First Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

Hi everyone! I always post my curriculum for each year prior to the start of our school year. But I’ve had some requests to post our curriculum choices by grade level to help out people trying to choose curriculum for a certain year. Anyway, I thought that would be a great idea, and if it helps you out then whoohoo!

Please keep in mind that students and parents needs will differ, so what we’re comfortable with may not work perfectly for you. So I’m hoping you’ll just use this as a guide to help you get started in picking your first grade curriculum. And my hope is that you will take my top picks as helpful suggestions, not what you  absolutely have to do.

 

Here are the basic subjects that I suggest you cover. Of course you’ll want to make sure to check with your state requirements to make sure you’re including anything specifically required by your district.

  • Art
  • Bible
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Handwriting
  • Spelling
  • English/Language
  • Social Studies
  • Science/Health
  • Music
  • PE

 

Okay, let’s get started! Here are my top picks for our first grade curriculum choices!

1stgrade_2015

 

General Skills:

  • Daily Learning Notebook (Elementary level manuscript version. or Elementary cursive version) – These are free downloads found on my blog, and they come in a variety of styles. I have a elementary specific one I like to use for ages 6-11. It’s just a fun way to cover a variety of skills each day. The notebook includes things like:
  • What day is it?
  • What was yesterday?
  • What will it be tomorrow be?
  • Writing the date
  • Color in the day number
  • Is today’s number ODD or EVEN?
  • Write today’s number in word form
  • Write the number that comes before and after today’s number
  • Weather
  • Money
  • Handwriting Practice
  • Alphabet review
  • 0-100 Number practice

 

Art:

    • World’s Greatest Artists Vol. 1 or 2: My artist studies are a great way to learn about some of the world’s greatest artists as well as learn about different artistic styles, techniques, and mediums. You will learn a ton about the work of each artist and become well familiar with their style, methods, and images. Students will also learn to discuss artwork in a critical fashion as well as gain an appreciation for art in general. You will also create several of your own unique masterpieces emulating the styles and techniques of the artists as you learn. Each study includes: Lesson plans for each week , a lapbook, artist note booking pages for older kids, puzzles, artist fact flashcards, and art projects to correlate with each artist.

  • I also like to include plenty of free time art projects, play-doh, painting, drawing, pastels, etc. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do a formal art program in first grade! Just making some time each week to do something fun and creative will be beneficial to your student’s well being!
  • I love the Home Art Studio DVDs they have really fun art projects. They are sold by grade level, which might not work as well if you have multiple-grades represented in your home. But I’ve found that for the most part, if you pick a DVD between the upper grades in your home, you can have everyone do a project from one DVD and it seems to be okay. There have been a few times where it was more difficult for my youngest, but I don’t expect her work to be the same level as her older sister. So we just go with it and they’ve done fine. The DVDs may cost a bit more, but they also take the pressure off of you to teach a lesson.  If you’re not comfortable teaching art, you can simply gather the required materials and let the DVD do the teaching for you.
  • Another one of my favorite all time resources for art is the Deep Space Sparkle website, she has tons of free art ideas for kids also sorted by grade level! And it looks like she’s also created a curriculum you can purchase as well. I haven’t tried it out myself, but I love her website overall!

 

Bible:

  • Grapevine Traceable Units: These are great for younger kiddos. Since I have 4 different grades in our homeschool, I purchase the multiple-level teacher’s manual, along with a combination of the traceable student workbooks (for my younger kids) and the blank one (for my older kids) and we all do the same lesson at the same time. It’s worked out great for teaching multiple levels at the same time! That said, they also have grade specific levels if you don’t need to teach more than one grade together.
  • Character Studies: I have a series of FREE character studies available for download on my website. They’re great for teaching basic character skills to your kids while having a fun and engaging Bible study at the same time. You can find them all here on my Bible printables page, I hope you enjoy them!
  •  Word of Life Challenger Quiet Time devotions. These are great for starting to teach independent Bible study for kids. They come by grade levels so you can get one that is appropriate for your child. We do one per day, and they only take about 5-10 minutes each.

 

Handwriting:

  • BJU Handwriting 1: I like the BJU Press handwriting workbooks. They have a variety of activities students do each day to practice handwriting skills. There are some references to their other curriculum, but we haven’t ever had an issue with using them.
  • A Reason For Handwriting: These sold by grade level and include fun and short daily handwriting worksheets. Students practice copying and re-writing Bible verses which is nice for memorization as well. I did find that they’re too repetitive, so after doing these for 1 year we moved onto BJU Handwriting just for a change.
  • Abeka Handwriting: The Abeka handwriting worksheets provide basic practice on a daily worksheet. The only issue I found with these, and they may have updated them by now, but the tracing lines are black along with the paper guide lines and so it can be difficult for students to tell how to form the letters properly. I prefer it when the lines are blue/red, and the tracing fonts are a light gray so it’s easier to distinguish between the two.
  • Note: I usually stick with manuscript until 2nd or 3rd grade depending on my student’s readiness. I find that their fine motor skills are more developed and cursive is easier to learn around 3rd grade. But you’ll want to do whatever works best for your child.

 

Literature:

  • Classical Literature Units: Since students are still learning to read, I like to do read-a-louds using books from my Vol. 1 list. The Volume 1 pack includes lots of fun side activities that are good for younger kids. They also include comprehension questions and a lapbook project.

 

Math:

  • Math U See Alpha: We have used Math U See for all of our kiddos for years. We did try another math program, but ended up going back to MUS because it’s just a much better fit for us. I like that it comes with DVD lessons, so I don’t have to teach them.  I simply facilitate their work during the week, and help out when they have questions.
  • For first grade, I also add in Kumon Dollars & Cents, Kumon Telling Time for extra practice with these subjects but that’s optional.

 

History:

  • Road Trip USA: Road Trip is a year long USA Geography/History curriculum. It is geared towards elementary students around grades 1-6. From the signing of the Declaration of Independence, to the wild west, you’ll uncover all the secrets this Nation has to offer! Within this curriculum you’ll discover the sights and sounds of all 50 states, including state symbols, U.S. Presidents, famous people, landmarks, historical events, and much more! Students will also learn about animals from each state, their habitats, and other interesting facts. We did use this as our science for the year as well.
  • Abeka History:This is more of a read and discuss type curriculum. There aren’t many hands-on activities included. However they are easy and short daily lessons and can be purchased by grade level. One thing I like about this curriculum is that the reading assignments are really appropriate for each grade level and so I didn’t feel like I was teaching above my students understanding. Since I have 4 children, the youngest didn’t participate with us, but the older three did. I chose grade 4 to use with my 2nd, 4th, and 5th grader and it worked well. I did not make my 2nd grader take the tests, but she was capable of listening and discussing things with us.
  • Time Traveler Units: I used these units as a fun supplement to go along with our Abeka history. They include hands-on projects, and lapbooking type activities that helped to make the Abeka more engaging. Although they’re listed as a full curriculum, and we enjoyed it, I did find that it wasn’t quite as thorough as I would have liked. There is a 1-2 page reading passage for each lesson followed by several activities. I love the activities included, but did find that some of them were a bit confusing or difficult for my children to complete after reading just a small piece of information. If we use these again, we will definitely add them in with Abeka or something a little more thorough.
  • Evan-Moor History Pockets: These are a great way to include some more hands on activities with your students. They aren’t really a full stand-alone curriculum. However, they were an excellent addition to our Abeka unit as well. The books come in a variety of topics and have 1 short lesson followed by a lapbooking type activity for each reading passage. I felt that they were a nice addition to our curriculum. And they weren’t very time consuming. The only preparation work required for you is to make copies for your kiddos.

 

Music:

  • World’s Greatest Composers Vo.l 1 OR World’s Greatest Composers Vol. 2: These units are a great way to learn about some of our world’s most famous musicians. You will learn a ton about the work of each musician and become well familiar with their style and works. Students will also learn to discuss the music in a critical fashion as well as gain an appreciation for the art in general. they will complete listening studies each day that include an accompanying project. Each study includes: Lesson plans for each week , a lapbook, note booking pages for older kids, puzzles, musician fact cards, and listening assignments that correlate with each artist.

 

English/Language/Phonics:

  • Abeka Letters & Sounds 1, Language 1 is probably my favorite. It covers both phonics practice as well as beginning grammar. I do have the teacher’s manual for the workbooks, but I think for first grade you could probably get away without them and just teach off of the worksheets. I use the Abeka Basic Phonics Flashcards in conjunction with the workbooks to teach and review their phonics blends.

 

Reading:

  • Abeka 1 readers. I suggest looking for the readers on eBay or Homeschool Classifieds, you can often find them at a great price used! We do have the reading curriculum TM which includes comprehension questions for older grades. The younger grades have the questions right in their books so you don’t really need a TM for them. You can just have your student read at their own pace through the books. These books do correlate directly to the phonics lessons in grade 1, so that is why we use them together.
  • All About Reading Level 1: This is a great hands-on curriculum for younger readers. Not only does it cover daily phonics lessons for first grade, but their readers are super cute and my kids have all loved them. They also include a student activity book with hands-on games and worksheets for your lessons as well.
  • NOTE: I get a LOT of questions about which one we use and why. Honestly I love both of these options for reading. I have typically stuck with Abeka simply because we had all of the readers and I’ve taught it so many times that I’m well familiar with it, so it’s just an easier option for me. I do however pull out the AAR readers during reading time as well because my kiddos prefer the AAR stories to the Abeka ones.

 

Spelling:

  • Spelling You See B: This is a relatively new program, and we received it free for review. I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this curriculum. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. Not only does it take some of the teaching time off of me, but it seems to be fun for my kids and it is working well. This curriculum is not your standard memorization of words and rules. There is a reading passage each day and students mark particular items in the passage. Then they copy  the passage down on the following page. The repetition of seeing the words along with writing them has really helped quite a bit in my children’s spelling. I also love that in the books they learn a variety of information in the passages. Each grade level has a different theme so students learn the information as they’re copying the passages. We used level B for our first grader and I love it. This one has a Jack and Jill theme so students learn all of the most popular nursery rhymes. They also have word writing practice included and it’s one of my favorites because there are boxes for each letter and that has really helped my daughter sound out each sound as she is writing the words.
  • All About Spelling Level 1: I love AAS for  phonics rules memorization. I think they do a great job really drilling the phonics, as well as teaching sight words, and giving spelling words to work on each week. One thing that you should note with this curriculum is that it’s teacher led, and we spent about 15-20 minutes each day working on our lessons. The books come with about 26-30 lessons for each level, and so I split the lessons into two parts. We do the new teaching one day, then the word writing and practice the following day. they use letter tiles to help students spell words which helps with really seeing and sounding out each sound, popular vowel teams, and consonant teams. Another thing we did to make this curriculum more fun was to use our iPad chalkboard app to write words, we also stamp the words, and I created a “Word Jail” bulletin board on our wall where we added all of the phonics rule breakers (sight words). We reviewed these often and it was really easy to do since they were all in one place!

 

Science:

  • Expedition Earth Geography/Science Curriculum: We are going through this curriculum again for our 2nd time and it’s still so much fun! Its definitely my kids favorite part of our week. The lessons are engaging, informative, and hands-on. It’s also great for use with multiple grades together. It includes quizzes, reports, and tests for older kids along. We’ll walk along on the Great Wall of China, wander through the Amazon Rainforest, and climb the Egyptian Pyramids! Within this curriculum you’ll discover the sights and sounds of 31 countries across the globe. You’ll get hands-on with fun activities, crafts, recipes and more! So grab your passports, and get ready to go!
  • Abeka Science 1: Abeka science is also a good option if you’re looking for easy short lessons with not much fuss on your part. There are a few experiments included, though the curriculum as a whole is not that hands on. Lessons are short and to the point, and you really don’t need much prep work. It does cover an overview of a variety of topics in one year which is nice, and like I said it’s fairly easy with little prep work for you.
  • I also like the Usborne series of science books if you’re looking for something a little less structured. They have Science in the Kitchen, Science with Water, Things Outdoors, & Science with Air.  They’re a great way to include stand-a-lone science experiments without having to implement a full on curriculum.

 

Piano: (Totally optional, but I did want to share what we are using!)

  • Teach Yourself Piano: We have used this for a few years now, and my students have gotten to the point where they’ll need private lessons  if they want to go much further. I will say that it’s a fun and easy way to begin though and I don’t regret getting it. The lessons are short, and students learn songs right away which is a nice motivator. They do label your keyboard with number stickers then later on letters which help students learn.

 

P.E.:

  • Family Time Fitness: This is a great program if you are looking for more structure for PE at home. It includes daily lessons along with video tutorials for any activities you’re unfamiliar with. There are no special products required to complete the lessons most can be done inside or out depending on your whether with little props.
  • If you don’t want something formal, I would just plan in some outdoor free play time into your daily homeschool schedule. Go for a walk, head to the park, take a bike ride, play ball or Frisbee, etc. Just make it fun, and be diligent to get your kiddos out and active each day!

 

Vocabulary:

  • Vocabulary Workshop Grade 1 Level Red: I don’t normally teach vocabulary in first grade, however we did try it out this year. Honestly I probably would skip vocabulary until 2nd grade, but if you do want to add it in the vocabulary workshop is decent. It includes an online listening story which my daughter really enjoyed, along with corresponding worksheets using the vocabulary presented in the listening portion. Since some of the words were larger, I did most of the reading and she just drew lines to match the word with the image or sentence provided.

 

Final Advice for first grade:

When preparing your curriculum for first grade I think the best advice I can give you is to keep it fun and engaging. Pick lots of hands-on fun learning, and continue to get them excited about school. First grade is typically the grade where there is more structure required and a heavier work load that they may need time to get used to. Take it easy with them, but also make sure to be diligent to get whatever work that is required completed.

At this age start teaching them how to work diligently and begin teaching your student how to work a little more independently where appropriate. I like using the workbox system to help my students learn to complete tasks more independently. Here’s a video on our workboxes and how we use them in our school!

 

I hope this has helped you in planning your homeschool curriculum for first grade! Make sure to check out our other top homeschool curriculum picks here!  Also, stop by the COAH Community  to see what others use for first grade too! Have questions? Start your own discussion 🙂

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means I get a small percentage if you purchase through my link. That said, please know that I do NOT recommend anything unless we like and use it!!

26 Comments

  • Corine April 18, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to make these great informational blogs! I was looking into getting an art curriculum next year for my kids and stumbled upon Home Art Studio as well. I was able get a 3-pack bundle of my choice for a great price. They also have the complete set…https://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/home-art-studio/?source=225103 Thanks 🙂

    Reply
  • Laura April 18, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I’m confused about which A Beka book you are recommending for Langauge. We live in Pensacola, so we have access to the book store here where this curriculum is published (but it is the books the school also uses, not the homeschool versions). Can you give some more clarification? (Again, about the Langauge, not readers.)

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • erica April 21, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      I use the Abeka Letters and Sounds 1 workbook, and the Abeka Language 1 workbook. I also have the teacher’s manual for them, but for first grade you can get away without the TM in my opinion. I do use the Basic Phonics Flashcards that they offer for both first and 2nd grades. You’ll see which sounds to review on the tops of the worksheets.

      Reply
      • Kristina April 11, 2017 at 1:57 pm

        Erica, we are going to abandon AAR for first grade. My son is just not that interested in the games. He likes to pull out a workbook and move on to the next thing. Also my soon to be 4 year old will sit down with him and do workbooks which is even more appealing. Do you think A becka would be a better fit? Also I would only need to purchase the letter and sounds 1 and language 1 books along with the readers if we use a different handwriting and spelling program right? Just need to clarify because the women at A Becka told me I really need to use their whole program to get the benefit and hat they all work together.

        Reply
        • erica April 13, 2017 at 12:43 pm

          HI Kristina,
          yes probably if he’s not into the games and worksheets. We do the Abeka reading and then the Letters and Sounds workbook and the Language workbook as well. For handwriting and spelling I’m using the Spelling You See curriculum, it counts as both as far as I’m concerned and I’m really liking it, though Abeka does have a spelling curriculum. I do NOT use the entire Abeka curriculum and they tell you that because they want you to purchase their whole kit. Which is expensive. I only use the things from them that we like. Don’t listen to them, just use what you want for each subject and you’ll be fine 🙂

          Reply
          • Kristina April 17, 2017 at 2:54 pm

            Thank you so much!!! I feel like a much more confident buyer now!

      • Chelsea Ard August 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm

        I can’t find the Letters and sounds 1 workbook and the language 1 workbook…. i only find the whole kit thats for $212.00. Can you still only purchase those two books?

        Reply
  • Laura April 18, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Great list of suggestions! My first grader is really enjoying “Spelling You See: Jack and Jill”. I have been impressed with this curriculum. My oldest is doing “Spelling You See: Wild Tales” and her spelling has improved a lot!
    I love the History suggestions and want to look into those! Thanks for a great post!

    Reply
  • Brandi April 18, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Do you use Road Trip USA and Expedition Earth at the same time? Just curious! We are planning on using Expedition Earth next year but was wondering about history…

    Reply
    • erica April 21, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      The Road Trip USA and Expedition Earth are both full year curriculum that should be done separately. That said, I would not suggest doing both in the same year.

      I normally suggest starting with Expedition Earth, it is a little better for younger kiddos with more fun crafts, recipes, songs, and the like.

      The Road Trip contains a bit more memorization and handwriting work due to the state symbols, capitals, and major landmarks. So it’s a little better to do that the following year when your student is a bit older.

      Reply
      • Brandi April 21, 2016 at 8:56 pm

        Thanks Erica! Do you use a separate History or science curriculum when you use Expedition Earth??

        Reply
        • erica April 25, 2016 at 2:49 pm

          No, when we do EE we don’t do a separate science curriculum. This year I did try and add in a history, but it was just too much so we stopped mid-year and just finished out with EE 🙂 It’s not really necessary to do something extra with it anyway, I was just being overly ambitious haha!

          Reply
  • Monica April 18, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Thank you for your detailed list! I feel silly asking, what’s the difference between spelling and phonics? If you do All About Spelling 1, doesn’t that cover phonics? Sorry, new to this homeschooling!

    Reply
    • erica April 21, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      Hi Monica,
      Spelling is the ability to write a word from memory, while phonics is learning about the sounds letters make, and any special sounds as the English language is FULL of exceptions! So while they may seem like similar subjects, they’re really separate skills for your child. For example your child might be an excellent reader capable of sounding out words they see while reading. But then trying to write those words from their memory can be a much more difficult task to master.

      Reply
      • Lori May 17, 2016 at 9:09 pm

        Thanks so much Erica for all these tips. This is my 5 year old right now who is entering Kindergarten in September, he is a very good reader and sounds out word to try to spell them but he is still struggling to write. So i’m so confused on what curriculum to use for him since most are about teaching to read at this age. Do you have any advice for me? I was thinking on starting him on a first grade curriculum but not so sure if that would be best for my son. I appreciate any tips, thank you!

        Reply
        • erica May 18, 2016 at 2:58 pm

          I think I would suggest using the Spelling You See Level A curriculum for Kindergarten. There is writing in there and they practice words as well. So it’s enough for his level in my opinion. I don’t do a formal “writing” program as in working on writing stories etc. at that grade level because they’re still just figuring out how to write the letters properly 🙂 If you wanted you could some of my K4/5 Handwriting worksheets to help him get used to forming the letters as well, they’re free: http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2010/08/z-handwriting-worksheets.html

          Reply
  • Vickie May 18, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Do you not use the writing and seat work teacher’s manual for first grade from Abeka or do you feel it is better to start with writing in second grade? And I noticed you had the spelling and poetry Abeka book in with your books. Do you use that at all? I am wondering if you do any kind of memory work with your kids, like what is in the poetry section of that book.

    Reply
    • erica May 18, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      I don’t use Abeka writing. The seatwork activities seemed like busy work to me. I think they are meant for classroom situations where you might need to keep kids busy. I used Spelling You See for her handwriting this year, and she also did the Abeka spelling because the words are in the Letters & Sounds tests. I have used their poetry memorization before. But since she did Spelling You See they are memorizing poems with that, so I didn’t bother with the Abeka ones.

      Reply
  • Melody January 10, 2017 at 11:57 am

    I have a question about the Math U See curriculum. We try to get through 1 lesson section each week…but there are more than 5 worksheets for each lesson…do you make your kids complete all of the worksheets in 1 week or do you spread them out longer than a week? I hope this makes sense…just wondering if making them double up work to get it done in 1 week is too much work.

    Reply
    • erica January 16, 2017 at 10:59 am

      We do lessons A-D on Mon-Thurs, then the test. I only use the extra worksheets if someone needs more practice.

      Reply
  • Nicole May 1, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Hello, I have been searching for 1st grade curriculum and came across your blog. My 7 year old is doing 1st grade straight abeka and is doing great, so hes going on to abeka 2nd and I am not planning any changes. My 5 year old is doing abeka k and there are some issues..I’m not really sure if its the curriculum but its my best guess. He does NOT like school…and its only kindergarden! Getting him to sit down to write is especially a nightmare, and it has not been going well. I have been thinking of doing a curriculum change. He is not a fan of alot of worksheets, and he does not like to sit still for a long period of time. I like that you have listed some abeka and some not abeka so there are pros and cons between the two. I was wondering if you had any recommendations specifically to my situation. I have been looking all over!! Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • erica May 4, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Nicole,
      I would try to incorporate more hands on activities for him. Boys, and even just younger children don’t like to sit and do worksheets all day. But if you sprinkle in a few worksheets among more hands on activities that can help. You might want to add in some of my K4/5 kindergarten curriculum activities to finish out the year. For first grade you might look into All About Reading, All About Spelling, Math U See, and other curriculum that are more manipulative based. He will have to do some worksheets as well, but if you can mix in a blend of seatwork and activities that will definitely help!

      Reply
  • Stacey August 22, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    I’m very intrigued by your workboxed. I watched your you-tube video. I have first-grade twins this year. How do you use these workboxes for a first grader? Especially when you need to teach a new math/reading concept, etc? They can read pretty well but I’m just picturing them coming up to me all the time asking me to explain everything. Both kids definitely need more independence, especially my son.

    Reply
    • erica August 23, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Hi Stacey,
      They work really well even for younger kiddos! I used to put a “mom” card on boxes that needed my teaching. When they got to that box they just let me know 🙂 I suggest alternating boxes with independent/teacher needed subjects between your kiddos so only one needs you at a time.

      Reply
  • Amber September 15, 2017 at 7:16 am

    God bless you for making this page!!!!

    Reply

Leave a Comment