Our First Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks
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We are finishing up our homeschool Kindergarten year and it has been quite a learning experience! Although we’ve “technically” been homeschooling for 2 years now, I don’t really count our Pre-K year too much since it was mostly just a lot of play with integrated learning.
It may sound early to some of you homeschoolers to see someone already getting things ready for the next school year in April, but with a baby due in August and not starting until after Labor Day for first grade, I wanted to go ahead and get the majority of my planning done now before I’m too pregnant and tired to do it!
First grade is definitely intimidating for me. While we will still follow more of a classical approach for History and Science (mostly because my kid is a huge science nerd!), we have found that we fit more into the Charlotte Mason approach for homeschooling. As I was really starting to see how it was a method that really fit our family, I went to a homeschool conference with a few friends. While there, I attended a few sessions put on by Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason and knew this was it for us!
So, without further ado, let’s look at what we picked out for this upcoming year!
Oh math… I have had such a hard time finding something that worked well for our son this past year! We started off with Saxon Math 1 and he absolutely hated it! The level of spiral was just too much for him and we got to about Lesson 21 before we had to call it quits.
We then moved to Math-U-See and started with the Primer level, even though he tested to start in Alpha. While I LOVED the Primer level and it’s gentle approach into math, Alpha was just not clicking. Our soon-to-be 6 year old is a whiz when it comes to mental math, but put a worksheet of problems in front of him and there’s no response. Even though he knows the answers if you ask him verbally.
Ray’s Arithmetic is a classic math textbook from the late 1800’s-1900’s. I was amazed when I looked at it. You can buy the set on Amazon of reprints or just print it online for free on Google Books because it is so old! Honestly, math is math. We can change the ways it’s taught, but math itself doesn’t change. Ray’s is mainly word problems. I always HATED math word problems, but in Ray’s approach, it starts out with them and the child has to put the equation together.
We’re also going to supplement with MEP, a free math curriculum from the UK. It gives us some extra practice along with time and money that isn’t until later levels in Ray’s. It is also very teacher intensive like Ray’s is and has a lot of verbal and mental math. We’ve already started both and he LOVES them. So hopefully we’ve finally found a winner!
Again, a ton of research, but we’re going with the McGuffey Readers and Bob Books Set 2 for reading practice and The Good and The Beautiful Language Arts Level 1. We are working through Level K right now with the McGuffey Eclectic Primer as our reader and he’s really starting to get it.
While there is some controversy over TGTB and the author’s religion, there is none of it in the levels that I can find and it’s really a great, solid program. You can get TGTB Language Arts Levels 1-5 on the website for free minus the reader so that is what we are going to do. You can download the pdf file and print yourself. It costs some in ink, as it’s over 300 pages, but our Canon printer does a great job with saving ink during printing.
We used Zaner-Bloser Level K this year for handwriting and I like the method. While we aren’t ready for cursive yet, we will just work on our handwriting by doing copywork the Charlotte Mason way. On this free website, you can create your own Zaner-Bloser style copywork pages and then print them at your leisure. We’ll be taking Scripture we are memorizing, sentences from our McGuffey Readers, and poems from A Child’s Garden of Verses for our copywork. I’ll probably work on creating the files during the summer before the baby comes and print so they are ready to go when we start school after baby and Labor Day!
We will be using Story of the World for History this year along with the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia. I know they aren’t really aligned with Charlotte mason, but I already have these in our home library that I got for cheap at Half Price Books and our local library sale. So to not spend any more money, we’ll at least try these out and see how it goes. We’ll supplement with living books from the library to make it more CM friendly.
I’ll also be putting together a Book of Centuries for us to get started on together. The Simply Charlotte Mason website has a free printable to create your own. We’ll either do that and put it in a binder or create one in a sketchbook.
As for Geography, I’m going with something Sonya Shafer said in one of her talks at the homeschool conference. We’ll do map studies of one region a term (I think she said year, but we might go a little faster than that). I’ll get a blank outline of that region and slowly add in more countries for him as we go along. We’ll also pinpoint places on the map that we read about in our studies across subjects.
Since we are following a mostly Charlotte Mason way of homeschooling, we will be starting Picture Study for First Grade this coming year. I found these free picture study packets here that we will be using. There are 12 packs in all and are a really great resource for Picture Study!
Here is where we will stray slightly from Charlotte Mason. We will still have a Nature Study journal and do that on Fridays, but my little guy is a Science finatic and so we will also be using the Kingfisher Nature Encyclopedia for Zoology, How the Earth Works for Earth Science, The Visual Dictionary of the Human Body for Anatomy plus Air and Space for a Space unit study. Along with this, we will get relevant living books from the library for each subject as we go. Science will be 2 days a week with 1 day for Nature Study.
This year, we will be reading through A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. I found an old hardback copy at our local library sale this past year for 50 cents! There are beautiful, short poems in the book and we will also be using it for copywork to work on our handwriting and dictation as well.
We will be reading through The Jesus Storybook Bible at bedtime and using Simply Charlotte Mason’s Scripture Memory Cards that I will print on cardstock for scripture memory. It’s a free resource on their website (or you can buy the premade sets) along with instructions on how to use them and a video as well.
This year, we have chosen:
And that’s what we have planned for First Grade! I’ve been working on planning this month and have been using planning sheets from Wildflowers & Marbles to do Big Picture and Weekly Planning. They are really great, free and simple with beautiful colors! Have you made plans for your upcoming school year?