First Grade - Science

Priority Standards

What students will know, what students will do, and what thinking skills students will develop to apply and transfer scientific understandings that endure within the discipline, leverage deeper understandings, and/or support readiness for success at the next grade level. These are the standards that should anchor and drive instruction.

In first grade, focus on these critical areas:

Instruction: Signature Elements

Below are signature elements of SFUSD Science instruction that students should experience regularly throughout first grade as they develop as scientists.


The First-Grade Science Core Curriculum consists of 3 resources

  1. The SFUSD K-5 Science Portal

The Science Portal is a great first stop to get oriented before beginning any science unit. It contains: 

  • All SFUSD created resources to support the implementation of each unit.
  • A quick link to the Amplify Science digital platform for each unit 
  • Up-to-date professional learning opportunities
  1. Three Amplify Science Kits


Each of the 3 first-grade Amplify kits includes:

  • Hands-on materials
  • 5-6 different texts, including 1 big book and 18 student copies of each title
  • Classroom wall and other print materials
  • 1 Student Investigation Notebook (for making copies)
  • Printed Teacher’s Guide
  • Spanish versions of all student-facing print materials for all Spanish bilingual classrooms


**materials lists for each kit are linked below in the table below.

  1. The Amplify Science Digital Platform

The Amplify digital platform includes instructional resources for each Amplify unit in English and Spanish:

  • the digital version of the teacher's guide
  • lesson slide decks
  • a digital student library of all student books
  • MANY additional instructional supports

** the Amplify digital platform can be accessed from the SFUSD Science Portal

Every kindergarten classroom has a set of 3 science kits that are SFUSD curricular materials to teach science. Each kit has:

**Materials List for Each Amplify Kit

Life Science: 

Animal and Plant Defenses

 1 large bin

Materials List

Physical Science: 

Light and Sound

2 bins: 1 large & 1 small bin

Materials List

Earth Science: 

Spinning Earth

1 large bin

Materials List

Budget permitting, the Science Department will replace consumable materials annually for each kit.

If you are missing materials, please refer to the Science Materials FAQ for guidance


The opening science unit, Launch Unit 0, is five short lessons that support students to begin to build science identities and to use a science notebook. The three subsequent science units are intended to engage first graders in 45 minutes of science instruction four times a week. Each unit has 22 lessons. (Sometimes a lesson may take place over a few days.) Students build on their science identities and expand content knowledge in the life science, physical science, and earth & space science units. Click on the videos below for a six-minute unit overview for each unit, or access the unit resources and documents in the unit links column.

Additional science unit material and resources are available on the SFUSD Science Portal:

Unit Description Video

Unit 0:

We Are All Scientists

The opening science unit, Launch Unit 0, is five short lessons that support students to begin to build science identities and a science community,  and to use a science notebook.  

Unit 1:

Animal and Plant Defenses

Students advise an aquarium director by helping answer young visitors’ questions about Spruce the Sea Turtle, who will soon be released back into the ocean. As advisors, they develop understanding of how plants and animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs as well as how behaviors of parents and offspring help the offspring survive. The understanding is developed that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly the same as, their parents.

Unit 2:

Light and Sound

A puppet theater company would like to use light and shadows to create scenery so they can easily transport their backgrounds to different performances. Students develop understanding of the relationship between sound and vibrating materials as well as between the availability of light and the ability to see objects. 

Unit 3:

Spinning Earth

Students help a young boy, who lives nearby, understand why the sky looks different to him than it does to his grandma when they talk on the phone. Students observe, describe, and predict some patterns of the movement of objects in the sky.


Planning Guide

The Science Team suggests trying to stay as close to this schedule and teaching science 4 days a week for 45 minutes. Alternate every 5.5 to 6 weeks with social studies units for that 45-minute block. You’ll see that the schedule below allows a little room to adjust at the start of the school to classroom routines.

1st Trimester 2nd Trimester 3rd Trimester

We are All Scientists

Life Science (LS):

Animal and Plant Defenses

Physical Science (PS): 

Light and Sound

Earth Science (ES):

Spinning Earth

(4 lessons)

(21 lessons)

(20 lessons)

(20 lessons)

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?

Want More?


More Resources

Contact the Science Team

This page was last updated on May 17, 2023