|Grades 1 - 3
We set up our school each year by decorating a three-ring binder full of page protectors for each subject. A Book of Centuries will be kept for several years so we choose a large one to begin with. For Language and Math I give them a slender one, again, with page protectors inside. Each has a pre-printed page for recording books read.
It is so wonderful to realize that this
age is when children really begin to explore books for themselves! I
leave the choice of books in the first grade up to my children, with
the only guideline being that it must be from the non-fiction children's
section or the picture book section. I choose what they read for
practice and narration, and they give narrations daily (albeit
impromptu) when they tell Daddy what they have learned today!
This is also the age we start formal
copywork. For the first year I use a Scripture a day and have them
arranged alphabetically A - Z. They are required to do their absolute
best and knowing they have only one verse helps them do this! Abby (5
and a half) likes to do copywork too but of course it isn't required
for her because she isn't reading yet. Joshua and Austin however do
their first thing in our school day - it warms them up and calms them
down for the study to come in other subjects. Copywork is continued
throughout the school years - I even still do it. It is a
painless and very effective way to keep our handwriting and
In the first grade - 3rd we use "First
Language Lessons" by Susan Wise Bauer. We do this only twice a week so
as not to overwhelm the children and add too much "artificial bookwork"
to their daily schedule. It is really a great book for how to teach
narration if you need one as well as giving a brief introduction to
grammar. I don't do everything the book says to though and don't intend
to unless the children really express a desire to do so. I am a firm
believer in copywork and dictation being more than sufficient to teach
grammar, spelling and composition independent of a "curriculum" or
workbook. So, for grades 1 - 3 we rely on it soley for these subjects.
As for reading, the kids are
usually reading fairly well before I "graduate" them from Kindergarten.
They still may need help blending letters into words, but the basics of
phonics are learned and they are reading with some supervision. It is
at this point that I introduce them to their "reading list" and they
are given the priviledge of owning their very own library card! It is a
special day for them - receiving their library card - and we make an
event out of it with ice cream or something to celebrate!
*** Reading List Below plus others to
be added soon! ***
For math in the first 3 grades I think it is absolutely imperative to use hands-on, real life materials to teach basic mathematical concepts. To that end, I have written a little manual for these years entitled "Living Math". At the time of this writing (February 2004) I am waiting for another printing to arrive. It is mainly a list of skills needed for each grade level and a list of "living" math books to be used along with real-life manipulatives for each skill. You can read more about this approach on the Math Page. It is important to add that for the 1st grade I require very little writing from the children when they do computation. I find that it can impair their ability to calculate. The writing of equations is slowly introduced over the first year.
History & GeographyWe study history chronologically, beginning with the Creation from a biblical worldview. Geography is naturally incorporated by adding a map for the area/people we are studying. We do not teach British History as Charlotte did because I think that it is rather obvious that while she did teach it to elementary students, it was simply because that was they home country! We study American History as it happens along our timeline.
Speaking of timelines... we have a wall timeline constructed of blank index cards with each index card labeled in large numbers as follows:
Years 4000BC - 2000BC: each index card represents 100 years
Years 2000BC - 1000BC: each index card represents 50 years
Years 1000BC - present: each index card represents 20 years.
And if you do some mental calculating, you will find that our timeline is quite long! I taped it up along a long hallway we have and it has had an unbelieveable effect on our younger children's sense of time and space!
They do also begin to keep a Book of Centuries in a 3-ring notebook with plastic page protectors. It is arranged chronologically without much fuss as we study history that way anyway and they just add a completed page as they complete one. On a typical page for our 6 year old's B.O.C. you might find:
- a blackline map of the corresponding region (colored in an array of hues!)
-a brief narration of the event/person studied
-various ilustrations and artwork done by the student
-a book list of library books we used for information, etc.
Basically we read aloud from "Story of the World" daily, reading each section for 2 days in a row while the kids work on their BOC page. The older ones give their narration the first day, with 1st year students giving their just as the second reading is finished.
Music & Foreign LanguageIt is in these first grades that formal music lessons are begun if the child is to learn an instrument. Music is part of our daily lives however as we listen to classical cd's while doing school and learn a bit about composers, etc. as they occur in history.
Foreign Language is also introduced now. I have reviewed "The Learnables" for Spanish and found it quite good. Because of Luke's disability however, we are learning American Sign Language.
Bible & Handicrafts
For handicrafts, I find the boys are naturally drawn to wood working, outdoor type skills. "The Boys Handibook" has been indepsensible for days when they can't find something to do on thier own. There is also "The Girls Handibook" but I haven't purchased it yet so I can't comment on it.
Nature StudyAhh Nature Study.. I have waxed eloquent elsewhere on this favorite subject of mine, and there are dozens of internet sites that handle the subject as we do it. Check out our Nature Study page for links and method. I will say here though that we do Nature Study weekly, devoting an entire day to it (after Math, cpywork & reading).
The Child's Story Bible
Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent
Bible Animals (Bible Discovery Collection)
Action Bible Songs
A Child's Book of Miracles
A Child's Book of Parables
My Granny's Purse
James Herriot's Treasury for Children
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
I Spy Little Animals
The Autism Social Skills Picture Book
The Carrot Seed
Young Naturalist's Handbook: Insect-lo-pedia
One Hundred Hungry Ants
Travels of Babar
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Time for Bed
Goodnight Moon Board Book
Night of the Moonjellies
A Pair of Red Clogs
Very Last First Time
Rag Coat, The
Katy and the Big Snow
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
The Story About Ping
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Blueberries for Sal (Picture Puffins)
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Teacher Training Materials