Curriculum Overview

First Grade Curriculum: 


School wide, we use the Benziger series, Blest Are We.  This will be a consumable text in first grade.  As we finish chapters, information will come home to familiarize you with the material introduced. 

 We will explore information centered on the Friday and Sunday Gospels so your child will be prepared for Mass.  We use Pflaum Gospel weekly publications. 

 We will attend a weekly Mass or Prayer Service.  This year, we will attend Mass every other week with the 8th, 7th, 6th and K classes.  We will sit with our 7th grade buddies so they can help us participate in the Mass.  On the off weeks, we will participate in a class activity or prayer service that corresponds with the weekly Gospel.  First graders will have the opportunity to lead three Masses this school year.  Children will be encouraged to learn responses and prayers so that they can participate fully in this Sacrament. 

 We have prayer time and religion instruction daily.  First graders are responsible for mastering several prayers.  I have listed the kindergarten and first grade prayers on a separate page.  Please help your child practice these prayers at home.    

 We use the School-wide Learning Expectations, Second Step Curriculum and the seven Principles of Catholic Social Teaching to practice appropriate social skills and problem solving.  We will incorporate the Virtus and Touching Safety materials as mandated by the Arch Diocese of Seattle.  

 We participate in several Service Learning Projects (SLP’s).  Our class will make cards for the residents of Saint Francis Care Center. We will be unable to deliver them in person but can still spread joy through art and encouraging words.  We will also participate in any food and clothing drives offered by other classes.  

 Reading (English Language Arts):   

The Benchmarks Advance reading curriculum has ten units of study.  This is a new curriculum that we are incorporating into K-3rd grade.   It is a comprehensive literature-based program which gives children opportunities to acquire strategies and skills needed to become lifelong readers.  We use additional resources to allow the children to read books at their own level.  

 The primary goal is to instill a love of reading and develop good reading strategies.  We want children to become independent readers.  Benchmarks Advance incorporates many of our science and social studies topics throughout the units of study.  

Phonics is incorporated into many of our English Language Arts (ELA) lessons.  We will use a variety of strategies from Benchmarks Advance as well as Modern Curriculum Press Workbooks and a Slingerland vowel chart. 

ELA work will be done as a whole group, in small group breakout sessions, with partners and with individual practice.  Groups will be supervised by me or our instructional assistant, Mrs. King.  Some students may have an opportunity to work with a reading specialist. You will be notified if your child is eligible for specialist instruction.   Later in the year, I may ask volunteers to help assist with small group activities.  Students should continue to listen to books at home, as well as read aloud nightly.  Both skills are important to beginning readers.    


Children will be taught spelling strategies and phonic rules to decode spelling words they do not know.   

 In October, students will have a formal list of spelling words that will be tested at the end of each week.  These words are obtained from phonics, vocabulary and high frequency work lists.  Students will be expected to master spelling these words.   

Children are encouraged to search for words they need in books, dictionaries and by looking around the room.  This way they become, “word detectives.” 


Students are given writing opportunities daily.  They will participate in written responses to stories, literacy questions, story order and comprehension.  Students will also participate in Writer’s Workshop, journal writing, writing from a prompt and creative story format. We will practice writing narrative, informative and opinion pieces.  In April or May, we will research an animal and write a 5-7 sentence research article. 

Students will be introduced to the Six Trait Writing components.  Later in the year students will have Daily Oral Language lessons (DOL).  Writing is modeled for students and developed at individual levels.   


We use the manuscript method of handwriting.  Correct starting and stopping points of letters as well as letter size and spacing, will be reinforced.  Students are to write using correct letter formation.  No cursive is used in first grade. 

We have structured lessons to practice correct formation.  We use the Slingerland multi-sensory approach, which incorporates auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning.   

When practicing at home and school, we want students to practice proper pencil grip and posture.  Quality, not quantity, is expected. 


In first grade we cover units on animal and plant adaptations, animal classifications, habitats and families, seasonal light and weather patterns, light and sound waves and common star formations. 

During science, we question, explore, discover and solve problems.  We use the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) format and guidelines.  We will read informative text to support these science units using Benchmarks Advance articles, Scholastic News, library books and appropriate internet sites. Some science lessons may have a component to work on at home. 


We use Go Math from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publications. I will supplement the curriculum with techniques from Singapore and Discover Math. 

Lessons are taught in whole group or small group with opportunity for individual reinforcement. 

Manipulatives are used when introducing a concept. We then move to pictures and numbers.  Students may use any or all these strategies to help with problem solving unless it is mental math or math facts. 

Emphasis is placed on number sense of numbers to 120, addition and subtraction to 20, problem solving, geometry, graph interpretation and communication of concepts and properties.  Time, money and basic measurement skills are also introduced in first grade.   

Social Studies: 

Our units include civics as it applies to the classroom and school. economics, history and social studies as it applies to families.  We also study basic geography.  

We use the Harcourt text, A Child’s View.   We will also read informative text to support these social studies units using Benchmarks Advance stories, Scholastic News, library books and appropriate internet sites.  

Social study lessons incorporate the seven Principles of Catholic Social Teaching.     


We have music instructions twice a week with Mrs. Liza Beshara.  We also integrate music in other subjects in our classroom. 

Physical Education & Health: 

We have physical education twice a week with Ms. Amanda Mc Intosh. Girls are to wear privacy shorts and have hair pulled back and out of the face.   


We have library on Tuesday with Mrs. Nancy Smith.  Students are asked to check out one book at an appropriate reading level, the other may be a book of interest. Students must return library books in order to check out new books. Once books are checked out, they are sent home. 

We will have classroom supported computer instruction in our classroom with Mrs. McClurg.  We use technology to enhance ELA, math, science and social studies activities.  Each student will be assigned a school Chromebook to use for class activities. These devices will stay at school unless a need arises for us to learn from home.  If that happens, I will address this issue with first grade families.  All families will need to turn in a signed technology agreement before a student may begin to use these electronic devices 


We have art once a week with Mrs. Carolina Santos. Art is integrated into many classroom subjects.  We use a variety of media and learn about many artistic elements. We study the styles of three masters.    


We will have Spanish instruction twice a week with Maestro Armando Mendoza.  Students may have some songs or vocabulary words to practice at home. 


Other Items: 

Birthdays– We celebrate birthdays in first grade.  About two weeks before the day, I will send home a poster for your child to fill out to share with classmates.  On the chosen date, the birthday child will bring in the poster, a special treat to share with the class and a show and tell item.     

  Field Trips-Unfortunately, we have no field trips scheduled this year.  

 Service-Learning Project– As stated above, we will make cards to send to the residents of Saint Francis Care Center. 

 Distance Learning– If we reach a point during the year that requires us to switch to distance learning, I will follow the K-2 schoolwide distance learning plan.  During the next few weeks, I will have each family register for a Seesaw Account.  I will also share all usernames and passwords for the various online accounts that will be needed by your students.  I will prepare and send home packets for ELA and math instruction and use the printed materials provided by the school when possible. You will receive a weekly agenda and a daily assignment posting. I will use Seesaw for daily lesson tutorials and Zoom for small group reading and math instruction. We will figure out if Seesaw or Email is the best way for you to communicate with me. I will also reach out to each of you weekly to check on your progress and answer your questions.