First Grade Language Arts

from The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

First Grade Language Arts includes several areas … Parents, what your first grader needs to know in Language Arts are the essential skills listed here.

The essential skills needed in the development of Language Arts are many. These skills - also called benchmarks - are divided into different groups.

Here is one example of the division …

Reading, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency, Comprehension, Spelling, Listening, Speaking, Penmanship, Writing, and Grammar.

First Grade Curriculum in Language Arts

Your child passed the Kindergarten-level skills. So, it is generally understood that he or she is now ready to learn the first-grade-level skills. So, don’t worry ...

In first grade Language Arts, the teacher will layer and build upon each and every concept at just the right time. That’s why some people say teaching is an art.

The teacher knows exactly WHEN to do WHAT! And HOW MUCH and HOW OFTEN!

While different states may have slightly different benchmarks, the following list is a generic, short list that covers the essential skills required in first grade Language Arts.

You should be aware that within every benchmark stated below there are MANY other concepts that must be taught before the student fully masters the essential skill.

But if you want a glimpse of what your child needs to know in first grade Language Arts, here it is …


Your first grader needs to know we read for many reasons.

We read …

... To learn about ourselves.

... To learn information about people.

... To gain information about places in our world.

... To discover ideas and other new things.

... To be entertained.

Your first grader must understand print.

The student …

… Will use word recognition and vocabulary to communicate.

… Will point to and match words when reading aloud.

...Will distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters.

...Will identify book terms: title, title page, author, illustrator, etc.

… Will identify dialogue in stories.

Your first grader must learn new vocabulary.

The student …

… Will begin to identify/use synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms.

… Will use context to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words.

...Will use context to determine meanings of multiple meaning words.

… Will use reference materials to find, to determine the meaning of, to pronounce, or to spell unknown words (e.g., picture dictionary, elementary dictionary, teacher and/or a peer as a resource).

Reading Comprehension

Reading in NOT calling out words ... Reading IS comprehending!

The student …

… Will apply strategies and skills to comprehend, respond to, interpret, or evaluate a variety of texts of increasing length, difficulty, and complexity.

… Will use text features, parts of a book, text structures, and genres to analyze text.

… Will understand, infer, and make simple predictions.

… Will recognize or generate an appropriate summary or paraphrase of the events or ideas in text, citing text-based evidence.

… Will analyze, interpret, compare, or respond to increasingly complex literary and informational text, citing text-based evidence.

Reading Fluency

The definition of fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression, in context.

A first grader should read APPROXIMATELY 40 to 60 words correctly per minute by the end of first grade.

Although I've included 300 high frequency words, you can see the 100 to 200 high frequency and/or irregularly spelled words a first grader needs to know, by visiting my Web page - Fry's Word List at First Grade Vocabulary.

1st Grade Phonics

While some school districts make Phonics a part of their first grade Language Arts Program, others may not.

All letters have sounds and ...

… All letter patterns have sounds. These include consonant blends, consonant digraphs, short vowel patterns, and long vowel patterns.

… The student will blend sounds into recognizable words.

Later, in first grade Language Arts, the student will begin to use vowel digraphs, diphthongs, and r-controlled letter-sound correspondences to decode unknown words.

Here's how ...

The student …

… Will read words derived from common word families (e.g., -it, -at, -ite, -ate).

… Will begin to use common spelling patterns to make new words (e.g., make, take, lake, cake, etc.).

… Will learn to use inflectional endings (e.g., -s, -es, -ed, or -ing) to produce new words.

… Will identify simple compound words (e.g., dog + house = doghouse).

… Will identify simple contractions correctly (e.g., can + not = can't, has + not = hasn’t, did + not = didn’t).

Writing in First Grade Language Arts

The student will express, communicate, or evaluate ideas effectively.

The student …

… Will use an appropriate composing process (e.g., planning, drafting, revising, editing, publishing/sharing) to compose or edit.

… Will compose a description of a person, place, or thing.

… Will compose a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end.

Grammar in First Grade Language Arts

The student will apply Standard English to communicate.

The student will use Standard English grammar. How?

The student will begin to use nouns (e.g., singular, plural), verbs, articles, and coordinating conjunctions, adjectives, and pronouns.

The student will use Standard English mechanics.

And here’s how …

The student will begin to use appropriate end punctuation (e.g., period, question mark, exclamation mark), periods in common abbreviations (e.g., Mr., Mrs., Dr., days of the week, months of the year), commas (e.g., dates), apostrophes (e.g., contractions), colon in notation of time, capitalization (e.g., first word in a sentence, proper nouns, days of the week, months of the year, the pronoun “I”).

… Will use varied sentence structures. Again, here's how ...

The student …

… Will analyze sentences to determine purpose (e.g., declarative/telling, interrogative/question, exclamatory/strong feeling).

… Will compose sentences with a variety of purposes (e.g., declarative/telling, interrogative/asking a question, exclamatory/showing strong feeling).

… Will compose simple sentences.

Spelling in First Grade Language Arts

The student will spell words commonly found in first-grade-level text.

Penmanship in First Grade Language Arts

The student will develop handwriting skills. How?

The student …

… Will position paper in order to write in a left-to-right progression, moving from top to bottom on the page.

… Will write first and last name legibly.

… Will write lowercase and uppercase letters legibly.

… Will write words and sentences legibly using proper spacing.

And, finally, there is plenty more your child needs to learn in first grade. But, for now, stop. Breathe!

If you have a question, please feel free to ask me. See my Contact page.

Remember, your child’s teacher is busy ... busy helping your child and every one of his or her students. Yes, feel free to make an appointment with the teacher ...

But if it’s about something you’ve read that I’ve mentioned, just ask me. I'll be glad to answer. And I hope this info helps!


Return from First Grade Language Arts to First Grade Skills.

Return from First Grade Language to Funny-First-Grade-People Home.

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