CA Science Framework Description (Grade 1)

Highlighted Phenomena from Grade One

  • Some plants in the school garden climb like beans, others grow underground like radishes, and others are low on the ground like lettuce.
  • When two pieces of sandpaper rub together, they make a sound.
  • During a game of shadow tag, everyone’s shadow points the same direction.
  • The Moon is sometimes visible during the day.


Introduction to Grade 1

The grade one section in the framework builds on what students learned in kindergarten about how plants and animals meet their needs. The CCC of patterns is a major theme throughout the year.

The anchoring phenomena in IS1 (Plant Shapes) come from a schoolyard nature hunt. Students ask a variety of questions about objects they collect: Why is some bark smooth and other bark rough? Why do plants have leaves with different shapes? What’s inside an acorn? Neither the students nor the teachers will answer these questions in grade one, but the framework shows teachers how they can help students refine their questions to focus on how specific plant structures serve functions that help the plant meet its needs. In an engineering connection, students design a structure inspired by structures in nature that will solve a problem their school faces. For example, after deciding that they need a better place to put their jackets, they design a coat rack that has enough hooks for all their jackets. Their design mimics the shape of a tree with branches and roots.

In IS2 (Animal Sounds), students learn about behaviors that animals use to meet their needs. They focus first on how animals form families. In a snapshot, students use picture cards to match animal offspring to their parents, developing their language skills as they use sentence frames and graphic organizers to describe how the parent and the children are similar and how they are different. In an engineering challenge that helps students understand social interactions in animals and the physical nature of sound, they create a musical device that mimics the communication of a baby animal and its parent.

Students notice consistent patterns in their shadow’s shape and size by beginning IS3 (Shadows and Light) with a game of shadow tag in which their shadow always points the same direction on the schoolyard. Students then investigate how light interacts with different materials. Why does light pass through a glass window but cast a shadow when a person blocks it? 

By returning to the schoolyard at different times to play shadow tag, students notice that their shadow points in different directions at different times of day. In IS4 (Patterns of Motion of Objects in the Sky), they use this anchoring phenomenon as the basis for an in-depth vignette to track their shadows. The framework places this experience in its developmental context—students are not yet expected to develop models of Earth rotating but instead document the pattern and use it to make predictions.

from d’Alessio, Matthew A. (2018). Executive Summary: Science Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. Sacramento: Consortium for the Implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Overview of Instructional Segments for Grade 1

Graphic of Grade 1 Instructional Segments 

Image Source: 2016 CA Science Framework