First Grade

First graders step into our classrooms ready to learn, grow, and reach new heights.

Students improve on the strong foundation laid in Kindergarten as they build new skills and discover the subjects that interest them and bring them joy. They participate in animated class discussions, small group learning, and independent exploration fueled by curiosity.

In Judaic Studies lessons seamlessly integrate into every aspect of the curriculum and first graders grow their connection to their Jewish identity, the Torah and its teachings, and the land of Israel. Their Hebrew language skills blossom in classes taught by fluent Hebrew speakers and supplemented by the latest in teaching technology.

General Studies


Providing a strong foundation for literacy is a critical piece of our first grade curriculum. Students develop their reading skills through guided reading instruction in small groups, teacher-facilitated read-alouds, and independent reading. A diverse library of books in each classroom empowers students to choose books that interest and excite them, and read independently in school and at home. As they read a variety of engaging fiction and nonfiction, students learn to decode, comprehend, and analyze unfamiliar text. Our first graders benefit from NSHA’s exemplary learning lab and reading specialists as well.

Students engage in systematic phonics instruction through Fundations, a multisensory phonics, spelling, and handwriting program. To measure each student’s progress and guide our instruction, we administer the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment several times a year. The Assessment helps us carefully monitor student growth and make changes to instruction and groupings as needed.


The first grade math curriculum builds foundational math skills that jump off the page, out of the classroom, and into our real lives.

With a focus on conceptual understanding, skill development, and problem-solving strategies, our first graders learn to compare and order numbers 1-100, select the best strategies for adding and subtracting one and two-digit numbers, evaluate word problems for appropriate operation and strategy, and problem-solve using mental math strategies. Measuring, data collection and analysis, and geometry are also topics our first graders explore in depth.


First graders immerse themselves in all the types of writing they see in the real world, with helpful guidance from attentive teachers along the way.

Students begin the year by writing personal narratives or small moment stories about their own lives. Next, they pivot to informational writing, writing how-to instructional pieces. Following this unit, students write opinion pieces, first about personal collections and then about places in their communities, such as playgrounds and restaurants. Students finish the year by returning to narrative writing – this time in the form of realistic fiction. Students write their own collection of series books, modeling the kinds of books they’re reading independently.

The first grade writing curriculum uses the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Writing Curriculum.

Judaic Studies


As they explore the joy and beauty of being Jewish and embrace their place in our community, first graders improve their Hebrew reading skills and gain confidence in speaking and writing.

Guided by teachers who are fluent in Hebrew and teach “Ivrit b’Ivrit” – Hebrew in Hebrew – students learn both letter and whole-word recognition as they master the alphabet in print and cursive. They learn interactively using the iTalam Ariot curriculum, which engages them in a variety of modalities and provides instant feedback to their teacher through the iTalam dashboard. The Ariot library allows students to take home books and learn with their families.

Teachers from our Hebrew Learning Lab work in small groups with students who want and need extra support.

Parashat HaShavua

As they familiarize themselves with the weekly rhythm of Torah study, first graders gain an appreciation for and a competence in our Torah and its messages. Students review the weekly parasha using materials from iTalam, as well as other sources, and grow eager to share their knowledge of the parasha with their families each Shabbat.

Shabbat & Chagim

Our students utilize materials from iTalam to learn the various customs and laws associated with Shabbat and Jewish holidays. The books that our students read as a class and independently cover topics like preparing for Shabbat, Erev Shabbat, the day of Shabbat, and Havdalah. Students learn about each chag in advance of the holiday through hands-on activities, books, and songs. Our students share their own diverse minhagim with their classmates, learning about and contributing to the unique blend of Jewish cultures at our school.


First graders grow their love for and relationship to Israel, its people, and its customs through iTalam’s virtual tours. Our Bnei Akiva Shlichot add to the students’ experience and appreciation of Medinat Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael through a variety of informal activities throughout the year.  Our love for Israel culminates each year with a full day celebration of Yom Ha’Atzmaut typically led by our Shlichot and has included events such as visits to different cities in Israel, a NSHA shuk, IDF bootcamp relay races, chagigot, daglanut, special performances, BBQ and more.

First Grade Celebrations

Chagigat HaSiddur

One of the highlights of the year is our Siddur Celebration, when each student receives a personalized siddur for their use in school and home, inscribed with a message from their parents. Joyous songs and celebration echo throughout the school building for weeks prior and following this event as students prepare to celebrate this seminal milestone with their families.