First graders spend much of this year learning the basic reading tools. Your child will practice reading every day in an environment that strives to keep learning whole and meaningful, that emphasizes self-direction and choice, and that acknowledges that children learn best in a noncompetitive, supportive environment.
They will…
  • Learn through active engagement with the printed word in their world.
  • Beginning phonics by putting sounds together to make words and take sounds in words apart.
  • Build a list of words they can read.
  • Build a list of “sight words” (words that they recognize without sounding out).
  • Use semantic and syntactic knowledge to assist them in decoding unknown words.
  • Learn that there are different things to read.
  • Learn new words and ideas.


First Graders will…
  • Write daily.
  • Self-selected topics will provide them with meaningful understanding of the writing process.
  • Write the sounds that they hear.
  • Use inventive spelling (temporary spelling), based on the sounds they hear, to write the words they do not know. 
  • Begin to learn the conventions of print, correct use of capital letters, ending punctuation and spacing.
  • Learn to express thoughts through sentences.


First Graders learn to participate in group settings and learn that there are different roles and responsibilities to be filled.
Students spend their first year at school learning to be a part of a larger group and adjusting to the school environment. They learn about families, homes and schools and begin to examine their membership in these groups. 
First Graders will…
  • Think deeply about the concept of home.
  • Through literature and class discussion, they will think about homes and what they provide us with.
  • They will compare our homes to homes around the world and to animal homes. They will imagine the effects of being without a home both for animals and for people.
  • Learn that each of us is special and unique.
  • Have opportunities to describe how they are alike as well as different from others.
  • They will learn to accept and value different cultures, races, religions, and learning styles.
  • Learn simple geography and economics.
  • Will construct simple maps and drawings of their home, classroom or school, where they can point to familiar places.


Cornerstone uses the Primary Mathematics (Standards Edition) program, a progressive curriculum based on the highly successful Primary Mathematics series from Singapore. Topics are covered in depth and taught to mastery so that students develop lifelong logic and problem solving skills.
Students will progress from concrete, to pictoral, to abstract approaches with ever more complex mathematical ideas.
Topics will be revisited in subsequent years.


“How is science knowledge collected and constructed?”
In first grade, we begin the year by exploring our five senses as our primary scientific tools for perceiving the world.
First graders will…
  • Develop an understanding of the difference between making observations about what they see and stating opinions.
  • Develop an understanding of themselves as scientists and explore a number of essential questions.
  • Refine their observation skills, enhance their descriptive abilities, and learn to use simple scientific equipment.
  • Practice writing and drawing observations in a science notebook.
    • Share their observations in discussion.
    • Gain experience with real object and picture graphs.
    • Have opportunities to write, draw, build, and perform in the course of their science explorations.


First Graders spend much of their time drawing and painting in the regular classroom, but will attend formal art classes with an art teacher twice weekly. Students are taught that art is a form of communication and a means of expressing themselves. Through communication and self-expression, art becomes a source of discovery and joy.


Every student in kindergarten through eighth grade attends a minimum of two, 50 minute classes in physical education per week. To reflect the National Association of Sport and Physical Education standards by providing meaningful, appropriate games and activities, the elementary physical education program explores and promotes the development of skill-and health-related physical activity components.


Children attend weekly music classes taught by a professional music teacher. The classes strengthen and integrate basic music skills such as singing, rhythm, music reading and instrument playing. Instruction is hands-on and energetic so that children develop enthusiasm for music as a means of artistic expression. 


The Spanish Program in grades one through three is a conversational approach to language acquisition using thematic units, games, rhymes, movement and picture books. The focus is on listening to the language, developing good pronunciation and responding to Spanish commands or questions. The written language is introduced in third grade with labels, charts and “libritos.”