First Grade Plans

We are excited about our upcoming homeschool year! We will be starting in a few weeks and I wanted to share our curriculum plans.

Reading/Phonics/Spelling: Explode the Code 3 & 4; Hooked on Phonics

Grammar: First Language Lessons 1. I really don’t think grammar in 1st is necessary, but it’s required by my state. This program I chose is gentle, mostly oral with very little writing, so I feel OK about using it.

Math: RightStart Math Level B 2nd Edition

Handwriting: Zaner-Bloser 1; copywork

Art: Home Art Studio

Music: Piano lessons

P.E.: She may be going to the local school for this. If that doesn’t work out, we will figure out something. Ice skating, swimming, etc.

Build Your Library Grade 1, which includes:

Science: Nature Study using various resources as scheduled by Build Your Library.

Social Studies: Ancient History using various resources as scheduled by Build Your Library. I’m excited about this! Egyptians, Romans, Babylonians, oh my! There are so many cool projects you can do for this age group when studying the Ancients. A quick search on Pinterest or a search engine will turn up many fun activities! Happily, BYL has that all scheduled out for me.

Literature: Poetry and several fun read alouds are scheduled, including The Tale of Despereaux, 26 Fairmont Avenue, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web, and The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. Squee!

I’m looking forward to a super fun year!

Lately We’ve Been Reading…

Well, hello! It has been quite some time since I’ve posted. Here are some of the chapter books I’ve been reading aloud. We still read aloud lots of picture books, but starting last year I started to read aloud longer stories. Several of these were recommendations from Build Your Library, a Kindergarten lesson plan we’ve been following. We’ve enjoyed it very much! Here are our favorites.


This is a classic that we enjoyed! I have clear memories of reading this series throughout my childhood, so I was interested to see how I felt about it as an adult and if Curly would like it as much as I did. It didn’t disappoint! We then continued to read the second in the series, Little House on the Prairie, and it wasn’t as much as a favorite; however, when she’s reading well enough to read it on her own I will probably suggest it.


The antics of Mr. Popper, his family, and of course the penguins were fun to read aloud! I had never read this one as a child so it was an enjoyable story for me to discover as well. We had to watch the movie of course when we were finished, but it has really nothing to do with the book. It was still fun!


This was another one that I hadn’t read as a child that we had fun with. Set in China, Little Pear is an adventurous little boy that gets into a bit of mischief, but things always turn out well in the end. We even made a recipe for something that’s mentioned in this story; Pear’s favorite food is called tang-hulur, which is essentially candied fruit on a stick. They turned out pretty well!

This one was a favorite for both of us! The adventures of these mice reminded me a bit of The Littles and The Borrowers, but just for the fact that it was about small ‘people’ living in someone’s house. Tumtum and Nutmeg are quiet, homebody mice that live in the broom cupboard of a cottage in England. They live peaceful lives until they decide to help the resident human children of the cottage; then they have some mighty adventures!


Roald Dahl’s books are a pleasure to read aloud. I had never heard of this particular story, but I saw it at a library sale and decided to try it. It’s only 79 pages, and it’s about a giraffe, a monkey, and a pelican that have a window washing business. It’s as silly as it sounds, and delightful too!

This is a beautifully illustrated abridged version. All I knew about this story was that it had a Toad who was obsessed with motorcars. I’m glad I picked this up. It has lovely language, even the abridged version, and the characters are silly and great fun to read aloud! I didn’t realize I had bought an abridged version and was a little annoyed when I figured it out, but we tried listening to the full version and now I’m glad I have this one instead. The full version is very wordy, and while I was enjoying listening to it, it was apparent Curly wasn’t getting much. This version is much more accessible to a 5 year old! We may try the full version in a few years.

This was a surprise favorite! After reading about Linnea’s visit to Monet’s house and a little about his life, we tried painting in Monet’s style. We call it “blob painting” and is one of our favorite art projects. We had an opportunity to view some of Monet’s paintings when we were in New York City last fall, and I was happy to learn that Curly still remembered Monet. She was excited to see his paintings in person!

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Happy reading!

Catching Up…

Well, I am obviously behind on my posts. We have been keeping up with our ‘studies’ of the world by reading picture books, making ethnic food, and making art projects. I will try to bring out the highlights here.

We finished North America a while back. We made a sequoia tree out of cardboard :

Here she is attaching green paper to the branches to serve as leaves. This turned out pretty neat!

The ‘ethnic food’ we chose to make for North America included homemade lemonade and Canadian pancakes.  I’m not entirely sure what made the pancakes Canadian, as they were just like the pancakes we make here in the states, but they were delicious nonetheless.

Here are some books we read!

Desert Song by Tony Johnston to read about animals in the Southwest:

The Sugaring-Off Party by Jonathan London to read about making maple syrup (this story is set in a French Canadian family):

The Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews is a story about how Inuits in Canada chop holes in the sea ice and walk underneath it at low tide to harvest mussels. I was fascinated by this book:

We read many more about life in various areas of the North American continent. I think picture books are probably my favorite way to tap into another culture for a small child.

We finished reading about monarch caterpillars and watched a documentary from the library called The Butterfly King. It’s about a college student who collects monarch butterfly eggs from milkweed to raise them. It highlighted how many caterpillars are killed by pesticides and herbicides, and then provided close up video of them growing up.  Here’s a picture of Curly looking for more caterpillars.

Speaking of caterpillars, my husband found an incredible looking caterpillar in our garage and we brought it in. After consulting the internet and an entomologist friend, we concluded that it was a species of Sphinx moth caterpillar. It is currently in a pupa in our fridge, waiting for spring. Here is a not very good picture of it:

I didn’t know if it was poisonous or not at first, so I didn’t want to let it out of the bug case we had it in. It was the largest caterpillar I had ever seen. When it turns into a moth in the spring it should be enormous!

Coming back to North America activities, Curly did this coloring page:

She also did a lot of art not related to North America. Here is one painting in progress.

We continued Kinderbach, which is going well, and did lots and lots of coloring, pasting, and counting. Our K4 year is going well!

I noticed that the look of our backyard had changed dramatically since my last post. Here are a couple of pictures.

Our yard in autumn.

Our yard in autumn. My favorite time of the year!

Our yard right now. A frosty,  beautiful morning!

Our yard right now. A frosty, beautiful morning!

Next up is a post about our studies of South America!

Preschool Study of North America, Week 1

This week we started our study of North America using Build Your Library (BYL). We also continued our Kinderbach lessons, did some painting, and kept our ourselves pretty busy with summer activities.

To start our study of North America we took out Curly’s atlas and read about land features of North America. We had fun inspecting a few maps. Moving on to the people that live there, we started reading in Children Just Like Meand read about children from all over the Americas. We focused on Omar, a boy who lives in Mexico. From there on out, we focused on Latin America for the week. We then raided the library to find some relevant books. One was this book:

I enjoyed the illustrations and all the references to other Latin American animals.

Speaking of animals, we read in our Animal Atlas  about animals and ecosystems in North America and chose an animal to do extra reading on at the library. We chose the monarch butterfly after we went on a walk and discovered monarch caterpillars all over milkweed near our home. We got some cool pictures!

After reading so much about Latin America, we did an art project to make a Papel Picado, a colorful banner often hanging in Mexican markets.

The instructions to make the Papel Picado are in the book recommended by BYL, Around the World Art & Activities by Judy Press. This is a simple and easy project – I hope the projects continue to be so!

We took advantage of some nice summer weather by heading outside with the watercolors. I showed Curly how to splatter paint, which may just be her favorite art activity yet.

Painting outside! I love not having the mess in the house.

Painting outside! I love not having the mess in the house.


The finished splatter painting project.

The finished splatter painting project.


We really enjoyed ourselves! Next week we move on to reading about the United States.

The Start of our K4 Year!

I wasn’t planning on starting our year of activities so soon, but I started to receive some of the books I had ordered and couldn’t resist starting.  We began the first week of lessons of Kinderbach, and started our first week in Build Your Library K – Around the World (BYL). We’ve been having a good time so far!

This first week of BYL was centered around two books. Here’s the first:

I love this book! It follows a girl as she travels across continents and islands to find ingredients for her apple pie, including cinnamon in Sri Lanka, apples in Vermont and semolina wheat in Italy. We read this book several times. The second time we read it, we pulled out Curly’s children’s atlas and found all the countries mentioned in the book. Of course, at the end of the week, we simply HAD to make an apple pie.


Enjoying the apple pie! This was a real treat for us as I am not a baker. She enjoyed making it so much though that I may make it a goal to bake more often!

Enjoying the apple pie! This was a real treat for us. She enjoyed making it so much that I may make it a goal to bake more often!


Here’s the second crucial book:

We had to wait to get this book via inter-library loan, but it finally showed up. BYL provided some pages to do a “Me On the Map Flipbook”. We made maps of the planet, our continent, our country, our state, our town, our street, and finally our house. I most definitely would NOT say that the maps we made are at all accurate, but I do think the concept of what a map can be was established.

Curly and I made a little passport out of cardboard and blue paper, which we will use to put little stamps in when we finish learning about a continent. These stamps are provided courtesy of BYL.

Our first week of Kinderbach lessons was fun for both of us! Kinderbach is geared for students 4-7, and I think it’s especially applicable in the 4-5 range. At least in this first week, the olders may find it too “babyish”. I noticed, however, that even though the lessons are short and simple (and possibly “babyish”), they were very effective in teaching integral concepts of music. The first week focuses on the layout of the keyboard, the difference between high and low sounds, and finger numbers – the thumb is 1, pointer is 2, and so on. I peeked ahead to next week, and it looks as if it  focuses on rhythm. I’m excited to continue!

This week we also worked on our skills in our Kumon workbooks (cutting and pasting), and read lots of library books. I should be putting up another booklist before too long.

Have a great week!