Intro to 1GRD

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This is a general subject-by-subject overview.  This is a general subject-by-subject overview.  After taking the Primary Stage course from the school (highly recommended) I have added in my personal understanding of the “goals” for each subject in italics and parentheses.  Laura is best at the methodology explanations, found in the afore mentioned course, what I tripped over in the early years is CONTENT.  So, I will talk about that mostly.

For actionable Do-Aheads for 1GRD, CLICK HERE.  

ART:  LOTS of crafts.  Lots of drawing.  Aesops and the saints and the poetry is 33 drawings. (Helps the child with pencil skills but is primarily a beginning form of retelling.) Also, the list of crafts doesn’t seem to be that much, but The Stations of the Cross kit is ALL 14 stations!  (Doing something with ordered instructions is the goal. Replace crafts at will, as long as there are ordered instructions.) There are more “Child Sized Masterpieces” this year.  Just remember that the point is for the child to really concentrate on the pictures and examine them at length.  Our curriculum calls it “close observation.”  Charlotte Mason calls it “really looking.” Whatever you call it, the names of the artists are much less important than the ability and facility with close observation.  That, and we want beauty to “do its work” on the child’s heart.

“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture” (Mason, Vol. 1, p. 309).

There are more “Child Sized Masterpieces” this year.  Just remember that the point is for the child to really concentrate on the pictures and examine them at length.

LANGUAGE ARTS:  The Language Arts focus this year is “Beginning, Middle, End.”  See the Do-Aheads for this grade level for more information about that.  This year also continues 100EZ.  I don’t use this text anymore, so I’m not going to say a lot about it except that if your child doesn’t know his sight words, now is the time to learn them.  We will be doing phonics all the way to 6GRD.  Learning sight words now isn’t going to cripple their spelling or word-attack skills later.

WRITING:  Handwriting is a continuation of the series from last year.  We will use that series one more year for cursive.  Then it is expected that you integrate handwriting into other assignments as you see fit. There are two handwriting choices.  Both are fine.  I think we’re phasing out the Picard ones in favor of Writing Our Catholic Faith.

LATIN/MUSIC: Music is where you find the Latin this year.  (Vocal training is especially helpful in teaching order and sequence of mind.  Also, this music is some of our greatest hymns in English and Latin.) That lady’s voice is not my children’s definition of “beautiful” so maybe pull some from the suggested latin music sites. Also, the “music” in the suggested schedule is not this 30 second daily hymn practice.  Just put this in the same session as your poetry stanza.

MATH: Abeka 1.  If you did the MoDG plans last year that did not use Abeka K, this will be a shock.  This book is advanced.  We sometimes take it half-pace after a certain point. The teacher’s manual is really helpful!  Here’s a look inside.  If you don’t use it, you will STILL need to be flashcarding the kids for his math facts.  It’s clear in Teaching Tips that the difference between Saxon and Abeka was not the amount of review, but that the Saxon work included lots of manipulatives that slowed down the lessons, if your child didn’t need them.

MUSIC:  This year we learn more hymns and listen to pieces that dovetail with picture books.  Each book is used at least twice. It is recommended in other resources that you listen to classical music more often, like before bed.  (That’s why “music” is in your suggested schedule in the evening.  It’s not the one minute hymn.) Classical music “orders” the mind, and it’s enjoyment as a habit should be built early. Feel free to use the (expensive) cd books before bedtime, all the time.  We like playing the music during meals.

POETRY:  More Robert Louis Stevenson. (Again this exercises his memory, but more importantly, like music, poetry moves the heart. “Bed in Summer” is much more moving than the statement.  “Going to bed when it’s light out side is really hard.”) For us, this is a challenging year.  We learned to love these poems later, but the first one or two times through this grade level, it was hard.  But, it’s worth it later.  These poems show up for review every year, at least through at least 7GRD. Unlike many other memory facts, these poems are never lost and become part of your family language.

READING:  Read Aloud again has it’s own lists in the syllabus. If you have more than one child going, again let me recommend either Teaching Tips or the Writing Manual.  They have identical long articles about Language Arts, read aloud, and how to slowly build reading stamina. There are unique grade level reading lists provided for fiction through 3GRD and religion through 2GRD, but it is clear from the resources mentioned that the Berquist parents just divided the kids into “bigs and littles” for bedtime reading, and didn’t rigidly stratify by year. (Filling the child’s mind with stories of heroic virtue.  If you want a really good quick and dirty explanation of the how and why of virtue literacy, read the intro to Book of Virtues, and read the intro to each section in the Book of Virtues, and the paragraphs just preceding each selection.  It’s a QUICK classical worldview orientation. Plenty of Aristotle.)

RELIGION:  The First Communion Catechism catechism covers the same basic material as Part I:Creed of the No. 1 catechism next year.  It’s the little kid version, though.  Also, it touches on bits of Part II and III from the No. 1 catechism.  Commandments, Sacraments & Prayer.  These questions all come back year after year after year, going more and more detailed..  See this post for the overview.  Also, we do a bunch of saints.  This is a heavy year for blank book entries.

SCIENCE:  This year you are supposed to be taking the kids out for regular nature experiences.  See Teaching Tips for examples of how this is done.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brenna G August 9, 2015

Thank you for posting this! Any tips on teaching sight words? We did 100 easy lessons last year and I was just going to do out loud reading time, but not sure where to start with sight words.


2 admin August 10, 2015

If you mean “team reading” (where they read and you fill in) you can do that. After seeing the same words over and over and hearing you say them, they pick up the sight words. Otherwise, you just need a stack of flashcards with the dolch words. Add 3-5 new words each week to the stack. Split them into two piles on Monday: easy, new/hard. Review the new/hard daily for no more than five minutes.


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