Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Giant Curriculum Post: First Grade

So I think I'm done working on First Grade.

At least mentally.

I know what our plans are, what I'm willing to toss if it doesn't work, and what I'm not willing to give up on. I have a clear picture in my head of how our homeschool days worked last year and how I'd like them to work this year, and what kind of time it will take to make those plans reality.

The truth for our family is that I don't really care what we're learning in certain subject areas so long as we are always learning and growing. However, we need a little more structure than just hopping down whatever rabbit trails float our way, especially Ender. He does very well under a highly-structured set-up and I'm trying to provide some of that for him.


We're going to use Singapore 1 this year. I've been really happy with Ender's progress using Montessori materials, but I love the way Singapore presents mental math and has some writing. Ender is definitely ready to write a bit more for math. I also think he will enjoy seeing progress through the workbook since he's a "check it off" kind of kid. We're still incorporating plenty of Montessori and hands-on work for math, but it's time to start putting pencil to paper a bit.

Language Arts

Lots of read alouds (Charlotte's Web is at the front of the list right now), lots of readers to keep working on fluency, and  First Language Lessons. FLL is on my list to hit about three times a week. If Ender proves unready for the curriculum we'll set it aside til next year. This is one of the books that I think he is ready for but won't be disappointed if he's not.

I also have Writing With Ease and like the look of it, but I'm really applying its principles of narration and copywork (especially using his own narrations as copywork on another day) to other subjects. FLL covers narration, poem memorization, and copywork as well, and I don't want to overwhelm.

For phonics we're sticking with what Ender asked for: Victory Drill Book. We've tried a few other things in the name of finding more fun with phonics, but my straight-forward kid really likes the lists. We do read through the columns as they are intended, but we spend the bulk of our phonics time playing games with the words in the columns, practicing them as spelling words verbally and with the moveable alphabet, putting 4 or 5 words in alphabetical order, etc.

And because handwriting falls under language arts in my brain, we are using Handwriting Without Tears this year. I haven't really pushed a lot of writing with the boys, but Ender did learn to form his letters correctly last year. The physical act of writing is *not* his favorite though, so we're going to go through the Kindergarten HWT book first and then maybe see about heading into the first grade book later in the year.


We're going with a little Classical Ed/ Charlotte Mason combo here. We have three days a week of science planned- one day similar to what is described in the Well-Trained Mind, spending 20 weeks on animals, 10-ish weeks on the human body and 10-ish weeks on plant life reading and narrating each week on those topics. Our other two days are planned for exploration around a theme.

Our topics for this year are:

First quarter: Creeks and Ponds
Second Quarter: Night Sky
Third Quarter: Water Cycle and Weather
Fourth Quarter: One Small Square: Backyard

Some of our inspiration will come from the Handbook of Nature Study blog, but mostly we're just planning on getting out there and giving plenty of time to spend exploring, collecting, and observing before returning home to read up on our discoveries. I'm hoping for a first try at a nature journal as well. I'm leaving plenty of room to explore more specifically within our quarterly topic or explore something completely unrelated if we find an interest.

We also have Christian Liberty Nature Readers for K and 1st grade that we will read from together at first , and then later on in the year Ender may be able to read from some on his own.


I am planning a light journey through the Story of the World vol. 1. We may or may not make it all the way through this year. I'm not terribly concerned with speed, but we are planning to:

  • Read in order
  • Narrate 1 section per chapter
  • Do the mapwork included
  • Complete one project with each chapter

We might do more than one project and knowing us we will likely get more information from the library on whichever chapter we're reading, but this is our basic set up. I have no big plans for timing (as in 1 chapter per week or anything like that) because I want to leave room to stay on a topic for a few weeks if Ender is really interested in it.

Fine Arts

Ender started to play the violin last spring so he will continue this next year. I suppose that's one of the hazards of your mother being a violinist... I truly did start him with piano first, but he has wanted to play the violin for a long time, and when I finally let him it was love at first note.

We are also planning a composer study and artist study for this year, one composer and one artist for each quarter. I'm still finalizing exactly which artists I will include, but my composer list includes Bach, Handel, Beethoven and Brahms. I know, no 20th century guys on there, but I'm not a huge fan of that musical time period. It can wait another year or two.

For our art plans we are going to do what we've always done- a little bit of directed work (many awesome suggestions from Deep Space Sparkle and new to us: Draw, Write, Now book 1) but mostly giving access to the materials needed to create.


For Bible this year Ender is going to continue with the Awana program at our church and all the memorizing they do, but we will be focusing on the religious seasons as home- Advent, Lent, etc. Our reading will focus on a Psalm of praise each month as well as following our church's schedule of readings for the K-3 students.

Do you homeschool? What are your plans for next year?

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1 comment:

  1. It looks like you are in for a wonderful year! I love the Story of the World for history. Did you purchase the cd's too? They are great for car rides or quiet afternoons.
    I have homeschooled for many, many years with my five. I now only have one left and he begins 8th grade in the fall.


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