Monday, April 20, 2015

First Grade Update

I feel like Rose and I just started her first grade year, yet it is slowly winding down. I don't expect that we will be finished until sometime in June and I also expect that we will continue a few things over the least phonics and math.

 We have been starting every morning by stacking up all of the stuff we need for the day. I usually work with her first, unless she is still asleep! We take turns choosing subjects.  She almost always picks a read-aloud, I almost always pick phonics and math:).

She has quite an impressive stack. I would say I spend about 2 hours a day with just her, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. We are still doing much of what we set out to do in my original first grade plans, but some things have changed. 

We finished BookShark's World Cultures and have moved onto Sonlight's Core B (which I already own, happily). Two of the books we are enjoying right now are Peoples of the World and Charlotte's Web. She always picks to do these first. My version of Core B is several years old and this is my third time through it.

 We are still plugging through First Language Lessons Level 1, which I reviewed earlier in the year and still love. We do not do any of the copywork exercises since we also use Writing with Ease, but she does some writing for this occasionally. Here, she is practicing some abbreviations.

We are on week 17 of Writing with Ease Level 1. I would not say this is her favorite subject, but she does enjoy the reading selections and does great with the copywork. Review here.

She finished this year's level of Zaner-Bloser handwriting! I am happy with her penmanship, so I was inclined to wait on the next level, but she really wants to learn cursive like her big brothers so I will order Grade 2C for her soon.  I reviewed ZB earlier in the year. 

Phonics is probably her least favorite subject right now, but she does want to learn to read so she is (mostly) willing to put in the work. We do not usually use our fun system anymore, she usually just want to get to it and get it done now. We are on about lesson 130 of The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. Going through this book has been a real eye-opener for me. Until you sit down to try to teach another person how to read, you really can't grasp just how difficult the English language is to learn! So many words don't follow any rules at all - for those we have our sight word cards, which I keep clipped to our current lesson page. It also seems like just when she has one rule down, like saying "ow" in down, I need to tell her that a word like "tow" can have an entirely different sound! She takes it all in stride though, and hasn't been getting overly frustrated. I told her that when she finishes OPGTR we are all going out to lunch to celebrate! She has already chosen the restaurant.

For math, we are still doing Miquon, which I will post my thoughts on soon.  She says she doesn't like it, but since this is the third math program we have tried, I think she would say that about any math. I like it a lot  and find it very easy to use. She has been learning about multiplication right alongside addition, which I think is kind of a neat thing about Miquon.  We had put Life of Fred: Apples on hold for awhile because she just wasn't ready, but we picked it back up again this week and it is going great now that she understands basic addition.

We had read through all of our Fun Tales many many times and read all the BOB books she was ready for, so I ordered Sonlight's first grade readers to go with Core B.  The first books she will be reading through are the I Can Read It! books.  She is loving this set of books and actually looks forward to reading them to me each day, so I am very glad I invested in them. They start out below her reading level, but I think that is a good thing because she is building a lot of confidence.

For science, we started the year with our human body study and we are still finishing up The Complete Book of Animals, which I reviewed here. We have also added in Sonlight Science B since I had it on hand. She has been very pleased to have more hands-on activities to do. She watched her first Discover & Do DVD lesson last week and did some experiments with magnets.

 She chose some things from around the house and made predictions about what would be attracted to her bar magnet and what would not. She did a pretty good job predicting!

She also made a sock-matching  magnet game. The object of the game is to pick up paper-clipped socks from a box with a magnet - while blindfolded!

She played this many times - with her brothers, her Dad, and by herself. After all the socks are out of the box, the blindfolds come off and you see how many pairs you managed to get. It's trickier than it looks!

For art, Rose is still very much enjoying Draw 3D, which I talked much more about here

The only thing we have dropped completely for right now is Song School Latin. She really did not have the patience to do the workbook, so at first we did it orally, but around Christmas-time it all fell by the wayside. I would like to pick this back up again though.

So that is how first grade has been going this year! I plan to really enjoy these next couple of months with her, since this is my last time teaching first grade.


  1. I've enjoyed reading through your blog, especially your homeschoolong and housekeeping posts! I'm trying to narrow down our handwriting options for next year -- I know you like ZB, but did you ever try Handwriting Without Tears? Just curious about your take on it. Thanks!

  2. Thanks so much! I did use HWT with my first two, just the Letters & Numbers for Me level. I thought it was great, we had the wooden letter pieces to go along with it and they loved making the letters. I think it really helped my son especially to physically construct the letters. After that level we moved to Getty-Dubay because I really wanted to try italics with them, but that was a mixed bag and the kids found the books very boring with too much on each page. We switched to ZB because it seemed more engaging and then I decided to just stick with that.

    I also used the preschool level of HWT with my youngest - My First School Book. I would def. use that level again, my daughter LOVED all the little activities in it. When she finished that book I let her choose between continuing HWT or doing ZB like her sibs and she chose ZB, I think b/c of the flashier pages. I think they are both great programs and if I had to do it over I would do the first level or two of HWT and then switch to ZB if the kids got bored with HWT. Hope that helps!

  3. Thank you! I just ordered My First School Book. Excited to try it!


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