Academic Program
Lower School

Grade 1

Grade 1

Grade 1 students love mastering skills for solving problems, making decisions, and reflecting on their work.
As part of the Responsive Classroom practice, students help create their classroom agreements, engage in morning meetings, and use collaborative strategies to resolve misunderstandings and disagreements. Students are encouraged to care for themselves, for one another, and for their whole school community, with the steady guidance and support of their two homeroom teachers. Each student continues her individual progress in reading, writing, mathematics, and social studies, engaging in a thoughtful mix of individual and collaborative group work. Outside the homeroom, students expand a wide range of skills in library, PE, dance, music, art, science, and Spanish.

Grade 1 Curriculum

List of 9 items.

  • Literacy

    Students read a variety of genres throughout the year, learning solid habits and skills for decoding words, asking questions, making predictions and finding the meaning of a text. In writers’ workshops, students refine their skills for sharing ideas and experiences with clarity. They learn to craft a story with a beginning, middle, and ending, and they practice techniques such as descriptive language, line breaks, and punctuation, and the use of captions and diagrams. In Word Study students analyze spelling patterns and work to apply them to their own writing. Throughout the writing process, students are building their knowledge of spelling rules and patterns, grammar and vocabulary.
  • Mathematics

    Through challenging and fun activities, students develop their number sense and understanding of mathematical operations. They learn to record their work and to share mathematical ideas and strategies in group discussions. Along with solving addition and subtraction problems, students also identify patterns within numbers, explore whole number relationships, and learn about place value. They work with linear measurement using standard and non-standard units of measure, and deepen their understanding of shapes and their defining attributes.
  • Social Studies

    A name study begins the year, grounding students in a sense of identity and community. These concepts are deepened through an intensive study of neighborhoods which includes field trips, reading a range of texts, analyzing data, and eventually designing and building a model neighborhood which meets the wants and needs of all its residents. Students use their growing literacy, math, and art skills for this major project, which also engages their individual perspectives, empathy for others, and motivation for equity and justice.
  • Art

    Engaging with a variety of media including clay, collage, paint, and oil pastels, students approach art with purpose. Projects are designed to help students make associations between the visual effect of a piece and the student’s personal experience. They learn about depicting a person through self-portraits and a collage focused on “someone who cares about me,” and they create and build their own imaginary hybrid animals with movable parts using paint and brads.
  • Dance

    Students experience dance through a creative movement lens, with a focus on positive group process. Elements of ballet and jazz are integrated into learning activities and collaborative dance-making projects. They explore space, developing skills as both solo movers and members of a group, as they become increasingly aware of their bodies in relation to others. 
  • Physical Education and Athletics

    Classes focus on the joy of physical activity through the development of skills such as running, sliding, leaping, jumping rope, throwing, catching, dribbling, and volleying. Balance, coordination, and flexibility are developed during tumbling, individual activities, and group games that include movement exploration, guided discovery, and problem-solving. Through all activities, students learn to respect one another’s space and feelings, and practice constructive strategies for resolving conflicts.
  • Science

    Students use scientific skills as they make predictions, ask questions, sequence an experiment, and record information. They hone observation and measurement skills as they undertake sensory explorations. Students analyze the concept of camouflage in nature during a design-and-build challenge to create a habitat that will camouflage an animal. In a “build like an engineer” challenge, students experiment and build as they learn the Engineering Design Process which includes creating a plan, building, testing, and rebuilding.
  • Spanish

    Students experience an immersive language learning approach in Spanish class, building on what they know and always adding new challenges and new ways to express themselves in the language. Students engage with each other using various greetings and social interactions, building their vocabulary for expressing emotions as well as numbers, days of the week, and months. The collaborative and playful community in class builds a positive foundation for listening, understanding and speaking the language. 
  • Music

    Students actively explore music through singing, moving, listening, improvising, and playing classroom instruments. Working with music from around the world, students experience music making as a means of enjoyment, discovery, meaningful expression, and self-development. 

Curriculum Highlights

Explore Our Curriculum

A K-12 independent school in New York city, The Spence School prepares a diverse community of girls and young women for the demands of academic excellence and responsible citizenship.


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