What Language Arts Are Taught In First Grade?

Written by Dan

As a parent, you may have many questions about what your first grader will learn in the upcoming school year. Language Arts is an essential part of any elementary-level curriculum, and understanding what skills your child will be mastering during their first grade language arts course can help ensure they get a comprehensive education that prepares them for further success.

In this blog post, we’ll cover all the basics of what language arts are taught in first grade so you can rest assured that your child has a strong foundation!

Table of Contents

Introducing the Basics of Reading and Writing

The first grade is a crucial period in a child’s educational journey, laying the foundation for their reading and writing skills. At this stage, children are introduced to the basics of literacy, enabling them to develop essential communication abilities they will use throughout their lives.

The following sections outline key concepts and strategies for introducing the basics of reading and writing in first grade.

Building a Strong Foundation

Before diving into reading and writing, it is essential first to establish a strong foundation in phonemic awareness. This involves helping students recognize and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. Activities like rhyming games, sound blending, and segmenting words can help children become more aware of the sounds that make up language.

Introducing the Alphabet

The next step is teaching children the alphabet, both uppercase and lowercase letters. This includes learning the names of the letters, as well as their corresponding sounds. Using visual aids such as alphabet charts, flashcards, and letter magnets can make this process more engaging and enjoyable for young learners.

Learning Sight Words

Sight words, or high-frequency words, appear frequently in texts and are essential for fluent reading. First graders should be introduced to sight words that they can easily recognize and read without having to decode them. This helps build their confidence and fluency in reading.

Phonics Instruction

Phonics teaches children to decode words by correlating sounds with letters or groups of letters. First grade phonics instruction should focus on teaching students to:

  1. Identify short and long vowel sounds
  2. Blend sounds to form words
  3. Segment words into individual sounds
  4. Recognize common consonant blends and digraphs

Phonics instruction can be delivered through various methods, including explicit instruction, guided practice, and independent activities such as word sorts and games.

Developing Reading Comprehension

As first graders become more confident in their decoding skills, it’s essential to help them develop reading comprehension. This can be achieved by asking questions before, during, and after reading a text, encouraging students to connect the story with their own lives, and discussing new vocabulary words in context.

Encouraging Writing Skills

Writing is an integral part of developing literacy skills. In first grade, students should be encouraged to express their thoughts and ideas through writing. Teachers can provide various opportunities for students to practice writing, such as:

  1. Journaling
  2. Writing stories
  3. Creating lists
  4. Writing letters and thank-you notes

Providing feedback on their writing and celebrating their progress will help build confidence and motivate students to continue refining their writing skills.

The Role of Parents and Guardians

Parents and guardians play a vital role in supporting their child’s reading and writing development. This can be done by reading together daily, discussing stories, providing a print-rich environment at home, and encouraging children to write for fun.

Educators and parents can set the stage for a lifetime of effective communication and learning by introducing the basics of reading and writing in first grade. With consistent practice, support, and encouragement, young learners will be well on their way to becoming skilled readers and writers.

Phonemic Awareness – Learning the Sounds of Letters and Words 

Phonemic awareness is a crucial skill for first graders, as it plays a significant role in their ability to read and write. It refers to the understanding that words comprise individual sounds or phonemes, which can be manipulated to create new words.

Developing phonemic awareness, children learn to recognize, identify, and manipulate these sounds, laying the foundation for successful reading and writing.

Importance of Phonemic Awareness in First Grade

In first grade, students begin to transition from learning the alphabet to reading and writing simple words. Phonemic awareness is essential during this stage because it helps children:

  1. Decode words: As children become aware of the individual sounds in words, they can use this knowledge to sound out and read new words.
  2. Spell words: Understanding the phonemes that make up words allows children to spell words correctly by breaking them down into their constituent sounds.
  3. Develop reading fluency: With a strong foundation in phonemic awareness, children can read more smoothly and quickly, improving their overall reading comprehension.
  4. Improve writing skills: When children can easily break words into phonemes and recognize the sounds associated with each letter, they can express themselves more effectively through writing.
first grade

Strategies for Teaching Phonemic Awareness in First Grade

There are several engaging and effective strategies teachers and parents can use to help first graders develop phonemic awareness:

  1. Rhyming games: Encourage children to identify and create rhyming words. This can be done through songs, poems, or simple games like matching or sorting rhyming words.
  2. Segmenting and blending activities: Teach children to break words into individual sounds (segmenting) and then blend those sounds to form the word. For example, have them sound out the word “cat” as /c/ /a/ /t/ and then blend the sounds.
  3. Phoneme manipulation: Help children practice changing individual sounds within words to create new words. For example, ask them to change the first sound in “cat” to make a new word (e.g., “bat”).
  4. Elkonin boxes: Use a set of boxes with one box for each sound in a word. Have children place a small object or token in each box as they say the corresponding sound. This helps them visualize the phonemes in a word and understand their position.
  5. Sound-matching games: Play games that require children to match a sound to its corresponding letter or find objects that begin with the same sound.

Supporting Phonemic Awareness at Home

Parents can support their child’s phonemic awareness development by incorporating fun and engaging activities into daily routines:

  1. Read aloud to your child regularly, emphasizing the sounds in words and encouraging them to join in when they can.
  2. Play games that involve identifying and manipulating sounds, such as I Spy or 20 Questions, focusing on the initial sounds of words.
  3. Sing songs and recite nursery rhymes that involve rhyming and alliteration to help your child become familiar with different phonemes.
  4. Please encourage your child to write and draw, allowing them to practice connecting sounds to written letters.

Phonemic awareness is vital for first graders as it lays the groundwork for successful reading and writing. By using engaging and interactive activities, teachers and parents can help children develop this crucial skill and set them on the path to academic success.

Developing Comprehension Skills – Understanding What You Read

Developing strong comprehension skills becomes crucial as children transition from learning to reading to reading to learn. In first grade, students are exposed to more complex texts and are expected to understand what they read.

Importance of Comprehension Skills in First Grade

Comprehension is the ability to understand and interpret the meaning of written text. In first grade, students encounter various texts, including stories, informational articles, and instructions.

Strong comprehension skills enable students to:

  1. Retain information and recall it later
  2. Develop critical thinking skills
  3. Make connections between different texts and ideas
  4. Enhance their vocabulary and language skills
  5. Build a solid foundation for academic success in later grades

Tips for Developing Comprehension Skills in First Graders

Here are some strategies that parents and teachers can use to help first graders develop strong comprehension skills:

1. Encourage Active Reading

Active reading involves engaging with the text by asking questions, making predictions, and connecting the content to personal experiences. Encourage your child to think about what they read and share their thoughts with you. This process helps them develop a deeper understanding of the material.

2. Focus on Vocabulary

Expanding a child’s vocabulary is vital for improving their comprehension skills. Introduce new words and their meanings while reading together. Encourage your child to use context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words. Playing word games and using flashcards can also help reinforce new vocabulary.

3. Teach Reading Strategies

Several reading strategies can help improve comprehension, such as:

  • Previewing the text by looking at headings, illustrations, and captions
  • Making predictions about the content based on the title or pictures
  • Rereading confusing sections or reading them out loud
  • Summarizing the main ideas after finishing a passage

Teach your child these strategies and encourage them to use them independently.

4. Ask Open-Ended Questions

After reading a story or passage, ask your child open-ended questions that require them to think critically and provide detailed answers. For example, instead of asking, “What happened in the story?” try asking, “Why do you think the character made that choice?” or “How would you feel if you were in that situation?”

5. Create a Reading-Rich Environment

Give your child access to various reading materials, such as books, magazines, and newspapers. Encourage them to read for pleasure and set aside dedicated time for reading each day. This will help them develop a love for reading and improve their comprehension skills.

Increasing Vocabulary Knowledge – Expanding Your Word Bank

As children enter first grade, they are eager to learn and explore the world around them. One of the most aspects of their educational journey is building a strong vocabulary, which lays the foundation for effective communication, reading comprehension, and critical thinking. By expanding their word bank, first graders can improve their ability to express themselves and understand the information presented.

Here are some strategies for increasing vocabulary knowledge and expanding your word bank in first grade:

1. Read, Read, Read

Reading is one of the most effective ways to expose children to new words and phrases. Provide a variety of age-appropriate books, magazines, and other reading materials that cater to your child’s interests. As you read together, take the time to discuss unfamiliar words, their meanings, and how they fit into the story’s context.

2. Engage in Conversations

Encourage your child to converse with family members, friends, and teachers. This provides an opportunity for them to practice using new words they have learned and to ask questions about unfamiliar terms they come across. Make sure to use rich vocabulary during these discussions and model proper usage of words.

3. Play Word Games

Incorporate fun word games into your child’s daily activities. These can include crossword puzzles, word searches, and board games like Scrabble Junior. These games help expand their vocabulary and improve their spelling and problem-solving skills.

4. Create a Word Wall

Designate a space in your home or classroom to display new vocabulary words. As your child learns new words, add them to the wall and encourage your child to use them in sentences. This visual reminder will help reinforce their learning and make it easier for them to recall new words.

5. Use Flashcards

Create flashcards with new vocabulary words and their definitions. Review these cards with your child regularly, incorporating games and activities to make learning more engaging. You can also encourage your child to illustrate the words on the flashcards to create a visual association.

6. Teach Word Families and Roots

Introduce your child to common word families (groups of words that have a similar pattern or structure) and word roots (the base part of a word from which other words are formed). This will help them recognize and understand new words by identifying familiar patterns and connections.

7. Encourage Writing

Encourage your child to write stories, journal entries, or letters to friends and family members. Writing provides an opportunity for them to practice using new vocabulary words and to explore different ways of expressing their thoughts and ideas.

8. Praise and Reinforce

Acknowledge and praise your child’s efforts to learn and use new vocabulary words. Positive reinforcement will motivate them to continue building their word bank and take pride in their growing language skills.

Exploring Word Patterns – Unlocking the Power of Morphology

Morphology, the study of word structure and formation, is a powerful tool for language learning, especially for first graders. By exploring word patterns and understanding how words are built, young learners can unlock the power of morphology to improve their reading, writing, and vocabulary skills.

The Importance of Morphology in First Grade

First grade is a critical time for language development as children transition from learning to read to reading to learn. At this stage, students begin to encounter more complex words and sentences. By introducing them to morphology, we equip them with essential tools to decipher unfamiliar words, understand their meanings, and use them effectively in their own writing.

Building Blocks of Words: Morphemes

Morphemes are the smallest units of meaning in a word and play a crucial role in understanding word patterns. There are two primary types of morphemes:

  1. Base words (or root words): These are words that can stand alone and have a complete meaning, such as “cat” or “jump.”
  2. Affixes: These are added to base words to change their meaning or function. Affixes include prefixes (added at the beginning of a word, e.g., “unhappy”) and suffixes (added at the end of a word, e.g., “happiness”).

Teaching first graders to identify and manipulate morphemes helps them understand how words are built and how their meanings can change with adding or removing affixes.

Activities to Explore Word Patterns in First Grade

Here are a few engaging activities to help first graders explore word patterns and develop their morphological awareness:

1. Word Sorts

Create a set of word cards containing base words and their derived forms (e.g., “happy,” “unhappy,” “happiness”). Ask students to sort the words into groups based on their shared morphemes. This activity helps them recognize word families and understand how affixes modify base words.

2. Morpheme Match

Prepare two sets of cards: one with base words and the other with affixes. Students can work in pairs to match the base words with appropriate affixes, creating new words. This activity encourages students to experiment with word formation and enhances their vocabulary.

3. Build-a-Word

Provide a list of base words and affixes for students to combine and create new words. Please encourage them to write sentences using their newly formed words. This activity promotes creativity and strengthens their understanding of how words are constructed.

4. Word Detective

Select a text appropriate for first graders and have them circle or highlight words containing prefixes or suffixes. Discuss the meanings of these words and how the affixes contribute to their meanings. This activity allows students to apply their morphological knowledge to real-world reading situations.

The Lasting Impact of Morphology

By exploring word patterns and unlocking the power of morphology in first grade, we lay a strong foundation for students’ language development. As they grow and encounter more complex texts, their morphological awareness will continue to support their reading comprehension, writing skills, and overall linguistic abilities.

Applying Grammar Rules – Making Sense of Sentence Structure

Teaching grammar to first graders can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. At this age, students are just beginning to develop their language skills and understand the basic structure of sentences. To help them make sense of sentence structure, it’s essential to introduce grammar rules in a fun and engaging way.

Here are some strategies for teaching the fundamentals of grammar to first graders.

Start with the Basics

Before diving into complex grammar rules, start by teaching the core components of a sentence: the subject and the predicate. Explain that the subject is the person, place, or thing the sentence is about, while the predicate tells what the subject is doing or being.

Use simple examples to illustrate these concepts, such as:

  • The dog (subject) barks (predicate).
  • Sara (subject) eats (predicate) an apple.

Please encourage students to create simple sentences using a subject and predicate.

Introduce Nouns and Verbs

Once students grasp the concept of subjects and predicates, introduce them to nouns and verbs. Explain that nouns represent a person, place, thing, or idea, while verbs describe an action or state of being.

Please provide examples of nouns and verbs, and have students practice identifying them in sentences. For instance, you could use the following examples:

  • Nouns: cat, ball, school, love
  • Verbs: jump, play, think, is

Teach Sentence Types

Introduce first graders to different types of sentences, such as declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences. Use simple examples to demonstrate each type and explain their purpose:

  • Declarative: “I like ice cream.” (makes a statement)
  • Interrogative: “Do you want to play?” (asks a question)
  • Imperative: “Close the door.” (gives a command)
  • Exclamatory: “Wow, that’s amazing!” (expresses strong emotion)

Have students practice creating each type of sentence to reinforce their understanding.

Use Visual Aids

Visual aids like charts and posters can help first graders remember grammar rules more effectively. Create colorful and engaging visuals that display sentence structure, noun and verb examples, and the different types of sentences. Place these visual aids around the classroom as constant reminders for your students.

Play Grammar Games

Incorporate games into your grammar lessons to make learning fun and interactive. For example, play “Noun or Verb” by having students stand in a circle and take turns saying a word. The rest of the class must decide whether it’s a noun or a verb. Another game idea is “Sentence Scramble,” where students are given a set of word cards and must arrange them to form a complete sentence.

First grade language arts are full of meaningful content that helps to set the stage for future language learning. Through these activities, students develop a broad base of literacy skills to help them in all their academic endeavors. Not only do they learn reading and writing, but they also learn to think critically using different texts and materials.

As teachers, we must ensure that our young learners get plenty of practice with these varied language arts skills to foster their learning and growth. We hope you have gained valuable insights into the language arts taught in first grade through this article. Read our other articles for more information about primary school English!


1. What math topics are covered in first grade?

In first grade, students typically learn basic addition and subtraction, place value, counting, measurement, shapes, and patterns. They also develop problem-solving skills and number sense.

2. How can I help my child succeed in first grade math?

To support your child’s success in first grade math, encourage them to practice math skills at home through games, puzzles, or workbooks. You can also use everyday activities like grocery shopping or cooking to reinforce math concepts.

3. What is the Common Core State Standards for first grade math?

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for first grade math outline the skills and knowledge that students should gain by the end of the year. The main domains in first grade math CCSS are: Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Number and Operations in Base Ten, Measurement and Data, and Geometry.

4. Are there any specific methods used for teaching first grade math?

Different schools and teachers may use different methods for teaching first grade math. Some popular methods include hands-on activities, manipulatives, visual representations, and collaborative learning. It’s important to find a method that works best for your child’s learning style.

5. How do I know if my child is struggling with first grade math?

If your child consistently struggles with homework, shows frustration during math lessons, or scores poorly on tests and quizzes, they may struggle with first grade math. Reach out to their teacher for additional support and resources.

6. Are there any online resources available for first grade math?

Yes, there are many online resources available for first grade math. Websites like Khan Academy, IXL, and Prodigy offer interactive lessons, activities, and practice tests that can help your child master first grade math. You can also find printable worksheets for additional practice.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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