THE FIRST GRADE year begins with the discovery that behind all forms lie two basic principles: the straight and the curved line. The children find these shapes in their own bodies, in the classroom, and in the world beyond. Straight and curved lines are then practiced through walking, drawing in the air and the sand, on the blackboard, and finally, on paper. These “form drawings” train motor skills, awaken the children’s powers of observation, and provide a foundation for the introduction of the alphabet.
Through fairy tales and stories the children are introduced to each letter of the alphabet. Instead of abstract symbols, the letters become actual characters with whom the children have a real relationship. “S” may be a fairy tale snake sinuously slithering through the grasses whispering a secret; the “W” may be hiding in the blackboard drawing of waves.
In a similar way, the children first experience the qualities of numbers before learning addition or subtraction, e.g. what is “oneness”? What is there only one of in the world? (“Me!”) The characteristics of one, two, three, etc., are explored in the children’s inner experience and in nature. Counting is introduced through clapping, rhythmic movement, and the use of stones, acorns, or other natural objects. Only after considerable practical experience in adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing are written symbols for these operations introduced.
Latin, knitting, eurythmy, and the pentatonic flute are also introduced in the first grade.