Sunday, April 29, 2018

Homeschool: Grade 1, Term 1 (2017-2018)

I get asked a lot about homeschool, and I've decided it would be worth-while for me to be more specific in my documentation. We split our year into three terms, and I do a rough sketch of our year beforehand, but I let our days have freedom and flexibility, so I will document the specifics after a term is complete.

As mentioned in this post, these are the subjects we cover in a term:
Natural History
Physical Education
Music Appreciation
Art Appreciation

We use the scheduling cards from A Delectable Education to schedule each of these subjects into our week, some being just once a week, and some being every day, some being 10 minutes, and some being 20.

Here is what we feasted on in Term 1:

Bible: We read from the actual Bible text, and we are reading through Genesis and Matthew in Grade 1 (Form 1B). We covered Genesis 1-17 and Matthew 1-7. We read roughly 10-20 verses a day, seeking to cover one whole "episode" but not an entire chapter in a day. We alternate days between Genesis and Matthew.

Poetry: We choose one poet to focus on each term, and for term one, we focused on A.A. Milne. We read his Complete Poems. We read poetry every day, so we read A.A.Milne 2-3 times a week, and on the other days, we read from Robert Louis Stephenson's A Child's Garden of Verses.

Math: I used this math bundle to help me teach math the way Charlotte Mason taught her students.  We thoroughly covered numbers 1-30. We used money, popsicle sticks, and buttons as our main manipulatives to understand new concepts and to solve difficult problems.                

Reading: Sophie had basic reading skills coming into Grade 1. I bought the Treadwell Primer, and she read stories from that throughout the term. We also did a few word building and sight reading activities, based on words found in these stories. I used this post to guide me in our earlier reading exercises this year.

Copywork: We began our term by writing words, such as her name and her sisters' names. She already knew all her letters and has been writing for a couple of years, so I my goal for this year was for her to start visualizing words and to be able to write them from memory and beautifully and accurately.

History: For history, our focus in Grade 1 is to cover American history's early explorers up until right before Jamestown. We have a book that we use as our spine, and then we use biographies to supplement, or add to, the spine. The spine we are using this year is America Begins by Alice Dalgliesh. It is sadly out of print, but we have a wonderful library that has it. It gives short accounts of all of the earlier explorers and has beautiful pictures. We used d'Aulaire's Leif the Lucky and Columbus as our biographies.

Geography: Geography is a subject that has taken me a little while to wrap my brain around. We had two days that we did geography. One day was more for learning about physical geography and the general workings of the world (this is like "pre-map" work, because a child needs to understand these things before grasping a map or globe). The other day, I knew we were supposed to cover a story about a child in a particular location, though I have come to realize the way Charlotte Mason truly did it, and I will now do it different with future children for grade 1. Here is what we did use however:

Day 1 Book: Little Farmer of the Middle West by Madeline Brandeis (Charlotte Mason actually used this slot to help her children learn about children from other cultures - roughly 5-6 a term, so just a brief overview. This helped children to understand that there was a bigger world out there in the best way they could grasp- through the lives of other children, who were like them, yet different. In the future, we will use something more like this- perhaps the I Can See the Sun books, though I am not certain).
Day 2 Books: What Makes a Shadow by Clyde Bulla
Sun Up, Sun Down by Gail Gibbons
What Makes Day and Night by Franklyn Branley
The Moon Seems to Change by Franklyn Branley
North, South East, and West by Franklyn Branley
(While we did love these books, I will probably use them as free reads in the future and just use Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography book for our actual school time. I was intimidated and unsure of this book at first, but now I see it is very thorough and I prefer it as our actual school spine.)
Sophie also made a map of her bedroom, though I will wait to do this activity until later with my other children. We drew around our shadows with chalk one day, in the morning and then at noon, and then at night, and it was fun to see the way the shadows change. We also learned the basic workings of a compass.

*Note: While I do agree with Charlotte Mason that globes and maps are too much for younger children and are better to be introduced after the first grade year where basic map and world understandings are laid, I do still pull a map out during subjects like history and Bible and even sometimes geography, so Sophie does have experience with them; they simply aren't our main focus in geography for this year.

Natural History: For Natural History, I choose two books that we will spend the whole term using, and then we have a special studies topic for the term (and sometimes two special studies), and I choose several books to cover that topic.

Book 1: Arabella Buckley's Plant Life in Field and Garden (I recommend waiting until at least Grade 2, and probably even Grade 3, to do this book. I'd recommend, instead, to start with Buckley's Wild Life in Woods and Fields.)
Book 2: Burgess Bird Book by Thornton Burgess (in the future, I probably won't use this book)
Special Studies Books: First Look at Wildflowers by Millicent Selsam
First Look at Birds by Millicent Selsam
First Look at Plants by Millicent Selsam
How to be a Nature Detective by Millicant Selsam
Robins in the Garden by Olive Earle
A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Aston
Red Robin, Fly Up by Jean Craighead George
(*Millicent Selsam and Olive Earle books are out of print, and sadly, expensive. Check your libraries!)

*NoteWe definitely read too many books for our special studies day, and we are doing less. It's really taken me time to learn and accept the idea that more is not always more. I need to read slower and less and give my children time to chew on and play at the ideas they come across in their stories.

Literature: We spend most of our literature time this year reading fairy tales and fables. Here are stories we covered this first term:

Aesop's Fable: Wolf & Kid
Aesop's Fable: Turtle and Crab
Blue Fairy Book: Beauty and the Beast
Blue Fairy Book: Sleeping Beauty
Blue Fairy Book: Rumpelstiltzkin
Blue Fairy Book: Why the Sea is Salt
Red Fairy Book: Rapunzel
Blue Fairy Book: Snow White and Rose Red
Blue Fairy Book: Cinderella

Kipling's Just So Stories: The Whale

Kipling's Just So Stories: How Leopard Got Spots
Kipling's Just So Stories: Elephant's Child
Parables from Nature: Faith
Parables from Nature: The Bee
Shakespeare: A Midsummer's Night Dream

*Note: After this term, I felt convicted that we were reading way too much for our literature slot. Perhaps this seems like an impossible possibility to some, which is probably as it seemed to me at first, which is why we read so much. Sophie loves to sit and listen to stories, so it was easy to read and read. However, as I dug into Charlotte Mason's own programmes and practices, I realized she only had her first year students reading 3-4 fairy tales in a term and 3 Aesop's Fables. That was all! At first it seemed ridiculous to me, but now I see the value in it. This means that we read the stories slowly, and the fairy tales span over several class periods. We spend time narrating during each class period. And then we let the stories ruminate in our children's minds, and we let them play at them. It's also important to note that we choose the best quality fairy tales, written in their original versions, and they are long

Physical Education (Drill/Dance/Play): This time should be used twice a week for actual free play. No rules, just let the child play. Other possibilities for the way we use this time is to learn jumping rope, fun dances together, and Swedish Drill. In this first term, we learned several Swedish Drill movements and had a lot of outdoor play before the cold months set in.

Music Appreciation: We studied Johann Sebastian Bach this term. We covered Magnificat in D, Contrapunctus 9, Chaconne, Brandenburg Concerto 3, Art of Fugue, and his Church Cantata No. 86. We simply listened to the songs. We also read Opal Wheeler's book on Bach.

Art Appreciation: We studied Leonardo da Vinci. We studied Lady with an Ermine, Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Self-Portrait, Cat Movements & Positions, Virgin of the Rocks, and Ginevra de' Benci. I read a little biography on him, but mostly, we just studied the pictures, and Sophie narrated what she saw.

Spanish: We use Cherrydale Press's Spanish book (volume 1) as our spine for this subject. We use it 1-2 times a week. It is based on of Francois Gouin's research that showed it is easier to learn a language when you learn the action verbs (rather than just a noun). So, we learn a set of activities in English (acting them out); then once we have the English memorized, we learn the same set of activities in Spanish. We made it through the first four Cherrydale lessons. We also had flash cards and learned new words from those, and we used real objects, such as the table settings, to learn new words. We also read Buenas Noches, Lunas (which is a favorite book of ours in English).

Singing: We learned and sang the following songs over the term:

- Song Games: Brown Bear Brown Bear, Miss Mary Mack, Father Abraham
- Folksongs/Nursery Rhymes: Baa Baa Black Sheep, Lavendar's Blue
- Hymns: It Is Well, Nothing But the Blood
- Spanish Songs: Estrellita, Si Cristo Me Ama

Recitation: We split our recitation time into three different days (we have a five day rotation for our subjects). The first day, we recite a hymn (rather than sing). The second day we recite a Bible verse. The third day we recite a poem. In a term, for the first grade year, the preference is to learn two hymns, two verses, and two poems. The purpose of recitation is not memorization (though, that often happens over the term!); the purpose is to be able to read something beautifully. Because Sophie is still a newer reader, she repeated lines after me rather than reading herself. This term, we did the following:

- Hymns: Isaac Watts: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; Thus Far the Lord Has Led Me On
- Verses: Matthew 18:10-14 (Parable of the Lost Sheep)
- Poems: A.A. Milne: "Now We are Six" and "Halfway Down"

Drawing: I definitely did not feel confident or equipped in this area. We did a few activities from Drawing with Children, but I didn't end up loving it beyond the first few activities. She is also supposed to paint characters whom we read about, so she painted Christopher Columbus (and ended up making a little "pop up book" about him... she has such sweet creativity). Sophie also did a few nature brush drawings. It's important to note that drawing refers to brush drawing, so we actually use a paint brush to draw. It's freeing for a child to use because they don't have to be so exact with a paint brush. Sophie does draw plenty with a pencil during her free time, however :)

Note: I have since learned the drawing class is much simpler than I realized. I simply have Sophie do drawings from nature (we bring the object inside and she brush draws it), from her imagination of stories we have read, and from her memory of animals she has seen.

Handicrafts/Work: We focused on hand-sewing. Sophie did a few projects for Christmas gifts as well as a hand-sewn doll that she put in our Operation Christmas Child box. She made this doll for the Operation Christmas Child box (but we bought the dark skinned one from Walmart).


  1. Your beautiful History book lists inspire me...and make we wish I didn't have such difficulty in choosing my own. Despite my eldest daughter entering Grade 3 this Fall, we are currently trialing Ambleside Online Year 1, technically "too young" for her by AO recommendations. While the riches have won me over, the History has not, I fail to see the point of an American child studying British History so in-depth; I prefer more emphasis on our own country, particularly in the Elementary years.

    You mentioned A Delectable Education among your resources; did you utilize their consultation services to create a custom History curriculum? (I have heard slots fill up fast.) If you build your own, would you have any tips for creating a chronological History curriculum? I'm uncertain when to break up time frames, or what spines work best for each era. I know essentially what I want for my children, I'm just struggling to get there. :/ I appreciate any advice you have to offer.

    1. Hi Hannah! Thanks for writing me! I originally planned to use Ambleside Online myself, but then found ADE and changed my path with about one month before the start of year 1. It just made so much sense to me to start with American History once I heard the rationale and considered it. And I continue to believe it is best because my daughter loves and connects with it.
      I do not use the consultation services. Partly because I didn’t have time the first time... so I just went with it... and I realized I really love putting together my own curriculum/book list.

      I started with everything before 1600 (early exploration). Now this year we are doing 1600-1700. Next year, we will do 1700-1800. Etc. I check out a lot of different book lists to make my decisions: ADE recommendations, Alveary, Charlotte Mason Soiree Facebook group search bar, AO, and truthquest history guides. I try to choose a spine and then biographies and other books to supplement.

      I hope that helps! If you aren’t loving British history, then make the leap! Even if it’s not perfect, it’s better to connect then to have perfection! Please feel free to use my book list as a guide too! That’s why I share what we use :)

      Best wishes, Hannah!