Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cate's First Grade

It's time to share Cate's first grade programme!  She'll be doing Year 1 of AmblesideOnline with a few substitutions.  (My plans here are posted with permission from AmblesideOnline.)

MathRightStart Level B/C (15 minutes x 4 days/week)
Language ArtsCopywork - printing using Startwrite pages, beginning with letter strokes (daily)
Reading - either reading an easy reader or doing a CM-style lesson (daily)
First Communion Basket
(15 min daily)
Leading Little Ones to Mary
Neumann Press' First Communion Days
Little Nellie of Holy God
Mother Mary Loyola's King of the Golden City
Mother Mary Loyola's First Communion
Fr. Halpin's Retreats for Children (First Confession and First Communion sections)
Fr. Brennan's Angel Food for Boys and Girls
Knecht's Child's Bible History
New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 0
Amy Steedman's The Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories
PoetryRobert Louis Stevenson (Term 1), AA Milne (Term 2), A Child's Book of Poems (Term 3)
LiteratureLang's Blue Fairy Book, Aesop's Fables, Kipling's Just-So Stories, Lambs' Tales from Shakespeare
HistoryMarshall's Our Island Story, Baldwin's Fifty Famous Stories Retold, Hall's Viking Tales
D'Aulaire biographies
Weekly entries on binder timeline
GeographyHolling's Paddle to the Sea
Mapwork - tracing Paddle's on the map, learning Western states, noting characters from history on maps of Europe and America
Natural HistoryThe Burgess Bird Book for Children, James Herriot's Treasury for Children
Nature StudyWeekly nature study outing with friends
Weekly nature journal entry
Monthly object lesson and in-the-field sketching session focusing on Trees
Keeping a Calendar of Firsts as a family
Alongside the Big Kids
(details here)
Picture study and music study (10 min weekly)
Italian (15 min daily)
Handicrafts - sewing with felt, wet felting, cooking (weekly)
Free Reading from the Year 4 and Year 1 lists (daily)
Daily calisthenics during memory work, weekly run with Mommy
Memory work (daily)
Morning Basket readings (not narrated) - Steedman's Legends of Italy, Flos Sanctorum, Hillyer's Child's Geography of the World , New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism, Opal Wheeler's book on the term composer, Hillyer's A Child's Book of Art on the term artist (daily)
Extra-curricularsPiano lesson (once weekly) and daily practice
Art lesson (once weekly)
Swim lessons with Xavier
Weekly homeschool park day

(And just for comparison: Gianna and Vincent's Year 1 and Cate's kindergarten.)

A few notes about Cate's schedule:

She is tagging along with Gianna and Vincent this year in many subjects, including handicrafts, Italian, memory work, Morning Basket readings, and so on.  In fact, I'm doing a slightly trimmer Year 1 with her than I planned for my older two kids since she sits in on so much of their work (like Shakespeare, for example!) and is hearing challenging readings often.  For them, I did add to the Ambleside Online schedule a tad, but it feels plenty meaty enough this go-round.

As usual, we are not doing Trial and Triumph, the suggested Bible rotation, or Parables from Nature, choosing instead to fill those slots with our own religious materials.  This is a sacramental preparation year for Cate, who hopes to make her First Confession and First Communion this spring.  So I chose to do a First Communion basket of religious reading I thought she would love as she readies herself for those events.  (Xavier is also joining us for the First Communion readings; he'll basically have a two-year preparation, which I think is an added bonus of being a younger sibling!)  I'm not scheduling these books out--just reading about ten minutes to her daily from whichever books we choose.

She's doing more extra-curricular activities than my older two were doing at her age.  But we found instructors for art and piano in our home, so I didn't mind adding Cate in to the lessons since they're already coming over to teach the older two.  She is very eager to start piano officially, and she'll do some simple drawing exercises with the art teacher while the big kids work on more complicated projects.  And I have been waiting until Xavier hit kindergarten age so the two of them could be paired for swim lessons.  So all three items on her list are family activities that will stretch for the year.

Cate and Xavier (my kindergartener) are actually doing quite a bit together this year, but I'll chat about my specific plans for him another day because I want to share a little pile of my favorite books for the Year 0.5 set. :)


  1. I have been waiting for this! Thank you! I have littles back to back like you and have been considering some kind of form one rotation to one, keep things more simple. My oldest is in Year 1, and my second oldest gets really upset when I do her school readings without him, so I dont' want to turn around next year and read the exact same things to him. Will you keep to the Ambleside schedule as more and more of your littles are in school age and you have to read everything to them? In my CM bookclub the advice is to do what works best for your family (and that might look different even with the same curriculum!) and so I am interested in what you are doing for your family as the littles grow up! Thanks for your time!

    1. I have plans to do a modified Form I rotation for the next few years, yes. In a couple years, I will have a Year 3, Year 2, and Year 1 student, plus a Year 0.5 (and then the bigs and the littles! LOL). I imagine I will definitely be combining them for natural history, poetry, Shakespeare, religion, and geography. I plan to leave history and most literature in separate years. Just that little bit of combining should ease my load enough to do the rest individually, I think--but only time will tell. ;)

      But generally speaking, I don't want to combine TOO much because I think it makes things harder in a lot of ways--the years do get progressively harder, the older child will be more experienced than the younger, books need to be rearranged, etc. We already do so much as "family work" that the individual readings are not all that many. And I also imagine that my Year 3 student will be reading some books on her own by that point, so that will help. I am definitely committed to AO for the long term as I just love it and see it working for us long-term, even if I am teaching lots of different grades. Seeing how independent my Year 4 students are this year makes me think that is realistic. :) But of course, all children and families are different, and I may have to adjust my vision for our future studies when I get to that time!

  2. Celeste, how do you do narrations at your house? Do you prompt at all? I'm struggling to know how much I should expect from my Y1 student...
    Also, could you elaborate on your map drills and map work? I would appreciate that so much; maybe with pictures? I can't seem to understand it. I'm probably making it too difficult...
    Thank you for all your work here! I have learned so much and gotten so many great books since I found your blog a few months ago!

    1. Hi Krystal! At the end of the selection, I read the beginning of the first sentence we read so that she knows where we started from, and then I let her continue without other promptings. Cate's narrations at this point (six weeks into the school year) are sometimes great, sometimes not at all. ;) And that's okay! She's a beginner, and I have seen from my older two how much they improve over time, so it really is best to just let them get used to the process. A couple things I do that might help: if she totally misses major elements of the chapter, I wait until the end of her narration and then during our discussion time, I'll casually mention something like, "You know what I found interesting about this section? When Peter Rabbit mentioned that Chippy is only there half of the year and Dotty is only there the other half!" She usually remembers it at that point, but she doesn't receive it as "prompting" or a crutch, which I think is important. It is also helpful for some student to hear narration modeled, so if your Y1 student is struggling with what a narration should potentially sound like, you can try that here and there. (I actually don't do that very often because my daughter's issue is perfectionism--she is upset with herself for not remembering the *whole thing* and thus kind of clams up. This is likely because she has spent the last few years listening to her older brother and sister's excellent narrations and feels like she can't measure up. But she's already getting over that as she builds more confidence. :))

      My main advice would just be to not go in with any real expectations at all! Shorten your reading bits if you need to, but let your child spend a couple terms getting used to listening attentively and narrating--it's a learned skill, and each child's narrations are going to sound different anyway. Hope that's helpful! :)

    2. Oh, and yes, I will elaborate on mapwork and map drills. This is one of the questions that comes up a lot and I think a post is in order. :)

  3. Thanks so much for sharing Celeste! My oldest son is just starting Y1, so I love seeing your plans (and couldn't wait for this post). I am so curious as to how the movement/daily calisthenics and memory works for your kiddos at this age - it sounds like it could really be a great addition around here. Our memory work is really struggling because we try to do it over breakfast and we have a bad habit of skipping when interruptions occur (almost daily...). Plus, what boy couldn't use the extra movement :-). Would you mind sharing any details? Thanks - Amy

    1. We used to do Memory Work over breakfast too, but I found it was easier to do without mouths and hands full, so we moved it to later on. :)

      Basically, as we go through the pieces we need to review using our Evernote "binder," we take breaks in between recitations to do pushups, situps, planks, etc. So we might do a poem and then 5 pushups, then a Bible passage and then a 30-second plank, etc. During folk songs, they dance and sing. (Hymns are practiced during morning prayers.) Yes, the movement really helps my boys in particular! :)

    2. Oh helpful - thanks so much... I definitely am going to try this approach.

  4. I'm so glad you share what your yearly plans are. It's so great to see what other moms are doing and how they make AO their own. :) It gives me the confidence (or at least I'm trying!) to do that myself! Plus I envy your organizational skillz. *sigh*

    PS I'm emailing you about a question I have! :)

  5. Curious as to why you have grouped Vincent and Gianna together and not Cate and Xavier as well?

    1. Vincent and Gianna are actually only three months apart (we adopted Vincent as a baby), so they are technically in the same grade and that's why I have them in the same year. Thankfully they work well together, so it has been a great experience schooling them as partners. My other kids are pretty much all 12-18 months apart, so I may end up grouping other siblings down the road depending on skill and personality.

    2. I did not realize that Vincent is adopted! That is so cool! I am the oldest of 10 and my closest sister and I are 14m apart. In our homeschooling days it NEVER worked to group us together. But it is working (so far) to group #3 & #4 together for some stuff. Its always such a blessing when siblings work/learn well together! God bless!

    3. Yes, I think so much boils down not just to closeness in age but also to personality. Cate is a perfectionist and also sensitive, so the natural competition with Xavier if I schooled them together would make her anxious. She is also more mature than Xavier (that's partially age, partially gender, and partially who she is) but slower to pick up new there is a host of issues just waiting to happen there. :) Now, after the two of them, I have two girls that are 12 months apart and are both very easy-going, and I may end up combining them for quite a bit...time will tell! (Very neat that you are the oldest of ten! My husband and I both come from small families, so the big family thing is new to us! :))

    4. Oh the big family life is the best!! And not to mention all 10 of us are between the ages of 3 1/2 and 17 1/2. So all REALLY close in age!! And homeschooling all those kids makes it all the better. :)

  6. Hi Celeste,

    I was over on the AO Forums reading posts about using either Lamb or Nesbitt for year 1 Shakespeare. So then I decided to blog hop and remembered you posted somewhere about a Shakespeare map. Googling led me to the post you wrote with Gianna and Vincent's drawn narrations and your map of characters, however in that post you said you were using Nesbitt but here you are using Lamb. Why the switch? I have a reluctant young narrator (also a perfectionist) so I was thinking Nesbitt but I really want her to enjoy this and posts on AO made it seem like others prefer Lamb for its language. Pros and cons?

    Thanks in advance, Bev

    1. Good question, Bev! You are right--I used Nesbitt for Y1 with Gianna and Vincent, and I now use Lambs'. Nesbitt is shorter, and the first time around, I thought it would be a good choice for Y1 and then we would move to Lambs' longer versions for Y2 and up. Once I started reading Lambs', though, I found that I do like Lambs' better. Now that we're doing Shakespeare as a family, Cate and the Big Kids all listen to the Lambs' together, and then I do the "real thing" with just the older two (with Cate listening in when she wants). If I were you with a young and perfectionist narrator (sounds like my Cate!), I'd be inclined to do Lambs' but in very small chunks and over more than just one week. And with lots of story mapping and scaffolding so that she doesn't get overwhelmed by the plot complexity and all those characters! :) I hope that helps!

  7. I'm wondering what resources you use for teaching geography of the Western states?? We recently moved from TN to CO and I'd love to incorporate some local and regional history/geography into our year. I need to learn more about the West myself!

    1. This year she is just learning to identify the states by sitting in on some of the Big Kids' geography readings and accompanying mapwork--they are doing Year 4, and I added some California geography/history that fits in to the AO time period for that year. So she is listening in, watching them map, drawing her own maps alongside, and just casually picking up which states are which. It also helps that we have family living in several western states. :) And she has a map puzzle that she and my K'er like to do together. That's about it! :)

  8. What is your favorite resource for those printed blank maps for map drill?

    1. I usually just Google. :) There are also posts at the top of each Form area in the AO forums that have blank maps and other resources linked -- that's a good place to start too.