In grades one through three, children are taught the basics of reading and writing. Most schools use a 'basal' program, with a series of readers, workbooks, and activity sheets. The typical first-grader starts reading pre-primers, books with very few words. Next, they move into primers, featuring short stories and a repetitive vocabulary, followed by readers. Second and third grade programs are often similar, but introduce longer sentences, and new words. Writing exercises for the primary grades involve two skills: penmanship, and content. Penmanship is the mechanics of forming letters, whereas content refers to the child's ability to express thoughts with words. Typically, a specific period of time is devoted to writing every day. Children also continue to perfect their handwriting, learning to refine shapes and make lowercase letters. By grades four through six, reading and writing assignments are more complex. Reading is usually done independently, then discussed as a group. Book reports also begin, as do creative writing assignments. Work may be corrected for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Finally, students may get projects that require several weeks of research and writing, and are often done as a team.
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