Parents and Guardians

This guide provides an overview of what your child will be learning in first grade. It is based on the Common Core Standards, the Massachusetts Frameworks, and the curricular approaches which have been adopted by the Somerville Public Schools. The detailed Massachusetts Frameworks are available at:

Academic standards are important. They ensure that all students, no matter where they start, are prepared for success in the next grade level, college, and their careers. By defining standards clearly, we aim to help families and teachers work together to ensure that students succeed. There are some students who will need additional support to meet a standard. Other students will need more complex work to go beyond the standard. Teachers craft their day-to-day classroom instruction based on the standards, individual student needs, and the unique characters of their schools and community.

How can I support my child's learning at home?

  • Talk to your child about what they are learning in school
  • Contact your child's teacher with any questions or concerns and attend Parent Teacher Conferences
  • Check your child's folder and/or agenda book every night
  • Provide a space and a consistent time for your child to complete their homework

English Language Arts

Reading: During the year, students in first grade will be working on:

  • Using the words and pictures to help understand and describe the characters, setting, and plot of fiction texts
  • Demonstrating an understanding of the characters, setting, and plot through retelling the story
  • Describing the lesson/message a story teaches using details from the story
  • Using text features (headings, table of contents, glossaries) to find and learn more information in nonfiction texts
  • Asking questions before, during, and after reading and then searching for answers
  • Figuring out the main idea and key details in grade-appropriate nonfiction texts
  • Noticing that poems use describing words, sound words, feeling (emotion) words, and sensory words to make a picture in their minds
  • Understanding that poems sound different because of rhyme (or not rhyme), repetition, and rhythm
  • Using multiple strategies to figure out unknown words (phonics skills through Foundations, context, illustrations, re-reading)
  • Identifying basic similarities and differences between two texts on the same topic
  • Identifying a folktale/fairytale based on its characteristics
  • Participating in conversations and discussions by following rules (for example, speaking one at a time, listening to others), building on others' comments, and asking questions

Writing: Somerville's writing program emphasizes giving students many opportunities to write each day across subject areas. As they write during the year, students in first grade will be working on:

  • Writing five sentences that go together on a topic
  • Including a beginning and ending
  • Using time words like first, then, next, and after
  • Describing ideas or events using details
  • Using words that make my writing interesting to the reader (happy versus excited, nice versus friendly)
  • Making sure writing makes sense to others
  • Spelling high frequency words correctly as they are learned and correctly spelling grade level words using resources if needed
  • Capitalizing the first word of each sentence and people's names
  • Correctly using a variety of end punctuation in every sentence
  • Using singular and plural nouns correctly

Over the course of the year, students will complete three types of writing: narrative (story), informative, and opinion. Examples of these in the first grade could include: Creating a "How-To" book, writing a poem about a famous person, writing an opinion about a character in a story, or writing a fiction story based on a fairy tale.

How can I support my child's literacy learning at home?

  • Read to your child daily
  • Encourage your child to read daily and discuss the books he/she is reading
  • When your child shares an opinion or thought about a book, ask them why? and have them use evidence from the book
  • Encourage your child to write by keeping a diary, or sending a thank you note or letter to family or friends


Adapted from PTA Common Core Guide and Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks Critical Areas. Please see the Massachusetts Frameworks for more detailed standards and skills.

During the year, students in the first grade will be working on:

  • Counting to 120
  • Solving addition and subtraction word problems within 20 using objects, drawings, or an equation
  • Quickly and accurately adding with a sum of 10 or less (for example, 3 + 7)
  • Quickly and accurately subtracting from a number of 10 or less (for example, 7 - 5)
  • Understanding what the digits mean in two-digit numbers (place value); for example, the number 42 has 4 tens and 2 ones
  • Using the symbols <, >, and = to compare numbers
  • Using understanding of place value and different strategies to add and subtract to 100 (e.g., 38 + 5, 29 + 20, 64 + 27, 80 - 50)
  • Mentally adding 10 to a two-digit number (e.g., 57 + 10 = 67) or subtracting 10 (e.g., 57 - 10 = 47)
  • Understanding the relationship between addition and subtraction
  • Measuring lengths of objects by using a shorter object as a unit of length
  • Making new shapes by joining shapes together
  • Dividing circles and rectangles into halves or fourths
  • Comparing shapes by their size, number of sides, and orientation
  • Telling time to the nearest half hour
  • Identifying the value of all U.S. coins (pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters) and how they compare to each other (e.g., 5 pennies = 1 nickel)

How can I support my child's math learning at home?

  • Play matching and memory games
  • Practice writing and reading numbers
  • Work on learning addition math facts to 10
  • Drawing shapes

Science, Technology, and Engineering

During the year, students in the first grade will be learning:

  • How different materials can either block light, redirect light, or allow light to pass through them (includes shadows)
  • That vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate
  • That you can design a device that uses light or sound to communicate a signal
  • To identify differences and similarities among animals and plants of the same kind
  • How animals use their body parts and senses to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and find and take in food, water, and air
  • How plants have roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits to take in water, air, and other nutrients and produce food for the plant
  • That the behavior of different animal parents and their offspring help the offspring to survive
  • To identify the seasonal patterns of change, including rainfall/snowfall, temperature, and sunrise/sunset times
  • To use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe that each appears to rise in one part of the sky, appears to move across the sky, and appears to set

Social Studies

During the year, students in the first grade will be learning:

  • About communities (government, economy) and how they function
  • About America's holidays and symbols and legends and folktales
  • The Pledge of Allegiance and patriotic songs
  • The reasons for celebrating events or people commemorated on state and national holidays
  • To distinguish oceans, lakes, rivers, mountains on maps and globes
  • To identify city, state, and nation by name and location on maps and globes


The elementary years are an important time to nurture social-emotional competence and develop foundational learning skills. The Somerville Public Schools uses the Second Step curriculum, an evidence-based program that includes everything schools need to integrate social-emotional learning into their classrooms and school-wide. The curriculum is designed to promote school success, self-regulation, and a sense of safety and support.

Classroom teachers are responsible for implementing Second Step. Schools guidance counselors and other support personnel assist teachers and students to work toward attaining curriculum goals. Staff at your child's school can give you more detailed information about the sequence of skills taught and how social/emotional skills are taught.


1st Grade Lessons:


Skills for Learning

1. Listening to Learn
2. Focusing Attention
3. Following Directions
4. Self-Talk for Learning
5. Being Assertive




6. Identifying Feelings
7. Looking for More
8. Similarities and
9. Feelings Change
10. Accidents
11. Showing Care and Concern


Emotion Management

12.Identifying Our Own Feelings
13. Strong Feelings
14. Calming Down Anger
15. Self-Talk for Calming Down
16. Managing Worry



Problem Solving

17. Solving Problems, Part 1
18. Solving Problems, Part 2
19. Fair Ways to Play
20.Inviting to Join In
21. Handling Name-Calling
22.Reviewing Second Step Skills






















Specialists: The Somerville Public Schools provides each student with 40 minutes per week of instruction in General Music, Library/Media, Art, and Physical Education. The specialists at each school are available to give you more detailed information about specific skills addressed.

Assessment: We believe that there is more than one way to accurately assess student learning. These include not only standardized measures such as DIBELS (Grades K-3), MCAS (Grades 3-10), and STAR (Grades 2-8), but also more informal assessments including common end of unit assessments, reading/writing conference, classroom participation, classroom projects, and writing assignments.

Math and ELA Year At A Glance For Grade 1: 

Please note that this calendar is only an approximation. Some units take more or less time depending on the needs of the students and other projects/activities happening at individual schools.


Time Frame

ELA Units of Study

(Based on Balanced Literacy Curriculum)

Matth Units of Study

(Based on Investigations Curriculum)

September Launch Readers Workshop
Counting Forward and Backward
Comparing Quantities
Addition Combinations
October Narrative
Addition Combinations
Addition Story Problems
November Narrative
Naming, Describing, and Comparing Polygons
Composing and Decomposing Polygons
December Nonfiction
Composing and Decomposing Numbers
Addition and Subtraction Strategies
Addition and Subtraction Strategies
Addition and Subtraction Story Problems
Folktales and fairy tales
Combinations of 10
Counting by 2, 5, and 10
Addition and Subtraction Strategies
Folktales and fairy tales
Counting to 100 and Beyond
Composing and Decomposing 2-Digit Numbers
April Poetry
Addition and Subtraction Strategies
Identifying and Evaluating Coins
May Nonfiction
Measurement with Non-standard Units
Measurement Story Problems
Partitioning Polygons Equally
Surveys: Representing Data





















last updated 11/2018