I made SO MANY mistakes in my first year of homeschooling.
I started out with teaching 1st grade to my oldest after pulling her from public school.
Looking back, I can see how I stressed about all the wrong things and worried about things that were just not that important.
Well, I’m getting a second chance at teaching 1st grade now with my middle daughter!
This time around will definitely be more fun, as I am so much more comfortable with picking out 1st-grade curriculum, how to teach it, and what to worry about (and what not to worry about!).
My middle child will absolutely benefit from all the mistakes and missteps I made in my first year of homeschooling – lucky her!
I am excited to share with you my simple, fun, and engaging 1st-grade curriculum picks, but first, let’s talk about…
What is Taught in 1st Grade Curriculum?
Well, there are a lot of homeschool bloggers and large box curriculum companies that would say your 1st grade curriculum should include everything and the kitchen sink.
I tend to disagree.
As we enter our 4th year of homeschooling, I have found that more tends to be too much.
Too much tends to overwhelm children, bore them, and turn them off to the learning process before they have barely started.
Our goal as homeschool teachers is to strike a balance in our course load that maintains a love and passion for learning.
So, for our 1st grade homeschool curriculum, we have chosen to focus on these
Literature/Read aloud books
And These Enrichment Subjects:
How long is 1st grade curriculum supposed to take every day?
The above list might look long, but every subject is not done every day.
The core subjects are done daily, and the enrichment subjects are on a more relaxed or loop schedule (1-2 times/week).
The goal for first grade is to have school done in 2-3 hours depending on length of breaks.
And what are you supposed to teach for each of those subjects?
Check out my 1st Grade Curriculum choices below!
1st Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks
Reading/Spelling: Explode the Code
I had another reading curriculum picked out, but thanks to COVID it was back ordered for.ev.er.
I ordered Explode the Code from Amazon as a reading supplement until our other reading curriculum arrived. I am so happy with it though that I canceled the other order and we are sticking with this!
Explode the Code is a workbook based phonics curriculum. The pages are black and white, but the illustrations are silly and fun.
Once I did a few pages with my 1st grader, she was able to get the hang of it and she does much of it independently now. This is a huge help when homeschooling multiple kids!
I also love that spelling is naturally incorporated into the curriculum. The workbooks have the student go through multiple exercises breaking down the sounds of a word. Then the student is just given a picture, and they have to spell the word independently. The posttest also includes dictating sentences for the child to write.
Another benefit of Explode the Code is that it is much less expensive and less teacher intensive than any other reading curriculum I have seen. You can buy one workbook at a time to see how your kid likes it – no need to buy a very expensive reading package that you can’t return.
****Make sure to purchase the teacher’s manual when you get the workbooks. They do offer great warm-up activities that help with building reading fluency, as well as instructions for the pre and posttest in the workbooks.
Language Arts: Writing With Ease
This is a very gentle introduction to language arts and my daughter is loving it!
Writing With Ease offers short and focused lessons, so they usually take about 10 minutes or less.
Every week a new piece of classic literature (Little House in the Big Woods, The Advetures of Pinnochio, etc.) is introduced with a short exerpt. My daughter is asked to copy one sentence from the story onto a worksheet and we focus on one aspect of writing (capitalization, abbreviations, punctuation, proper nouns, etc.).
Other days include oral lessons that focus on answering questions in complete sentences, so the student will learn to write in complete sentences. Another benefit of these lessons is increased listening comprehension.
The curriculum builds on itself and includes review lessons to keep skills sharp.
It is also scheduled to be done 4 days a week, which is nice to keep our schedule flexible.
Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears “My Printing Book”
We have used “Handwriting Without Tears My First School Book” in previous years and found the book really delivers on the “no tears” part.
I am confident that My Printing Book will be a great addition to our 1st grade curriculum to make sure my daughter is writing at her best. Pages are cute, short, and fun – exactly what you need at this age!
The above language arts curriculum does have copy work – but the focus of that copy work is not to teach handwriting.
Handwriting is an important skill to master, and I think having a separate book to help teach and reinforce is a must for the 1st grade level.
Math: Horizons Math
I did not love the math curriculum we did with my oldest child when she was in first grade, so I decided to try something new with my middle child.
Horizons comes very highly recommended from a number of trusted homeschool friends and I am excited to try it!
It is a colorful workbook based program that teaches math in a spiral progression (new concept taught every day with constant review).
It is known for being a solid, advanced, and well organized program that will have kids more than ready to take on 2nd grade math when the time comes.
Literature/Read Aloud Books
Read aloud books are the heart of our homeschool!
We always start our day out with morning time and me reading from a chapter book. This is a really nice way to ease our way into the homeschool day and learning.
It teaches my kids so much about literature, the love of reading, vocabulary, and reading comprehension (when we talk about it afterward).
I encourage you to have a great list of books you want to work your way through during the school year.
Need a place to start?
My kids are usually much more engaged with a book when they know they will “meet” the characters of the book in a movie!
Bible: The Gospel Story Bible
This would actually be considered a core subject for our homeschool.
I love that homeschooling has afforded us so much more time to talk about spiritual things with our children!
We have been working through Gospel Story Bible for awhile now, doing one story every morning. This book walks you through the Bible from beginning to end, one short story at a time.
I also really like that each story ends with a beautiful picture and 3 questions to help your child discuss and engage with the story.
Science/Social Studies: Visual Guide
I had planned to use our fantastic co-op for science this year…but thanks to coronavirus, that’s not happening anymore 🙁
Thankfully, another homeschool mom recommended this simple resource and I am loving it!
Visual Guide is a brightly colored, fun workbook that is packed with information!
I think my little 1st grader is going to want to do about 20 pages a day!
Pairing this with weekly nature walks will be the perfect fit for our homeschool science needs.
****Math and language arts is also included in this program. We will probably use that for review or skip over it.
History: The Story of the World
History is my jam!
I get so excited every year to teach and discuss history with my kids. That is especially true this year as we get ready to start the super popular, The Story of the World series.
The Books, written by Susan Wise Bauer, have a fun, fresh take on history and will keep your kids engaged – no stuffy, boring text here!
Story of the World has a short chapter to read every week and an activity book full of coloring pages (great to keep hands busy while you’re reading), map exercises, and activities and crafts!
I would recommend reading one chapter per week and doing 1-2 activities from the activity book at the 1st-grade level.
So far my kid is loving the activities! We have made cave paintings, a model of the Nile River, and cuneiform tablets for the activities.
The curriculum is very hands-on and engaging for this age bracket!
****I also got the audio version. Something you may want to check out if you want to take a break from reading some days or you want to pop it in the car during errands.
Art: Art For All Seasons
I normally send my kids to our fantastic co-op for art classes, but that’s not happening this year 🙁
****You too? Check out 6 Ways to Replace your Homeschool Co-op
Luckily, this great art book was recommended to me and I love it!
It came in the mail about a week ago and I am so happy with how simple the lessons are, the minimal list of supplies, and that it works for all my kids (pre-K, 1st, and 4th).
The best part is that the book is actually teaching art – not just crafts. Know what I mean?
The table of contents shows that my kids will be learning lines, shapes, color, value, texture, form, and space with this book. The assignments are impressive and I think my kids will really take to this curriculum.
Oh, and since I only do art once a week, this book will likely last us 2 years.
I did not grow up in a musical household, so teaching music has been a struggle for me as a homeschool mom.
Thankfully, I finally stumbled onto Music in our Homeschool and I am loving the online courses they offer!
Your kids can learn about patriotic music, seasonal music, folk music, music appreciation, music history, composers – there really is something for everybody and all ages.
We decided to go with “15 Minute Music Lessons.” Full lessons, videos, printables, worksheets, and online videos are included.
I think it will be the perfect thing for my 1st grader!
Most homeschool families tend to blow off P.E., but there is so much you can do at home!
It is also a great break in your day to squeeze in some activity and give your kid’s brain a break!
No, you do not need to be a fitness expert. Just tell your child that P.E. is time to work on stretching and exercising muscles to keep them healthy.
If you feel comfortable doing so, you can teach your child basic stretches and exercises. Some parents may also like to check out Youtube exercise channels for kids.
Here are some fun exercise games you can also rotate through for variety:
Recap 1st Grade Curriculum Picks
There you have it! All of my 1st-grade curriculum picks for Math, Language Arts, Handwriting, Reading, Literature, Science, History, Bible, Art, Music, and P.E.!
Remember to keep your focus on the core subjects and have a lot of fun with the enrichment subjects.
This should only take 2-3 hours a day, including breaks.
Encouraging a love of learning should be your foremost goal at this age!
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