First Grade Homeschool Curriculum Review

Ambleside Online Bible Curriculum Review First Grade homeschool

Remember when I wrote our curriculum round up blog post and promised to write a full review? Well, here it is, as promised! Feel free to reference the original blog post for the complete break down; in this one I'll go subject by subject and tell you honestly, what we loved and what we didn't! 

(The spine of our curriculum this year was Ambleside Online Year 1. This curriculum covers many of our subjects, but some of them I substituted for alternatives.)

First Grade Curriculum

Bible: We still haven't finished The Child’s Story Bible by Vos. This was the second school year we've been in it and it is lovely. But we will be wrapping up the last of it in the coming school year. We did do New City Catechism pretty consistently (memorizing one a week) but we will also be finishing this next year too.

My kids especially liked the memory songs from NCC but some of the longer ones were a struggle to memorize in a week. When I was planning last year, I didn't realize that my oldest would have homework for our Bible Study Fellowship class, so we spent two mornings a week completing homework for that. This is why we didn't get quite as far as I would have wanted in what I had planned but I liked that he was getting as much out of BSF as I was.  

History: We used Beautiful Feet’s Early American History and most of the planned readings from Ambleside Online for Vikings History. It's hard to give a review of the Early American History, because we used it very much like a book list. They have questions and notebooking assignments for each reading and we didn't do that. We just narrated the readings and, if there was a need for greater discussion, used the guide for questions.

The pace of the assigned readings felt very fast--like we were breezing by huge chunks of history--so I'm glad we're going to be using this same guide for a second year. I really liked the books listed and my kids connected with this program more than I think they would have with the history assigned to Year 1 with Ambleside Online, which is why I made the switch. I honestly can't wait to use this again for next year! I may incorporate more notebooking work with this for Year 2. We shall see!

Geography: We read Paddle to the Sea and my son loved it! The map work was his favorite part (we bought our maps from Beautiful Feet books) and we loved planning our family vacation as a tie in to the book. I did feel like the Ambleside Schedule had the readings spaced out too far, but otherwise it was great.

Nature Study: Our plans for nature study went really well for the fall and early winter. Midwinter was bleak (it was an incredibly cold winter!) but we made the most of it. We visited a lot of nature centers and kept up with our nature club as best as we could with the long and cold winter we had! Watercoloring in the nature journal was a highlight! My three year old made it tricky some days but we all enjoyed it a lot! 

boy drawing in nature journal

Math:  Math-U-See was great for us this year. We were in Alpha this year and we're planning to stick with it next year with Beta.  It seemed to be the right amount of challenging. We didn't do every page in the book though because it got quite repetitive but I liked that my oldest could complete this work on his and that it gave him a lot of practice. 

Language Arts (reading and copywork): We’re finished the phonics program with Dash into Reading, and then added in Explode the Code. My son really likes these workbooks (probably since they're the only ones we use) and I like that he has something to do independently.

His oral narration skill improved greatly throughout the year, as did his handwriting! We worked on reading practice every day after we completed the Dash books with early readers level 1 and 2. 

Literature: Some of the scheduled readings from Ambleside Online were not our favorite at the beginning, but surprisingly became more fun through the year. Just So Stories had a weird pacing to it for me, so we listened to them on audio until I caught the hang of it more! My oldest and I especially loved Parables from Nature, though it took us more than one or two readings to get through an assigned chapter. 

Foreign Language, Folk Songs, Poetry, Hymn Study, Folk Songs, Artist and Composer Study: All of these things went as planned. They were nice additions and I'm glad we included them in our studies this year! Many of these subjects we did through our co-op or on youtube, supplementing with books and printed artwork, etc.

Next year we will be keeping the same pacing with 3 artists and composers for the whole year and 1 new hymn a month. We will also be continuing ASL because my oldest really enjoyed it! 

Handcrafts: We did a really good job of doing seasonal activities from Rooted Childhood in the fall, but we struggled after Christmas. Christmas time we did a lot of activities from our Christmas curriculum and then it was hard to get back into the rhythm. This subject is a challenge for me to feel motivated to do, and it showed! We will try and focus on this a little more intentionally over the summer! 

Solfa: Children of the Open Air on youtube was an amazing resource for us to learn Solfa! It surprised me, but all three of my kids loved this subject more than almost any other!

Other: Swimming Lessons, Co-Op, Bible Study Fellowship and church were wonderful add-ons to our curriculum! We started a book club mid-year and that was a blast as well! Probably a highlight of our year! 

My son said his favorite subject was Geography and Drawing (one of our handcrafts) and I think my favorite was History, Geography and Literature! My two-turned-three year old made things a bit of a challenge, so I'm definitely looking forward to her being a year older in the fall! #toddlers, am I right? 

I hope it was helpful to hear how things shook out for our year. We're planning on continuing most of our curriculum choices into this next year, so I think that's a good sign! Let me know if you have specific questions on any of this with a comment here or a DM on instagram! Happy Homeschooling!

homeschool 101 graphic.

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  • Britany on

    Thank you so much for this post! This is EXACTLY what I’m thinking of doing next year for my daughter who will be 6. I love AO for all the beauty subjects, but I dont love the way history is laid out and I would love to combine all my kids once they’re all in school. I’ve been considering using Beautiful Feet for History, but just the schedule and books and doing narration instead of the questions in the guide. I am worried it will be A LOT (both for me and my daughter) between everything we’ll be doing in AO and the history for Beautiful Feet. Was it too much? Did you end up taking anything out for either program? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and any help/insight/advice you could give. Thanks in advance!!

  • Little House Learning Co. on

    Hi Gabby! We definitely did not do every subject every day. We followed the Ambleside Online schedule for the most part, subbing in the subjects we chose alternative materials for (like history). I have a highlight on First Grade, as well as Planning that you may find helpful!

  • Gabby on

    I appreciate this blog post as a solid reference for how to incorporate Ambleside Online as this will be our first year. I am still trying to get a handle on it all!
    I am wondering if you do all the things everyday or are certain subjects more “beauty loop” and you cycle through them throughout the term?
    Love what you’re doing!
    P.S. i am happy to check any resources you might have on IG highlights so you aren’t repeating yourself :)

  • Inge Katrina on

    Thanks for the insight to your year and on what worked for you!

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