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

Somerville Public Schools uses the Balanced Literacy Approach to best address the needs of all students. This approach involves mini-lessons about key reading skills, frequent and in-depth discussions, exposure to high quality literature and non-fiction texts, and the reading of books at each student's own level. See the Somerville Curriculum website for a video and more information. Somerville classrooms also use the Fundations curriculum in first grade to build phonics skills.

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 non-fiction text
  • 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 (ex. speaking one at a time, listening to others), building on others comments, and asking questions

Writing: Somerville's new writing model introduced in the Fall of 2013 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 5 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 vs. excited, nice vs. 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, 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 (ex. 3+7)
  • Quickly and accurately subtracting from a number of 10 or less (ex. 7-5)
  • Understanding what the digits mean in two-digit numbers (place value) - ex. 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:

  • That air is a mixture of gases that is all around us and that wind is moving air
  • To describe weather changes from day to day and over the seasons
  • To identify events around us that have repeating patterns, including the seasons of the year, day and night
  • That animals (including humans) and plants are living things that grow, reproduce, and need food, air, and water
  • The differences between living and non-living things, and grouping them according to the characteristics they share
  • To sort objects by observable properties such as size, shape, color, weight, and texture
  • To identify objects as solid, or liquid, or gas and learning the properties of each
  • To describe and compare how humans and animals use parts of the body as tools (ex. teeth for cutting, hands for grasping)

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 in 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 Somerville Public Schools are committed to maintaining a safe and secure learning environment in order to maximize student learning. To this end, the District strives to support students in developing the knowledge, skills, and attitude needed to:

  • Effectively communicate their needs, interests, and opinions
  • Make healthy choices
  • Respect the needs, interests, and opinions of others

--Social Competency Vision Statement, approved by the Somerville School Committee on 10/15/2007

Schools guidance counselors and other support personnel assist teachers and students to work towards attaining these goals. The 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.

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 MAP ( Gr. 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 Backwards
Addition Story Problems
Addition Combinations
October Solving words, making meaning
Counting Backwards
Addition Story Problems
Addition Combinations
November Narrative

Addition and Subtraction Strategies with Numbers to 100

December Narrative Addition and Subtraction Strategies with Numbers to 100
Addition and Subtraction Strategies with Numbers to 100
Folktales and fairy tales
Addition & Subtraction Story Problems #2 (involving combinations of 100)
Folktales and fairy tales
Early May Non-fiction
Counting by 2s, 5s, 10s
Geometry #2
Late May
Counting by 2s, 5s, 10s
Geometry #2
Counting by 2s, 5s, 10s
Geometry #2
























Grade 1 Curriculum Guide for Parents & Guardians