“What does first grade look like at your house?”
This question is posed frequently by both fellow homeschoolers and curious friends. Today, I offer a look at first grade in our house.
It looks like the outdoors as much as possible. It includes skateboarding, bike riding, running, and throwing rocks in the river.
It looks like exploration. It involves snap circuits, marbles, play-doh, and baking.
It looks like building and creating. It involves Minecraft, blocks, legos, and race tracks.
It looks an awful lot like game playing. It involves Chess, card games, Mastermind, and Blink.
First grade days involve a lot of laughter and giggles and play with siblings.
Of course, most folks who ask the question are really interested in what they consider the “academics” of first grade. But in our household, exploration, and engagement with the world around us is ranked is more valuable at this age.
Sometimes creativity just happens. Other times Mom creates it. I lay out a certain game in an easy to find spot or cover the table with art supplies. Other times I have to sit down to explain things, like the rules of chess.
In the midst of it all, we do also engage in some formal academics. Here is the outline of my academic choices for C (age 6):
Reading/Phonics. We will continue working through The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. (TOPG) He is learning to read fairly easily and that has made my job easier. His lesson takes 5-7 minutes to complete and they are very low stress. Bob Books and early readers will also be incorporated on various days when we need a break from the phonics lessons. And of course, I will continue to read him picture books on various topics all year long.
He is learning to read fairly easily and that has made my job easier. His lesson takes 5-7 minutes to complete and they are very low stress. Bob Books and early readers will also be incorporated on various days when we need a break from the phonics lessons. And of course, I will continue to read him picture books on various topics all year long.
A typical lesson from TOPG:
Sometimes we read at our table. Other times we read on the floor.
Recently, he needed a break from the phonics “program” and we began reading stories from one of our readers. Moving to an “easier” book has built a lot of confidence in his reading ability. We will stick with it for a bit.
Another important aspect of his reading curriculum is our read-aloud titles. We will read the Brave Writer Arrow titles as a family this year. While he does not do the copy work from the Arrow guides, he does listen and participate in the discussions we have.
Spelling/Phonics. Daniel is working through Explode the Code, book 1. While this is a phonics program, I consider it a spelling program when used with my early readers. He also has to do a decent amount of writing, so it works well as additional handwriting practice.
Handwriting. I have basic lined copy work pages for him. I write a sentence for him and he copies it. He knows his letters but needs to work on using lower case when writing. We keep it simple.
I often let him pick the phrase or words:
Sometimes I pick the sentence. And sometimes he reminds me that he is a goofball.
Writing. Throughout the year, we do poetry assignments and he dictates them to me. He does the actual writing any time he would like, but it is never forced. He dictates stories to me every Friday when we do Freewrite Friday. While the girls free write on the topic, he draws a picture. Once the older kids are done freewriting, he dictates his story.
(This is a new practice for our family. I admit that I wish I had started this sooner with my older children. The freewriting books are absolute treasures!)
History. Our entire family is studying the Early Modern Age using, Story of the World volume III. He listens and participates in discussion with our entire “class”. Each chapter includes map work and coloring. I often check out library books at his level to reinforce our history topics. We get together with friends once a month to do crafts and activities based this curriculum.
We are also going to attempt to use the Homeschool in the Woods Time Traveller Series: Colonial Life. I hope to do this simultaneously with Story of the World (SOTW). SOTW is the story of the ENTIRE world, but my boys (1st and 3rd) have not focused on American History at all. I hope to add in units from the Homeschool in the Woods on Colonial Life and The American Revolution once they are introduced in SOTW.
Science. Our entire classroom will study Anatomy and Physiology this year using Apologia. My first grader will participate in the readings and discussions at his own level and work on age-appropriate activities in his notebook. Every chapter has activities and labs, so he will participate in those with us. Science also includes field trips throughout the year, including the Orlando Science Center, this year.
He keeps his own notebook, recording things as he is able:
He is an active participant in our labs and activities. I mean, who doesn’t want to make a candy cell model?
Field Trips. We love to learn outside of our home. I try to make as many plans for field trips as I can reasonably fit in our crazy schedule.
That sums up the homeschooled life of a first grader around these parts. A little bit of academics sprinkled with a whole lot of creativity, fun, and exploration!