December 13, 2005

Our First-Grade Curriculum

We had to submit a curriculum to our local school district office (Concord, NH) when we began homeschooling our first-grade son. We weren't able to find many samples online apart from Carol Narigon's Unschooling Curriculum. So we used Carol Narigon's curriculum as a basis, and here's what we submitted:

Nathaniel will use a developmentally appropriate, integrated curriculum. This will be planned largely by his parents, and modified throughout the year to accommodate Nathaniel's growing and changing interests. We will cover the following:

LANGUAGE ARTS (READING, WRITING, SPELLING, AND LANGUAGE MECHANICS): Our long term goal for Nathaniel is to read more easily, to read for pleasure and for information, to gain exposure to a wide variety of genres, and to be able to reflect critically on what he reads. Also, we want him to gain skill in the writing process and to enjoy writing for self-expression and to disseminate information. Examples might include a letter to his grandparents, an online book review, or a brief science report on a model airplane he built.

To those ends, he will read from self-chosen and parent-chosen literature on a daily basis. He will engage in reflection on those writings in one or many of the following ways: journal writing, book reviews, conversations, illustrations, and drama based on the stories. Nathaniel will read non-fiction materials as needed to support his chosen areas of interest. He will make frequent visits to our library to learn how and where to find written resources, and will also learn how to use the Internet to gain information. He will reflect on these writings in some of the ways mentioned above and also in ways that will flow into other subjects such as science, history and math.

As for the mechanics of English, he will be working on phonics, vocabulary and spelling mainly using the McGraw Hill Grade 1 Comprehensive Curriculum. Some of the topics covered under phonics are: consonant blends, alphabetical order, and plurals. The spelling and vocabulary section of the text includes an introduction to nouns and verbs, words used to describe clothing, food, weather and the body, as well as colors and animals. The text also includes the introduction of such concepts as homophones, synonyms, antonyms, abbreviations, and punctuation. The reading comprehension section of the book looks at classifying, sequencing, and following directions. Nathaniel's daily reading will expand on and enhance this text. We will assess his progress in spelling and alphabetization with regular quizzes. Likewise, his work in other areas (e.g. science and history) will depend on what he is learning in Language Arts.

MATH: Nathaniel will learn math concepts through his hobbies and play as well as through textbook study. For example, he might calculate the measurements and measure the wood in order to build a birdhouse, or he might measure out ingredients for a kitchen recipe, or we might use his Lego bricks to teach set theory and multiplication. In addition, he will use the Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Illinois Mathematics textbook. (Nathaniel used this book at his public school in Illinois before we moved to New Hampshire in mid-October.) Topics covered include: one and two-digit addition and subtraction, place value, counting by twos, fives, and tens, time and money, measurement, and an introduction to fractions. Our goal for Nathaniel regarding math is to gain a conceptual knowledge as well as an appreciation for its application in daily life.

SCIENCE: Nathaniel will continue to observe, communicate and compare aspects of earth, life and physical science. He will observe, describe, and chart weather and seasons. Nathaniel will compare and classify objects, conduct simple experiments in physics and biology, and describe the characteristics of living and non-living things. He will keep a science notebook that will contain his observations, conclusions, and the like. Nathaniel will read books and magazines such as (Zoo Books) and view science videos to introduce a topic of interest or to enhance his understanding. We will take him on practical field trips as well as visits to museums. Our goals for Nathaniel are: to appreciate the contributions of scientific advancements in his everyday life, to begin to develop a scientific understanding of the world around him, to maintain his curiosity, to develop an experimental mind, to begin to learn the scientific method, to appreciate the importance of environmental conservation, and to develop an appropriate respect for the work scientists perform.

HISTORY, GOVERNMENT, & GEOGRAPHY: Nathaniel will read historical fiction and non-fiction texts (focusing primarily on early American history), will go on local field trips to understand New Hampshire's place in American history, and will travel to nearby New England sites and museums to supplement his readings. The reading and travel will involve the use of time lines and maps. By creating a crude map of downtown Concord's Main Street, Nathaniel will become more familiar with his new home, will explore the types of businesses in our city, and will better understand how a map works, i.e., directions, scale, points of interest, etc. Through the use of a puzzle showing our fifty states, he will see the layout of our country and be able to identify where he lives now, where he lived prior to New Hampshire, and where we've gone on day trips and vacations. Our goals for Nathaniel are to appreciate the flow of history, how seemingly small events can build to dramatic conclusions, and to understand how historical events are connected. Other goals are to gain an appreciation for the breadth and diversity of America's geography and culture, to learn that rights and responsibilities go along with U.S. citizenship, and to learn that the U.S. Constitution codifies these rights and responsibilities into law.

HEALTH: Health, physical education and safety will be covered as part of our daily living and also in connection with some science lessons. Nathaniel will learn about his body and how to care for it by understanding hygiene, safety during sports and play, and home safety. He will explore his physical environment by playing/exercising every day, by understanding what makes a healthy meal and then helping to plan one, by discussing emergency preparedness (e.g. knowing the procedure for calling 911, memorizing his address and phone number, knowing whom he should approach in the event of separation from his parent(s)), and by understanding what privacy means concerning his body. This year it is Nathaniel's wish to begin fencing lessons, to continue with swimming lessons, and to perhaps begin gymnastics lessons. Our family enjoys the outdoors and is looking forward to spending more time hiking, fishing, skating and the like now that we've moved to New Hampshire. Our goal is for Nathaniel to appreciate the gift of a healthy body and to begin to learn how to care for it.

ART & MUSIC APPRECIATION: Nathaniel will learn to recognize and appreciate art in his daily surroundings. Additionally we will seek out visual arts and music via field trips to museums, listening to CDs, attending plays and concerts, and performing library and Internet research. Through singing, painting, drawing, and sculpting with Play-Doh, Lego, and found objects, Nathaniel will learn that art can express an artist's feelings and evoke feelings in a viewer or listener. We want to begin teaching him art history and appreciation by exposing him to the works of recognizable painters, sculptors, and composers such as Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and Mozart. We want to relate art to his other studies by helping him to appreciate the role of public art: for example to see in the Statue of Liberty a political symbol, a historical artifact, and a scientific achievement, as well as an aesthetic expression. Our goal is for Nathaniel to begin to recognize and appreciate the art of known painters, composers, and sculptors, to understand the role of art in public and private life, and to develop his own artistic expression.

All information provided herein is considered privileged and confidential. Any further disclosure of this information requires written parental consent prior to such disclosure.

Camille and Michael Hardt


deb said...

I liked your article titled Our first Grade Curriculum. I see that
you do unschooling. Math I guess is done mostly through play no
workbooks. What else can be done
Deb Cross Homeschooling In Jaffrey
New Hampshire having trouble with
Math for First Grader He hates workbooks

Michael Hardt said...

We're actually not unschooling. When we had to present a curriculum to the state, we based ours on an unschooling curriculum.

We're also struggling with Nathaniel's boredom with math workbooks. We're trying to use Lego bricks, construction projects, map exercises, and classroom manipulatives to get him over the hump, but I believe that part of the problem will be solved with flash cards. When you know that 7 + 8 is 15 without having to think about it, those workbook pages go a lot quicker.

He's very interested in a video game called Pikmin right now, and--although it's "entertainment," not "edutainment"--it contains a lot of arithmetic reinforcement. I think he's just beginning to realize that he can do better at the game by adding and subtracting comfortably.

I'm eager to hear what works for you, Deb.

amiereker said...

I am a teacher but am now tutoring at home because I have my own young children to take care of. The students that I work with are discuraged by school and I have to try to light that fire for them again and get them back on track. I do this by playing games tracking their progress and being very up front with them as to why they need to learn the what they are learning and surprise them when they find out that something they are very interested in can relate to what they are doing in school. I tutor elementary-high school and would love to share ideas or suggestion on how to get a child to love school again and have success in their classroom.
Amie Reker
Grand Island, NE

Jessica said...

I know that this post was 2 1/2 years ago, but I'm so thrilled that you posted this.

As a "newbie" to homeschooling (this past year is my first year), I was extremely dissatisfied with Sonlight Curriculum, and decided to use a hodge podge of curriculum for my son in 1st grade. I stumbled across your blog, and I am ecstatic about it! As it appears that your goals and plans were very similar to what mine are, with a few changes. Thank you, thank you for posting this!

Btw - are you still homeschooling? How is it going?
Thanks. :)