Homeschool Curriculum: First Grade In Review

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I sat down and counted up our school days the other day and realized we have less than 20 days left before we hit our required number of homeschool days.  That means I'm less than a month away from having my first true year of homeschooling under my belt! (I am not counting kindergarten.)

Last year before we started I shared all about my curricula picks for first grade.  So how did all that work out for me?  Here's the breakdown:

Math

What We Started With: Rightstart Math

What We Ended With: Rightstart Math

I have zero complaints about this curriculum!  Rightstart has an unusual method and order for teaching math, but I was really impressed it.  I love how it teaches underlying math concepts, instead of just rote memorization!  This curriculum was such a good fit for my teaching style and Wyatt's learning style! We love all the manipulatives, the way it reinforces concepts through games, and the focus on teaching kids to visualize numbers in their heads.  It is so much more enjoyable for Wyatt and myself than doing endless math problems and worksheets.  I am really happy with it, and will use it with all my kids as long as it fits their learning styles!

What We'll Use Next Year: Rightstart




Reading

What We Started With: 100 Easy Lessons and Rod And Staff

What We Ended With: All About Reading

As we were entering the school year last fall, I knew we were going to be finishing up 100 Easy Lessons before the year was out...so I knew I'd have to shift to something else.  We limped along with 100 Easy Lessons until I had Georgie, and to be honest, by the end we were kind of hating it.  I really love the first half of that book, which takes your child from knowing nothing to reading sentences.  However, by the time we got about 75% of the way through the book we were really bored and frustrated.  I was also a little irritated because that book took forever to introduce all the letters/sounds, and didn't go over all the rules I wanted to teach Wyatt.  It got him reading, but by the time Georgie was born we were fighting through the lessons and I was ready for something different.

We were loving our math curriculum so much because it had different activities and manipulative to go with each lesson, so I was wanting something more like that for reading.  I did a little research and decided to give All About Reading a try.  I've heard so many good things about it (and it was recommended by a great blog friend too!), so I ordered our level and got started.  Wyatt flew through that whole curriculum in a few months and we both stopped dreading reading so much!  It gave him so much confidence, so it was definitely the right call!

In the end, I don't regret starting with 100 Easy Lessons, because I still think that book has the best method for teaching blending that I have come across.  Blending is only covered in one lesson in All About Reading, and if your kid doesn't naturally get it, 100 Easy Lessons would be a great resource.  I think the reason we got through AAR so quickly was because we started with 100 Easy Lessons.  For my other kids, I will probably start them on 100 Easy Lessons and then switch halfway through the book instead of suffering through the last half.

What We'll Use Next Year: All About Reading





Writing/LA

What We Started With: First Language Lessons, 100 Bible Verses To Read And Write
What We Ended With: 100 Bible Verses To Read And Write

I took a more casual approach to writing and language arts this year, since the language arts priority was solidifying reading skills.  We did copy work (mostly with the 100 Bible Verses book) and wrote notes to family members for writing.  For language arts concepts, we had plans to use First Language Lessons - but if I'm honest, we hardly used it at all.  We talked about some LA concepts as we were doing All About Reading, and I'll review a few things over the summer with Wyatt before we start a more structured writing program this fall.

What We'll Use Next Year: TBD



Science


What We Ended With: Apologia Flying Creatures, BFSU, and random library books

I'm going to be honest and tell you that science kind of took a backseat with the whole having-a-baby thing this year.  I had so many grand plans to do all the experiments in our Apologia science book, the science activities in BFSU.  I was going to be a science-super-mom!

However, after Georgie was born I just was not organized enough to plan a bunch of experiments and do a really organized study - so we ended up going through a few random sections of Apologia and BFSU (according to whatever looked interesting), and grabbing coordinating books from the library.  We did a couple field trips, and a couple science experiments - all interest led though, not really what was in the books.   We kind of just went flying by the seat of our pants!  I'm actually quite happy with how this turned out.  Science at this level is mostly to get kids interested anyway, and I'm fine with that!  My plan is to do a few more science activities this summer to introduce different concepts that I really wanted to cover this year, and then start fresh in the fall.

What We'll Do Next Year: Stay Tuned, I'm figuring that out now.



History

What We Started With: Beautiful Feet Books

What We Ended With: Beautiful Feet Books

I love this curriculum!  For history I knew I wanted a literature-based approach to American History, so we chose the Early American History set from Beautiful Feet Books.  There are all kinds of suggested activities in the study guide, but we have really just read the books and done coordinating field trips this year.  We are stretching this curriculum out for two years instead of just one, so we are finishing up half the curriculum this year, and we'll finish it next year.  We haven't covered a huge range of historical events, but what we have covered I feel that we've covered well - my kids have retained a lot of what we've read this year.  It makes my heart happy every time they see a historical reference somewhere else and exclaim "It's just like in our book!"

What We'll Use Next Year: We are continuing with Beautiful Feet Books Early American History for sure, and may throw in another set (possibly the World History set from BFB or Story Of The World).

Bible

What We Started With: ?

What We Ended With: CBS

If you remember, I was a little unsure of what we would use for a Bible curriculum.  I had a really hard time finding something I was satisfied with, and I honestly just gave up searching as I approached my due date.  Then after Christmas we attended a visitor day at our local Community Bible Study, and I loved it! I did CBS growing up, and I forgot how thorough and deep the lesson books are.  This will basically be our Bible curriculum from here on out.  Once the kids reach grade school, they get their own lesson book that coordinates with the adult lesson books, which I love!  We work through the passage together and then attend our CBS meeting each week to discuss with others, so it's a social opportunity and Bible curriculum all in one!

What We'll Do Next Year:  CBS

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I'll do a more in-depth post soon about what we will be doing next year for 2nd grade and kindergarten!  But in the meantime, I've been searching for books to read for me over this summer.  I like to read a few homeschool-related books in the summer to keep my motivation up and give me ideas.  If I get a good list going I'll write another post, but I'm excited about this one:



My blog friend Elizabeth is also one of my favorite homeschool bloggers - she gives so much inspiration, ideas, and encouragement on her site.  Well, she wrote a new ebook called Lifestyle Homechooling, and it's launching today!  I'm really excited to pick this one up, because I'd say "lifestyle homeschooling" is a perfect term for what I'm going for in our homeschool.  This past year I have been loving how flexible homeschooling is, how I'm able to work it into our family life and fit it into the life stage we are in right now with a baby.  I'm looking forward to getting some ideas from Lifestyle Homeschooling - definitely check it out!

(Note: I am part of the launch team for Lifestyle Homeschooling, and will be receiving a free copy of the book in exchange.  Follow me on Goodreads to see my eventual review!)


When You Feel Unsettled



I'm sitting here typing this, and there is a tinge of smoke in the air.  Despite some beautiful flowers poking through the ground and dressing the trees, it has been such a dry spring.  It's hard to enjoy the summery weather when you know the sun is sucking more moisture out of the ground.  I'm praying for rain or a big, wet snow to prevent wildfires this summer.  We've already had one just this week.

It's not the most comforting feeling when we're leaving on vacation this month.

The last couple weeks have been just weird and unsettling.  I hurt my knee two Sundays ago.  Badly.  I was peddling the bike at the gym, and my knee started hurting when I got in the car.  The next morning I couldn't even straighten my leg without pain, much less put any weight on it.  

I had surgery on that same knee seven years ago, so this feeling was familiar.  I was convinced I tore my meniscus again somehow, and I was going to need surgery and be on crutches for six weeks.  I was a soggy mess the rest of the day, crying because I'd be on crutches for vacation, and I had so many end-of-year events that week, and I couldn't take care of the kids...crying just from the stress of it all.  I shared what happened with different friends as my mom drove me down to the doctor's office, who then ordered an MRI.  I was pretty convinced my May was ruined.

Then my knee felt surprisingly good the next day.  And even better the next, and the next, until the day of my MRI, I could almost step on it.  Results came in.  No tear.  I was walking without crutches the next day.  I just don't even see how that's possible with how my knee felt just a few days before.  Because it was bad.  It felt like something had torn, but this week I'd say it's pretty much healed.

I'm crediting all the prayers.  God definitely healed my knee way sooner than I expected, and it was a gift.  

So I'm hanging on to that thought, as I sit here and catch a whiff of smoke, wondering if there is another fire someplace.  Derek isn't home right now, and he has some hard work-related things to deal with that will affect our whole family.  Both of these things are stressing me out.  But then I remember my knee, and I say a prayer and take a deep breath.  Rotten things happen every day, and sometimes they work out, and sometimes they don't, but this week I remember that we have a God who cares about it all.  When we feel unsettled and anxious, we are supposed to come to Him.

"Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philipians 4:6

I know those verses are so much used that they can almost seem cliche, but they will never seem cliche to me.  How amazing is that, that we have a God who cares for us?  And the proof of that is Jesus.  When we trust in Him for our salvation, our eternity is secure in Him.  If He died to save us from our sin, our biggest, most insurmountable problem, then He can handle all these little problems too.  And even if it doesn't work out like we want, we have Him, and that is all we truly need.

So I'll cast my cares on Him, and go work on some packing.

Happy Friday, Friends!

Humming - Georgie At Six Months



Wow, that was one of the fastest half-years in my recent memory.  My sweet girl is halfway to one year old!

Growth And Eating

It seems like every time I take Georgie's monthly pictures, she looks so much different.  These days she's sporting leg rolls and a cute double chin - I'm pretty confident that she is back to her correct curve on the growth chart! She is in size 1 or 2 diapers, and her feet are finally big enough to stay in her tiny baby shoes. 

I haven't had a chance to write about it on my blog yet, but last week I seriously hurt my knee - to the point where I couldn't walk without crutches and had to get an MRI to rule out the need for surgery.  I also have a history of blood clots and my doctor recommended aspirin to prevent that - and so I decided to wean Georgie.  I felt like it was time, since I knew she was getting hardly anything from me anyway, but it didn't make it less sad.  I nursed her to sleep one night, and held her a little longer than necessary, admiring her little eyelashes, and cute lips, and chubby cheeks...and then I put her to bed and that was that.  I had one day of minimal discomfort and that was it.  I might have cried, but we have been hanging on by a thread with nursing for months, and this felt like the right time, before it got frustrating for both of us.  

Now, on to solid foods!



Sleeping

No change, this girl is an amazing sleeper.  We'll see how it goes on vacation this month though.

Firsts

No big firsts this month!  In the month ahead we'll have first time eating solids and first vacation though, so stay tuned!

Personality

I feel like Georgie has been talking more lately.  And by "talking", I mean she hums at me a lot, especially when she's eating or tired.  I've never had a baby who hums at me so much, it's something that is distinct to Georgie. Occasionally she'll babble. She laughs most at her brothers and sisters right now - it's a chore for me to get her laughing, and I'm not sure why.  Maybe her sense of humor is maturing (ha!).  It's so cute when the kids get her laughing though - she has the best belly laugh!  She smiles at everyone, and still has a nice deep dimple in her left cheek.  



My favorite thing this month is Georgie's eyebrows.  Georgie has the most expressive happy eyebrows.  She'll smile at you and wiggle her eyebrows, and it's just the cutest, funniest thing!

When she is hungry she grabs her lower lip with her little toothless gums and sucks on her lip, and stares at me with big brown eyes.  It's adorable.  She usually only cries as a last resort (or on the occasional cranky day).  She's just such an easygoing baby overall!



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Georgie Girl,

Darling, this month has been emotional for me.  I nursed you for the last time this month.  Suddenly you look like such an older baby.  You are growing out of all your tiny clothes.  I can't stop you from growing, but there will always be a part of me that is sad to see everything that comes with your tiny babyhood go.  

This month you ended up falling asleep on me a lot, and I love it so much.  You usually start talking loudly and rubbing your face against me, and that's how I know you're tired.  Then you get really still.  Then your eyes droop closed.  I love studying your face when you sleep.  Your eyelashes spread out so perfectly on your cheeks, your lips look so squishy, and I love the weight of your little breaths.  It's one of my favorite things.  We are on the way to one year old now, and who knows how long you will fall asleep on my lap.  I'm going to enjoy every minute of it.

I love you so much, Sweetie.  The next six months will see "real" food, mobility, and a first birthday party - lots of new baby sweetness behind us, but lots of older baby fun ahead!  Onward!

Love Always,

Mama
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