First Grade

The transition to first grade is an exciting one for students — a move to the elementary school campus, a full day from 8am – 3pm, the children's first ACDS musical theater production, and other first grade traditions.

Our first grade homeroom teachers provide instruction in Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies.



Language Arts

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Reading with fluency and comprehension
  • Spelling and writing skills
  • Proofreading, self-correction and collaborative revision
  • Listening skills, language extension, punctuation


  • Number system based on 10, place value of ones and 10
  • Read, write and compare numbers to 100
  • Addition and subtraction
  • Relationship signs
  • Intuitive multiplication and division
  • Applications, estimation and thinking skills
  • Geometric shapes
  • Units of measurement, time and money

Social Studies

  • Thematic units based on the environment
  • Study of community and cultural events
  • Sharing traditions and diversity



Students learn the fundamentals of performance during 4 weeks of rehearsing a full- length musical theater performance with a dedicated drama instructor. Each student gains self-confidence by actively performing on the stage. The students' efforts culminate in a final production with two live performances for students and parents.

  • Learn memorization, characterization
  • Develop acting and performance skills including music and singing, timing and choreography
  • Learn costuming, set design, stage balance and stage directions


Music at ACDS incorporates tonal instruments, dance, and voice in the Orff Program taught by a music specialist, once weekly.

  • Basic music theory as a foundation for reading music
  • Integrate movement and dance while developing their voices and discovering the joy of singing
  • Learn the songs of our country and other cultures
  • Experience the beauty of great works of music and learn about the composers who wrote them


Twice weekly with an art teacher, students explore their creative abilities while they develop artistic skills using a variety of media and subjects as well as learning about famous artists; student artwork is displayed throughout the year as well as in our annual year end exhibition.


Our elementary science teacher, who specializes in STEM education, creates engaging hands-on curriculum that also integrates technology such as video and iPads.

  • Tree homes
  • Garden cycles, honey bees, ants, frogs
  • Liquids and solids
  • Balance and motion*
  • Windmills*
  • All elementary science units contain STEM elements and activities; however, those with asterisks have a particularly strong STEM focus.

*Integrates STEM activities


First grade students visit the library once a week. Our full-time librarian reads stories to the class, and students are encouraged to check out books to bring home.


An interactive whiteboard, projector, laptops, and iPads are available in the classroom for small-group work and collaboration. Students develop logical thinking, problem-solving, and sequential-patterning skills which are the building blocks of programming through a comprehensive puzzle-building interface that prepares them to learn how to code.

Physical Education

Regular weekly P.E. instruction builds fitness, coordination and skill progression, while increasing students' readiness to learn in all subjects.

Field Trips

First grade students generally take at least one annual offsite field trip. In recent years, they have spent a day exploring the Technology Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose.

Big Buddy Program

Each first grade student is paired with a Big Buddy from the Upper Elementary and Middle School grades. Throughout the year, the Big Buddies meet to work, play and learn together in a variety of activities. The beloved Big Buddy Program is a highlight of the ACDS experience for younger and older children alike.