Monday, September 5, 2016

Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 1st and 3rd Grade

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Homeschool curriculum choices are an incredibly personal decision.  Each child learns differently and therefore a lot of the curriculum and learning resources we use may not work for everyone.  However, I have always loved to read what others use throughout the year, and it has given me significant insight into my own schooling choices for the kids.

This year Emma is eight and Jack is six.  If they were in public school they would be in 3rd and 1st grade, however, I don’t depend as much on what their public school grade would be – I want to work at their pace, whether it is faster or slower or right in the middle.  That is the beauty of homeschooling, individualized paths for each child.


A couple unique pieces to keep in mind: We school all year, so when I need new curriculum in March, I purchase it.  If we finish a math book early, I go to the next level.  This means that when I talk about our homeschool curriculum for this year, we won’t necessarily be starting at the beginning of book 1, because we started in March, or July, or we will soon start in October.  This is a glimpse into what works for us currently – always subject to change!

I will start with Jack, because we are doing significantly less with Jack than with Emma this year.

Math – Jack is using Singapore Math 1A & 1B this year.  He is currently about two-thirds of the way through book 1A.  Math is his favorite, and I let him work on as much as he wants.  He is typically doing 1-2 lessons each day, depending on how long they are.  I expect him to finish 1B before the end of the “regular school year” and then we will move onto 2A & 2B.

Reading – I have so many readers on our bookshelves from the six cores we have purchased from Sonlight and I typically just pick a book for him to read.  Recently he has been reading the Frog and Toad books, which he thinks is a riot.  We are working on Level 2 and 3 books for the most part, in addition to whichever books he chooses from the library.

Writing – For writing, we are working on Handwriting Without Tears 1.  We usually do one to two pages of this each day.  I actually have two of this same workbook, I don’t know how that happened, and we are almost through with one of them.  So I think that I might start over again at the beginning of the second book to make sure that his writing improves before we move onto the next book in this curriculum.

Jack loves to write stories, and we are letting him write as much as his little heart desires.  I did purchase the book My Very First Story Writing Book from Usborne to use at some point, but we haven’t started it yet.


The goal right now with Jack is to get him comfortable with math, reading, and writing, and then add in the other subjects we do altogether with him as much as possible, while still giving him a lot of freedom to do the things that he cares about most – which currently are creating stop motion videos, making mine craft let’s play videos, and drawing elaborate video game maps on rolls of paper.  Add in as much Scratch as we will let him do, and he is a happy camper.

Some of the other resources we are using with Jack this year – but not with any particular curriculum – are:


The curriculum choices for Emma are significantly longer, so let’s get started!

Math – For math, Emma will be using Singapore Math 3A & 3B.  Like Jack, she is about halfway through the first book.  We will continue going through until she has completed both workbooks, and then we will move on to 4A& 4B around March I think, perhaps a bit sooner if we start moving quickly through it. 

Reading – We are currently using readers from Sonlight Core D, and I expect that to continue.  Emma also picks out her own books from the library to read, and has been enjoying pretty much anything by Andrew Clements as of late, especially re-reading The School Story, a book about a 12 year old girl who wants to have a book published, which leads us to…


Writing – Emma wants to publish a book, which I think is amazing.  We are encouraging her to do as much writing as she wants to creatively on her own, and then we work through editing together.  We also have the UsborneWrite Your Own Story Book for Emma to work through.  It works on character development, writing descriptive scenes, etc.  We are just starting it, but I think she is enjoying it so far.  For copywork we are using Bible verses that we are learning together as a family.

HandwritingHandwriting Without Tears – Cursive.  Emma is also about two-thirds through this book, and is LOVING cursive.  Once she is finished with this book, we will continue to do copywork in cursive, and then move on to whichever handwriting book comes next in the series.  She has very neat penmanship, and for that I am thankful!

Spelling – This is the first year we have worked on a spelling curriculum, and we are using Sequential Spelling Book 1.  It is not based on ability as to where you start, rather they recommend everyone start at book 1 and continue to move through them.  I really like the program, and Emma is thriving with it.  We are about 40 days into this book, it has 180 days of lessons, so this should take us through the end of our regular year this year.

The subjects we are working on together as a family.


Science – We are using Apologia – Exploring Creation with Anatomy & Physiology.  The kids decided which science program they wanted this year from the Apologia line.  This is our first year using this curriculum, and so far we like it.  We started at the beginning of August, so we aren’t that far into the book.  What I really like about the curriculum is that it has a companion notebook.  One that is for 4th grade and up, and one that works for the kinder-3rd grade set.  Jack got the younger notebook, and Emma got the older notebook.  Emma has really enjoyed learning how to “take notes” on what she is listening to – we have the textbook, but also chose to purchase the CD which reads the textbook aloud to the student.  This is a huge timesaver for me when Lucy is not into school for the day.  I probably could have used the younger book for Emma, but I thought it was a little too young for her, and we are able to pick and choose which parts of the notebook she is using.  Since we work on it together as a family, it isn’t difficult for me to help her if she has trouble writing out information.

There are also some amazing lapbook resources that we may incorporate as well, but we aren't there yet.

We also LOVE all things Magic School Bus and incorporate a lot of their products/books/shows into our everyday learning as well.

Fine Arts – We love music in our home, and have it on daily.  I like the kids to listen to a wide variety of music, because I like to listen to a wide variety of music.  However, I thought it would be good to get some sort of music appreciation course into our year, and also a study on composers.  I chose two items to help with this The Story of the Orchestra, and The Classical Kids Collection.  We have yet to start either of these, but I am excited to start them this month!  For art the kids both have their Fun-schooling notebooks as well as the book Do You Doodle? which allows them little prompts and then they can draw away.  Emma is also in piano lessons and theater once a week.


Physical Education – I think it is hard not to get this in a day in our home, the kids love to ride bikes and play outside, climbing trees, etc.  But, we also LOVE the CosmicKids Yoga station on YouTube.  Lucy is even involved in it this year.  It helps the kids to slow down and relax, and center themselves for school, and I love that for them!

Read Alouds – I love to read to the kids, and will pretty much read whichever books they would like.  We have been making our way through the Narnia series, and Emma and I have read the first Harry Potter book together this summer.  She and I switch off on reading it out loud, and it has been fun to share this with her.  We just started The Chamber of Secrets and I know that once this book is done we will most likely be waiting to continue the series.  A few of the read alouds we will be doing soon are Justin Morgan Had a Horse, The Lewis and Clark Expedition, and Tolliver’sSecret.


History – Honestly, history deserves its own post, but I am going to try and condense it as much as possible.

We are finishing up an extended Sonlight Core D.  We started Core D in August of last year, a full year before Emma would be on the age range for the book levels.  The reason was because we had started with the other cores from Sonlight so early.  However, this also caused a couple of issues.  First, Core D pairs the Language Arts and Readers with the History curriculum starting in Core D, but I knew she wouldn’t be ready for those books yet.  However, we had fully exhausted Ancient and Medieval History, and we were ready to move onto American History.  So we started Core D, and decided to move slowly through it, and add in other elements.


I plan to wait until after our long winter break to start Core E, and instead we are working through a bit more of U.S. History through state studies and studies of Presidents.  One of the books we are using to help us with this is The United States Cookbook.  It has little facts about each state in addition to a recipe that we are going to cook together.  I am not going to make it through all the states before we start our next core in January or February, but it is going to give us a little extra history in the meantime.

We have puzzles and maps of the United States, as well as little workbooks that I picked up at the dollar spot at Target.  I plan to work through the states in the order they were accepted into the Union.

I am actually incredibly excited about this part of our history for the year.  While I love to do all the reading with the kids (and we still are using the Children’s Encyclopedia ofAmerican History), I know that this will be a lot of fun.

Again, the goal is to foster creativity and love of learning in my children.  Emma loves writing stories, so we are going to concentrate a lot on writing this year.  She has received her first dictionary, which is helping her out a lot in regards to spelling correctly when she is writing.  She loves to listen to me read to her, which is something I am happy to oblige her with.

Do you have a favorite curriculum that you use with your kids?  Or a favorite subject you love to teach or study?

25 comments:

  1. Ooh, those coding books look fantastic. I need to add those to my wishlist!

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  2. For the love of books!! You’ve made some wonderful choices. Hopping over from the “Back-to-School” Blog Hop.

    Happy Homeschooling!

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  3. Wow. Those are some sophisticated books for kids so young. I think it's so great that you are able to homeschool your kids successfully. I would love to be able to, but my son is not a fan of learning in general. LOL!

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  4. I know curriculum and this sounds like a good one! I like how many choices you have and your read Alouds Rock!

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  5. My boys love everything STEM. We don't homeschool but they are in a STEM charter school we just love to bits! It is perfect for them.

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  6. Sounds like a good plan! I could never homeschool my kids but more power to you!

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  7. It's so great that you can go at their own pace too. That's so great and makes me want to homeschool my kid one day.

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  8. I remember oh so many years ago when our kids were school age and home schooling was 'rare'. What a long way families and education has come. I just love the many resources you all share and would consider this for any of my grandkids, neice, nephews !

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  9. I know zero about home schooling, thank you for sharing what you are doing...

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  10. Ooh, those coding books look fantastic. i love hearing how people homeschool these days. It is so wonderful.

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  11. This sounds like a good plan and this is a great resource for homeschooling parents. I have high respects for parents who home school their kids.

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  12. I am so interested in home schooling. I am thinking of giving this option to my son.

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  13. I think home schooling is great and you can really tailor the curriculum to their personal needs and really evaluate their growth in the workroom. Great idea.

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  14. These are all such great choices for home schooling. I definitely want to check out the coding for kids series.

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  15. These are some really great books and resources, although we don't homeschool we like to supplement our own learning at home!

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  16. Homeschooling is definitely not for me but all of this looks like great material! We do workbooks and things on breaks from public school.

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  17. I would not even know where to begin with home schooling. You have laid out a lot of great choices though. Hope you have a great year!

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  18. What amazing resources for those who homeschool their children! It seems like you have it all organized and prepared for an excellent year of learning!

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  19. I like the idea of writing your own storybook. My son would also enjoy illustrating his stories!

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  20. We just started homeschooling so I love getting curriculum ideas from other parents!

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  21. Just curious on your opinion of being schooled at home but via computer. In Ohio we have an online school called ECOT. I don't think it is a very good option but curious if you had an opinion of those. I realize anything is only as good as you put into it.

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  22. How exciting! I toyed with the idea of homeschooling several years ago, but my schedule wouldn't allow it. Now that my daughter will be starting school next year, I'm hoping I can do it this time around. :)

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  23. Congrats for taking the leap to become a homeschool mom. I know this is a challenge and adventure. Looks like you have some helpful resources to help you on your journey.

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  24. Those are some great choices for Homeschooling subjects. We thought about it but the therapy needed for my boys was better through school.

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  25. This is so amazing! You have such a great choice of books and curriculum. You are doing a great job.

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