Christ, Coffee, and Chaos

Striving to capture our homeschool adventure as we endeavor to walk the narrow path.

Tag: 1st Grade

Wins & Lessons For 2017’s 1st Term

We’re a term in and I wanted to share our lessons learned in the first 6 weeks of our first official school year. You can read our original plans here where I cover John’s 1st grade and Mary’s PK curriculum choices. Mostly what I’ve learned is that I’m not very disciplined. In kindergarten it was really easy to have a reading lesson, go on a nature walk, read a Bible story and call it good, but things are slowly getting more serious and Mama needs to step up her game a bit.

First, Our Wins

The kids are having a blast and learning tons so even though we’re a little behind in… every… subject… I’d say we’re totally owning this homeschool thing.

The Japanese materials I’ve found make me feel like a total rock star. We began the Hiragana alphabet (free) which was pretty boring so we added Rapid Japanese and I am now the best mom ever. A few days ago I asked the kids if they wanted oatmeal with breakfast in Spanish, John replied in Japanese and Mary signed in agreement. YES! I did something right. It might be the only thing I’ve ever done right but at least it’s impressive. We are also using a Hiragana ANKI deck and a vocabulary ANKI deck with audio so we’re not limited to my Japanese abilities.

They continue to love all of the materials we were using last year including Reading Lessons Through Literature, Hey Andrew, The Al Abacus, and Explorer’s Bible Study. Story of The World, Apologia Astronomy and Artistic Pursuits are all working well but not completely adored. Loop scheduling was a success but our Sabbath scheduling wasn’t necessary due to the aforementioned lack of discipline on my part.

This is John’s independent reading loop. I mark what he does on the line for the day and record everything at the end of the week. I have loops for John’s seatwork, Mary’s seatwork, group seatwork, the arts, independent reading and our book basket. Sometimes I’ll write down a page number for assignments or simply a dot to mark that that category has been covered.  Black means English, Red signifies Spanish and eventually we will include green and blue for Japanese and Greek.

Lessons Learned & Changes Made

Despite the fact that both pupils have a desire to learn Japanese I need to set them at different paces because John was irritated at my lack of willingness to let him move forward. I have moved both of them back to Ray’s Arithmetic because it’s just better than anything I’ve found. The Fluent Forever pronunciation trainer was just too much for them so I am now teaching reading using La Pata Pita.

And Finally I need to read aloud more. My strategy so far has been to read at meals and during drawing time, have my husband read after dinner while I clean up, and assign John read aloud time.

Curriculum and Routine For 1st Grade and PreK

We plan to start school July 31st and we’re trying out sabbath schooling which is school for 6 weeks followed by a week long break. I’ve changed my mind again (I do that) and we’re starting our first history cycle with Story of The World and corresponding Artistic Pursuits lessons. We’ll also be doing interest-led science as well as Bible as a family while keeping the skill subjects separate. Además, I’ve been completely revamping our Spanish studies. John is my writer and lover of languages while Mary wants to do school with her older brother but is not interested in a challenge at this time.


John: Reading Lessons Through LiteratureEvan-Moor Grammar & Punctuation and homemade copywork.

Together: Jot It Down including poetry memorization, word play, big juicy conversations and story telling.


John: Getting Started With Spanish as an introduction to grammar and daily copywork.

Mary: Learning to read in Spanish first using Fluent Forever’s Pronunciation Trainer.

Together: Fluent Forever lifestyle utilizing homemade ANKI decks, Salsa (free), radio, and a literature list to be determined. We will continue to pull from this list as we’ve loved all of it so far. 


John: Song School Greek


John: He’s taken an interest in Japanese which is not only a total shocker, but a completely foreign language to me which I have extremely little experience with. I’m going to work on the hiragana alphabet with him while I get my barrings.


John: School Arithmetics Book 1 ($Free)

Mary: After she finishes MEP Reception she will move on to Singapore Earlybird.


Together: Explorer’s Bible Study with varied evening devotionals and Heroes for Young Readers with the Activity Guide.


John: Selected Readings From The Well Trained Mind and Story of the World.

Together: Story of The World Volume I with the Activity Guide.


John: Let’s Read and Find Out Level 1 and Christian Liberty Nature Reader 1.

Together: Apologia Astronomy as a read aloud only and audiobooks by Thornton Burgess ($ | Free).


Together: Artistic Pursuits will be done formally alongside Story of The World because the K-3 series is in chronological order, but my children have constant access to art supplies and how to books which tend to occupy much of their free time. We are also reading through the artist and composer series by Mike Venezia.

Teacher Resources

The Well Trained MindHandbook of Nature Study ($ | Free), Knowing & Teaching Elementary MathematicsFluent ForeverJot It Down, and The Ultimate Homeschool Planner.

The Routine

They wake up around 7 after I’ve had my personal Bible time and worked out. We typically grab a quick snack, read some poetry and head out the door for a two mile nature walk. If we decide that’s not a good idea they take advantage of the aforementioned art supplies, GeoPuzzles, Snap Circuits or library books while I play around on the computer get housework done.

After our walk we have a well deserved, protein rich breakfast while John or I lead the devotional and we go over new memory work. Right now we’re learning 10,000 Razones, The Ten Commandments Poem, and family phone numbers.

Following is showers and and the baby takes a nap while we have screen time (gasp!). Usually John plays with Google Earth or Adobe Illustrator while Mary watches, or they watch Magic School Bus in Spanish.

After the baby has effectively fallen asleep we have school. I get John started on things he can do solo first so I can work with Mary for about 5 minutes before John and I finish up. Then we listen to music, audiobooks, or recorded memory work while I do housework.

Sometime around 11 we all get back together for yoga, read alouds, and structured activities like science projects or art until lunch, followed by quiet time.

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