Typical First Grade Language Arts Curriculum

Goals for Reading and Writing

First grade language arts instruction builds on the skills children are expected to learn by the end of kindergarten. Children continue to learn about sounds and move from reading readiness skills to reading skills. They also move from writing words and possibly sentences to writing stories and short informative pieces. The specific goals for a first grade class can vary a bit from state to state and school to school, but there are some general expectations.

In general, your child will be expected to be able to do what is on this list by the end of first grade.

Phonics and Phonemic Awareness

  • Recognize digraphs (sh, ph, th, ch, ea)
  • Recognize sound blends (fl, tr, sl, sm, sn, bl, gr and str)
  • Recognize diphthongs (oi, oy, ou and ow)
  • Pronounce word endings correctly (-ed, -es, -s, -ing)
  • Create group of rhyming words cat, sat, hat, mat)
  • Count syllables in words

Spelling and Grammar

  • Identify and create contractions (isn't, wasn't, etc.)
  • Spell words with specific patterns such as those with a silent e (late, bite)
  • Spell common words correctly ( where, every, there, this)
  • Recognize compound words
  • Identify parts of speech (noun, verb, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns)
  • Understand basic sentence structure (Subject-Verb)
  • Recognize types of sentences (statements, questions, commands)


  • Read from left to right and top to bottom
  • Sound out unfamiliar words
  • Use various strategies to figure out meanings of unknown words (word parts or morphemes, and context)
  • Recognize a variety of narrative genres (fiction, fantasy, folktales)
  • Recognize the beginning, middle, and end of a story
  • Know the characters and settings of a story
  • Predict events in a story
  • Infer meaning from text and pictures
  • Be able to retell a story after reading it
  • Ask questions about a text
  • Make connection between the self and the text
  • Recognize and understands non-fiction texts
  • Read a level 16 book


  • Form letters correctly
  • Spell words correctly
  • Use correct grammar
  • Use complete sentences
  • Begin sentences with capital letters
  • End sentences with appropriate punctuation (period, question mark)
  • Capitalize pronoun I, place names, people's names, months, days of the week, and holidays
  • Write stories with a beginning, middle, and an end
  • Use transitional words properly to show sequence of events(after, next, now, finally)
  • Respond in writing to texts
  • Write informative reports (i.e. book reports)
  • Stay on topic and provides supporting detail
  • Generate ideas with help
  • Attempt to correct errors

Some gifted children are able to do much of what is on this list, except perhaps in the area of writing, long before he end of first grade. It is not unusual for verbally gifted children to be able to do much of these activities even before they enter kindergarten. The only reason they might not be able to do everything in the writing category is that their fine motor skills may not be developed sufficiently for them to write legibly fast enough to get their ideas written down. They can get frustrated because they can't write down all the ideas that come to mind.

But that doesn't mean that they don't understand proper grammar and punctuation or that they can't tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end.  It also doesn't mean that they can't use transitional words properly and it certainly doesn't mean that they can't generate ideas, even without help!

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