First Grade is a time of creating wholeness and a sense of rhythm in this new world of the classroom. Students become one class, learning and growing together. When the child is ready for first grade, it is appropriate to use the powers of understanding for more abstract matters, including writing, reading, and arithmetic. The class begins to learn music with the pentatonic flute, and the Main Lesson book is introduced where children learn to create their own textbooks. Letters flow from picture form: the mountain will form the M, the swan will form the S. Children write in their main lesson books and read their own writing.
Lighting the Mind and Soul with Storytelling
Developmental Picture of the Student
Waldorf first graders experience a significant transition from Early Childhood classes (or other Kindergarten programs). In first grade, the children are introduced to archetypes of the human being through fairy tales. The characters in each story represent positive human qualities--such as courage, honesty, and goodness--which create an imprint for the young child’s emotional intelligence and social development.
How the Curriculum Meets the First Grader
The curriculum is built on daily routines that provide structure and rhythm for both independent work and group activities. First graders are introduced to the letters of the alphabet through oral storytelling and chalkboard drawings. Teachers guide the children from concrete representational pictures to abstract letter symbols.
During storytime, letters of the alphabet 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 build the literacy skills necessary for reading. First graders 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 they 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. They also study numbers by using their voices and bodies in rhythmic and physical activities, through lively counting and sequencing work, and through movement in eurythmy. After the children have practiced with manipulatives to reinforce their concrete understanding of the arithmetic concepts, the teacher introduces the written symbols for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
First graders also experience the curriculum through natural sciences, fairy tales, handwork, music, painting, drawing and modeling. Their appreciation of cultural history is encouraged through stories from around the world, such as the Anansi folktales from Africa.
- Language Arts: Fairy tales, folk tales and nature stories; upper-case letters; writing sentences, stories and poems
- Social Studies: Festival celebrations
- Science: Nature walks and outdoor education
- Math: Quality of numbers; an introduction to addition, subtraction, multiplication, division; mental math and form drawing
- World languages: Counting; naming things; songs; dances; poetry; conversation
- Art: Wet-on-wet watercolor painting; beeswax modeling; crayon drawing
- Practical Arts: Knitting; gift-making
- Drama: Re-enactment of fairy tales; class play; assembly performances
- Music: Pentatonic flutes; singing
- Movement: Two outdoor recesses a day; Eurythmy; daily body geography exercises
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