This past week I’ve had a couple of emails from readers who will be homeschooling Kindergarten or Grade 1 for the first time. It’s hard to know where to start, right?! There are lots of possibilities and picking a starting point can be overwhelming! I hope this post will give you some ideas and inspiration for a wonderful homeschool year ahead!
We did a lot of Montessori activities in preschool and those hands-on activities still worked well with my 5-7 year olds! For a long time (in the PreK and early elementary years), we had Science Center Mondays. I would set up some simple experiments for the kids. For example, here the kids were doing activities about what will Sink or Float?
Or here the kids experimented with plain water, salt water, vinegar and vinegar & salt to see which penny would become the shiniest. We continued doing many hands-on experiments and activities like these well into elementary!
But, once the kids were officially in kindergarten and first grade we made sure to cover some of the basics (reading, writing, math) as well as some of the other subjects that were fun and of interest (science, history, field trips, outdoor time, etc.). 🙂
Homeschooling Kindergarten – Grade 1
Learning to Read: In those early years, we focused a lot on learning to read and becoming independent readers. These are some posts that
- Fostering Reading Skills – Games and activities to build reading skills. This includes games with 2-letter words, sight word games & activities, etc. I tried to make things as fun as I could to keep the kids engaged, so we did tons of scavenger hunts and made activities that had the kids up and moving!
- Teaching Kids to Read: Some of the readers we used. Each of my kids had different preference, so we actually wound up using a variety of readers. My oldest used the Bob Book series. He started with the Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers (affiliate link) and then moved through the entire series. My middle daughter started with Bob Books, but then switched to Animal Antics Now I’m Reading! Level 1 (affiliate link) Below my youngest, ED, was reading from the (free) Sam Readers.
- Once the kids went through the beginning readers (above), they then moved into Primary Phonics Readers by EPS. (affiliate link) That’s the link to the full set, but you can check out just the first set here: Primary Phonics 1 Storybooks (affiliate link)
We loved this series and once they went through the entire series (60 book), they were ready to start “independent reading” with easy readers from the library.
Read Aloud Books
We continued to read many, many lovely books together! Here are some books we have loved over the years:
- 25 Beloved Picture Books for Kids Ages 4-8
- 15 Children’s Books Your 4-7 Year Old Shouldn’t Miss!
- 14 Picture Books My Kids Love at the Moment! (ages 4 and 7)
- Books and Series My 8-Yr Old Has Been Racing Through
- 10 Books (and Series) My Kids Love (Ages 9, 11)
- 15 Chapter Books My 7 Year Old Loved
There are a series of videos about how to teach kids how to write properly at this post (by Lauren Stern, a pediatric occupational therapist and handwriting specialist).
And here is the first grade book that we used: My Printing Book – Handwriting Without Tears
One of the resources we used in first grade was First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise. I remember doing these lessons with ED and we loved that time. She learned some of the basics about grammar (a noun is the name of a person, place, thing or idea), but it is SO much more than that! We read stories, looked at art work together, and memorized poetry. We did a bit of map work and memorized our city, state (and then went on to memorize our phone number, etc.). We learned the days of the week and months of the year.
This curriculum is fully scripted and easy to follow. We really looked forward to these lessons! 🙂
We didn’t start with spelling until the kids could read comfortably. Then we started using All About Spelling. (affiliate link) We ♥LOVE this curriculum. The rules are laid out well. The kids loved using the tiles.
What’s so great about All About Spelling? Well, it’s multi-sensory… and logical. It lays out spelling rules and the program builds upon itself. Here’s a picture of my daughter (ED) using our spelling tiles (while my older two were working on -tion -cion and -sion).
I also made a lot of games for the kids to play along the way. The Long A and Long I Games and Activities are our most popular set. My daughter STILL really loves doing these types of activities, in fact this year she worked on those tricky IE – EI spellings (like receive, believe, glacier…). Any time I made things into a game, we would get A LOT of practice in!
Homeschooling Kindergarten – Grade 1
We had been doing a lot of Montessori activities and by kindergarten my kids knew a lot of their basic addition and subtraction facts. As ED went into kindergarten, we worked on quite a number of different math concepts. This is a FREE math lapbook I made for her. It has all kinds of different activities she was working on from the days of the week and months of the year to the concept of odd-even, more-less, doubling, and other things!
I also made a *lot* of math worksheets sets and games for the kids over the years. You can find out more about the Addition/Subtraction bundle here.
You probably want to get a math curriculum. We actually used lots of the hands-on manipulatives from Right Start Math and wound up using the Spectrum Math Workbooks for years all through elementary school. This is the Grade 1 book (which my kids did in kindergarten). Other homeschoolers I know used Singapore Math and another family used Abeka Math. Another one that I’ve heard good things about is Math-U-See.
Homeschooling Kindergarten – Grade 1
We had a lot of fun with history at this age. We used a lot of Montessori materials (3-part cards) and did tons of crafts. And of course, we read LOTS of historical fiction! We started with the ancients and spent as much time as the kids were interested on various topics.
If you look at this post – Ancient Greece for Grades 1 or 2 – you’ll see the kinds of things we did with history… we “built” a paper Parthenon, read Greek Myths, made Medusa masks, did clay maps of Ancient Greece (and of course, poured the sea into it!)
There are many, many wonderful children’s books that make history come alive for elementary kids. If you want to see some of the children’s books we used with history, check out this post: History through Children’s Literature. It will take you to the book lists we did for various units (China, the Middle Ages, India, the Civil Rights Movement, American Revolution and more).
Geography Activities: This post has Hands-On Geography Activities for Ages 4-10. We did a lot with pin maps, cookie maps, dough maps, and other geography projects!
And at this post you’ll find some free Montessori 3-Part Cards that I made about some of the famous US Landmarks. We used this when the kids were in early elementary and placed them on a huge US floor map. U.S. Landmarks and Symbols: Free Montessori 3-Part Cards
In many ways, it doesn’t matter what you choose to study, just pick something that you and the kids will enjoy and dive in!!
Homeschooling Kindergarten – Grade 1
Science Experiments & Science Topics
We have always had SO much fun with science that it has always been one of the highlights of our day! 🙂 We started doing various science experiments in preschool and just continued the trend into early elementary. At first, our science experiments were random (meaning, we didn’t do a full unit… we just did all kinds of experiments. Here were some early favorites:
- Free Science Experiment Packet – This had some of our early favorites!
- My girls loved studying animals… so we wound up spending lots of times learning about that. We started with basic classification: a discussion of living and nonliving things (I have a free set of activities here).
- Then we moved on to basic animal classification, vertebrates-invertebrates, animal homes, nocturnal animals, etc. You can see our Animal Packet here as well as some of the other animal-related topics we covered in those early years: Big Animal Bundle
- This free checklist share some of the other science topics we covered in the early years: Early Elementary Science… from astronomy to the 5 senses, rocks and minerals to plants or ocean animals! This list shares many of the topics we explored along the way (and has hyper-links to the posts and pictures).
FREE Curriculum Resource Guide for Kindergarten-Grade 1
I was often asked what we did when the kids were in 1st or 3rd or 7th grade. I wrote a series of FREE Curriculum Resource Guides to share some of the things we did.
This FREE 50-page Homeschool Resource has been created to help answer some basic questions: What subjects should I teach my Kindergartner/1st Grader? Where do I start? How do I know what to teach my kids?
Every child is different, but I wanted to offer a starting point. Hopefully you’ll find some ideas and printables that will work with your kids!
They might be helpful as you create your own homeschool plans. These are somewhere between 30 and 50 pages and are FREE to download. Here is the one for K-Grade 1:
The Homeschool Journey: There is not master checklist that says you have to cover anything in particular in kindergarten or first grade. This is a journey… and you have many, many years to explore topics and build skills!!
As for how you structure your day? You’ll decide that for yourself. Some homeschoolers get a bright and early jump on the day and are done by noon. Others go out of the house in the morning and then get some schoolwork done when the littles are napping or in Quiet Time. Again, you know your family best! 🙂
If I left you with more questions than I answered, please feel free to email me! Your questions help me come up with topics to write about, so I love ♥ hearing from you! ~Liesl
See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts. You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group. Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. ~Liesl
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Happy Homeschooling! ~Liesl
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