Back in August we started homeschooling (1st Grade, and Tot School). I had always wanted to homeschool and had been nesting away supplies and ideas since my son was born. Honestly I never thought I would really take the leap. I mean I LOVE my kids but do I like them enough to be with them all day every day!?
Turns out, our first months of homeschool have gone better than I could imagine. Overall it was a smooth transition. For me, I already worked from home (still do just cut my hours), so I was used to being here and juggling kids and work.
I thought I would share what we have been using for our studies this past fall for my first grader.
We were so lucky that when I reached out to a fellow mom friend she mentioned Classical Conversations. Immediately I was in love with the idea. It was a perfect fit between the scope and sequence of the program (a strong focus on history, and memory work), and being part of a community 1 day a week. This helped to alleviate my anxiety about my son desiring to be with friends each week (and it is nice for mom too!).
For Math, we use Montessori materials and methods. We have focused on multiplication (bead board and decanomial), division (stamp game, bead board), and 4 digit addition on the small bead frame. Our next focus will be fractions, and geometry.
We focus on a topic for the month, such as 4-digit addition. Each week I introduce a new lesson and he can work through as many equations/problems as needed on his own.
We also add in math work from Mammoth Math. At first I started him out with the first grade workbook (Light Blue Series) but moved to the topic based series (Blue Series) so that I could loop the workbooks in after we introduced a concept using the Montessori method. For example, when we spent a month on multiplication using Montessori materials, the next month he worked through the Mammoth Math multiplication workbook. Kodi loves math so he will work on math work both in the mornings and afternoons. We do math 5 days a week.
For literature we do a modified version of Five in A Row (FIAR). We read the same book picked from FIAR once a week for the month. This has been so much fun and is one of my favorite times of the week. The books have been so appealing to all of us and even though they seem like just pictures books they beautiful intelligent literature. I are able to talk about the elements of a story and character development with the 6-year-old. And the 3-year-old just likes the story and ask for us to read them again.
For each story we follow the suggested ideas in the FIAR guide. The suggestions range from discussions about elements of a story to good charter traits, making food, science and more. I also do an art project based on the story. For my Grandfather’s Journey we did origami boats, that we glued onto a watercolor background.
I can honestly say this is my worst subject area!!! I always struggled with spelling and depend on my spelling editor more than I care to admit. We are using All About Spelling. It is scripted and this helps me make sure I am teaching it correctly! We do spelling three times a week.
We use the Montessori Grammar Boxes and have been working through them with a focus each month on one part of speech. So far we have done, articles, adjectives and nouns. We do grammar 2 days a week.
Each week for Classical Conversations Kodi gives a 3 minute presentation. We use many of those presentations as a chance to get him to think of a main topic and 3 points about that topic. Kodi is a talker, so it sometimes is hard for him to limit it to three. This will serve as a structure and framework for when he is ready to really being writing.
For each book he reads he writes a few sentences and then draws a picture.
In reflection, this was a weak area in the fall and I am revising what we are doing in the spring to add in more writing.
We get a good amount of history from our Classical Conversations Memory work. We are using one a week Beautiful Feet Books’ Early American History. I liked the focus on read-aloud (Living History style books) that is something that both my wiggly 3-year-old would listen to and my 6-year-old would benefit from. We are moving through this very s-l-o-w-l-y. We do one lesson a week so it will take us about 2 years to get through all the books/lessons. For my 6-year-old we keep a journal where we draw pictures and write definitions. For my 3-year-old, I let her color pages if she wants, if not she wanders off once we are done reading the book.
Science for us has been less formal this year. We have studied the Timeline of Eras and Kodi memorized the song by David Haines entitled Eras. You can download all the songs from the Lifetime: Songs of the Life and Evolution here.
We took a trip to the Natural History Museum in Houston to look at dinosaurs and see how life has changed during those Eras. (Note: We believe in Creation as it is stated in Genesis.)
We also studied the life cycle of a star.
LOTS of art- that is what you get when your mom majored in art and was an art teacher. We do an art project each week that ranges from Sugar Skull Paintings to free paint to clay sculptures.
LOTS of trips the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. We use the timeline from Classical Conversations and walk through the galleries until we find something to draw.
In December I began to add in quite time 1-2 afternoons a week where we worked on handwork, such as weaving and felting, while listing to either Your Story Hour or The Story of the World. This turned out to be my favorite time of day and will make sure that we keep this as part of our day.
We are studying the book of Mark as part of Community Bible Study. We study the bible 5 days a week. You will see us in coffee shops around town reading. Our favorite is Sub Rosa!
I am really looking forward to our Spring Semester. I am hoping to post more often with some of the lessons and ideas we are using. (At least that is my New Year’s Resolution… we will see how long it lasts but you got to have goals!)