Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Grade Curriculum

Dale and I are just about to wrap up Week 3 of first grade.

We school four days a week, with the 5th day built in as a catch up or make-up day. I plan on blogging more about our scheduling later, as we get the bugs worked out.

For today I wanted to discuss our curriculum. I've had a lot of it picked out for almost a year! Most, if not all, of my curriculum decisions were influenced by a combination of the classical method and the ideas of Charlotte Mason.

Bible - For our Bible study we are going to spend the school year learning key people and events by going through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. For our basic framework I am using the lesson plan layout at Calvary Chapel. We cover one Bible story each day and add one page to Dale's notebook for every story. So far, this is one of Dale's favorite parts of the day.

Math - We are starting out with Singapore Math to see what kind of fit it is for Dale.
In my research of math curricula I liked the idea of Singapore involving a lot of mental math. I think that is an important skill to have, and practicing it from the beginning makes sense. One of the big criticisms of Singapore was that there wasn't enough review - that topics were covered once to never (or rarely) be revisited again. However, other sources of information point out that the common text and work books are only part of the curriculum actually used in Singapore. The rest of the program supposedly involves a lot of intensive work and review. So, we will be supplementing (as I believe is intended) with workbooks, worksheets, and math games. In addition to liking what I read in reviews and samples of Singapore, a huge plus was the affordability of the program. Of course, "no cost is too much for your child's
education: (said with booming voice and furrowed brow), but practicality is a necessity. Singapore is among the least expensive of the available programs out there.

Science - Our science curriculum is following the classical method as outlined in "The Well
Trained Mind". We will spend this year learning about living things, starting with 12 weeks studying insects and other creepy crawlies. We will follow that with four or five weeks studying birds, then 12 studying various animals (probably arranged by habitat), 4 weeks on the human body, and 4 weeks on plants. This plan also works well with the seasons, which I like. Bugs are in abundance right now, and we can spot examples of almost everything we read about. We will get to birds about the time the weather turns cold and our feeder starts becoming a popular place again. Our study of plants will coincide nicely with the planting of next year's garden.

A lot of our science is based out of our Christian Liberty Nature Reader, Book 1, and heavily supplemented with weekly trips to the library, and occasional internet searches.

History - Again following a Classical bent, we are using "The Story of the World" for history.
This too is supplemented with reading from our local library. Admittedly, history has gotten off to a slow start for us and hasn't yet sparked Dale's interest like I had hoped. After debating off and on for months, I have finally ordered the Activity Guide that goes with SOTW. My hope is that some hands-on activities will really bring these stories to life for Dale.

Handwriting - We are using copy work to improve Dale's handwriting. So far we have alternated between McGuffey's Primer and a set of large print, very easy science readers we own.
Dale simply copies a passage (or page or two) from these and gets practice with forming correct letters and adding in punctuation.
For now, this also serves as our spelling curriculum. I was very pleased to give Dale a "spelling test" (I didn't tell him that's what it was) of 10 words from his first two weeks of copywork and find he only missed two.

Phonics - With Dale having a solid grip on reading both silently and aloud, we aren't focusing heavily on phonics. We have a jumbo work book we plan on completing several pages a week from, just to cover all our bases. He will also be exposed to more and more proper mechanics as we get into more complex copy work pages.

Grammar - I have almost committed to adding on grammar in a week or two. This is another element I have spent weeks waffling and debating with myself on. I own a copy of "First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind" and love the simple layout and gentle introduction to grammar.
My biggest concern has been Dale being able to grasp the abstract nature of the concepts. However, the lessons are short and simple, and as long as we are getting everything else done the exposure to the concepts can't hurt, even if he doesn't yet completely master them. Then when we delve in more deeply in a few years he will have at least heard of these things before. So, when we get our routines and other subjects more firmly under our feet I will probably add in grammar later this fall.

If you have actually read this far, thanks for sticking with me! I would love to hear your thoughts on any of the materials or methods I mentioned above, or about your favorites!


Kara said...

Amy I love your list of curriculum. We've been leaning towards the Charlotte Mason technique, but I am not as well versed in it that I'd like to be. Any books you suggest? We're using Schiller math with Sophie (2nd grade) that we came across at a conference. It is based on the Montesourri method, I'll let you know how it goes!!

Amy said...

I have read (and re-read sections every so often) Karen Andreola's A Charlotte Mason Companion. I really like it. There are also a couple of CM websites I enjoy. I'd have to look those up... not sure what they are off the top of my head.
I'm looking forward to hearing how your school year goes!

momtofivekids said...

I used that First Language Lessons book with Christian and he enjoyed it.

Did I miss something? Are you pregnant?!

Queen Diva said...

Hey, girlie!

First, I MOH will be fantastic at 4th grade! I think it's actually marketed for 4th-6th grades, but she's got the alternate activities for younger and older students so it's working for us now.

It will be a breeze to add your language in to your routine. We usually only spend 10-15 minutes on each lesson. Easy-breezy!

Hope you're feeling well! I miss you!