First Grade

Children make significant progression between kindergarten and first grade. Six and seven year olds have the ability to reason and see other’s point of view. They are receptive to new learning, and are overwhelmingly enthusiastic.  First graders enjoy working, having homework, and are inquisitive about the world around them. They love routine and structure and enjoy having a relationship with their teachers.  Over the course of first grade, six and seven year olds grow in their ability to work independently, take appropriate risks, and relate to others and the greater world. First grade at Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill strives to promote community as a Christian Value (Goal IV) and personal growth (Goal V) as appropriate for their developmental stage.

The first grade curriculum involves a variety of projects and presentation opportunities. Some examples include Great American Projects and presentations, habitat box projects, and holiday projects. The students develop their presentation skills through participation in the Mass, reading to a younger student, and performing in the Spring Musical. Field trips bring studies to life with the Florissant Civic Center literature play and connect science studies with an educational visit to the zoo.


Language Arts


Macmillan McGraw-Hill Reading – Books 1-5
Modern Curriculum Press Phonics Workbook
Houghton Mifflin Spelling and Vocabulary Workbook
Step Up to Writing Program

 The first grade reading curriculum focuses on teaching children to read with understanding through an interactive process. Students are taught to apply specific phonics skills in order to sound out and read new words. Students learn how to integrate prior knowledge as well as to use context clues in the text in order to read, or de-code, unfamiliar words. Our first grade reading program consists of the use of literature and non-fiction-based selections as well as many hands-on activities to make reading meaningful. Students participate in a variety of comprehension activities to further develop their comprehension skills. While analyzing texts, students must identify the value of the author and illustrator's techniques and purposes. Plot, setting, and characters are also identified as well as related to personal experiences. The program stresses literature, vocabulary, comprehension, phonics skills, and the development of study skills.

The first grade writing program is based on the nationally-recognized, research-based Step Up to Writing program. Students learn to systematically create a strong first grade sentence containing a capital letter, proper ending punctuation, a complete subject and a complete predicate. Later with the help of graphic organizers and teacher guidance, students learn to generate topic sentences and create well organized paragraphs with proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Students also participate in regular journaling throughout the curriculum.


Macmillan McGraw-Hill level one and two
Simple Solutions

The first grade mathematics curriculum is designed to help children gain an increased awareness of mathematics in our world and its uses in daily life.  The curriculum focuses on operations in algebraic thinking, numbers and operations using place value, measurement and data, and geometry. Throughout the year children will develop mathematical skills as they engage in critical thinking, problem solving, and data analysis activities. The students will explore math concepts using materials and manipulatives, build models of mathematical situations, work with peers, utilize tools of technology appropriately, rely on their own thinking and learn from the thinking of others.


Sadlier: We Believe
Promise Magazine
Joy Joy the Mass
Apostolic Works: The Hardin Center

The first grade religion curriculum centers on building an active faith in God, in relation to the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria: (Goal I).  Students use daily prayer, a student workbook, various art activities, weekly Promise Magazines and parts of the Mass workbook to know God’s love for us and share that love with others. Students learn about the Blessed Trinity, Jesus’s life, death, and Resurrection, the Liturgical Year, Jesus’s followers, Saints, The Church, Church leaders, the many roles the Church plays in our lives, and the Mass.  Towards the end of the year, students collect new and gently used items for the Hardin Center as part of our Apostolic Works program (Goal III). 


Scott Foresman Science Volumes 1 and 2

The first grade science curriculum focuses on the introduction and development of scientific concepts and skills needed for students to investigate, discover, and understand their world. The major themes include physical science, earth science, life science and space and technology. Students learn about plants and animals, their characteristics and needs and explore various habitats. Students compare living and non-living things, explore movement and machines, as well as weather and seasons. The students learn and discover that they are part of a universe that has moving objects and that they share the planet with many living things that have similar needs, characteristics, and functions. Students should begin to develop an understanding of their world and respect for all life on the planet. 

Social Studies

Macmillan/McGraw-Hill Social Studies – People and Places

The first grade social studies curriculum focuses on family life, past and present, to engage students in the study of government, history, geography, culture, economics and service. Children gain an understanding of Great Americans, United States history and cultural traditions, as well as those in other lands.

Students build on the knowledge of their community as they are introduced to the cultural geography of their state, country and world. Students explore the economic concepts of goods and services, producers and consumers, and use basic map and globe skills.

Throughout the year, the children will be thinking, reading, writing, speaking, listening, discussing, researching, and utilizing technological skills.                            
The first grade art curriculum features an in-depth study of texture, both actual and simulated. Students compare visual textural effects achieved by rubbing, painting, and drawing. Using clay, they learn the pinch pot technique and create a variety of actual texture. First graders examine the construction and function of masks from various cultures.  In an architectural drawing, students construct a building from shapes adding details to create a feeling. Art history studies include the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist styles of Monet and Van Gogh. The elements and principles of texture, color, shape, balance and proportion are incorporated into projects.


Symtalk Language Systems Flashcards
Joyeux Noël:  Judy Mahoney

First grade French students learn polite greetings they can exchange with each other as well as the teacher. Students learn to count to twenty, and build on the repertoire of vocabulary words for animals and foods. Singing songs and playing LOTO (French bingo) are fun ways we reinforce new vocabulary. French culture and holidays are also topics they enjoy learning about throughout the school year. First grade students begin learning to say the Hail Mary prayer in French as another way to recognize our Sacred Heart heritage.

The goals for first grade are a continuation of matching pitch and internalizing a beat.  Students will expand their knowledge of matching pitch through the Kodaly system by learning and singing the entire major scale.  Each student will demonstrate the concept of beat and will imitate basic rhythm patterns.  Through the Orff instruments the students will learn ostinato accompaniments to songs.  In music theory there will be more identification of notes, rests, and other musical symbols.  All students will actively participate in group singing, movement exercises, and musical games. During the second semester all first and second graders will perform a musical for the School and parents.

Physical Education
In first grade the students begin sport specific units, including soccer, jump rope, gymnastics, tee ball, track and field, and pillow hockey among other shorter units. The students will use the skills they have learned in junior kindergarten and kindergarten to help them be successful in these sports. In addition, they will learn the rules and strategies of these sports in an effort to get them to successfully play regulation games.

The first grade curriculum is filled with engaging learning strategies. Weekly center work in math and reading (including the use of manipulatives), small group and partner work, individualized learning and instruction, and interactive learning using a variety of technology is used in the classroom. In addition, students are able to work one on one with the teachers, practice working independently, and the use of book folders and leveled Simple Solutions allow students to work at their own pace.

The teachers in first grade use a variety of ways to assess the student’s learning throughout the year.  Techniques such as observation, standardized testing, unit tests, weekly writing assignments, story comprehension activities, informal assessments, and homework (Simple Solutions, weekly word list, reading, and weekly spelling lists) are used frequently and throughout the school year. Parents will have the opportunity to speak with teachers twice a year about their student’s progress at parent-teacher conferences, as well as view weekly assignments in Thursday folders. In addition, first grade students receive progress indicators on their grade cards rather than a letter grade.

First grade uses a variety of technology tools (iPads, SMART Board, SMART Table, and Computers) to access higher level thinking skills. Books and experiences are brought to life using Photo Story videos.

First grade is the first year at Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School that children are expected to complete homework. Homework begins in early October and gradually increases to include one nightly Simple Solutions page, a weekly word list to improve vocabulary and sight word recognition, weekly spelling test, and a weekly reading log consisting of three books a week. In addition to skill review, homework promotes student responsibility and accountability.

First grade students are expected to be respectful to one another and their teachers, raise their hand when they wish to speak, use good manners, keep their hands and feet to themselves, and clean up after themselves. At times, hey are rewarded with daily stickers that earn them reward coupons or treasure box items. Students are given praise and encouragement throughout the school day, gentle reminders when needed, daily hugs or high fives at dismissal time, and opportunities to problem solve during grade level meetings and class discussions.

Teachers communicate weekly through their individual class websites. Websites contain a weekly blog, monthly curriculum highlights, and an updated class and school calendar.  Nightly ‘Go Home’ folders are used to send home notes and important information. Teachers also communicate through individual and group email messages and reminders.  Thursday folders come home every week and contain graded papers and other work from the week.

"There's no need to be nervous. Once you come here you'll already have friends, because there's people here that are already like you."

~ Oak Hill Student

  • Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School
  • 801 South Spoede Road
  • Saint Louis, MO 63131-2699
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