Intro to 1GRD


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.

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


  • LOTS of crafts.  Lots of drawing.  Aesop’s 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 or you can use the First Grade Art book. 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).


  • The Language Arts focus this year is “Beginning, Middle, End.”  You mostly use it in religion this year. See the Do-Aheads for this grade level for more information about that.
  • This year you finish 100EZ and start reading practice in earnest.
  • Handwriting is 3 days a week. The old syllabi use Picard’s series. The new ones use “Writing Our Catholic Faith.” The Catholic version isn’t in color. The secular version is identical in the skills practice, but it’s in color. The sentences aren’t as cute, though. Regardless, the rumor is that Laura only added a handwriting book because parents wanted it. If you like a different series, say Handwriting Without Tears, just divide the book by 32 weeks and go for it.


  • Lots more hymns. 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.)
  • LATE in the year (Week 28), you will use the 4 music picture books with accompanying CD’s on Mondays and Thursdays. The Suggested Schedule puts this in the evening. (Music moves the heart.  When you’re upset, it can calm you.  Affection for truly beautiful, emotion-ordering music is important.  A child that doesn’t love helpful music will inevitably love only ugly music.) Only Peter and the Wolf has that old “beep–turn the page” interactivity. For the others, the CD is just music.


  • Abeka 1.  If you did the MoDG plans last year that did not use Abeka K, this will be a shock.  This book assumes a lot happened last year. The “speed drills” aren’t for LEARNING the facts; they’re for speeding up the already-learned facts.
  • Facts drills aren’t scheduled, but they are necessary. Abeka worksheets in 2GRD-3GRD will take a really long time if the memory work isn’t done.


  • 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.”)
  • 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.


Read Aloud has it’s own lists in the syllabus. There is no specific ORDER to the selections or requirement to complete the list. And it’s clear from school resources 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.)


  • 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.
  • Also, we do a bunch of saints.  This is a heavy year for blank book entries.


  • This year you are supposed to be taking the kids out for regular nature experiences and doing simple experiments. It’s not in the syllabi, however…
  • They are in the brand new book! If you, like me, are juggling too many other things to make up your own walk and experiment ideas, get this book.


The new syllabi use First Grade Map Skills. It meets state standards, if you need that. Otherwise, it’s just a paragraph a week about a continent or state symbol.