Early Childhood Grades K-1

Learning can be an exciting, wonderful, and fun-filled experience for the younger student.  The goal of the Early Childhood Department is to instill the joy of learning and provide the foundation for social, academic, emotional, moral and religious development.  Our curriculum focuses on the guidelines prescribed by the Office of Catholic Schools, the Diocese of Savannah.

The Early Childhood curriculum includes studies in religion, mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies.  Students also attend one or two "specials" classes each day. These include Spanish, computer, physical education, music, Good Shepherd, art, and library.


Kindergarten and first grade attend Mass and The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program weekly. Good Shepherd is a program that provides a hands-on, experiential environment where the children can explore their relationship with God.  It is rooted in the Bible and the liturgy of the Church.

Religion in kindergarten is taught throughout the day and intertwined into all subjects.  Our religion instruction comes from ‘Promise’ by Pflaum Publishing.   Every child receives a faith formation handbook called, ‘What the Church Believes and Teaches’ along with a weekly lesson based on the Sunday Gospel.  These texts are in conformity with the Catechism by the Subcommittee on the Catechism of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

First grade religion is taught daily.  Our religion instruction comes from We Believe by Sadlier-Oxford Publishing. We Believe with Project Disciple is a catechetical program for schools and parishes that focuses on students, catechists, families, and the Church community.  The outcome goals for first graders is to continue to develop their awareness of being unique and special individuals created by God, and to continue to realize, through everyday experiences that God is present in their lives.  We focus on the life of Jesus through New Testament stories, the Holy Trinity, the lives of the Saints and their feast days, the life of Mary, the Rosary, the Ten Commandments, parts of the Mass, and learning prayers with a special emphasis on The Our Father.


The Kindergarten and first grade mathematics curriculum is comprised of integrated strands as recommended by the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the Diocese of Savannah curriculum. 

Kindergarten uses McGraw-Hill’s My Math series along with hands-on activities and learning game.  The standards in kindergarten include: compare and contrast objects, sets and numbers, create and extend patterns, demonstrate numbers 0-20 to gain a foundation for place value, count in sequence by ones, fives and tens to 100, use appropriate tools for measurement, and demonstrate the process of addition and subtraction.  All these skills are integrated into all areas of the kindergarten day using daily calendar activities, writing opportunities, and the classroom Promethean ActivBoard.

The first grade math curriculum reflects influences from The National Council of Teaching Mathematics and the Georgia State Board of Education. These philosophies are two-fold in that students are to learn and be able to use different mathematical strategies.  The first grade textbook is McGraw-Hill My Math.

Math is taught daily in 50 minute blocks. Math is also covered during different parts of the day such as in calendar time and small group centers.  The standards in first grade include: apply number sense using counting and place value to hundreds, fluently solve single digit addition and subtraction problems, apply addition and subtraction properties, distinguish geometric shapes and their attributes, manipulate geometric shapes, organize data using tables and graphs, demonstrate knowledge of time and money concepts, and compare measurements using standard and nonstandard units.  


Both the kindergarten and first grade language arts programs use the Scott Foresman Reading Street series.  It is a comprehensive reading and language arts series that delivers classic and soon-to-be classic literature, research-based instruction, and a wealth of online experiences for high student engagement. The program has a strong core emphasis on ongoing progress monitoring and an explicit plan for managing small groups of students at all reading levels.

The specific language skills covered in kindergarten include letter recognition, phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. We also implement the 6+1 Creative Writing framework. *

The specific skills covered in the first grade curriculum are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Additional skills include grammar and usage (parts of speech), literary appreciation, test taking Skills, spelling and handwriting, and creative writing using the  “6+1 Traits of Writing.” *

*The “6+1 Traits” writing model provides a common language for teachers and students to communicate about the characteristics of writing and establishes a clear vision of what writing should look like through the use of rubrics.


St. Mary’s recognizes that kindergarten students learn best when actively engaged in hands-on activities.  These activities are student centered, inquiry based, and relate to the students’ personal lives and interests.  Learning activities are not confined to the classroom, because kindergarten students learn best when they are allowed to move about and use their five senses to explore the relationships and connections between what they are learning and the world around them.  Throughout the year, kindergarten students use math skills such as counting, sorting, estimating, and measurement while investigating the science concepts being learned.  They communicate their observations in many ways, including illustrations, descriptions, graphs, and charts.  As they master the science concepts, students learn and demonstrate appropriate safety procedures and care for the world around them.

First grade students raise questions about the world around them and seek answers by observing and investigating. They are eager to try new things and are excited about learning and working towards goals set by the teacher. They are able to recognize, record, and analyze scientific data. They can identify how forces work among objects through manipulation. First graders enjoy expressing themselves as they create illustrations that correctly depict something being described, observed or how things change sequentially. Students learn about safety rules and how to use scientific tools. First graders learn best from active hands-on, small group activities, movement, and experiments to understand God’s creation around them. They identify repeating patterns in shadows, weather, and daily needs of plants and animals.

Early Childhood students learn about how our world grows and interacts by using Scholastic News Magazine and thematic studies. A number of supplemental resources are also utilized such as field trips, online websites, videos, and books.  Some of the areas of study include life cycles, weather, light and sound, energy, and habitats. 


Kindergarten students learn about our world using the Harcourt Social Studies ‘Our Word, Now and Long Ago’ series, ‘Scholastic News’ magazine ,and thematic study.  The standards of study include: illustrate steps of everyday activities in chronological order using pictures, identify key American symbols, holidays, and prominent historical figures, recognize key features of maps and the globe, describe family celebrations and customs, define the role of community helpers, describe how to be a good citizen, and explain how money is used.

First grade students use Harcourt Social Studies: A Child’s View as our text.  In first grade, the students are expected to learn about the world around them with an emphasis on exemplifying good citizenship and positive character traits in our school community.  The standards of study include: identify symbols, historical figures and culture that played a role in American history, Georgia history and the history of the Church, construct a map with a legend, construct a timeline by placing events in chronological order, identify similarities and differences within cultures and geographic systems, explain the role of citizens within communities, describe how governing bodies of society function, describe the role of producer and consumer in an economic system, and identify primary and secondary sources.  Some of the topics covered in the first grade social studies curriculum are maps and globe skills, rules and laws of a community, American symbols, holidays and American heroes, people long ago and today, the first Americans, families around the world, goods and services, and producers and consumers.