First Grade

Snow, Burns, and Griffin (1998, p. 81) list the following accomplishments in reading for first graders. This list includes a wide range of behaviors and underscores the fact that literacy acquisition exists along a continuum. All children may not have the same accomplishments at the same time.

Accomplishments in Reading

First-Grade Accomplishments

  • Makes a transition from emergent to "real" reading.
  • Reads aloud with accuracy and comprehension any text that is appropriately designed for the first half of grade 1.
  • Accurately decodes orthographically regular, one-syllable words and nonsense words (e.g., sit, zot), using print-sound mappings to sound out unknown words.
  • Uses letter-sound correspondence knowledge to sound out unknown words when reading text.
  • Recognizes common, irregularly spelled words by sight (have, said, where, two).
  • Has a reading vocabulary of 300 to 500 words, sight words, and easily sounded- out words.
  • Monitors own reading and self-corrects when an incorrectly identified word does not fit with cues provided by the letters in the word or the context surrounding the word.
  • Reads and comprehends both fiction and nonfiction that is appropriately designed for grade level.
  • Shows evidence of expanding language repertory, including increasing appropriate use of standard more-formal language registers.
  • Creates own written texts for others to read.
  • Notices when difficulties are encountered in understanding text.
  • Reads and understands simple written instructions.
  • Predicts and justifies what will happen next in stories.
  • Discusses prior knowledge of topics in expository texts.
  • Discusses how, why, and what-if questions in sharing nonfiction texts.
  • Describes new information gained from texts in own words.
  • Distinguishes whether simple sentences are incomplete or fail to make sense; notices when simple texts fail to make sense.
  • Can answer simple written comprehension questions based on material read.
  • Can count the number of syllables in a word.
  • Can blend or segment the phonemes of most one-syllable words.
  • Spells correctly three- and four-letter short vowel words.
  • Composes fairly readable first drafts using appropriate parts of the writing process (some attention to planning, drafting, rereading for meaning, and some self-correction).
  • Uses invented spelling/phonics-based knowledge to spell independently, when necessary.
  • Shows spelling consciousness or sensitivity to conventional spelling.
  • Uses basic punctuation and capitalization.
  • Produces a variety of types of compositions (e.g., stories, descriptions, journal entries), showing appropriate relationships between printed text, illustrations, and other graphics.
  • Engages in a variety of literary activities voluntarily (e.g., choosing books and stories to read, writing a note to a friend).


Note: From Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (p. 81), by C.E. Snow, M.S. Burns, and P. Griffin (Eds.), 1998, Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Copyright 1998 by National Academy of Sciences. Reprinted with permission.

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