A Week of Charlotte Mason First Grade Lessons
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This is our first year of formal lessons now that we have a first grader!
We are following the Charlotte Mason method for the most part, but there are some times where I just do what feels right for us. During our week you will see short lessons, narration, living books, a wide variety of subjects, and lots of time outdoors.
I shared a breakdown of Our First Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Curriculum Choices, but it doesn’t really give a good look into what’s inside - what it looks like to use all of that stuff! I made an effort to document a full week of learning so you could see what a week in the life of a CM first grade looks like. We are using A Mind in the Light as the core of our curriculum (literature, poetry, history, geography, science and nature), and add onto it for the skill subjects and things we want to do (math, language arts, etc).
Here’s a look into the A Mind in the Light Year One guide for our current week:
The week I decided to document was one where my husband was on the other side of the country on a work trip! So although it turned out to be quite a “perfect” week of homeschool and giving it my all - I anticipated being wiped out by the weekend and probably needing an easy day of recovery the following week. Whenever I need that, we pull out a few books we haven’t read in a while, do lots of watercolor painting, play outside, and watch a nature documentary. It’ll all balance out in the end, right? I just wanted to add that disclaimer, because we did a lot this week and I don’t want to set some kind of expectation that it always goes perfectly every week! It does not.
Well now, that’s enough chit-chat.
Come on into our home for a week in our homeschool…
Calm App (8:15am)
We started our Monday sitting on the floor in the living room, still in our pajamas, listening to one of the kids meditations in the Calm App (free if you apply as a homeschool!). The meditations for children are very short and sweet and our six-year-old loves them. The three-year-old, on the other hand, crawled around on us while making meowing noises.
Note on Calm: If you do decide to download this app, we find the most valuable part of it not the kids meditations, but the kids sleep stories! Our three-year-old listens to them every day as she lays down for her nap which means there has been no fighting naps! Miracle.
Spelling You See - Level B, Jack and Jill
I just purchased Spelling You See - Level B after watching a great in-depth review by Homeschool On and knew it would fill a need we still had beyond the single letter a day handwriting book I thought would work for this year. To my delight, she loves it and asks to do it first thing each day! The method is fun because there’s lots of little stuff to do within the quick ten minute lesson.
I read the rhyme aloud while she claps out the syllables.
We both read it aloud together while she points to each word.
We follow a direction that is different each day, such as “underline the words that begin with a capital letter” or “circle the period and comma”. This is a gentle introduction to spelling patterns that will become more detailed over time. Using fun, erasable colored pencils makes this a special step in the process! (they come with the books)
She does a line of copywork from the rhyme.
She writes some single letters while saying the letter sound aloud.
Lastly, she does some simple dictation. I say the word aloud then she writes it. Right now there is visual help for that last step, but soon there won’t be.
We set a timer for ten minutes and she only does as much as she can get done well in that time period.
Read Aloud (8:40am)
Madeline by Bemelmans
I pulled a few picture books from our shelf or from our Sonlight Preschool book collection and put them into our school basket to read aloud in the mornings throughout the week. I do this to create intentional time with our three-year-old! Usually she is on my lap for this part, even though our six-year-old enjoys the reading just as much.
Artist Study (8:50am)
Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolios - Vermeer
Our artist for this term is Vermeer and we are using the Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolios. This is how we do artist study with a six and three year old:
We view one of Vermeer’s paintings every two weeks and keep it on display during this time. When a new painting is introduced, we spend a few minutes looking at it quietly.
Then, I turn the painting out of view and the girls describe what they can remember about the painting.
When they think they’ve said enough, I turn it back and they “see if they’re right” and notice more about it that they may have missed.
As they get older we will learn more about the artist and their life, but for right now I am keeping it simple and we are focusing on the art itself and learning to observe.
Since there is a new painting introduced every two weeks, the second Monday I pull the painting back down and instead of the same memory type game, I ask the girls to tell me a little story about the painting! If they have a hard time, I begin with something and let them take it from there and we just have fun with it - it’s usually something silly. This storytelling addition isn’t a CM method at all, it’s just something fun we did once and liked it, so we might keep it up!
Math U See - Alpha
The Math U See lessons come with a short video that we watch together when we move to a new lesson. Today we were continuing on with a lesson (we spend many days on one). There are around 7 worksheets that come with each lesson, which offers a week of practice on the concept, more or less. We do one sheet per day (or 10-15 minutes of working) until it’s easy for her, and then we jump ahead to the last two sheets which are review from previous lessons.
Sometimes we use the abacus too, so she can see the numbers in a different way. I find it helpful for her to have practice working problems out using both methods!
Natural History (9:12am)
Wild Life in Woods & Fields
We read Wild Life in Woods and Fields by Arabella Buckley once per week. Each short chapter focuses on a living thing naturally seen in woodland and field areas. We’ve read about a spider, a woodpecker, a squirrel… this week we read about the skylark. Usually we get cozy on the couch and read this one (yes, our three-year-old sits with us and listens too!) then our six-year-old narrates. (If you’re not yet familiar with narration, it is when the child tells back what they can remember from the reading.) Today, we sat at the table with it so that they could play with play dough while I read.
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
It’s literature time, also known as second breakfast. I find it so helpful to read aloud our chapter books while they’re eating - especially because these are readings for a first grader that a three year old is sitting through! I need to keep her happy so that there isn’t too must distraction or interruption. It still happens - and often! But we persist.
Just So Stories is actually not scheduled in A Mind in the Light - Year One for Literature. We are supposed to be reading Little House in the Big Woods but I’ve chosen to do that one as an audiobook in the car on our way to afternoon activities, and in it’s place I slotted Just So Stories because it is one I didn’t want to miss from the Ambleside Online - Year One list. This was our sixth week of school, but our first doing this! We read How the Whale Got His Throat and I found it pretty dramatic and fun to read!
Bikes for them, reading for me.
It was really gorgeous outside so we took advantage of it and had a bit of bike riding time. I took my book outside and watched them from the porch while they rode around. I’m currently reading East of Eden for the Oaxacaborn Book Club and the pace is a little fast for me so it’s getting me into the habit of reading a little bit each day to keep up with the schedule! It’s so good, though. It feels good to read something that stretches me in my own education, as well. I think it’s good for them to see me reading while they play, modeling that reading is an enjoyable thing to turn to in our free time.
Reading Lessons (10:35am)
100 Gentle Lessons in Sight & Sound
We are 35 lessons into 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound which is a beautiful Charlotte Mason method reading program. We have already seen the fruit of our labor! We spend ten minutes on these lessons - they feel so quick, so gentle. But the little bit of work each day has amounted to a big leap in her reading interest and ability. The lessons are based in nursery rhymes and use the words from the rhymes to teach both sight words and phonics with word families.
I read the rhyme aloud to her and pointed to the words, then handed her the word cards and read the word to her while having her find and point to the same word within the text on the page. Then, she wrote some of the words down on her whiteboard after reading them aloud to me.
Quiet Time (12:30-2pm)
The little one naps, I catch up on chores, the big one watches a show or plays independently.
Every day after lunch we have quiet time. Right now, it’s based around our three-year-old’s need for a nap. Once she stops napping we will still have quiet time, though! Sometimes I finally get to eat my lunch at this time, swap out the laundry, catch up on dishes, read, etc. But today, we still had history to do so after I finished some of my chores, we cuddled up on the couch to read together.
A Child’s History of the World by Hillyer
We read a chapter out of A Child’s History of the World (today it was Chapter 7). After she did her best to narrate, we went onto an interactive make a mummy website and went through the whole process of mummification! It was cartoon-like, so it wasn’t graphic. We also watched a virtual tour inside of a pyramid - so, so much different than I imagined it would be!
Afternoon Activity (4:00pm)
Martial Arts class is twice a week in the late afternoons, so on Monday and Wednesday after nap/quiet time we pack up car snacks and listen to audiobooks on our drive to class. We get home at around 5pm and it’s just dinner and playtime until it’s time for bed!
This is something that’s inspired by the Charlotte Mason method of teaching hymns, poetry, etc. but I’m doing what I want here and we are singing beautiful songs. I selected one I thought would be lovely for them to learn to sing, and we listen to it and sing along. Right now, we are singing Hey, Jude using the Kayla Estes Hey Jude cover. Once they know it well, we will move on to a new song! In the future, I want to have them learn to play their instruments along, too.
Math U See
We moved on to a new math lesson today, using the blocks to visualize subtraction. We almost always do math on the floor because it’s so much easier to spread out the books, papers, blocks, etc! We spend 10-15 minutes working through math problems on the sheet, and sometimes making some of our own.
Reading Lessons (10:10am)
100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound
In this reading lesson, I read the poem aloud to her while pointing to each word. Then, she made each of the words on the word page out of our Bananagram tiles. We practiced the “ee” sound and the “qu” sound.
Read Aloud (10:20am)
Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs by Gail Gibbons
The book Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs goes along with our history reading for the week, but it’s actually the book our three-year-old asked to read for her story time! So, two birds, one stone. It’s got so many interesting illustrations in it that we have pulled it out many times to use it for a visual along with A Child’s History of the World during the chapters on Ancient Egyptians.
The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen
A Mind in the Light has one Andersen fairy tale scheduled once per week. The Wild Swans is a long one so it’s split into two readings. I read part of it today while the girls ate a snack and played on cushions on the floor.
After I finished reading, we went to the table to do a narration for her little book of narrations. We don’t draw and record her narrations every time, just once in a while to provide some variety outside of standard “tell back” narrating. They’re really great to look back on and to see progress as well!
Spelling You See
Spelling You See is becoming a favorite part of our lessons - we both love it! I have to be involved for some of it, but while she’s writing, I am usually reading to our three-year-old or playing with her.
We went outside to get some fresh air, pull some weeds in the garden, and play with the freshly blooming mums before lunch!
Lunchtime & Literature (12:00pm)
Blaze and Thunderbolt by C.W. Anderson
Our library didn’t have one of our Literature readings from last week, so I decided to make it work in my own way and I found Billy and Blaze read aloud by someone on YouTube! The girls watched it while they ate lunch. And yes... they are still in their pajamas.
Natural History (2:00pm)
One Small Square: Woods
Quiet time was over but we had a little bit more school to accomplish. A Mind in the Light schedules One Small Square to be read over the course of many weeks. I love that, because there’s so much to learn within this one small book that it makes sense to linger over it. Today we read about predators, prey, and life cycles.
It works out perfectly to read this on Tuesdays because we don’t have afternoon extracurriculars so it makes it easy to get out into nature Tuesday afternoons after we read!
More Playtime! (2:30pm)
Imagination for them, reading for me.
We finished lessons so I sent them out to play in the yard. They were sitting on planks of wood under the tree, pretending they were on a boat in the ocean. Time for me to get some more of my own reading in! Continuing on with East of Eden. They played for well over an hour!
Nature Walk (4:45)
It was just so nice out, we didn’t want to go back inside yet. I decided to take advantage of the weather and extend our nature lesson by taking the girls into the woods on our favorite local trail. We ended up finding animal bones and a skull which disgusted and fascinated them. We also noticed this fallen birch tree that was full of holes - what is this from? She thinks it’s from a woodpecker drinking sap. (Note: I googled it and she’s right! Woah!)
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
We listened to a chapter of Little House in the Big Woods on the way home. I love using audiobooks to get in some extra reading. Since we don’t narrate after listening to audiobooks I try to pick books that aren’t from our main lessons but are more like “free reads”. This one actually is from our lessons... but I have to confess I do not love reading the books in the Little House series! So opting for audiobooks is better than skipping it altogether, I suppose!
I use Scribd for our audiobooks and love it! For how many audiobooks we listen to as we drive it is worth the membership for us. It’s $8.99 a month for unlimited ebooks and audiobooks. They don’t have a limitless selection, but they have probably 80% of the books I search for!
Hey Jude - Kayla Estes cover
We sing the same song a couple times a week so we sang it again this morning. I don’t have them sit with me and intentionally sing. Usually I sit and prep the other books and materials coming up next, they’re playing, and I put the song on and we sing while we work/play! It can really be that simple.
Who Has Seen the Wind? by Christina Rossetti
We have been reading this poem weekly to memorize it and today was the final day in the schedule which called for a “final recitation”. I decided I wanted to take a video of them saying each of their final recitations since it would be precious to look back on. After practicing it aloud once together, we recorded a video of the final “recital” of the poem!
Spelling You See
This isn’t technically a handwriting program but it has improved her writing so much already in just two weeks. I think it’s because the size/lines are just right for her, and the short amount of timed work encourages her to do her best since it won’t take long to do it well.
Math You See
More subtraction practice today. In the photo you’ll notice she’s re-writing the problems horizontally. That was her idea because she felt like writing on the notecards that they snuck out of my stash. I’ll allow it. 😉
Reading Lessons (9:15am)
100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound
Today I read the passage aloud to her, we read it aloud together while she pointed to each word, then she copied some of the words into our tray of salt. She had already just done copywork in the morning so offering her some “writing” that is not writing was more achievable for her!
Nature Study (9:30am)
Meanwhile, I pulled the nature tray down low so our busy three-year-old could explore it while we did reading and math. She played for a pretty long time just filling up those pieces of wood with little nature items as if they were plates of food.
Still Doing Math
The occasional dot-to-dots in the Math U See book are irresistible for our number-loving kid so she did a bit more math after reading lessons.
Snack Time (10:00am)
Second breakfast time! I’m probably microwaving my coffee in the background of this scene.
Play Time (11:00am)
Oh look! We got dressed! I’m loving this routine of them playing while I read. It is honestly a very new development because they ask for a lot of my attention most of the time when they’re outside. We are getting out as often as possible since cold weather will keep us in so much very soon.
Afternoon Activity (4:00pm)
It was an intense day of Martial Arts as they practiced for their upcoming belt test on Saturday!
The girls went straight to the backyard when we got home, and played for two solid hours at least. They came in to eat and went right back out. September in Michigan is incredible!
Ambleside Online 2018-2019 Folksong Suggestions
I use Ambleside Online’s suggestions for folk songs to learn. I look up each of the suggested songs and find a version that I love that’s on Spotify and make a playlist. Then instead of listening to one until we know it, we just listen to the whole playlist on shuffle one morning a week while I make breakfast. I love these easy routine-based ways to work music into our day.
Preschool Time (9:00am)
I don’t do a lot of intentional preschool things with our three-year-old since she does so much right along with the six-year-old but on her own level. But I do have a few things for her, like the Kumon cutting books! This is still a bit tricky for her so I might give her plain paper to cut next time. The lines can be frustrating if they aren’t ready yet.
Math U See
Math on the couch, today! I usually let her choose where she wants to sit and today we did cozy math. I don’t think of math as a very independent subject at this age, but because there are so many sheets of review in one lesson, once she knows what’s she’s doing and it’s just practice, I actually can let her just do her math without much help!
Reading Lessons (9:35am)
100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound
Once in a while, instead of moving forward to the next lesson, I hit pause and we review. Today, we pulled out all of the previously learned word cards and played the fly swagger game. She read a word aloud then slapped it with the swatter. If she read it right I put it in one pile (dead flies!) and if she didn’t get it right I made another pile (missed flies). I set the missed words aside to practice again another day. She loved the fast pace of this (once she read a word I replaced it with a new one, so she started going as fast as she could so she could watch me scramble! Haha!) and had so much fun she talked about it at bedtime.
Spelling You See
The fact that this is so open-and-go and takes only ten minutes means it’s the easiest of all our lessons to not skip! We have only had this for two weeks now... but we haven’t missed a day.
Usually we would only do handicrafts once per week, and the other hand-work lesson would be Paper Sloyd (which we love!!) but sometimes inspiration wins over the schedule and that is great!
We wanted to try finger knitting so we got inspired by the Rooted Childhood finger knitting project to make a little necklace. We didn’t use beads, she just knitted a little “pendant” then left a long tail so we could tie the end around and make it into a necklace! It was a super quick little project which is perfect for this age group. She made the necklace in five minutes!
The link to Rooted Childhood is an affiliate link which gives me a small commission if you purchase. I chose to be an affiliate because we genuinely love and enjoy it! You can use the code schoolnest10 to get 10% off.
Life Skills (11:15pm)
They killed a fly.
No this is not on my homeschool lesson list! Haha! But I had to show you. While I was finally getting ready for the day, they were playing with the fly swatter and actually killed a real fly with it. I was pretty impressed! Plus, they finally got that annoying fly away from my window.
Literature & Poetry (11:20pm)
When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne and The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter
A Mind in the Light schedules 2 poems a week by Milne so that you slowly read through many poems in When We Were Very Young. I’ve never read them before this and they’re beautiful and so nice to read aloud!
We read one Beatrix Potter story a week and A Mind in the Light offers such nice narration suggestions. Sometimes we simply narrate. But it is so great to be able to switch it up with other types of narrating. The girls played with play dough while I read, then our six-year-old narrated while making this little Peter Rabbit jacket out of the dough!
If You Lived Here
We read through the first half of this gorgeous book, If You Lived Here. We looked up a few of our favorite houses online to see what they look like in real life.
Afternoon Activities (3:00pm)
Wild + Free Nature Group
We meet with our nature group every other week at a local woodland trail. The scheduled time is from 3-4 but sometimes when it’s nice out it’s hard to pull the kids away by 5:30 to go home for dinner! Today was one of those beautiful days. We have kids from age 1-10 all playing happily together which is so beautiful to watch. They caugh newts which was exciting because we haven’t seen those there before!
When we got home I needed to hurry up and make dinner because they were starving from all the outside play! One of the best ways to do screen time is to have that double as Spanish time! They watched a couple episodes of Salsa Spanish (this is free on Georgia Public Broadcasting online) .
Friday was a short and sweet day for us because my husband came home right after nap time from a week of being away on a work trip! We were all so happy to see him that I didn’t see the point in fitting any more lessons in. We also had a late start because we picked up groceries in the morning right after breakfast.
Spelling You See
You know the routine with Spelling You See by this point since the lessons are the same each day. The last benefit I haven’t mentioned yet is it has also been acting as some nursery rhyme recitation time for both girls, but especially benefitting our three-year-old. She claps along to the syllables as we do and recites the rhymes with us!
Composer Study (10:45am)
Story of the Orchestra
This book is one that I bought from Book Outlet during one of their sales just because it sounded cool. I didn’t research it ahead of time and hadn’t seen it on any book list. But it ended up being on A Mind in the Light’s suggested book list for Composer Study! Yay! So, what we do is simply open the book up and see what composer is next (I keep a sticky note in there) and we read the page about them then listen to a few of their “greatest hits” on Spotify. This isn’t the CM method or how AMITL lays out composer study. It’s just the way I felt inspired to use the book for now and it has been easy and enjoyable!
The Book Outlet link is a referral link with an embedded code for $10 off of a $25 purchase! I always check Book Outlet before amazon because they have so many of the books I need for sometimes less than half the price. Especially the Scratch & Dent section!
Learning embroidery is something I really want for my girls. I love embroidery and used to do it pretty intensely for a few years before they were born! They don’t have the patience yet for long projects so I love the inspiration from Rooted Childhood to give me these bite-sized age appropriate projects.
I showed our six-year-old how to draw onto the back of her wool felt with a fine tip marker then cut out her silhouettes. She used fabric glue to tack down her felt shapes to the linen secured into an embroidery hoop. Finally, she used embroidery floss to add a bit of detail to the design. She added blades of grass underneath the tree!
I am going to admit right now that I haven’t been making the girls do chores every day. I would love to get into that habit but it takes self-discipline on my end to enforce it regularly and so far it hasn’t been a habit. Weekly is my goal so on Friday since it was a light day of school I handed them spray bottles and cloths and they cleaned any window they could reach... which was mostly just cleaning the sliding glass door over and over. So much spray! 😳😆
Afternoon Activities (2:30pm)
We have music lessons every other week at the home of a local musician and music teacher. We get to experience so many unique instruments because she collects them from all over the world! The focus is mostly on music theory, xylophone, piano, and ukulele. This is by far the best part of our week! We loooove our music teacher, she now feels like family to us!
Since I knew daddy would be coming home around the time we would be getting home from music class, I decided not to go on a nature walk like we usually would. The girls really needed some outside time so I turned on the hose and made a mud puddle for them in the grass so they could run wild and stomp around until daddy came home.
That’s a wrap of our week! There are obviously still some details missing, like our bedtime reading, small pockets of time where we fit in piano practice, how I plan and record our lessons... but I wanted to focus on the main bulk of what I would consider “school” in our days. No week looks the same, but this was a pretty good and full typical week!
If you have any questions about something we used, or how we do something, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email!