K.I.S.S. Remember that little acronym? Yes, Keep It Simple Stupid is my motto for this year’s first grade curriculum plan. Last year’s kindergarten curriculum plan turned out to be overly ambitious and unnecessary, but I am learning from my mistakes this year. There are soooooo many options out there, and so much I want my daughter to learn, but I have to remember that she is only six years old.
In the words of one of my biggest homeschool inspirations, Julie from Brave Writer, “The best curriculum for a six year old is face paints and dress up clothes.” Yes, we homeschool, but I’m choosing to focus more on the “home” and less on the “school.”
Our curriculum plan
Before I share our first grade homeschool curriculum plan, I want to emphasize that each child and each family is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to homeschooling. What we’ve chosen to focus on might not work for you, and that’s ok. That really is the beauty of homeschooling! I know I love to hear how others pull together different elements to create a curriculum though so I’m sharing what we do as a helpful suggestions.
I also want to note that my daughter has a Sept. 1 birthday, which makes the whole idea of grade levels tough for us. If she was in public school, she could have started kindergarten just before she turned 5 or waited until this year and started just before she turned 6. If I had to choose a grade, I’d say we’re actually doing kindergarten and a half now. But I tried starting school in the summer last year and it’s just too confusing for us to not line up with a traditional school calendar. So take “first grade” with a grain of salt.
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Five in a Row: We’ve read many of these books already, but they are all such high-quality books that I don’t want us to miss. We’ll use this list and some of the activities to go along with them.
Read Aloud Revival’s list of first novels: I’ve learned my lesson that unless I’m going to pre-read a novel, I need to choose from a trusted list. We’ve read four of the books on this list already so that leaves us 12 more for this year. These are mainly for our bedtime read-aloud time.
Ambleside Online: We’ll follow Ambleside Online’s suggestions with Fifty Famous Stories Retold, Viking Tales and a few of the D’Aulaire biographies. I am still struggling with these as they present with a racist tone (to me) and I’m trying to balance teaching about early American history with protecting my 6 year old’s innocence a little longer.
Math Lessons for a Living Education: We started this math curriculum at the end of last year, and it is a breath of fresh air from our Kindergarten math struggles. This math curriculum uses a Charlotte Mason-inspired approach to teach math through a story and real-life applications. There are no expensive manipulative to buy, no DVDs to watch, no separate teacher’s manual, and no fuss about it. It’s simple and straightforward which is just what we needed.
The Wand: Brave Writer’s program for early readers is designed to teach kids to read and write with lessons in phonics, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and capitalization based on quality children’s books. Each week contains 3-4 days of lessons, culminating in copywork and dictation.
Jot It Down: Another Brave Writer product, this writing curriculum is a set of fun writing projects where the parent acts as secretary and transcriptionist to bring out the creative, brilliant voice of the child. We’ll be doing things like making a fairytale book, writing letters, making posters and more.
Morning time: So this isn’t really a subject, but it’s a big part of our day that deserves it’s own post (coming soon!). We do a leisurely breakfast each morning, and while I have a captive audience, this is our chance to soak in the truth, beauty and goodness in the world. We’ll read character building stories from the Bible and other cultures, poetry, fairy tales and tell Waldorf-esque stories that fit with the seasons and festivals of the year. We’ll sing hymns and seasonal songs, look at beautiful pictures by great artists, study great composers and have all of the big and little conversations I want to fit in to our homeschool. Some of the tools I’m using this year in our morning time are:
- All Year Round
- The Singing Year
- A Tangle of Tales by Reg Down
- Yoga Pretzel cards
- Dance for the Sun yoga CD
- Jesus Storybook Bible
Geography: We’ll follow Ambleside Online and read Paddle To The Sea. We’ll also do a simple, map study of the United States because my daughter has expressed interested in learning them. We’ll use a blank map to identify and label a state. We might learn a few facts about the state, write a letter to someone we know who lives there or read a book that features the state.
Nature Study: We’re using Exploring Nature With Children , which is an awesome year-long nature study curriculum that provides topics for weekly nature walks along with hands-on activities, book suggestions, as well as related poetry and picture study suggestions. We also love using the Nature Anatomy book. We’ll also read though The Burgess Bird Book for Children and James Herriot’s Treasury for Children.
Handwriting: We’ll continue using Handwriting Without Tears and will practice with the My Printing Book.
Spanish: We’re using free online Spanish videos from GPB Media. These videos have been great so far and a great jumping off point for adding in my own vocabulary and practicing Spanish related to a specific topic.
Art: We’re going to use our Creative Bug subscription to learn more about one medium per term- watercolor, acrylics, and oil pastels. I’m planning on doing a formal art lesson every other week.
Handicrafts: We have 30 minutes every afternoon dedicated to handicrafts. We’ll work on finger knitting, embroidery, sew bean bags, make beeswax candles, create seasonal decorations for our school room and do handmade Christmas gifts for family.
Extracurricular Activities: My daughter will take a weekly music class where she will learn piano, recorder and general music theory. We’re also part of a nature-inspired co-op that meets each week for a Waldorf-inpired circle time and activity. This will also be our first year in Girl Scouts and we’ll have meetings twice a month.
In addition to the elements of our first grade homeschool curriculum, we’ll be doing everything that is a part of the best preschool curriculum ever which is lots of singing, stories, poetry teatime, and playing outside. We’ll celebrate festivals and holidays with simple, but lasting traditions. We’ll also go on outdoor adventures at least once a week.
Our school will take less than two hours each day leaving plenty of time for snuggling on the couch, tickle fests, play dough and all of the things that make childhood magical. And that’s what I want for first grade most of all.
I really love hearing how other moms plan out their curriculum and want to share a few other first grade homeschool picks:
- Some Random Lady
- Simplify, Live, Love
- Confessions of a Homeschooler
- Mama’s Learning Corner
- Mama of Letters
- Table Life Blog