Our Eclectic 1st Grade Homeschool Curriculum

 Today, I’m sharing our eclectic 1st grade homeschool curriculum. After homeschooling three children through first grade, I think we finally have a method to the madness!

Our Eclectic 1st Grade Homeschool Curriculum featured image

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In the past, I have shared some of the reasons we homeschool, and in this post I’m sharing what we’ve done in our first grade homeschool and some of my favorite resources. I’m always curious how other people homeschool, so I will share our method! Honestly, I don’t subscribe to any one homeschooling philosophy. We use a variety of methods and incorporate Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Child-led and more into our homeschooling days.

Each of my children learn differently, and there are a bunch of resources here. Please note that we didn’t use ALL of these resources with each child. My eldest daughter taught herself to read and needed very little help from me with that. My son didn’t really start to read until he was seven and we did a lot of phonics work with him. My third child actually went to public school for kindergarten and learned a strong grasp of reading there. My point is, pick and choose from this post. There is no one method fits all approach to homeschooling.

Our Eclectic 1st Grade Homeschool Curriculum:

For reading ~ For beginning reading, we like to do a lot of read alouds. I use the Mensa Reading List and also the Sonlight Reading List as starting points. (We’re a secular homeschool, but I still like the Sonlight lists.) We use Bob Books as well as the Starfall Learn to Read books. The Bob books are my favorite. The Starfall books are also nice, but I prefer the Bob books for really beginning readers. My kids also really enjoyed working through the computer based ReadingEggs program. In fact, we still have an active subscription to Reading Eggs for the younger kids.

Lakeshore Learning - Road to Reading Kit

For Language Arts – We work through the Explode the Code phonics series, both in book form and also online. We’ve also used the Modern Curriculum Press phonics series and Hooked on Phonics as well. Explode the Code is my favorite for phonics, but we do like the Modern Curriculum Press spelling books. Lakeshore Learning sent me some fun educational activities like the Road to Reading kit, and my youngest daughter really enjoyed learning sight words and basic phonics from it. It’s a hands on and interactive way to practice developmental phonics skills. For the more advanced First Grader, we’ve used the Editor in Chief Grammar book and the kids have fun finding errors in passages.

For math ~ We love Singapore Math. I’ve taught it through level 6b and it is challenging and fun. Until we got to Level 4, I taught from it just fine without the teacher’s manual. But the methods they use aren’t the way I was taught and starting with Level 4, I really needed the explanations the teacher’s manuals offered. I also recommend that you get the solutions manual too. While it’s not that hard to check work, especially at the easier level, the solutions manual must makes grading that much quicker.

I’ve also heard a lot of positives about Miquon Math from friends, and have seen Teaching Textbooks in action. I like that the Teaching Textbooks is computer based and so a little more hands-off for the busy mom, but it doesn’t start until Level 3.

For history ~ I have heard rumors that a lot of people hate history??? WHAAA? I can’t for the life of me understand why. History was always one of my very favorite subjects, but I lived in Germany during elementary and middle school and traveled to see where the kings lived and slept. It was very exciting! I have always loved history and want my children to love it, too. We just finished reading Volume 1 of The Story of the World and are moving along in The Story of the World Volume 2. I bought the entire Volume 1 set a while back including the textbook, activity book, and test book.

I recommend the textbook, activity book, and audio CDs. The activities are fun and the CDs are so useful for car schooling and roadtrips! I didn’t know half the stuff we’re reading and the kids are always enthralled. Ancient history is so fascinating and something I never learned that much about in public school and my kids have already been exposed to The Odyssey and Beowulf is coming! I am very excited to move on to the Middle Ages in Volume 2. And we travel! No better way to learn history than by traveling.

science curriculum first grade

For science ~ I don’t have a formal curriculum here either. Instead, we go outside. We garden. We cook. The kids build things with their father. We look at the stars and talk about the planets, dinosaurs, and aliens. We read lots of books and do some copy work. The Nature Anatomy book is just gorgeous and inspires lots of art projects. We play games and do Magic School Bus experiments. My younger kids have always enjoyed watching Magic School Bus PBS show (we have the complete series on DVD) and also reading the books too.

Lakeshore Learning has a lot of great STEM activities and my kids enjoy playing and learning together with their Create-A-Chain-Reaction kit. I’ve found that when bigs and littles play together they learn a lot more!

IMG_3639This activity {which I was not aware of and did not approve of…} provided an awesome opportunity for a discussion of levers, stability, and better safety practices. My hubs was all over that discussion!!

And finally, for handwriting ~ This is one area that I feel I failed in with my daughter. When she was quite little I didn’t really care that she was writing on her own. I let her do whatever she wanted without thinking about the consequences. Well…that made for some really awful handwriting and bad habits that she is just now starting to break. We have been using Handwriting Without Tears to try to encourage proper letter formation and they seem to like it. Ben finished My Printing Book already, and we will move on to the next book soon. We also listen the the The ABC CD: Rock, Rap, Tap, and Learn Readiness to Printing (Handwriting Without Tears) CD a lot which has catchy little tunes about starting your letters at the top and so on.

Other things we love:

GeoSafari Laptop~ I read about this is one of the first books I read when I was considering homeschooling, Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days: Share a Day With 30 Homeschooling Families. The author’s family had one of these laptops and I was intrigued. My daughter got one for her 5th birthday and it has been a big hit. It reinforces a lot of basic skills: math, phonics, social studies. The kids enjoy playing on it.

MindWare Pattern Play Puzzle ~ My mom got this puzzle for my son a while back and it has provided hours of entertainment. I love the brightly colored wooden pieces and watching my kids study the pattern as they try to recreate it. I have also been entertained by the puzzle… 🙂 It’s lots of fun!

Draw Write Now, Books 1-8 ~ We borrowed this boxed set from our local homeschool assistance program and my kids love it! They have a lot of fun and actually produce some really nice drawings.

Electronic Snap Circuit Kit ~ Another gift that Ben got from my sister last year that teaches science. This kit helps him complete circuits and understand how electricity works – which is great because I don’t understand it myself.

Super Science Magnet Set ~ More science! When I first starting writing this post, I thought perhaps we were too lax in the science department. But we do a lot. It’s just in the name of playing – best way to learn in my opinion.

Lakeshore Learning Smart Pencil & Learning Cards – The Smart Pencil is really cool and lets kids work independently on math, phonics, and vocabulary skills. We have the Time and Money Kit and the Smart Pencil has helped make learning some of the basics fun for my younger kids. My eldest daughter basically taught herself to read with independent products like this!

Homeschooling has been both very rewarding and a ton of work! We’ve had a lot of fun homeschooling over the years and I hope this list of some of our favorite resources helps you in your homeschooling journey too. If you have a favorite resource for homeschooling first grade, I’d love to hear!

Our Eclectic First Grade Homeschool Curriculum. Resources and links to products we've used and loved to teach first grade.

Comments

  1. You said you were looking at math still and looking for some music to go along with it so I have to mention Shiller. We're working through book 1 for K.There's a CD of songs to go along with various lessons/concepts. My kids all love the songs- especially the Aliens From Outer Space one about even and odd numbers. We're also using Letterland for reading/phonics and Intro to Science from Elemental Science as well as Geography from Evan Moore. The rest of VT's required subjects I compile myself. Thanks for sharing what you're using.
  2. It depends very much on what is meant by "start math" I think. If she means "start a formal curriculum" or "start doing worksheets" or the like, I know you and I will disagree, but I think that's really fine. If she means start doing any kind of math learning, then I would say, yes, bad idea. As I said before, we spent most of kindergarten just reading living math books and playing with C-rods and doing a few math games. My kids are young for grade and I was glad we held off doing a formal curriculum. I know my kids and they would have just increased their anxiety to have to master topics instead of playing around with numbers. We dove into one in first grade and both my kids are basically on grade level with math now.
  3. Thank you so much for blogging about your experiences. I am in the midst of making the decision to quit the corporate world and homeschool for 1st grade. I appreciate your honesty =) Have a great school year! Jessica
  4. Perfect blog post. It was encouraging in all the right places for me. I get so overwhelmed when researching certain things for homeschool sometimes and this was simple and helpful.Thank you for sharing!

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