First Grade Curriculum


The first grade reading curriculum continues the foundational work that is so important to the development of each reader. Phonics, reading comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and critical thinking skills are emphasized throughout the curriculum. The reading instructional time is divided between direct instruction and a workshop model where students work in small groups with the teacher. Independent reading time allows students to interact with books and apply newly acquired reading skills. 

Jolly Phonics/Grammar, Making Meaning, and the Units of Study Reading Program by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project serve as core resources. The reading curriculum includes the following units: 

  • Building Good Reading Habits: Students immerse themselves in the habits and behaviors that make for powerful reading, are taught to work hard to solve tricky words, and are exposed to a repertoire of ways to read with a partner.
  • Learning About the World: Students read a large number of nonfiction books and are taught strategies for reading them. They learn how to read harder words and plan their own nonfiction read-alouds for an audience of kindergarteners.
  • Readers Have Big Jobs to Do: Students strengthen their abilities to monitor their reading, develop more strategies for word solving, learn how to maintain comprehension with longer texts, and continue to work on reading with fluency.
  • Meeting Characters and Learning Lessons: Students learn to explore new worlds through books, make predictions, determine important ideas, retell in sequence, and think about how different parts of a story connect.


The writing curriculum encompasses instruction in the writing process, grammar, and spelling. The first grade writing units allow students to explore fiction writing as well as develop their skills in academic writing. Through explicit teaching, practice applying strategies, studying mentor texts, and sharing writing, students engage in deep and thoughtful writing experiences. They produce numerous pieces of formal writing that involve the full writing/revision process. Additionally, in each unit students apply their new writing skills to respond independently to a writing prompt under a given time constraint. The Units of Study Writing Program by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project serves as the core resource. The writing curriculum includes the following units:  

  • Small Moments - Writing with Focus, Detail and Dialogue: Students start the year by taking the everyday events of their young lives, referred to as “small moments,” and developing them into focused, well-structured stories through pictures and writing.
  • Nonfiction Chapter Books: Students enter the world of informational writing using content-rich vocabulary, interesting text elements, and focused writing techniques to create engaging teaching texts.
  • Writing Reviews: Students create persuasive book reviews that hook the reader, clearly express their opinion, and bolster their argument in convincing ways. The reviews are shared to encourage others to read the students’ favorite books.
  • From Scenes to Series - Writing Fiction: Students learn to “show, not tell” and use action, dialogue, and feelings to create their own series of fiction books modeled after Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant.


District 27’s K-5 math curriculum emphasizes deep mathematical understanding and reasoning through real-world problem situations. In addition to learning and practicing important math skills, students invent, question, model, represent, and explore math strategies to solve problems and deepen their understanding of math concepts. The mathematical concepts, skills, and strategies connect and build across the grade levels. In grades K-5 students will explore math topics through Math Expressions by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The first grade units include the following:

  • Partners and Number Patterns Through 10: The first unit focuses on the 1-more and 1-less pattern, first with counting numbers, then with finding partners, and finally with addition and subtraction.
  • Addition and Subtraction Strategies: Children begin to recognize addition and subtraction problem types and write equations to represent addition and subtraction situations. They discuss different types of equations, decide if they are true or false, and develop strategies for adding and subtracting within 10.
  • Unknown Numbers in Addition and Subtraction: This unit focuses on unknown partners represented as both addition and subtraction situations. Children adapt strategies for finding an unknown total to finding an unknown partner. They write both equations and answers with labels for story problems.
  • Place Value Concepts: Children explore tens and ones grouping using physical groupings and math drawings. Activities provide repeated experience in building 2-digit numbers with strong visual support. Children extend place value concepts to add with 1- and 2-digit numbers.
  • Place Value Situations: The unit extends the strategies children have learned for unknown partners in addition and subtraction situations. Problem types, models, and drawings are all woven together in this unit so children can access prior knowledge as they work with larger numbers.
  • Comparisons and Data: Children organize, represent, and interpret data. They build on what they know about comparing numbers to develop comparison statements for a set of data and solve comparison story problems.
  • Geometry, Measurement, and Equal Shares: Children compose shapes and distinguish between defining and non-defining attributes of shapes. They also learn basic concepts about length measurement. Measuring time units is also included.
  • Two-Digit Addition: In this final unit, children use modeling skills, place value, and addition concepts to add with 2-digit numbers when grouping a ten is and is not required.


District 27’s K-5 science curriculum emphasizes scientific processes/skills and builds students’ conceptual knowledge in biology, physics, chemistry, and earth science. The science program deliberately attends to students’ existing scientific ideas, provides authentic science experiences, encourages science exploration, and develops students’ science literacy. The first grade curriculum includes the following units:  

  • Weather: The weather unit gradually introduces students to concepts in weather while developing basic observational and experimental skills. By exploring concepts such as cloud cover, precipitation, wind, and temperature one at a time, students build their understanding about the weather and patterns within weather.
  • Science in the Toy Box: This basic physics unit provides students an opportunity to study systems and interactions. Using common toys, students study forces, the way things move, and the interactions of parts.
  • Plants and Animals: Students have the opportunity to investigate and observe a variety of land and aquatic plants and animals. They compare and contrast the organisms and learn about the basic needs of living things. During the butterfly module of the unit, students will observe the life cycle of a caterpillar/ butterfly. Throughout the unit, students discuss and model good scientific practices, especially observation and communication skills.

Social Studies

District 27’s K-5 social studies curriculum addresses five key themes of social studies: Geography, history, government, economics, and culture. Certain themes are addressed in more detail at certain grade levels. Social Studies Alive by TCI serves as the core resource. In first grade, students learn about family traditions and the ways in which family members interact and change. They expand their thinking by looking at families, members’ roles, and how people lived in the past as well as live currently throughout the world. To deepen their understanding of culture and reasons for holidays, each month students will learn about one national holiday and will explore holidays celebrated in other countries. The first grade curriculum includes the following units: 

  • What Groups Do We Belong To?
  • What is a Map?
  • What is a Family?
  • How Are Families Special?
  • What Do Families Need and Want?
  • How Do Family Members Care for Each Other?
  • What Are Family Traditions?
  • How Do People Live Around the World?
  • How Do Families Change?
  • What Was School Like Long Ago?
  • How Are People Around the World Alike and Differ
First graders reading books
Teacher holds out beetle bug for students to see