Homeschooling 1st Grade: Our {Revised} Curriculum

Back in May I shared our curriculum choices for 1st grade and Preschool/Pre-K. {This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.}


We have been schooling since June 1st, and in that time, I have discovered two things.

  1. Some of our new curriculum wasn’t working, notably our history and science.
  2. But also, I felt like something was lacking.

Frustrated and unsure what to do, I started reading a book my friend Gabby had mentioned in her summer reading list called For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home & School.

What really stood out to me in this book was the following:

“Can we lead children naturally into excellence in skills, and at the same time stimulate their minds with the sheer pleasure of knowledge? If they aren’t interested in the material we offer, something is wrong” (p. 69).

Neither my children nor I were interested in doing the history and science; it was a daily struggle, and in my mind, for children this age, learning should be enjoyable, not a chore. It should not only be about new skills, but developing a lifelong passion for learning.

“It should not be ‘How much has our child covered?’ but ‘How much does he care?’ and ‘About how many things does he care?'”

Karen Andreola, A Charlotte Mason Companion

The more I read about Charlotte Mason — on blogs and in books — the more I feel an affinity to her educational philosophy, with its emphasis on living books, nature study, the arts, habit-making, and narration.


Charlotte Mason recommends spreading before children “a feast of ideas” from a variety of sources. She introduced her students to lots of subjects to broaden their experiences and stimulate new ideas. Those subjects include the following:

  • Math
  • History
  • Geography
  • Writing
  • Bible
  • Foreign Languages
  • Science/Nature Study
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Art (Appreciation/Picture Study)
  • Music (Composers/Folk Songs/Hymn Study)
  • Literature
  • Poetry

In an effort to make myself and my children more well-rounded and to expose them to as many new ideas as possible, I decided to change up our curriculum a bit to incorporate more “ideas” (i.e. subjects) into our homeschool, use living books rather than dry textbooks, and have short lessons to hold the child’s attention.

So far so good. Four weeks in, we are still enjoying our new approach to homeschooling.

Here’s what our homeschool curriculum looks like right now & how we’re doing it with our older two children ages 5.5 (grade 1) and 3.5 (preschool/PreK). I have organized our learning into 2 parts: GROUP LEARNING and INDIVIDUAL LEARNINGNew curriculum is in red.

HomeschoolCollage2014 GROUP LEARNING

The girls learn together in the following subjects:

Bible: Bible Road Trip Year 1 (We start our day with this amazing curriculum plus prayer and hymns.)

Math: Saxon 1 (Cora usually does Math with Kate. I try to simplify problems for her but she understands a lot. However, there are days when she skips this Math and does her own, and I’m totally fine with that.)

Science: Ambleside Online Year 1 (AOY1) (Currently, we do Science 2-3 days weekly, alternating with History. We’re reading The Burgess Bird Book for Children (FREE), and the girls have enjoyed learning about different birds, their sounds and characteristics, as well as watching the bird feeder to identify them.)

History: Beautiful Feet’s “Early American History” (Right now, we do History 2-3 days a week, alternating with Science. The BF curriculum is more Charlotte Mason-friendly than Biblioplan, which is more like a textbook with living books as supplements. Beautiful Feet uses living books to teach history in a dynamic, engaging way with short lessons that keep young children’s attention spans. We’re also working on a “Book of Centuries,” essentially a notebook timeline  that I created for the children to add images of the historical figures, artists, and composers we study.)

Geography: Rather than using a specific curriculum, we’re simply locating places that we read about in any of our subjects on the globe or a map.

Art: Simply Charlotte Mason’s Picture Study Portfolio (This term we’re studying the art of Fra Angelico, the artist of the term in AOY1. We do a picture study weekly and plan to create our own masterpieces at the end of the term.)

Music: AOY1  (Based on the composer of the month, we listen to selected pieces on YouTube weekly plus read a brief biography about the composer. We’re also learning a new hymn and folk song each month.

  • For Hymn Study, we’re reading the story behind the hymn from Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories and singing the hymn daily.
  • For Folk Song Study, we listen to a recording on YouTube 3x/week and aim to memorize the song, plus learn some background about it.)

Poetry: AOY1 (We read one poem daily from A Child’s Garden of Verses (FREE))

Literature: We read aloud daily. Books are derived from my own personal list, which I will share soon.



Kate receives individual instruction in the following subjects:

Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting Manuscript A

Language Arts: Sing Spell Read & Write Level 1

Grammar: First Language Lessons Level 1

I also give Cora, my preschooler, one-on-one instruction in her preschool work.

She is working through Sing Spell Read & Write preschool kit plus finishing up Letter of the Week.

We’re about a month into our new curriculum and approach, and it’s been such a blessing to our homeschool. The variety of subjects has expanded our knowledge and led to some really neat learning experiences. Plus, using Ambleside Online — which is completely FREE — has saved us the expense of purchasing new curriculum.

Have you ever switched curriculum or your homeschooling approach in the midst of the school year? 

Happy Homeschooling!!


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  1. I love how you study along with your kids and adapting along the way. 🙂

    • Thank you, Dawn. I think that’s why I love homeschooling so much…getting to learn along with my kids. Some days I think I enjoy it more than they do!

  2. Holli Turner says:

    Hey Keri! We totally changed our homeschooling method this year as well! After praying for guidance, God totally pointed me straight at Charlotte Mason. D and I have been so encouraged by the things we have read about her philosophy of learning and the ease of teaching this way. We just started our second week of school and R loves it! She has always loved school but would get bogged down or frustrated sometimes and now we are both enjoying our days with much less frustration : )

    I wanted to tell you to check out the book “When Children Love to Learn”. A friend at church lent it to me and I am loving it so much I am going to order my own.

  3. I have a few of those books and really to read them. We’ve already been moving in that direction as well! Love following along your journey, Keri. 🙂
    Tauna recently posted…The Real Experts on Essential Oils: Getting Straight AnswersMy Profile

  4. I love this first grade! 🙂 We’re using Heart of Dakota (Beyond) this year because I wanted everything laid out for me but I find myself tweaking so much while planning (adding AO books and replacing some of the hands-on activities) I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. 🙂 I am liking the looks of Simply Charlotte Mason and AO as well.

    Can I ask why you didn’t like the previous science (Queens)?
    Lindsey@Kindred Spirit Mommy recently posted…Memorizing Scripture or Poetry With DIY Memory Rocks ♥My Profile

    • I’ve heard great things about HOD! I really like Saxon Math and FLL because it’s all laid out for me. But, like you, I love adding in living books and AO is great!

      I didn’t like the Queens science for a number of reasons, but primarily because the stories were not very good and I didn’t feel like there was a sense of cohesion to it. It felt scattered. Plus, some of it felt like busy work. It just didn’t appeal to my daughter and I couldn’t get into it either. Now we’re reading Burgess Bird Book and watching the birds at our feeder, and it’s amazing how much close observation in nature is teaching my children.

  5. Hi Keri,
    We love living books and the Charlotte Mason philosophies too! They freed our homeschool from the prison we were in (aka dry textbooks). Thanks for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays last week. New link up is up and running if you have time to join in 🙂 Have a lovely week and hope this comment goes through 🙂
    JES recently posted…The Art of Home-Making Mondays ~ Please Join Us ~ Link Up #15My Profile

  6. What is the bible cirriculum you use I clicked on the link but it took me nowhere. I am not finding it.

    • I don’t know what happened with that link?! I’ve replaced it. We used Bible Road Trip Year 1 that year and REALLY enjoyed it. The only reason we aren’t using it now is because we’ve joined a weekly Bible study that has daily Bible readings and we’re doing that instead. I would highly recommend it though.

      Here are some posts I’ve written about BRT:
      A Bible Study for Kids You’ll Love!
      What Bible Time with Littles Looks Like

      Check out Danika’s site. She has lots of amazing resources! Best wishes.


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