1st-Grade Homeschool Curriculum The Ultimate Guide
Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum
Finding the right homeschool curriculum for your first-grade child is a big decision. You want to find something that will teach them what they need to know in school and help them learn and grow as a person.
If you are looking for the perfect homeschool curriculum for your first-grade student, this guide will let you know what you need to include!
Here are some items to consider when looking for a curriculum:
- When will you start your school year?
- Will your school year be year-round or follow the traditional school year?
- What will your weekly schedule look like?
Table of Contents
- Learning Style
- Orton-Gillingham Techniques
- Core Subjects
- Language Arts
- 5 Principles of Reading
- Speaking and Listening Skills
- Social Studies and History
What is your child’s learning style?
First, put into consideration how your child learns best. Is your child an active learner, who needs hands-on time with his or her material? An artsy kid, who would rather spend hours painting than reading? Does your child thrive with project-based assignments?
To be sure you choose the best homeschool curriculum, err on the side of caution and be sure the methods used are based on the Orton-Gillingham methods.
What are Orton-Gillingham’s Techniques?
The Orton Gillingham techniques are an approach to teaching reading, writing, and spelling skills. The method assumes that all the learning styles are present in every child. This goes against traditional teaching methodology which only teaches a student one way of doing things. As such, the goal for instruction is to develop the child’s own style.
Orton-Gillingham’s techniques also include a method of writing and spelling that takes into account that children learn at different rates. These 6 techniques can be applied to all subject areas.
Uses methods that engage the vision, auditory, and tactile processing systems. For example, if a student is an auditory learner they might be given worksheets with words and pictures in order to activate their visual side. A visual learner might have their work shown to them on a whiteboard or through a video presentation. A tactile learner might be given tactile materials such as blocks to complete their work with.
Learning is broken down into small steps, with each step building on the last. For example, teach them one sound at a time and then put the sounds together so they can read longer words.
- Systematic and Cumulative
The systematic approach is one where the learner starts with simple, basic skills and then builds on those skills to more difficult ones. The cumulative approach works by teaching a student all of the related concepts that are needed before moving on to new material.
- Direct Instruction
Direct instruction is giving specific instructions on how to do something. This can be done by modeling or showing students how it’s done by doing it themselves firsthand, rather than just talking about what to do.
- Diagnostic Teaching
Provide students with feedback on where they are in the process. This can be done through checking daily work and charting progress rather than just doing a final assessment at the end of a unit or class and not knowing what was accomplished during that time period.
- Comprehensive and Inclusive
The goal of a comprehensive approach is to teach every student within that home classroom from their own skill level.
7 Core Subjects to Include in a First Grade Homeschool Curriculum
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Physical Education/Movement
Since these are the two most critical areas of your first-grade level curriculum, they are written in much more depth.
Language Arts encompasses many different skills, including:
Additionally, you will want to be sure that the homeschool curriculum you choose includes the 5 principles of reading. When a homeschooling mom includes the 5 principles, their curriculum works and their child thrives.
The 5 Principles of Reading
Teaching reading is not as hard as you might think. There are reading programs that are designed to help you every step of the way. You will want to be sure the reading program you choose includes the 5 principles of reading. Scholar Within’s Reading Program Includes these five principles with hands-on activities. This ensures reading success for first graders.
- Phonemic Awareness: understanding how individual sounds make up words
- Phonics: understanding how letters and letter patterns make up words
- Fluency: the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and expression in a variety of ways
- Comprehension: the ability to understand the meaning of what is read
- Vocabulary Development: understanding word meaning
Implementing the 5 Principles of Reading for the First-Grade Level
The first two principles, phonics and phonemic awareness can be done with spelling instruction. After introducing the sounds of letters, such as listening for and reading words that have been introduced before (“cat” “sat”), children should be ready to learn how to sound out new words. You’ll also want to look for lessons that teach your child how we put letters together to make words, using the spelling patterns.
Specific reading fluency instruction is one of the most important skills you can include and can be completed in as little as 5 minutes a day. Comprehension is done with a variety of activities including learning how to find the beginning, middle, and end of a selection or the main idea of a selection. This allows you to check students’ understanding. Vocabulary development is done with game playing.
Additionally, you will want to include:
- Listening to stories
- Reading short stories
- Drawing pictures to go with your stories
- Answering comprehension questions
- Rhyming word activities
- Game playing
A good curriculum will have a balance of fluency and comprehension exercises mixed with phonics-based lessons that teach your child how letters sound when put together.
Good writing skills can be developed at a young age so they can easily express their thoughts and ideas in written form. Your first-grade homeschool curriculum should include sentence writing activities and even note-taking.
Spelling for 1st-Grade
Spelling skills are an essential part of any curriculum. Even if your child is not learning how to spell words, it’s important that they are exposed to the letters and sounds so that they can read anything at a later time in their life. There are many different ways you can go about teaching spelling–you could teach them with flashcards or make games out of the letters. No matter what approach you take, it’s important to make spelling a priority in your child’s schooling.
It is easy for children to pick up the basics of letter sounds and sequencing by playing games that have an educational component like “I Spy.” There are many different free or inexpensive apps available on the market today that can be used for games and activities.
Learning to spell is important because it will help your child with reading later in life, but when you’re choosing a curriculum make sure that the company provides more than just spelling instruction–your child needs exposure to poetry and informational reading too!
* Spelling skills are an essential part of any curriculum. We have found that teaching the structure of the language, the 8 ways letters come together to make words makes spelling easy. We call these spelling patterns. It is easy to learn 8 patterns versus over 30 spelling rules! See Scholar Within’s Spelling here. It is also part of our reading program.
Spelling skills are built from listening skills, phonics (sound-symbol relationships), and word structure. In other words, the ability to identify letters in words and write them down when given a word orally. Scholar within does this while teaching the structure of the English language, the spelling patterns, at the same time.
Writing for Beginners
- Storytelling: the ability to tell a story
- Penmanship: trace, copy, and write letters, words, and sentences
- Creative Writing: writing stories and poems from their own imagination
- Dictate, copy, write, or draw sketches of what happens in their reading selections
Speaking and Listening Skills for 1st-Grade Homeschool Language Arts
As a homeschool mom, it is easy to think about your own curriculum for the speaking part of a language arts program. This includes the ability to answer questions, express opinions, and even give advice.
Listening includes the skill of understanding what someone is saying when it is not your turn to speak in conversation with them. Listening skills also include the ability to hear individual sounds and pull them together to make words.
Speech and listening skills are important for many reasons:
- It’s necessary if you want your child to be able to communicate clearly in order to accomplish tasks at school, while at home, or in social settings.
- It’s also important to continue the development of their language and communication skills over time so they can be confident and successful adults.
Maintaining these essential skills is vital for a child who homeschools because there are no peers that might help them practice speaking with others during an academic day. This skill set is necessary for academic success and personal growth.
Some ideas of how you can practice these skills at home include oral storytelling; reading aloud from a book or newspaper articles; playing a game or two of charades, and following along in a read-aloud text.
Listening skills are learned during your child’s homeschool day by listening to you when you speak, reading aloud together from textbooks and novels, playing games that involve hearing individual sounds (e.g., telephone), taking turns speaking one sentence at a time, and taking turns arranging sentences in a story.
Math for 1st-Grade
Learning math is another critical piece of your 1st-grade homeschool curriculum. 1st-grade lesson plans should include the most important skill in math, the ability to add and subtract. Within math, there are five specific principles that need to be included: number sense, calculations, measurement, fractions, and geometry (shapes). The following is a list of specific concepts to include that make learning fun.
1st-Grade Number Sense
Number Sense is understanding what the value of a number means. This is also the ability to compare numbers, which number is bigger or smaller. These skills can be learned through playtime with materials like blocks, LEGOS®, puzzles, etc.
- Numbers: develop an understanding of numbers-how numbers are placed on a number line, including zero
- Numbers to 100
- Patterning: recognizing patterns in a game like Uno® and understanding that these patterns can be used in solving math problems
- Number Order: sorting numbers by size or pattern
- Basic addition and subtraction: addition and subtraction with single digits, with and without math manipulatives
- Counting up to add
- Counting down to subtract
- Number families, 2, 3, 5 (2+3=5; 5-3=2)
- Addition and subtraction word problems
- Measurement Skills: measuring objects with body parts and compare them such as your hand and their hand or foot
- Order objects by length
- Measure the length of objects
- Measurement Conversions: understanding why we use standard measurements
- Measurements like inches, feet, meters can be converted to one another
- Understanding fractions are equal parts
- Understanding halves and fourths
- Shapes and the relationships between them.
- Two-dimensional shapes
- Three-dimensional shapes
1st-Grade Art Projects
- Painting, finger painting and watercolors
- Pressing leaves and flowers in a book or journal
- Clay modeling
- Printmaking with relief blocks, linoleum cuts, letterpress prints. Silhouette cutting.
- Learn the basic shapes (rectangles, squares, and ovals): drawing shapes with lines or curves in them. A rectangle can be drawn by using two sets of parallel lines
- Line Art Drawing for Beginners
1st-Grade Social Studies and History Curriculum
The curriculum for social studies in first grade is usually designed to help the child understand and learn about his/her community. Additional topics include:
- National holidays
- Recognize the US Flag
- Talk about types of work different people do (occupations)
- Draw a map of their street/neighborhood
- Be exposed to folktales such as Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan
- Take field trips to local or state museums
- Learn about your family history
- Learn about the history of your town, city, or geographical area
- Learn about at least one other world cultures
1st-Grade Science Curriculum Choices
The science curriculum for first grade is designed to help the child understand and learn about his/her world. It can cover natural world topics such as:
- Early life science (children may be interested in learning about how animals grow, what seeds need to germinate)
- Lightning, thunderstorms
- Make a mobile or planetary system out of paper plates and yarn
- Field trips to a zoo or aquarium
- Make observations of animals in their natural habitat (e.g., make notes on how they behave)
- Nature study to learn about plants – plant a window garden or a garden in your yard
1st-Grade Music Homeschool Curriculum Choices
When it comes to music for 1st-grade kids, parents have many options.
Some parents choose a music-based curriculum like Suzuki, Orff or Kodaly. Other homeschooling families opt for teaching their kids to play an instrument with the hope of providing them with some musical skills and eventually entertaining themselves during retirement! Still, other families decide to introduce singing into the mix in order to round out their child’s understanding of music.
Music can be so much fun! Music helps build auditory listening skills as well as speaking skills. You can think about music in two ways: vocal music and instrumental music.
Vocal Performance – Kids will sing songs with their family and friends
- The ABC song
- Row, Row, Row Your Boat
- Songs with actions
- America the Beautiful
- Holiday songs
- This Old Man
- The Bear Necessities
- Old MacDonald
- Take Me Out to the Ball Game
- Are You Sleeping?
- She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain
- Use different voices: singing, speaking, whispering, and shouting
- Dance or move to music
- Learn to tap to the beat of a song
Use a mix of theory and performance (lessons).
- Learn to play different instruments and use them in ensemble music
- Make homemade instruments: drums, kazoos
- Learn about rhythm and melody
- Identify high and low sounds, fast and slow, beat and no beat