In first grade, the little kindergarteners who were learning to sing their ABCs and count on their fingers have an exciting chance to apply what they have learned.
While they may have started reading in kindergarten, reading really takes off in the first grade. Math goes from comparing numbers or very simple addition to real addition and subtraction.
Math classes at this stage often benefit from tools such as flashcards and worksheets. The disadvantage of traditional flash cards is that while they are an excellent tool for one-on-one tutoring, they can be harder to use in a classroom environment. However, you can use larger, illustrated flashcards to reach the entire class.
Simple math problem worksheets, on the other hand, can be distributed to each child (or small groups of students). This gives them an opportunity to practice the concepts, and you can see exactly in which concepts they are struggling.
In the first grade, it is also time to introduce the students to simple United States history, such as the story of the pilgrims or how their state was founded. This part can be a tough balance act for teachers, since history (unlike math) is full of nuances. Every side has their own story to tell. While you are covering the Pilgrims, you also want to tell the story of the Native Americans. However, it can be hard to talk to children this young about how the Native Americans were put on reservations, as well as the entire political underpinnings surrounding our country's history.
Students may also begin learning basic geography. Often this does not extend beyond knowing the continents and oceans. They will also learn a few basic facts about United States geography, such as where their state is located, where the capitol is, and perhaps the bigger rivers and mountains.
Simple geography worksheets help first grade student concretize the subject matter. Seeing a teacher point to a country, continent, or ocean is not nearly as fulfilling as being able to find it yourself - and enjoying the rewards of a gold star or smiley sticker at the top of the completed worksheet.
Geography can also tie into basic social studies, allowing students to learn basic facts about people from other countries. And while students reading and writing skills may be limited, they can appreciate stories about other children their age in other countries. Another great way to incorporate together all three of these subject matters is utilizing simple stories of immigrant children from all over the world who came to the United States. The immigrant experience is a large part of American history and also helps the students begin to understand the world around them.
Science is very fun and exciting at this stage; it offers a way for students to discover the world around them.First graders can begin learning about the cycles of life, such as the transformation of a tadpole into a frog, the chick that hatches from an egg, or the caterpillar which wraps itself in a cocoon and emerges a butterfly!
First graders are also old enough to begin learning basic facts about the planet, such as its water cycles, or earth's place in the solar system. Many colorful charts and books outline these complex ideas so simply that even a first grader can understand. Using worksheets can also measure the class' comprehension of the subject material. Certain printable worksheets, for example, have them number the steps in a frog's life, or require students to put the water cycle in order.
The first grade passes quickly, but students absorb a wealth of knowledge which will serve them in future school and life. They are exposed to all of the subject matters, and first grade is a critical time that piques their interests and desire to learn.