Book and Curriculum Reviews, Book Reviews, Children's Books, Homeschool Curriculum

Homeschool: A Review of Our 1st Grade Curriculum

As a homeschooler of 11 years, I have learned a lot. From being a rigid, stick-to-the-schedule educator, learning to be flexible and adventurous has not come easy.

I tried many curriculums over the years. A boxed one just didn’t work year one, and by year four, I thought I had found our groove until child number three came along and threw us for a loop. Not only was she ready to run with the big dogs aka older sisters, she was doing so at the age of three. I had to adjust, search and try something new.

I learned a lot when my four-year old was reading and chasing behind her sisters in math and comprehension. I tried some different curriculums, and when these new texts irked me, I stuck it out because we paid for them. We would finish them!

Then a little brother came along right after a big move and we needed something fresh and exciting so that I would stay awake during our lessons. Of course that’s the year I bought the most boring Language Arts curriculum with way too much cutting for my liking. What does one do?

It took me three more years to finally figure it out. I can change curriculum in the middle of the school year and it is ok. So can you. My skin crawled a little as I searched for something that appealed to my 7th grade daughter that didn’t involve tears in Language Arts. There is no crying over sentence diagrams. There really isn’t sense in that, which I also needed to tell myself as I wiped away my own tears.

I can change curriculum in the middle of the school year and it is ok. So can you. Click To Tweet

I found something fabulous as I searched for curriculum. Master Books to the rescue. These books brought color, language arts revival, truth in their science curriculum, and future excitement in their history and worldview books. We couldn’t wait to dive in.

I have been in the Master Book circle of faithful customers since 2012 and didn’t even realize it. It started with God’s Design for Science that I bought through another retailor. These are great science books for 3rd-8th grade that I adapted for use with my 2nd grader.  I am now using their curriculum all across the board and I am very excited to share with you my review of the upcoming school year for my youngest child, who will be starting the 1st grade.

People have asked me over the years what I use for schooling. When I answer that I am quite eclectic, they smile and thank me, not really wanting to know my homeschool curriculum saga, but some are truly interested. I would like to go into a bit of what I am using this year, include a review of some new courses from Master Books, and tell you about some other companies that we have been faithful to from the beginning.

Let me first give you a small disclaimer. As much as I am not so rigid any longer, we do have a schedule. We typically do the same subjects in the same order every day of the week except for our co-op Physical Education day. They skip a few of the lighter subjects that day. I will give you my curriculum in the order that our family works.

Our 2018-2019 1st grade curriculum:

Bible has always been our very first thing we cover. I will not call it a class or subject, because it is part of life. My oldest daughters do have as a course because they do in-depth study, but the younger children study more like a devotional style. Together as a family we have started walking through Kevin Swanson’s Family Bible Study Series: The Book of Proverbs from Master Books. For my 1st grader, he will simply participate by listening, repeating any verse memorization, and answer the questions that he understands. This is a great series and I highly recommend it for family devotion time. We do this first thing in the morning before we start our other subjects.

Handwriting is our second subject of the day. I have tried to use Handwriting Without Tears with my son because he is left-handed. I had great success with my youngest daughter because she is also left-handed but my son does not enjoy it. He has found A Reason For Handwriting much easier. It is pretty basic, and he enjoyed the small coloring pages in his Kindergarten curriculum. Level A for 1st grade includes Scripture writing.

Spelling is something that use to be drilled into me when I was in grade school. Car trips equaled spelling lessons. Sometimes I wish these skills stuck, but I find myself using spell check way too often. Even though a lot of Language Arts curriculums have spelling lists built-in, I like to include a separate lesson to encourage vocabulary and comprehension. Alpha Omega has been like an old friend. They have been around since I started my homechool journey eleven years ago. Even when I have strayed away for something newer and shinier, I have come back to the basics. I have used Horizons Spelling with all of my children for the 1st grade. It’s very traditional giving a list of new words given at the beginning of the week with daily lessons built around that list. By the end of the week we give a test and the children build from there.

Language Arts is the foundation of all learning outside of studying Scripture.  My son struggled a bit at the beginning of kindergarten, but was determined to move forward. He worked very hard through a very long curriculum that we had. He came out a reader and had found some wonderful tools that he can use to do things without me constantly having to read or explain simple things.  For this coming school year we are very excited to be using Master Books very new Language Lessons for a Living Education 2 . This curriculum is geared toward the 2nd grade, but my son is beyond some of the very first things that they introduce. We are excited to use the beginning of the book as review and then dive in to all of the new and wonderful things that this Language Arts curriculum offers. Although I use a separate Spelling curriculum, LLFLE2 offers spelling lists, grammar skills, phonics, and reading comprehension. When we received this fantastic book in the mail, my son was so excited about his 1st grade book that he wanted to tell everyone. When I see a product come through that excites a five-year old little boy, I am more than happy to share about it.

For Math we come back to Alpha Omega’s Horizons. I have used Horizons Math with all of my children until they age out of the curriculum and then I use Alpha Omega’s LifePac Math. Horizons Math goes from Kindergarten through Algebra. Their curriculum style is spiral learning. We get to learn one or two new concepts each day and then review other concepts from previous lessons. This helps retention and keeps the children excited to see what they can add to their studies. Kindergarten doesn’t include tests, but starting in the 1st grade, there is a unit test every ten lessons. The pages are colorful and include faith-based encouragement throughout.

For Social Studies and History for 1st grade we will be combining Master Books new My Story One and Elementary Geography and Cultures. My Story One is geared towards the 1st grade with studies on communities and how we fit into that community. We will also learn about what other communities are like. There are quests and colorful graphics throughout the curriculum. It looks very exciting. We will also be including Geography. This course is geared towards the 4th-6th grades. I will be using this with my 1st and 5th graders. It is labeled as one of Master Books most popular sets and I can see why. It’s colorful, exciting, and provides fun facts, words in other languages and opportunities to bake goods from other countries.  I will be mostly reading and discussing the lessons with my younger student while my older one will be filling in the worksheets. They will be doing the hands-on activities together.

Science is still undecided, but we heard about something very exciting. Master Books is working on a lower level Science program and we hope to see it before the start of our school year. I am sure it’s a well-rounded, beautifully displayed text-book with fun activities. If it does not work out for us, I will be using the Christian Liberty Press’ Nature Readers and My Father’s World books. The readers are fun books about different creatures we find out in nature. The My Father’s World text is your typical lower level, Christian worldview science curriculum that takes you through creation and basic concepts.

Last, but not least, my 1st grader will be participating in a co-op Physical Education class as well as play soccer and baseball, attend Awana and join in our children’s church.  He will be a busy, well-rounded 6-year-old when he comes out the other side. It sounds like a busy year, but we are excited for new things and opportunities for growth.

If you would like to know more about Master Books, please click this link.

I do not receive monetary compensation for promoting any of the above companies. I receive a small store credit from Master Books through a referral link.


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