On June 1, 2010 we started “First Grade” on a relaxed schedule, but plan to get really serious on September 7. By this time most of her lessons are at least first grade or higher. We will do lessons Monday through Friday year-long with several extended breaks throughout the year. We plan to do 2.5-3 hours per day on actual lessons, spending an average of 20 minutes on each lesson.

First Grade Curriculum 2010/2011

Taking into account my personality (I need to be flexible), I still want to make sure we focus on our priorities. I want to make a system that will be sure we get to what’s important first (Priority 1), while rotating between the subjects that support them (Priority 2), hitting other important subjects that only need a few days a week (Priority 3) and once we finish all those subjects for the day, get to the fun enrichment stuff (Priority 4).  Below is a picture of our schedule I mapped out in August, this may be tweaked as we go along. A black line separates the four priorities. Click to see larger.


Reading (Phonics)

  • Explode the Code (ETC) – 3x/week. We will be working on ETC books 4-7 the school year of 2010/2011, and finishing up ETC 8 in the summer. Satori enjoys these very much, appreciates the sense of humor in the workbooks. They are great review for reading, phonics, handwriting, writing, spelling and vocabulary. I wouldn’t make Satori do these if she didn’t like them so much, as we just use them for review, but it’s one of her favorite lessons of the day. She does these independently. Inexpensive, yet effective. What’s not to love? They are least expensive at Rainbow Resource, but you can also get them on Amazon now.
  • Beyond the Code – 2x/week. We just started this program, by the makers of Explode the Code. You can use these for grades 1-4, and can be used along with ETC workbooks. They work on vocabulary development, critical thinking, inferential thinking and more. We experimented with a few lessons so far, and she loves the stories and most activities, but BTC 1 is way too easy for her, the words are no challenge. I wish we had started these back when we were working on ETC 3, but we’ll whiz through BTC 1 and move on to BTC 2-4. Again, in this particular case, if Satori decides she doesn’t like these, we’ll just stop them. But for now, she’s actually been asking for the “new book with Zack the Dog” story.
  • Various read-alouds – a short time in the afternoon and at bedtime, both I read to Satori and she reads to me. She can read almost anything, just needs practice, so we’ll be working on fluency and building speed/vocabulary. She’ll be reading a mixture of reading levels – easy, level-appropriate and challenging (at different times), to help her build fluency, yet provide challenge.
  • Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (OPG) 5x/week, wrapping up August 2010. DONE! We started this just over a year ago in June 2009, did the first 30 lessons in one day, and then systematically went through all the phonics rules. This has been a huge success for us. It’s incredibly easy to teach and Satori had no problem learning from it. We finished mid-August 2010 and had a celebration. 🙂


The curriculum junkie that I am, I keep collecting math curriculum and just for fun, I have plans to try out a few supplements, while focusing mostly on RightStart most of the week. The picture above is half Math curriculums. I like to keep things interesting and really want Satori to be able to understand math, and each of these programs has a different approach. If one of the supplements works way better than the other, we’ll drop the other one.

  • Singapore Math – Just started February 2011 as our main math
  • RightStart B (RS) – 3-4x/week.  We finished RightStart A and started Level B mid-summer. We’re doing a little review, but after only a few lessons, we’ll hit Lesson 24 already, as most of the beginning lessons are a review of Level A. We’re definitely never bored with this program, in fact, but it does get a hurried feeling as we move from task to a completely different task all the time. I do love the way it teaches math, so Satori understands it conceptually in her head. Minimal worksheets, which she doesn’t enjoy doing. No drill, instead we work on math games.
  • Math Mammoth (MM) – 1-2x/week. This is an inexpensive program that we just downloaded – we got the Light Blue Complete Curriculum for Grade 1. I have no clue how this is going to work out for us, but we’ll give it a try as I’ve heard so many great reviews on it lately. I am hoping that this might be an effective, independent math program. It has colorful worksheets, which Satori seems to enjoy doing in other subjects, but she dislikes doing them in RightStart. We’ll see if she picks up on Math Mammoth written work better. Currently 50% off at Homeschool Buyers Co-op!
  • Miquon Math – 1x/week. Discovery-based, creative math program.


Coincidentally, Satori seems to really excel in this particular group of subjects – language arts. She may not read and do math all day long (although that would be nice), but she does write half her free time. So all these subjects already see a lot of practice naturally by her. We’re going much faster in them than I planned a year ago. I would love it if we could slow down a bit on the spelling and handwriting this year,  and have scheduled to do less work for each lesson. Due to her passion and interest, I am exploring other programs that might progress a bit faster for writing and grammar. We’ll be trying them side-by-side along with WWE/FLL which we started January 2010.


All-About-Spelling – Level 3-4 – 3x/week. Love this program, I love to be thorough and know the rules, and this program seems like it was made for me. I mean my daughter. Satori now takes dictation and writes sentences very well now. We should be hitting Level 4 mid-to-late spring. (We started AAS 4 February 2011.)


Handwriting Without Tears – Cursive – 3x/week. Satori writes all day long, and consequently we rushed through the HWT program from Pre-K to Grade 3 in just over a year. She begged and begged to learn cursive, and although I was not prepared to have her learn cursive so early, I purchased the HWT Cursive book. It’s going well now, and in fact, right this moment, she is working on her handwriting workbook on her own accord. I actually have to implore her to stop sometimes.

StartWrite Handwriting Worksheet Wizard – We use this to make copywork for other subjects. Now that we’re using cursive, we’re going to be using this a lot, as it has the HWT cursive font!


  • Write Source 1 This is the new writing program we’re going to try this year. We did Write Source Kindergarten over the summer, and Satori enjoyed it. It has her actually writing on her own (not copying), which she does well. I just mapped out our entire first grade year and am really looking forward to using it.


  • Growing With Grammar 1 and 2- 5x+/week. A brand new program we’ll be starting in September 2010. Very different from FLL, it is more of a simple workbook that Satori can write in. UPDATE MARCH 2011: This has been a success, we do even on the weekends sometimes! We’re on GWG Level 2 now and will be starting Level 3 this month.
  • First Language Lessons 2 – 2x/week. Satori loves to memorize poems and does well at memorizing her grammar terms, and I do think this program is excellent. I love how scripted and easy it is. However, it progresses painfully slowly for a girl that learns grammar and memorizes quickly. We finished FLL1 quickly, by doing 2-5 lessons at a time. It took FOREVER to learn what a sentence was, and we learned about nouns for an eternity. I still think it’s worthwhile to do, so we’ll continue it at a slightly accelerated pace, and add another grammar program (below).
    * The new FLL version comes out in book form this fall. I got a PDF file that we’ll be using. The updated version is so much easier to read and use than the original. They are still pretty much the same, with a bit less copywork and fine art picture narrations substituted in the new book.




  • Wordly Wise 3000 2nd Edition2x/week. First Grade, and then Book 2. The Kindergarten/First Grade programs are so fun and colorful. Satori would do them everyday if I let her. I’ve been really dragging my feet on them, because once we hit Book 2, it ends up being just a normal, perhaps boring workbook. The bright side of Wordly Wise Book 2 though, is we get to use their online website for vocabulary games! UPDATE: We started Wordly Wise Book 2 in January 2011.
  • We also learn vocabulary as we read or hear unfamiliar words. We google words and ideas all the time. These Vocabulary Power Flip books have also been a hit.


  • Real Science Odyssey – Life 2x/week. We switched to RSO this summer with fantasic results. Science is now fun and easy to implement, and the whole family is doing science every week now! The units start with a read-aloud story to introduce the topic (so no extra books are needed), and has a couple labs or activities with included lab worksheets to make it all super handy to do. Even David can teach a lesson without any prior prep reading. We’re all very happy that we switched to RSO, it really has made a big difference for us. Satori is enjoying science so much. We read books all the time. She also really wants to learn more about molecules, and if I had more ambition, I might start RSO Chemistry sooner. To get the most out of this program, I made a list of great books to go along with the units on my RSO – Life Resources page.
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding – This is an excellent science book, but difficult to implement. Still, I’d love to use it sometimes as we go forward.
  • Burgess Bird Book Companion – Right now we’re reading through the Burgess Bird Book, although we’ve slowed down a bit. My fault, Satori keeps asking to read more chapters. I just like to be prepared with a printed page full of images of birds in their natural environment. I wrote up the Burgess Bird Book Companion to help us see more images/calls of the birds we study.



PRIORITY 4 SUBJECTS (enrichment)

Artistic Pursuits – 1x/week. This is our general art program. I’m a bit gung-ho on art this year, so we’re adding the extras below.

Art Appreciation – Meet the Masters – We just started this and finished the first artist unit – Vincent van Gogh. We had a blast and look forward to continuing with this series. I’ll be spreading our artist study out over a month per artist, so we’ll be supplementing with additional read-aloud books and other projects. This has been on the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op, so take advantage of a great discount while it’s there!

Drawing – Mark Kistler Online Drawing

Spanish – Elementary Spanish via Discovery Education Streaming subscription

Latin – Song School Latin

Logic – 1x/week. We work on a logic workbook once per week (there are several out there that we enjoy). For fun, our entire family loves logic puzzles like Rush Hour.

Looking ahead…

These are programs I have my eye on for 2nd/3rd grade. We may possibly start these sometime in 2011.


Singapore – may use after we’re done with RightStart program – STARTED!