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The Sundance School - established 1977

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The Earth Room

First Grade

A Note From The Primary Coordinator, Ms. Emmy

Teaching children reminds me of a quote from the movie, Forrest Gump "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get" But I do know that it's going to be sweet!

The youthful exuberance of the Primary students makes everyday a new adventure! It motivates my passion to inspire children to believe in themselves, ignite their imaginations, encourage risk taking, cultivate creative thinking, and instill a love of learning that they will carry with them throughout their lives.

There is nothing more exciting then providing students with opportunities that facilitate moments of self-discovery; and nothing more rewarding then to be a witness to those "ah-ha" moments when suddenly something all makes sense! Now that's sweet!!!... and much better than any piece chocolate could ever be!

Language Arts

Our program embraces a balanced approach to Language Arts education. This approach incorporates phonics, guided reading, both reader’s and writer’s workshops, and author studies. This curriculum enables us to target each child’s unique ability and help him/her reach their goals. Many of the Language Arts lessons encompass the Sundance School theme(s) for the year and include studies in the areas of Science and Social Studies


  • Decoding:
    • Short vowel sounds (A,I,O,U,E)
    • Long vowels
    • Blends and (sh, th, ch, gl, sn, fr, st, nt, ft, nd, sp, tr, dr)
    • Silent “e”
    • Suffixes (-ing, -ed, -able, -tion)
    • Prefixes (re-, un-)
    • Rhyming and syllable guidance

Guided Reading

  • Decoding Strategies
    • Using picture cues
    • Stretching words
    • Looking for familiar letter or smaller word chunks in the larger word
    • Checking to see if the word looks/sounds like another known word
    • Does the sentence make sense the way it is read?
    • Reading on for context clues
  • Sight word practice
  • Comprehension:
    • Making predictions
    • Relating text to personal experiences
    • Identifying main ideas & details
    • Understanding character, setting, problem & solution
    • Making connections with the text
    • Predicting and working to confirm or disprove ideas
    • Oral reading to increase fluency, stamina, and expression

Reader's Workshop

  • Learning to talk about books read with a partner
  • Partner reading
  • Silent reading
  • Re-telling the beginning, middle, and end of a story

Writer's Workshop

  • Using charts and mini-lessons to introduce & reinforce concepts
  • Writing stories through thinking, drawing, drafting, and revising
  • Sharing our stories
  • Using personal experiences to inspire stories
  • Inventive Spelling and decipherable phonetic spelling (beginning, middle, and end sounds)
  • Using high frequency words correctly when writing
  • Journal entries
  • Poetry formulation
  • Friendly letter writing
  • Factual writing


  • Sentence structure
  • Appropriate use of capital and lower case letters
  • Punctuation – period, question mark, exclamation mark, comma, quotation marks, ellipses.
  • Nouns – proper use of plural and irregular nouns
  • Verbs – proper use of regular and irregular past tense verbs
  • Adjectives
  • Compound words
  • Contractions
  • Pronouns
  • Conjunctions


  • Proper writing position and posture for both body and pencil
  • Formation of both upper and lower case letters
  • Using proper spacing

Annual Primary Game Night


It is our philosophy in the Primary that learning should be fun, relevant to the children, and individualized to meet each child's needs. To this end, our math program is an eclectic blend of traditional programs and customized, teacher-created materials. Our units of study are presented in a logical sequence that fosters a natural progression of concept development as well as the scaffolding of students' knowledge.

All concept presentations begin on a concrete level with manipulative based lessons which progress to the pictorial and abstract levels as dictated by the students' level of understanding.

Our low teacher to student ration coupled with teaching methods that provide tactile, visual and kinetic learning experiences ensure that the individual needs of all our students are met.

A myriad of classroom characters like Fredricka the Frog, Pattern Pete, Al and Ali; our hungry alligator friends, and Alien Frog greet the students every day and enhance our lessons with their crazy antics. Our Primary math program is highlighted by our 100th Day of School celebration and Game Night where the students create math games and enjoy an evening spent playing them with their classmates.


Patterns & Algebraic Thinking

  • Classify attributes of a pattern such as size, shape, direction, and color
  • Transfer a pattern to an “A, B” symbolic pattern
  • Understand the concept of “What’s the Rule? in an abstract number pattern and “Function Machine”.
  • Predict what comes next in an abstract number pattern.
  • Problem solving using abstract number patterns


  • Count to 120 starting at any number less than 120
  • Read and write numbers to 120
  • Read and write number words to ten
  • Recognize numbers 1 to 100 (at random)
  • Sequence numbers 1 to 100 (fill in a blank 100 board)
  • Order random numbers from least to greatest (1 through 100)
  • Comparison of numbers (<, =, >) to 100
  • **Ordinal numbers to 20
  • Odd and even numbers to 100
  • Place Value/tens and ones to 100
  • Introduction of the term “digit” in a multiple digit number.
  • Identify on an abstract level which digit holds the tens place, and which digit holds the ones place in a two-digit number.
  • Estimation up to 100
  • Problem solving using numbers 1 to 100
  • **Introduction to probability
  • Count by two’s, five’s and tens to 120 and relate to adding and subtracting
  • Exposure of place value – hundreds to 999
  • Expanded / Standard Notations
  • Estimating on ‘number line’ to nearest decade number
  • Identify one more, one less / ten more, ten less mentally, given a 2 digit number
  • Problem solving using an organized list

** children are exposed experientially to these concepts e.g. ordinal numbers while lining up - first, second.........


  • Mastery of addition facts to sums of 10 (memorization)
  • Addition facts to 20
  • Recognize the function of the ‘=‘ sign
  • Use the “commutative property of addition” by starting with the larger addend and “counting on” using fingers as manipulatives to solve addition facts to sums from 11 to 20.
  • Add using the number line to sums of 20.
  • Write horizontal and vertical number sentences to sums up to 20.
  • Solve multiple addend addition problems to sums of 20.
  • Add two-digit numbers without regrouping.
  • Add three addends of two-digit numbers without regrouping.
  • Regrouping using two-digit numbers.
  • Problem solving involving two digit addition.
  • Determine if equations (involving addition & subtraction) are true or false
  • Mental math strategies: doubles, making 10, using ten frames to add counting on etc.
  • Word problems: addition of 2 or 3 whole numbers equal to or less than 20


  • Mastery of subtraction facts to 10 (memorization)
  • Subtraction facts to 20
  • Understand that to solve a subtraction fact starting with a number beyond 10, one can use the skill of “counting on” rather than counting backwards, and use fingers as manipulatives
  • Solve and understand “missing addend” number sentences by “counting on”.
  • Write number sentences to facts of 20 both horizontally and vertically.
  • Fact Families to sums of 20 (Understanding of the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction) Be able to write four number sentences (two addition, and two subtraction) when given two numbers in a fact family.
  • Subtract two digit numbers without regrouping.
  • Two-digit subtraction using regrouping.
  • Exposure to subtraction-hundreds
  • Problem solving: choose the operation (decide whether to add or subtract when given a variety of word problems.
  • Decompose a number to make a 10 e.g. 13 - 4 = 13 - 3 - 1 = 10 - 1 = 9


  • Identify coins at random (penny, nickel, dime, quarter)
  • Understand the value of all coins
  • Count all combinations of coins upto 99 cents
  • Create multiple equivalent coin combinations to 99 cents


  • Understand concept of am and pm
  • Understand that there are 24 hours in a day
  • Identify all parts of the clock
  • Tell and write time to the hour
  • Tell and write time to the half hour

Linear Measurement

  • Understand basic customary and metric linear benchmarks such as an inch and a foot; a centimeter and a meter. Understand the relative relationship between an inch and a foot; a centimeter and a meter.
  • Practice using a ruler, yardstick, and meter stick to measure.
  • Introduction to the concept of perimeter

Weight Measurement

  • Become familiar with both customary and metric basic units of measure such as ounce/pound and gram/kilogram

Volume Measurement

  • Become familiar with both customary and metric basic units of measure such as cup/gallon and centiliter/liter.

Temperature Measurement

  • Understand that there are two ways of measuring temperature in the world; Fahrenheit and Celsius.
  • Be able to read a thermometer.

Data Analysis & Probability

  • Data collection via tally marks
  • Represent, read and understand pictographs
  • Represent, read and understand bar graphs
  • Represent, read and understand circle graphs
  • Applied problem solving gleaned from graph data


The Primary Science Curriculum is designed to build upon the curiosity of children. The children gather knowledge and skills through hands-on activities that are designed to engage them on many levels. The children are encouraged to explore their indoor and outdoor environments, interpret their findings and communicate their ideas. The curriculum is divided into four Core Competencies: Life Science, Physical Science, Earth Science, and Human Biology. All the children in the Primary have a weekly science class. Special visitors to the school and events such as the annual 'Happenings' add interest and reinforce the lesson plans.

Life Science

  • The Children will develop a healthy respect and appreciation for the diversity of life and the world around them. They will gain awareness of the diversity of life by observing and recording information on a variety of animals and plants. They will also develop sensitivity to the needs of living things through observation and maintenance of living things.
    • Learn to distinguish between living and non-living things
    • Understand the diversity of living things and classify them
    • Identify the basic needs of living things
    • Identify the characteristics of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, and insects
    • Explore the different parts of animals and plants and understand their basic functions
    • Develop an awareness of diversity and similarities of plants and animals

Physical Science

  • While working on this unit, the students will gain a deeper understanding of the physical and chemical world of science. The children will experience shape, color, size, weight, and temperature as it pertains to science and the natural world. They will also explore the differences between solids, liquids, and gasses.
    • Explore and understand the various states of matter
    • Understand the meaning of matter, mass, property, temperature
    • Investigate measurement and its importance to science
    • Predict and explore the effects of force and energy on matter
    • Understand a physical and a chemical change
    • Investigate the properties of light and color

Earth Science

  • This unit introduces children to the earth as a planet. They will gain a deeper understanding of the solar system and the sun. The students will also be introduced to the base sequences and cycles that occur here on earth. They will explore the seasons, the water cycle, night and day, the cycles of the moon, and weather. They will also explore the earth's composition. What are rocks and minerals? What are fossils and why are they important? They will be introduced to the forces that shape the land and develop an understanding of how to preserve our earth.
    • Identify and describe the daily changes in the sky
    • Develop an understanding of the earth as a planet and its place in the universe
    • Explore the diversity of the earth's surface
    • Explore the properties of the moon's surface
    • Understand the characteristics of various materials on Earth
    • Understand the concept of weather and its effect on the environment
    • Investigate the water cycle
    • Develop an understanding of how pollution and conservation of resources relate to the quality of life

Human Biology

  • The children will be introduced to the human body using examples, pictures, models, and art projects. They will also be introduced to the skeletal, cardio vascular, and digestive system as well the brain and skin.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the five senses
    • Identify the major organs of the human body
    • Explore the various systems in the human body
    • Understand how proper nutrition and good hygiene are important for personal growth and development
Creative activity, beyond its value to the individual plays a role in human affairs. Society owes its progress to the contributions of those who have dared to think and to act differently READ 1966


The primary goal of the workshop is to foster a love of art and encourage creative self expression. Many studies have shown that art can and should play a role in the education of young children. Art projects are usually related to the theme at Sundance, seasons, show time or can be tined into that activities that are occurring in the Language Arts and Math departments. The workshop tries to expose children to many mediums from painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture. "Free Art" is always encouraged and many different materials are readily available. The children are also introduced to the world of fine art with our 'Artist of the Month' projects. These projects expose children to fine art and art history while encouraging them to explore their own creativity!

The children are exposed to a more 'formal' drawing class where the basic elements of shape are introduced. The children are encouraged to draw using various mediums; including pencil, crayon, charcoal, and pastel. They are introduced to line, texture, composition, rhythm, and color. Gentle guidance and encouragement result in drawings that express confidence!

Dramatics & Dance

Every child at Sundance participates once a week in a dance and dramatics class. Children's natural love of movement, music and dramatic play in a group setting is celebrated and extended under the direction of a trained professional teacher. A sense of community is strengthened, individual self image and self esteem grows and positive, physical, emotional and social skills are enhanced.


  • Acting out stories with or without props.
  • Moving to music with or without props.
  • Performing plays and dances in a "show".

Skills Developed

  • Sequential memory
  • Spatial awareness
  • Rhythm
  • Coordination
  • Cooperation and teamwork
  • Body image
  • Self esteem
  • Creative expression & imagination
  • Language and public speaking skills
  • Listening skills

Children are gradually introduced to the stage in group experiences in a way that is appropriate with their developmental and chronological age. Shyer children are encouraged to work with a more outgoing partner. No child is judged; rather each child is encouraged to work at his or her level of comfort and strength. Small challenges are continually presented in a non-threatening format. Each effort is applauded. Children are encouraged to participate but are never coerced. Children take turns being “performers” and “audience”.

Physical Education

The Physical Education program is designed for the purpose of enhancing psychomotor, cognitive, and physical development through physical body movement. Physical Education offers opportunities to develop independence, goal- setting, leadership, teamwork and sportsmanship. We hope to help children choose a lifelong commitment to their own physical fitness.

Curriculum: Activities that have been incorporated into the current program are flag football, floor hockey, basketball, soccer, calisthenics, gymnastics and cooperative games. First, Second and Third Grade students participate in the President’s Fitness Challenge during the fall semester.

Approach: Children are encouraged to do their “personal best,” recording their first efforts and focusing on steady improvement. All activities are presented in a fun and organized but active way. Teamwork and good sportsmanship is stressed.



  • To continue developing enthusiasm and eagerness to communicate in another language
  • To be actively involved and willing to participate in class
  • To speak, interact and sing only in Spanish
  • To enlarge vocabulary and improve writing and reading skills
  • To share and learn more about other cultures and traditions

Topics Covered

  • Greetings and social interactions

  • Reinforcement of basic topics with every theme (colors, numbers)

  • Use of short commands in Spanish to follow directions

  • My school – building – people who work here – study rooms

  • A Visit to the pet store– description of each animals

  • My body - Visit to the Doctor

  • The clowns and use of new descriptive adjectives

  • Let’s go to the Circus

  • Let’s sing the Spanish Alphabet

  • Let’s go to the market and buy delicious fresh food!     (Likes/dislikes)

  • A World of Science (school theme of the year)

  • Let’s learn about Mexico and Celebrate International Holidays


  • Complete Resource Program including Flashcards, Puppets, real or simulated objects, images, Books, posters and CD Conversations
  • Dialogues, skits and constant role-playing         
  • Simple and repetitive dramatization with new phrases
  • Songs related to every topic using its rhythms to emphasize the correct pronunciation using full sentences
  • Stories read to the class, poems to recite
  • Games with fun and interactive use of new topics
  • Worksheets and simple quizzes
  • Individual Projects to begin reading and writing in Spanish
  • Manual activities   - Touching and naming objects
  • Group and partner work   - Cooperative learning
  • Constant repetition of previously covered materials 
  • Use of Spanish language through Math, Art, Music and Sciences
  • Classes conducted almost exclusively in Spanish
  • Focus on all the children