End of Year First / Second Grade Homeschool Curriculum Review

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A review of the curriculum we used for our second year of homeschooling, a combined first and second grade year.  Suitable choices for gifted education.

Well, we've almost made it to the end of the school year!  We'll be finishing up a few subjects during the early weeks of summer, but things are definitely beginning to wrap up.  It's always great to look back and see what we've covered over the school year, and also to take some time to think about how well those choices worked out.  Our oldest daughter is officially in first grade, but since some of her curriculum is classified as second grade, I consider it a combined 1st/2nd grade school year for her.  I hope that our First / Second Grade Homeschool Curriculum Review will help you as you make your own curriculum choices.

Several months into the school year, we enrolled Lena in a 3-day-a-week homeschool co-op.  As a result, our whole homeschool plan went out the window!  We dropped some of the things that we had been doing at home, picked up some new things that her co-op required, and did our best to blend the two programs.  Luckily, lots of our original choices were being used by the co-op, too, so we didn't have to purchase a whole new set of curriculum.

Our choices have always been based on The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Bauer.  Of course we make changes to suit our needs, but mostly like the curriculum plans provided.

Here is my original First / Second Grade Homeschool Curriculum post, and while you're here, be sure to take a peek at our Kindergarten / First Grade Homeschool Curriculum from last year and read a final End Of Year Review of those choices. 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Math

Saxon Math 2, part of homeschool math curriculum choices for first or second grade

This year we finished Saxon Math 2 at home, and will do a bit in Saxon Math 3 during the summer to keep things moving along.  I'm still a big fan of the Saxon program.  Kids get lots of practice, the lessons are straightforward and easy for parents to teach, and concepts are introduced in gentle and logical way.  I feel like Saxon math produces strong math students.

Horizons math, part of homeschool curriculum review

We also had the chance this year to use Horizons math, since her co-op uses this curriculum.  The academic level is high, there are bright and colorful pictures in the workbook, and Lena really seems to like it.  Since I don't teach it myself (Lena just completes her assigned workbook pages), I can't say much more about it.

Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.     Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.

We planned to use both Complete Book Of Time And Money and Lollypop Logic this year, but didn't really get to them.  I still like these books as supplements, and we will probably poke around in them some during the summer. 

Copywork / Handwriting

Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.

I continue to be SO impressed with the Writing With Ease program by Susan Wise Bauer.  Over the course of a year, Lena's ability to listen to a passage and come up with a concise, accurate summary has improved dramatically.  It provides daily practice, gently leading comprehension questions, and compelling stories to help teach the critical skill of pulling important information from and synthesizing texts.  As a former middle school teacher, I can't tell you how important this skill is!  We are definitely sticking with this program next year.  

Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.

Lena was super excited to learn cursive this year, so we planned to use Ready-Set-Learn Cursive Writing Practice.  She ended up learning a few letters, and how to write her name but once she started at the co-op we were just too busy to stick with it.  It's on the back-burner for now.

Handwriting Without Tears, as part of homeschool curriculum review

Lena's co-op uses the Handwriting Without Tears program.  I think it's fine, but nothing special.  The exercises are simple and don't take long to complete.

Grammar

Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.

This year we continued to enjoy using First Language Lessons For The Well Trained Mind: Level 2 by Jessie Wise.  It is so easy to use that you don't need to do any prep work ahead of time.  My only complaint is that it is repetitive, but we can easily skip over lessons or parts of lessons that we don't need.  We plan to continue working through this program next year.

Spelling

Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.

We planned to use  Spelling Workout C and  Spelling Workout D for spelling this year.  Several weeks into the school year, however, I realized that we didn't really need to work on spelling.  Lena happens to be a good speller- this felt like busy work for us.  We will certainly pick up a spelling curriculum when and if I feel like we need to.  I do still like the program and think its a good choice for kids who don't need a lot of spelling practice; it just wasn't necessary for us.

At Lena's co-op, the kids just have a list of words that they learn each week for a weekly spelling quiz.  The words are taken from various readers and their phonics program.  They spend time in class writing the words several time, illustrating them, and alphabetizing them.  That system also seems to work well!

Reading


I didn't do an official reading curriculum with Lena this year.  Instead, I chose several books to read together this year.  As the year went on, I felt like I was completely dropping the ball on working through this list.  But now that I look back at it, I realize that we actually read almost all of these (plus several others that weren't on my initial list).  Here's my original list:


Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Story Of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting
Little House In The Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
The Courage Of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
The Cricket In Times Square by George Selden
The Family Under The Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
Little Horse by Betsy Byers
The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Of these, The Borrowers was definitely the favorite, with The Cricket In Times Square a close second.  There were parts of Black Beauty that were kind of rough for a 6-year-old, but they didn't seem to bother her.

Science

Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.

When we were still full time homeschooling, we loved using The Curious Kid's Science Book by Asia Citro.  Once or twice a week, Lena would pick a project or activity to do.  The activities are open-ended, engaging, and age appropriate.  I love that the book encourages creative thinking and doesn't provide step-by-step instructions about what to do.  I definitely would use this book again, and we'll do some projects this summer.

Biology For the Grammar Stage, part of homeschool curriculum review

Lena's co-op uses Biology From The Grammar Stage by Paige Hudson.  We used it along with the DK First Human Body Encyclopedia, the DK First Animal Encyclopedia, and From Seed To Plant by Gail Gibbons. This curriculum is designed to go along with the recommendations from The Well Trained Mind for first or second grade science.  It spends 20 weeks on animals, 10 weeks on the human body, and 6 weeks on plants.  There are weekly experiments or demonstrations to give kids some hand-on learning.  I really like this curriculum, and would use it on our own if we were full-time homeschooling.

Geography

 Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind
We stared the year with Expedition Earth from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  And we really love it!  The girls LOVED their passports, loved reading and learning about different countries, and liked keeping up with the workbook.  The suggested activities are straightforward and easy, and the schedule is very do-able for full time homeschoolers. Once Lena started at the co-op, however, we didn't have time to keep working on this curriculum.  Her co-op does geography in a similar manner, though, studying one country per month.  We'll try to come back to this some in the summer.

History

Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.

Haha- we have been working on The Story Of The World Vol. 1 by Susan Wise Bauer for over 2 years now!  We actually really like history, it just seems like its hard to fit in in at this early age.  After we've spent several hours on (more essential) schoolwork, I'd much rather send the girls outside to play together than do history.  This is one way that my educational philosophy markedly differs from the program laid out in The Well Trained Mind. I definitely believe that at my daughers' ages (currently 5 & 6) there is just as much value in free play as there is in academics.  We do read from the book and do the corresponding pages from the Activity Book when we have time, and I'm hoping to work on it some this summer.  One thing that has been super helpful is the Audio CDs.  The girls love to listen to history in the car and they pick up most of the stories that way.

Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.     Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.

Lena read and enjoyed D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths by Ingri D'Aulaire and the girls listened to some of the audiobook, Greek Myths Audio Book read by Jim Weiss.  I think these are great stories to introduce to kids.  Lena has already been so proud that she's caught on to some allusions in other books we've read, and known some of the answers about myths when she watches Jeopardy with us!

 Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind. Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.

I was planning to read Tales From The Odyssey, Part 1 & Tales From The Odyssey, Part 2 as breakfast read alouds.  Before we got to them, however, Lena spotted them on the shelf and tore through them.  She loved these books, and I'm glad to have them on our shelves.  I may read them myself, soon, to refresh my memory on such a classic story!

Music

Homeschool curriculum choies for a combined first and second grade year. Selections for math, spelling, grammar, copywork, science, geography, and history. Based on recommendations from The Well Trained Mind.

The Story Of The Orchestra by Robert Levine has been a big hit.  We read a few pages here and there when we need something fun.  It's a great introduction to major composers and orchestral instruments.  The girls especially love to dance to the music on the CD!  It you're not ready for or don't have room in your schedule for a more comprehensive music curriculum, this is a great choice.

On the whole we stuck with and liked our original choices.  I don't foresee any major plans to our curriculum program for next years!

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What Can We Do With Paper And Glue: End of Year First / Second Grade Homeschool Curriculum Review
End of Year First / Second Grade Homeschool Curriculum Review
A review of the curriculum we used for our second year of homeschooling, a combined first and second grade year. Suitable choices for gifted education.
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What Can We Do With Paper And Glue
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