Every elementary school grade has a theme for literature. The theme for first grade is fairy tales. These stories are filled with rich language and strong archetypes, which nourish the child’s feeling life, and provide the images from which the letters and sounds of the alphabet are introduced. As the year progresses, the students become familiar with all of the consonants and vowel sounds. Then they move on to words and sentences, all of which come from a familiar context such as a story or poem the children already know. In this way, the children develop the decoding skills they will need when they begin to read. They practice copying words and sentences written by the teacher on the chalkboard, with the emphasis at this point in their development placed on translating what they see into motor activity and forming beautiful shapes rather than on reading comprehension.
Movement games and form drawing are integral parts of the 1st grade curriculum, especially during math blocks. First graders are introduced to all four processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) through stories and practice with manipulatives.
In many ways, first grade provides the foundation for all the later grades. Painting, music, form drawing, and all the elements of morning lesson book creation begin in first grade. The children, parents, and teacher begin their journey together and discover the joys of working and playing together as a class.
Waldorf schools place a great deal of attention on the importance of play in the child’s physical and social development. The children normally play outdoors for part of every day in all but the most severe weather. In addition to free time when they can play imaginatively, the class plays lots of games together.
Year by year the curriculum expands with the maturing child, matching themes that mirror the child’s inner development with skills, knowledge and modes of expression appropriate to his or her age.