I can’t believe we are nearly one month into my son’s first grade year! I spent A LOT of time researching curriculum over the past 6 months or so. I’m excited to finally post a list of what we are using with a short review. So here it goes:
We are still using CLE and loving it! Math is one of the things that we do all year, even during the summer, except for a couple of week long breaks. We are about 2 or 3 months from starting CLE 3. Math was always a struggle until we started CLE. At my son’s evaluation I found out that he has an issue with working memory, which means all of the mastery-based curriculums that we tried were not a good fit for him. I know I shouldn’t be complaining as my son is doing great in math, but his conceptual understanding was beyond his math facts ability and it was making him frustrated and bored during math. Now that he has his facts down using their flash-card system, speed drills, and spiral review, math is one of the only things he never complains about. Yay!
I am trying a program called Growing with Grammar 1. I like it well enough for now. A lot of it is review because my son did First Language Lessons last year. I think that FLL is great, but it was to hard to get through the lessons orally with his ADHD. He actually does better with worksheets. So we are skipping quite a few lessons in Growing with Grammar 1 and will probably get to GWG 2 this year. The books are affordable so its not big deal. Maybe next year I’ll reinforce grammar with Beowolf’s Grammar. I really like the look of Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 by Hake Publishing, but even though my son is advanced, I think that we will definitely need to wait until next year or even third grade. For a 1st grader who has not had grammar before, I think GWG 1 is a great intro.
Since it was so affordable, I purchased a copy of Winning With Writing 2, also by JaKris Publshing, when I got GWG. I was planning to just use this as a supplement but have been using it daily as reinforcement, mostly for what my son already knows. I had also ordered Classical Writing Primer which was going to be our main writing curriculum, but neither my son or I liked it. The Charlotte Mason style just doesn’t work for us. One day a week, there is nature study, which is a touch redundant because we already do science and it kind of takes us out of our language arts flow. Then once a week or so, there is a picture study, which my son didn’t want to do, because he doesn’t like to draw. So neither one of us liked the rhythm of the program, so I just put it aside. We ARE doing picture study, but I just checked out a book from the library for this instead. Also, my son has ADHD…we did picture study, once a week for three weeks..and…he’s…over it. Which I get. He learned a few things about lighting and perspective but there is not much he can learn about art with his 6 year old boy brain and lack of deep interest. I’ll bring it back in few months and see how it goes.
So I also just purchased Writing With Ease 2 since CWP didn’t work out. We realized we both liked this format better. I am going to “try” to make the book last two years because my son is verbally advanced, but too immature to make good use of the book. I say “try” because if my son really likes it, he will beg to do it every day and I might cave.
I can not say enough how much I LOVE our science program. We are using Science in the Beginning from Berean Builders by Dr. Jay Wile. I was dreading teaching science for a few reasons, including having to get experiments together. However, with this program, the needed supplies are really not too bad and the experiments/demonstrations are really simple and interesting all at once. I am learning a ton that I either never learned, or forgot. I also really like the premise of this book in particular. The framework of the book is the 7 days of creation, so the first group of lessons is all about light. Part of the reason I think I dreaded science is because I am so used to it being taught separately from faith, as boring dry facts. With Berean Builders, its may sounds cheesy, but we are really learning more about God and His world. That gives me motivation to care about science, and it makes me excited to teach my son.
I also like that this is REAL science, no first grade fluff about how a butterfly is from a cocoon said 10 different ways, but actual “science” that is challenging my son. Potentially with an error or two, my son could explain to you the definition of thermal, radiant, mechanical, and electrical energies, along with the process of light reflection and absorption of different colors, all from his first 7 lessons.
After each lesson, he answers the two questions for younger students in his science notebook and draws a picture of what he learned. He is drawing diagrams/flow charts to demonstrate what he is learning because the text is that good. He is able to really grasp the concepts. We are doing the tests verbally as a collaborative effort, more as a cumulative review than a “test.”
For geography, we are using Expedition Earth by Confessions of a Homeschoolers. I think this curriculum is “okay.” There are 30 or so countries to learn about, and 5 days of activities for each one. I have found condensing everything into 2 or 3 days works better for us because the activities jump around a lot. My son enjoys the routine activities and making his country binder. He is definitely learning and motivated to learn about different countries because of it, but I don’t really enjoy teaching the program. We are choosing one craft a week to do per country. Some notable crafts have been: making homemade paper (for China), making a Japanese rock garden, and making a jeweled stone tile (for India). When we go to the library, I also check out some related books and put them on his non-fiction shelf that he can read if he wants to. So, I am sort of using this curriculum as a spine for an un-schooled approach to World Geography. I even let my son go through a few countries at once when he got really interested. I will not be using this program with my next son, but we will get through it!
We are using Russian Step by Step Workbook 1 to begin our Russian study. I was obviously nervous to start because I don’t speak or read Russian, but this program is working out beautifully. I highly recommend it. We are doing Russian twice a week, about 10-20 minutes each time. We might increase it, if he wants to do more. I usually have 10 minutes planned and he always wants to do more. Right now, he could say in Russian, “Is that a salad or a house? Is it a house.” Or “Is that a lamp? No, that is a mask.” There is an audio component online that we listen to, so luckily I don’t have to know how to speak Russian perfectly. I also use a Spanish accent when speaking Russian, but I figure anything is better than an American accent when speaking Russian : )
We are going through a chapter of A Children’s History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer twice a week using a curriculum that I created. I will publish the curriculum on Lulu as soon as it is ready. It is working quite well. Sometimes my son says “Oh no. History.” and other days he say it is his favorite. I’ll take it! I had just purchased the book for him to read on his own – to un-school history for 1st grade – but I liked the book so much that I wanted to go through it together. The workbook I made is helping him to comprehend and focus on what he is reading.
We are using Map Skills 2 by Teacher Created Resources about once a week. Its a great little workbook and I recommend it!
We are using New American Cursive 1 by Memoria Press. I recommend the book. My son hasn’t had issues forming the letters so far which is why I chose this style of cursive. He is motivated to learn cursive. I just give him time to practice and assign the page, but don’t really teach it. (I had TERRIBLE handwriting as a child and I’d feel like a hypocrite being a stickler about it).
My son is an advanced reader, having read the whole Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit when he was still 5. My son does not really enjoy read alouds, but is too young to “study novels” in school. We tried a Memoria Press study guide (3rd grade) for Paddington Bear, but it was just a bit much. Especially considering he read the whole book at once and I couldn’t get him to read it again to answer the questions. So CLE Reading 3 is working out GREAT for us! I love it. He is learning a lot about a variety of language arts topics, as well as practicing comprehension, learning vocabulary, and gaining exposure to social stories. The CLE stories also reinforce Christian values and have Bible Memory work included so that saves me time! I really love it. The systematic style of the CLE workbooks works great for my son’s brain.
We are making progress with the Dictation Book by Spelling Plus. Twice a week my son does the dictations at a second grade level, and the other three days, he uses the spelling lists at a late 3 grade level. This mix is working well for us so far. I recommend the Dictation book, but not the entire program.
We are using Music Enrichment for Memoria Press. The pros of having the book: If I chose my own songs on youtube, my son might not pay much attention so having the “authority” of the book helps. Also, the variety of music is really interesting and even I have learned of some new songs (And discovered an awesome composer I never knew of named Alexander Borodin). A downside of the book is that the questions that the book poses for each piece are not really very interesting. Also, there is not really any music education provided other than the biographies in the back and a short description of each piece. All in all, I’m glad I have this book. We do Music Enrichment twice a week during breakfast.
We do read aloud two or three times a week after breakfast and poetry memory work once a month.
Well, that was a lot to cover. I hope someone benefits from my review!