First grade a cause for excitement and apprehension for both
students and parents. The transition from kindergarten to first
grade is considerable, especially since most children were enrolled
in daycare or some type of pre-kindergarten in preparation for
the transition from home to group care. The days are longer, recess
and play times are shorter and children are expected to sit still
quietly for most of the day. There is more structure and lessons
are scheduled. Students have homework assignments and are tested
on the materials taught. In Language Arts, students are expected
to be reading, spelling, writing and speaking following the standards
One of the goals of first grade is to develop the children's vocabularies.
Reading and writing activities such as story time, reading groups,
individual quiet time reading and reading one on one with an instructor
are all ways to introduce new words and concepts. Children learn
to discriminate between letters, word and sentences in books and
learn to match what they hear to what they see. Simple punctuation
such as question marks and periods become recognizable with the
use of tone and inflection of the reader. First graders learn
to distinguish between the initial, medial and final sounds in
one-syllable words. First graders are able to blend two to four
phonemes into a single syllable word and can make a list of rhyming
words. They can add, subtract or change sounds to make new words
such as cap to cat to pat to at. They can also differentiate the
syllables in a word or proper name and count them.
Teachers use decoding and word recognition techniques to develop
the students' understanding of words. Recognizing root words,
inflectional forms and word families are tools for increasing
vocabulary as are building compound words and creating contractions.
The goal is for the first grader to be able to read aloud fluently
at the appropriate level with normal sounding speech. Students
should be aware of the proper use of singular possessive pronouns
and they should be able to use the correct plural forms of nouns.
After reading a story or having a book read to them, first graders
should be able to answer questions about the story. Reading comprehension
requires the students to be able to ask and answer the five w's
of reporting. They should also be able to decipher any ambiguities
through the context of the questionable concept. First graders
should also be able to construct a literary response to the story,
using theme, plot, setting and characters to drive their written
When writing, first graders should recognize the need to capitalize
proper names, the first word of a sentence and "I" as a pronoun.
Students can spell three and four letter words and some sight
words and know the use of exclamation points, question marks and
periods. Children will be writing every day and recording journal
entries throughout the week in most first grade classrooms. Students
can prepare these entries by generating their thoughts verbally,
listing them on paper and then organizing them into a first draft.
After writing the first draft, students can edit and revise to
add detail and description.
First graders are expected to be able to take all of the skills
they have acquired in reading and writing and apply them to speaking.
Students should be able to speak in complete sentences with proper
grammar usage. They should be able to report on the stories they
have heard or read answering any relevant questions. They should
be able to recite poems, sing memorized songs and tell stories.
Students at this age are expected to be able to tell a personal
story within a timeline and provide detail in their descriptive