I started this post about two weeks ago with full confidence that I had the first term of B’s first grade year, which starts in about two weeks, all set. All my little term schedule boxes were filled in and I was READY! Or so I thought. Who knew that blogging could actually help me to be MORE prepared for school. 🙂 I discovered quite a few areas that I had either not fleshed out completely or had skipped entirely, so going through each subject individually caused me to actually take the time and figure out what we’re going to do. For the most part. There are a still a few subjects where I’m scratching my head wondering how we’re going to do that, but knowing how stubborn I am about these things, I’m sure it’ll all come together…..even if at 2 in the morning the day we start school with the gratuitous use of Amazon Prime. 🙂
This is our first “official” year of homeschooling since we didn’t need to register with a school district last year (kindergarten isn’t mandatory in Colorado) and, for the most part, we’re sticking to Ambleside Online’s (AO) Year 1 schedule. I did personalize a few things as outlined below, but overall I’m SO thankful that the generous women of the AO Advistory have made this entire curriculum available for free online. (insert applause here 👏)
We’re covering quite a bit more this year than last year, so I am a tad bit nervous about how we’ll do. But the fact that so many have used this curriculum with success and all of the Year 1 reflections I read back in May and June also have me excited that we’ll both thrive this coming school year. 🙂
I plan to read straight from the Bible per Ms. Mason’s suggestion:
Now our objective in this most important part of education is to give the children the knowledge of God. We need not go into the question of intuitive knowledge, but the expressed knowledge attainable by us has its source in the Bible, and perhaps we cannot do a greater indignity to children than to substitute our own or some other benevolent person’s rendering for the fine English, poetic diction and lucid statement of the Bible. (vol 6 pg 16)
I was originally planning on reading through the RCL during each week with the Old Testament on Mondays, New Testament on Tuesdays, a Psalm on Wednesdays, and a Proverb on Thursdays. I love the idea of going through the year with the liturgical calendar, but I’m honestly not sure how well it would work for narrations with a 7-year-old boy. So, at least for this first year, I thought that I might just stick with the OT and NT for now, again, as Ms. Mason suggested. So we’ll be reading through these lists (OT and NT) with OT on Mondays and Wednesdays, and NT on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Before breakfast, we’ve also been working on our verse memorization as well as reading a section from a children’s theology book we’re going through (the jury is still out on whether I like it, so I’m not linking to it yet) each day and we’ll continue doing that as well.
History and Tales
Fifty Famous Stories Retold (borrowing from a friend but also free on Kindle)
Our Island Story (found through Bookfinder for $6.54)
Various D’Aulaire Books (purchased on Amazon for $10.12 and borrowed from a friend)
We’re going to skip Trial and Triumph this year as I just wasn’t comfortable with the content. I thought about inserting some other church history-type book in place of T&T and looked at a few that introduced some of the saints (In God’s Garden and Our Island Saints were front-runners), but ultimately decided to add it later (AO covers it again in year 7 in Saints and Heroes) and just insert the extra geography readings in those slots instead.
The D’Aulaire books are beautifully illustrated and I think B will like these a lot.
The Burgess Bird Book for Children (free ebook)
Paddle to the Sea (found through Bookfinder for $3.20 – this is also listed under Georgraphy)
James Herriot’s Treasury for Children (found through Bookfinder for $5.89)
I can’t even begin to express how excited I am for Paddle to the Sea. I’ve been watching people post pictures of their kids’ maps and marking the progress of the little canoe and I can’t wait (we’ll be using the map from Beautiful Feet Books and I also think this canoe is adorable…..somehow I may try to justify the expense 🙂 ). Both E and I grew up not far from at least one of the Great Lakes (me – Superior, him – Erie), so this will be like introducing B to our home areas.
I admit that I really didn’t like Thornton Burgess when we first started reading his books, but as we’ve started to make our way through each of the individual animal books, he has definitely grown on me and I kind of can’t believe that they’re all free for Kindle. Outside of the curriculum, we’re working our way through Jerry Muskrat right now, so I think it probably goes without saying that we’ll definitely be reading his Bird Book.
I don’t know much about James Herriot’s Treasury, but usually any book with warm and fuzzy animal stories is okay by me.
I’m inserting the two readings from these books into the slots where I took out the T&T readings, which I mentioned above. I had these printed at LuLu (unfortunately, the site where I got the files is no long up) because I wanted to see how their printing was in case I ever wanted to offer a print version of the picture study aids. They turned out so beautifully that I kind of wish I needed to use them more (and that I had a sprial binding machine!).
Aesop’s Fables for Children (free on PaperBack Swap)
Parables of Nature (free ebook)
Just So Stories (free on PaperBack Swap)
The Blue Fairy Book (free ebook)
Shakespeare (borrowed from a friend and library)
I had actually been admiring the Milo Winter version of Aesop at a local bookstore a few years ago and was so happy when I found it on PaperBack Swap as the illustrations are beautiful. I remember reading at least a few of these when I was doing the Junior Great Books program in elementary school, but I definitely haven’t read them all. I’m interested to see how B picks up on the moral of each story.
We’ll also be reading Parables of Nature and Just So Stories as they’re recommended, as well as The Blue Fairy Book even though it’s a tiny bit intimidating to me. I think we’re a little desensitized these days to how these fairy tales were originally written because we’re used to the Disney versions. I remember the first time I ever read the actual Grimm Brothers’ version of Cinderella, after having loved the G-rated Disney version for years, and being absolutely horrified that they actually cut off the toe of one step-sister and the heel of the other step-sister in order to fit them into the (not glass) slipper. Which then was soaked through with blood. Which then trickled out and stained their white stockings. It was just….kind of morbid compared to what I was used to. Based on what I’ve read of The Blue Fairy Book so far, these stories seem to be similarly foreign, so pre-reading will be a must here. I’m not skipping it entirely because I sincerely believe fairy tales are good for kids to hear, and maybe since B has yet to be introduced to the world of Disney (other than Mickey Mouse’s extremely distant cousin, R2-D2), he won’t go through the shock that I did. 🙂
For Shakespeare, we’ll be reading the Bruce Coville versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (borrowed from a friend) and The Tempest (from the library). These are (again) beautifully illustrated retellings of the plays and I’m excited to learn all about Shakespeare with B as I really only got a cursory introduction to the bard in high school. In our homeschool co-op, for the kids fourth grade and younger, we’ll be covering a few as well through Lamb’s and Shakepeare’s Storybook: Folk Tales that Inspired the Bard.
A Child’s Garden of Verses (gift)
A few years ago, my dad and step-mother just happened to pick up the Barnes and Noble version of A Child’s Garden of Verses (which has wonderful classic illustrations) as a gift, so we’ve been set there for a few years. I am very tempted to also pick up the Tasha Tudor version linked above, though. What can I say? She was one of my very favorite illustrators when I was younger and I’m a sucker for beautiful books.
We’ll be doing MEP Year 1 this time around. It looks like it’ll be quite a bit different than Reception year, which we did last year, so it will take some adjusting for both of us. Someone did, however, recently start a MEP users group on Facebook and that’s been extremely helpful in knowing what to expect. I’ve got all of the copymasters, lesson plans, and practice books all printed out and in 3-ring binders…hopefully we both like it and I didn’t waste a small fortune of ink and paper if we end up switching to a different math curriculum. 🙂
Here we’ll be continuing what we did last year with one sheet per day from the poem we’re memorizing during Morning Time (which will also look much the same as it did last year). Our schedule for Term 1 is:
For a Child
by Fannie Stearns Davis
Your friends shall be the Tall Wind,
The River and the Tree;
The Sun that laughs and marches,
The Swallows and the Sea.
Your prayers shall be the murmur
Of grasses in the rain;
The song of wildwood thrushes
That makes God glad again.
And you shall run and wander,
And you shall dream and sing
Of brave things and bright things
Beyond the swallow’s wings.
And you shall envy no man,
Nor hurt your heart with sighs,
For I will keep you simple
That God may make you wise.
by Sara Teasdale
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And childrens‘ faces looking up
Holding wonder in a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.
And for November:
by John Kendrick Bangs
For summer rains, and winter’s sun,
For autumn breezes crisp and sweet;
For labors doing, to be done,
And labors all complete;
For April, May, and lovely June,
For bud, and bird, and berried vine;
For joys of morning, night, and noon,
My thanks, dear Lord, are Thine!
For loving friends on every side;
For children full of joyous glee;
For all the blessed heavens wide,
And for the sounding sea;
For mountains, valleys, forests deep;
For maple, oak, and lofty pine;
For rivers on their seaward sweep,
My thanks, dear Lord, are Thine!
For light and air, for sun and shade,
For merry laughter and for cheer;
For music and the glad parade
Of blessings through the year;
For all the fruitful earth’s increase,
For home and life, and love divine,
For hope, and faith, and perfect peace,
My thanks, dear Lord, are Thine!
We’ll be doing a lesson per day from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and then each week we’ll also go through a BOB book. B has already read one of these to me with some help, so I’m looking forward to diving into this deeper, but also wondering if it will be enough. One of my clients is a K-2 reading specialist who makes all of these absolutely amazing programs for teaching kids reading, writing, etc. and my two little teaching tools seem paltry in comparison. We’ll see how it goes…
Speaking Spanish with Ms. Mason and Francois (haven’t purchased yet – hoping to find a used copy)
Diez Deditos Book and CD (purchased on Amazon for $6.58 – I’m actually not sure if I’m going to get the CD yet)
We’re choosing Spanish as our foreign language as there is such a large Spanish-speaking population in Colorado (including our next-door neighbors who are actually from New Jersey/NYC 🙂 ). We’ll do the Francois lessons during regular school time and then also work on a song from Diez Deditos each week during Morning Time, hopefully memorizing them along the way.
Handbook of Nature Study (purchased on Amazon for $22.57)
This term’s Handbook of Nature Study topic on the AO schedule is birds. I can handle birds. 🙂 We’ll be using nature study guides from this website and study a different bird each week (as well as going on nature hikes on our co-op off-weeks since we also do nature study at co-op) with this schedule:
- Hummingbirds (which shouldn’t be a problem at all thanks to my favorite bird feeder ever)
- Owls (I plan to get some owl pellets to dissect for this week)
- House Sparrow
- Belted Kingfisher
- Turkey or Chicken (our raw milk dairy also has chickens that they don’t mind us chasing around and holding, so we may have to have a little field trip)
- Chickadee (I saved the best for last 🙂 )
Term 2 is mammals. I’m thinking we may have to get a little pet for that…..hmmm…..
We’re going to do a personal timeline as per Laurie Bestvater’s brief description in The Living Page, but I’m still not sure how that’s going to look. I love the ideas presented here and I think we might try to do some variation of that. B likes to take photos, so I may also allow him to use those, though I’m not sure how-in-the-spirit of things that is. We’ll see. 🙂 We’ll at least start with some kind of timeline-box-grid thing that starts in September and go backward from there. I’ll most likely have more to say about this when I share our Term 2 plans.
This will be the poems we’re memorizing during Morning Time which I mentioned above in the handwriting/copywork section. It takes us about a month or so to memorize them, and then we also go back and review the ones we’ve already memorized during MT as well.
Our co-op is studying Rembrandt this term, so we’ll be looking at him in our picture study time during Morning Time as well. The AO artist this term is Rubens and if you happen to be studying him, I made a picture study for him which you can download here. 🙂
I’m excited about handicrafts this year because I actually have a little more direction! For Term 1, we’re going to do the first 12 activities in Paper Sloyd: A Handbook for Primary Grades. I first heard about this probably over a year ago on one of the many CM blogs I follow (unfortunately, I can’t remember which one). I wasn’t completely sold at first, but then started reading more about it and then Cindy Rollins discussed it with Camille Malucci on The Mason Jar, which also helped me understand it more. I think B will really enjoy this if he doesn’t get too frustrated by having to use a ruler and/or compass as he already likes to make little boxes and things from paper. If our sloyd projects fail in a glorious blaze of frustration for both of us, Sewing School is my back-up.
For all of our various music studies, (composer, hymns, and folksong), we’ll be following along at home with our co-op, including studying Jean-Baptiste Lully for this term.
Charlotte’s Web (free on PaperBack Swap)
King of the Golden River (free ebook)
Peter Pan (gift)
The Red Fairy Book (free ebook)
St. George and the Dragon (free on PaperBack Swap – ours has definitely seen better days…)
The Velveteen Rabbit (free on PaperBack Swap)
Little House in the Big Woods (gift – my uncle gave me the set 25 years ago 🙂 )
Pocahontas (borrowed from a friend)
We’ve already read a few of these, but B really doesn’t mind reading things again (and again and again and again), so we’ll probably make our way through these stories once more this year.
So…..hopefully this is it? Maybe? I enrolled B in our umbrella school back in June and we’re set with the local Charlotte Mason co-op as well. Now it’s just a matter of putting it all into Lessontrek. I guess we’re probably as ready as we’re ever going to be. 🙂