Here is a look at our First Grade homeschool year. We start our school year in April and end in early March. Although some subjects have their own starting and ending dates (like geography, music, etc)
The bulk of our curriculum this year is from BJU Press. We are using the Distance Learning DVD’s and for several subjects it has been the perfect fit and for others, well just a bit blah! Check it out!
BJU Bible (Distance Learning) has been okay for us. It has covered what I want it to cover, yet hasn’t brought much excitement into this subject. The videos are a little out dated (this is not the case for all the subjects) and just a wee bit boring honestly. What does my daughter think? She doesn’t complain and is learning lots of great scripture, biblical stories and hymns. We will most likely finish up the year with BJU Bible and do something else for 2nd grade.
BJU Language Arts (Distance Learning) has been AMAZING! What an incredible LA program! The previous curriculum we were using in Kindergarten just wasn’t clicking for my daughter and she desperately wanted to learn how to read. She was ready! After MUCH research, much! We decided on BJU and have seen dramatic progress with my daughter in such a short period of time. Mrs. Walker is the DL instructor and she is phenomenal. No way could I teach this subject like she does!! and for that I consider it a blessing. BJU Language Arts also includes Handwriting, which is considered pre-cursive for First Grade. I have noticed a huge improvement in her handwriting. Also-this is by far my daughters favorite subject. She often asks to do LA on the weekends and if we have time, I never say no!
In addition to the above, which is plenty, I substitute with Sing, Spell, Read & Write (not pictured). I LOVE this program and used it during Kindergarten. However-I don’t think this program can stand alone for K and First grade. Yet-the songs, activities and readers are excellent! My daughter loves the readers, frequently asking for them at bedtime, thus why I continue to supplement with this great program. I do plan to continue using SSRW as a supplement (mainly for the readers) for the next few years!
We are also using BJU spelling, although I am not using the Distance Learning DVD’s. I do have them in case I need them, and we may very well need them when we get into spelling rules. For now the lessons are easily organized into very short daily practice that ends each week with a spelling test on Friday. The spelling word lists coordinate nicely with what is being learned in Phonics.
Prior to purchasing BJU Spelling, we were using Spelling You See Listen and Write (not pictured). We still use this program as I really like the format and the teaching methodology behind the program. I alternate between BJU and SYS to keep it interesting! I’m not sure if we will finish Spelling You See, but for now the alternating works.
My daughter is excellent in math, it really is one of her gifting’s. When we made the switch over to BJU for most of her subjects, we switched over to BJU Math as well, even though she was doing great with her previous program. Not sure I made the best choice on this one! She enjoys BJU math but she LOVED her previous math curriculum. She refuses to watch the videos, which is fine, so I teach her math myself and she does well! The picture below was one of the few days she watched the Distance Learning video for that lesson, mainly because I wasn’t quite sure how to teach it 😉
BJU Science 2nd Grade (Distance Learning) has been great thus far. If you noticed I did say 2nd grade. I wasn’t quite happy with the scope and sequence of what was taught in First Grade, quite honestly, it was stuff we did in Pre-K and Kindergarten. Although BJU Science is textbook driven it’s important to me that we bring science to life. Our current lesson is on life cycles, so I made sure we witnessed the life cycle process first hand just like in the textbook. Will we continue to use BJU Science? I’m not sure, I do think their are better science programs out there.
This subject has been a bit of a bust 🙁 I love history! and BJU Heritage Studies just doesn’t cut it for me. Especially since we came from using a highly hands on history curriculum. History is so amazing and quite honestly using only a textbook and a few workbook pages just doesn’t bring history to life the way it should. We are still using BJU Heritage Studies but I make sure to pull library books, take field trips, and create lap books on the topics we are learning. I’m not sure we will make it to the end of this book, we will try and I’m already searching for something new ( I think Mystery of History) for 2nd Grade.
We have LOVED traveling the world learning about different countries! I use a hodgepodge of different geography resources including; Little Passports, Expedition Earth, Galloping the Globe and of course our local library. This is definitely my most favorite subject to plan! I plan to write an entire blog post about our Geography adventures and the resources we use very soon! Stay tuned!
I always laugh at this picture, I promise she was enjoying her BJU Pasaporte al Espanol lesson. She just wasn’t a fan of all the pictures I was snapping that day. Okay-this will be an entire blog post in itself( I promise coming soon) but this has been an excellent program. I should know! I speak Spanish fluently and have researched every Spanish program under the sun. Quickly- what I love about this program are the excellent videos and the Spanish readers. What program do you know that actually comes with Spanish books to read?
We have been using Home Art Studio-Kindergarten for quite some time now and she loves it! We are just about done with all the lessons and it will be time to move up to First Grade. Home Art Studio makes what does not come naturally to me, fun, easy and organized. Love it!
We just recently started Violin lessons with a local instructor!
This past school year we have been a part of our local American Heritage Girls troop. What a wonderful program and so thankful for a friend that leads the group and told us about it. This has been a wonderful fit for her and not too demanding on our schedule!
During the summer I usually sign her up for VBS. This summer she did three of them back to back! Whew!
Field trips are always a part of our school year. They make learning fun! Our local history & science museum have homeschool days that are excellent.
Traveling is another personal favorite way of learning!
Why I decided to start preschooling?
Although my daughter was only 2.5 at the time, I found myself juggling being a newlywed and a stay at home mom with a very demanding business. In the midst of my quest for some balance, the quality time I once spent with my daughter was slipping away as my new responsibility of being a wife and managing a home came into the picture. I began noticing that I was often stressed, I was missing my one-on-one time with my daughter and yes, I would often use the TV as a babysitter (Gasp now, or forever hold your peace!). I was unhappy, so I began praying and asking God to help me find a way to work from home while still keeping my daughter at home with me and most importantly interacting with her. What seemed like six agonizing weeks of praying I slowly began to develop a routine and a structure that not only is helping me balance ALL of my responsibilities, especially balancing working from home, yet it is also giving me the quality time I desperately was craving with my daughter. Unfortunately, they do grow up to fast and I really don’t want to miss any of it.
I discovered the world of preschooling as a way to introduce our children to the world around us, to God and to God’s word, and who better to do that than their parent. I loved the ideas and resources I was finding to engage her interests and imagination and spend lot’s of valuable time with her exploring something new. I am still very new to preschooling and I do not profess to know it all, or know very much at all. I encourage you to share what resources or ideas have or have not worked with your preschoolers.
So far, this is what is working for us. I have incorporated preschooling into our entire day. Right now we are doing about 3 hours per week of some type of more structured activity. I believe this also helps build focus. However, if after a little encouraging she just isn’t in the mood, we either try again later in the day or scratch that completely off the agenda. The key for us is to have fun and spend time together!!
Our 2013/2014 Pre-K Curriculum and Resources
Many of our days begin by listening to the Seeds Family Worship CD Seeds of Faith. We absolutely love it. Seeds Family Worship does an amazing job of bringing scripture into songs enjoyable for children and adults!! We usually listen to it in the car on our way to and from somewhere and what better way than to renew our minds than my listening to God’s Word. They have about 5 different CD’s and I look forward to buying another one soon.
I am SO EXCITED about exploring God’s Animals from A-Z this year as our main theme focus. Since we will be going through the entire alphabet learning our letters and letter sounds, etc what better way than to tie in all of God’s animals. I will be using a few supplements to help in this endeavor such as;
Lot’s of good animal books, such as, Kingfishers First Encyclopedia of Animals
I wanted our focus this year to be on teaching God’s word and the history, people and stories in the Bible. As a child, I did not have this opportunity and I believe it is such a blessing to start this learning at a very young age. I know some amazing mommas that don’t need a curriculum to teach the bible, yet I do, and that’s ok! I researched several different preschool bible curriculums. This year-long study had everything I was looking for, just enough structure for me without literally holding my hand, a beautiful colorful storybook Bible that went along with the lessons. A lesson plan that was realistic and perfect for this PK age, a fun activity book and a music CD. The best part was the price, I made the actual purchase at our state’s homeschool convention which gave me a bit of a discount and free shipping! However, even without that the price is very good! Look forward to reviewing this curriculum in the near future.
I have heard so many good things about GrapeVine Studies. As I was doing my research for a preschool Bible curriculum I really fell in love with this workbook, this curriculum could stand alone however I was looking for something more, so I decided to use this as a supplement to our Exploring God’s Love curriculum. You can buy an e-book of the student workbook and teachers manual which makes this under $20.00 and well worth it.
In 2012 I attended my first homeschool convention and there I met the Boyer family. A family of 14 children that were homeschooled since preschool. I had the opportunity to listen to Marilyn Boyer (the mom) speak and one of the prominent areas she emphasized was character building , especially in the preschool years. I completely agreed and needing some tools to guide the way I purchased their 3-4 year old curriculum called Character Concepts for Preschoolers. I hope to review it soon for my blog readers because it is an exceptional character building curriculum.
Art will mainly come from our Mother Goose Time A-Zoo Animals Kit and Pinterest! We will be doing a lot of animal crafts as we explore God’s creatures and working through some crafts in our Bible curriculum.
The All about Reading Level Pre-1 was our very first curriculum purchase. Although, at first I was concerned she would be a little young to begin (early 3 year old), it has proven to be perfect for her age . I am starting by using it for letter recognition and we are having a lot of fun learning about each letter. We will be taking this very slow, yet it gives me a little of the structure that I crave and most importantly ideas on how to merge learning letter recognition and sounds. Update: We have had this curriculum for about a year now and we are still going through our letters and sounds at a nice pace.
I was excited to come across Reading Eggs through a blog. I wanted a fun, interactive way to teach phonics since quite honestly I don’t even know where to begin!! She LOVES ABCmouse.com so this seems like a good fit for her. I read way to many reviews and not one was negative! We are doing a 5 week free trial and have already done a few lessons, which look great!.
Okay, so I might be going a bit overboard with three phonics curriculums! I have read great things about these workbooks, however decided against them since I was going to use Reading Eggs. At our homeschool convention this year I bumped into these workbooks and they looked so good and were so cheap that I decided to buy them. All three for something like $17.00. My daughter LOVES workbooks and worksheets so I figured these would be a great supplement to all the other resources we are using.
First, let me say that this is SO MUCH MORE than just a handwriting curriculum. I was blown away when I finally had a few moments to sit down and read through the teachers manual. Since we were going to be learning our letters and letter sounds this year, I figured that teaching correct handwriting from the start would be a good idea. I love how this company teaches, they really know their stuff, I love all the hands on tools they use, such as, play-doh, a chalkboard, wooden letter pieces. The workbook is actually the last step you use in teaching the proper writing technique for that letter. I also love all the catchy songs on their CD. I don’t think this curriculum will disappoint.
Books: Books are at the forefront of our preschool days. I have focused the past couple years on building our home library with good quality books. This year our theme is God’s Animals, so we will be reading a lot of books about all kinds of different animals, such as, Kingfishers First Encyclopedia of Animals.
ABCmouse.com has been one of my best discoveries for some educational fun. I am blown away by this site. They have songs, books, games, art. All exceptionally well done. My daughter’s favorite part is her very own class fish tank. She get’s to feed her fish, clean its tank and buy more fish with the reward tickets she receives from completing all her fun and educational activities. At her age I do all the activities with her and this is a great time together.
Kiwi Crate is a monthly subscription activity box. I am really impressed with this product. Although we do not subscribe to Kiwi Crate anymore due to the fact that I have been using other sources for our crafts & activities, it was a wonderful tool in our early preschool months and I still highly recommend the product. Click here to read a review I wrote.
Our Preschool Week in Review
How To: Begin Home Preschooling Part II
Our Preschool Room