In the first and second grades, students encounter mathematical ideas and problems in the weave of everyday life in the classroom, whether as part of daily work with the calendar or schedule, or integrated with various science or Central Study activities. Formal instruction is scheduled for forty-five minutes to an hour each day, Monday through Thursday, and focuses on developing students’ understanding of key concepts while nurturing problem-solving skills in the context of real-life applications. Topics covered include basic counting, identifying two- to four-digit numbers, recognizing number patterns, understanding place value, sorting and classification, measurement, graphing, money, time, the calendar, estimation, addition, subtraction, and basic geometry.
Mathematics instruction is differentiated. Teachers not only deliver whole-group instruction on basic concepts and skills, but also draw from many resources to provide students with open-ended assignments that provide challenge at many levels simultaneously. The Bridges in Mathematics program, a nationally-used curriculum funded by the National Science Foundation, involves the regular use of manipulative materials – popsicle sticks representing the days in school bundled in groups of ten, unifix cubes, base ten blocks, pattern blocks, and more – visual models of numbers and operations, games, and lively interactive activities. As the children develop more abstract conceptual abilities, they begin to translate their work with hands-on materials into numbers and other mathematical symbols and expressions. A highlight of each year is the 100th day of the school year, when students spend the day playing games and participating in activities that celebrate and reinforce the concept of one hundred.