This is only a portion of the English language arts curriculum
for first grade in New York State, aligned to the Common Core standards.

Many children in first grade have not yet learned to read, but they will be expected to understand and explain facts and concepts that belong in sixth or seventh or
eighth or ninth or tenth or eleventh or twelfth grades.

Six-year-olds may have trouble pronouncing some of the words, let
alone developing a historical sense of why these facts matter or
how they relate to one another. When I read this curriculum, the first thought
that occurred was that this is developmentally
inappropriate. I am a strong believer in knowledge and content. But
knowledge must be taught when children are mature
enough to understand and absorb and reflect on what they are
learning. Otherwise, all this content is a circus trick, an effort to prove that a
six-year-old can do mental gymnastics.

“Early World Civilizations” is one of 10 units for the Listening and Learning strand of
the English Language Arts domain of first grade. Keep in mind that
Listening and Learning strand is one of three areas of instruction
for ELA, and ELA is only half of the prepared curriculum.

This is how it is described by the state:

“Tell It Again! Read-Aloud Anthology

This Tell It Again! Read-Aloud Anthology for Early World Civilizations contains background information and resources that the teacher will need to implement Domain 4, including an alignment chart for the domain to the Common Core State Standards; an introduction to the domain including necessary background information for teachers, a list of domain components, a core vocabulary list for the domain, and planning aids and resources; 16 lessons including objectives, read-alouds, discussion questions, and extension activities; a Pausing Point; a domain review; a domain assessment; culminating activities; and teacher resources. By the end of this domain, students will be able to:

“Locate the area known as Mesopotamia on
world map or globe and identify it as part
of Asia;

Explain the
importance of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and the use of
to support farming and the development
of the city of Babylon;

Describe the city of
Babylon and the Hanging Gardens;

Identify cuneiform as the system of writing used in

Explain why a written
language is important to the development of a


Explain the significance of the
Code of Hammurabi;

Explain why rules and laws
are important to the development of a


Explain the ways in which a
leader is important to the development of a

Explain the significance
gods/goddesses, ziggurats, temples, and
priests in Mesopotamia;

Describe key
components of a civilization;

Identify Mesopotamia as
the “Cradle of Civilization”;

Describe how a civilization evolves
and changes over time;

Locate Egypt on a world
map or globe and
identify it as a part of

Explain the importance of the
River and how its floods were important
for farming;

Identify hieroglyphics as the
system of writing used in ancient Egypt;

Explain the significance of gods/goddesses in ancient
Identify pyramids and explain their
significance in ancient Egypt;

Describe how
the pyramids were built;
Explain that much of
Egypt is
in the Sahara Desert;

Identify the Sphinx and explain its
significance in ancient Egypt;

Identify Hatshepsut as a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and
explain her significance as pharaoh;

Identify Tutankhamun as a pharaoh of ancient Egypt
and explain his

Explain that much of what we know about ancient
is because of the work of

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as major monotheistic world

Locate Jerusalem, Israel, and the
area known as the Middle East on

Define monotheism as the belief in one

Identify the Western Wall (or the
Wailing Wall) as associated with Judaism, the

Church of the Holy Sepulchre with Christianity, and the Dome of
Rock with Islam;

Identify the Hebrews as the ancient people who
were descendants of Abraham;

Explain that followers of Judaism are called Jewish
people and the term Jewish is used to describe practices or
objects associated with Judaism;

Identify the Star of
David as a six-pointed star and a symbol of
Identify the
Torah as an important part of the Hebrew scriptures;

Identify that a Jewish house of
worship is called a synagogue or temple;

Identify Moses as a teacher who
long ago led the Jewish people out of Egypt

in an event referred to as the Exodus;

Explain that, according to an important story in the
Torah, Moses received the Ten
from God and that the Ten Commandments are rules that

tell people how to behave or live their

Identify important
Jewish holidays such as Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom
Kippur, and

Explain that Christianity developed after
Explain that followers of
Christianity are called Christians;

Recognize the cross as a symbol of Christianity;

Identify the Bible as the Christian
holy book;

Identify that a Christian house
worship is called a church;

Identify that Christians believe Jesus
to be the Messiah and the son of God;

Identify important Christian
holidays, such as Easter and Christmas;

Recognize that both Christians and
Jewish people follow the Ten Commandments;

Explain that Islam originated in Arabia;
Explain that followers of Islam are
called Muslims;

Identify the crescent and star
as symbols of

Identify the Qur’an as the holy book of Islam,
laws for daily living and many
stories that appear in Jewish and
holy books;

Identify that a Muslim place of
worship is
called a mosque;

Identify that Muslims believe that Moses and
were prophets but believe that Muhammad
was the last and greatest
of the

Identify important Muslim holidays,
such as
Ramadan and Eid-ul-fitr;

Use narrative language to describe (orally or in
writing) characters, setting, things, events, actions, a

scene, or facts from a fiction read-aloud;

Identify who is telling the story
at various points in a fiction read-aloud;

Ask and answer questions (e.g., who, what, where,
when), orally or in writing,
literal recall and understanding of the details and/or

facts of a nonfiction/informational

Answer questions
that require making interpretations, judgments, or
giving opinions
about what is heard in a
nonfiction/informational read-aloud,

including answering why questions that require

Identify the main topic and
retell key
details of a
nonfiction/informational read-aloud;

Describe the
connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or
pieces of
information in a
nonfiction/informational read-aloud;

Ask and answer questions about unknown words and
phrases in
read-alouds and discussions;

Use illustrations and details in a nonfiction/informational
to describe its key

Compare and contrast (orally or
writing) similarities and differences
within a single
read-aloud or between two or more

nonfiction/informational read-alouds;

Listen to and demonstrate understanding of
nonfiction/informational read-alouds of

appropriate complexity for grades 1–3;

With guidance and support from adults, focus on a
topic, respond to questions and suggestions

from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as

Make personal
connections (orally or in writing) to events or

experiences in a fiction or nonfiction/informational
and/or make connections among
several read-alouds;

With assistance, categorize and organize facts and
information within a given domain
to answer

Use agreed-upon rules for group
(e.g., look at and listen to the
speaker, raise hand to speak, take
turns, say
“excuse me” or “please,” etc.);

Carry on and participate in a conversation over at least
six turns, staying on topic,
comments or responding to a partner’s comments, with

either an adult or another child of the same

Ask questions to
clarify information about the topic in a fiction or

nonfiction/informational read-aloud;

Ask and answer questions (e.g.,
who, what, where, when), orally or in writing, requiring

literal recall and understanding of the details and/or
facts of a
fiction or
nonfiction/informational read-aloud;

Ask questions to clarify directions, exercises,
classroom routines, and/or what a
says about a topic;

Describe people, places,
things, and
events with relevant details,
expressing ideas and feelings


Add drawing or other visual displays
to oral or written
descriptions when
appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and


Produce complete sentences when
appropriate to task and
Identify real-life connections between words and
use (e.g., note places at home that are

Learn the meaning of
common sayings and phrases;

Use words and phrases acquired through
conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to
including using frequently occurring
conjunctions to signal simple
(e.g., because)
Identify new meanings for
words and apply them

Prior to listening to
informational read-aloud, identify what
they know about a given

Share writing with others;

With assistance, create and interpret timelines
and lifelines related to an informational


Demonstrate understanding of
literary language such as

While listening to an informational read-aloud,
predict what will happen next in the
read-aloud based on the text
heard thus far,
and then compare the actual outcome to the

and Use personal pronouns

This material is aligned with E.D. Hirsch’s Core
Knowledge curriculum. Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify division (run by
Joel Klein) paid an unspecified amount for a 20-year right to the
professional development resources and curriculum
for Core Knowledge from K-3, with the intention
of building out resources for grades 4 and 5. Thus, all curriculum
resources purchased to teach these grades will be paid to