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first grade curriculum & workboxes

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Organizing bins for each subject has been a lifesaver for our homeschooling days. I don’t do the traditional “workbox” routine where only one assignment is in each bin and it is replenished every morning or evening. I don’t have the patience or stamina for that though I know that has worked wonders for helping children to thrive with knowing how much needs to be accomplished in the day.

However, our workboxes are by subject. I’ll discuss my son’s first grade boxes today and my daughter’s pre-kindergarten boxes soon.

We are out and about on Tuesday and Thursdays, so I don’t expect academics from my kids. We get home for or after lunch and spend the rest of the days in play or reading books.

Tuesdays is our Classical Conversations day (love) which is so enriching in knowledge as well as in play with fellow friends. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should. Children memorize and recite a timeline of world history, history sentences, geography, science, grammar, Latin. Then we have lunch and playground time with all ages of friends.

On Thursdays, I have a mom’s bible study — the homeschooling moms have begun a class for our children, ages 4 thru 10. I teach a 45 minute music class — I incorporate fun songs, recitation, music theory, Latin chants, and knowledge of the orchestra, music periods, and famous composers; we end with instrument exploration, musical story time and dance. I am loving this time. (I will have a post on this at some point.) Then the children have 30 minute gym and snack, followed by an hour art period with another mom.

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, my son is expected to do his handwriting, reading, and math.

Aside from that, in the afternoons, Mondays we do an art lesson or painting, Wednesdays we have Classical Conversations review, and on Fridays, I try to focus on a science concept or experiment.

We don’t always get to our lessons. And that’s okay. My goal is to give enriching experiences to my children. Often that means play dates with friends, playground trips, hikes, nature exploration, quiet time with books, learning how to work in the kitchen, understanding how to respect one another.

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We have combined phonics and printing but just say it is the “handwriting” subject.  My six year old son is on Book C of the First Start Reading Series from Memoria Press. I couldn’t recommend this more highly. Before he turned six, my son did not ever want to write letters, and though he knew his sounds, he was not interested in reading. This series highlights handwriting within the context of phonics. It begins with letter Aa. Then Mm. Then the child spells “am”. Then “I am”. Then “I am NAME.” Brilliant.

After all my years and looking at over twenty curriculums, I can say that this one is the most complete and most accessible for students. I like workbooks. Some parents and teachers are okay with the “100 lessons” or “Spell to write and read” curriculums. Those are wonderful. But for me? I love that the handwriting three lines are already there. It works for him and he is progressing wonderfully. Once we complete Book C, he will be ready to move onto the First Grade Curriculum from My Father’s World. Book D and Book E from FSR focus on more than CVC word building like long vowels, consonant and vowel digraphs and irregulars, so we will use them in conjunction with one another.

When he is ready for MFW First Grade, we will also supplement with Primary Phonics workbooks 2 & 3 and Explode the Code workbooks 2 & 3 as needed so to not rush these foundational concepts. Some children need more work on these, some need less. I do think that if a child is excelling in reading, they should have a rigorous spelling program until it is understood that they are solid in both subjects.

Also pictured are the FSR Manual (wonderful), the Composition Notebook from Memoria Press (for Thank You and Sorry notes and free writing) and the Copywork 1 Notebook, which reinforces handwriting with a review of letter before moving onto copying scripture and poetry. We will use this until that is covered in the MFW Proverbs copywork.

Generally, I have my son do two to four pages in FSR as well as a page of Copywork.


Next, my first grader reads two short stories from our little phonics readers.  I slowly add books into his bin as he is progressively taught the concepts, then we work on the books together.

After we read a little book, I put it in his basket, so he can feel confident to read them on his own.  Some that we love are:


We use a lot of different tools for our math time.  The foundation of our learning is the Alpha from Math U See.  We love this hands on approach.  We use the Montessori golden beads and Montessori colored beads instead of the included plastic bars.

I don’t do all of the lessons with John — if he completely understands the concepts, then we move onto the next unit.

We also are slowly reading through Life of Fred — which my son absolutely adores.  He wants to keep reading and reading.  I love this curriculum, and at each end of the chapter we try to write down answers and equations.  This is an extra that is not necessary, but I see as valuable since he loves it so much.  The last thing I would want is for his math learning to be monotonous.

We also love many of the math and time books from Usborne.  These are so great, particularly the Lift-the-Flap ones.

We also use many hands on materials, especially our Spielgaben set and other materials, particularly:

Here are our beads on the top of the shelf — thousands, hundreds, tens, ones. Our Montessori golden beads and Number cards are so incredible for creating number sense.


On Mondays, in the afternoons, I try to have an art project for my children.  This doesn’t always happen, but I have good intentions ;)  Some of the materials that are super inspirational are:

Art Treasury: This shows you a beautiful piece of art from a wonderful artist and gives a project for how you can recreate the work.

Drawing with Children: This books is used in many homeschooling curriculums as a foundations for teaching drawing.  I am still reading through it and the purposes of lines: circles, lines, dots, angles, and curves, perspective, mirror images, etc.

We also just received two picture study portfolios from Simple Charlotte Mason.  I am in love with this and will focus on just two a year.  Our two artists of choice are da Vinci and Michelangelo right now.

Classical Conversations

Wednesdays, the day after Classical Conversations, we try to review all of our amazing work from the previous day.  We sing our history sentence songs, review our time line cards (and read the backs for historical significance and more details), review math, Latin, and science, and their favorite — geography!  The absolutely love review geography on their big placemat maps and we often will use little chocolate candies :)


And Fridays, I try to be intentional with a science book or experiment.  This has been very relaxed, as my children are reading non-fiction science texts all the time from PaperPie.

Some of the resources we love include:

The next three are excellent books on how to introduce sexuality and God’s design for sex and our bodies.  They are wonderful to have around for when those important questions come up.  Love all of these!

It is so helpful to have all of these subjects separate and to pick things out as their interests dictate.  I will share my daughters bins soon — hers include subjects that John uses as well (Character & Virtue, Poetry, Read Alouds, and American History — the last of which was discussed at length in my Kindergarten Curriculum post.)

Blessings to you and yours.  Please remember that less is more.  Being there is more.  Phonics and math are oh so important, but the rest will fall into place.

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  1. I always admire parents who keep an eye on their children specially on their studies. Salute you all!

  2. Hi,

    What is the name of the drawer furniture you use for your subjects boxes? I love it!

  3. I love your work boxes – I would love them for my classroom – where did you get them?

  4. hi, have you used the sexuality books with your son? my daughter is 5 and little brother is 2 and she is very curious of his private body parts……so we no longer give them baths together……ordering the books ….hoping for some guidance

    1. We are always very honest and open about body parts and call them by the correct names. I think these books are an excellent way to talk about our bodies and God’s gift of sex.

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