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.
- Social Studies
Okay, let’s get started! Here are my top picks for our first grade curriculum choices!
- 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
- Handwriting Practice
- Alphabet review
- 0-100 Number practice
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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!
- 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.
- 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 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!!