I can hardly believe that we are in our 3rd year homeschooling! My kids are now in 1st and 2nd grade, and I’ll be sharing our curriculum choices in this post!
If you’re new here, I consider us to be pretty eclectic with a Charlotte Mason influence. We use different curriculums for each subject, not one for all.
My main focus right now is reading, handwriting, math…and lots of free time!
We also have a 4.5 year old preschooler, and a newborn. So, giving myself a big ol’ break this summer and we will begin slowly, adding in one subject at a time until we find our groove.
If you’re new to homeschooling, you may first want to read How To Start Homeschooling For The Total Beginner and also my list of Pros And Cons Of Homeschooling.
If you’re coming from a traditional schooling of any kind, the first thing you’ll want to do is to take some time before homeschooling to deschool.
Homeschool is a lifestyle for us rather than just curriculum
Our best learning often happens throughout the day, in pockets, and sometimes unplanned when inspiration strikes.
I see the excitement when we do things like incorporate math games, when we keep lessons short, and when we play or read together just for fun.
Curriculum has a place here for sure, I’d be too insecure to do school without it. But it’s not everything.
We are learning to be curious, to love books and what they can show us, and curriculum helps me know what’s next and how to teach it if needed.
I’m learning that it’s ok if we are “ahead” of grade level in one area and “behind” in another. That I’m free to skip parts, press pause, or mix up the routine when needed.
My tendency is to over buy on curriculum, to overstuff how much I think we will do! So know that just because it’s on my list here doesn’t mean we will get to it all. Because we won’t!
How we plan to schedule our 1st and 2nd grade homeschool curriculum into the week
Like last year’s 1st grade and kindergarten curriculum picks, I plan to do math and language arts daily with both kids, and everything else will get put on a loop.
No worries if you’ve never heard of a loop before, here’s what it is and how to set up a loop schedule. This works really well when there’s a lot of extra stuff you want to get to but not every day.
I printed and laminated our loop schedule printable for me to fill out and change it as needed.
If we try to do too much each day, burnout follows quickly! A loop helps with that and then I don’t have to plan a schedule in advance, we just do the daily work plus next subject on the loop.
Ok, here’s my plan for each subject for both kiddos. Let’s go!
Our homeschool math curriculum: Singapore Primary
Around January of my son’s 1st grade year we switched to Singapore Math Primary US Edition. It’s known to be a strong math program using the methods they use in Singapore.
It was a leap for me because I’m not strong in math, and this program requires the parent to actively teach a new concept using manipulatives, then the textbook pictures, and then assign independent practice. Here’s the set of 6 Singapore books we are using for level 1.
I’d already almost completed our MLFALE by Masterbooks math for the year , but I wanted to go back to the 1st level of Singapore and “redo” 1st grade math their way.
We got through 1A (1st half of 1st grade) by the end of the year so we are technically a “behind” starting out in 2nd. But not really. Singapore is advanced, and their scope and sequence is different than what we switched from.
So while we hadn’t covered things like time or subtraction up to 20 with Singapore yet, we’d covered addition to 20 and reviewed a lot. Plus it’s recommended to start a full book behind where the placement test might put you so I’m glad we did that.
Important update about the new version “Singapore Primary 2022”
This summer a new Singapore primary math has been released called Singapore Primary 2022. It’s the updated version of the actual math updates in Singapore, with updated home instructor’s guide. You can order at Rainbow Resource.
They’ve combined the workbook and textbook into ONE consumable book! YAY!!! Now you’ll only need 2 books a semester instead of 3 (the “student workbook” and the home instructor’s guide)! This was my biggest complaint being new and I’m so happy they’ve changed that.
Plus pages are perforated so you can rip them out and easily organize by week. This will be helpful as I try to use our homeschool binder system.
I did order them for my kids! After using it for 1 week…I’m LOVING it. It’s colorful (the old workbook wasn’t) and easier for me to teach and follow. If you’re new to Singapore and homeschooling…I’d try using the new one.
Update 2 months in with new Singapore math:
Singapore Primary 2022 has been so much better for me as a mom than Primary U.S. version due to 2 books being used rather than 3 for each lesson. I can follow the home instructors guide easier and the student books are all in color which is great. Here’s a thorough look at the differences between Primary US version and Primary 2022.
I also ordered the “additional practice” book. It’s not necessary, but I like having it. My son doesn’t always “need” more practice…but there are days when I can’t teach him a new lesson. Too much going on with the other kids and baby, etc. On those days I can hand him a worksheet of something old he knows how to do and he can do it by himself.
Last year’s math
I shared our review of Math Lessons For A Living Education level 1 & 2 that we used for my kindergartener 1st grader last year. It was straightforward, short, and does a fantastic job at real world math.
I just had a few concerns long term and wanted to see if another program might suit him better. There are things I really miss but I think it was the right choice for us.
Learning addition and subtraction math facts the Singapore way
He was big time struggling with math fact memorization (8+4= he count on his fingers for that) which was slowing him down as we started borrowing and carrying numbers on paper. I didn’t know how to teach math facts besides flash cards! But there is another method!
Singapore teaches kids to visualize making groups of 5 or 10 to figure out mental math for addition/subtraction. So even if you forget memorized facts, you can figure it out. Example if the problem was 8+4=? Kids would borrow 2 from the 4 to make a new mental equation of 10+2=12.
P.S. we spend 4 weeks before beginning Singapore and used Kate Snows’s addition facts that stick…Run and get this! I think every 1st and 2nd grader should use this. She uses the same method as Singapore…and it was easy and fun to use!
Math games we use perfect for 2nd grade
- Math Noodles
- Clumsy Thief(there are versions of this that practice addition to 10, 12, 20, 25, 50, and 100)
- Card games
Our language arts curriculum: Brave Writer & Handwriting Without Tears
Last year, we used (and liked) Language Lessons For A Living Education (LLFALE) level 1 and started on level 2 because we finished early. I really liked the gentleness of it! It’s affordable, easy to teach, and made me feel like I was “doing enough” with clear daily worksheets. However I’m switching it up.
I am leaning towards a Charlotte Mason inspired approach to language arts this year. Things like holding off on a ton of formal grammar for a couple more years.
And focusing more on reading quality books, copywork, and oral narration for this age rather than a ton of written worksheets.
1st & 2nd grade language arts
This year we are trying Brave Writer for language arts and creative writing! We will be using their Darts for literature/language arts, & Jot it Down for creative writing! More on that in a minute. I cannot wait!
If you’ve never heard of Brave Writer, it’s a Charlotte Mason style language arts program written by Julie Bogart. She’s a professional writer and homeschool mom of 5 grown kids. You may have heard of her book The Brave Learner.
I’m also going to review how to correctly write each letter using Handwriting Without Tears, since I’ve seen some wonky bad habits here lately! One page a day, or about 10 minutes.
We will also continue reading through our Dash into Learning books with my 1st grader.
What are Brave Writer “Darts”?
My 2nd grader (newly 8 years old) will be using the “Darts”, a literature based language arts program for kids who read and write. It’s for kids ages 8-10, but I may have my 6.5 year old 1st grader join in as she’s able. She’ll definitely join on the read alouds and copywork.
Each month long dart contains one read aloud (our 1st one we chose was House At Pooh Corner), grammar, copywork, and discussion questions! It’s made to last 4 weeks or so.
Some parents use one here and there along with other language arts programs (what we may end up doing). Others JUST use Darts but more of them in the year.
Update on the Darts 2 months in: I LOVE our new language arts! See my full review on the Darts and how to use them here.
What is Brave Writer’s “Jot It Down”?
This is the language arts for kids who can’t read and write yet, or are newly reading and writing. Kids are encouraged to tell stories that the parent “jots down” using some of the included projects. I’m having my 1st and 2nd grader do this together.
Right now they are just starting the Fairy Tale project. We read a couple versions of Princess and the Pea. Then they colored a picture of a scene, and I wrote down their retelling of it for them. We will do that for a few more Fairy Tales and then staple their book together.
There are 10 projects to choose from, and of course we don’t have to do all. Update: Read my full Jot It Down review here.
It’s actually a lifestyle I’m finding! Parents are encouraged to expose kids to many forms of language expression like poetry, music, art, recitation, and orally retelling stories.
When their handwriting (practiced through copywork) can catch up with their storytelling…they’ll start writing down more by themselves.
I love this because my oldest will be 8, and is a VERY reluctant handwriter. He will write the minimum I tell him every time, and dislikes making a story because he’s focused on making it as short as possible so he doesn’t have to write.
Our history curriculum: Masterbooks & Beautiful Feet Books
This year’s history will look a lot like this: I’ll be reading out loud using living books (books and text that make stories come alive…not just dry facts and information) and we will be talking about what we read!
Here’s what I’ll be using.
Beautiful Feet Book List
I love Beautiful Feet Books!
We will continue to read aloud books on early US history through Beautiful Feet Books, a Charlotte Mason style history curriculum. It’s recommended from k-3rd grade. Each book makes history come alive! I love how the books highlight ONE person or even in time in a story form.
We didn’t use the teacher’s guide (around $30) or the free picture packs you can print. There’s one picture for each lesson if you use the teacher’s guide.
I think the teacher’s guide would be helpful if you want suggested questions to ask about the books, or cut and glue and color ideas for the pictures, or even just help knowing which ones to read first.
We went totally out of chronological order, but learned so much just reading and talking about the books! It was simple for me to keep up with that way and FREE.
If I could do it differently, I’d probably put up a timeline on the wall with names and events (which I’m doing this year).
America’s History 1 from Masterbooks
This year I bought America’s History 1 from Masterbooks (around $30) plus their timeline (around $7). I’ll treat this as a read aloud and put it on a loop schedule so we get to it 2-3 times each week.
It reads more as a story and has lots of pictures inside.
I want to use this along with Beautiful Feet Books because those REALLY engaged my kids and gave them an in depth feel of what it was like at a snapshot in time. This just kind of ties it all together.
It’s not recommended till 3rd grade but we will go slowly! Watch my YouTube flip through of it here.
I’m not worried about how much we get through! I’d rather them enjoy it It’s a tool to give me direction and will hopefully open up some rabbit trails. I’ll throw some US history out there and some will stick!
I don’t expect them to remember everything…it will all get covered again later. I remember little if any US history from my public school past so I’ll be learning right along with them.
It will be the “spine” of our history for the next couple years if I like it! And there’s a 2nd and 3rd book after that to continue American history. Here’s a peek at the inside so you can see the style.
We didn’t do any official geography last year other than games and pointing to/talking about places on our US map! Since the kids are so young, I opted out of a geography curriculum again this year.
We’ll continue to keep it fun by playing games, learning more about our state, (and any that we visit), and making an effort to learn where in the world some of the places are we talk about. We’ll review:
- Names of the continents
- Names of the oceans
- Facts about our state
- Learn the state names that touch ours
Games we have for 1st & 2nd grade geography fun
- Scattered States of America (my 1st & 2nd grader play this solo even)
- Guess in 10 States of America
- World Puzzle (my kids love this one)
- Continent Race Trivia (ages 7+, you’ll learn flags of many countries, capitals, and which continents they belong to, etc)
Our science curriculum
We will do science as a family once or twice a week pulling from two resources. We’ll use a nature study curriculum, and a Life for Beginners book with 2-3 pages per topic covering basics on animal life, plant life, and the human body.
Life for Beginners by Masterbooks
I just flipped through and am so glad we got this! The explanations are SUPER basic. It’s made for grades k-2 and i’d say that’s just perfect.
My 2nd grader may already know more on the plant and animal topics just from reading books and watching Wild Kratts. But we’ve never covered the human body before and he’ll do the extras like crossword puzzles, copywork, and “try this” sections.
Masterbooks teaches from a Christian perspective in all of their materials. I’ve been really impressed with their science books!
Last year we got part way through Adventures in Creation by Masterbooks. We didn’t finish it all, so I may pull from that this year too.
Now that I have Life for Beginners I wish I just used that last year. It has some overlapped topics, and doesn’t contain the part I skipped…which was Cane and Abel talking about those topics.
I found it weird to pretend that bible characters were asking their parents about science topics…and don’t like pretending to know what they said or didn’t say.
Exploring Nature with Children
We are going on year 3 of Exploring Nature with Children, an easy to follow nature curriculum. Each topic comes with:
- A nature walk activity and things to look for
- Book recommendations (both fiction and non fiction)
- A poem
- An art piece to look up
- Extension activities for older kids
If you want to be able to learn about things like the trees and ponds in different seasons, honeybees, blossoms, mushrooms, moss, mushrooms, the moon, earthworms, evergreens, caterpillars, and more…this is perfect for this age. Skip weeks if you need…it’s no big deal!
Also, follow Raising Little Shoots on Instagram to see how others use this program.
Art, Music, and Sports
It’s strange to be in a season where I’m no longer just keeping kids alive and going to play dates. I feel the weight of giving my kids a skill set. I don’t know out how to let them follow an interest without spreading me too thin…cause 4 kids has me feeling maxed out.
Here’s my idea of what we will do.
Online Watercolor Videos
I am SO excited to have found step by step watercolor videos I like to do with my kids. It’s relaxing.
It was my goal to learn watercolor last year…but it just didn’t happen. I needed hand holding.
A friend originally told me about Lily &Thistle, and we opted to buy 1 month of the watercolor class called Nature’s Art Club.
Annnd, sadly I got through one myself but never made time to sit down with my daughter. I realized I don’t like buying monthly access because I feel pressure to get my money’s worth before it expires.
Each of her watercolor courses comes with a monthly option OR a lifetime option.
So when I saw a sale, I bought the Watercolor School lifetime access. There are SO many fun and beautiful tutorials. No experience needed.
Hannah paints with you, we press the space bar often to pause, and I feel like this is some of the best time spent with my artsy daughter.
There’s just so much in there! From color mixing, to techniques on brush strokes, to blending, she teaches you how to do it.
Try out her free bird calendar tutorial to get an idea of what it’s like to learn to paint with her. It’s super cute and my 6 year old loves it. Update 2022: Check out all the birds we got to watercolor this year together!
I really haven’t started anything with music with our kids. It’s overwhelming to me!
I thought I’d just teach them piano since I took lessons for so long. But I haven’t played in about 10 years, and I’ve just decided part of homeschooling for us is going to be outsourced.
I don’t have the desire to teach our kids piano…so if they’re going to learn an instrument it will be with a private teacher when we can afford one. If you’re interested, I’ve heard from 2 homeschool friends that Hoffman Acadamy is great online and FREE.
For now, I’m asking the grandparents to buy them a nice harmonica for their birthdays 😉 It’s such a fun and small little instrument!
We tried our first sport for both last year…basketball. They LOVED it. Of course. My husband and I also played growing up and enjoy watching them play, so we will do that again for sure.
The plan is also to put them both on swim team next summer too. I see that as a life long skill that will burn off some energy too.
My 8 year old will be doing a rock climbing class, and we will see what else (if anything) we can fit it this year.
What we are doing with my 4.5 year old for preschool
My preschooler spends a lot of his time building epic Lego spaceships…way better than I could do! He also draws, digs, and loves to play with his imagination.
I feel pretty stretched right now with a newborn, so I’m not sure how often and when we will do formal preschool activities.
But my book Playing Preschool by Busy Toddler is SO fun and my daughter loved what we did with her so much that I’m determined to do some of the activities with my boy. At a minimum I’ll get the read alouds from each unit and do some of the fun sensory and alphabet activities.
Here’s my full review on Playing Preschool curriculum. And also my opinion on how long preschool should take each day.
How much does it cost to homeschool?
I wrote up a list of what we spent homeschooling ONE kid for kindergarten. It included:
- gas money for extra driving
- art supplies
- co-op fees
- cover school fees
- zoo membership
- science center membership
All that was around $1200 (extra gas beeing like $400 of that) however now we are buying curriculum for two kids and a preschooler so I’m sure it’s gone up! Here’s our homeschool supplies if you’re interested.
If you’d like a post on our homeschool expenses this year, let me know below. I can comb through the costs for a total. I think it’s similar except I bought more curriculum with two kids. Some was reusable though, so it may even out.
Update on 1st and 2nd grade mid year 2022: How it’s going
Here’s my midyear update on what we used and didn’t, what worked well and didn’t, etc.
Thanks for following along and I hope you have some new things to try this year! Remember what works for us may not be your fav and that’s ok too.
Give yourself room to try it out and freedom to switch if you don’t like it 🙂 Be sure to pin this post so you can find it later! And I’d love for you to come subscribe to my new YouTube channel for homeschool videos.