I am looking forward to sharing our First Grade Charlotte Mason Inspired Schedule. Here we are, in our Year 1 (Form 1B) of homeschooling. I have never felt more grounded or more sure that I am doing what is right for my son and his education. Ever since I began listening to the A Delectable Education Podcast, and finally picking up Mason’s six volumes and reading her words for myself, reading Volume One now, I have felt at home.
Learning new things every day
If you’ve followed any of my work here, I have always always expressed that I am forever learning. I have tweaked here and there with in my curriculum choices. I have moved things around according to the childrens’ needs and I will continue to do so. But now I feel that I have actually started in the best place. For starters, my son is now 7 years old. His first grade year essentially started last year and continues through this next year. I did start him gently with homeschooling last fall, and his reading and handwriting has been greatly improved, however, for our purposes at church and other activities I am considering him to be in first grade, due to where his birthday falls in the year.
I have gleaned insights from many valuable resources to make a rhythm and schedule that appeals to my son, to my needs as his teacher, and to the expectations for his grade level. As a former kindergarten teacher, with a Masters in Elementary Education, I do still want to ensure his education is compatible with what our state instructs that kids “should” learn. Of course a Charlotte Mason Education, a Beautiful Education, one full of beauty and wisdom of the ages is so much more. The classics of old and the brilliant minds of the past will open their brains to more than they could have learned with the current fads of the day or in an unschooling adventure “guiding their own learning.”
Resources we love
So that brings me to our chosen schedule. I have gleaned insights from so many places, all of which have excellent curriculums that need nothing added except phonics and math for Year One, if you are looking for something without any guesswork. What I have done is certainly not necessary, but perhaps below you will see resources you haven’t encountered and may like to give them a try!:
- Ambleside Online: free online schedules, takes a while to sift through the site, but wonderful plans!
- Simply Charlotte Mason: low cost guides can take children of all ages through the same Bible and History.
- A Gentle Feast: I recently discovered these low cost guides that also are for all forms together.
My scheduling approach
I have a background in education. My idea of “fun” is to pour over living books and curriculums and all the schedules and resources, free or priced, that I can get my hands on. The above curriculums are Charlotte Mason inspired and I recommend them all highly, as they take all the guess work out and are Amazing Plans!! For me, I take bits of each and have created my own Perfect Curriculum! (That is, until the next change is needed!)
One more note, I take a minimalist approach (this may seem surprising) to my actual scheduling documentation. I have written the subject and the amount of time per subject only on our schedule. For now, we are moving through our books at our own pace, using the following plans. In the future, I will break this into three 12 week terms. I have a Master List of what resources I will add per grade–and yes, I joyfully edit and tweak this almost daily as I find new, and old, resources. This guides what I want us to “complete” in a year.
On our Short Days, Short Lessons, and Narration
All of our learning, with the exception of Nature Study and Science, is in the mornings. I like to keep this to about 9 to 11 or 11:30 (depending on the baby’s needs of course!) Two rigorous hours is more than enough formal learning. The rest of the day is devoted to independent play, Nature Study, reading, creating, handicrafts, playtime, and more!
Narration is imperative to a whole education, and certainly a Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool. I wrote about this key component in my post on Why I made a Charlotte Mason Schedule and A Day in the Life of our Charlotte Mason Homeschool. All of our lessons, and readings, are short. 10-15 minutes with 2-4 pages only. My son is expected to “tell me in your own words” what we read about, so he can show he is paying attention and understand the material. These oral narrations (oral compositions) will be required for every reading and are a large portion of his mental work in our homeschool. The following Narration resources have been helpful for me to continue to hone in on this craft. We are not experts, and my son still resists his narrating quite a bit, so once I get a better hang of it, I will share in more detail about what I’ve learned.
- Five Steps to Successful Narration (free download) from Simply Charlotte Mason
- Narration: The Foundation of a Charlotte Mason Education from A Gentle Feast
- On Narration from A Delectable Education Podcast
Our First Year Schedule
Living books and resources we pull from, by subject, include (affiliate links are included). Many of the pictures of our books were included in our Day in the Life of a Charlotte Mason Homeschool Day. I have a printable form below, at the end of our post.
We are now beginning our day with our Bible Story! I love each of the above Bibles. We will read through each of them in their entirety, with narration expected after each reading. I know Charlotte Mason suggests reading from the original text, omitting pictures, but for me, I prefer the pictures for the younger ones as long as they are true to the Word, rich, and not cartoon-y. We also do about five minutes a week using the rich Bible History from My Father’s World: Grade 1 called Learning God’s Story.
Poetry, Nursery Rhymes, Fables
- Robert Louis Stevenson, then A Child’s Book of Poems
- The Real Mother Goose, then Beatrix Potter Nursery Rhyme Collection
- Aesop’s Fables
A part of our morning routine, poetry, nursery rhymes, and fables has become our staple for the mornings.
Picture, Composer, and Hymn Study
- Picture Study Portfolios: Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Rembrandt
- Composer Studies: Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Foster (we will study one per month in the music class I teach, but these are wonderful studies I’d recommend!) We try to listen to our classical music at breakfast time.
- Singing the Great Hymns: We focus on one hymn per month in this wonderful anthology!
Habit Training & Virtue and Manners
- Laying Down the Rails: Obedience, Attentiveness, Courtesy for now, read with our ESV Bible (I recommend Laying Down the Rails for Children if you’d only like to get one)
- Everyday Graces, Manners, Crossroads of Character, First Virtues: We read these in the evenings and on Saturdays.
Phonics & Copywork
- My Father’s World First Grade: Teacher’s Manual & Student Materials
- Delightful Reading 3: From Words to Books
- A Gentle Feast: Poetry Phonics
We do not do all in the MFW 1 program. We do about one to two phonics sheets or pages in the workbook per week and we are moving slowly. I like the repetition and the phonics practice and my son seems to stay engaged; it is not monotonous drivel. I’m looking forward to Week 15 when the simple Bible Reader is introduced, and we will incorporate this into our Reading Lessons.
I also absolutely love the approach to phonics and rhyming in both the Delightful Reading and the Gentle Feast Poetry Phonics! They are so beautiful to learn alongside my son! I can’t recommend them more highly and I’m looking forward to continuing them throughout the year about once a week.
Last year, when my son was just turning six and in his “first of two first grades” we did the following with him: First Start Reading from Memoria Press (Books A, B, C) alongside various letter-sound activities with our Montessori moveable alphabet before moving onto living early readers (See: Teaching reading using living books). I did use “twaddle-y” phonics readers with him, which I will not do with my younger daughter when she is ready next year–you live, you learn.
I will use First Start Reading with my daughter next fall; I believe it is the best program out there that combines simple phonics and copywork. (I omit the nonsense word lists which are not helpful). I will also utilize living books. She will be doing two “Year Ones,” just like her brother, due to her late in the year birthday. You can certainly do First Start Reading without the handwriting/copywork component. And if you’d prefer to gently begin phonics reading, I would also recommend Delightful Reading 2: Words I Can Build for phonics and Delightful Handwriting (Zaner Bloser) if you wanted to choose a less “workbook-y” curriculum, that stays truer to Charlotte Mason’s teachings from Volume One.
Our copywork is also included in the MFW 1, which is beautiful Proverbs. I’d also recommend A Child’s Copybook Reader if you’re looking for a wonderful workbook. There are three volumes.
I am confident in beginning cursive at this young of age, and actually John is very interested and excited about connecting letters! But I am not completely satisfied with our choice here from Memoria Press, as NAC has simplified the capital letters. Why?! So after I manually teach some of the capitals (F, Y, Z, etc.) with this book, I will be using Pre-Scripts: Scripture from Classical Conversations or Print to Cursive, then Hymns in Prose (Zaner Bloser Cursive) from Simply Charlotte Mason.
Find more readers at Learning to read with living books.
- Primer & First Reader by Harriett Treadwell
- First Steps, Days Go By, and More Days Go By: Pathway Readers
- We Learn About God from Rod & Staff
- Sounds of the Sea
We are reading through the above readers. Later we will add the Bible Reader from My Father’s World 1, see note above, and other living books as he is able.
- Early American History Primary Pack from Beautiful Feet
- Trial and Triumph
- Our Island Story (followed by This Country of Ours)
- 50 Famous Stories Retold (followed by Viking Tales)
- Boys and Girls of Colonial Days
Each day is dedicated to a specific History reading. We are moving slowly through the Early American History pack and relish in each book included. My daughter enjoys coloring the pictures and adding them to our American notebook as well.
Mason recommends that children are first introduced to their own history, for us that is American, and we will be reading through Marshall’s Our Island Story, because British history is American history! We will next read through Marshall’s This Country of Ours. We also have our Famous Stories (prepping for Plutarch) and our Trial and Triumph (Church history). This is, of course, my favorite part of our days!
- Shakespeare by Lamb or Nesbit
- Little Pilgrim’s Progress
- Just So Stories
- Longer anthology selections: (Brambly Hedge, Beatrix Potter Collection,Winnie the Pooh, , Olga da Polga, A Bear Called Paddington, James Herriott’s Animal Treasury, Raggedy Ann, Mindy Mandy, St. George and the Dragon)
Just like for History, we have one short reading of one each of our selections above. Some days we will simple grab from our large collection of picture books and curl up and read. When we do Shakespeare, we often will grab our other Shakespeare resources we have to make the learning even richer. Also, I chose the Little Pilgrim’s Progress instead of the original because it is very beautifully written and definitely not fluff. After we are done with it, we will move on to Dangerous Journey before reading the original later on.
- Math U See: Alpha
- Life of Fred: Apples and Butterflies
- Montessori materials: Decanomial beads and Golden beads
- Various games (money, shapes, place value, time)
Math time is truly any time and any where. We do not do all the lessons in the Alpha book — if he understands a concept, we move on and I certainly do not have him write much. He understands the concepts faster than he can write them. Excellent! He also loves the Life of Fred series which keeps things interesting, and we also build three digit numbers with the golden beads, which he fully understands, so I feel we will be moving onto Beta very soon.
We will begin Latin in Fourth Grade, but will focus on spoken Spanish two times a week and written Biblical Hebrew once a week. Spanish is the most useful language for us, so it makes sense to focus on it throughout their schooling. And after researching, Cherrydale Press’ version looks to be the best for a Charlotte Mason approach.
As for Hebrew, I studied and minored in the subject in college and have a deep love for Israel, so the children are naturally drawn to it from my interest, watch Shalom Sesame, and we have many other Israeli and Jewish books in the home. I’d love to celebrate each of the Jewish holidays this year, but I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself. I found this wonderful Hebrew curriculum that looks very sound and we will slowly move through all four volumes before moving onto simple parsing of Bible passages.
Music, Handicrafts, Art
Each day, before (hopefully) lunch, we will attempt one of the following:
- Sing Solfa: This is a wonderful, free program to teach children solfege singing and musical techniques. We will be reviewing the weekly material from the music class I teach as well. But this is a perfect option for at home learning!
- Handicrafts: I will try our hand at Child Sewing Kit, and make cute little felt animals, Origami, and Weaving.
- Art: We will start with ArtVenture online, and later in the year we may try Creating a Masterpiece. This is the only screen time learning we do — and how wonderful to have wonderful artists at our fingertips!
Chapter Books as Free Read Alouds
- Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
- The Velveteen Rabbit by Mergery Williams
- Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
- Little House in Big Woods and Little House on Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- King of the Golden River by John Ruskin
- Peter Pan by James Barrie
- Fairy Books by Andrew Lang
- The Boxcar Children (Books 1-8) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
- My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
- Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting
- The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
- Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
- The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
- The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde
- Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dagliesh
Our free read alouds are for fun and enjoyment, mostly read at the kitchen table or on a blanket outside. I do not require strict narration though I do ask comprehension questions. These are the books we are reading this year, but we’ve already read half so I’ll have to add more! I’d suggest picking six for the year of the above and reading them slowly, only one chapter a day!
I hope to write an entire post on all we are learning from Nature Study time. Namely, that it is hard to get my son motivated! The children are playing outside all the time, early morning and afternoon, but focusing them on one thing and wanting to draw it is not his strong suit.
Natural History/ Nature Lore
- Burgess Bird Book
- Buckley: Wild Life in Woods and Fields & Plant life in Field and Garden
- Coloring Books: Bird Coloring Book & Woods Coloring Book
I cannot recommend Arabella Buckley’s Eyes No Eyes Series more highly. Oh they are a joy! The stories of children discovering the world around them are so rich and lively and engaging!! We will be reading all six through the next couple of years! Slowly, and with intention and narration. We also are reading Burgess’ Bird book which we don’t love, but we will try to get through at least half before we decide if we will give it up. The coloring books are mostly for my daughter, we color the pages of animals that our books were about.
- Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling with Beautiful Feet Guide & Map
- Elementary Geography by Charlotte Mason
I love a gentle approach to Geography to start. We will slowly be learning different areas of the United States, coupled with the very basics of geography such as N, S, E, W, the earth is round, etc.
These are the expectations, according to Ambleside Online that will be our focus:
Term 1: The world is round. Left, right, front (before), back (behind) are positions; know which is which and realize they are dependent on perspective.
Term 2: Fixed direction (north, south, east, west). The sun shows direction: East is where the sun rises, west is where it sets. Stars (North or Pole Star, constellations) show direction and help mariners find their way. The length and direction of shadows can help us tell time as well as direction.
Term 3: The round world can be divided into two spheres (hemispheres). The line dividing it across the middle is the equator; its parallel lines are latitude. The line where the earth meets the sky is called the horizon.
For my five year old daughter
Our schedule has a couple sections that one 10 or so minute time block for “Mini Literacy Time” — this is for my (almost) five year old daughter. This Literacy Time is beloved my her!! She loves “reading” with mom with her Dick & Jane book, or working through a Memoria Press Alphabet Books. I keep it simple and meeting her interests. John would never have wanted to work on handwriting at her age. But she loves it! And I’m happy to give her this short time to work on her letters and sounds.
The other section for May is the “Letter of the Week” weekly switch, this is a fun time when we change our letter objects and snuggle together to focus on one letter.
- Letter of the Week story from Alphatales
- Animal Story from Christian Liberty Nature Reader (we always follow this with a YouTube video of the animal, which the kids love!)
- Letter Character Lesson from Big Thoughts for Little People
Other topics on the schedule
The core of our learning is at home, in those two hours of learning at home, even on the couch, or outside, lifting rocks and discovering God’s creation. But these “extras” supplement our learning nicely.
We do Classical Conversations on Tuesdays. We do this for a number of reasons that I should put in a separate post completely! (See our Living Books List for the current cycle, Cycle 3 for a longer explanation.) Briefly, we love the community, the history songs, the timeline song, the art projects, the science experiments, the presentation time for each student, the friendships. I am tutoring in the mornings this year, this is followed by lunch and recess. We do not work on the memory work at home, but we do listen to the fun CDs in the car! We also listen to the Story of the World CDs (Volumes 1-3) each year in the car.
I teach an hour long classical music class in the afternoons (unrelated to CC, but nice to have a community of children who want to learn together) to the younger students. This consists of beautiful hymns, latin chants, composer study, music theory, vocal technique and fundamentals. It is a wonderful day in our week.
We are trying to put together a bi-weekly Nature Study group one afternoon a week. The children are also both signed up for one sport each per semester: Soccer Practice on Wednesday, and I will sign John up for “Mad Scientists,” an after-school program he will attend with his cousin. While I don’t want to take on too many afternoon activities, I do know that my son thrives in social situations, so now, at least three times a week, he will be with his peers and with another adult besides me. This is healthy for our relationship as well!!
Print or Edit my Plans!
You can find a PDF version of our Charlotte Mason Year One here.
And you can find a DOC version of our Charlotte Mason Year One here.
Charlotte Mason Year One
Illustrations from Free Vintage Illustrations.
Pinnable includes art by Seymour Joseph Guy, 1824-1910.