Instruction in Virginia’s public schools is guided by the Standards of Learning (SOL). The standards describe the commonwealth’s expectations for student learning and achievement in grades K-12
Instructional Curriculum Overviews are organized by grade level and subject matter.
Kindergarten is a fantastic year of both social and academic growth. They will learn to be scientists and explore the world around them in new ways using 21st century skills. They will be map makers and historians with knowledge of what it means to be a good citizen and learn about many of the people who have contributed to America’s history. Students will complete Kindergarten with well-developed number sense and will have explored the concepts of money, time, patterns, and geometry. The kindergarten year lays the foundation for future success in all aspects of life. We work hard to develop our student’s sense of wonder and excitement about the world.
Students in kindergarten are immersed in a text-rich environment to develop phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension, and an appreciation for reading. Students will learn to comprehend and think creatively as they relate stories through drama, retelling, drawing, and their own writing. Teachers will encourage the development of reading skills that are foundational to effective comprehension and critical thinking.
Students will begin to build a connection between oral and written language. Awareness that spoken language can be written and written language can be read is a fundamental concept in communicating ideas. Teachers will encourage the development of writing skills that are foundational to effective written communication and critical thinking.
Kindergarten mathematics places emphasis on developing the concept of number by counting, combining, sorting, and comparing sets of objects. Students will recognize, describe, and create patterns and recognize shapes and sizes of figures and objects. Students will investigate measurement through direct comparisons, collect data, and create graphs.
The kindergarten standards emphasize the theme of “Using My Senses to Understand My World.” Students use their senses to make observations of the characteristics and interactions of objects in their world. Topics include: the study the characteristics of water, the basic needs of living things, relationships between the sun and Earth through shadows and weather, changes in motion, scientific method and the design process.
The kindergarten social studies curriculum includes an introduction to interesting Americans in history whose lives demonstrated the virtues of patriotism, courage, and kindness. Students should learn basic concepts related to history, patriotism, national symbols, good citizenship, geographic location, economics, and the importance of following rules and respecting the rights and property of other people.
Students in first grade are immersed in a text-rich environment to develop phonological awareness, phonetic skills, vocabulary, comprehension, and to use reading materials as sources of information and enjoyment while increasing vocabulary and comprehension strategies through cross-content reading. Teachers will encourage the development of reading skills that are foundational to effective comprehension and critical thinking.
Students will be given daily opportunities to write in a variety of forms to communicate ideas. With teacher guidance and support, they will also begin to revise and edit selected pieces of their writing for a specific audience. Teachers will encourage the development of writing skills that are foundational to effective written communication and critical thinking.
First-grade mathematics places emphasis on counting, comparing, and ordering sets of up to 110 objects; recognizing and describing simple repeating and growing patterns; and tracing, describing, and sorting plane figures. Students’ understanding of number is expanded through recognizing and describing part-whole relationships for numbers up to 10, solving story and picture problems using addition and subtraction within 20; using nonstandard units to measure; and organizing and interpreting data.
The first-grade standards emphasize the theme of “How I Interact with My World.” Students continue to learn about the basic needs of all living things and that living things respond to factors in their environment, including weather and the change of seasons. They continue the examination of matter by observing physical properties and how materials interact with light. Students also are introduced to scientific process skills and the design process.
The first-grade social studies curriculum includes an introduction to the lives of leaders in the history of Virginia and their contributions to the Commonwealth. Students should develop basic map skills and study the economic concepts of goods and services, consumers and producers, and making economic choices. Students should learn to apply the traits of a good citizen and recognize that communities in Virginia have local governments.
First grade is a magical year! The academic and social growth we see in our first graders each year is amazing. First grade is a time for children to learn more about themselves as learners and as citizens of their school and community. As our world has changed, so have our classrooms. Our first grade program now uses digital tools in many different ways, but we still focus on building relationships and developing a love of learning through hands-on exploration. We celebrate every student and we know each child learns differently, so we incorporate varied learning styles and activities into our day. We’re always turning obstacles into opportunities!
Although every child is unique and has his or her own developmental timetable, second graders share many characteristics. Making friends begins to be very important for this age group, even though they may change “best” friends often. Their sense of humor develops and they like to hear and tell jokes. Second graders’ vocabularies are growing and they love to talk!
By second grade, most students have settled in and have begun to use the skills they learned in kindergarten and in first grade. They become more analytical in their thinking as they take on more complicated assignments. Second grade marks a year of transition as children learn to become self-directed, independent learners.
Students in second grade will be immersed in an environment filled with fiction and nonfiction texts, which relate to all content areas and personal interests. Students will expand vocabulary, use a combination of strategies when reading, and read familiar selections with fluency, accuracy, and expression. Teachers will encourage the development of reading skills that are foundational to effective comprehension and critical thinking.
Students will be given daily opportunities to write and will be expected to revise selected pieces and share them with others. Students will understand writing as a process and will write in a variety of forms applying written communication skills across all content areas. Teachers will encourage the development of writing skills that are foundational to effective written communication and critical thinking.
Second-grade mathematics extends the study of number and spatial sense to include three-digit whole numbers and solid geometric figures. Students will continue to learn, use, and gain proficiency in addition and subtraction within 20. Students will begin to use U.S. Customary units to measure length and weight; predict and use simple probability; create and interpret pictographs and bar graphs; and work with a variety of patterns.
The second-grade standards continue to focus on scientific process skills and the engineering design process. Living systems are introduced through habitats and the interdependence of living and nonliving things. Concept of change is explored in phases of matter, life cycles, weather patterns, and seasonal effects on plants and animals.
The second-grade social studies curriculum includes an introduction to the lives of Americans and their contributions to the United States as well as the heritage of the American Indians, past and present. Students should continue developing map skills and demonstrate an understanding of basic economic concepts. The students will identify selected American individuals who have worked to improve the lives of American citizens.
Students in third grade will read a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts, which relate to all content areas and personal interests while developing strategic reading skills, such as word analysis and construction of meaning from text. Students will continue to use comprehension strategies to compare and contrast story elements and differentiate between fiction and nonfiction. Teachers will encourage the development of reading skills that are foundational to effective comprehension and critical thinking.
Students will use the writing process to plan, draft, revise, and edit writing in a variety of forms. Student writing will become more complex, and students will learn to select details to elaborate on the main idea of a paragraph. Teachers will encourage the development of writing skills that are foundational to effective written communication and critical thinking.
Third-grade mathematics places emphasis on exploring multiplication and division concepts as well as the basic addition facts and subtraction facts. Concrete materials and two-dimensional representations will be used to introduce addition and subtraction with fractions and the concept of probability as chance. Students will investigate polygons and identify relevant properties of points, line segments, rays, angles, vertices, and lines.
The third-grade standards place increasing emphasis on conducting scientific investigations. Students will focus on: simple and compound machines, energy, matter, food chains, ecosystems, and behavioral and physical adaptations of animals. Also, patterns in the natural world are explored and geological concepts are introduced through the investigation of the components of soil.
The third-grade social studies curriculum includes an introduction to the heritage and contributions of the peoples of ancient China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the West African empire of Mali. Students will examine the social, cultural, and political characteristics of major ancient world cultures. Students will recognize that many aspects of ancient cultures served as the foundation for modern governments, customs, traditions, and perspectives.
In third grade, children start putting the learning pieces together to take on more complicated assignments. This is the first year they begin to do some work independently rather than with the explicit directions given in earlier grade levels.
The third-grade curriculum focuses on learning about the past, present, and future. Literature, social studies and even science follow events over time, such as observing the phases of the moon or how rocks erode into sand. Third grade students use and build simple machines and become informed citizens through learning about our nation’s government. They use math in relevant ways, and are introduced to multiplication and division. Third grade is an exciting year because before third-grade, students learn to read – but beginning in third-grade, students read to learn!
Fourth grade is a wonderful year full of transition and implementation. You will be amazed at how they grow, learn, and mature over the year. Fourth graders learn the importance of responsibility and integrity in their actions, words, and deeds. Students will work a great deal in collaborative groups, and learn to work with others well to enhance their learning and engagement in class. They will continue to develop work habits and study skills that will make them more eager to seek answers, ask more questions, organize self and become more independent on work at home and at school.
In fourth grade, there is an increased emphasis on reading comprehension by comparing fiction and nonfiction texts, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, and differentiating between fact and opinion. Students will expand vocabulary using knowledge of roots, affixes, synonyms, antonyms, and homophones. Teachers will encourage the development of reading skills that are foundational to effective comprehension and critical thinking.
Students will use the writing process to plan, draft, revise, and edit writing in a variety of forms to include narrative, descriptive, opinion, and expository. They will select and narrow a topic, develop a plan for writing, and organize information into several paragraphs with a central idea and supporting details. Teachers will encourage the development of writing skills that are foundational to effective written communication and critical thinking.
Fourth-grade mathematics places emphasis on multiplication and division with whole numbers and solving problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions and decimals. Students will be fluent in the basic multiplication facts through the twelves table and the corresponding division facts as they become proficient in multiplying larger numbers. Students also will refine their estimation skills for computations and measurements.
Fourth-grade accelerated mathematics places emphasis on multiplication and division with whole numbers and solving problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions and decimals. Students will be fluent in the basic multiplication facts through the twelves table and the corresponding division facts as they become proficient in multiplying larger numbers. Students will identify and describe representations of points, lines, line segments, rays, and angles, including endpoints and vertices.
In fourth-grade science, students learn where we fit in this solar system. Starting with the solar system, and then moving to the planet Earth, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and finally their specific ecosystems, students examine how features of plants and animals support life.
The Virginia Studies curriculum allows students to develop a greater understanding of Virginia’s rich history. Geographic, economic, and civic concepts are presented within this historical context. Students will use geographic tools to examine the influence of physical and cultural geography on Virginia history. Ideas that form the foundation for political institutions in Virginia and the United States also will be included as part of the story of Virginia.
In fifth grade, there is an emphasis on reading comprehension by comparing fiction and nonfiction texts. Fifth grade instruction emphasizes nonfiction reading; students will identify authors’ organizational patterns and use texts to support opinions and conclusions and continue to expand vocabulary using knowledge of roots, affixes, synonyms, antonyms, and homophones. Teachers will encourage the development of reading skills that are foundational to effective comprehension and critical thinking.
Students will continue to develop as readers and writers as they write in a variety of forms including narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive while writing multi paragraph compositions including evidence to inform or persuade an audience. Precise and descriptive vocabulary and varied sentence structure will become important tools for creating tone and voice within a text. Teachers will encourage the development of writing skills that are foundational to effective written communication and critical thinking.
Fifth-grade mathematics places emphasis on number sense with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. This focus includes concepts of prime and composite numbers, identifying even and odd numbers, and solving problems using order of operations for positive whole numbers. Students will develop proficiency in the use of fractions and decimals to solve problems. Students will collect, display, and analyze data in a variety of ways and solve probability problems, using a sample space or tree diagram.
Fifth-grade accelerated mathematics emphasizes rational numbers and algebraic concepts. Students will use ratios to compare data sets; recognize decimals, fractions, and percents as ratios; solve single-step and multistep problems, using rational numbers; and gain a foundation in the understanding of integers. Students will solve linear equations and use algebraic terminology and work with π (pi), focus on applications of statistics, explore the coordinate plane and apply proportions to solve practical problems.
The fifth-grade standards focus on student growth in understanding the nature of science. Science skills from preceding grades, including questioning, using and validating evidence, and systematic experimentation, are reinforced at this level. Students are introduced to more detailed concepts of sound and light, matter, cellular makeup of organisms, and characteristics of the oceans and Earth’s changing surface.
The World Studies curriculum is county created and serves as a bridge between the study of the ancients in third grade and the world history courses in high school. Students will study Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The content is international in scope, with an emphasis on geography and history along with economic development, political systems, and current world issues from selected countries.
This is such an exciting year for students as they are enjoying their last year in elementary school and preparing for that journey into middle school.
Students will have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of activities this year: Field Day, Safety Patrol, K-Kids, Battle of the Books, Family Life, Fire Safety, 5th grade party/dance, and of course, the 5th grade Promotion Ceremony.
In fifth grade, teachers challenge students with long-term projects that require planning and organization. Parents, guardians and teachers can play a critical role in listening, reassuring and supporting the new individuals that are starting to emerge.
Visual Arts enable students to use their knowledge and skills to synthesize information, thus allowing them to produce and respond to works of art. Emphasis is on communication of personal values and beliefs in art appreciation and production. Students gain fluency in using and understanding the elements of art (color, form, line, shape, space, texture, value) and the principles of design (balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, proportion, rhythm, unity, variety) as they relate to artistic expression and communication.
Students develop proficiency in games, dances, and educational gymnastics while demonstrating specialized skills alone, with a partner, or in a small group. They access and use resources to improve personal fitness and continue to develop responsible personal and social behaviors as they work with others in safe and respectful ways.
During weekly library visits, students will experience lessons that focus on multiple literacies integrated into grade level core content. Literacies such as reading, digital, information, and multimodal are immersed with the National School Library Standards defined by the American Association of School Librarians. Students will also have the opportunity to check out books from the school library each week.
The standards for General Music enable students to use their music knowledge and skills to synthesize information and create music. Students continue to read, write, and compose music, using increasingly complex rhythms and meters and they begin to develop choral skills, including singing in two-and three-part harmony. Students explore and perform a variety of music styles and develop personal criteria to be used for describing and analyzing musical performances.
Students will master integrating science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) content, practices, and processes to investigate and solve real world problems while engaging in meaningful, purposeful, and relevant hands-on inquiry-based, problem-based and/or project-based learning experiences. Also offered in a few schools is a version of STEAM where the program is taught in both English and Spanish.
Listening and speaking are practiced through four themes throughout the year. Students communicate in French at the survival level in basic language functions such as talking about school, ways of moving, self, family, holidays and leisure activities. Math, science and social studies integrations are included when appropriate. At the end of the year, students can ask and answer questions, initiate and respond to simple statements, and maintain a brief conversation in a very restricted manner. Insofar as possible, the class is conducted in the target language.
*Not all resource classes are offered at every elementary school.