Homeschool Curriculum for First Grade…Our Choices!

The countdown is on and preparation is nearly complete (…and I have surprisingly been able to somewhat maintain a level of sanity!) so I thought I’d share with you our homeschool curriculum choices for first grade 🙂

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Last year (for Kindergarten), we chose to use Timberdoodle Company’s curriculum kit with a few additional add-ons to both meet our state requirements and introduce things that we personally wanted to implement into our homeschool. This year we are planning on doing something similar, but not exactly…

In researching this year I came across the name of a lady: Charlotte Mason. The more I learn about her educational methods, the more I know that this is the way I want to educate my daughter. Some things will be easier for me to implement than others; reading comes naturally and easy, but getting myself motivated to go outside for a while everyday may be a challenge. (I don’t know why, though, I love being outside once I get there!)

All of that to say that our homeschool this year will be mostly Timberdoodle with a distinct Charlotte Mason slant. If you’d like to see the specifics, keep reading 🙂

Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

Bible Study & Morning Routine

Bible Study & Morning Routine

Bible Study & Morning Routine

I’ve decided to continue using the Bible Study Guide for All Ages as our morning Bible study.  The Princess and I have both learned so much from this study (for me, it has been a wonderful way to memorize those lists that you always wanted to and knew you should but just didn’t because, well, you have to memorize it!)  To keep costs down, though, we’re going to continue on through the beginner level.  (Grades 1-2 cost significantly more because you have to purchase a separate teacher’s guide for each lesson packet.)  We’ll re-evaluate when we complete all 416 lessons and decide if we need to use the primary level or if we can just jump into the intermediate level lessons.

To help us with scripture memorization, we’ll be using a CD called Sing the Word:  A new Commandment.

*Part of our morning routine will also focus on learning a new hymn and a new folksong each month.  We’ll be using the lists so kindly put together for us by the lovely ladies at Ambleside Online!

Math

Math

Math

Math is where we will stray the most from the items provided in the Timberdoodle curriculum.  Last year, we used what came with our kit (Mathematical Reasoning A by the Critical Thinking Co).  While the Princess did learn from the book, it just wasn’t the best fit for her.  There was little in the way of explanation, and we ended up supplementing with lots of games (both online and off) as well as with the first two books in the Life of Fred series.  By the time summer came, I knew that we needed to try something different.  Thankfully, I found just what we were looking for!

*Making Math Meaningful by David Quine has really seemed to click with the Princess.  She is learning and enjoying math now!  I like that it tells you exactly what to say and do (although you don’t have to follow the script if you don’t want to).  I also like that it is so inexpensive.  I purchased the counting chips and links separately, and unifix cubes are also on the way.  Everything else you need to use this book you’ll probably already have in your home.  We started going through level 1 for review this summer, so when school begins, we’ll finish the book and move on to level 2.  (And the Mathematical Reasoning B book that we got from Timberdoodle will become the review book next summer 😉 )

*Life of Fred.  The Princess enjoyed her Life of Fred books, so we’ll be continuing on with both Cats and Dogs.  We’ll do it once a week and have a “Fred Friday”.

*The addition and subtraction wrap-ups and the Cuisenaire rods are extras from our Timberdoodle curriculum.  I’m sure we’ll use them at some point.

History

History

Timeline

Timeline

History

  • The Story of the World Vol. 1 by Susan Wise Bauer
  • Famous Figures of Ancient Times
  • A Timeline for All Time by Vickie Froehlich

Both The Story of the World and the Famous Figures are from our Timberdoodle kit.  The timeline I purchased separately and we’ll work on together as a family.  I really enjoy all of the beautiful historic figures that are included, and for the price, it is a great deal!

Geography

Geography

Geography

  • Daily Geography (Evan-Moor)
  • Scrunch Map

Again, both items are from our Timberdoodle kit.

Science

Science

Science

  • Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright, and the Junior Notebook Journal
  • Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

The astronomy book is from our Timberdoodle curriculum.  The handbook and sketch diaries will hopefully help us to get outside at least once a week for class!  I’m not sure how the two will work together, but we’ll see.

Handwriting

Handwriting

Handwriting

  • A Reason for Handwriting
  • The Usborne Very Big Maze Book

We used A Reason for Handwriting last year and saw a tremendous improvement in the Princess’ handwriting ability, so we’re sticking with it this year.  The teacher’s guide was purchased separately and was actually a very big help for the kindergarten year.  (When you buy it, you can use it for grades k-6, so it’s a good investment if you think you’ll use it.)  The Usborne Maze Book will just be a little added fun (and it’s a sneaky way to get her to practice!)

Language Arts

Language Arts

Language Arts

  • Language Smarts B (The Critical Thinking Co)
  • Daily 6-Trait Writing Grade 1

Again, both from our Timberdoodle kit.  They look like they will be a fun introduction to language arts and writing.

Reading

The majority of our reading material this year will come from Ambleside Online‘s Year 1.  We’ll be following their reading schedule and begin practicing our narration skills!  I’ll post these pics a little bigger so that you can see the titles.

These will be the readers the Princess will read to me (some from Timberdoodle, some from AO, and we’ll probably be making bi-weekly trips to the library):

Age-Appropriate Readers

Age-Appropriate Readers

Here are our daily read-alouds:

Read-Alouds

Read-Alouds

On the top is my Kindle.  Some of our AO books are on it.

And here are our free reads.  They’ll probably end up being our bedtime stories:

Free-Reads

Free-Reads

Health

Health

Health

  • A Beka Health, Safety, & Manners 1

Our state requires that we teach health.  We used Horizons Health last year for Kindergarten (there just aren’t that many health curriculums for kindergarten) and I wasn’t a fan for most of the year.  So this year we’re going to give A Beka a try.

Art

Art

Art

Rather than use what Timberdoodle sends as our main art curriculum, we’ll be using Meet the Masters.  I like that it incorporates artist study along with making art.  We used it a little bit last year, so we’ve already got our portfolios made and pictured above.  I actually found a great deal on it last year at the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Music

Music

Music

Last year’s music curriculum (Pfeiffer House Music) was just not a good fit for us.  I’m hoping that this program will be more enjoyable!  It looks like lots of fun, and like we’ll actually be learning, so we’ll see.

Spanish

Sorry I don’t have a picture for it.  But it’s only online!  We’ll be watching one episode per week.

P.E.  The Princess has been in dance class for almost as long as she’s been alive (we started with Mommy & Me classes) and she’s continuing on this year with a first year of gymnastics.

And last but not least…

Fun!

Fun!

Fun!

Yep, fun 🙂  Not that the other stuff won’t be fun, but this will be miscellaneous fun and games, art, handicrafts, go outside and run around like crazy, take a break from the more difficult subjects kind of time.  A lot of the stuff in the picture above is from Timberdoodle–the extras that came with our kit last year that we didn’t quite finish (or that you can play again and again), and the extras in the kit this year, too.  We’ll see how it changes as the year progresses.  But we all need some fun in our everyday 🙂

And I think that’s it.  If it’s like last year, there will be continual tweaking and change to meet the needs of my student.  So this is our starting point.  Here’s to a happy, fun, and successful year for us all!

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Kindergarten Music…

Maybe I’m stressing over this more than I should.

But this is going to be the last thing that I *tweak* before school starts. Really, it is.

My choice for our kindergarten homeschool music curriculum has been (and continues to be) Say Hello to Classical Music from My Father’s World https://www.mfwbooks.com/L0A0F3A0B816784019E42063+M50+ENG . I chose it because it was inexpensive and said that it combined listening to classical music with fun activities for the littles. Sounded great to me!

I popped the cd into my laptop and loved the music. I looked over the activities and…to be honest, I was a little disappointed.

I’m not really sure what I was hoping for. There are 26 musical selections, each with an accompanying activity. Out of those activities, 6 are repeated (one being a drawing/painting of fish but two times in a row…) I guess I was just hoping for more, I don’t know. So I have once again gone on a quest to find a music curriculum that I think my daughter will enjoy. After much searching, here’s what we’ll be doing:

-We’ll still be doing the My Father’s World Say Hello to Classical Music cd’s and activities. I really did love the music and I know that my daughter will enjoy it, too. I may spruce it up a bit by adding a picture of the composer and maybe an interesting fact about him before we start. We’ll do this every other week.

-The other choice that I had been considering before making my initial purchase was Kindergarten Music from Pfeiffer House Music http://www.lessonplansformusic.net/booklet-cd-kindergarten-music/ . After another look around, I decided to go ahead and make the purchase. The kit includes a lesson book, worksheets, flash cards, and a cd, and comes in both a Christian and secular version. You can also just buy a digital download which is less expensive, but I like to have the cd and books in my hands so I went with the booklet and cd. There are 14 lessons which we will do every other week (rotating with the MFW cd/activities, some of which we may skip since they’re duplicates.)

I think that this will give my daughter a good start with her kindergarten music curriculum. She’ll be exposed to the classics, as well as be learning about things like rhythm, pitch, and solfege.

Interestingly, my search led me to find some great curriculum that we may try in the future. SQUILT looks like a fun, comprehensive program that is very affordable. Check it out here: http://www.squiltmusic.com/p/squilt-curriculum.html . Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades http://www.zeezok.com/Music-Appreciation-Student-Activity-Book_p_58.html from zeezok.com would be a dream, but it is rather pricey. One that I’m leaning toward is The Classical Kids Collection . After searching and saving it for later I was surprised and excited when I saw that it is offered as a first grade elective at Sonlight 🙂

So there it is. Hip hip, hooray! Now to begin lesson planning……..

Kindergarten Spanish: A Change in the Plan…

So I’m already making changes to my curriculum choices…and school hasn’t even *officially* started yet. (Although we did do our first Bible lesson from our new curriculum this morning! The princess seemed so excited and interested, so I figured why wait?)

Here’s what happened:

I was doing a bit more reading on http://www.amblesideonline.org . I was mainly interested in their reading list for year 0 (kindergarten), when I noticed that they offered some council on foreign language programs.

My daughter has expressed an interest in learning Spanish. I myself am fascinated by learning languages, although (sadly) English is the only language I speak fluently. So I was very excited to add a Spanish curriculum to our homeschool agenda! Maybe I’ll learn a thing or two, too, in the process!

I had purchased a complete boxed set of La Clase Divertida (The Fun Class) from ebay a few weeks ago and was excited when it finally arrived. The website says that it’s suitable for children from PK-8th grade. Looking at it, though, I wasn’t so sure. It seemed to me that for grade K I’d have to do a lot of tweaking. So when I saw the recommendations from Ambleside, I began to reconsider my choice.

After much deliberation, I decided to purchase the Spanish Teacher’s Kit from Little Pim. I had considered Little Pim when I was looking before, but didn’t realize they had a teacher’s kit and at the time I wasn’t so sure about spending so much $$$ on something that might not keep my daughter’s attention. My daughter seemed interested and enjoyed the sample video offered on the site, but I still wasn’t sure I wanted to spend so much on the Complete Set. The teacher’s kit is less expensive (although it doesn’t include the second set of dvd’s like the complete kit does) and I figure that if we don’t like it, we can always find something else. Plus, I found a coupon! That plus free shipping on orders over $20 and I just couldn’t pass it up, lol.

So here is the plan for now:

1) Work through the Little Pim curriculum. If we like it, when the time comes we can purchase volume 2. In the meantime, my daughter will be hearing Spanish and becoming familiar with basic vocabulary.

2) When we are finished with Little Pim, we will move to Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Salsa series online. I think she’ll enjoy it more if she can understand a bit of what they’re saying (which she hopefully will because of Little Pim!).

3) After we’ve worked through both of those programs, we’ll re-evaluate how ready she may be for La Clase Divertida. The cool thing is that I already have a curriculum for the future, and it really does look like it will be “The Fun Class”!

So that’s it for now. When I get a few more things cleaned up from our big weekend I’ll start working on getting a basic schedule created for school. It’ll be here before we know it and I wanna be ready!

Homeschool Curriculum for Kindergarten…Our Choices!

After fretting over it for a few days, going back and forth, and praying that we would make the right decisions, here are our top choices for a kindergarten curriculum (for our daughter. Everyone will be different, and that’s ok 🙂 )

In our state, the following subjects are mandatory: English, math, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education. That’s a lot to pack into a day (although I know that we don’t have to do *every* subject *every* day.) I also want to make Bible studies, character building, and foreign language a part of our learning. The next step will be to figure out how to do that! For now, here are our choices and what we will be working with this school year:

http://www.timberdoodle.com/Complete_Homeschool_Core_Curriculum_Kindergarten_p/999-0050.htm Yes, we chose Timberdoodle over Sonlight. The fun, hands-on learning is something that I know my daughter is going to absolutely love, and we had to let that weigh heaviest in our decision. What is going to make her *want* to learn and *do school* every day? This curriculum seems to be one that she’ll be learning while she thinks she’s playing and having fun. Really, it would’ve been a no-brainer had my heart not been so committed to the Sonlight readers…

http://www.sonlight.com/AA5.html So I got the readers, too! I want my daughter to be hearing wonderful literature! I want her to enjoy reading good books! So I shopped around and pieced together all of the books in this read-aloud package from Sonlight. The downside is that I don’t have the instructor’s guide to go with the books so we’ll be on our own for a reading schedule and comprehension questions. But I couldn’t see spending the almost $80 dollars just for that. I did purchase a few of the read-alouds from them, as well as other items from Sonlight:
-Least of All (read-aloud)
-The Usborne book of Living Long Ago
-The Usborne Book of Wild Places: Mountains, Jungles, & Deserts
-Sing the Word from A to Z (CD)
-How Flowers Grow
-Weather
-No Children, No Pets (read-aloud)
-Five True Dog Stories (read-aloud)
-Johnny Appleseed (read-aloud)
-The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose (read-aloud)

-Art. Along with the art provided in the Timberdoodle curriculum, I purchased the Sonlight suggested book Enjoying Art With Children by Gladys S. Blizzard. I shopped it and found it cheaper elsewhere.

-Music. https://www.mfwbooks.com/L0A7F4F0686178501E152061+M50+ENG Say Hello to Classical Music from My Father’s World. This looks fun and simple. The instructor’s guide is included on the cd. I think this will be enough music to take us through the year. If not, I will also purchase the kindergarten program from lessonplansformusic.net

-Health. Are we the only state that requires a health course to be taught in kindergarten? I think I found only two major K level health programs in all of my searching. I will be using the Horizons Health set (by necessity, not choice), and adding a book I found through Sonlight: The Story of Me by Brenna and Stan Jones.

-Physical Education. My daughter participates in activities outside the home that fulfill this requirement. But if I were to *need* curriculum, we would definitely be doing the program at Familytimefitness.com http://www.familytimefitness.com/

-Bible. The most important part of the day. We will be using the Bible Study Guide for All Ages Beginner Starter Pack. http://biblestudyguide.com/shop/index.php?cPath=16_56 . I’ve let my daughter look through this and she seemed very interested. I’m so thankful that she has such an interest in the word of God and loves our time spent together reading His word. We’ll begin our days with this, and end them with the book Leading Little Ones to God: A Child’s Book of Bible Teachings by Marian M. Schoolland. We’ll also have the Sonlight sing-along CD that I posted above to help us with our memory verses.

-Character building. https://www.abeka.com/ABekaOnline/BookDescription.aspx?sbn=202061 Homeschool Character Development Visuals from A Beka. Simple and sweet.

-Foreign Language. My daughter has a desire-just like her momma-to learn foreign languages. She has expressed a desire to learn how to speak Spanish, so we will be watching Salsa on the Georgia Public Broadcasting website, as well as going through the La Clase Divertida http://www.funclase.com/Level-1-Spanish-s/1817.htm program.

Whew! Think that’s enough! As soon as we get our package from Timberdoodle I can sit down and figure out how we will schedule our days. (Which reminds me, I chose to purchase a homeschool planner from Mardel.com rather than having the headache of trying to figure out what to include in my own–at least this first time around, lol) I’m wondering how quickly (or slowly) we’ll get through things, as my daughter is already reading and doing a great deal of the things that I’ve read are taught in kindergarten. It will be a challenge, but I’m excited and ready for it!

***I’ve tried to include links to all of the websites, but they don’t seem to be showing up. It’s late, and I’m not techno-savvy, so I’ll try to edit this and fix it later.

Homeschool Curriculum…Choices, Choices….

It has been like Christmas in July around our house this week! Packages have been arriving nearly every day containing loads of goodies for our homeschool!

I’m not a momma who has been looking into homeschool curriculum from the time I was knee-high to a jelly bean, but when someone told me about the Sonlight curriculum, I was sold. That was a year ago–maybe two–, and that was the plan should the possibility ever arise. I, like many, love the idea of a literature based curriculum. Love it. But when the time came for me to actually purchase curriculum, I wanted to see what else was out there so that I could be sure I was making the best choices for our little princess.

Wow, there are A LOT of homeschool curriculum choices out there!

Here’s what I knew:
-Because I’m new to all of this, I wanted something comprehensive. I didn’t want to have to create my own curriculum. What if I miss something important???!!! :S :S :S
-I wanted a curriculum that will help us to best schedule our days. I wanted instructor guides to tell me what to do and when to do it!
-I wanted something that would be fun! It’s really important to my husband and I that this first year of schooling for our princess is fun, engaging, and a time that is going to help foster a love of learning in our daughter.

I was nearly ready to order the Core A Kindergarten Curriculum from Sonlight when I came across a post on facebook. A mom was asking about a curriculum for her daughter that was pretty much everything I was looking for. That’s when I heard the name Timberdoodle. As soon as I saw all that it had to offer I was torn. It looked like so much FUN! I knew my daughter would love it. But my heart also longed for the read-aloud time that Sonlight offered. What to do?

I talked it over with the hubby. And what we did…I’ll tell you in the next post 😉