Lower School (Jr. K-4)

Grade 1

First Grade at US

First grade boys explore themes that are broad in scope and where basic core disciplines are readily and logically integrated. Throughout the year the theme concepts explored are change, culture, patterns, and community. During the theme Fairy Tales and the Changing World, boys look at their world through this magical literary genre. They employ their powers of direct observation throughout the theme to witness changes in their world including the metamorphosis of a butterfly and the plant life cycle. This exploration presents many concrete learning experiences including dramatic play, painting, drawing, music making, and movement. During the Inventions theme, boys explore how learning from the past can change the future. The final theme Exploring Cleveland is designed to develop an understanding of what defines a community from the classroom to the city of Cleveland. We delve into the importance of our city’s natural and human-made resources.  We also focus on the history of Cleveland and how the city has evolved through time. 

Core Curriculum

First graders build upon their knowledge and relate to mathematics through meaningful experiences.  In an environment that encourages exploration and risk taking, boys are able to deepen their mathematical understanding. They actively engage with a variety of concrete materials to make sense of mathematical concepts. Within the Bridges curriculum, they work to develop increasingly sophisticated strategies for solving addition and subtraction, including solving and posing word problems to demonstrate understanding of the fundamental operations. The students extend their facility with place value, mental computation, geometry, and measurement as well.
The first grade Language Arts program is designed to develop the skills necessary to become independent readers and writers. Our philosophy of guiding language development is through a balanced literacy approach. Boys read and discuss literature with a focus on fluency and comprehension development. They write for a variety of purposes within the classroom. An emphasis is placed on listening and oral communication skills. Proper letter formation, phonological awareness, sound mastery, and vocabulary are taught through a multi-sensory approach, which includes the use of the Fundations program to further develop letter-sound correspondence and fluency.

In first grade, boys meet with the science specialist and engage in interactive experiences that connect with their classroom theme. They ask questions, make discoveries, and practice skills necessary for inquiry-based science investigations. First grade studies include seasons, genetic traits, life cycles, body systems, electricity, outdoor explorations, bridges, hygiene, metamorphosis, nutrition, and the natural resources found in Greater Cleveland.

Co-curricular Disciplines

Speaking and reading in Spanish gives boys the opportunity to expand their thinking and comprehension. First grade boys study Spanish six of the seven days in our rotating schedule. They build on basic vocabulary and concepts from kindergarten. They learn the alphabet, numbers, basic greetings, colors, shapes, family words, body parts, time, pronouns, weather, and animals. Boys become familiar with Spanish speaking countries and their influence in the United States. Reading and comprehending Spanish books, games, songs, and activities are important part of the curriculum.
First grade boys learn through play, experiencing musical concepts and gaining skills through their own active involvement. Listening acuity, expressive performance, and considerate participation are stressed in every lesson. Boys engage in creative holistic music making using the Orff-Schulwerk approach to music education. First graders learn tuneful singing within a close melodic range.  They learn beat, rhythmic awareness, tempo, timbre, volume, and pitch. Creative movement becomes structured with games, folk dances, and singing.
Art is a place where the boys discover that art is everywhere. We explore the theme-based curriculum and dive a little deeper into cultural art forms. Introductions to artists and traditional cultures play a key role in learning, but it is the student who makes that technique his own. In first grade, we explore the imagination and focus on color, storytelling, and critiquing their creations. We work in papier-mâché, collage, and clay, and learn about famous artists and art forms.
We provide successful physical experiences for all boys through a curriculum designed to foster and develop the knowledge and values, physical skills, and practices necessary for personal physical fitness and lifetime wellness. Boys learn body control, with an emphasis on balance, coordination, and spatial judgments. Skill development includes motor, non-motor, and manipulative. Rhythms, games, tumbling, large apparatus stunts, and swimming are taught. 
Young boys have boundless energy and a natural tendency to explore and discover.

The First Grade Curriculum at a Glance

Fairy Tales and the Changing World
Inventions: Learn from the Past, Change the Future
Exploring Cleveland
  • What are the reasons we have fairy tales?
  • What patterns do we find in fairy tales?
  • How and why do stories change?
  • How and why do people change when they move?
  • How does our family background add to the life of our community?
  • How do our differences make our country strong?
  • How do people working together make a community grow and change?
  • How does a community change to meet the needs and wants of the people?


Boys learn to love reading, researching, and expressing themselves through literature-based activities. In first grade, boys come once a week to the library in small groups. We build upon skills learned in kindergarten, such as book care, using the computer catalog, and appropriate library behavior. We also begin to identify parts of a story and compare different versions of folktales and fables. The boys write stories and poetry as a group project and on their own. Author studies, Reader's Theater and creative art extensions are favorite activities.


Shaker Heights Campus JUNIOR K – GRADE 8

20701 Brantley Road, Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122
Phone: (216) 321-8260

Hunting Valley Campus GRADES 9 – 12

2785 SOM Center Road, Hunting Valley, Ohio 44022
Phone: (216) 831-2200