Why First Grade at Friends Academy?

Nestled between play-based Kindergarten and the structured routines of second grade, first grade at Friends Academy is a welcoming environment where children feel comfortable and have their voices heard. First grade introduces students to a more structured school day, with a schedule on the board that they review each morning and follow throughout the day.

The first grade curriculum mixes teacher-led academic lessons with lots of hands-on activities. This approach allows students to apply their newfound knowledge, interact with peers, exercise independence, and experiment with different ways of solving problems. In math, students begin to make sense of numbers in practical ways, such as clocks and money. In literacy, the goal is for every child to become an independent reader.

The academic year builds toward two highly anticipated spring projects: the Bookworm and the Author’s Celebration. The Bookworm, one of Friends Academy’s oldest traditions, celebrates first grader’s journeys to becoming independent readers. The Authors’ Celebration showcases how much first graders grow as writers by “publishing” students’ personal narratives into books they read aloud to their families.

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    Slide 1: Over the course of the year, first graders begin to see themselves as authors by learning about principles of writing (such as every word containing a vowel) and how to expand their thoughts in writing.
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    Slides 2-5: They do this through several writing projects, including “The Best Part of Me”; an interdisciplinary bird project that combines writing, research, and art; and a “How To” instructional manual.
  • grade1-slideshow4
    Slides 2-5: They do this through several writing projects, including “The Best Part of Me”; an interdisciplinary bird project that combines writing, research, and art; and a “How To” instructional manual.
  • grade1-slideshow3
    Slides 2-5: They do this through several writing projects, including “The Best Part of Me”; an interdisciplinary bird project that combines writing, research, and art; and a “How To” instructional manual.
  • grade1-slideshow5
    Slides 2-5: They do this through several writing projects, including “The Best Part of Me”; an interdisciplinary bird project that combines writing, research, and art; and a “How To” instructional manual.
  • grade1-slideshow6
    Slides 6-7: By spring, students write a personal narrative and “publish” it into a book, inviting their families to school to celebrate their literary accomplishments.
  • grade1-slideshow7
    Slides 6-7: By spring, students write a personal narrative and “publish” it into a book, inviting their families to school to celebrate their literary accomplishments.

First grade is also driven by a deep social curriculum to grow children’s confidence as learners and community members. Students begin to put themselves in other people’s shoes, think about how their actions affect others, and communicate their needs and feelings in a respectful way. They also explore strategies that work for their own learning, such as using a headset during quiet time or searching out a spot in the classroom where they can concentrate on reading. These life skills benefit students in second grade and for years to come.

“[Friends] has shown my son the joy of education. He no longer fights me to go to school. He no longer expresses frustration with learning. He is excited to come every day.”

Parent of a first grade student

Features of the First Grade Experience

  • A first grade student writing a word on the white board.

    Daily Literacy and Math

    The academic curriculum engages first grade students each day in learning about words, numbers, and writing through hands-on activities and teacher-led lessons.

  • First grade students stand with their shape at the start of the Bookworm.

    Bookworm

    One of the longest-running Friends Academy traditions! During the Bookworm each spring, first grade students read books independently and add their shapes to a “bookworm” that snakes down the hallway for the whole school to see.

  • A parent listens as their first grade student reads to them during the Authors' Celebration.

    Authors’ Celebration

    Students turn a personal narrative they’ve written over the course of the year into a book that they “publish” and share with their families during a special celebration.

  • A teacher gives a young student a literacy screening using an iPad.

    Early Literacy Screenings

    All Kindergarten and first grade students are screened for early signs of reading difficulties, which gives them a head start with literacy support. Some of these students transition into the Sally Borden Program for second grade.

  • Two first grade students play on the playground at recess.

    Two Recess Periods Per Day

    The first grade classroom opens up to Friends Academy’s 65-acre campus. The Lower School recess area includes a playground, sand box, basketball court, and large field.

Meet the First Grade Team

The first grade team at Friends Academy includes classroom teachers, specialists, and administrators. They work together to get to know each child personally and create a comprehensive, interdisciplinary education.

  • A first grade teacher helps a student with a project while sitting on the floor together.

    Seema Vallone

    First Grade Teacher
  • Ashley Wall, Kindergarten Teacher

    Ashley Wall

    First Grade Teacher
  • Merrie-Beth Cleary

    Merrie-Beth Cleary

    Learning Specialist
  • Susan Cogliano, Lower School Art Teacher

    Susan Cogliano

    Lower School Art Teacher
  • Tanner McMullen, Lower School Music Teacher

    Tanner McMullen

    Lower School Music Teacher
  • Ann Richard

    Ann Richard

    Interim Librarian
  • Grace Rodrigues

    Lower School Physical Education Teacher
  • Rebecca Vasa, Lower School Science Teacher

    Rebecca Vasa

    Lower School Science Teacher
  • Jamie Ross-Cory, Head of Lower School

    Jamie Ross-Cory

    Head of Lower School

Find a Place for Your Child in First Grade at Friends Academy

Request more information about first grade or begin an application for your child today.

First Grade Curriculum

At the end of each week, the first grade teacher sends out a newsletter to families with photos and updates about what students learned that week. (See a sample newsletter.)

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Language Arts (Reading and Writing)

  • Applying phonetic knowledge to develop reading strategies
  • Recognizing and decoding more words by sight
  • Reading independently
  • Expanding thoughts through writing
  • Further development of grammatical concepts, such as punctuation
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Mathematics

  • Looking at real-world applications of mathematics and conceptual thinking
  • Continued development of numeracy, with concrete understanding of numbers through 100
  • Addition and subtraction of two-digit numbers
  • Further exploration of measurement, with introductions to analog clocks and money
  • Math curriculum is supplemented with digital tools such as IXL
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Social Studies

  • Deepen understanding of identity as students see their role in a larger community
  • Define community, using local towns as examples
  • Basic understanding of civics, with focus on learning about roles within our communities
  • Dialogues on diversity and understanding differences
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Science

  • Investigate properties of sound and light
  • Learn about animals and their adaptations (vertebrates and invertebrates), and use the Friends Academy campus to discover signs of animal life cycles
  • Identify and compare forces (balance and motion), including push and pull, paper airplanes, and aerodynamics
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Physical Education

  • Promote physical activity and the benefits of healthy living
  • Develop movement skills – including locomotor movements, ball manipulative skills, and dance/gymnastics – and understand when to apply skills in game play
  • Practice life skills such as teamwork, cooperation, respect, taking turns, following directions, and communicating with peers
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Art

  • Work with color, including mixing to inspire further exploration
  • Sketch and connect simple shapes
  • Recognize symmetry and asymmetry
  • Introduce artists and their styles/works of art
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Music

  • Explore musical creativity through a variety of music from multiple cultures, genres, and styles
  • Discover reading and writing music
  • Continue to develop aural skills through vocal rhythmic and tonal improvisation
  • Learn about musical traditions and the role of music in various holidays and cultures
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Library

  • Understand the basics of how a library works
  • Practice choosing “good fit books” that support developing reading skills
  • Learn about the parts of a book (including chapters, headings, and table of contents), copyright, and how to find information in a book
  • Lay a foundation for information-seeking skills