Lighting the Mind and Soul with Storytelling
Developmental Picture of the Student
When students enter the 1st Grade they experience a significant transition from Early Childhood classes (or other Kindergarten programs) to the Grade School. In first grade the children are presented with the archetypes of the human being through fairy tales. The characters in each story represent positive attributes, such as courage, honesty and goodness that can influence the young child’s emotional intelligence and social development.
How the Curriculum Meets the 1st Grader
The curriculum is built on daily routines that provide form, structure and rhythm for independent work and group activities. The first graders are introduced to the letters of the alphabet through oral storytelling and chalkboard drawings. The teachers lead the children from concrete representational pictures to abstract letter symbols.
In these stories letters become familiar characters that engage the student’s imagination and strengthen memory. Students practice sound and symbol relationships and begin writing short sentences. These activities prepare children with the literacy skills necessary for the transition into reading. To develop numeracy skills, students experience numbers through stories that identify their qualities and functions. For example, there is one sun; day and night are two. Characters gather to add and share to divide.
As they leave the dreamy mood of Early Childhood, first graders begin to awaken to the world around them. They are ready to learn in a new way.
The students are introduced to the four primary mathematical operations as individual characters in a story. Mathematics is further supported experientially through rhythmic and physical activities, lively counting and sequencing work, as well as through movement in eurythmy. After considerable practice with manipulatives and mental math, the teacher introduces the written symbols for the four arithmetic operations.
The first grader also experiences the curriculum through natural sciences, fairy tales, handwork, music, painting, drawing and modeling. An awareness of cultural history is explored through stories from around the world, such as the Anansi folktales from Africa.
1st GRADE CURRICULUM COMPONENTS
- Storytelling – Teachers share traditional fairy tales and folk tales from around the world, including: Russian, African, Japanese & Grimms stories.
- Language Arts – Writing is taught by introducing the alphabet through pictures, stories and sound symbols. Literacy is strengthened through vocabulary development, poetry and stories. Speech exercises and oral recitation of poems, alliterative tongue twisters, and verses exercise the speaking and memory skills. Great emphasis is placed upon the importance and beauty of the letters and their correct formation in handwriting. First grade is introduced to the block capital letters as well as lower case by the end of the year.
- Mathematics – The children are first introduced to the qualities of the numbers. Children are given many opportunities for counting forward and backwards, skip counting, and beginning to learn the lower times tables. All four operations are introduced in first grade.
- Preparation for the Sciences – Teachers read or tell nature stories such as: Mother West Wind and the Merry Breezes that personify nature and relate its processes and qualities in experiential terms that are meaningful. This provides a basis for entry into the sciences in the upper grades.
- Movement – Our specially trained movement teacher provides many, varied opportunities for physical movement. In the early grades, students play imaginative games which include running, jumping, skipping, and dancing and provide both exercise and good lessons in social interaction.
- World Languages – Students experience German and Spanish lessons twice each week that provide cultural exposure and develop memory, language and vocabulary skills.
- Art – Students practice beeswax modeling, “form drawing,” wet-on-wet watercolor painting and traditional drawing.
- Handwork – Knitting for coordination, focus and understanding patterns.
- Music – Daily singing and pentatonic flute playing with class teacher. Working with copying simple rhythms 4/4 and 3/4 patterns.
- Eurythmy – Establishes timing, coordination and spatial awareness.
- Field Trips – Each Friday when weather cooperates, the first grade children enjoy going on a vigorous nature walk. Coupled with the telling of nature stories, this familiarity with and observation of the natural world in the lower grades helps to form an introduction to the world of Science for the young child. The 30-minute walk takes the children along the grassy bank of a bayou and on to a large park, surrounded by woods. The walks also inform a growing sense of Geography, which is a main focus in the intermediate grades and middle school grades. When put together with access to the garden and the forest, Great Oak Grades children have tremendous access to the natural world around them through our program and it shows in their energy, their rosy cheeks, and their interest in the world.
LIFE SKILLS EXPERIENCED IN 1ST GRADE
- Listening with attention
- Recalling lessons in review
- Writing simple sentences
- Practicing drawing techniques
- Participating in clean-up duties and regular chores
- Offering assistance with weekly classroom tasks
- Following movement activities to develop balance, agility, coordination, and left/right recognition
- Practicing the four operations of arithmetic
- Building social relationships