May 29, 2018

1st-Grade Plans, 2018-2019

This year, I did all my planning very early. With a new baby expected in early May (who arrived May 7!) and my first year with 2 students to manage, I was anxious to get a handle on my plans. We will start our 2018-2019 school year on July 23, and I'm 99% planned already!

Below are the books and resources we will use, although I reserve the right to make changes as I continue to grow in my understanding of my children and the Charlotte Mason Method.

A bit about my first-grader

John turned 6 in January and we celebrated Charlotte Mason style. Since his birthday, he has been narrating an Aesop fable at our morning time and has been dictating daily entries into his nature journal. Otherwise, John has been free to enjoy the remainder of his kindergarten year as a "quiet growing time." Home Education, vol 1, p 43.

But he is hungry to begin formal lessons! He has to wait for a few more months as I plan to start Term 1 in late July. Until then, he has been somewhat content to know that I have been busily planning his first-grade lessons and buying special books just for him.

I will be reading all of his lessons to him until he gains reading fluency. I expect that he will not begin reading any of his lessons this school year.

I have tried to note in [ ] whether I'm using a free book or how much I paid for each of the resources we are using. I am committed to homeschooling with free or really cheap books as part of our journey to be debt-free while living on one income.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure to learn more.

Language Arts: Reading/Literature, Copywork/Handwriting, Recitation, Latin & Greek Roots

Reading/Literature (5x20min/week)

My first born was an early and avid reader so I barely taught him to read at all and by the time I started Charlotte Mason style lessons with him at almost 7-years-old, he was perfectly able to read all of his books to himself.

My second born is a completely different little boy in this department. More typically, he hasn't shown much interest in reading. He loves stories and loves to be read to but only recently (in the last 6-8 months) has he been consistent in his interest for recognizing and writing letters.

In describing the process of teaching reading, Mason writes
Reading at Sight.––The teacher must be content to proceed very slowly, securing the ground under her feet as she goes. Say––
     "Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
     How I wonder what you are,"
is the first lesson; just those two lines. Read the passage for the child, very slowly, sweetly, with just expression, so that it is pleasant to him to listen. Point to each word as you read. Then point to 'twinkle,' 'wonder,' 'star,' 'what,'––and expect the child to pronounce each word in the verse taken promiscuously; then, when he shows that he knows each word by itself, and not before, let him read the two lines with clear enunciation and expression: insist from the first on clear, beautiful reading, and do not let the child fall into a dreary monotone, no more pleasant to himself than to his listener. Of course, by this time he is able to say the two lines; and let him say them clearly and beautifully. In his after lesson he will learn the rest of the little poem. Home Educaton, vol 1, p 204
Given these types of descriptions included in the rest of that chapter of Home Education plus everything I know about my particular little boy, and I have come up with a reading plan of action that I hope will be a good fit for him.

To that end, I am going to emphasize sight reading, with some phonics instruction by the way, as described by Mason. Fortunately, I found a modern book that describes what I find to be a very similar method of teaching in the free book, Teach a Child To Read with Children's Books: Combining Story Reading, Phonics, and Writing To Promote Reading Success. by Mark B. Thogmartin.

I plan to keep a reading journal for John that lists all of the words he recognizes and proceed very slowly, but consistently. If he can only handle 1 word a day, I'll just read to him for the rest of our reading time.

I know he will get to fluency, but I'm not sure how long that process will take. My top priority is ensuring that he does not feel slow but rather feels like he is working at the right pace. When I need a reminder I reread What the modern world has forgotten about children and learning.

Copywork/Handwriting (5x10min/week)

He will spend a few minutes each morning copying a few words of copywork that I've prepared for him using this website or taken from a Kumon workbook on letters. I will start with copywork of his full name, address, and my phone number and as he learns to read more words, I'll plan to work in some sentences from the nursery rhymes and children's books we are reading together.

Recitation (3x10min/week)

Each 6-week half term he will work on reciting beautifully (often memorizing) 2 poems and 1 passage. I pick one poem and the passage and he picks the other poem with my approval.

You can see last year's Recitation and Memorization Pieces here.

Poetry (Listen to the same poem read aloud every day for a week at morning time)

Focus on a different poet each term:
  • Emily Dickenson
  • Walter de la Mare
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson

Latin & Greek Roots (daily at morning time)

English from the Roots Up Flashcards
We review a card every day working through the roots meaning and definitions of English words that contain that root.

I haven't included a conversational foreign language in our homeschool at this time because it is going to be a doozy for me. But I'm starting to warm up to the idea. I expect that we may add German after I wrap my head around having 4 children! 

Social Studies: History and Geography

History (3x30min/week, oral narration after each reading, plus related mapwork that I keyed to the readings)

I created my own book list and schedule of readings to give John an introduction to America's "Age of Heroes" or mainly pre-colonial history. I did include a few biographies and early colonial period books, partially because we just studied the 1600s in our homeschool. Because I plan to have all of my students studying the same historical time period each year, John won't get back to that time period until 4th-grade.

Geography (3x10min/week, oral narration after each reading, plus related mapwork that I keyed to the readings)

We'll be reading Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography throughout the entire year, alternating with a different book each term.


Math (5x20min/week, narration after each lesson)

Life of Fred: Elementary Series by Dr. Stanley F. Schmidt [already used by my older son, bought via Black Friday sale on Educents]

We will steadily work through the Life of Fred Elementary series. After doing this series with my math-obsessed first born, I cannot see any reason to expose my children to math drill of any kind before they are ready for 3rd- or 4th-grade math.

We will also mix in lessons from Gattegno's Mathematics Textbook 1 using Cuisenaire rods as a way to work on "math facts" and a basic understanding of numeracy.

There has been a lot of research and discussion on Mason's methods for math instruction. Hint: it doesn't look like my plans :-) I look forward to learning more about her methods in the future, but right now, these are the resources I own; they worked well for my first-born; I believe they are a good fit for John; they are easy for me to implement. Enough said!

Science: Natural History, Special Studies, Nature Notebooking

Natural History (3x10min/week, oral narration after each reading)
All are in the public domain and available online so we will read them using my small android tablet. See my full list of Free Nature Lore Books here.

Special Studies (1x20min/week, oral narration after each reading)

I chose the following topics for the year:

Term 1: Wildflowers & Seeds / Birds & Spiders
Term 2: Shells and Marine Life / Birds at the Seashore [in preparation for a few weeks at the beach]
Term 3: Wildflowers & Trees / Insects

I used the rotation found on Sabbath Mood Homeschool to come up with this list.

Right now, our special study for each term involves a weekly time devoted to reading about the topic through books I've selected. I also choose additional books on the topic to read during our morning time.

I try very hard to think ahead about something we can observe about our special study while out in nature. I read up on the topic in The Handbook of Nature Study and spend just a few minutes focusing on it while we are out together. I also try to attend local events on our special study, like a wildflower walk at a nature preserve or a guided hike about animals in winter.

Finally, I encourage my son to focus on the special study when he is making daily nature notebook entries. I also set aside one day a week where I expect him to find time to make what we call a weekly nature notebook entry. Usually, he draws something about the topic he has been reading about in his special study and then dictates something about the topic which I record. The rest of the page we fill with random "I wonder . . . " and "I notice . . ." statements that show me a little of what is on his mind.

Nature Notebooking (daily entries, weekly entries, nature watercolor drawings)

My son is responsible for noticing something from nature and dictating a line or two to my husband or me to write into his nature notebook daily. We still miss a few days a month and that is perfectly fine for us. We do this all year round, 7 days a week.

Morning Time

I select living science and natural history books as part of our morning time. These titles are not narrated.

Art & Music: Watercolor, Handicrafts, Singing, Artist Study, Composer Study, Music

Watercolor drawing (2x20min/week)

Once a week we use watercolors to draw a specimen that I choose. I try to pick things that the kids are interested in recently or relate to our special studies. Once a week we illustrate something in our nature notebooks or paint a picture based on some of our history or reading books. 

I am going to mix in some drawing lessons based on the lessons in Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes [$1 book sale find!] as well as some drawing with chalk pastels. My older son struggles with enjoying this lesson, but we are going to press on with sensitivity and patience and see how adding my younger son to the lesson changes things.

Handicrafts (2x30min/week)

Once a week, we do handicrafts during our morning lesson time. At this time, I am 100% available for instruction and help. On another day of the week, I have designated a handicraft work session where he is expected to work on his current project or practice the skill he has already been working on with less help from me. He is always able to work on these in his free time as well. 

This year we chose to do:

Term 1: Sloyd using Paper Sloyd: A Handbook for Primary Grades by Ednah Anne Rich
Term 2: Finished up Sloyd gifts for Christmas, then embroidering using this kit.
Term 3: Sewing using Sewing School: 21 Sewing Projects Kids Will Love to Make by Andria Lisle

We used the same books and materials last year and I was very satisfied with my older son's ability to progress and improve in meaningful ways. John often attempted the crafts himself at his own initiative. We'll be starting at the beginning of each resource for John and working as fast or as slow as needed.

Singing (2x10min/week)

I choose folk songs and hymns. I consult Ambleside Online but I do not follow their rotation per se. This year, I selected the following:

The Gypsy Rover
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow)
The Minstrel Boy
If I Had a Hammer
Go Tell Aunt Rhody
Low Bridge--Everybody Down (The Erie Canal)
Let There Be Peace on Earth
Cockles & Mussels (Molly Malone)
Amazing Grace
The Rhyme of the Chivalrous Shark
Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above (Catholic)
Star of the County Down
Turkey in the Straw
Will the Circle Be Unbroken

To learn more about our folk singing and get links to videos of the above songs, check out 15 Folk Songs and Hymns to Learn with Your Children.

Artist Study (1xweek at morning time)

Each term we read about the life of the artist and study 6 pictures by the artist. My son is expected to observe the picture, narrate about it from memory, then we do a picture talk about it. For the rest of the term, I display the print in our family room.

This year we are studying:

Term 1: Turner [Picture Study Portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason, $18.95+shipping]
Term 2: Wainsborough [Picture Study Portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason, $18.95+shipping]
Term 3: Dali [$3 art book from a Half Priced Books store]

Composer Study (1xweek at morning time)

We read a biography of the composer, which my son narrates.  We also listen to pieces by the composer via a Spotify playlist I've made.

After we finish the composer biography, we listen to the short podcasts on the composer from Classics for Kids. We may also read other picture books or watch short movies as a supplement. The additional items are not narrated.

This year our composers/materials are:

Music (7x15min/week)

Hoffman Acadamy [Not an affiliate link! We just love Hoffman Academy.]

John began lessons in April 2018 with his brother as his practice partner because it is necessary to read the instructions. He watches a lesson and/or practices at least 15 minutes a day. The program includes piano theory, sight reading, and solfege, and my sons love it. The songs are timeless classics that I don't mind hearing over and over and the younger children delight in singing them as well. Mr. Hoffman also has a "method" and you can read more about it here

Physical Education

AYSO Soccer (Fall and Spring)
Ice Skating Lessons (Winter)
Swimming Lessons (Summer)
Hikes, bike rides, and walks around town often, especially in spring, summer, and fall

For reference, you can see his brother's 2nd-Grade Plans, 2017-2018 here.

Check out my Planning page for even more plans, lists, and logistics.

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