A Program of Schools for Children

Grades 1 and 2

First and second graders at Lesley Ellis School are energized with the process of becoming competent, engaged readers and writers. Growing plants for the school garden, singing in the lower elementary chorus, cooking empanadas in Spanish class, designing and testing a robotic vehicle, creating a map of Boston…our first and second grade classrooms become microcosms of the real world and make learning engaging, meaningful, and fun.

Learning Looks Like This

A unit on money is coming to a close and a group of math students visits the virtual restaurant that has set up shop in the classroom. The students are excited to place their orders, eat some treats, and pay their bills. Sitting in small groups at tables, each student has a menu, a one-dollar bill, one dollar in coins, and a receipt for recording purchases. As the students place their orders, the food server—who looks surprisingly like one of their teachers—reminds the customers to keep track of their total order. The virtual restaurant, like all restaurants, expects its customers to plan their purchases, not overspend, and have enough money to pay their bill! After enjoying some tasty items from the menu, each student is presented with a bill and must calculate the currency needed to pay for the food. The whole math group comes together at the end, and the students share their strategies for choosing which coins to use and how they made sure they had enough money when ordering. And one more thing—did they tip the server?

Grade Level Highlights


Provoking and Stretching Students

Through provocations, authentic problems, and open-ended solutions, first and second grade students are stretched to think through, visualize, and create answers to real-life questions. How can we create a small-scale bridge that will support the weight of cars? What kinds of materials strengthen bridges? Through experimentation, not-so-successful attempts, collaboration and refinement, students begin to understand the iterative process involved in engineering and design.

What's on Your Mind?

Each week there is dedicated time for students and teachers to come together to discuss and explore what they are feeling and experiencing. This meeting time is dedicated to social and emotional learning and gives students the space to bring up topics of interest, questions, and/or concerns. Teachers proactively introduce the challenging topics that confront these budding problem solvers. Was there a disagreement on the playground? A game that felt unfair? When is it OK to “tell” a teacher? What are ways I can be clear and still be kind? Teachers help students find creative and collaborative ways to understand and approach the concepts that are starting to make life a little more complicated.

Grades 1 and 2 Musical

Each year, the first and second graders stage a musical and develop the strong sense of the collaboration that is essential for putting on a great show. They work together in groups—preparing costumes, singing songs, practicing lines, and learning choreographed dance and movements. Production themes are inspired by topics near and dear to the students’ hearts (and their curriculum!)—including reimagined fairy tales complete with singing compost piles and antagonists who experience a change of heart.