I can’t believe it’s here already!  That time of year when everyone is scrambling to get ready for school.  Homeschoolers everywhere are putting together their yearly plans, buying curriculum, sorting through their school supplies, and hoping they chose right and the year will the best ever.

I’m right there with them.  :)  Planning this year was easy in comparison to last year because although we’re staying as close to a Charlotte Mason education as we can, I’m also using an all-in-one curriculum.  Or, well, most-in-one.  Beyond Little Hearts For His Glory covers Bible, history, geography, science, spelling, and grammar, and has activities for math to go along with Singapore Math (which we won’t actually be using this year but I think that’s really cool!).  If you don’t like the idea of having to put your own curriculum together (or if you’re a little nervous about it like I am), then Heart of Dakota will appeal to you!  After spending HOURS DAYS WEEKS putting together science and math activities last year for Kindergarten that we didn’t even complete (they were good, we just didn’t get to them), Heart of Dakota’s ready-made plans were looking so good to me.  Although I had been planning on going the Ambleside Online route for first grade, I decided that Emma would get more out of year 1 next year when she’s seven.

SO… *drumroll*…  For Emma’s first grade year we’ll be following Beyond Little Hearts and tweaking it to make it as CM as possible.  Here I am, sitting outside while the kids play and tweaking away…


I am really looking forward to this year, and so is Emma.  She’s especially excited about the hands-on science activities that are a huge part of Beyond.  Here’s a quick rundown of our plans – as always, subject to change.  ;)


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Stories of the Pilgrims and American Pioneers and Patriots are the history spines in this guide.  Emma will be learning all about early American history through stories of kids her age in these books, and I have a large list of picture books we plan to get at the library to broaden her view of that period as well.  Some days we’ll be reading the Bible and learning about Biblical history as well.   Oh, and I printed out and bound the history notebooking pages that are free in the Beyond Little Hearts Facebook group files.  Doesn’t it look great?  Emma loves those maps.  :)


To make our history “lessons” come alive, I plan to use costumes, recipes, play-acting, and living books as extras.


The books below are some of our literature picks for this year.  Other options are Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (free online), the Little House books (we’re on By the Shores of Silver Lake), A Lion to Guard Us, The Boxcar Children, The Hundred Dresses, The Story of Holly and Ivy, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins.


Although Beyond includes hands-on activities that go along with Singapore math, I was able to take a good look at Horizons math thanks to a homeschooling friend of mine and Emma and I both really liked the way Horizons looked.  The teacher’s guide has hands-on activities to go with each lesson and the pages are bright and colorful.  It was so appealing that Emma has already started working in it for fun.  I also plan to alternate using the workbooks and math games and verbal math.


First I want to say that these books are not necessary since Beyond covers these subjects through spelling word lists (creative ways of learning to spell) and grammar instruction through the year.  But the combination of Emma being advanced in the reading area along with memories of my elementary years and love for aBeka language workbooks has led me to think these books are worth buying, even just for fun seatwork when Emma needs something to do.  They are wonderful for reinforcing spelling, grammar, and phonics rules!  Wanna see inside?  Emma already started working in these (they were apparently irresistible).


 You can click the thumbnails to see the full-sized samples.

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Science/Nature Study: 
Science is included in the Beyond guide in the form of hands-on experiments that relate (in some way) to the history we read about.  LOVE that.  My tweaks are mostly adding relevant library books or youtube videos about the subject to our days.  Emma is always so curious, a little sponge when the subject interests her.  Science is definitely one of her top subjects so I want to feed that interest as much as possible.

There are free science notebooking pages in the Beyond Facebook group files, but I opted not to do that for now, though I may at some future date.  We may start a science journal (just a lined notebook with a place to draw pictures), but I don’t want to overwhelm her with a lot of writing at her age (6).  I also plan on getting the Apologia science books slowly over time.  We borrowed the Flying Creatures book from the library and she pored over it with so much interest that I can see they would be worth adding to our library.  And you can’t go wrong with Janice VanCleave’s awesome science project books!


We still have The Handbook of Nature Study, as well as several tree/flower/bird handbooks and will be beginning a nature journal again this year (it would be the same journal used for our science projects).  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.  :)

In Beyond, students are instructed to copy poems and scripture – a small section a day.  I also plan to begin cursive instruction since she’s asking to learn that (and making up her own version in the meantime).

Composer/Hymn/Artist Study:
We’ll be listening to hymns and classical music for music study, and I would like to use ArTree to study famous artists and art styles.  I bought a year’s worth of lessons through Plum District not too long ago and their activities look like a lot of fun!  I’ve replaced some of the art projects and paper crafts with these CM-inspired activities.

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And that’s our plan!  Of course, as with every year’s plan, this is subject to change if it doesn’t work out for Emma, or we could end up simplifying greatly like we did last year.  I’m flexible!  :)  We’re planning on starting on Monday and Emma is excited – she’s been asking me for months whether she can start first grade NOW.  Well, it’s coming up very soon, little girl.  :)




5 Responses to Emma’s CM-Inspired First Grade Plans

  • May you have as much fun with Beyond as we did! We had a wonderful, hands-on, awesome year! I blogged many of our weeks, if you want a peek at the activities :)

    Happy Homeschooling and blessings on your year ahead!

  • Approve! I so need to organize myself enough to blog…

  • I’m super excited for this school year! I can’t wait to see how everything goes with you and your littles as well as mine! Check out what we are doing for first grade and I need to do a k4 post for my son too!

  • Looks like you have a very full year planned! I hope that your first week went just as you had hoped and that you enjoy your new curriculum! :)

    You are wise to wait until next year to start AO, it is quite rough and I must say B~O~R~I~N~G! After sticking to it religiously for 6 weeks, I ditched it this week and likely will not go back to it even next year! I’m keeping up with *some* of the literature but not much and definitely not on their schedule. :/

    Love the Van Cleave experiments ~ we are doing the anatomy related ones this year :)

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