First Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

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Inside: Looking for suggestions for first-grade homeschool curriculum? You’re in the right place! Take a look at what we used for our first-grade homeschool curriculum. We have a relaxed classical homeschool approach and use a mix of programs.


First grade is such a fun time in homeschooling. Your child is starting to get a bit of a longer attention span, maybe starting to read, and is so curious. This is a great year to encourage that love of learning and watch your child grow.

My children aren’t quite at the age where they will consistently go through an entire curriculum, so I still piece together my own first-grade homeschool curriculum. I find that I can save a lot of money and get a custom fit for our family that way.

How long do we do school each day?

Ya know, it just depends.

In order for a day to count as a homeschool day in our state, we are required to do four hours of school. Luckily play time counts in elementary school!

I would say my daughter probably sits for about 45 minutes to one hour when we are doing school. But, it’s definitely not all at once.

We might do 15 or 30 minutes of math, then she goes and plays with her sisters. Later on, we might read on the couch or she might read a bit on her own, so let’s say 30 minutes. My girls do arts and crafts just about every day, so that takes another 30 minutes. Recess and P.E. take up about an hour to an hour and a half.

That’s three hours.

The last hour we might do a science experiment, go run errands and talk about money and prices, read some more, cook, whatever. The great thing about homeschooling first-grade is that it is so easy to learn new things as you go through the course of your day.

So, yes, we do school for four hours, but it might not look like a typical four hours of school.

What topics do you cover?

I’m so glad you asked!

My main focus for first grade was learning how to read and working on math. We did lots of other subjects like history, geography, science, etc. But, if we didn’t get to them for a few days or weeks, I wasn’t concerned. There is plenty of time to go back and cover the material in those subjects later.

Without further ado, here are our picks for our first-grade homeschool curriculum…

Math

A friend of mine turned me onto Horizons Math from Alpha Omega and I’m so glad. I love the bright colors and simplicity of the workbooks. They are also very easy to tailor to your child’s needs.

If your first-grader needs to spend a little extra time on a topic, they’ve got lots of review in each lesson. But, if your child is a math whiz, then you can shorten the lessons and not waste their time.

I actually wrote a guest post for Terryn at Just a Simple Home about Horizons Math 1 and you can read more about it there.

The only hang up we had with Horizons Math 1 was the large blocks of addition problems on some of the pages. I realize that they aren’t nearly as fun looking as the other activities, but they’re still important! My first-grader wasn’t buying it. So, I had to find another way to get her to practice and learn her math facts.

A friend suggested Addition Facts that Stick. It’s great! It’s an entire book that gives you fun game ideas to practice with your child. The games are either played with a regular deck of cards or they provide a simple gameboard that you can copy. This book definitely made first-grade math more fun for my daughter.

Reading

We don’t use a set reading program for our 1st-grade homeschool curriculum. We tried Hooked on Phonics, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and a few others and she was just.not.having.it.

She would get frustrated if a word was hard to sound out, etc., so I just let phonics slide for most of the year and we worked on sight words.

About 3/4 of the way through the year, I noticed that my daughter was more willing to sound out words, so we started book 2 of Explode the Code.

Book 2 starts with blends, so if you aren’t quite ready for that you might want to start with book 1. Book 1 covers consonants and short vowels.

My daughter hates to write. I think it’s just a matter of she can’t spell that many words by herself yet and writing is time consuming. I don’t push the writing very much and we try to find activities that require minimal writing.

One reason I love Explode the Code is that there is minimal writing. It’s a lot of circling the correct blend, etc. There is a page or two for each set of words that requires the students to write the words, but again, it’s not that much writing. My daughter generally did it without too much complaining.

As a fun little add-on to our reading, I bought these Disney themed workbooks for reading comprehension. My first-grader loves Disney princesses, so these were fun to have. We read through the stories and then there were questions that she had to go back to the text to answer. It got her doing a little bit of sneaky copy work. The stories are broken up, which is great for this age group. So, you read a little bit of the story, answer some questions, read some more, answer some more questions.

Towards the end of the year, my daughter really picked up reading on her own. She became an official bookworm and I started getting her lots of picture books from the library to read by herself.

History/Geography

I follow the sequence recommended in The Well-Trained Mind for history. History for first-graders covers the Ancient period from early nomads to the Roman Empire.

We listened to The Story of the World on CD. This was great because we could listen to it in the car while we ran errands. My first-grader would always ask “Can we listen to the CD?” Jim Weiss does a fantastic job with voices on historical characters! Listening to an audio CD is a great way to add some variety to your first-grade homeschool curriculum.

In addition to listening to The Story of the World, we used the Usborne Book of World History as a jumping off point to look at different civilizations we heard about on the CD.

I love this book when teaching history to first-graders because it has tons of visuals, reads like a story, and gives a good introduction to important historical topics. If we had more interest in a particular civilization, then we checked out some books from the library for further reading.

Writing and Grammar

We didn’t focus too heavily on writing or grammar this year because my daughter was reluctant to write, so I didn’t push it. We wrote letters to family members and did a pop-up book project. I had ordered Evan-Moor’s Grammar and Punctuation for grade 1.

My daughter would balk at every page.

It was writing. I wasn’t surprised.

I ended up looking at the topics on the worksheets and covering them in a different way.

We discussed proper capitalization and punctuation when she wrote letters to her cousins. I would talk about grammar rules when we read a book, etc.

Sometimes I would pull out a worksheet if it had minimal writing or was something I thought she would like.

I really like the book. It’s a nice, easy approach to grammar. If your child doesn’t mind writing a little bit (like a few words per page), then I highly recommend it for your first-grade language arts curriculum.

My daughter also had an interest in learning cursive, but I knew she wasn’t quite ready. I found this dry erase cursive book and it was perfect! She could easily go through and trace the letters, then practice on her own. It goes through all the letters and then has a few pages of words to practice as well. It’s a perfect start to cursive. I love that it’s dry erase, so she could do it as much as she wanted.

Art

I used Pinterest a lot for art. We basically did a lot of crafts. A LOT of crafts. So many crafts that my daughter can get on Pinterest and type in ‘kid crafts’ and find something she wants to make.

Around January I found Abeka’s Art Project books. I thought book 2 looked perfect for first-grade art projects. This book is a great value and a huge time-saver. Its pages are a thick, almost card-stock feel and everything you need for the projects is in the book.

They even have projects for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, and lots of other holidays. The projects are high-quality, but also easy enough that my daughter could do a lot of it all by herself.

Science

We covered life science in our first-grade homeschool curriculum. And it was a very relaxed life science study. We covered animals, the human body, and plants. As a home base, we would read the Usborne Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Natural World.

The illustrated encyclopedia is very similar to the Book of World History in that every page is a new topic. So, you can read a page about whales, bears, horses, etc. There are more general pages for say, mammals, and then individual pages on specific types of mammals. It has great illustrations and just enough information to suit a first look.

It covers all of life science. There are pages for plants, as well as animals.

I would choose an animal for the week. We read about it in the illustrated encyclopedia, then checked out a few additional books from the library.

When we started covering the human body in our first-grade homeschool curriculum, I knew I wanted to make it as interactive, yet simple as I could. I found this book at a used book store and it was AWESOME!

You start by tracing a life-size outline of your child. This book then provides life-sized organs for your child to color, cut out, and paste onto their “body”. Each page also comes with a little bit of information about that particular body part.

This was great. We would just do a new body part every few days and it was a great introduction to their organs, muscles, etc. And my two-year-old could participate, too. Although, her organs might have been slightly out of place!

Even though we were officially covering life science, I did through in the occasional science experiment just for fun. Mostly I looked on Pinterest for something like “easy science experiments for kids” and then found something that looked relatively simple and fun. We did a few from this site. They have a lot of good, simple experiments.

Keep it Simple and Relaxed

First grade is still such an early phase in the learning process. A lot of our time was spent playing. A lot. Play is so important for children and it’s learning in and of itself.

We used these first-grade homeschool curriculum picks to supplement my daughter’s playtime and satisfy her natural curiosity.

I would encourage you to do school activities when your child is interested and let him or her play when they are interested, too.

I hope these curriculum picks help you satisfy your child’s natural curiosity and lets you encourage their love of learning as you watch them grow.

Be sure to save this article for later, so you can refer to it when you are selecting your first-grade homeschool curriculum.

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