Grade One -- Sample Lesson

The material in this lesson represents approximately five days of work for most students assisted daily by an at-home teacher. Students do best when the at-home teacher and student together cover every subject, every day. Feel free to progress through this material at the pace that best suits you both.

In addition to the linked web sites in the lessons, please use the Internet, books, magazines, articles and other research materials to find additional information on a subject. It is always a good idea to research topics through a variety of sources.


Language Arts

Goals for First-Grade Reading and Writing 
A reasonable goal for instruction of young students is to have all children beginning to read and write on their own by the middle of the first grade.

-Become comfortably familiar with the letters of the alphabet so that they can readily recognize and name the letters.

-Develop a deliberate and conscious awareness of some of the sounds of oral language, and begin to make explicit connections between spoken sounds and printed letters.

-Print both uppercase and lowercase letters with some proficiency, and write using some phonetic spelling (that is, spelling based on what they have learned so far about how words sound, for example, "bot" for "boat").-

-Be comfortable reading simple words they can sound out, as well as a few common "sight words," words that occur very often in writing but do not conform to the usual letter-sound patterns, such as "the," "an," "of," etc.

A reasonable goal for the second half of the first grade is for children to become independent readers and writers - which, of course, doesn't mean that they ought to be able to read any book in the library or write a polished, perfectly spelled essay.  By the end of the year, however, it is reasonable to expect that, with only limited assistance, first graders will read books appropriate to beginning readers and express themselves comfortably and legibly in writing.

First graders should practice using the following rules, though they shouldn't be expected to use them with 100 percent accuracy in all their writings.  As part of their practice and review, children should sometimes be asked in school to apply what they have learned by proofreading and correcting selected samples of their written work.


Capital Letters:  Use a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence and at the beginning of names, such as:  Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky.  When you refer to yourself, capitalize "I." 


End punctuation:  When you write a sentence, use a punctuation mark to show where the sentence stops.

Use a little dot called a period to end most sentences.        .
If you're asking a question, use a question mark.                ?
To show excitement, use an exclamation point,                    !
as in "I hit a home run!"


Contractions:  We sometimes combine two words into one short word called a contraction.  To show that letters have been left out in a contraction, use the punctuation mark called an apostrophe. For example:

I am = I'm       do not = don't       it is = it's

Making words plural:  "Plural" means "more than one."  "Singular" means "just one."  You can put an "s" at the end of many words and change them from singular to plural For example:








Handwriting chart: lowercase (small) letters

Handwriting chart: uppercase (capital) letters

As children master individual letter-sound patterns and become able to sound out words, a good program provides phonetically controlled reading materials.  These are simple stories written in a controlled vocabulary that corresponds to the letter-sound patterns that a child has been taught in preparation for reading the story.  For example, after being taught how a silent "e" at the end of a word can make a vowel long, a child might read a story about how "Jake made a cake."  While such stories are of course not great literature, they are very helpful in teaching children to read, especially in providing the early and tremendously satisfying experience of being able "to read it all by myself."  In preparation for reading these stories, children also need to add to their stock of sight words, such as "of," "was," "do," "the."

Once children have demonstrated some success with phonetically controlled reading materials, they should be introduced to and asked to read, with occasional assistance, stories that are not phonetically controlled but are written for beginning readers, such as Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books or Peggy Parish's Amelia Bedelia books.

A good first-grade program provides regular handwriting practice  through which children refine letter size and legibility, and learn to make appropriate use of the space on a page to present written information.

A good program introduces a few conventions and rules of capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. (You can reinforce some basic rules by reading aloud the information and by gently reminding your child of these rules when she writes.)

There is one simple practice that can make a world of difference for your first grader.  Read aloud to your child often, daily if possible.  Reading aloud opens the doors to a world of meaning that most children are curious to explore but in first grade are still beginning to enter on their own.  In reading aloud, you can offer your child a rich and varied selection of literature, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

For your first grader, we offer a selection of poetry, including some traditional rhymes, Mother Goose favorites, and familiar tongue twisters.  We also include some poems by favorite modern and contemporary writers.  All of these selections should be considered a starting point.  We encourage you to read many more poems with your child, to delight in the play of language, and occasionally to help your child memorize a personal favorite.

Consider this selection of stories a starting point for further exploration.  Beyond stories and poems, you can share appropriate works of nonfiction with your child.  Many first graders enjoy, for example, illustrated books that explain what things are and how they work, books about animals and how they live, and biographies of famous people.

Here is a link to Beauty and the Beast, a great story to read aloud. 

Give it a try: Beauty and the Beast.

Read-Aloud Activities
Try to set aside a regular time for reading aloud, a time free from other obligations or distractions (including the television, which must be off).  When you read aloud, don't feel embarrassed about hamming it up a bit.  Be expressive; try giving different characters different voices.

If your child is not used to hearing stories read aloud, you may want to begin by reading some poems or some of the shorter selections.  If your child starts to squirm as you read longer stories, take a break from reading and get your child involved; have him look at a picture, or ask him some questions, or ask him to tell you what he thinks about what has happened so far, or have him draw a picture to go with the part of the story you've read.

As you read, sometimes run your finger below the words as you say them.  This will help confirm your child's sense of the left-to-right direction of print.  In reading a selection, you can direct your child's attention to individual words as you say them aloud.  You can also ask you child to try to read occasional words and phrases, especially ones that he is likely to have some success with.
Help your child memorize a favorite poem.

Act out a story or scenes from a story.  Your child doesn't need to memorize a set script; she can use her own language to express a character's thoughts.  A few simple props can help:  paper bags for masks, old shirts for costumes, a broomstick for a horse - all can be transformed by your child's active imagination.


Little Sally Walker
Little Sally Walker
Sitting in the saucer
Rise, Sally, rise
Wipe your weepy eyes.
Put your hands on your hips
And make your backbone slip.
Oh, shake it to the east
Oh, shake it to the west
Oh, shake to the one
    that you love the best.

If Wishes Were Horses
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
If turnips were watches, I would wear one
    by my side,
And if "ifs" and "ands" were pots and pans,
There'd be no work for tinkers!



Patterns and Classifications

At Home Parents
Learning to see likeness, differences, and patterns is an essential part of mathematical thinking.  A first grader should be able to sort objects according to some specific attributes, such as color, shape, and function; to define a set of items by what the items have in common; to tell which item does not belong in a set; and to recognize patterns and predict how a pattern will continue.  Your first grader should also learn to recognize likeness and difference in printed symbols.  For example, ask your child to look at the following groups of squares and to point to the one in each group that is different.



Social Science


History: Everyone's Story
History.  Listen closely to the word: history.   Do you hear another word in it?  Do you hear the word story?

History is a story.  It's the story of all the people who have lived before us.  It helps us remember who we are and what we've done.

When you study history, you learn stories of great men and women who have done extraordinary things.  You'll meet a Chinese emperor who - long, long ago - built a wall so large that astronauts today can see it all the way from outer space.  You'll find out - if you don't already know - why our nation's capital city is named Washington, D.C. You'll meet a woman who risked her life again and again to help slaves escape to freedom.

History is not just a story of emperors and presidents.  It's also the story of ordinary people, of farmers, builders, artists, sailors, soldiers, teachers, and children.  Their stories are worth knowing.  They are our stories.  History is about how we have changed and how we've stayed the same.  And so history is everyone's story.

The Ice Age: Humans on the Move story begins a long, long time ago, before your parents or grandparents or even their parents or grandparents were born - in fact, way before their parents or grandparents or even their great-grandparents were born.  How long ago?  Well, take a deep breath and say "long, long, long, long . . ." over and over until your breath gives out - and that's about how long ago our story begins.

In this long-ago time, the earth was colder than it is now, and life was harder in many ways.  To stay alive, people hunted and gathered plants.  At night they huddled around fires in damp caves to  keep warm.  They couldn't buy their clothes or food.  They had to make or find everything.  They made told out of sticks and stones.  They made needles out of bones, which they used to sew robes out of pieces of animal skin.

But their most important task was finding food.  Just like you, they got hungry and they had to eat.  Of course, way back then they couldn't go shopping at a grocery store!  To get food, they sometimes picked the  wild plants growing around them, but most of all they hunted for animals to eat.

Because the early humans were hunters, they were always on the move from place to place.  Why did they have to keep moving?  Can you think of a reason?  They kept moving because they were following the animals they hunted.  In those long-ago days, great herds of woolly mammoths , wild bison, and reindeer roamed the land.  As the animal herds moved on , the human beings followed because those animals were their breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

The animals kept moving because they were looking for food, too, for greener grass and a warmer climate.  Back then, the earth was colder than it is now.  It was so cold that much of the earth was covered by huge sheets of ice, called glaciers - which is why we call that long-long-ago time the Ice Age.

We know only a little about how people lived way back in the Ice Age.  Why don't we know more?  Because one of the ways that we know about people who lived long ago is by looking at clues they left behind, and those clues aren't always easy to find.  Modern scientists who are called archaeologists [ar-key-AHL-oh-jists] study the things that were left behind by people who lived long ago.  They study things like tools, weapons, jewelry, cups and bowls, and pieces of old houses.  But the Ice Age people didn't leave much behind.  Compared with you and me, the Ice Age lived very simple.
Archaeologists can also learn a lot from something else people leave behind:  writing.  Think of all the writing that you can see today:  books, magazines, newspapers, and a lot more.  But writing had not been invented back in the Ice Age.  The Ice Age people talked and told stories, but they did not have a way to write messages to each other.

Still, these early people did draw.  In caves all around the world, scientists and explorers have discovered ancient paintings made by the Ice Age people.  What do you think those wandering hunters drew?  Was it something they needed to stay alive?    If you said "Wild animals" you're right!



Living Things and Their Habitats polar bear lives near the North Pole.  What's the weather like there?  Brrr!  Yes, it's cold, cold, cold.   Look at what's all around the polar bear: ice, and lots of it
The polar bear lives where it's cold and icy all the time, but he doesn't seem to mind at all.  Look at him again.  See his thick, furry coat?  With all that thick fur, he stays pretty cozy, even at the North Pole.

Now, imagine that the polar bear decides to go on a vacation.  (Of course, you and I know that bears don't take vacations, but let's pretend.)  He goes on a trip to Hawaii.  How do you think he would like it?  What would our big furry friend think of the sunny, sandy beaches of Hawaii?

Well, if you've ever been to the beach, you might like it, but you can take off your clothes and wear nothing but a bathing suit.  The polar bear can't take off his fur!
Poor polar bear!  He wouldn't enjoy a trip to warm, sunny Hawaii.  It's a lovely place, but not for him.  It's not his habitat.

What's a habitat?  For an animal, a habitat is the place where the animal lives, eats, sleeps, makes its home, has babies, and gets along (mostly) with other animals.  But it's not just any kind of place.  An animal's habitat is a special place suited to the animal because the animal is suited to it.

The big furry polar bear isn't suited to the warm beach, but he gets along fine at the icy North Pole.  A fish that swims in the ocean couldn't possibly survive in the mountains, could it?  Would a worm that crawls through the moist, rich soil of the forest be happy living in the hot, sandy desert?
Different animals live in different habitats.  The way an animal lives has a lot to do with its habitat.
What is your habitat?


Fine Arts

People Have Been Making Art for a Very Long Time
Pretend that you're exploring a mountainside.  You come upon a big, dark hole in the rock: it's a cave!  You take out a flashlight and use it to light your way as you go inside.  It's cool, damp, and dark.  The ground is rough and slippery.  Whoops - you almost fall!  As you throw out your hands to steady yourself, the flashlight shines on the wall of the cave, and that's when you notice something.  It's a picture - a small drawing.  You shine your light and look closely.  You see the figures of some animals.  Who drew these pictures?  What artist would use the wall of a cave instead of a piece of paper?

Well, how about an artist who lived long before paper was invented?  These pictures on a cave wall were drawn by a person so many thousands of years ago that it's hard to imagine - almost thirty thousand years ago!

Drawings by the world's earliest artists have been found on the walls of caves in France, Spain, and right here in the United States.  Why do you think these early people drew pictures of animals?  Were the animals important to these early people?

As the cave paintings show, people have been making art for a very long time.  Long after the cave people, but still thousands of years before you were born, the people in ancient Egypt made beautiful and amazing works of art.  For the ancient Egyptians, art was an important part of their religion.

This is one of the decorated mummy cases made for King Tut's mummy.


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