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Tips for Teaching First Grade Language Arts

written by: gnufie • edited by: Jonathan Wylie • updated: 8/2/2012

What should a child learn in the first grade? What curriculum for first grade language learning works best? Get some solid pointers in this educational article.

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    Curriculum for First Grade Language Studies

    The early school years are a very important time for children. There are many skills they need to learn, and these foundation skills set the stage for later learning. When choosing a curriculum for first grade language, you need to make sure that it covers all of the essentials. It is also important that the curriculum be interesting and incorporate different types of activities to involve and reach children with a variety of learning styles.

    The curriculum should teach children about consonants and vowels, incorporating the name of each letter and the sound it makes into the lesson. Phonics is also an important part of the curriculum for first grade language. Interesting but simple books will help them to learn and to retain interest in phonics. Kids at this age should be able to follow along with the story, read at least some of it, and give a summary of simple stories which have pictures. At this stage students should also be beginning to get some idea of the composition of stories as well.

    A language curriculum needs to be balanced, providing what the child needs at the time he needs it. It also needs to be comprehensive. The program should ensure that first grade students get exposed to literature appropriate for the age. A good curriculum also needs to use reading to develop a foundation for other language skills, such as learning, communicating, and thinking abilities.

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    Recommended Books

    There are a number of books which have been recommended by experts to be used as a part of a curriculum for first grade language programs. Some of the more highly rated books are “Attaboy, Sam,” by Lois Lowry. This book is part of a small series of books about the character Sam, and is fun and engaging. Kids who read this one can’t wait to read more in the series, to see what happens to Sam next. It’s excellent for encouraging kids to read and to help them build a love for books. Another good choice is “The Great Kapok Tree,” by Lynne Cherry. This book is wonderfully illustrated and is not only valuable as a language arts tool, it also has a great deal of information about the rainforests of the world. Short and not-too-subtle, this book is engaging for children who like lots of pictures with their text.

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    Suggested Activities

    You can tie language curriculum activities in with the books you choose to use in the classroom. With the book “Attaboy, Sam,” there are several activities you can use in the classroom to help the children think below the surface. Have your students make a list of all the words they can think of that describes Sam. This can be done individually or as a group activity for the whole class. Then have them go back to the book and find places in the book that support these things. Another fun activity is to find evidence throughout the book that Sam, a preschooler, can read and write. Make a list of all the ways the author shows us what Sam can do.

    Making learning fun for first grade kids is vital. If they discover now that learning is fun, they will enjoy it the rest of their lives. Using books to draw students in and teach them without them even being aware that they are being taught is a technique which works well to foster a lifelong interest in books and a love of learning.