First Grade - Arts


Golden Gate bridge and text: SFUSD Arts

First-grade students experience Arts instruction through the broad integration of arts throughout the school day, as well as through stand-alone visual and performing arts lessons that happen throughout the week. Stand-alone arts lessons are taught by you, the classroom teacher, and via instruction from itinerant visual and performing arts teachers. In first grade, students are focused on creating, performing, presenting, producing, responding, and connecting artistic ideas and work. They learn to work with others both in creating art, music, and performance, and also in sharing space and materials. Cooperation, communication, exploration, and imagination are being developed. The creative process, not the product, is still the focus for first grade.

Priority Standards

What students will know, what students will do, and what thinking skills students will develop to apply and transfer artistic understandings that endure within the discipline, leverage deeper understandings, and/or support readiness for success at the next grade level. 


In first grade focus on these critical areas:

Instruction: Signature Elements

Below are signature elements of SFUSD Arts instruction that students should experience regularly throughout first grade as they develop as artists (visual artists, dancers, actors, musicians, and creative thinkers).


Below are items you should have to support your students' Arts instruction (make a copy). If you are missing anything from the list, please first contact your site administrator or site Arts Coordinator. Every school has an Arts Coordinator who can guide you and support you in accessing lessons or purchasing your classroom materials for the arts. If they are unable to resolve the issue promptly, please contact Emily Aldama or Ronnie Machado from the SFUSD Arts Team. 


  • Projector with speakers or large screen with Apple TV
  • Materials for drawing in black and white: Pencils, Pens, Black felt-tip markers
  • Materials for drawing in color: Colored Pencils, Crayons, Markers
  • Paints: Watercolors, tempera paint, or paint crayons
  • White drawing paper - 9x12, 12x18, or 18x24
  • Color papers: Color copy paper, construction paper, and/or colored tissue paper
  • Scissors 
  • Tape
  • White glue, Glue Sticks
  • Any type of clay (Model Magic or Airdry clay) and plastic utensils, toothpicks, etc. for clay tools
  • String or thread
  • Cardboard
  • Brown paper bags
  • Objects to draw: shells, leaves, seed pods, rocks, blocks, toys, etc
  • Drying rack or area to store art

PERFORMING ARTS (Dance, Music, Theatre):

  • A space clear of furniture/obstacles where students can move freely and safely
  • Chiffon Scarves
  • Designated presentation space in the classroom and the school (display case, bulletin board, theater/stage, website, social media) to make learning visible
  • Speaker / CD player
  • Projector / Whiteboard / Smartboard
  • Classroom percussion/rhythm instruments (shaker, bell, hand drum, rhythm sticks) ) or found sound sources.
  • Instrumental music tracks for movement. Any song! (Melody, Lyrics)
  • Ribbon sticks
  • Chart paper/index cards
  • Markers, pencils
  • Painters’ tape (optional)
  • Classroom objects for hiding (e.g., ball, stuffed animal, etc.)
  • rubber bands.
  • Known poems, nursery rhymes, songs
  • Picture cards of instruments with the names of instruments written below the picture.
  • Big book stand, music stand, board-anything to arrange cards in sequence from left to right.
  • Rhythm cards, and manipulatives to represent note values (e.g., popsicle sticks, paper cutouts, etc.)

Planning Guide

There is no planning guide for first-grade Arts.

Reflection Questions

  1. How are students' developmental needs, communities, and experiences being reflected and honored, or how could they be?
  2. What opportunities do you see for developing equitable access & demand, inquiry, collaboration, and assessment for learning?
  3. What are the implications for your own practice? What strengths can you build upon? What will you do first?

This page was last updated on May 30, 2023