as our guide to teaching phonics, spelling, and how words work. Through direct instruction in early literacy concepts, letter sound relationships, spelling patterns, sight and high-frequency words, children learn how to put these skills into practice when reading and writing. When they are empowered with a range of strategies to solve words with efficiency and automaticity, the mind is freed up to attend to the more complex skill of comprehension.


Reading and writing skills develop in tandem. Children learn to write for a variety of purposes and audiences. Choice and creative ideas are at the heart of the writing process. A common language is used to provide continuity across grade levels. Writing strategies are taught through mini-lessons, modeling, mentor texts, discussion, small group instruction, and one-on-one conversations/conferences with the teacher. Planning, structure, graphic organizers, grammar, and mechanics are essential tools for developing writers.

The first grade curriculum centers around a language arts program of reading, spelling, penmanship, and writing that combines auditory, visual and kinesthetic approaches. Students learn phonics to decode and spell words, building upon specifically learned rules. Our goal is to instill a love of reading by selecting materials with a high interest level, which are designed to expand vocabulary and reinforce spelling, punctuation, comprehension and interpretation. Students read aloud and silently each day during group and independent work periods. The students are encouraged to embrace writing as a means of self-expression, and numerous opportunities exist for them to write creatively and pursue literature appreciation activities.


A 60-minute math period is scheduled daily for students in Grades 1 through 5.

Our approach draws on best practices, and highlights problem solving as the focus of mathematics. Opportunities to engage in conversation about the process are promoted and valued. We expect learners to construct and maintain positive attitudes toward math, to persevere, and to monitor their own thinking.

We begin each day with Every Day Counts: Calendar Math. As additional math experience, this provides time for preview, review, practice, and discussion of critical math concepts and skills. It increases engagement and motivation while building mathematical understanding.

Math In Focus with a coherent sequence of topics forms the core of our mathematics curriculum. It affords learners the opportunity to engage in model drawing experiences, which tap into their visual-spatial and reasoning strengths. At each grade level, time spent on topics allows for depth of exploration followed by mastery. This deep level of understanding eases the journey into higher levels of math.

Central Subject

An interdisciplinary program of study includes the relationship of self, friend, family, home, work responsibilities, seasons, holidays, community, our country and world, and the ocean. In February, children begin a Central Subject study of medieval times as they learn about the Middle Ages using skills they are developing in reading, writing, spelling, math, art and music. The importance of sustaining the environment and creating "citizens of the globe," is an integral component of our curriculum. A theme for first grade entitled "Earth Day–Every Day," focuses on bringing nature into the classroom as well as increasing student participation in the "outdoor classroom."


Investigations include rocks, fossils, and the layers of the Earth; solids and liquids; and flower structure with an agricultural engineering project of designing hand pollinators.


The Grade 1 Art program has been designed to help with the development of fine motor skills while giving students early exposure to a wide variety of art materials.

Drawing, painting, cutting and pasting activities not only allow students to express themselves creatively, but provide a means for hands-on processes that are not always met in other disciplines.

Social and emotional growth is also a very important part of working in the Art Room. Group activities, sharing supplies, and working in partnerships are all part of learning in this busy environment.

Color studies of warm and cool colors, large-scale painting, mural making and use of patterns and texture with printmaking and collage are all covered.

Interdisciplinary projects relating to their classroom studies of the Medieval Arts are explored by creating three-dimensional weavings and clay sculptures.

Computer Skills

In first grade computers, students become familiar with their accounts and keyboard recognition skills are developed. During this year, procedures for starting and closing programs and how to save and print files are introduced. Students also learn foundational skills such as word processing, graphics, and programming. In addition to learning specific skills, first grade students create computer projects to reinforce and enrich the subjects they are learning such as reading, writing, mathematics, and social studies.


The Lower School Drama program offers a mix of drama games, skit-work, readers' theater, and improvisation that lets all the students develop ease speaking before a group. These games are times to practice quick thinking, teamwork, self-control, leadership, ability to let others lead, and patience.

The program is geared to stretch the imagination. Lower School Drama also provides a venue in which bold declarations and bashful remarks are welcome, valued, and practiced by all.


Students are introduced to the Orff instruments, especially playing simple "bordun" accompaniments and cluster chords. We sing work songs, songs about animals and transportation, and folk songs from many cultures, especially France.  Our listening focus is on melodic and rhythmic pattern recognition.


In Grade 1, Spanish classes are designed to increase students’ comfort with the sounds of the Spanish language and to provide an enriching and enjoyable language experience.

Students engage in lessons enhanced by group activities, projects, games, plays, and songs to build their verbal and comprehension skills. Topics complement much of the first grade curriculum and include greetings, family, house and home, hobbies, colors, numbers, calendar, weather, classroom objects, and animals.  In addition to language learning, the class also fosters an appreciation of the differences and similarities between the children’s culture and the culture of Spanish-speaking countries.


The one-hour class is broken up into three parts that include reading a story, locating and checking out books, and completing an extension activity.  Highlights of the school year focus on discovering what makes a story a good story. This is in preparation for writing and illustrating a book with a Bancroft senior in the spring. Each first grader receives a copy of their book, which is sewn together by the senior. The library also receives a copy of each first graders’ book, which is processed, cataloged and ready for circulation by the fall of the following school year.

Physical Education

At this level, there is a concentration of motor skill development, movement exploration, group involvement and physical activity. The program is designed to help the children grow with confidence and self-esteem, while learning about various movement concepts and skills. Basic locomotor patterns (running, skipping, hopping, jumping, galloping, sliding) manipulative patterns (throwing, catching, striking, kicking) and body / spatial awareness concepts (balance, shapes, directions, speed, levels) are all experienced during these years. The emphasis is on participation and involvement, not competition.

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