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what do i "teach" for first grade? lots of questions

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
we're still working out if we'll homeschool DS this year for first grade. i have no idea where to start with curriculum if we decided against virtual school. what's the basics i need to cover? math, reading and writing are a given. what else is there? can you give me an idea of what a daily lesson might be? how much time should we spend on each subject? how far should i let him work ahead? he's blowing through his 1st grade math and phonics workbooks the school sent home at the end of kinder. sorry for all the questions. i wasn't considering homeschooling this year until about a week ago.
post #2 of 25
Here is a chart for the grades from a Waldorf perspective: http://www.beaconmama.com/WaldorfTable.pdf

We will be roughly following that and adding our own stuff. For grade 1, I plan on doing lots of quality literature (fairy tales, nature tales, Ambleside Online recommendations), story math (maybe Noble Knights of Knowledge or Enki or Waldorf math--can't decide), Draw Write Now for intro to drawing/writing, and lots of crafts (like painting, puppetry, knitting) as well as focus on the seasons and festivals.
post #3 of 25
Disclaimer: We are classical homeschoolers. That said, here is what ds#2 just finished for first grade:

9:30 - 10:45: Block 1:
*Phonics (Phonics Pathways)
*Song School Latin (either a page from the workbook or chanting vocab or playing memory with the vocab)
*Math (Miquon math or Singapore math, plus either addition/subtraction drill or word problems)
*Spelling (All About Spelling - can't recommend it highly enough)

11:00 - 12:00: Block 2:
*Writing (Writing with Ease level 1)
*Grammar (First Language Lessons 1 and/or Michael Clay Thompson Island level - he did this with his older brother, mostly along for the ride)
*Penmanship (Handwriting without Tears)

1:00 - 2:00: Block 3:
*History (Story of the World) or Geography or Science or Art ... depending on the day
*Reading (practice with trade books and/or Hooked on Phonics readers)
*Read aloud (separate from the read alouds I do for the above subjects)

All times are approximate, but that is what is scheduled. To me, homeschooling is perfect for "working ahead" - there is no need to stay within a subjective "time frame" of public schooling. Ds#2 was barely 1st grade age (and would have been enrolled in K if we did public school), but he worked just fine with first grade materials, and he often had the benefit of picking up pieces of information from his older brother's lessons. In terms of how long should you spend on a subject each day, it kind of depends on you and your child. We usually did one "lesson" per subject - so with math, that was typically a couple pages of material, for spelling, that was working with ten words and having 2 dictation sentences. For writing and grammar, the programs we use are already broken into easy-to-follow days/schedules. Sometimes we would accelerate a subject a bit or skip it altogether if I noticed attention issues.

Another idea is to "loop" your schoolwork - have a set time for school (at first grade and with no others that you are schooling at the same time, two hours is probably more than enough). Then, write out what you want to accomplish each day into a list form (but maybe plan four days for a five day week). Work through the list for two hours, spending whatever time you need for each subject. Then, after two hours, if there is anything on that day's list that didn't get finished, start with those subjects the following day before starting day #2's list. On good days/weeks, you'll have the fifth day free. Some weeks, you might have a lesson or two to finish Friday mornings. In the long run, it'll just depend on how structured you want to be (30 minutes math, 15 minutes read aloud ... or 2 1/2 hours max of school time and finishing as much as you can and carrying the rest over to the next day). We are switching to a slightly modified loop schedule this next year as my youngest is now wanting to do PreK stuff, I'm expecting in December, and I want to make sure we're hitting that which dh and I feel is most important (Latin, reading and math), and making sure the rest does get done at some point each week.
post #4 of 25
my little boy will be in grade 1. he's 6. the subjects we plan to cover are, math, writing, phonics, history/geography, science, arts & crafts, and spelling. he'll also take a bi-weekly co-op, but that's more social than academic. he'll take story of the world, music class, and animal habitats there. for other extra curricular, he takes tae kwon do weekly, 4H bi-weekly, equestrian class monthly, and i'm considering soccer in the fall (but am afraid it will be too much with tae kwon do, so we're still undecided). hth.
post #5 of 25
our plan is still evolving. so far, i'm pretty sure we'll be doing history (going to start with early american history, then move into story of the world after the holidays, along with materials i find at the library), math (probably singapore), reading (which we've just been winging, and its going well), writing ( assorted workbooks and whatever i can get my hands on for cheap, lol), and then i'll rotate science/geography/ whatever other random subjects that come up. LOL. we are working with a super tight budget, and i'm finding its taking a little time to find materials. our schedule will probably look something like this:

wake up/breakfast/ get dressed

neighborhood walk

reading/ writing





history/ science

do whatever until dinner time (baking and nature walks are favorites)

science/ misc subjects

bedtime routine

bedtime stories- i usually let her pick out a few shorter stories to read (she helps me with sounding things out), and then i lay her down and we snuggle as i read her our chapter book. right now we're reading nim's island- just finished up alice in wonderland.

dd has special needs, and does best with a routine. otherwise we would be a lot more "relaxed". we tried doing the unschool/ relaxed homeschool thing this last year, and it didn't work for us. she gets excited about doing school, and likes to know what's coming next.
post #6 of 25
Hi Meg! We just finished 1st grade with Nora, and Henry is somewhere in-between K and 1st grade. For N's 1st grade year, we practiced her reading--we read together 4 or 5 days a week (or more), slowly plodded through RightStart Math level B--3ish lessons per week (20-25 minutes per lesson), did handwriting with Handwriting Without Tears, I read quite a few novels out loud, and we followed her interests in science. Talked about history as it came up. Looked a lot of stuff up on the internet.

Basically, we would "do school" 3 or 4 mornings a week for about 1.5-2 hrs each time. That was plenty in addition to our normal life talking and enriching environment to keep her plenty on top of what first graders were doing. Toward the end of the year, we focused a bit more on writing, as she was nervous about her writing ability, and dropped off on some of our other things.

Really, there is an adjustment period to figure out what works for you, but it is not nearly as big of a deal as people think it is. It's fun! And I am convinced that it is easier for me than having my kids in school. I swear that I homeschool mostly because I'm lazy and because we love this lifestyle!

M may be more like Henry. Henry does little to no "school". He follows his interests, we read together, and talk about math. He listens in on some of Nora's work and is basically following her right along and is pretty much into 1st grade "work" all on his own. He isn't getting in trouble, he isn't labeled, he feels good about himself. Homeschooling is the best thing in the world for him!
post #7 of 25
I think the choices are wide and your perspective, child, and teacher needs will determine what works best for you. I found homeschoolreviews.com really helpful in narrowing down curriculum. The Well Trained Mind forum (because it is so big) is also good to search for particular programs to get other viewpoints.

What I love most about homeschooling is I can tailor the curriculum to my kids! So what we use might not be best for your child. We keep academics to a small portion of our day (an hour give or take typically but in short bursts) but I seek to pick high quality (and fun) programs. I want them to have a really solid basis in reading, writing, and math in the coming years so I'm laying that foundation.

For us first grade will be:

Phonics/language arts--I'm teaching the Phonograms ala Recipe for Reading and using I See Sam for readers until we get those phonograms in place. I'm using How to Spell workbooks for spelling because it also follows an Orten-Gillingham approach so works with my reading/phonogram instruction. Literature is covered in our Heart of Dakota. I'm working toward Phonics Road as our all in one language arts. Sing Spell Read Write would have been an more pricey way to cover this material as would Sensational Strategies or Go Phonics. If I had a "do over" and the money I'd do one of those from the start--probably Go Phonics.

Handwriting--we're finishing Handwriting Without Tears and then will transition to just copywork from readers I have (McGuffey's) or similar materials.

Math--we're using RightStart and will stick with that. I like the foundation for really understanding the why behind math that the Asian math options give and I like that RightStart is hands on, quick, and easy to teach with no planning for me. I'm adding in MEP as well because it's different and free.

Other--we're using Heart of Dakota and some other specific materials for art, extra science fun, bible.
post #8 of 25
Here's our First Grade plans, which we just started in June.
  • Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading – we should finish this up next month
  • Explode the Code – on Workbook 3
  • Handwriting Without Tears – finishing up second grade Printing, and then will start Cursive Handwriting in August
  • All About Spelling – level 3
  • RightStart Math B – starting next week
  • MEP - just a different focus on math we might use now and then
  • Wordly Wise 3000 2nd Edition – First Grade
  • Story of the World 1 Ancients with Activity Guide
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding – Science and R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Life?
  • Writing With Ease 1
  • Write Source K and Grade 1
  • First Language Lessons
  • Artistic Pursuits
  • Meet the Masters
  • Geography - Scholastic Success and/or Maps, Graphs, Globes (or something like that)
  • Various logic games and workbooks
It looks overwhelming, but we still only do 1.5-2 hours a day.
post #9 of 25
The first thing I'd recommend is for you to learn your state's homeschooling regulations (Don't forget to also print out the FAQs and other links).

Then, connect with some local hsing groups (IRL and/or online) so that you can get advice on how to meet those regulations.
Google Georgia homeschooling or find a group in "yahoo groups".

Visit your local library/bookstore, search for online hsing sites and start reading, reading, reading about homeschooling.
The following is an extensive site... (certainly there are many more)

If you start to feel overwhelmed at first it's totally normal, but try not to let it get to you. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions or share your concerns.
Keep in mind that you don't have to set anything in stone and can change things and learn as you go along.

Best of luck to you
post #10 of 25
We followed a more basics approach to 1st grade. Reading, writing and math with some spanish. DD did Sing, spell, read, write, Saxon math, a spanish workbook and some basic grammar. We felt she needed to learn the foundations before we threw in ss and science and the like. Did schoolwork for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

In 2nd grade we did LLATL, horizons math, wordly wise vocabulary, spelling workout, another spanish workbook and daily geography. We are still finishing up llatl, math and spelling. Schoolwork took about 2, maybe 2 1/2 hours.

For 3rd we are going to Sonlight. So we will be doing reading, ss, science, language arts, vocabulary, sequential spelling, daily geography and spanish. I figure it will take closer to 3, maybe 3 1/2 hours but we will split it up throughout the day.

Each year the amount of academics grow.
post #11 of 25
I sent you a PM.
post #12 of 25

I am in the middle of planning DS 1st grade curriculum.

So far we will be concentrating on;

writing (spelling/phonics included)
letter writing (As in actual letters, he loves to send letters he writes in the mail to people so I want to get a penpal maybe?)
map reading/geography/very basic history/social studies
various things for science
more on money values- he has a little understanding but not a full grasp
telling time-same as above
math (Saxon)
art & music
folk tales

my son really likes workbooks too so I just keep letting him progress in those as long as he will do them!
post #13 of 25
There's a lot of great ideas here!!

I am just beginning to figure out what sort of things to introduce. My son is six also.
There will be the basics:
- reading writing and math

Plus geography, spelling and science. Maybe adding a bit of Spanish in too..since he enjoys it. Possibly a woodworking class...

I am trying to keep it laid back and let him be our guide, we had a rough K year so I want him to fall back into his love of learning and letting him learn what he wants/loves!
post #14 of 25
Just finished our first grade year with K. She was pulled from public school during winter break. Our subjects that had "official" curriculum were:

reading (Reading Reflex,ABeCeDarian, Explode the Code, Beyond the Code, I See Sam readers, and a few decodable books thrown in)
math (Singapore math 1B)
spelling (I had a spectrum spelling book, but have switched to All About Spelling)

Other subjects:
Social Studies/History: Big sister was studying American history and K tagged along for the ride. K focused more on what it was like back then. We looked at several time periods and compared them. She learned to make butter, some hand stitching, etc.
Science: We do a lot of experiments at home. We get the books from the library and have fun. Additionally, older dd was doing physics so K learned from those specific experiments as well--provided an opportunity for older dd to explain the science to someone. But, K is really a life science girl and loves to garden. So, I used our garden as a basis for a lengthier, controlled science topic. I don't know if she realized how much she learned.
Home Ec: DD requested cooking classes, so we did this on Wednesdays. She created a recipe book from the things we made. She also sewed her own skirt with the machine.
Art/Writing: DD hates to practice writing so I moved it from our "official" school stuff and just slid it in where I could. I love the Draw, Write, Now books and so did she. She didn't think they were "school" though and would sit down with them for hours at a time. She didn't always do the copywork, but the drawings often prompted spontaneous writing which I LOVE.
Logic: we all love to do various logic puzzles.
Other: sometimes I will actually "assign" legos or blocks or other building type things with a specific goal. They think of it as play, I think learning.

DD left public school with a really negative attitude about "school". So, while I do use a math book and reading is a constant (she is dyslexic too) I really try to make the rest of it closer to an unschooling experience.

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
wow guys. thank you so much for all the info. it's so cool to see the diversity between everyones curriculum. it's like there no wrong way to do it.
post #16 of 25
Originally Posted by meg-momto2 View Post
wow guys. thank you so much for all the info. it's so cool to see the diversity between everyones curriculum. it's like there no wrong way to do it.
Exactly! I really think it would be hard to mess up first grade unless you killed the love of learning.

post #17 of 25
Great seeing all these first grade plans. I'll have a 1st grader this year, and here is our plan

Language Arts
Explode the Code 3, 4 and maybe 5
All About Spelling 2 (we did level 1 for kindy)
Writing With Ease 1
Cursive First
Reading Practice (I See Sam readers)

Singapore Math 1B and 2A

Literature (i.e., stuff I read aloud)
Aesop's Fables
Blue Fairy Book

We are doing life science using the "One Small Square" and "Among the (Forest, Pond, etc) People" books

We are going to begin learning to draw a map of the world; read Paddle to the Sea; and continue using FIAR books to explore world geography.

Typically I would start ancient history in first grade, but I am waiting until second grade so that I can have both my older children on the same history cycle.
post #18 of 25
We used CHC for first grade with some Latin added in. For me, the basics are Latin, Math, English (grammar, spelling, and hand writing) and Catechism. I'm primarily concerned with doing those thoroughly. In primary years, history, science, geography, etc are extracurricular to me. We usually just go over them formally once or twice a week. We tend towards classical but are fairly lax in K-2, with 3rd grade getting more formal and structured.
post #19 of 25
Originally Posted by jessicaSAR View Post
We are doing life science using the "One Small Square" and "Among the (Forest, Pond, etc) People" books
i love the "one small square" books and have been wanting to purchase them for some time. i wish my library carried them! i've not seen "among the people" series, so I'll need to check those out! these could be great additions to our science. thanks!
post #20 of 25
Originally Posted by elizawill View Post
i love the "one small square" books and have been wanting to purchase them for some time. i wish my library carried them! i've not seen "among the people" series, so I'll need to check those out! these could be great additions to our science. thanks!
It's a sweet little series of nature stories by Clara Dillingham Pierson, written at the turn of the last century. They are all in the public domain, and printable online at mainlesson.com. They fit pretty well with the one small square books.

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