Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Grade in Our Home: Overview

I'm having such fun doing first grade with my two oldest this year.  We started in July, so we're a little more than half way through our first term.  I'm relying on Ambleside Online very heavily this year and plan to for the future as well; their book lists are wonderful, and I love the weekly schedule on their site.  We went through their Year 0 and Year 0.5 book lists over the last couple years, and now we have moved on to Year 1.

Here's what we're using pretty much as-written from the AO Year 1 plans
:: Poetry - Robert Louis Stevenson, A.A. Milne, other anthologies for free reading
:: Geography - Paddle to the Sea, weekly mapwork
:: Literature - Lang's The Blue Fairy Book, Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare, Milo Winter's The Aesop for Children, Kipling's Just So Stories*
:: Nature Study - James Herriot's Treasury for ChildrenThe Burgess Bird Book for Children, weekly nature outing and journaling
:: History - Our Island StoryFifty Famous Stories RetoldViking Tales, D'Aulaire biographies, weekly timeline work
:: Free Reading - Some of these titles we're doing together as read-alounds, and some the kids are reading independently, but we'll likely hit them all--and many others as well.  I'll post a list of what the children have read independently when we finish up this term for those looking for reading suggestions for this age range.

*The one change I did make in these subjects was that I substituted Parables from Nature and Trial and Triumph with Amy Steedman's Our Island Saints.  This is a compilation of saints' lives from early British history that both challenges the young student at the literary level (as Parables from Nature does) and gives a history of the early days of the Church (as Trial and Triumph tries to do).  It also corresponds nicely with the time period we're studying this year, the early history of Britain.  We have found the stories fascinating so far, so I think it was a great addition for us as a Catholic family.

Other resources we're using, not strictly from the Ambleside list:
:: Copywork - I use Startwrite to print out copywork selections from our poetry reading.
:: Math - We started Right Start Level C last month after finishing Level B over the summer.
:: Geography - In addition to Paddle to the Sea, we're reading a lesson per week from  C.C. Long's Home Geography for the Primary Grades.  So far I really like this text--short, understandable lessons that combine geography with a bit of science and history.  And a great match for this age.
:: Italian - Pimsleur Complete Course #1, Teach Me Everyday Italian!
:: Art - Mona Brooks' Drawing with Children, weekly art project
:: Religion - Amy Steedman's Our Island Saints, Maria Montessori's The Mass Explained to Children, Knecht's Child's Bible History, Father Brennan's Angel Food series, Old Testament picture books
:: Physical Education - A combination of drills and regular ol' outdoor playtime. :)
:: Artist Study - We're doing picture studies for one artist per term.  This term is El Greco.
:: Music Study - I'm focusing this year on an introduction to the orchestra through a variety of book- and music-resources.  I'll share more on this subject later on.
:: Music - We're learning a new hymn and a folk song about once every few weeks, depending on length.
:: Handcrafts - Our handcraft for this term is a new set of household chores.  ;)  With a new baby on the way and two very eager helpers, I have been training the older children to do some new tasks around the house.  More on this another day too!

I hope to write a bit more about some of these subjects over the couple weeks, as well as talk about how we're scheduling it all.  But that's an overview of our first-grade program!


  1. I loved this overview and the suggestion of things to substitute in for AO titles that don't quite work. Super helpful!

  2. We're just coming to the end of AO Year 1 & have enjoyed it very much. I've been wanting to start Drawing with Children with my dd who loves any kind of art but haven't got there yet.

  3. Oh, reading those book titles brings back wonderful memories for me! James Herriot's Treasury for Children was one of my favorite books to read aloud to my kids (though I almost always cried my way through the stories...there goes mom, crying over a kitten story again! LOL)
    Enjoy your year with these wonderful books. And, thanks for participating in the CM Carnival. Do it again, please.

  4. These studies will certainly serve for delight! I love Amy S. books, too. What a blessing this must be for your first-grader and your family.

    From joy to joy,

  5. I love reading your plans. Could you talk a bit more about your weekly drawing lessons with Mona? I'm having trouble getting a handle on this. :) Thanks!

    1. Hi Rochelle--we have been using Drawing with Children for the last two years (this is our third). In terms of how I break it down per week: I have taken a few other lesson plans and then adapted them to meet our timetable/preferences. Here are a couple helpful ones:


      The first year we got through "Lesson 3" in the book over the course of two terms. The following year, we went back through some of those topics using some additional ideas from the second link above and then continued on with Still Lifes. This year, we're doing Volume Drawing (Term 1), Exploring Different Media (Term 2), and Back to Still Lifes (Term 3). We'll see how it goes!

      One of these days, I really need to sort all my notes about this book into one organized document. Maybe at the end of this year, after we've finished the whole thing... :)