1st Grade at Cambridge: Sojourners with Purpose

By: Paulette Begley, First Grade Unit Teacher

First grade is a year of momentous discovery! The journey of exploration and wonder now reveal instruments of expression. Tools to facilitate the life-long work of readers, writers, artists, mathematicians, scientists, and historians. The unfolding is upon us.

The year begins with a close look at how we fit with the Creator and His creation. We are image bearers! That’s us!


The beauty of God’s world and our place in it captures our imaginations and fuels us with purpose. Lake Roland expeditions provide the backdrop for our senses and give us language to write.

We celebrate harvest at the Farm and the changing of the seasons at the Arboretum. The Bible illuminates the way, and "the classics" fill our imaginations with living words and meaning.

We’ll read Charlotte’s Web, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Wind and the Willows, among many others.

We’ll explore the history of transportation from the beginning of time and examine the process of ideas and invention. The Wright Brothers and a visit to Martin State Airport are a highlight. It is a wildly popular unit that culminates with a project, creating a "Transportation of the Future." 

"To take a journey, we must “set out,” whether by foot or car or plane. But we must also “look out,” to discern God at work. A faithful journey asks what God may be accomplishing today and seeks signs of God already traveling the road. We journey not in despair, but in hope; not in drudgery, but in wonder."
-David I. Smith

As we move into fall we’ll take a look at the Native People of the Wampanoag who came before us and how they lived in early 17th Century Plymouth. We’ll learn the art of canoe building ("Mishoons") and how the Wampanoag made their long homes ("Nush wetu").

In early winter, Narnia takes center stage. We become like Narnians and learn the ways of Aslan. Who are the characters in the classics that symbolize our Creator and act out the arc of the redemptive story? Where do we find truth and beauty but among the shadowy places and danger zones? Christmas becomes recognizable to us in other cultures and throughout the year.

With each season we reflect, draw, and write. God inspires us in nature and with each other.

With the beginning of a new calendar year, we explore health and the details of our fascinating bodies. First Grade marks the entry of permanent teeth! We visit the Museum of Dentistry, create healthy food plans from our study of FOOD, and explore the functions of our internal organs. Our unit includes an annual visit from Dr. Elmer the Brain Scientist (a former Cambridge parent!) who leads us with a hands-on study of an actual human brain. Miraculous!

Students engage with a real human brain.

Students engage with a real human brain.

1st graders celebrate their 100th Day of School.

1st graders celebrate their 100th Day of School.

Whole – part – whole.

This is our rhythm in all things. As we examine what is already there, made and devised by God, we illuminate the parts, follow paths, but always return again to the whole of God.

Spring awakens us to the world around in our state and nation. We study the symbols of America’s birthplace and explore through project-based research. Where are we in this nation of "50 Nifty" United States? What are civil rights? What marks our spot? Who leads well, and how can we help?

We close out the year as bird experts. We travel to Lake Roland for a final visit to listen for the sounds and evidence of our birds. With nature study, we create unique bird dioramas depicting the learning gained from our observations and reading.

Suddenly, expectantly, and miraculously, we realize we’ve grown wings ourselves…

Lisa Bond