Grade 1

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 Celebrating Diversity in America theme, boys explore the idea that the United States is a nation of many different world cultures. This theme is designed to build diversity awareness as we celebrate our cultures. Boys examine the concept of diversity as it relates to the similarities and differences among themselves, their families, cultures, and traditions. 
 
Our final theme Exploring Cleveland:  A Community Coming Together 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.  The city is our classroom during this theme, as many experiential field trips are an integral part of the boys’ learning.

Core Curriculum

MATH
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. They study beginning algebra, geometry, analytical and spatial thinking, and relationships among numbers, shapes, and patterns. They investigate the concepts of measurement, estimation, mental computation, skip counting, hundreds charts, place value, addition and subtraction, time, fractions, three dimensional solids, story problems, and money.
 
LANGUAGE ARTS
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. This is accomplished through small, guided reading groups, whole group read-aloud, poetry reading, individual silent reading, and nightly reading of self-selected books. Proper letter formation, phonological awareness, sound mastery, as well as explicit sight word and vocabulary are taught through a multi-sensory instructional approach. Boys write for a variety of purposes within the classroom.  An emphasis is also placed on listening and oral communication skills.
 
SCIENCE
In first grade, boys meet with the science specialist once a week for 60 minutes. During this time, boys engage in interactive experiences that connect with their classroom theme. Students are engaged in experiences that enable them to ask questions, make discoveries, and practice skills necessary for inquiry-based science investigations. First grade studies include seasons, genetic traits, life cycles, body systems, the night sky, magnets, electricity, outdoor explorations, bridges, hygiene, metamorphosis, nutrition, and the natural resources found in the Greater Cleveland area.

Co-curricular Disciplines

SPANISH
Speaking and reading in Spanish gives boys the opportunity to expand their thinking and comprehension. First grade boys have Spanish four days a week. 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.
 
MUSIC
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
Art is a place where the boys discover that art is everywhere. We explore the theme-based curriculum at each grade level 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 American artists and American art forms. We discover that art is everywhere when we explore a few favorite Cleveland spots.
 
PHYSICAL EDUCATION
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. 

Exploring Our Theme

 
A trip down to the West Side Market allows first graders to study cultures and diversity in a tasty fashion.
Young boys have boundless energy and a natural tendency to explore and discover.

The First Grade Curriculum at a Glance

THEMES
  • Fairy Tales and the Changing World
  • Celebrating Our Cultures. Celebrating America
  • Exploring Cleveland
 
CONCEPTS
  • Change
  • Patterns
  • Culture
  • Diversity
  • Community
  • Independence
 
ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS FOR BOYS TO INVESTIGATE
  • 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?

Library

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.

LIBRARY & SUGGESTED READING LINK

Shaker Heights Campus

20701 Brantley Road
Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122
GRADES Junior K-8
Phone: 216-321-8260

Hunting Valley Campus

2785 SOM Center Road
Hunting Valley, OH 44022
GRADES 9-12
Phone: 216-831-2200
University School serves 870 boys in Junior Kindergarten to grade 12 on two campuses in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. The School’s mission is to inspire boys of promise to become young men of character who lead and serve. Dedicated faculty, rigorous curriculum, and experiential programs foster intellectual, physical, creative, and moral excellence.